Legislators Vote To Override County Executive's Veto

The veto override passed 13-3


The Rockland County Legislature voted to override vetoes made to the proposed 2013 budget by County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef at Tuesday night’s meeting. 

The override passed by a vote of 13-3 with one legislator, Legislator Ed Day absent from the meeting. To override the veto, the legislature needed 12 votes. The legislature’s proposed budget passed by a vote of 10-7 on Dec. 4, but on Tuesday, Legislators Joseph Meyers, Aron Wieder and Patrick Moroney all voted in favor of the override after voting against the budget earlier this month. Legislators Frank Sparaco, Chris Carey and Nancy Low-Hogan voted against the override Tuesday night.

At Tuesday’s meeting, when the 12th “yes” vote was read out loud, a large cheer broke out from the crowd, many wearing CSEA t-shirts. Close to 70 jobs were eliminated in the county executive’s original budget, and while all were put back in by the legislators in their budget, some of the positions were re-cut by the veto. With the override, all the positions were restored.

“We’ve very thankful,” said Robyn Richi, whose job was reinstated with the override. “We’re relieved more than anything. There’s 18 of us, and this is just great.”

Richi works security at Summit Park Hospital in Pomona. Included in the 18 is Richi herself, as well as her husband. When the override passed, Richi and her family hugged as she wiped away tears.

While he voted in favor of the override, Meyers said Tuesday night wasn’t one that should necessarily call for celebration.

“This is not a moment to rejoice in the fact that we’re saving these jobs or that job,” he said. “It’s just been a complete failure of county government to address the fiscal needs of this county, which has led us to the point where people who are members of unions, who do important work for the county, have to lose their jobs or have to worry about losing their jobs in droves just because the county could not make modest reductions four years ago, three years ago, five years ago, and just was hoping that sales tax revenue would come back. You can’t run a budget on a hope.”

Meyers had harsh words for both the county executive and county legislature for what he called “budgetary ineptitude” in recent years. Still, he voted in favor of the override because he didn’t understand the veto message.

Items vetoed that Meyers mentioned included cuts to the Highway Department, which he said he feels should be thought of as public safety. He also said he didn’t agree with the veto that restored between 22-24 fully funded vacant positions that the legislators eliminated from their budget.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Meyers said. “This veto is garbage.”

Meyers also noted that he didn’t support the legislature’s budget either, and he wasn’t the only legislator conflicted when faced with overriding the veto. Legislator Low-Hogan said Tuesday’s was the most difficult vote in her first year as a legislator. She said she was looking at which budget would take a step to reduce the county’s baseline expenditures. Low-Hogan said the county legislature’s budget kept the baseline expenditures too close to where it was for her to vote in favor of the override.

Wieder said he voted against the legislature’s budget earlier this month as a form of protest against unfunded state mandates and because of the trouble they put the county in. Moroney said he didn’t agree with cutting the positions of workers in the veto.

Eliminating positions was probably the most talked about issue with the county executive’s veto Tuesday night, and that’s because of the new union contracts signed earlier this year. In the contracts, there was an agreement that there’d be no layoffs for budgetary reasons for the duration of the contract, which runs through 2013.

Many legislators felt the positions layoffs were for budgetary reasons, as the jobs were going to be outsourced to outside companies.

“His own department heads told us this was purely budgetary,” said Legislator Ilan Schoenberger. “We ratified and approved that contract with the unions. We gave our word, our government gave its word, and we must keep that word tonight.”

After the meeting, Rockland County CSEA President P.T. Thomas also spoke about government officials keeping their word.

“I’m very happy this happened,” he said. “This would’ve been devastating to the families. But it wouldn’t have just been devastating to the families, but also to the people’s ability to trust the government.”

Another reason legislators cited for why they wanted to override the veto was because, according to Schoenberger, the vetoed budget would’ve added $12 million to the deficit. Schoenberger pointed to a report from consulting firm O’Connor Davies, in which the consultants said the $12 million expected to come in to reduce the deficit from the transfer of assets of Summit Park to a Local Development Corporation would take too long to help the county next year. Legislator Alden Wolfe also mentioned the $12 million as a reason to vote for the override, along with saving the positions.

