My Thoughts and Prayers are with the Families of the 3 Murdered Israeli Teens

Last night, as my birthday celebration came to an end I kissed my children goodnight. It is an act I too often take for granted because I live in the greatest democracy, the greatest country on earth. With all of our economic problems, our petty political bickering, our social differences, we still go to bed at night without concern of rocket attacks from our neighbors or terrorists taking children from our homes. As Americans, we value life over death, freedom over oppression; we vigorously defend the rights of our opponents to disagree with us. We strain to be fair, compassionate and just. We don't always succeed, but we try constantly to improve.

We usually recognize that our similarities far outweigh our differences. We don't espouse violence as the only means to an end, and we try to be peace loving even in our differences; to be tolerant of those around us even when our outlook on many issues may be widely divergent. As part of a civilized society, we are a family, perhaps the largest most dysfunctional family imaginable, but a family nonetheless and we protect our own.

I consider myself a rational, reasonable, and well educated moderate person. Yet today I feel outrage and I want a strong harsh response from our leaders to the sociopathic killers who hide behind false claims of entitlement. It is time to stop pacifying those who openly and proudly espouse the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murdering of its citizens. Israel is a democratic country with the same basic human rights value system we have here in America. Israel is part of the civilized world’s family. Within Israel, Jews and Arabs can and do live peacefully together with the same civil liberties we enjoy. Listen to the rhetoric of Israeli leaders and then listen to the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. There is right and wrong. Israel is not only surrounded by those who pledge to destroy it, the terrorists reside within the country's legitimate borders.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. A civilized society has no place for such groups. These are not politically defensible groups. These are not political parties who just have differing points of view. These are people who kill in the name of G-d. They praise those who blow themselves up to kill others. They kill innocent children. They oppress their own people and breed hatred and contempt through fear and misinformation. I am a strong believer of free speech and individual rights, but hate speech which is specifically intended to and actually does incite violence must not go unchallenged in a civilized society.

Israel's response to the murder of the three teens will be strong and swift, but will be criticized around the world. Americans, both Jews and Gentiles, must stand up and say enough is enough. No more support of any kind that makes its way to Hamas or Hezbollah. There is good and evil in this world. Evil cannot be tolerated and we shouldn't tip toe around the issue. Hamas and Hezbollah must be dismantled. I have no problem justifying the use of force to eliminate terrorists, and make no mistake about it, these are terrorist organizations. More than Israel is at stake, because these terrorists have Americans in their sights right behind the Israelis. Not just Jewish Americans, all Americans.

I urge you to educate yourself about Israel. Get a real understanding of the ongoing conflict. There is right and wrong here, not just some differing opinions. Express some outrage over the senseless and cowardly execution of teenagers. Don't hold back. If those of us who appreciate our freedom and civil liberties do not express outrage how can we expect those being oppressed by Hamas and Hezbollah to ever rise up against their terrorist leaders?

Posted on 1 Jul 2014, 12:17 - Category: In The News

Legislature Passes Kantrowitz Resolution Supporting State Enterprise Fraud Program Office

New City, NY  (June 5, 2014) - The Rockland County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Legislator Barry Kantrowitz (New City-Pomona) which supports state Senate and Assembly bills (S.4815 and A.6988) that propose the creation of an Enterprise Fraud Program Office to provide for the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse and improper payments by state government through the use of modern technology across state agencies, programs and functions.

The program office, explained Legislator Kantrowitz, would be established within the office of the State Inspector General and employ the use of analytical software to detect fraud or abuse across state agencies that oversee state-supported citizen and employee benefits programs, such as workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, tax compliance and Medicaid.

"There are a number of social service programs that serve a great purpose to those in need," said Legislator Kantrowitz.  "Yet, there is always a concern that some take advantage.  These different agencies have the responsibility to detect fraud or misuse that requires constant vigilance and may be beyond their capabilities due to general responsibilities and the lack of modern technology.   The Enterprise Fraud Program would link data from all these agencies through state-of-the-art fraud detection and prevention technology and help agencies reduce their losses to fraud, abuse or incorrect payments."

