The Snake That Bites Both Hands – Rockland’s Conservative Party

Clarkstown Conservative, Ed Lettre with Clarkstown Supervisor, Alex Gromack

Clarkstown Conservative, Ed Lettre with Clarkstown Supervisor, Alex Gromack

The picture above shows Town of Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack driving Clarkstown’s Clerk of the Works, the Rockland County Conservative Party Chairman, Ed Lettre, around a golf course. The reason Mr. Gromack may appear so happy is that this was one of the rare times he was allowed to drive anything in the Town of Clarkstown.  You see it is the belief of many political observers that Mr. Lettre is the one who is really at the wheel of the Clarkstown Town government particularly when it comes to multi-million dollar projects paid for with your taxes.

In Rockland County the main minority Party ‘legal-racket’ (a term first coined by Phil Reisman of the Journal News) is the Conservative Party, nominally headed by Sam Naemit, but in reality said to be controlled by Gromack’s friend and mentor Ed Lettre. The Conservative Party’s twin in Rockland, the ‘legal racket’ Independence Party, is in partial demise since the principal controller of that racket recently followed its former leader, his mother-in-law, to jail while running a racket out of Clarkstown’s Highway Department under Highways Superintendent, Wayne Ballard.

The Conservative Party is a strange construction; it exists only in New York State and in Rockland County has only on the rarest occasions run a candidate of its own, preferring instead to persuade candidates from the two main parties that it is impossible to win an election in Rockland without kow-towing to its demands.  According to information published on the Conservative Party’s website its organization is headed in Rockland County by Ed Lettre, Supervisor Gromack’s political mentor and Clarkstown’s so-called ‘Clerk of the Works’.

Earlier this month, this so-called “Conservative” party held what they called a ‘fundraiser’ but which others might call a ‘protection racket’. Both Democrats and Republicans paid a first class admission fee to attend the fundraiser where they were allowed to beg for some political crumbs from the hand of Clarkstown’s Conductor of the Party Works. In addition candidates were asked to pay an extra amount for the Conservative Party’s endorsement supposedly to defray the cost of Conservative Party mailings to support their ‘Conservative’ candidacy.

But the reality would appear to be that Lettre may simply use these funds to assist in the re-election of his two principal protectors, Supervisor Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Lasker while conducting a negative campaign against all of the Republicans who have firmly rejected his scam under the new leadership of Lawrence Garvey and County Executive Ed Day. Golden tickets in the Conservative Party may contain presumptive fine print that requires the buyer to provide a patronage job to one or more of the ‘hanger-ons’ to the Conservative Party’s conductor. Such hanger-ons will seek jobs from those who pay to get on the Conservative train that is literally railroading their political colleagues in the two principal and sometimes principled parties.

Unfortunately, many Democrats and Republicans do not pay detailed attention to the political schemes that are involved with accepting the endorsement of the Independence and Conservative minor parties in Rockland. Therefore they may not fully realize the implications of the situations into which they are placing themselves. The leadership of the Conservative Party may perhaps have anything but the ideals of its “conservative” members in mind. The party in Rockland seems to many observers to be about patronage and shady alliances. Candidates outside of Rockland may not be as well versed as their colleagues in Clarkstown in understanding the machinations of the Conservative racket which may explain why they openly pay good cash to board the Conservative Party’s “take-any candidate’s-money and run” train.

We wonder how many principled people are unintentionally squandering their political credibility by enabling the continuance of a political protection scheme being run by Clarkstown’s $180,000+ ‘Special Bargaining Unit’ employee? Conservative candidates giving financial support to the Conservative racket are in essence working to defeat their own Republican colleagues in Clarkstown while also undermining their Republican colleagues in the County Legislature, namely Cris Carey and Lon Hofstein, none of whom will have anything to do with either the Conservative or the Independence Parties’ ‘sham and scam’ lines.

And so these questions should be asked:

1) Why are principled people who call themselves “Conservatives” missing the bigger picture that the Conservative Party is working against the new leadership of the Republican Party that has now rejected the past deal-making associated with the Reda-Lettre-Sparaco discredited trio?

2) Why are principled Conservatives prepared to assist in the re-election of Lettre’s principal enablers, Democratic Supervisor Gromack and Democratic Deputy Supervisor, Shirley Lasker for the sake of a few extra votes towards their own election?

