The Rockland County Charter, Term Limits, and You
An Open Letter To Voters In Rockland County
Ed Day – County Executive
PROPOSAL NUMBER FOUR: “Shall the local law entitled “A Local Law Amending the Rockland County Charter”, adopted by the Legislature of Rockland County and requiring the County Executive to submit the proposed annual budget by October 1 of the calendar year; providing gender neutral language to be used throughout the Charter; permitting the Legislature to approve or reject certain temporary appointments; resolutions involving actions relating solely to the Legislature are not subject to County Executive approval; reducing the time frame for the County Executive’s approval or disapproval of resolutions or local laws; creating a means of succession for the leadership of the Legislature; altering the time frame for the County Executive to submit referrals for appointments requiring Legislative approval; stating that the failure of an appointment resolution to pass after a vote within a certain time frame is a rejection of the appointment; creating the position of Deputy County Executive; requiring all full time department heads to devote their full working time to County duties; permitting members of the Capital Projects Committee to appoint designees to serve in their place; and abolishing the Social Services Board, BE APPROVED?”
To: The Editors of Rockland Voice
On November 4th residents of Rockland County will have an opportunity to vote for or against amendment of the Rockland County Charter which is the governing document for both the legislature and the County Executive. I have received inquiries from some who will be voting by absentee ballot as to my position on the proposed amendment. My recommendation is as follows:
The charter revision process should have produced a significantly 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 to the legislators were shot down in committee 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 with a ‘Term Limit’ provision.
Term limits are noticeably absent. Also missing also from the proposed new charter is language that would end multiple political appointments to the legislature and to patronage jobs in either County, Town, or Village levels of government. The people want good government with a provision that says elected officials can not wear ‘Two Hats’.
As County Executive, I wish to stand with all the people of Rockland County, Republican or Democrat. I wish to stand for what is right, what is best, and what works to make Rockland better. I do not wish to support a revised County Charter with the critical changes I have mentioned above reduced to little more than a sales pitch for a charter of weak gestures and future vague promises. I wish to stand for that which will strengthen our communities for years to come, not for what serves the short-term political interests of a few.
Accordingly, I am urging all to vote “NO” on Proposal #4.
You will hear from those with a vested interest in the present system that even though ‘Term Limits’ and the ‘Two Hat Rule’ are not on the ballot, you should vote ‘Yes’ anyway because the proposal does improve the Charter.
My position is that the proposed changes are largely window dressing and you should not accept ‘crumbs’ from your government’s plate while they withhold from you the ‘loaf of bread’. It is YOUR government; voting “NO” on Proposal #4 should send that message to your representatives loud and clear.
Those who are preventing you from having Term Limits and a Two Hat Rule make vague promises that they will take up these major issues next year. However, we need to remember that these are the same voices that have refused to hear the call for Term Limit legislation that I sponsored as a legislator for nearly three years!
In short – I no longer place any credence in such promises. Neither should you.
You will hear from the charter revision advocates and supporters that the key reason you should vote to support the proposed Charter changes is that it will improve the budget process by ensuring that I, as your County Executive, will submit the County budget to the legislature earlier each year than is now mandated by the present Charter.
Here is my pledge AND my challenge.
If the proposed Charter revisions are voted down on November 4th, I will voluntarily submit the next budget on the October 1st date now being proposed AND support the entirety of the current proposal IF, and only IF, the legislature brings proposed Charter revisions forward for next year that include Term Limits and some restrictions on appointments and employment of elected officials.
Residents of Rockland County, I need your continued help in order for me to continue to deliver what you want. You have told me loud and clear that you want me to fight for your right to vote on the questions of ‘Term Limits’ and the ‘Two Hat Rule’. Do not let anyone get away with telling you that they do not work for you but that you must vote for their proposal. Why is your County government afraid to let YOU decide on Term Limits and the Two Hat Rule? The answer is simple – they fear that you will vote overwhelmingly for these changes and they will have to move on eventually from their present political offices.
Do you believe 12 years in office in Rockland County is enough and do you believe that no elected official should be taking home more than one government salary at your expense? I do. Some others do to.
If you do then there is only ONE way you will get the opportunity to have your voice heard … VOTE “NO” on Proposal #4. This will send a signal to your representatives that they need to do further work on the Rockland County Charter before you will give it your vote of approval.
Thank you and please feel free to make my views known to others.
[Picture Credit: Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, Inc]