This is a bad bill for the people of Rockland County. Substantive changes to the Charter were promised by the Legislature, but the final product remains weak on ethical standards and comprehensive oversight. As I made clear, I will not approve this local law without term limits, an enhanced “two hat” rule and special elections for legislative vacancies. Additionally, the process to revise the Charter was significantly flawed. The version of the bill finally passed differed substantially from the two other versions previously placed on the Legislators’ desks. This is a violation of Municipal Home Rule Section 20(4). (Please refer to attached Memorandum from Rockland County Attorney Thomas E. Humbach)
While constructive dialogue produced agreement on Legislative-submitted proposals, a similar collaboration did not extend to the key issues raised for consideration by my executive staff. While the measure does include meaningful reform to the budget process and a provision for the appointment of a deputy county executive, the compelling issues facing government were fully ignored by the legislative leadership. If we are to open the Charter for improvements, we must include essential changes sought by the people. Our residents deserve no less.
As county executive, I stand with all the people of Rockland County. I stand for what is right and what is best and what works to make Rockland better, not a revised county charter with critical changes reduced to little more than weakened gestures. I stand for what will strengthen our communities for years to come, not what serves the short-term political interests of a few. My Administration is working every day to make county government more efficient and responsive to the public. Unfortunately, the high hopes of those who favored sweeping county reform were dashed. It is for the above stated reasons that I am compelled to return the above cited local law disapproved.
Very truly yours,
Edwin J. Day