Letter to the Journal News
May 7, 2009
Watchdogs needed to keep eye on county spending
Monday's article regarding the purchase of a vacant office building in Ardsley reflects some of the ongoing concerns of the bipartisan “Rethinking Westchester Government” committee spearheaded by Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and former congressman Joseph DioGuardi. Several months ago, a group of concerned citizens addressed the Westchester County Board of Legislators on this very issue and after their opposition was articulated, the board rubber-stamped this insider boondoggle and payoff.
With the decline of the Republican Party as an opposition force, it is incumbent on the Democrats to be much more self-critical and self-regulating. The domination of government by a super-majority is not the voters' sanctification of a “blind eye” to abuse and pork-barrel spending.
Growth in the cost of county government is certainly not the only factor driving homeowners and businesses from Westchester, but it is certainly part of the ongoing problem. The current leadership of the county must start immediately to reduce current expenses, duplicative programs, and unnecessary positions, as a signal to local governments to streamline their own services.
The future of this county rests on our government's ability to keep Westchester affordable for homeowners and businesses. The county should embark on an immediate effort to create a Charter Revision Commission to review the current legislative districts and a Citizens Budget Committee to serve as a watchdog on spending. Without swift action we will continue to endure deterioration in public confidence as Westchester loses its middle-class and becomes a region in decline dominated by enclaves of rich and poor.
Richard J. Garfunkel