3) Why are principled candidates in both the Democratic and Republican Party, who may or may not even consider themselves conservatives, missing the bigger picture that the Conservative Party is working against other candidates in their respective parties?

4) Why are principled Conservatives not aware that they are funding the very people working against them on a larger scale, or do they cynically realize this and simply don’t give a damn?

The Conservative racket seems to have many people fooled. Therefore, we will be doing a series of articles on this party in the coming months, as we did in previous articles on the now-disgraced Independence Party. In this article we will simply provide a brief outline of the Conservative Party as it relates to ‘legal racketeering’.

The Conservative Party’s leadership committee is controlled to a large extent by a block of party members from Ramapo. We would invite any grass roots Conservative party member to examine the Party’s committee membership list where they may find that roughly 30% of its controlling members are now comprised of block voters who are presumably looking to further their political influence outside the Town of Ramapo. Are Conservatives willing to open up a line of credit provided by a block group based in Ramapo which any rational person must know will have to be paid off in some way at a later date?

The main front man for the Conservative Party is reported to be Sam Naemit whose son has a job in the Clarkstown Highway Department controlled and operated by Wayne Ballard.  The most famous, or should one say most infamous, of the recent Highway Department employees was County Legislator, Frank Sparaco, who was given a $103,600 job in the Highway Department as Ballard’s ‘confidential secretary’ while exhibiting limited spelling and grammar skills.  Then there was the small matter of a Town job given to Lettre’s son until he was arrested for burglary of a West Nyack home while using one of the Town of Clarkstown’s vehicles.

Naemit’s rise reportedly resulted from the support he garnered by the recruitment of committee members of Ramapo’s block voting community who now constitute a growing faction of Conservative Party members. Naemit attempted to wrest control of the Conservative Party away from the Clarkstown Machiavelli, Ed Lettre, a two-time former Town Councilman who was given a political sweet-heart deal known as ‘The Great Clarkstown Giveaway’ a couple of supervisors ago by the now Deputy Supervisor in Clarkstown, Shirley Lasker.

The ‘Great Clarkstown Giveaway’ deal known in polite circles as the ‘Special Bargaining Unit Contract’ has no minimum hours for Lettre to work which means he can come and go as he pleases, do whatever he wants, and not be charged with any dereliction of duty for not working a 35 hour week. He doesn’t even have to be at work during the normal business hours of the town so long as he is “available to the supervisor,” which led one wag to remark about the contract “by cell phone from the golf course in Florida”. Lettre’s deal gave him unlimited sick leave and unlimited health insurance for the rest of his life for himself and his family all paid for by Clarkstown’s taxpayers.

This infamous contract expired at the end of last year yet, for some reason known only to God, Lasker and Gromack, the Town of Clarkstown’s taxpayers continue to pay Lettre over $180,000 per year. This contract was supposed to be sunsetted at its expiry as something so out of line and outrageous that it should never have been agreed to by the Town Board two supervisors ago. The plan by Gromack and Lasker appears to be to ignore Lettre’s lack of a contract until Lettre provides for Gromack’s and Lasker’s possible re-election in November 2015 by giving both of these liberal Democrats the ‘right-wing’ Conservative Party line. Then with the help of Democrat Hausner, who is not up for re-election this year, the majority on the Town Board will create a position for Lettre to let him continue to supervise town projects for which he has no degree, no engineering qualifications, and in the financial management of which to date he has run massively over budget.

Not that running over budget is of much concern to either him, Supervisor Gromack or Deputy Supervisor Lasker since they were quite prepared last year to sell the Middlewood Senior Housing Complex for a quick infusion of cash to relieve their budgetary constipation and Supervisor Gromack told one of the Town’s rating agencies that he had demonstrated a willingness to raise the Town’s taxes. The Middlewood sell-out was fortunately scotched by Councilmen Hoehmann and Borelli and now the Town’s overspending has flushed its reserve fund down the toilet with the result that it is simply a matter of time before Gromack will lose his vaunted Triple A bond rating.

