Friday, October 31, 2008
I have received campaign literature from Mr. Jim Quigley that has very misleading information. Either Quigley has been terribly misinformed or he lacks the basic understanding necessary to hold the office of Comptroller.
In his ad's, he has stated that he will use all but $1 of his salary to hire two new auditors. There are fatal flaws with his plan that make it virtually impossible to happen.
First and foremost, the current Majority of the Legislature, which has to approve ALL new positions, has been working for almost 3 years to reduce, not EXPAND the size Govenrment. Do more with less has been our battle cry. The Charter commission determined the correct staffing levels for each new department and we agree with them. We will not support or vote for two new positions.
Another major flaw with his "plan" is that $100,000 in salary is just the beginning of the expense related to hiring new employees. What about the approximately $80,000 in benefits for the two new employees? How about the additional cost of training or that the taxpayers will be burdened with carrying these positions forever?
The Majority of the Legislature is not prepared to throw three years of work, and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money out the window to fulfill a ill conceived, ill thought out campaign promise.
This plan exposes Quigley's lack of understanding of how government works and his total disregard for taxpayers. It shows he is not prepared to become the first Comptroller of Ulster County.
Elliot Auerbach has been there and done that. That is a very good thing. Elliot Auerbach knows that working together with the Legislature,
we can achieve more reform and efficiencies that in the end, will benefit taxpayers by reducing, not expanding costs. The taxpayers of Ulster County need a Main St. thinker like Elliott Auerbach not a wall St. thinker like his opponent.
Ulster County Legislature
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The campaign for Ulster County's first executive has been something of a disappointment. And yet, if county voters elect Democrat Michael Hein we will likely get the person we need - the guy who will conduct the necessary work to set up the office of executive, who will watch the budget and count the beans, who can put all the pieces in place. These will be the primary tasks of the first county executive. We could argue that it is not necessary to elect a great political visionary for the county, first because we don't appear to have one, and second because organization could be a greater key to this first term. It's a complicated office, there's a new administrative code to be followed and a relationship to be built between executive and legislature.
Len Bernardo is not the man for this task. It's a nuts and bolts time and his grasp of the situation is lacking. Running a government is quite different from running a private business, where his expertise lies.
Hein never struck us as an ideal candidate - he switched parties, came up with too much familiarity with the old power structure in the county, and is making a novice's run at office. But his experience as county administrator gives him a leg up on knowing what desks have to go where and that should suffice for a first term.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
According to recent campaign disclosures barely 100 individuals have contributed to Bernardo’s campaign. Those donors gave a total of only about $32,000, with $5,000 coming from a single donor in New Mexico. Democrat Mike Hein, on the other hand, has more than three-times as many donors, forming a much broader base of support.
Bernardo’s anemic fundraising would severely constrain the campaign of a middle-class candidate; however, Bernardo has been able to tap his personal wealth to fund his quest for the top job in Ulster County. Bernardo has more than made up for his lack of popularity by simply loaning his campaign more than an astounding $100,000. At a time when many residents of Ulster County are struggling to buy fuel oil for the winter and pay their monthly bills, Bernardo has the luxury of buying the most powerful job in the County.
Democratic County Chairman Julian Schreibman said: “Mike Hein has been a dedicated public servant for years. He and his supporters have had to work extraordinarily hard to raise money to make his message heard. But so long as Len Bernardo can write checks to his campaign for tens of thousands of dollars, his lone voice threatens to drown out those of the middle and working class citizens who want real progress for Ulster County.”
James Quigley, Republican candidate for Ulster County Comptroller has upped the ante on Bernardo: Quigley hasn’t even bothered to accept donations, excusing himself from one of the most challenging parts of running for office. Easy for him to do. Quigley has bank-rolled the Republican Party and Republican causes for years – including opposition to the Charter. Whenever his campaign needs money, he just drops in several thousand dollars more, including $35,000 in the month of October alone. Quigley has said he will donate his salary to charity – but it looks like one of his favorite charities is the Republican Party.