“It’s not, ‘maybe the revenue’s going to come in.’ The revenue will not come in and it will be not be booked as a revenue,” said Wolfe. “To me, that’s reason enough to override the veto, but the treatment of the county employees is something that really disgusts me. We have a decision by the county executive, he chooses to keep employees who aren’t protected by contract and then layoff employees that are protected by contract, and that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Legislator Doug Jobson also talked about sticking up for the county worker. Jobson, a history major, referenced learning about the French Revolution.

“Things really haven’t changed,” he said. “It’s funny, all the fat cats get covered and all the fat cats get taken care of, but the little people, when push comes to shove, the little people are the first ones to get kicked out of the door or to get told, ‘sorry, we don’t have the money for that.’ We could’ve cut 100 six-digit jobs out of that county budget and not a soul that resides in this county would’ve said, ‘boo,’ because they would’ve never even noticed it.”

Mike December 19, 2012 at 04:23 PM
One person cannot fix this mess even if he/she has best intentions. Unfunded federal and state mandates, political cronyism, demographics, and a unfriendly budiness climate are just a few of the problems that need to be fixed tht are beyond the control of the CE. The only path that the new CE cn take which after last nights override is clearly not what the rest of Legislature supports is across the board cuts. Not going to happen which is why this County and state is in a "Titanic" sinking. Get off while you can because this ship is going down and when it starts it will be quick and it will be ugly.
R. Nite December 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Bankruptcy pardon please
Mary December 19, 2012 at 05:04 PM
The only people who will be able to afford to stay in this county are government employees. If you take away everyone that works for the town governments, county government, federal government and schools...who is left? The tax dollars go round and round.
Maria Litwinowicz December 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Ed's presence would not have changed the outcome of the vote. His voting record stands on it's own. I feel he deserves the chance to take control of the rudder.
Walt December 19, 2012 at 05:53 PM
How do you know his presence wouldn't have changed the outcome? Perhaps his presence and strong voice would have influenced those that changed their vote? I would be the first to stand beside Ed Day as the new RC Exec had he of shown up and voted to keep Vanderhoef's veto intact. Instead he was conveniently not present and now he feigns outrage at another huge tax hike. To me this was an orchestrated charade by the entire legislation (similar to Vanderhoef "begrudgingly" signing last years 30% tax increase as known only to him lame duck executive) to keep his hands clean to those on both side of the tax hike.
Rob Green December 19, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Bankruptcy may actually be good for this county. No more borrowing our way out of our fiscal mess, we can (if our legislators had the ba... uh, courage) to renegotiate these sweetheart union contacts and cut the outrageous benefits legally and it would allow the county to also renegotiate or void contracts. The towns should do the same. Everyone needs to wake up and show our displeasure to OUR, not the unions, elected officials. Call them, write them, email them until they realize we had enough!
Warren G Harding December 19, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Hey Walt, Ed Day has answered, it's time for you to go after the people who reazlly put us in the hole.
Walt December 19, 2012 at 06:35 PM
He answered by blaming his boss from his private sector job Warren G and you are happy with that? Did he ask the legislature to change the date of the meeting until today so he could be present at such a vital vote? Did he call those legislature that changed their vote beforehand and ask them to stay the course? He was a no show at one of the biggest votes this year. I would be his biggest fan if he had voted to maintain the veto but he was conveniently out of town. Now he feigns outrage at another tax hike, give me a break.
Don December 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Walt, "ask the legislature to change the date"? You've gotta be joking. You do realize that Schoenberger, the head of the Budget and Finance Committee, wouldn't extend the time to allow a review of amendments originally proposed by Ed Day. I'd be more concerned about these other legislators who refuse to try to work together to come to solution that helps us all.
JillyA. December 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Are you talking about the budget meeting where Mr. Day rescinded his amendments because the numbers did not add up? Would seem that getting the numbers to add up is an important skill for a county exec. It would also seem the taxpayers vote you in to do a job not to accommodate your other job during a big vote.
Don December 19, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I'm sure Mr. Day can respond to your comment, but Schoenberger's math skills haven't helped the county in past budgets..."the budget included millions in revenue from red light cameras, which everyone knew we're not permitted by NYS because we did not have one million residents."
