In The News Category

Legislator Kantrowitz' Comments on the Budget at the December 4th 2014 Legislature Meeting










Cutting all funding to non-profits and eliminating 37 Sheriff's Deputies was a "lose-lose" proposition. The County Executive's proposed budget was more about tax shifting than tax cutting. 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 business would pay down more debt than required if it meant that the business would be so short of cash it couldn't pay its employees who did the work to generate the business income. The amendments passed tonight reflect a sensible balanced approach to spending cuts and deficit reduction. I am pleased that the revisions passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

The full text of my comments can be read here:


Posted on 5 Dec 2014, 11:24 - Category: In The News

Legislator Kantrowitz Recognizes Local Couple for Good Deeds

New City, NY (November 19, 2014) - Rockland County Legislator Barry Kantrowitz recognized the efforts of a young, local couple to perform acts of kindness and charity throughout the country.

Mark and Ismini Svensson made the decision to forego the cost of a traditional wedding ceremony, deciding their time and money would be better spent by performing charitable acts around the country. The goal of the newlyweds - to perform an act of kindness in each of the 50 states. The couple started in Maryland and to date has visited 36 states, completing charitable acts for school children, the elderly, homeless and people with disabilities and illness. In Florida, the Svenssons supported an effort to aid a local chapter of the Humane Society.

"The Svenssons are a very special young couple," said Legislator Kantrowitz. "When we talk about giving back to the community, we normally think about people who have had successful careers, raised families and then wish to give back to their communities after having done well after a lifetime of work. Here we have two people in their twenties who, early in life, started to pay it forward. Mark and Ismini co-founded the not-for-profit organization "Stay United" and have attracted the attention and support of people across the country. It is an honor for me to present this young couple with a Distinguished Service Award."

Photo Included (L-R: Legislator John Murphy, Ismini & Mark Svensson, and Legislator Barry Kantrowitz)

Posted on 19 Nov 2014, 12:03 - Category: In The News

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

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

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2017 ~ Barry S. Kantrowitz
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