Bernardo and Quigley thus make up an extraordinarily privileged slate of candidates. Is there room for leadership in our public sphere for people of modest means? When only the wealthy run the government, the government will be run for the benefit of the wealthy. The Republican candidates can afford to run a luxurious race of glossy brochures and costly advertisements. But can the citizens of Ulster County really afford to elect two men who are so far removed from the concerns of real working people in our community?
Having created the position of Ulster County executive, voters now have to decide what kind of person they need to do the job right from the start.
They have that person in Mike Hein, whose record as administrator provides a clear and compelling case for his ability to manage bureaucracy, work with legislators and attract new business. It doesn't hurt that he is a county native who speaks eloquently about the quality of life he wants to preserve and protect.
Hein and his opponent, Len Bernardo, have run a spirited campaign, trading charges and stopping just this side of nasty. What that noise has sometimes obscured is the basic agreements the two have on the financial challenges facing the county, which are substantial, and the necessity of creating more jobs.
Cut through the details about tax breaks for Bernardo's business and it is clear from his own answers that he has been able to take advantage of a weak system, one that he and Hein agree cries out for supervision, standards and enforcement. Bernardo's attempts to link Hein to the county's many well-publicized fiscal disasters, especially the unforgivable blunders associated with the county jail project, fall apart when he admits that Hein was a whistle-blower but could have done it a bit more loudly.
Focus on the details of the new job and the differences between the two are obvious. Hein has several years of experience working with the people, both supporters and opponents, who will be essential for success. Bernardo has neither that experience nor any clear plans to make up for the lack of it. If Hein is elected, as he should be, he will have an easy transition because he has handled much of the detail and shown much of the leadership that the county will need.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
If you go by the logic of the Freeman, we had a Republican legislature and a Democratic Treasure during the jail fiasco...so why did we have the jail fiasco? There was no accountability and no real balance.
The charter or Proposition 1 (which Quigley spent thousands of dollars to defeat) is what creates the balance in our government not party affiliation. By having an elected Executive, (C.E.O.) of the county and a comptroller (the advocate/watchdog of county government), we guarantee a county that is accountable with checks and balances.
Furthermore, if we were electing a treasure, than Jim Quigley is the guy with the experience to do the job. However, we are electing a Comptroller, a person who's job is to be the watch dog over county government. Elliott Auerbach knows the business of government and will protect us. Mr. Quigley has ZERO experience in county government and is unqualified to do the job.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I'm pulling the wind out of the sails of the Freeman and publishing this early becasue this endorsement shows how out of touch the Daily Freeman is with it's readers and with Ulster County. Their endorsement of Jim Quigley is based on the fact that they are endorsing Mike Hein. This is right up there with why they pulled their endorsement from Sennett because they were scared they would not have access to the DA's office under his administration.
You endorse a candidate based on their qualifications for the job, plain and simple. To not endorse Auerbach because they endorsed a Democrat for Executive is just stupid and short sided. Jim Quigley has 0 experience overseeing government and is simply unqualified and too partisan to be the watchdog of Ulster County.
No wonder why The Freeman is on the verge of bankruptcy and their circulation continues to decline. Is it true it is cheaper to buy their stock than it is to buy the actual paper??
Hein and Quigley
ULSTER COUNTY voters already have ratified the theory of charter government as a more efficient and accountable form of governance. On Nov. 4, they will elect two candidates who, more than anyone else, will put the theory to the test.
Citizens will choose their first county executive and comptroller, each to be elected by a countywide ballot and directly accountable to the voters. This is a change of no small import.
To this point, Ulster County governance has depended on a part-time Legislature and a county administrator it appoints. In practice, this has meant a government dominated by the legislative leaders elected by the majority party.
For such a large and complex undertaking as county governance, that form of political organization probably never made sense. It established a legislative government without executive counterweight, since the executive branch was simply the handmaiden to legislative leaders. Moreover, it raised up leaders who were not directly beholden to all of the voters. Accountability was, at best, diffuse.
In practice, it was a prescription for disaster, as the planning and construction of the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center - years late and tens of millions of dollars over budget - so sadly illustrated. No single official had nor took responsibility for the project.
