Will new regime make a difference in Ramapo?

Newly elected Supervisor, Michael Spect, said much work needs to be done to restore Ramapo’s tarnished image (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

Board meeting held day after election

BY KATHY KAHN

Sixteen years have passed since the Christopher St. Lawrence regime began in Ramapo. On Tuesday, election day, a new leader was finally chosen while the disgraced former supervisor is due to be sentenced later this month on federal corruption charges.

That new supervisor is former deputy town attorney Michael Specht, an official who served under St. Lawrence and who is backed by the same Ramapo political machine that remains largely unchanged, led by Ramapo Democratic Committee Chairwoman Mona Montal.

Specht and his running mates David Wanounou and incumbent Councilman (and interim supervisor) Yitzchok Ullman have said the right things about charting a better course for the town but many residents are skeptical anything will improve. At the November 8 meeting—the first one in over a month held by the Ramapo Town Board-newly elected Supervisor Spect told The Rockland Times he plans to “conduct the town’s business in an honest and credible way. We have a lot of work to do to restore residents’ faith in good government.”

Councilman Fred Brinn (appointed to fill a vacancy caused by Ullman’s emergency promotion to interim supervisor) will be the new superintendent of Highways. The superintendent’s salary will increase from $128,000 to $144,000 next year.

When questioned about the salary adjustment by Robert Romanowski, who ran against Brinn,  Ullman, who will return to his council seat in January, told him the upgrade in salary was made public before the election and was necessary to keep the position’s compensation competitive.  “We looked at what other Highway Superintendents in neighboring towns are receiving, and while some are much higher, we also felt it was time to raise the salary for the position,” Ullman said.

Parts of the community have sought the reinstatement  of former finance director Melissa Reimer, who was replaced by Montal after Reimer turned to the FBI to crack St. Lawrence’s corruption cycle. Reimer remains out on paid administrative leave while a lawsuit she filed against the Town of Ramapo, Town Attorney Michael Klein and Deputy Town Attorney Beth Finkelstein is on the calendar.

Acting Supervisor Yitzchok Ullman told The Rockland Times, “Should she decide to drop her lawsuit, she is welcome back.”

Ramapo’s new board promised to keep the community in the loop and run the town in the best interest of all its residents. There will be four public hearings held at its December 6 Town Board meeting, one on the town’s  2018 budget.

The sparsely attended town board meeting was summed up by Romanowski: “If residents want to see changes, the lack of public participation at board meetings and voter apathy displayed during the elections needs to change.”