In the Town of Clarkstown’s with the Police Benevolent Association, Councilman Borelli, emulating Sonny Liston, dropped to the floor with the rest of the Town Board after the first punch was thrown. The result of that ‘championship fight’ is that the Town of Clarkstown will now spend several millions of dollars in additional costs and future pension expenditures for .
Seeking to erase this ignominious defeat and having sparred recently with Highway Superintendent Ballard over Ballard's desire to hire a part-time , Councilman Borelli has apparently decided that his next fight will be a bar room brawl with Councilwoman Lasker over her $10,000 stipend to act as Deputy Supervisor. In the Journal News of July 16, 2012 under the headline ‘Clarkstown board member questions deputy supervisor's stipend’ we read:
A Town Board member is pushing to revoke the customary stipend paid to the deputy supervisor, citing the need to cut costs in this time of frugality. Councilman Frank Borelli raised the issue at a recent meeting when he said Councilwoman Shirley Lasker should not receive an additional $10,710 for being the deputy supervisor. Lasker, like all other council members, receives $41,820 for being on the Town Board. Borelli said the deputy supervisor position had no active responsibilities. Practically speaking, he said, there was no difference between the deputy and other Town Board members because it was rare for the deputy supervisor to be called to fill in for the supervisor. “We are trying to save dollars,” said Borelli. “It’s a 25 percent bump in your salary. We get these aren’t big numbers, but they add up.”
While all of this may be true Borelli doesn’t seem to aspire to Everett Dirksen alleged aphorism: “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money” by going after all of the loose change lying around Town Hall. For example, why does he stop with Councilwoman Lasker when he could push for all deputy salaries to be eliminated including the Deputy Comptroller who gets approximately $10,000 over and above an approximately $95,000 salary? He could also look at Clerk of the Works, Ed Lettre, who gets additional compensation simply for chairing the Town Architecture & Landscape Board. But then Ed Lettre could withhold the Conservative Party’s endorsement over any council member who might step out of line.
According to the Journal News, Lasker pushed back against the notion that she had little extra responsibilities saying:
“I have to be available (around-the-clock). I’m the longest-serving member of the Town Board and the only only one who doesn’t have a full-time job. My full-time job is being a Town Board member and deputy supervisor. It’s a big responsibility.”
Supervisor Gromack supports Councilwoman Lasker’s claims that she has “a big responsibility” by offering that she fills in for him when he is not available and did so at a recent State hearing on the Tappan Zee Bridge. How many times Lasker has filled in for him was not enumerated, but if it was ten times over the past year then that is a very large expenditure of taxpayers money at $1,000 per 'fill'.
Further, one might ask who was filling in for Supervisor Gromack when he took vacation last year? According to the Clarkstown Taxpayers it was not Councilwoman Lasker as she was on vacation at the same time. Hopefully, this seeming void in Supervisory coverage when both the Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor are absent does not give rise in the Town Board’s thinking to the need for a 'deputy Deputy Supervisor’ position.
Borelli seems set at the forthcoming July 24, Town Board meeting to take another 'Sonny Liston' dive since Supervisor Gromack, with Board members Hausner and Hoehmann, have cited 'precedence' as a reason for supporting the stipend. This appeal to 'precedence' seems to cover a myriad of very bad fiscal behaviors. 'Precedence' is a disease, rapidly becoming epidemic, against which the public needs to be inoculated.
For example, in the other recent championship fight over police salaries held in the Town of Orangetown, the ‘precedent’ set by Clarkstown to approve its own ‘throwing in of the towel’ to the PBA demands was used by the as the excuse for it to do likewise.
"Arbitration is not a fair fight," Orangetown Councilman Diviny said. "It is fighting with one hand behind your back. A lot of people say we should fight the PBA and unions and go to arbitration. It's not so easy when Clarkstown is giving two and a half percent raises (per year for 2013 - 2017). We are trying to get the best deal. We could go to arbitration and do better, but based on the decisions I have read and what other towns have, it's not a fair fight."
The Clarkstown Taxpayers has pushed for elimination of these 'deputy' compensation packages for at least two years. But they are a small side issue to the bigger battles that should be fought over out-of-control union costs and spiraling pension obligations. Taxes are about to go up in Clarkstown and the County government will be blamed but however you wish to look at it, none of our representatives in local government are taking on those who have the brawn and the big fists.
“We’ll see where people stand”, Borelli says about the forthcoming July 24 Town Board meeting, “I’m not sure I’ll get a second.”
Councilman Borelli could have guessed before he started this spat that he wouldn’t get a second to his proposed motion. Who in this pub brawl would want to act as a ‘second’ in his corner either? Personally, I prefer my pugilists to fight with big boys under the big lights and in championship fights where the really big money is up for grabs.
In this minor pub brawl there will always be a couple of 'heavies' who will come to the aid of the damsel in distress while the Police Benevolent Association smiles approvingly from the bar.
When Councilman Borelli decides to stand up in a real fight the taxpayers will be there to cheer him on. At the April 17, 2012 Town Board meeting, he noted that Clarkstown currently has $95 million worth of debt and said:
“We have to be very careful where were going with our debt. We’ve got to watch everything.”
While we can all agree on that, might we also agree that looking into this lady’s purse isn't going to get us very far.