Out of that outrage came the reformulation of county government under a charter.
THE TOP person in this new government will be the county executive, vested with a range of powers and charged with the responsibility of running the day-to-day operations of the executive branch. Among the powers and responsibilities of an elected executive are long-term planning, keeping a tight handle on spending, nominating the heads of departments and holding the power to veto county legislation.
But there's also a lot of potential responsibility that falls between the formal lines of the charter and that's one reason this first election is so important.
First and foremost, the residents of Ulster County will be looking to the new county executive to provide the economic leadership that has been so sorely lacking. While surrounding counties such as Greene, Dutchess and Orange have been busy remaking themselves in this new century,
Ulster has languished as an economic backwater.
We believe Michael Hein, the county administrator since 2006 and deputy treasurer for three years before that, is the best candidate for the job. Hein, a Democrat who comes with a banking background, has made a convincing start at putting effective institutional safeguards into place that will make unlikely a recurrence of the Law Enforcement Center fiasco.
Hein, 43, says the Ulster County Development Corp. has failed in its mission to attract jobs and proposes to link the agency with the county's Tourism Department and Small Business Development Center to reduce county costs, but amplify and unify the county's voice to the business world.
Len Bernardo, a registered member of the Independence Party, is a town of Rochester resident and owner of Skate Time 209, a roller rink in Accord. He previously was in private business in New York City, founding and owning a small business form printing and distribution company.
Bernardo, 53, also is critical of the performance of the Ulster County Development Corp., but is less persuasive that he has a plan to refocus the county's efforts.
Furthermore, a candidate who challenges his opponent, as Bernardo did, to reduce the county property tax levy by 33 percent, but who is then unable to say with any specificity how he would accomplish such a thing, seriously undermines his own campaign. Knowing what you're talking about when it comes to the county budget is no small part of the job.
VOTERS will also select a comptroller, who will be the county's chief financial watchdog, with accounting responsibilities and the power to audit county departments and agencies that contract with the county.
Two solid candidates are vying for the position of comptroller.
Democrat Elliott Auerbach, 56, is a former mayor of Ellenville and the current village manager. He holds a business degree in economics from Hofstra University. He knows about both the politics of getting things done and the nitty-gritty of keeping things running.
Republican James Quigley, 51, is a Kingston resident and a certified public accountant with a master's degree in accounting from SUNY Albany. He is a partner and chief financial officer for Rothschild Realty Managers LLC of New York City. He may be summarized as "a numbers guy."
In our view, Quigley gets the nod. Not only are his technical skills superbly suited for the job, but we like the prospect of Republican oversight of the finances of a county whose electorate and, therefore, its slate of elected officials have been steadily trending Democratic. All the more so because we are endorsing a Democrat for county executive.
N.Y.S.U.P.A. President Anthony Solfaro said, “The endorsement of this organization of your candidacy is a result of your record of public service and fairness that warrants the support of the law enforcement community of Ulster County.”
Mike Hein is all but assured a victory on election day, with his support from Dems and Republicans alike, he is going coast to at least a 2:1, maybe even a 3:1 victory next Tuesday and he has ran a great campaign and it's well earned.
Elliott Auerbach is also going to be victorious on election night with all internal polls on both sides showing him way ahead, one even has him stomping his opponent by a wider margin than the Hein:Bernardo race. Auerbach is an extraordinary individual that I really think will mold the office of Comptroller into the vision put forth by Dr. Benjamin and the charter commission.
(It should be noted that Mr. Auerbach's opponent tried to defeat Benjamin's vision, apparently he thought everything in Ulster County was just fine, the 100 million dollar jail fiasco meant nothing.)
Obviously things can change and the only poll that matters is the one on November 4th. Both Hein and Auerbach realize that and are taking nothing for granted, both running as if they were 20 points down. Knocking on as many doors as possible, making phone calls, putting out lawn signs, going to every little community event possible and preparing for a strong GOTV effort on election day.
We have had enough of the failed GOP leadership for both country and county. When we go in that voting booth it's important that we vote row A, all the way, from Obama to Auerbach.