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.