Saturday, August 06, 2011


In recent months the federal, state, county and local governments have been laying off employees, cutting back services. The NYS Legislature has approved a property tax cap which will result in even more layoffs in the coming years.

Every layoff has a ripple effect, creating more unemployment. One approach the federal government should take to address our unemployment problem is to provide assistance to local governments to fix our infrastructure. Century-old water mains at the local level are breaking, underground drainage pipes are collapsing all overthe nation and many of our bridges are structurally unsafe. Local, county and state governments are not allocating adequate resources to correct this national problem. In addition, state, county and local governments are not appropriating the necessary funds needed to repave our pothole and decaying roads, or to maintain older government buildings. When elected officials are given a choice: cutting a popular recreation program or delaying a repair job, what do you think will be cut from the budget? We can get by and delay infrastructure needs temporarily but sooner or later -- our crumbling infrastructure will become a major crisis. Structurally unsafe bridges that collapse and cause injuries or fatalities also result in expensive litigation and damages to governments responsible for the outcome.

I got my start in politics in the 1980s. The commuter trains from Westchester to NYC kept breaking down at the tunnel near Grand Central Station. Commuters were packed like sardines in trains (windows did not even open). Westchester residents could not rely on public transportation. I started a commuter bus system that provided commuters with a choice: bus or rail service. And, also filed numerous small claims actions against the railroad --which helped push our officials to provide funding for new equipment, new commuter trains and better infrastructure. Service dramatically improved and we have a dependable train system. I'm afraid that the budget problems everyone is now experiencing will result in our rail service going backwards-to the days when service was not reliable.

Our Congressional representatives could help create jobs, reduce the unemployment problem and address important infrastructure needs by setting aside significant dollars to local, county and state governments, school districts for our infrastructure. The ripple impact of a national infrastructure-maintenance program would be enormous on job creation. Architects, engineers, secretaries, lawyers, contractors would be hired. This is what is needed during this great recession.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

914 438 1343 or 914 993 1545