Legislators Shift Blame To Carlucci

The legislators were upset with the state senator for taking months to announce he didn't support their legislation to help with the county deficit


County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef spoke at the beginning of Tuesday night’s special meeting of the Rockland County Legislature, where the legislature was voting on his deficit reduction proposals.

But during his talk, Vanderhoef didn’t only urge the legislators to pass the resolutions, which they . He had some other words of advice.

“Finger pointing isn’t going to do anything,” he said.

Still, during the meeting many legislators said they were voting on unpopular resolutions Tuesday night at least partially thanks to one person: State Sen. David Carlucci.

Carlucci the three-eighths of one percent sales tax increase proposed by county officials, which was intended to help pay off a 10-year deficit bond to help reduce the county’s deficit. After initially calling County Legislator and Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Ilan Schoenberger to tell him the bill was going to be introduced, Carlucci then called Schoenberger back a few hours later to say he wasn’t going to introduce it.

“Still, he didn’t say he didn’t support it,” Schoenberger said. “He just said he wasn’t putting it in.”

Carlucci eventually came out against the proposal a few days after telling Schoenberger he wasn’t going to introduce the bill on the state level. A few weeks later, the in the county’s 2012 budget. At Tuesday night’s legislature meeting, the legislators were voting on those resolutions Vanderhoef proposed.

 “All of this could’ve possibly been avoided if Carlucci had been honest and forthright with us from the beginning, but he wasn’t,” Schoenberger said at Tuesday’s meeting.

He added that last night’s resolutions can be traced back to “Carlucci’s failure to be honest with [the legislature] back in January.” One of the resolutions voted in was a four percent tax on utility bills, which Schoenberger said he’s going to refer to as the “Carlucci Residential Energy Tax.”

Legislator Alden Wolfe said Carlucci’s attacks on the county government showed “immaturity and a lack of leadership.”

“I’m particularly disappointed with Senator David Carlucci, who danced around this whole issue since it first hit his desk in January and ultimately announced months later, on May 5, 2012, when the legislative session was almost over, he wasn’t going to introduce our bill at all,” Wolfe said. “Based on my involvement in this process, and my own observations over the past four months, I don’t think he ever intended to introduce the bill in the senate and it would’ve been nice to have known this months ago so we would’ve had more time to seek solutions other than what we’re facing tonight.”

Wolfe added that Carlucci called the county’s plan a fantasy.

“Well, if it’s a fantasy today, wasn’t it a fantasy in January?” Wolfe said. “Again, it would’ve been nice to know how he really felt earlier in the process.”

Still, not all the legislators were quick to point blame at Carlucci.

“Our problems did not begin when Mr. Carlucci decided not to carry this bill, and I happen to think that he was fairly courageous, whether you agree with him or not,” said Legislator Joseph Meyers. “It would’ve been very easy to throw the bill in, knowing it would go nowhere, and if anybody ever asked him why he did it, he could say, ‘Well the county legislature wanted it, so I was just doing the bidding of the local government.’”

Meyers called the attacks on Carlucci at Tuesday’s meeting “nauseating” and added that for months none of the state representatives put the bill into the state.

“For five months, I, and I’m sure many others, talked to Carlucci. It was clear that he was not a fan, but he was trying to keep an open mind for meeting purposes, and Ellen Jaffee was not really a fan either. I mean, for five months none of them put the bill in. Ellen Jaffee put the bill in on the last day that you could,” Meyers said. “This is not a tremendous show of support by our state representatives for the plan that the county put forward, and I just don’t think that we should be vilifying, because if we’re going to vilify, there’s a lot of blame to go around and most of it would not be set at David Carlucci’s doorstep.”

Carlucci could not be reached for comment.

