Submitted by County Executive Ed Day
When innocent children are placed in harm’s way, my administration will never hesitate to take immediate and decisive action to keep them safe and to be blunt; we are duty bound to take that action. Clearly “New Direction” candidates Bill Weber, Shani Bechhofer and Grant Valentine cannot comprehend that.
That is exactly what we did with the Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland. By the time this matter came to our attention through the fire services, each and every level of government directly responsible had failed the school, children and parents. Despite the fact that the Commissioner of Health could have shuttered the facility, the Health Department made a practical decision to not do so since the children were not attending classes for the holiday. They accommodated the school by allowing them to stay open as they engaged contractors to get work done that would allow school to start again.
As I have stated publicly numerous times, the blame for this situation lies with those municipalities who seemingly led the school down the proverbial rosy path … the Town of Ramapo, the Village of New Hempstead and the State’s monitor who knowingly placed these children’s lives in danger by allowing them to attend school in trailers on a construction site with no independent electricity, potable water, a phony fire hydrant and grounds surrounded by trenches. And to be clear, the forum to “discuss” these issues, by law, lies with the Town and/or Village government, not the County.
The statements offered up by “New Direction” reveal either a gross lack of understanding of the process, a shallow attempt at political expediency, and a seeming acceptance of the “Same Direction”. The fact is that the only responsible answer when one is informed children are in imminent danger is action, not ten days of talk and the results are clear. If not for that action and intervention of County government, these children would have spent days in a school that was deemed uninhabitable and dangerous. Now, and due solely to the focus of my Administration, the Town of Ramapo was embarrassed into doing something positive that they should have done in the first place, as opposed to authorizing the presence of children in a grossly unsafe environment.
To put this in its proper perspective, one only need to ask themselves this question. What if it was your child at this school and tragedy struck because your elected officials hesitated in taking action to weigh the political consequences to themselves. Rest assured, my administration will never place political expediency over the lives and safety of our citizens.