Dear Commissioner Nagubandi,

I appreciate the time you took to respond to my call for an impartial body to study the mounting tension we are experiencing in Rockland County; this situation requires our immediate and unified attention.

Allow me to clarify in response to your comments: my proposal to examine the recent hate crimes was not meant to literally become involved with the ongoing police investigation related to those acts. The word “examine” in this case meant “study,” in order to place these acts in societal context as manifestations of discord in Rockland. It goes without saying that the appropriate governmental and law enforcement departments should conduct all necessary investigations. Even if the crimes prove to be unrelated to the growing strain among communities, we owe it to all who live and work in Rockland to move past the unfriendliness that exists in too many of our neighborhoods. While we might never fully resolve our differences, I am optimistic that deeper understanding can result in tolerance and respect, so that everyone in the county can exist in harmony.

My call for a deliberative panel in no way demeans the work of the volunteer members of the Human Rights Commission. The sort of working group I envision would serve a different function. The panel I am calling for would be involved in sorting out the less tangible aspects of our difficulties with analysis and appraisal – in essence, a discussion amongst those with experience in consensus building who also represent various constituencies in Rockland County. In your capacity as the Commissioner of Human Rights, I would welcome your participation in this effort. As you know, there is abundant research on the most helpful methodologies used by those devoted to building trust and bringing about reconciliation.

Though the county has neither the staff nor the resources to conduct this work, Rockland is lucky to have rich resources in our non-profit sector. We’ve seen pioneering work such as Undoing Racism, Not in Our Town and other programs that achieve social healing. Time is running out. We must launch this initiative now. A prominent civil rights activist recently told me that he was surprised the situation has not gotten worse. As I alluded to in my statement, we must stand together and take action now to make sure the worst never occurs.

Very truly yours,

Alden H. Wolfe
Chairman of the Legislature

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