Rockland Voice: Charles, obviously we at Rockland Voice know you quite well as you have written some very interesting articles which we have listed at the end of this interview. Democrat Joe Meyers is not running again as the legislator for District #12. He is highly respected as having shown great independence and not toeing a particular party line certainly as it pertained to East Ramapo where he was a strong supporter for the East Ramapo School Board monitor. I would like to begin by asking you to provide some detail about your professional and educational background.
Falciglia: I am the Bank Secrecy Act Officer for a major International Bank. I have spent 35 years in the Banking Industry and I am a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist. I graduated from Suffern High School in 1974 and from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1978 with a Degree in Accounting. I am also an award winning author for the world’s most prominent economic crime magazine having written 30 articles on the subjects of economic crime, money laundering and campaign finance schemes. I have been married 33 years to my wife Rita who is also in banking; we live in Suffern with our daughters.
Rockland Voice: You have run for office before, right?
Falciglia: Yes – in 2011 I ran for Trustee in Suffern for the first time. Despite not being very politically active then I became the first Republican to win a seat on the Village Board in eight years in a predominantly Democratic Village. It sounds more impressive than it was because people are thankfully continuing to move away from voting along party lines, especially on the local level.
Rockland Voice: Could you describe some of the events you were involved in during that time?
Falciglia: Well, I abstained on the 2012 – 2013 Budget-Vote, due to what I will call philosophical differences with how certain revenues should be applied. It was then and there that I then decided to run for Mayor of Suffern even though I was only four months into my term. There is only so much you can accomplish as a Trustee with a two year term. I believe that was the only instance in the last decade that a Suffern Village Board member failed to vote ‘yes’ on a budget.
I was also the architect behind the ultimate dissolution of the four decades old Suffern Parking Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that I long believed was completely dysfunctional. The Parking Authority was guilty of under-performing, a sometimes difficult concept for many to get their hands around. In my estimation, as one who is very familiar with financial matters, if handled differently the bottom line could have been about $500,000.00 greater over the last 15 years. However, I am under no illusion that we would be better off in Suffern today, since those funds would have just gone into the general fund and melt into spending.
I also initiated a law to suspend the pay and give the Village Board the authority to remove members of the Planning and Zoning Board for poor attendance records. Oddly enough this law was the result of several Democratic Committee members complaining to me about the chronic absenteeism of one member.
Then there was a battle with Orange and Rockland over the maintenance of decorative street lighting poles. What started out as a simple inquiry about who was responsible for maintenance, ended up with me writing the Chairman of Con-Edison, the parent company, demanding he intervene. I also sent him a bill for $800.00 for failing to replace village light bulbs fast enough, which the Utility eventually paid.
Rockland Voice: Could you explain why the Parking Authority was dissolved?
Falciglia: The Suffern Parking Authority did not operate at maximum financial efficiency due mostly to some strange decisions made at the Village Board level over the decades. It seems that Rockland County Sewer District Number One is guilty of the same; but the questions recently raised about their operations are much more serious than a small Parking Authority.
Rockland Voice: Are you speaking about the recent articles we at Rockland Voice did about the proposed use of Sewer District funds to put up a $3 million police shed in Clarkstown?
Falciglia: Yes, that among other events. You see these quasi-governmental agencies are in some ways designed to under-perform because of a variety of inherent reasons, such as duplication of services and a general a lack of management oversight at the legislative level; plus the cronyism and patronage that becomes a by-product of all these quasi-government agencies.
I was very pleased to see Ed Day call for a Forensic Audit of Sewer District One. I believe it should ultimately be dissolved and moved under the auspices of the county. As you know I wrote an article for Rockland Voice entitled Sewer District Needs To Explain Eminent Domain Failure in which I highlighted what may have been the bungling of millions of taxpayer dollars and Ramapo’s continued violation of the Clean Water Act.
Rockland Voice: Do you believe that with three Town Supervisors on the Sewer District Board including Legislator Aney Paul the oversight is not sufficient?
Falciglia: You can never have enough oversight. These types of operations have surface driven oversight. You have people with no business acumen, no ability and/or desire to drill below the surface; elected officials afraid to buck one another and busy with their own jobs that there is what I call cursory administration. One or two people drive the ship and the others just go along. Aney Paul is never going to stand up to Gromack or St. Lawrence. I would like her to answer the questions I raised in the Eminent Domain article.
As far as St. Lawrence, everything he is involved in is an economic disaster. His statement to the Journal News after losing the Eminent Domain case on appeal sums up his utter contempt for the public. “We have been building up our surplus in the sewer district, knowing that this case was there. We have approximately $25 million on hand,” St. Lawrence said. There’s a total disconnect there. Building up a surplus to pay for losing a lawsuit that has a merry-go-round of questions about the entire management of the suit, and if it should be appealed, cannot be passed off with a boilerplate statement.
Rockland Voice: You have also pointed out in your article a letter to the U.S. Attorney on the St. Lawrence environmental record.
Falciglia: During the construction of the Ballpark, contaminated soil was dumped into a local stream. Ramapo ignored repeated requests and warnings to clean it up. The town had to be sued by the U.S. Attorney to act and was fined $125,000.00 in addition to the clean-up. Unfortunately, a monetary penalty by the government, which ultimately the taxpayers pay, is the easier route than getting to the bottom of how it happened and who is to blame. Personal fines and criminal charges need to become a stronger part of the equation.
