Kantrowitz Concedes Election as Results certified (51% to 49%)

The election results are final and the election is now over. WIth 5,698 votes cast I was 117 votes short.  I have already congratulated Lon Hofstein on his victory, and wished him good luck in January when he begins serving the remaining one year of now County Executive Ed Day’s unexpired term.

It has been an honor to serve in county government this year.  It has been an eye-opening experience.  Over the remaining 6 weeks I will continue to work towards improving Rockland by voting to pass a responsible, well thought out, balanced budget while keeping any tax increase at or below the 2% tax cap.  The budget the Legislature received from the County Executive, by his own admission, reflects a “last minute 11th hour attempt” to cut $10 million dollars to comply with a “surprise” 2012 law that ironically, the County Executive himself voted for. That 2012 law was no surprise to anyone, and the proclamation that the proposed budget was not “political” is an insult to the intelligence of the public and everyone else in government. The 2012 Deficit Reduction Act was passed before the deficit financing bonds were issued, and for months this year the legislature asked the administration to discuss the plans for revising the law to take those bonds into consideration. Even the Commissioner of Finance recently acknowledged that it would be prudent to amend the law to provide for the balance of the deficit to be paid off over the life of the bonds. The sky is not falling in Rockland.  Our County Executive continues to talk about the crisis and disaster heading our way, but his Finance Commissioner, a very reputable and honorable person,  tells a completely different story. Governing through fear and divisiveness never works over the long term. People must start paying closer attention. Ed Day is taking credit for the improvements in Rockland, but all of the fiscal improvements came from the Legislature’s work in the past few years’ budgets.  Budgets that Ed Day voted against!

This budget is all about politics.  It is about hurting an independently elected Sheriff so the County Executive can run his own hand-picked candidate against him next year.  It is about cutting 100% of the non-profits so the CE doesn’t have to address the inefficiencies within his own administration.  It is about shifting the burden of creating a responsible budget to the 17 legislators who only have a few weeks (not 10 months) to review thousands of line items and then take the political brunt of making truly sensible decisions.  All 17 legislators are up for election next year and there will be a slate of CE “hand-picked” candidates to run against them. The CE budget is all about putting politics before people. The CE’s recent back pedaling that it’s not what he wanted to do, and it’s somehow now negotiable is just  nonsense. The CE hasn’t even had a representative show up at the most important budget review sessions conducted over recent weeks.

Rockland needs economic development more than anything else.  We need to attract young families and robust businesses.  The selection of our “Economic Development Director” could have been a prime example of the future of Rockland, but instead of a highly qualified individual, the County Executive did exactly what he promised he would never do- put politics over people.  He appointed the unsuccessful Preserve Party candidate for Spring Valley Mayor to the position. Political patronage over everything else. How does that look to businesses interested in coming to Rockland?

A good budget is a reflection of what is important.  Just as families must decide how best to spend their money, government must allocate its resources intelligently and purposefully to accomplish necessary goals. Paying down debt is certainly important and fiscally sound, but no family would pre-pay its mortgage with money needed to operate the family business and thereby lose the business income needed to survive.  No family would pay down more debt than required if it meant that the family would be so short of cash it couldn’t feed itself. 

Planning a budget is a tedious and difficult process that requires cuts with a scalpel, not a hatchet. Improving the efficiency of government operations was a campaign promise from the new County Executive, but his budget reflects the exact opposite. Instead of looking within his own offices and departments, the CE cut the independently elected Sheriff’s budget and then turned his axe to the non-profit contract agencies.  Our county’s non-profits serve the most needy and poorest members of our community in a cost effective and efficient manner.  Government is not capable of providing the services that the non-profits do for anywhere close to the financial support that the government provides those agencies. For an investment of $3.2 million in non-profits, the county gets back many times that in benefits.

Cutting non-profits is a lose-lose proposition in the worst way. The large number of jobs, the revenues, the local spending and the services that local non-profits contribute to the county economy have been outlined in detail elsewhere. The net financial loss to the county from cutting $3.2 million in support to non-profits is a huge multiple of that small savings.  It simply makes no sense. Imagine young families looking to settle in Rockland and finding out that we chose to eliminate Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice, VCS, The Center for Safety and Change, Rockland Center for the Arts and countless other agencies that improve the quality of life in Rockland. We can’t afford to support these agencies in our community?  Really? That is our message?

