To The Editor Rockland Voice:
This Tuesday, October 7, 2014, the members of the Rockland County Legislature will be faced with voting again on two issues that have recently led to a great deal of controversy. The first involves the bus contract with the Brega Transport Company and the other involves the ‘Legal Consistency Act’.
For the few of you who are not aware, County Executive Ed Day vetoed the legislature’s approval of both of these items.
Let’s start with the first controversy which began in February of 2014 after a bus caught fire in Pearl River, New York. At the time the legislature voted, the cause of this fire was undetermined yet the legislators saw fit to approve a request by the vendor (Brega Transport Company) to pay it approximately four million dollars ( $4,000,000) to wash buses daily for the life of the contract.
As you have been reading and trying to understand the rational behind this approval you may scratch your head and say “Are you kidding me”? Your next thought may be: Was any documentation presented to substantiate that washing buses will eliminate the occurrence of bus fires? The answer is ‘No’ which leads to the next question: Why would the men and women elected to serve us in the Legislature decide to spend our money in such a cavalier fashion?
Recently, on September 18, 2014, the New York State Department of Transportation issued a report that stated it was unable to determine the most probable cause of the fire. The report revealed that the Brega Transport Corporation bus operator “exhibited the inability to identify a critical condition on the bus”. Additionally, it was determined that “the Dispatcher did not have suitable skills and lacked the knowledge to make a proper decision, when he did not advise the bus operator to evacuate the bus immediately and search for a source of a burning odor”. The report goes on to say: “These two factors led directly to the bus staying in service and the continuation of an overheating condition which ultimately led to the bus fire”.
Given that the members of the Legislature did not have this report when they voted to use your taxes to pump up a fixed-price contract, what was the basis for making their decision? Why did they not refrain from making any recommendation until the investigative findings were made available? Why would the members of the Legislature vote to amend a contract that would lead to an additional financial burden on the taxpayers? Has this action set a dangerous precedent for others to renegotiate their County contracts?
The second piece of legislation which was vetoed by the County Executive is “The Legal Consistency Act”. This law would enable ANY Town or Village to declare a structure to be ‘Historic’ which would permit them to circumvent Health Department and Building Code Regulations.
Again, as you have been reading and trying to understand the rationale behind this one, are you again scratching your head and saying “Are you kidding me?” Your next thought may be: Has anyone taken the time to evaluate what the potential risks are that this legislation will impose on the government of our communities? Codes and regulations are established for life, safety and human well being not for the whim of a village board who wishes to do something otherwise impermissible with an ‘Historic’ structure.
The members of the Legislature were elected to serve the people of Rockland County.
But who is being served by this Legislature, that wishes to attempt an over-ride of the County Executive’s two vetoes, is a mystery to all rational people.
Sincerely, Lon Hofstein
[Picture credit of Lincoln statue: http://www.foundersofamerica.com]