In future articles we will explain why Lettre is listed in Town documents as a ‘Public Works Administrator’, but the Town Board has never taken any action to provide him with any such position. On the Town’s salary schedule, Lettre is described as being the “Clerk of the Works” – a very expensive ‘clerk’ who happens to earn a taxpayer-funded compensation just north of $180,000 and may appear to justify that compensation with the title of ‘Administrator’. But then again, Clarkstown did have a title of “Confidential Secretary”, in which position an ex-County Legislator, unable to spell common English words or coherently parse a simple sentence, was paid a figure north of $100,000 per year to assist Wayne Ballard in not picking up the Town’s leaves.

Given the above you might ask: “What’s New?”

Supervisor Gromack is a nice but simple guy who just doesn’t run the Town of Clarkstown; he is a figurehead just like his predecessor. Lettre’s blindingly white teeth were designed to bite, Gromack’s to eat. It is Mr. Lettre who has the responsibility for all of the major town projects and their associated budget expenditures and this has not been a good deal for the taxpayers. Unfortunately for Clarkstown’s taxpayers, Lettre is a machine-politician who is neither competent nor qualified to manage multimillion dollar projects or budgets.

As a singular example, it seems that the true cost of the New City revitalization project is being hidden from the public. Would you be surprised to know that the cost of that project is just under $30 million dollars?  New City has been turned into something akin to a Disney Theme Park at massive cost all paid for with future debt on a Town credit card. Now you know why your taxes have doubled during Lettre’s management of the Gromack administration.  Now you know why your taxes will continue to go up once Lettre has returned to his favorite golf course in Florida. You will be paying your share with interest long after both Supervisor Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Lasker have eaten their last meal at Restaurant X and left Town.

All of this nonsense may explain why residents of Clarkstown are living in the second-highest property taxed region of the United States and it may explain why the interest on Clarkstown’s bonded debt (now well over $100 million) – racked up by Lettre’s mad and reckless management of Town projects – has resulted in interest payments alone far out into future years that exceed the State mandated tax cap. Put simply, Ed Lettre may have mortgaged the future of the Town of Clarkstown so heavily that nightmare taxes lie ahead for the foreseeable future. The damage caused by this political racket will likely haunt the taxpayers of Clarkstown for years to come.

At this point, who in their right mind, except Supervisor Gromack and Deputy Supervisor Lasker, would want Ed Lettre to have anything to do with any matter of importance in Town government?

This brings us back to the grass roots membership of the Conservative Party to whom we would like to address the following additional questions:

a) Do you agree with the way your party leader, Ed Lettre, has managed the business of Clarkstown?

b) Who do you believe your party is supporting in the November elections, Democrat Gromack or Republican Hoehmann?

c) Do you realize that your party is being slowly taken over by a Ramapo block vote and is this acceptable to you?

As the title of this article suggests – the Conservative Party is in our opinion a snake putting up no candidates of its own while biting both the left hand of the Democrats and the right hand of the Republicans for its own selfish purposes. We believe that the Conservative Party will work for any candidate of any party who will provide for Lettre’s survival. At the same time, we believe Lettre will work against both Democrats and Republicans who have rejected the Conservative Party’s scam on principle.

Finally, as grass roots members of the Conservative Party you may be interested to know that Ed Lettre threatened to give NO Republican your party’s endorsement this year if the Clarkstown Republicans under Lawrence Garvey ran a viable candidate against Supervisor Gromack. Do you realize that such offers are immoral, unethical and possibly illegal?

Would it surprise anyone to learn that your now-rejected Conservative Republican colleague, Wayne Ballard, who cooperated in a scheme to overthrow the new, principled, leadership of the Republican Party and for which his partner, ex-County Legislator Sparaco, had to pay the full price alone of a ticket to the Rockland County jail, will not be handed the Republican Party’s line this November?  However, he could be retrieved in a last ditch effort to save him and his patronage farm from the gutter of Clarkstown’s politics by a ‘Machiavelli’ who may provide Ballard with some help from New York’s chief instrument of political corruption namely a snake-like endorsement from one of the ‘legal racket’ Independence or Conservative Party minority lines.

Grass roots Conservatives like the Republicans need to take back their Party, their Principles, and their Reputations immediately if they are to save Conservatism in Rockland County.

About Michael N. Hull

Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

About the Author
Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

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