Walt December 19, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Don, Ed Day is not a coat holder and doesn't need you or anyone else to fight his battles, let him do it. He let a lot of people down by being a no show at this important vote and to accept the lame excuse that he was out of town and could not do anything about it (either his lack of attending or the result) is ridiculous. Many of you are easily hood winked.
stephany December 19, 2012 at 08:35 PM
" Mathematically, the presence or absence of one legislature on either side of the vote would not have affected the outcome. " which it is easy for any politician [especially in the lopsided minority] to vote against or for something all the time. when their vote does not count what have they got to lose. all the time. As a show of good faith, when the legislature votes for these overrides they should be required to boot up 1% of the cost of what they voted to over ride [no matter if it is replaced] or $200 a paycheck whichever is less,but never less than $100
Kevin Roy December 19, 2012 at 08:42 PM
The Override passed because Legislators Joseph Meyers, Aron Wieder and Patrick Moroney all voted in favor of the override after voting against the budget earlier this month. The irony here is that the contract being cited by the Legislators to save the jobs was negotiated by the County Executive’s office. So, they had no input on the contract but had an opportunity to do what was right for the taxpayers and didn't. Great job Meyers, Wieder, Moroney, and the other 10. As others have cited, it’s unfortunate that the majority of our representatives continue to avoid dealing with the real issues and those 70 employees became a political football.
sarah December 19, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Mr hull you ahve lost all credibility How acan u defend doug jobson a man who voted to raise prop taxes 85% in 4 yrs voted for a energy tax a mortgage tax a sales tax and a transfer tax. He actually has the nerve to call himself a republican. You should stop your fixation with sparaco hes always seems to be on the right side of every issue. and u should learn the difference between town govt and county govt
brian December 19, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Sparaco has been calling for cuts and lay offs for years. he always puts his money were his mouth is unlike that idiot jobson who has one of the worst voting records in the county. Of course the unions hate him he has the guts to stand up to them. He also works for the town not the county mr hull should learn the difference. It amazes me that while Ed Day Chris Carey and Frank sparaco are on the front lines fighting for the taxpayers making enemys with the democrats and unions the disgusted taxpayers are stabbing them in the back. They should be singing there praises sbut there a useless group of misfits anyway so who cares. People see mr hull for what he really is.
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:13 PM
all you do is complain about the same nonsense over and over but You accomplish nothing. Sparaco is probably one of the best legislators up there and he is undeniably good for clarkstown. anyone whos ever needed anything from him knows how hard he works for his constituents and anyone on the democrats side who has ever fought with him knows hes not to be messed with. I also hear hes doin a great job with the hwy dept. Getting things done that no one else could get done. I also hear savino went through 3 yrs of back log and won almost all the cases for the town sving them millions. so stop ur Cryin B&*tch
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Are you as ugly as you are dumb? What does any of this nonsense about clarkstown have to do with county govt?
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Ed Ignore these idiots and stop responding on this forum Be a statesman Youve benn on the right side of almost every issue for 6 years and youve been on the front lines of this war fighting for the taxpayers. You Sparaco and now thank god Carey need to stay strong dont let them break u down thats what they want
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Who is Your legislator?
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Amen. His record speaks for itself
phil December 19, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Kevin This a really good point it exposes them for the hypocrites that they are. Thank you nancy low hogan Day Sparaco and carey . If there were only 2 more couragous people up there we might be ok
Mike Hirsch December 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Politics has become a career for most of our representatives. This is bad for our democracy. Ed Day is one of the few exceptions. He is not in the game for what he can get out of it. He is in the game for what he can try to accomplish. If he gets the chance, I'm sure he'll make a great County Exec. Unfortunately, I hear that Cuomo and the Zebrowski family want young Ken to run. He will be hard to beat if he does, not because of his executive experience (none), but because he will probably get every line on the ballot except the Republican line due to the deal makings of those who control the minority parties. I have nothing against young Ken, but I'd rather see an experienced, independent man of courage as County Exec than a nice, inexperienced 30 year old who's in the family business.
