Recently residents of Rockland County were asked to sign an internet petition asking County Executive Day to veto the proposed Rockland County Charter changes as being nothing more than cosmetic. The proposed changes did not include Term Limits nor the Two-hat rule which would prevent any elected official from accepting another Rockland County job paid for by the taxpayers. In a matter of a few weeks three hundred and fifty people had signed the petition and it was forwarded to Day for him to forward to the county legislators. Term Limits and the Two-hat rule have both been implemented in the County of Westchester.
Day wrote on his Facebook page this morning:
Yesterday, I wielded my first veto since becoming your County Executive by declining to approve the proposed Charter changes as submitted to me by the legislature. This “final” product is weak on ethical standards and comprehensive oversight, and despite language that made my key issues – term limits, an enhanced “two hat” rule and special elections for legislative vacancies – more palatable, they were still ignored.
As County Executive, I stand with all the people of Rockland County. I stand for what is right, what is best, and what works to make Rockland better, not a revised county charter with critical changes reduced to little more than weakened gestures. I stand for what will strengthen our communities for years to come. Each legislator will now have the option of going on record on these issues should the legislature opt to attempt an override my veto at next week’s legislative meeting.
Writing in the Rockland County Times Day added:
As passed by the Legislature, the resolution to revise the charter is a bad bill for the people of Rockland County. Substantive changes were promised by Legislative Leadership, but the final product remains weak on ethical standards and comprehensive oversight. As I made clear, I would not approve this local law without term limits, an enhanced “two hat” rule or special elections for legislative vacancies.
Additionally, the process to revise the charter was significantly flawed, with separate versions of the bill being considered on a rushed timetable. While constructive dialogue produced agreement on Legislative-submitted proposals, a similar collaboration did not extend to the key issues raised for consideration by my Executive Staff.
While the measure does include some meaningful reform to the budget process and a provision for the appointment of a Deputy County Executive, the compelling issues facing government were fully ignored by the Legislative Leadership. If we are to open the charter for improvements, we must include essential changes sought by the people. Our residents deserve no less.
When the Legislature announced intentions this Spring to bring reform to the Rockland County Charter, I envisioned an improved document that would empower our residents to make changes in the way they are governed. Sadly, nearly all of the meaningful reforms I recommended were shot down in discussions and stripped from consideration. Term limits, for example, are all about good government. The notion of a permanent, indispensable governing body is bad for our residents! The people want good government. The question is, “What do our legislators support?”
It will now be up to the legislators to over-ride this veto. Each of them will have to go on record with a vote and a super majority of the legislators will be needed for the over-ride to be successful. The citizens of Rockland County may soon learn which legislators oppose both Term Limits and the Two-hat Rule. The question being asked by this veto is why elected officials refuse to be term-limited and why they approve of multiple jobs for elected officials all at taxpayers’ expense?
The resolution that was passed by the legislature is called a ‘Local Law’ and as such it details the proposed changes to the County Charter and proscribes a referendum for the November 2014 ballot. It is this proposed Local Law that Day has vetoed. Twelve (12) votes will be needed for the over-ride to get the Legislature’s version of the Charter onto the ballot in November 2014. If 12 votes are NOT obtained then the ‘new charter’ will have an early demise.
Commenting on the proposed Two-hat Rule Republican Legislator Sparaco said:
As far as the Two-hats Law let me just address that as somebody that works for the Town (of Clarkstown). I would never have supported that even if I didn’t work for the Town. That is the most unthought out (sic) thing I ever heard anybody propose – it borderlines (sic) on stupidity. What I’m hearing on the radio is that anybody who gets taxpayers money can’t run for office. What about our cops’ pensions? Isn’t that taxpayer money? What about firemen and garbagemen and teachers and Gerry Bierker – (referring here to the former legislator from Bardonia whose seat is now occupied by Legislator Carey) – he was a teacher for 30 years or whatever and he was also a legislator. What is it? No not them, just highway guys, right? Just guys who work for the highway department? Just them? Cops, firemen, (laughing) all the other government guys – they can run for office? I want to thank Jay Hood and Alden Wolfe for all of their hard work on this and I will be voting ‘yes’ (on the procedural changes).