Joe mann May 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
The very people who got Rockland into this mess are blaming an innocent bystander Albany politician, who had nothing to do with it!!! How typical Rockland spend and blame politicians.. I guess Carlucci got them the just above junk bond status too (Baa)... Congratulations, legislators,, you have the distinction of being the only county in NY to have this honor
Mike Hirsch May 30, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Look, this county's budgets have been a fantasy shared by Schoenberger, Cornell, and Vanderhoef for the past 15 years. This is no sudden happening. Carlucci was still in High School when those three started kicking the can down the road. To blame David for the end of the road is ridiculous. By the way, Ed Day has been saying the same thing ever since he was elected a few years ago. Why not blame him also? Carlucci and Day may belong to different political parties, but they're both on the same page here. I for one am very pleased that David has joined Ed's call for more responsible government.
ADK May 30, 2012 at 11:27 PM
MIke, this conversation is moot if we continue to elect the same people. The difficult part is that the primary reason for not cutting the bloated payroll is that it takes away all but certain re-election votes for those (and their extended families) who owe the politicians their jobs.with this "revenue enhancement" added to the 30% county property tax increase, our county tax has been raised almost 100% in the past 2 years...all to perpetuate an antiquated system that only works for those in it.
Michael N. Hull May 31, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Mr. Littman: You write "The legislators were upset ....".  Correction?  "A few legislators were upset .....".   Those were the ones pointing a 'finger of blame'. Mr. Shoenberger:  Note that when one points the 'finger of blame' there are three fingers pointing back at oneself.  Mr. Vanderhoef:    According to the March 20, 2012 issue of the Journal News Rockland County does not have a Finance Director and is "muddling along appointing a temporary one every 6 months".  This is giving rise to issues of confidence, competence and continuity. You said: “We’re still in a learning curve at a very critical time, I want to retain flexibility where we need to.  We just haven't had time to look.” Time's up. The electorate has lost confidence in your competence and lack of continuity.  You have no more flexibility. The clock has run out.   Tick, tock, tic, toc, ti, to, t, t, .......
Mike Hirsch May 31, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Rockland Resident May 31, 2012 at 02:37 AM
“Carlucci Residential Energy Tax.”. Seriously? I would consider that slander. He is not the one suggesting that we get taxed yet more. The county is burdened with debt and outrageous spending. Schoenberger, if you want to take yet more of our money and do nothing, at least own it and pass the "Schoenberger Residential Energy Tax".
Richard Kavesh May 31, 2012 at 09:56 AM
If there's one thing the County Legislature is good at, and it isn't much, it's passing the buck. Dead wrong to blame Carlucci. For years the Executive proposed, and the Legislature approved, budgets with artificially high sales tax revenue projections just to keep the property tax rate among the very lowest in all of NYS. Now they have to clean up the mess they made, not blame Albany. They could start by reducing their own pay by 15% and reducing the pay of all management that makes over $100,000 a year by 15%. Long-term, reduce the size of the Legislature to 11 at most - we sure don't need 17. Layoffs appear inevitable. Will management be included or will labor pay the price for management's mistakes, as it invariably does?
Mike Hirsch May 31, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Right on point Richard, thank you.
Karen Swift May 31, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I believe the legislature was told from Day One that the NYS Legislature was in no mood to let them raise taxes to cover up their problems. The Rockland County legislature has been using taxpayers dollars for years to buy votes-- and now the bill has come due. They have no one to blame but themselves!
Helene Feigelman May 31, 2012 at 01:33 PM
When are the legislatures, Mr Vanderhoef, and for the Town of Clarkstown, Mr Gromack, going to learn that the people just can't take any more taxes. I say get rid of all of them and start new. I agree with ADK.
michael May 31, 2012 at 02:48 PM
jrod June 01, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Listen...the 30% was to cover the fake money vanderhoef put into the budget for the "not sale" of the hospital. Not the first time the budget was fabricated. Now on the backs of the lower paid line staff who've done nothing to get the county in debt. Lay offs wont solve anything. The problems remain at the head of the table. The problem also exists in that state officials like carlucci are still obligated to help in a crisis - and if he didnt agree with the plan - he shldve come up with one himself. The state owes the county 42 million dollars. Our concerns need to be brought to the table in albany because our local gov is dysfunctional. What does that mean - "a call for more responsible governement". Who enforces that? Nobody. Who suffers? The vulnerable citizens. They can call all they want. Who are they calling to? They are part of the irresponsibility. Moody's lowered the rating because of Carlucci's non action. So instead of paying 3 cents on every hundred for 3 years to help fix this problem (we can chose to spend or not - and nj and others shop here too), we r now paying 4% energy tax - about $50 a month. Far more damaging...and mandated instead of a choice. With a state take over and junk bond - it will only get worse. All of the decisions made by every official suck.Carlucci should address the block vote, the excessive Medicaid costs in Ramapo, the excessive tax exempt properties in Ramapo and the 10 million the county gave back to Ramapo for unpaid property taxes.


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