CONTRIBUTE OR FACE FORECLOSURE
Letter to Editor of Rockland Voice
From Charles Clewsow
Recently, Jim Flynn wrote an excellent ‘Letter to the Editor’ regarding the inaccurately named “Contract Agencies”, the subject of great controversy in the 2015 Rockland County Budget. I would like to expand on his letter.
If Legislators Alden Wolfe, Patrick Moroney, Aaron Wieder, Aney Paul or Tony Earl came your door and made the statement – “Contribute to our hand-picked club, organization, charity and church or we will foreclose on your home” – you would probably tell them to seek help, get lost or both. You would be correct if you called Law Enforcement for their very apparent threat of extortion.
Yet that is exactly what Rockland Legislature is doing every year, to every Rockland homeowner. The recipients of our generosity appear to run the gamut from the well-known and reputable, like United Hospice and Meals on Wheels to small dance studios and film companies known to very few. They also include dues-paying organizations and private clubs like JCC of Rockland and ethnically-bent clubs like the Rockland Irish American or Indian Cultural Centers and Konbit Neg Lakay.
How about Christ Church of Ramapo? Separation of church and state? Forget it, this is the Rockland County Legislature. Yes, due to the ethnically and culturally diverse membership of our legislature, there is conveniently something for everybody and if YOU don’t contribute they will take YOUR home; it’s as simple as that.
My dad told me when I was very young that charity is a very private matter and if more than two people know about your contribution you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons. So why are Rockland taxpayers being forced to contribute to organizations they know nothing about with the threat of foreclosure hanging over their heads if they decide that they would rather keep their contributions private?
It smacks of legalized extortion.
Make no mistake, the funds for these contributions are paid directly from your taxes and are included in your tax bill, so if you refuse to pay any part of your tax bill the County will eventually foreclose on your home.
Granted some if not all of these organizations were formed to do some good and apparently some do need the funds to survive. But many do not and are clearly political gifts of our tax money. There are organizations on the list that have huge amounts of cash and pay high salaries to the people that run them.
The purpose of this letter is not to pass judgement on any of these organizations. Worthy or not, the decision to make a charitable contribution should be left to the individual making that contribution and not be made by a legislative body that appears to redistribute taxpayer funds in a large part to curry favor with the voters in their District.
This is not only wrong but because of the apparent implications of extortion, it is possibly illegal.
[The Author is a 38 year resident of Clarkstown and is a retired executive from the financial services industry.]