On Wednesday, May 27, 2015 County Executive Ed Day gave the keynote speech to the Rockland County Republican Party’s Convention which was held in the Clarkstown Town Hall on Maple Avenue.
His speech dealt with the reforms that had taken place in the Republican Party as it took steps under his leadership and that of the new party chairman, Lawrence Garvey, to purge its top leadership of those Day referred to as “hanger-ons” and “deal-makers“.
It was believed by many in attendance that Day was making reference to the former Rockland County Chairman, Vinnie Reda, along with former County Legislator Frank Sparaco. Both made deals with Democrats against the interests of the Republican Party and Sparaco made deals with Highways Superintendent Wayne Ballard for his outrageous employment.
It is also believed by many listening to the speech that Day was making reference to Conservative Party ‘deal-maker’ Ed Lettre who allegedly attempted to make a “deal” with Garvey not to run a candidate against Supervisor Gromack in the November elections this year. Lettre, a long-time friend and mentor of Supervisor Gromack, is the recipient of one of the most outrageous contracts paid for by the Town of Clarkstown and voted for by Councilwoman Lasker several decades ago. That contract has expired paying Lettre over $180,000 per year yet Lettre continues to be paid under its terms at taxpayers’ expense.
Reda is allegedly under investigation by the Rockland County Republican Party over what are alleged to be missing funds, while former County Legislator, Sparaco, is serving a jail sentence for illegal party political activities exposed by the new leadership of the Republican Party.
Day also berated the Ramapo Democratic leaders in the County Legislature, Soskin and Schoenberger, saying that the Democratic leadership had sunk to a new low, risking the lives of the poorest among us and our heroic volunteer firefighters by playing politics with efforts to combat illegal housing and save lives before a tragedy occurs.
Here is the text of Day’s remarks:
As we watched the returns come in from our last county wide elections in 2011, just four short years ago, our party hit the nadir of its existence. Our leadership then – along with the hanger-ons and deal-makers attached to them – came into that election with what they called a “plan”.
This scheme was supposedly a “no-lose” plan to secure victory that November, particularly in the legislature. It was based on the typical political stew … backroom deals, political espionage, arrangements with third parties, accommodations with the Democrats, and a compromising of the ideals of our party. Frankly it was no more than a plan to feather the nest of those whose primary concern was their own political self-interest and personal self-aggrandizement.
Many of us were sickened by this. We argued that we had a platform. We knew we could win if we brought the truth to the people. Our county was in a budding financial crisis and we knew that addressing that coming catastrophe was the true and right thing to do. Our interest was in saving this county and preserving our homes, our families and our future.
Sadly, we were not heeded.
The inevitable happened – we took a beating and those at the Comfort Inn that night can attest to that personally. And we took that beating because our party was not true to ourselves and more importantly, not true to the people of our county.
With no counterbalance, predictably our county continued to slip into the abyss. The Democratic leadership in the legislature embarked on a path of tax increases – 30, 18, 11% three years running, and still we faltered. Despite raking in all that cash from our taxpayers, our deficit more than doubled from $62 million to the current $138 million. Why? Because the Democrats ignored what our minority GOP legislators said over and over again – there was not any effort devoted to efficiencies, operational improvements or savings. They kept pouring water – your money – into a leaky bucket riddled with holes.
Crisis can create fertile grounds for change. People started paying attention to the few voices we had out there, such as minority leader Cris Carey.
Two years later, the people of this county, supported by many of you in the audience tonight, brought me to office as your county executive – an improbable victory that defied all the political pundits and odds. Reform was in the air, and we are seeing that those seeds were not only planted but they are now growing. Most importantly, turnout was huge and record breaking … yes, the people indeed were paying attention.
Buoyed by that new found sense of ownership, more change came. Last spring those in our party – including Bob Zeiss, one lion we miss here this evening – who believed that the time was long past for us to cleanse ourselves from the political quagmire we were in and return to the principles and platform that this party was founded upon took action.
Change came with new party leadership, now headed up by Lawrence Garvey and we refocused on our core belief of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. That we would offer to the people of Rockland a platform of self-reliance, responsible spending, less government, a strong economy, fair treatment for all and special preference for none, and a preservation of this beautiful county we call home.
