By Kathy Kahn
First, the good news: The county is in positive fiscal shape with a healthy bond rating—it’s building a new county animal shelter– the cost to maintain it to be shared by every town and village that needs its services. In addition, the Pomona Health Complex will see more county offices moved to that location, as well as non-profit organizations, to make services more accessible to all Rocklanders. The County’s budget for 2020 is $727 million, coming in under the state tax cap and well below the 2020 budget predicted by former county executive VanDerHoeff in 2013, who expected it to be $1 billion.
The County, near bankruptcy when Day took office in 2014, has had ten bond upgrades. “There is one deficit bond of $13 million still to be paid, and that bond will be paid off by 2024,” he told the packed room at the Pearl River Hilton where the Rockland Business Association held its November luncheon.
Now, the bad news: If you think criminals who commit brutal crimes should be taken off the street, representatives in Albany have a different take on what should be done with perpetrators. Former NYPD Police Lt. Ed Day made no bones about how he feels about the Legislature’s criminal “justice” fiasco, releasing thousands of incarcerated persons and limiting protections for those who have been crime victims—not only the relaxed guidelines limit protection for the victims but will give the accused the right to visit the crime scene and to talk to both the victims and the witnesses:
Besides the obvious concern for every law-abiding citizen, the relaxed laws cause a financial fiasco not just for law enforcement entities across the state but to the judiciary as well, whose hands will be tied when they are ordered to let accused criminals walk out of the court. “This is being done to benefit New York City,” said Day, “but what about the rest of us? It’s just another example of Albany’s political arrogance.”
The mandatory release of accused criminals without bail is another piece of Albany’s reform to the state’s criminal justice system. “How dare the Legislature have the chutzpah to do this? There will be no judicial discretion—whether it is 2nd degree manslaughter, criminal possession of a gun or selling drugs on school grounds, obscene sexual performance on a child or failure to register as a sex offender—someone can walk without fear of incarceration or bail.
“Offenders will also have a right to return to the crime scene,” said Day. “It will be ‘full circle’ for alleged perpetrators to go back to where their crime took place —even to go inside a house to inspect the ‘scene of the crime.’ This is the idiocy of this feel-good nonsense in Albany is helping New York City use a bludgeon where a scalpel is needed.”
Albany has no heard the end of this by any means, said Day. Towns and villages throughout New York State are making their voices heard to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, who appear to be immune to the pushback the new “justice” reforms are creating.
Cuomo, now living out on Long Island, is ramping up his campaign for a fourth term as governor, relying heavily on New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties and “bloc” voters of every stripe who hold politicians in their pockets like chump change. Time will tell if New York City’s adoration of Cuomo and his cronies will continue to carry him into yet another four years in Albany.
In the meantime, Rockland and surrounding counties continue to push for consolidation of services, help for distressed schools and support for the business community, the majority of which are small businesses made up of 20 or less employees. Can David overcome Goliath? Time will tell.