According to New City Patch Supervisor Alexander Gromack now thinks the time has come for the Town of Clarkstown to have Term Limits. He has had a resolution drafted that would limit the service of any supervisor or town board member elected after Jan. 1, 2015 to eight years. And he’s calling for a public hearing September 09, 2014 on it.
“After much thought I am now convinced that creating term limits for every member of our Town Board is the right thing to do for Clarkstown,” Gromack said in a written statement. “The success of any democratic government depends upon citizen involvement. In my opinion, the highest level of citizen involvement is running for elected office. Term limits will encourage that level of citizen involvement.”
It’s hard not to be cynical about this ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion by Supervisor Gromack. Politicians sometimes see ‘the light’ when their actions no longer can have any effect on their own political future.
Thus it may be with Supervisor Gromack.
This is the same Supervisor who threw 3,500 petition signatures collected by the Clarkstown Taxpayers in to the proverbial garbage can. During the 2011 election campaign while running against a strong advocate for Term Limits, Republican Ralph Sabatini, Supervisor Gromack defended his action by saying that the citizens petitioning him belonged to the “Tea Party fringe group” and then implied that Clarkstown citizens were so stupid that they would “sign a piece of paper just to get on with their lives.”
However, if Supervisor Gromack is really serious about introducing political reform to Clarkstown then we would encourage him to accept another Republican idea, that of the Two-hat Rule which County Executive Day has been trying recently to get the County Legislature to accept and which that body has so far declined to do.
Lon Hofstein, a resident of Clarkstown and a candidate on the ballot this November with Day’s support to take Day’s former seat in the County Legislature recently addressed the Legislature explaining the need for both Term Limits and the Two-hat Rule in Rockland County saying:
Term limits date back to the American Revolution. America’s first president, George Washington, started the tradition of informal presidential term limits by refusing to run for a third term. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only American President to break that tradition and upon his passing Congress enacted the two-term limit for all subsequent presidents.
News headlines continuously lead with news of government officials involved in behavior that can be considered questionable and at times criminal. There are some who were elected to serve the people yet in fact they seek office to serve themselves and to feed their hubris personality. People use the term corrupt to describe the manner in which governments operate and refer to politicians as self-centered and/or politics as usual. These are the words of the people crying out for change. I believe term limits will reduce the perception of ‘politics as usual’.
Furthermore, I believe officials should dedicate their efforts to the position they were elected to serve and not have employment in any other branch of government during their term of office. I am suggesting that legislation be presented and passed forbidding any elected County Official from seeking or accepting another government position while serving the people in the office they were elected (the 2-Hat Rule).
Were both Term Limits and the Two-hat Rule in place for all elected officials in the County of Rockland and in the Town of Clarkstown, including the elected County and Town positions of Highways Superintendent, the disgraceful state of affairs in which a County Legislator is being paid over $100,000 of taxpayers’ money to perform the duties of a ‘Confidential Secretary’ in the Town of Clarkstown would not be occurring.
If Supervisor Gromack is serious about significant and lasting political reform in Clarkstown then he should acknowledge that he is three years late in accepting Ralph Sabatini’s 2011 election platform and apologize to the 3,500 Clarkstown citizens who he referred to as a “fringe group”.
Supervisor Gromack should also recognize that serious ethical lapses have occurred in his administration which have been addressed in numerous Town Board meetings by New City resident Tom Nimick and others. Nimick has stated that he considers the root cause of much unethical behavior to arise from the circumstance of people being concurrently representatives of a political party AND employees of the Town. He points out that in 1989 when the Town of Clarkstown’s current Code of Ethics was adopted, there were multiple drafts and there was considerable discussion of a draft that included a prohibition of town employees concurrently being officials or representatives of political parties. That draft was not adopted and it is not in the current Code of Ethics.
Past events with the hiring of the now convicted ex-Bronx GOP Chairman, Jay Savino, and the present employment of County Legislator, Frank Sparaco, have demonstrated that the Town Board was mistaken in failing to implement that prohibition. Nimick has proposed on several occasions that the Town Board rectify that failure. If the prohibition had been in place Mr. Sparaco would not have been in a position to trade political favors for employment and Ed Lettre, an employee under the supervision of the Town Board, would not have been able to summon his employers to a meeting that he organized, Nimick said.
Furthermore the Deputy Town Attorneys who serve as committee chairs for local political parties would not have had the inside track for employment in the Town and if this prohibition had been in place, the Republicans would not have been able to propose Mr. Savino for his job with the Office of Town Attorney.
According to Nimick those practices have always been ethically problematic and it is time to ensure that they are specifically prohibited by our Code of Ethics.
Therefore we call upon the Town Board to move forward and unite on Supervisor Gromack’s belated but welcome proposal concerning a Public Hearing on Term Limits. However, we suggest that the Town Board should expand the Supervisor’s somewhat narrow and limited proposal into a Public Hearing that all citizens of Clarkstown would welcome and enthusiastically support containing the following three items for discussion at the September 09, 2014 Public Hearing.
1) There should be term limits for ALL elected officials in Clarkstown.
2) No elected official in Clarkstown shall be permitted to hold a second job in Rockland County that is paid either partially or wholly with Clarkstown resident’s property taxes (the Two-hat Rule).
3) No covered employee or Town of Clarkstown employee shall concurrently be an officer or representative of a political party organized within the State of New York. Those employees who are in this status at the time this proposal is enacted will comply with its requirements no later than six months from the date of its enactment.