Looking into the crystal ball: Five predictions for Rockland 2014
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
5) Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence will not be indicted — Rumors continue to swirl that Ramapo Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence will be indicted any day now in connection with the FBI investigation into Pomona baseball stadium finances. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it! The rumors have been the same for months and still no action.
4) Ed Day will do well — Ed Day will prove effective in his first year at managing the government, resetting Rockland’s political climate and leading Rockland County in a better direction overall. Deeper into his term he is likely to face difficult challenges, but the first year should be mostly sunny for Mr. Day, with one exception, noted below.
3) Family Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress will catch heat — With the FBI’s Spring Valley corruption case progressing and making headlines, the figure of Moses Stern, the corrupt FBI informant that brokered dirty deals with the Spring Valley mayor and others, will be prominent. It is unfortunate for Family Court Justice Sherri Eisenpress that Stern was her primary campaign bundler in 2011 and the two have a longtime legal association (she was his lawyer). In addition to the dubious association with Stern, several defendants and attorneys have already complained to the local media that Eisenpress is tanking cases in favor of her Hasidic and Orthodox political supporters. If these allegations prove accurate, eventually it will catch up with her. Other figures associated with Stern have been forced to publicly repudiate him and return money including county executive candidate David Fried and NYS Attorney General Eric Schneidermann. Eisenpress has a deeper association with Stern than either and yet she has been able to avoid the heat because she has a lower profile.
2) State will yield to common sense on CHPE, threatened by major lawsuit – The state wants to dig up Stony Point and drag a powerline underneath the CSX rail right of way, including through much of the town’s waterfront area. The catch is, the state has effectively no legitimate reason to pass through land at this location. The Champlain Hudson Power Express power line could easily be dug underneath the bed of the Hudson River without disturbing fish habitat in the Haverstraw Bay.
If it’s dragged through Stony Point it risks slowing waterfront development. As the state has no legitimate cause to place the line on the Stony Point waterfront, the threat of a lawsuit by the town and wealthy business owners will motivate the state to make reasonable accommodations and move the line back out to the Hudson River.
1) County taxes will go up — Despite Ed Day’s competent management of government, he will still be forced to propose a budget with a 7 percent tax levy increase. Next year the first installment of the deficit note repayment will be due. There are not tens of millions of savings to be found in county government and barring a major leap in sales tax revenue, it is unlikely taxes will be flat for the 2015 budget. There is hope that by the time the 2016 county budget rolls around, the half-decade spurt of epic county tax increases will finally be behind us. Of course, I hope I’m wrong about this prediction for 2014. The sale of the hospital may offer an opportunity to get taxes under control sooner than I anticipate.