The Sain Spectacle
The gloves are off.
Rockland County witnessed a spectacle at this week’s meeting of the County Legislature.
The topic: the county-owned Sain Building.
Least there be any doubt here is the take-away: The interests of Rockland County taxpayers and the interests of the Ramapo Democratic delegation are not the same.
The Ramapo Democrats went on record supporting big government, big spending, big taxes, big deficits.
I firmly believe the people of Rockland County are better served by just the opposite.
My administration proudly stands for smaller government, smaller spending, smaller taxes and NO deficit.
Let’s not forget that residents have a choice at the voting booth about which vision they want. A good thing to keep in mind as one of the architects of this mess runs for a county judgeship.
These starkly different views of Rockland’s future and who should be entrusted with it are crystallized in one issue – the Sain Building.
Up before two legislative subcommittees Tuesday night was a motion to declare the Sain Building surplus. Such a vote would allow the full Legislature to vote on a sale.
The facts are not in dispute. The building at 18 New Hempstead Road has outlived its usefulness.
Rockland County government is getting smaller – decreasing 22 percent under my watch. Overall over seven years we have gone from 3100 employees to 1690. Employees in the Sain Building are being moved to the county complex in Pomona regardless.
A well-regarded, well-financed buyer has TWICE offered to buy the Sain Building — once when my office advertised the building for sale and the other time when the legislature did.
The potential buyer has offered $4.51 million – $510,000 above the appraised value. He wants to replace the deteriorating building with senior housing, a plan that Clarkstown favors.
The sale would wipe out 40 percent of the remaining deficit that I inherited. Yes, almost miraculously … we are almost done with the deficit!
This deal is a win for everyone – Rockland County taxpayers, county employees and residents of Clarkstown, who would see $500,000 in new tax revenue.
Why, then, have the Ramapo Democrats been blocking it for well over a year?
The Ramapo cabal is even holding members of its own party hostage to an agenda that benefits a select few.
Case in point, during the Sain discussion on the floor of the Legislature, one of the Ramapo Democrats, Ilan Schoenberger, hurled a vulgarity at his own colleague, Jay Hood.
Legislator Hood chose to do right by the people of Rockland County – he heard the facts and voted to declare the Sain Building surplus.
So did Republicans Laurie Santulli and Lon Hofstein on the Budget and Finance Committee along with Democrats Michael Grant and Harriet Cornell.
The “no” votes all came from the five “Gang of Five” Ramapo Democrats: Alden Wolfe, Aron Wieder, Ilan Schoenberger, Phil Soskin and Toney Earl.
On the Planning and Public Works committee Republicans Patrick Moroney and Christopher Carey voted yes, along with Democrats Michael Grant and Nancy Low-Hogan.
The “no” votes were from Ramapo Democrats Alden Wolfe and Ilan Schoenberger.
Legislator Aney Paul … true to form … was not present for the vote.
Legislator Schoenberger, when he was not cursing at one of his colleagues, had this to offer: the building should be retained so government can grow. That’s right – the big government, big spending argument.
Legislator Aron Wieder, who represents a district not exactly known for stellar planning, rudely questioned the methods of a professional engineering firm that did the parking study.
The parking study showed that even without the Sain Building, there would be plenty of room for people to park following some modifications at the Allison-Parris County Office building.
The parking study was done on a very high volume day, one that drew extra visitors for both jury duty and Law Day.
Wieder refuses to believe the facts, no matter how much information he is given.
Schoenberger decried a lack of a “vision” for the county complex – something that apparently didn’t bother him when he supported the sale of the bank building next door to the Sain building when it was sold. Or again when he supported the sale of the former RCC annex in Spring Valley.
And, almost unbelievably, Alden Wolfe, the former legislative chairman, argued that the county does not “need” the $4.51 million from the sale! He accused me of “underestimating sales tax revenue.”
I guess he has forgotten that his supporting an overestimation of sales tax revenue was what earned this county a $138 million deficit. My way … by design … reduced the deficit by tens of millions of dollars.
And I guess he also believes that the County, the Town of Clarkstown and the Clarkstown schools don’t need $500,000 annually in property taxes that they would receive when the Sain building land goes back on the tax roll. Amazing!
Perhaps the residents of our County, and particularly those from Clarkstown should keep that in mind when they see Alden Wolfe’s name on the ballot on September 12th for the Democratic primary for surrogate court judge.
Elected officials have to think of the best interests of everyone, not just a select few.
I was elected to put Rockland County’s financial house in order, something I am doing.
Our deficit is now $10 million. It would be a lot smaller if Wolfe and the rest of the Ramapo Democrats would stop finding reasons to block the sale of the Sain Building.
If the Ramapo Democrats cared at all about the future of Rockland County, they would get out of the way.