Clarkstown’s Town Hall buzzed with excitement on Wednesday evening, May 20, 2015 as Frank Dizenzo, candidate for Clarkstown Superintendent of Highways, defeated 18 year incumbent Wayne Ballard for the Republican Party’s nomination in the November election.
Ballard’s decline in the Republican Party began when he allied himself with elements under the control of the recently removed GOP leader, Vinnie Reda, who is under investigation related to the management of Republican Party funds, and the ex-Independence Party leader, County Legislator Frank Sparaco, recently jailed for fraudulent election practices in attempting to take over leadership of the Republican Party aided and abetted by Ballard. Recently, a highly critical and damaging report concerning Ballard’s administration practices of Clarkstown’s Highway Department was released; aspects of this report are still under investigation by the Town.
Ballard had spent weeks visiting GOP committee members in their homes in an attempt to reestablish his credibility in a Party that is determined to clear its decks of the proverbial back-room dealing politicians that have marred politics in both of the main parties in Rockland County. Unfortunately some individuals in Ballard’s department continued to disgrace its operations by making disparaging remarks hours prior to the GOP vote to those determined to end the bad behaviors shown by the present leadership of the Department.
Mr. Ballard’s summary to the GOP convention of his 18 years of achievements fell on deaf ears in the absence of any explanation as to why he had provided a succession of patronage jobs for County Legislator Sparaco and in the absence of any explanation of the influence on him and the running of his department by the Conservative Party’s controlling leader, Clarkstown’s Clerk of the Works, Ed Lettre. Complaints about too many bags and piles of 2014 leaves and brush on curbsides all over town, and roads left unrepaired for so long they resemble minefields served as clear contradictions to Mr. Ballard’s claims concerning his ‘engineering’ management. Ballard also failed to mention still fresh memories of unplowed roadways in Clarkstown during the past rough winters, a winter which saw every town in Rockland except Clarkstown promptly clean their roads down to blacktop.
What Ballard will do next to get his name on the November ballot remains to be seen. Speculation is that he will gather signatures and attempt to primary Dizenzo for the Republican Party nomination. However, given the massive defeat that the new Republican leadership delivered to him and Sparaco in the Fall of 2014 in their attempt to take over the GOP organization, this option appears doomed from conception. That Ballard could run on the Conservative Party line controlled by Ed Lettre and on the Independence Party line previously controlled by Sparaco is a probability.
However, senior officials in the Republican GOP indicate that Lettre was prepared to throw Ballard overboard if the GOP would agree not to run a candidate against Alex Gromack for the position of Clarkstown’s Supervisor. Lettre’s offer, which was summarily rejected, paralleled a similar offer made to the present Chairman of the Clarkstown GOP, Ralph Sabatini, in 2011 in which he was offered a patronage job by the Reda forces not to run against Gromack. Sabatini spurned that offer and was subsequently undermined by the now disgraced ex-leadership of the Rockland County GOP and the now jailed leadership of the Independence Party.
Speculation is rampant in the Town that the Democratic Party will nominate a ‘straw candidate’ for the Highway position who may conveniently be persuaded to drop out with the nod then being given by the Democrats to Ballard running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines. The candidate expected to be nominated by the Democrats is presently setting up a restaurant in Rockland County and has no history of Highway Department experience.
Dizenzo provided Rockland Voice with the remarks he had prepared to give before the GOP convention which are reproduced below.
My name is Frank Dizenzo and I am running for Superintendent of Highways in the Town of Clarkstown.
I have invested the last 32 years of my life in the Clarkstown Highway Department. During this time, I have worked side by side with many great people; people who believe in an honest day’s work; people with pride; people who care. It is these people who made the Clarkstown Highway Department an effective and efficient organization, serving the interests of both the town and its employees. It deeply saddens me to say this highway department, in which I was once so proud to serve, does not exist as such today. The Clarkstown Highway Department has been lost to a political power alliance that has used it as a dumping ground for patronage jobs and as a means of consolidation of political power. I stand before you tonight to announce that I intend to take the Highway Department back, both for the good of the citizens of Clarkstown and for the honorable employees of the Highway Department.
Under Wayne Ballard, the highway department has essentially become a political organization. This must end. The Highway Department should be, and will once again be, a Highway Department. The department will hire qualified people instead of those whose only qualifications are political connections. We will repair and pave roads. We will maintain and utilize our fleet effectively. We will be mindful of the value of the tax dollars with which we are entrusted. We will respond to the needs of the town; and the safety and well-being of our citizens and employees will be our foremost concern.
I am here tonight to tell you that the Clarkstown Highway Department, under my leadership, will no longer serve as a political power base for Ed Lettre, Alex Gromack and Wayne Ballard. The shadow these three have cast over this once great department will be lifted and replaced by a new era of integrity and fairness. Promotions will be based on merit, not politics. Discipline will be based on culpability, not politics. Trust and goodwill between employees and management will be the rule, rather than the exception.
I stand here tonight to humbly ask for the opportunity to restore the Clarkstown Highway Department to a place of integrity and fairness, to pull it out of the political gutter into which it has been thrown. I am here tonight to ask you to give the honorable employees of the Clarkstown Department the opportunity to once again serve the people of Clarkstown.