Likewise, cutting 37 Sheriff’s deputies and expecting the towns and villages to pick up the slack borders on absurdity.  That is just tax shifting, not tax saving. The independent report prepared behind the Sheriff’s back calls for increasing the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Patrol not cutting it out. The cost to the towns to pick up the slack is far more than the cost to the county of maintaining the services. The cuts result in the loss of the shared services that almost every town relies upon i.e. BCI, Bomb Squad, SWAT, Arson Investigation etc. While the CE announced that he had the support of the Police Chiefs and Town Supervisors, that simply was not true. Again, politics over people. The Sheriff had the CE’s word that his budget was going to be approved as finally submitted, but then it wasn’t.

The salt in the wound was the substantial salary increases to the CE’s  media relations and intergovernmental appointees in his inner circle, and a new $98,000 per year job for more media relations in the MIS department.  The CE already governs via Facebook—Is spending more money on getting his political message out on social media the best use of county funds? Is that a better use of funds than feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless and protecting our community?

Planning a budget requires making not just hard decisions, but smart decisions.  Rockland deserves better than an 11th hour hatchet job.  Rockland deserves better than politics over people. Wake up people!  Start holding the County Executive accountable, and stop drinking the “kool-aide.“ The CE now has one more legislature “locked up vote” in Mr. Hofstein next year. That is the campaign they openly ran; Ed Day wanted “his seat back,” and it worked.  But you the people still have a voice—one that must be heard loud and clear.  Don’t let a vocal minority with several facebook pages and social media outlets tell you what is best for our County.  You deserve better. I am only 1 of 17, and I am only here until December 31, but I will still work to make Rockland County the great place I know it can be.


Barry Kantrowitz

Posted on 12 Nov 2014, 20:51 - Category: In The News

Kantrowitz will not support Veto Override on Bus Washing

When my Republican colleague, Pat Moroney, introduced the “bus washing” bill, he made a compelling argument that Rockland’s mass transit system was the only one that didn’t wash its buses daily. He noted that the administration was refusing to deal with the vendor and address the bus washing and other issues. He noted that federal funds allocated to buy new buses were sitting unused. He asked for bipartisan support to improve the condition of the county’s mass transit fleet. He referred to a bus fire in Pearl River, an independent report and prior practices as part of his request for support for his resolution. He received overwhelming bi-partisan support in a 13-3 vote.

Since then, much has been written about bus washing. I personally reached out and obtained the “report” referred to by Mr. Moroney and read about the importance of keeping potential “ignition points” clean. I looked at the 2013 contract renewal for the prior bus vendor and saw that the contract required bus washing every 24 hours of in service use. I also received many emails, Facebook posts, and telephone calls seeking information about the bus washing. Most of the people mistakenly thought it was “school bus” washing. Most did not understand that payment for the bus washing was not coming from county tax dollars, but state and federal transportation funds allocated to the county. Most didn’t understand that the contract was poorly written, and had the $45 per bus per wash price built in.

Nonetheless, when these misunderstandings were pointed out, most people in District 5 still opposed the bus washing resolution.

I want to thank the constituents who reached out to me about the bus washing contract. I have heard you and will continue to work hard to represent your needs and values on the legislature. With this in mind, I will not support an attempt to override the veto of the Brega Bus washing contract. I understand that people are fed up with government spending. I will be responsive to my constituents. It’s a privilege to serve as the County Legislator for District 5.

Posted on 19 Sep 2014, 16:13 - Category: In The News

Kantrowitz Community Connection Newsletter Summer 2014


Please Click on the link below to read the latest edition of the Kantrowitz community Connection.


Posted on 21 Aug 2014, 16:23 - Category: In the News

Legislator Barry Kantrowitz speaks out on Rockland County Charter Reform

For almost 2 years the Rockland County Legislature worked to reform the County Charter to address significant issues relating to the day to day operation of Rockland County government.  The Charter is like the Constitution of the County. This process began long before I was appointed in January of this year and continued throughout the year without my direct involvement. Although most of the work was performed by the legislative leadership of both parties, I followed along as drafts were circulated to all 17 legislators. Once approved by the Legislature and the County Executive, any proposed Charter Reform would have to be voted on by the people of Rockland County in November.

From the outset it was made very clear to me that the bipartisan plan for this reform was to address basic housekeeping functions, processes and procedures that needed to be updated.  These changes included, among other things, improvements to the budget process that everyone agreed was beneficial to the County.  Both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Legislature had agreed that the issue of “term limits” was not going to be included in the reform so as to keep “politics” out of the process and insure that all of the agreed upon and needed reforms could be presented to the people of Rockland to approve. By not including the politically charged “term limit” issue, about which reasonable people can certainly disagree, the thought was that “politics” would not get in the way of needed administrative reforms that both sides agreed were in the best interest of the people of Rockland. There were to be no controversial or distracting issues in the proposed reform so that the needed changes, mundane as they might be, could pass a county wide vote. 

