BOB RHODES CRITICAL OF RAMAPO LAND DEAL AND CUOMO AND ST. LAWRENCE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOLDSTEIN

Letter to the Editor,

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s popularity has been based on his claim that he would clean up the stink in the NYS legislature. Of course, we now know that he dismissed his own investigative commission when it threatened to look at him. If the Moreland commission had not been disbanded it might have looked at the strange goings on in Ramapo.

Most of us had no idea that a town board could give a huge tax break to a private corporation and the gift would also be binding on the local schools and county government. But now we know it is true. The Ramapo Town Board has given the Goldstein real estate empire an 85 percent reduction in its taxes without a public hearing or meaningful documentation. We are not opposed to luxury housing in Suffern, but we are opposed to a huge tax break worth over $20 million that seems to have come out of thin air.

The Goldstein family and real estate interests have had a close working relationship with the Cuomo family going back to the days of Mario Cuomo. It managed and, I believe, still manages thousands of section 8 apartments and has done so since Andrew Cuomo’s days as head of HUD. It has also been a major financial contributor to Ramapo Supervisor St. Lawrence’s political campaigns. Last, but not least, St. Lawrence is doing his best to transfer ownership of the Tilcon quarry in Suffern to a Goldstein company for perhaps a tenth of its true value.

Richard Sirota, Andrew Cuomo’s campaign manager and a very close personal friend, is a partner in this new real estate venture.

We have here a most dramatic example of why Ramapo needs a ward system. It is hard to believe that if western Ramapo had its own representative on the Ramapo Town Board he or she would have gone along with a huge tax break that will cost the Village of Suffern and the Central Ramapo School District a fortune over the next 40 years.

Robert I. Rhodes
Chairman, Preserve Ramapo