Rockland Voice: How do you see yourself differing in approach to matters that come before the County Legislature?
Falciglia: First I am a financial numbers, financial fraud type of guy. That’s what we need in this county legislature. Why is it that only a handful of Legislators recognize that there may be something wrong with Sewer District One. There should be a 17 – 0 vote for not only a forensic audit but a full investigation of all decisions. There are too many legislators hiding behind legal nuances and clouding the issues.
I am a major proponent of Revenue Segregation Strategies, a concept that keeps certain unanticipated revenues and cost savings out of the general fund and applies them directly to outstanding debt. It also calls for preventive measures to reduce a percentage of any new debt incurred in the previous fiscal year. When you layer debt it usually takes a long time to get out from under and precludes you from taking advantage of opportunities that may come along. Not to mention the interest and fees paid. Many county legislators and elected officials just don’t seem to want to think out of the box. We need a cultural shift from people who are content to wash a bus instead of driving one.
And maybe most importantly, we need to work on bringing business to Rockland. Whether it be white collar or blue collar jobs is immaterial. We need people spending money here during the day.
Rockland Voice: I understand that you ran for Mayor of Suffern on the Preserve Rockland Line in 2013. Can you tell us something about that race?
Falciglia: In my four way race for Mayor I came up second, 31 votes short to the winner – the three term Democratic Trustee, Trish Abato. I finished ahead of two former Suffern Mayors despite being the last name on the last line of the ballot. The only solace was that it may have helped hasten the departure of the former back room deal-making Ramapo GOP Leadership, which I am glad to say is now gone.
You see I march to the beat of my own drum and I was denied the Republican line due to my continued rebellion against the culture of previous Rockland County GOP Chairman Vinnie Reda, and one of his followers, former Ramapo GOP Chairman, Mike Dolan. I read your article in Rockland Voice about the Republican Party now possibly looking for missing funds. Now that Reda is gone, it is time for a forensic audit of the books they managed too.
Rockland Voice: So as a Republican you believe that the former Republican leadership under the ex-Rockland County Chairman Reda and his Town Chairman in Ramapo was morally bankrupt?
Falciglia: As a resident and taxpayer I found their culture personally offensive. Their legacy is one of shame and disrespect for their community. Mr. Dolan did everything he could to prevent me from getting on the ballot. The trouble initially began when I ran for Trustee and employed a seldom if ever used political strategy in Suffern by running alone, as opposed to running on a ticket with other candidates. It would take too much time to elaborate on my reasons for the decision but it apparently worked. Both Reda and Dolan seem to have a lack of understanding of American History. This country was founded on free and fair elections and all these two guys did was spend their entire existence playing video game politics; and catering to St. Lawrence. They sacrificed good candidates and offered no support; and for what purpose; the prestige of being a party boss and doling out patronage jobs? Now with Ed Day as County Executive and Lawrence Garvey as the Rockland County GOP Chairman those days of bad behavior are over.
Rockland Voice: The East Ramapo School District is a major Rockland County issue. Would you care to weigh in on that one?
Falciglia: As for the situation in the East Ramapo School District, I believe the entire School Board system should be revisited, from separate boards for private and public schools, to one board overseeing multiple school districts. Legal matters and major facility decisions should be separated from local board authority. Under the present circumstances, I believe most reasonable people would have to conclude a monitor is desperately needed. In fact, this reluctance to have supervision of people elected to office makes little sense. How can you have a school board spend millions of dollars on legal fees defending lawsuits? Why is that? Why would a school board hire a public relations firm? Like I said, you can never have enough oversight.
Rockland Voice: Apart from your day job what have you been up to outside of being in office.
Falciglia: Well, as you know, in the two years I have been out of office I have written numerous articles for Rockland Voice such as ‘Four Thousand Shades of Political Gray’ and ‘Abbott and Costello Math in the Town of Monroe’. Those articles raised multiple questions about the campaign finances of Ilan Schoenberger, Sherri Eisenpress and Monroe Town Supervisor, Harley Doles, and the prima-facie evidence of the use of straw-donors to funnel in excess of $200,000.00 to their campaigns. Thanks to the publicity my articles have received in Rockland Voice I have since shared many of my findings with Law Enforcement.
Also I was extremely active with the Ward Referendum, going door to door in Suffern and laying out, in what I believe is a succient piece in Rockland Voice, the overwhelming case for it. I also responded to the ridiculous press release by Ramapo Purchasing Director, Mona Montal – ‘Anger and Paranoia at Ramapo Town Hall’ – where Ms. Montal tried equating abortion to the Ward Referendum – all she managed to do was to paint a picture of a sad group of people trying to hold onto power.
Rockland Voice: Well I guess we have covered a lot of ground. Thank you for speaking with us and best wishes in your campaign.
Falciglia: Thank you.
The following is a list of articles written by Charles Falciglia for Rockland Voice
1) Open Letter On Behalf of the Taxpayers of Ramapo
2) Leadership That’s Working
3) Conduit Contributions Where Money Laundering & Politics Mix
4) Rockland’s Independence Party Line
5) Sewer District Needs To Explain Eminent Domain Failure
6) Four Thousand Shades of Political Gray
7) Abbott and Costello Math in the Town of Monroe
8) Point Counter-point On Ramapo Ward Vote
9) Ward System of Ramapo or Wards of the State
10) Disloyalty – A Metaphor for Failed Leadership