Months ago, the Legislature’s proposed Charter changes were submitted to County Executive Day and his staff for their comments and suggestions.  Mr. Day was told up front about the plan not to address term limits in the Charter Reform and he was asked if that was a deal breaker for him.  The answer then was “no”  and therefore both members of the Legislature and Mr. Day’s administration spent countless additional hours negotiating and adding substantive changes proposed by Mr. Day and his staff.  Neither side got everything they wanted.  A compromise was reached on many issues and 2 final documents were drafted, each of which contained minor differences being worked out during the last few days of negotiation.

After the proposed drafts were placed on the Legislator’s desks in chambers, a technical procedure required by law, Mr. Day announced new charter reform proposals including term limits, an “enhanced” two hat rule and a requirement for special elections to replace legislative vacancies, instead of the traditional and much less costly process of appointment for the year. 

Mr. Day, a former legislator, was well aware that he could not as the County Executive introduce his proposed version of charter reform; only a legislator can introduce legislation and he did not get the support of even one legislator to sponsor his last minute proposed changes.  He knowingly engaged in political grandstanding by “firing for effect” without any real expectation that his proposed politically charged and controversial proposals would ever be voted upon. And, just as expected,  they weren’t.  The Legislature overwhelmingly and in a bipartisan manner passed the fully negotiated proposed charter reform by a 15-1 vote. The County was on its way to  getting the opportunity to vote on needed changes to the County Charter.

The County Executive thereafter led a Facebook and blog campaign to support his claim that the Legislature failed to address his political issues.  He threatened to and eventually did veto the very legislation he and his staff negotiated for over a period of months; the legislation with bipartisan support for important changes to improve the functioning of Rockland County government.  Mr. Day threw out 2 years of hard work because he didn’t get something he knew wouldn’t pass and that wasn’t even presented to the Legislature for a vote.

On Wednesday night August 6, the Legislature voted to override Mr. Day’s veto.  The override received bipartisan support  in a 12-4 vote with 2 of the 5 Republican Legislators voting for the override. The residents of the County will now have the opportunity to vote on the proposed Charter revisions which everyone agrees are required, but which do not contain issues about which many people disagree.

My vote to override the veto had nothing to do with my position on term limits, an enhanced two hat rule or special elections.  None of those items were introduced this year for consideration. I have no problem addressing each one of those items when they are raised in proper form, but I want to make it clear that I voted to override the veto because there was absolutely no legitimate reason to waste almost two years of hard bipartisan work by legislators just because the County Executive decided, at the last minute, to say it’s my way or it won’t be at all.  The people of Rockland deserve better than that.

We can have a good open debate on term limits, on whether there is a need for a two hat rule and what such a rule would actually accomplish, and whether the considerable cost and expense of organizing and holding a special election on short notice is  better for the County than the temporary appointment process with an election in November. I support an open discussion on those items and I am certain there are valid arguments in favor and against each suggestion. The fact that there is a significant difference of opinion among people is the exact reason why it did not belong in the current proposed Charter Reform; there is no real disagreement about the current proposed Charter changes and they should pass with overwhelming support.

Since I made a comment on term limits during the public meeting on Wednesday night I have no problem restating my personal belief that I could support reasonable legislative term limits coupled with changes in the current practice of all legislators being up for election at the same time.  Despite the cries we sometimes hear to “throw them all out” in reference to Congress and other governmental bodies, there is a real value to the continuity and institutional knowledge that some experienced legislators bring to the body. Having stated my willingness to consider term limits, I recognize that many people, and certainly many of my constituents view regular elections as the shortest term limits possible; you can vote out any legislator after one term without term limits. Similarly, many well respected constituents believe that term limits impede a person’s right to vote for someone they believe is still the best person for the job.  Term limits are sometimes said to benefit people who don’t vote and punish those who do, because term limits themselves change the players without, or even in spite of, input from the voters.

As someone who is brand new to politics, so far serving less than one year (a quarter of a term,) I often think 3 terms or a total of 12 years of service should be enough for anyone.  Then I look at the six currently serving legislators (3 from each party) who have each served more than 12 years and I think of how valuable their institutional and historical knowledge has been to me as a rookie.  So while I understand the desire to see new faces in government from time to time, it’s still not so clear cut to me.  I am certainly open to hearing from the people of Rockland on this issue and the others noted above.


Posted on 8 Aug 2014, 11:21 - Category: In the News

Barry Kantrowitz' Comments On the Death of 3 Israeli Teens at the Full Legislature Meeting July 1 2014

Posted on 13 Jul 2014, 12:03 - Category: In the News

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2017 ~ Barry S. Kantrowitz
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