"Our department of Social Services and the District Attorney are doing an excellent job of detecting fraud in Rockland," said Legislator Kantrowitz,  "however, many of the investigations must be turned over to the state and either are not pursued or are pursued without any benefit to the local community.  The use of technology to coordinate data across agencies and programs would increase efficiency, speed up investigations, and potentially result in millions of dollars in cost-savings to the State."

Kantrowitz added that his resolution and the state Senate and Assembly bills address the fact that government officials recognize the importance of providing aid to those in need, "but we must cut payments to those who unlawfully take advantage of the system.  Utilizing modern technology is a cost effective way to address this growing problem. I thank my colleagues for their unanimous support of this resolution."


Posted on 5 Jun 2014, 11:30 - Category: In the News

Legislator Barry Kantrowitz’ Response to the County Executive’s Call for a Change in the Law relating to the Deficit Bond Premium

I have read Mr. Day’s article and his posts and others' chastising the Legislature Leadership. I am not part of the Legislature leadership; in fact, I am the newest most junior member of the Legislature having been appointed just this past January to fill Ed Day’s seat. Although I do not officially serve on the Budget & Finance Committee I have attended their meetings, including last week when the Finance Commissioner appeared and submitted a resolution to change the existing law on the use of the bond premium. I am compelled to respond to an unfair attack on the Legislature’s leadership. The County Executive’s rhetoric sounds compelling, but it is missing some facts.

The $11 million dollar deficit bond premium is not a surprise or a windfall. Everyone knew when the deficit bond resolution was initially passed that a premium was likely and the resolution specifically provided that any premium received would be used to reduce the financing cost of the bonds. The premium would cut the cost of the interest in the first 2 years after issuance which are 2015 and 2016. That has been the law applicable to the premium since Ed Day was on the Legislature.

When the $96 million in bonds were issued, they were sold with a 5% coupon. That means that the buyers are guaranteed a 5% interest payment over the life of the bonds. Since that rate is significantly above the market rate, buyers were willing to pay a premium of $11 million to secure an effective return of about 2.8%. The County Executive initially touted this terrific 2.8% rate and then implied that the rate would apply even if the premium was used for something else, like to reduce the deficit. While the ultimate cost of the financing is the same either way, if we use the $11 million to directly reduce the deficit and not toward the reduction of the interest cost of the bonds, there has to be a plan to pay the full 5% coupon in 2015 and 2016. It’s not free money. If it is used for deficit reduction it cannot be used to pay back the interest on the bonds.

I have repeatedly said to the County Executive’s representatives both formally at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, and informally in the halls of the county office building, that I am not against changing the use of the premium, as long as there is a plan to deal with the additional $6 million dollar interest cost in 2015 and $5 million in 2016. What is the County Executive’s plan? Is it to raise taxes to increase revenues? If so, which taxes? Property, sales, mortgage, energy or something new? Is it to cut expenses to meet the additional cost in 2015? If so which departments? What services? What work force reduction? What costs? These are not difficult questions IF there is already a plan in place to deal with the new decision to change the use of the premium from interest reduction to deficit reduction. But, to date, there has been no plan disclosed. Why? Maybe there is no plan yet? If there is no plan yet, then by making this change, we are doing exactly what Mr. Day says he doesn’t want to do—and that is kick the can down the road for another year to make a plan.

I tried to understand why this is so important and now, 5 months into the year, has become a rush rush item for the administration. The answer may simply be politics. If the bond premium is used to reduce the deficit, Mr. Day takes credit for an $11 million dollar deficit reduction and then in 2015 when taxes have to go up to cover the interest costs not being paid by the premium, Mr. Day blames the Legislature for having to raise taxes to cover the cost. The proverbial can is effectively kicked into the “taxpayers’ can” and as an added bonus for Mr. Day, it happens in a year when the entire Legislature is up for election.

