Thursday, December 10, 2009

Westchester Guardian Article/The Advocate/Richard Blassberg/Andy Spano.

Republican County Legislator George Oros Declares Spano’s Last-Minute Contracts “A Kick In The Teeth To County Taxpayers”

Last Monday afternoon, retiring Republican County Legislator, Minority Leader George Oros, held a press conference at his law office in White Plains to blast outgoing County Executive Andy Spano for what Oros called “A 2010 Budget filled with land mines and rewards for Spano’s campaign contributors, especially law firms.” He told reporters, “Republicans are calling for a moratorium.”

Oros commented paranthetically, “I’d love to see the budget that would be there if Spano had won.” He went on, “We must bring State, County and Municipal people together. We can achieve real economies of scale. People just can’t take it anymore.”

Oros stressed that, for years, he had called for “reform of the Board of Acquisition and Contract,” but that, on November 24, “the A&C Agenda included a handful of multimillion dollar, multi-year contracts.”

The so-called “11th Hour Contracts” include:

• $2.7 million to various law firms, all of which have been big contributors to Spano’s campaigns to perform of counsel legal services;

• $12 million for Westhab to operate homeless shelters;

• $4 million for security systems integration at the County Jail;

• $900,000 for a fence at Rye Playland.

The Board of Acquisition and Contract consists of three members, the County Executive, and his appointed Commissioner of Public Works, as well as the elected Chairman of the Board of Legislators. In effect, the County Executive, through his appointee, retains the power to pass any contract or long-term lease by his control of two out of three votes.

Oros told reporters, “The Spano Administration wants to tie Mr. Astorino’s hands and make it much harder to achieve the goals the overwhelming majority of voters chose him to accomplish.” He went further, stating, “This is not the way a county executive who has served 12 years should go out the door.”

Oros went on, “Voters spoke loud and clear in the last election that they were tired of business-as-usual in Westchester County government. It’s time for Mr. Spano to step aside and let a breath of fresh air come in.”

Asked if he was, in fact, still pushing for A&C reforms, Oros said he would “like to see the County Budget submitted before Election Day, as well as the use of zero-based budgeting.”

Under zero-based budgeting, every proposed expense, every purchase, every position in County Government, is re-evaluated in terms of developments since the prior budget to determine whether the position, the purchase, etc., is still justified and necessary going forward or, if, for whatever reason, that expense may need to be increased or possibly cut back, or eliminated altogether. Under such budgeting practices, the tendency to fund unneeded positions and expenses is greatly reduced, and duplication of services and acquisition of unnecessary materials and leased space are more easily identified and eliminated.

Oros went on to say, “Spano is frustrating the will and the sentiment of the taxpayers with $30-40 million of 11th hour expenses. We should put those items on hold and give the new administration a change. He owes it to the voters, but he really doesn’t care what they think.”

As if to confirm George Oros’ assertions, on Wednesday, just 24 hours after the press conference, the Guardian received a “Letter to the Editor” from a County Government employee (see page four, “Spanocrat Going to County Board of Elections.”)

We were gratified that the reader had adopted the title ‘Spanocrat’, coined by The Advocate several years ago to describe those party insiders whose attachment for financial selfenrichment, to Andy Spano and Company was much more compelling than their commitment to Democratic principles and practices.

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