With St. Lawrence gone, Ramapo must find a better way to carry on

BY KATHY KAHN 

May 24 was Ramapo’s first “normal” workshop and town board meeting since the disgraced politician was led away in handcuffs.

Former Deputy and current Acting Supervisor Yitzchok Ullman sat in St. Lawrence’s seat, and the board is now short one member, a vacancy which must be filled. Last night, the remaining board reset its workshops for the first and third Monday of the month, beginning at 7 p.m. and town board meetings the first and third Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. After St. Lawrence’s arrest, board meetings were erratic and inaccessible.

The remaining members ran through a lengthy list of items, including setting two public hearings for its Wednesday, June 28 meeting at 7 p.m. to address the Local Finance law and a moratorium on temporary modular units.

St. Lawrence being gone is not enough for the people of Ramapo, who asked for the immediate dismissal of Town Attorney Michael Klein, who invoked the Fifth Amendment at the trial at White Plains Federal Courthouse, as well as the immediate  dismissal of the town’s deputy finance director and the reinstatement of CPA Melissa Reimer, who blew the whistle on Ramapo’s cooked books. Reimer was hailed by residents for her refusal to play for pay with St. Lawrence and his cronies. It’s anyone’s guess what the real state of Ramapo’s finances are at this point in time.

Ullman said a Committee to study the Ramapo LDC will be set up and will include two members of the public, as well as a citizen’s workshop to try to rebuild the shattered town’s integrity, both personal and financial. Residents called for Robert Romanowski to be appointed to both, calling him “absolutely qualified and the public will know he’s got our back.”  A call for a forensic study of Ramapo’s planning, building and zoning codes was another of the people’s demands for the board to put right.

The elephant in the room-the minor league ballpark St. Lawrence finagled to build after ignoring the town’s “no” vote on the referendum to build the $60 million behemoth—is going to start paying for itself, said Councilman Patrick Withers, who testified for ten hours during the criminal proceedings against St. Lawrence.

Admitting he made mistakes in going along with some of the convicted supervisor’s agenda, he nonetheless was humbled by applause from the crowd when he chastised the ballpark’s management, saying, “It’s time for the Boulders to start paying. We are gathering information to see how much has been diverted to maintain it. Our memorandum of understanding will be renewed,” added Withers.

While most of the speakers during the public comment portion had plenty to say about the board’s collusion with St. Lawrence, most said they want to see the town get back what it lost—its integrity and the ability to live in a decent community where the rule of law is followed, not flushed down the toilet.

The race is already on for a new Supervisor and the two town board seats that will be up for grabs in November. Most longtime residents are ready to see the town become what they remembered—a place where people lived together in relative harmony minus the graft, book-cooking and arrogance that has eroded the spirit, as well as the finances, of its people.