Michael N. Hull December 19, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Hi Brian - Sorry I seem to get you so upset every time I comment! I do know the difference between Town and County. I've worked behind the scenes in the County for over 30 years. I am a big fan of both Day and Carey so we agree on two thirds of that equation. No one I know is 'stabbing THEM in the back'. I'm patting them on the back. As to Jobson I do know where he works and last time I checked the Towns were part of the County although I think Clarkstown wants to secede. As to Sparaco and 'stabbing in the back' you might talk to Ralph Sabatini, a Republican who ran for supervisor last year and who will tell you that HE was "stabbed in the back" by Sparaco three days before the election. I speak metaphorically, of course. ;-) As to being a "disgusted taxpayer" there seems to be a lot of 'disgusted taxpayers' commenting in this thread. Paying for patronage jobs and the mounted patrol's horses on the backs of the senior citizens of Rockland County AND its Towns is somewhat disgusting; do you not agree? And according to the Journal News you friend Sparaco was the recipient of one of the most egregious patronage appointments of 2011. http://www.lohud.com/article/20120823/OPINION/308230035/Editorial-Clarkstown-puts-political-clout-before-all-else-hiring-Frank-Sparaco Perhaps people will come to see Mr. Sparaco for, as you put it, "what he really is".
Siobhan December 20, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Sarah & Phil: It seems to me that Hull was criticizing Jobson and I see he has asked him to name the 100 people Jobson says have patronage positions. I don't see that Jobson has replied. As to Sparaco - Hull is quoting what P.T. Thomas said and I see that Hull asked Thomas too to name the 100+ patronage positions and if he didn't then Thomas should be as ashamed with himself as Thomas said Sparaco should be. Thomas doesn't seem to have replied either! Frankly I think they are perfectly legitimate questions and I am certainly interested in hearing who these 100 - 110 people are. Phil - as I understand it savino is not the lead attorney on the Palisades Mall tax cert case. Clarkstown outsourced the work to another law firm. WHY? That says a lot about Savino's capabilities in this area and the Palisades Mall case, if lost, will make the county's 18% tax increase look miniscule. I read in the journal news, i think, that savino was called by a newspaper and asked what his experience was to do the job and immediately they hung up savino's website was changed to show tax cert as one of his capabilities. That also tells me why he is not the lead attorney on the palisades mall case - he had NO experience. Also, Phil, just sayin' - you should keep the term 'b&*tch' for use in the sewer where you probably learned it!
Mike December 20, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Or maybe the state will assign the County a fiscal watchdog much like they did to Nassau County
Michael N. Hull December 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Today Rockland’s political leaders have led this County into the top three rank of most taxed counties in the USA while over the past five years home prices in Clarkstown fell by 25%. Perhaps if politicians were not puppets and were required to leave office under a term limits local law they would have the courage to do what is right on behalf of the taxpayers who elect them rather than selling their souls to political patronage made to assuage the marionette masters who pull their strings of power from behind political curtains. Is Cuomo now the one to tell us who is best for Rockland County? Is the Conservative Party leader Ed Lettre who controls the Clarkstown Town Board to be the one to help Cuomo? Or is it the Independence Party? Who controls that party anyway (as if I don't know). And just because Day has the Republican Party line does not mean he will have the support of the 'official' party bigwig. That message was learned when Sabatini ran against Gromack.
Siobhan December 20, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Poor Philistine Phil - It seems that I have to correct your unfortunate manners again and address your distasteful attitude towards women. I expect that every woman reading this thread will agree with me that to ask the question "are you as ugly as you are dumb" places you in the gutter in our opinion and I expect in the opinion of most gentlemen too. I could ask the Patch editor to remove your comments about me but I think you are best left exposed for people to see you for what you are - a Philistine.
workerbee December 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Everyone here has quickly forgotten that the county union workers recieved a 3 year wage freeze and gave back 2 weeks pay, which if anyone believes will be payed back, I have a bridge you may be interested in buying. Oh yeah, and by the way WE PAY THE SAME TAXES AS YOU!
JP December 23, 2012 at 03:39 AM
You will most certainly be paid your two weeks of pay back. That is not the issue, The issue is patronage jobs, your free pharmacy, your totally free health care; and most of all our junk bond rating. When will the unions make a real concession? And we as voters will remember that Mr.Day failed to show up for a crucial vote!


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