The people listened and the people acted.
This past November saw high turnouts again from a wonderfully re-engaged public. In a stunning turn of events and despite being outspent 10-1, nearly half the voters of our county still opted to turn away from a multi-term partisan Democratic congresswoman in favor of our first time GOP candidate, Chris Day.
What started with wins the year prior, where Stony Point gave us newcomers Jim Monahan and Tom Basile; to Orangetown who returned Denis Troy and Tom Diviny; to Clarks town with George Hoehmann then continued last year with wins for Senator Bill Larkin in North Rockland and newcomer Assemblyman Karl Brabenec in Ramapo; Suffern trustees Bob Morris and Ed Markunas. And in a decidedly Democratic district I am quite familiar with, the people in new city heard our message and elected Lon Hofstein to the county legislature.
So tonight we have come full circle. Very much unlike 2011, we are a reinvigorated Republican party that has shunned the politics of the past and instead now adheres to principles … yes principles … of integrity, honesty, transparency and community. We subscribe to the tenets of fiscal responsibility, economic growth, fair treatment for all and preserving the landscape of our beautiful county.
And those beliefs have already taken root. We see our financial position stabilized with bond and credit upgrades and for the first time in years a government that has operated in the black.
We stayed under the property tax cap; millions of economic development dollars were secured for our county; a platform of clean rateables such as Par Pharmaceutical, Bloomberg and Greenhouse Data is stabilizing our tax base; we are standing up against untoward development as we see being pushed at Pascack Ridge; and we have prevented nearly $2 million dollars in welfare fraud.
As the song goes … we‘ve only just begun.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are at the crossroads. In two short years this party … and this county … has started to turn the corner. That confluence is no accident … it is no coincidence … it is a cause and effect.
Our challenge is clear. At the county level of government know that I will not waver in any way and will provide the strong executive leadership you expect of me but also know this …. I will need our legislative candidates to win in order to bring the change the people of this county has made clear they want. And I need all of you to help make that happen.
Our town and village elections are key to a cohesive approach to governance that will stabilize taxes and make our economy strong. Without true partnerships between levels of government, our cost of living will continue to rise. It is our Republican candidates who are committed to breaking those politically created chains that stifle smart governance.
And let us not forget our judicial candidates, as it is they who will effectively partner with our law enforcement members and make the decisions that ensure order and safety for all our citizens.
We know that the people … party, ethnicity and religion aside … are fed up with the games, the deals and the politics that have conspired to nearly destroy all they have worked their entire lives for.
Just last night, the Democratic leadership sunk to a new low, risking the lives of the poorest among us and our heroic volunteer firefighters by playing politics with our effort to combat illegal housing and save lives before a tragedy occurs.
So tonight, here and now, is the beginning of a great campaign that has legions waiting to support our message. How do we know that? Because it is a message they already have embraced for two years running.
The people know that fiscal responsibility, smart economic growth and preserving Rockland are the keys to the future for us, our children and our grandchildren. It is our job to ensure they know our message is, in fact, their belief.
Tonight, I am so proud to stand before all of you. Collectively, you have been part of bringing forward what I call a “great hope” for our county. And you should all be proud as it has taken root. And yes it will grow because we know what is at stake … our homes, our families, and our very future.
You will leave here tonight as the ambassadors of that “great hope”. And over the next five plus months to November 3rd our victory for this party and the people of our county rests in your hands.
Know that you have right, urgency and purpose on your side and I ask that you go full speed ahead in bringing that victory home. We will not waver nor turn back. We will not cede any ground. We will go forward and will continue to fight for the change the people demand … a government that reflects all of our interests, not the entrenched Democratic political establishment that brought us to the brink of catastrophe.
In closing, let us have a thought and prayer for our military who at this very moment are ensuring that we keep the freedoms so well represented by the fact we can gather here tonight. Should you tire in your mission this fall – whether it be collecting signatures, handing out palm cards or going to door to door for our candidates, have a thought for that soldier out there standing a post, away from his or her family, putting their life and all their tomorrows on the line for all of us just so we can engage in this electoral process. I have every confidence that you will find that renewed vigor.
God bless you all, and god bless this great nation called the United States of America.