It is during this time of year, we reflect on things and events past, and look to focus on how we can improve our lot during the calendar’s “new beginning”. These New Year’s resolutions are often considered light conversational fare, but can take on great significance as part of a larger solution in our lives. GPS technology aside for the moment, good roadmaps can get us on a path to where we need to get to, both figuratively and literally. For those who believe we here in Rockland are at the edge of our own “fiscal cliff” right now, we need a plan of action designed to get us back to being the great County we know we are.
Many citizens who have urged me to run for County Executive have shared anger and frustration at a government they feel does not hear them. Their frustrations are a shared one, as I have been consistent for nearly five years now in speaking to the folly that often has become policy when proposed by the administration, only to be adopted by the legislative leadership and majority. At every turn, alternatives have been ignored, and it is clear that the only way to effect positive change is to assume the top leadership role of our county.
We need decidedly non-political approaches in order to change the downward path we are on. This is not the time for the usual political platitudes and vague notions of change or vision. There is a critical need to recreate and redefine county government, forming partnerships across governmental boundaries so as to provide services more efficiently. Some of us do understand Einstein's words that we cannot continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.
Make no mistake about it. The road we need to travel will not be easy and the effort necessary will be herculean. Unlike others, and as a part time legislator with a full time private sector job, I have no skin in the political game. I do not need to go along to get along in order to earn political points or pension credits.
Know this also … As your County Executive, I will use every executive experience I have had in my lifetime to succeed in this endeavor. Commanding in the NYPD; being the Chief of Detectives and having executive authority over a detective division of a 3200 member police department; and as a corporate security director for a major property management firm affecting thousands of people and hundreds of businesses and guiding them through the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
So here is my “double dose” of New Year’s resolutions, offered to our citizens both for the coming year and as our roadmap back to greatness starting on New Year’s Day of 2014.
- Immediately implement a complete zero based budget.
- Formulate an immediate plan of action designed to recreate county government, one that will be supported and implemented by our greatest resource; the people found within our own county workforce, the business community; town and state officials; and interested professionals within the community at large. All options are included in this initiative, including strategies of tapping into the expertise of a corporate turnaround specialist.
- Have an outreach with state, town, and village levels of government with the goal of charting out a unified approach to governance, such as when I joined with officials from various levels of government to actually permanently eliminate the tax burden of community college chargebacks as opposed to the typical, political answer of kicking the can down the road and passing them along onto town tax bills.
- Increasing taxes is not the answer. That is a job killer and a people chaser. The answer lies within increasing wealth and the tax base, and to that end we will chart out an aggressive course of action for economic development.
- We will create new service models both within county government and through effective consolidations across government boundaries, using partnerships that will enhance services and save money in areas such as law enforcement and highway. Instead of focusing on which level of government is budgeting the service, the goal will be to reduce the total cost of each and every citizen’s tax bill.
- Fiscal responsibility and a balanced approach to government will be a core value of my administration.
- We will fund basic, important functions such as services for public safety, public health, our roads, a basic animal care and control function, and services to our returning war heroes.
- Every employee will be expected to effectively deliver needed services to our community, and the people’s priorities will always trump “sometimes show” or “little work” patronage jobs.
- It is an unfortunate reality that there are those who will play the social services system. Those in need will continue to be helped by their neighbors as part of my administration, but I will engage in an immediate assessment to ensure that those who look to game the system in any way will not have that opportunity.
- Accountability in government will become the mantra of my administration, and concepts such as customer service and efficiency will become the new normal.
- I will always be the leader who will stay out in front of our problems, whether they are natural disasters; projected financial difficulties; or anything in between.
- Communication during a crisis is vital and the fact is we need to do better. I will develop a plan to do that. My administration will revisit utilizing “211”, social media, apps, texts, and a comprehensive partnership with WRCR radio so as to ensure the people are not feeling abandoned during times of crisis.
- Contract agencies will be fully re-assessed and funded as they should; in a manner that augments necessary or mandated services that government should, but cannot efficiently, provide. Organizations that are inefficient, have top heavy administrative expenses, or high salary costs will not be funded by our taxpayer dollars
- I will continue to address significant matters that affect all Rocklanders, issues that I have been front and center on for many years including the Tappan Zee Bridge, the MTA, public safety, and property and sales tax relief.
- As I have done as a county legislator, I will not look to enlist or re-enter into the pension system to gain another pension, commonly referred to as double dipping.
- Should I have the confidence of the voters to be re-elected to a second term, I will self-impose a term limit on my tenure as county executive to two terms.
In closing, and from our family to all of you – our very best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!