If the premium is used as it was originally intended when Mr. Day was a legislator, then the problem of deficit reduction through both revenue raising and cost reduction needs to be dealt with anyway, but without the fabricated urgency (Monday) that Mr. Day claims now exists. This is an urgency created by his own administration not being able to answer simple questions about what the plan is to deal with the change.

Again, I want to be very clear: I am not against Mr. Day’s idea, but I need to know the rest of the plan—not just “I will tell you later.” The answer of “I will figure out a plan later” is not a justification for changing an existing law that Mr. Day acknowledges is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. The County Executive admits repeatedly that applying the premium to interest cost instead of deficit reduction is not “wrong.” He says repeatedly that both choices are ok, but he certainly makes it look like the Legislature is at fault for not jumping at his suggestion immediately, when in reality there has been no plan put forward to justify the proposed change.

I call upon the County Executive to set forth his details on how the $6 million of additional 2015 interest costs and $5 million of additional 2016 interest costs are going to be made up if we apply the $11 million bond premium directly to the deficit. If there is a plan why keep it a secret? If it is viable, I would support the County Executive in his decision. If there is no plan, then let’s get together to create one, because the people deserve action more than rhetoric.

Posted on 31 May 2014, 18:51 - Category: In the News

Legislator Kantrowitz Seeks Governor's Assistance to Secure Fiscal Monitor for ERCSD


New City, NY  – Rockland County Legislator Barry S. Kantrowitz has requested Governor Cuomo use his influence to convince State Commissioner of Education John King to appoint a fiscal monitor to provide immediate administrative and fiscal oversight of the East Ramapo Central School District concerning expenditures, budgets and financial and administrative policies. 

During a Tuesday evening legislature committee meeting, Kantrowitz learned that a local not-for-profit cultural arts center has been providing music and art education in the East Ramapo public schools.  He later learned that the Salvation Army has provided band instruction and classes. "I am astonished.  These services are being provided as a stop-gap measure by not-for-profits because the school board has completely gutted these programs and others unlike any other Rockland school district," said Kantrowitz. "Public school students should not have to rely upon the services of local non-profits for a basic education.  It is appalling that the leadership of a New York public school district in 2014 fails to recognize how important art, music, science, sports and recreation are to a child’s education.  This is but one example of the School Board’s failure to act in the best interests of the children." 

In his May 28th letter to the Governor, Kantrowitz wrote "The appointment alone will not solve all the problems, but will be a step toward building confidence among the public school community that their children have not been forgotten.  It is only through the intervention of an independent monitor that the process to repair the East Ramapo Central School District can begin." 

"As a proud product of the East Ramapo Central School District," added Kantrowitz, "I remain extremely concerned about the failure to make any progress on improving the education opportunities of the students in the East Ramapo Central School District.  Repairing the East Ramapo Central School District must start now." 

The Letter to the Governor can be found here:



Posted on 31 May 2014, 18:43 - Category: In the News

Anti-Semitism and Racial Intolerance cannot be Ignored

I received an email at the Legislature forwarding an offensive Facebook post that circulated around the county on Tuesday and Wednesday. The post contains inflammatory messages about the presence of immigrants and religious groups within one Clarkstown community and states the writer's fear that their presence will destroy the primarily Caucasian community.

The tenor of this Facebook rant is very upsetting and it is reflective of an undercurrent of baseless information and rumors that began with an issue affecting the local school district. It is incumbent upon all members of our community to recognize that prejudice, hatred and inflammatory remarks serve no legitimate purpose. Those who try to instill fear through ignorance have traditionally failed because a civilized society eventually recognizes the bias and prejudice for what it is. Even though most people understand this basic concept, we cannot allow such conduct to continue without being challenged.

I call upon leaders in every community and the leaders of every local religious institution to speak out against those preaching racial and religious intolerance. Those who insist on instilling fear through prejudice and ignorance should find no support in Clarkstown, Rockland County or in the United States of America.”

Posted on 26 May 2014, 21:17 - Category: In the News

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