Here’s a look at opinion content published today, Friday, Oct. 29:
Mary Ellen Odell: Endorsement
We recommend voters in Putnam County elect Mary Ellen Odell, a county legislator, as their county executive. Odell and state Sen. Vincent Leibell are running to replace retiring Robert Bondi. We write:
The contest between Leibell and Odell is among the more contentious races the county has seen lately. After a bruising primary, Leibell won the Republican nomination and will also appear on the Conservative line. Odell is running on the Independence line.
… Our recommendation goes to Odell, who has worked her way up the Putnam County political ladder through years of grassroots involvement and has first-hand knowledge of the issues facing the county.
Odell is a Putnam native who started her community activism nearly 20 years ago with the Carmel Sports Association. She went on to serve in the Carmel Industrial Development Agency and Economic Development Council before being appointed to the Legislature in 2006 and subsequently elected to the seat.
If elected, Odell has some work to do. She is co-chair of the Commission for Fiscal Vision and Responsibility, a group of business people, school leaders and citizens focused on ways to streamline the government, and she said she would advocate for pension reform and push for countywide consolidation of some highway department functions.
The reforms are going to have to be bigger than that to make a dent in residents’ tax bills. …
Michael Spano: Endorsement
In the 93rd state Assembly district, which covers parts of Yonkers, we advise voters to return Michael Spano, the Democratic incumbent, to Albany. Spano is challenged by Michael Ramondelli, a Republican businessman. We write:
… Most of the city lies within the boundaries of the 93rd Assembly District. Michael Spano, the incumbent Democrat, and Michael Ramondelli, his Republican challenger, have sparred over who would do a better job representing Yonkers in Albany.
In the last session, Spano said he worked hard to see that Albany continues to bolster aid to Yonkers. Indeed, he introduced legislation that would increase state aid to the city’s troubled schools by factoring in the high cost of education in our region. He also sponsored a bill that would increase municipal aid to Yonkers and other cities that host video-lottery gaming facilities.
Neither measure was taken up in either chamber. Still, we believe Spano’s command of legislative nuances, in a chamber dominated by Democrats, and his efforts to harvest aid for the city are pluses. We recommend his continued service. …
David Carlucci: Endorsement
Rockland voters have their work cut out for themselves in the election for the 38th state Senate seat. Their choice will fill the seat left vacant by state Sen. Thomas Morahan, a lion of the upper house who died earlier this year. We recommend David Carlucci, the Democratic candidate who serves as Clarkstown Town Clerk. He is challenged by Republican C. Scott Vanderhoef, the county executive. We write:
… Both pledge to demand ethics reform and push fiscal responsibility in Albany.
Our recommendation goes to Carlucci, who drills down to specifics when discussing reform, cost-saving ideas and social policy. While Vanderhoef has often been a strong executive, the job he now seeks is legislator, which calls on different skills. Carlucci has detailed ideas on what he wishes to accomplish, including ethics reform. Ending corruption, he said, is a prerequisite to ending Albany’s dysfunction. The two stand incredibly close on key issues, but the needle tips to Carlucci on the basis of specifics and innovative solutions. Consider their takes on Medicaid.
Reform of the program is key to cutting costs for New York government, especially on the county level. It’s a beast Vanderhoef knows well; the cost of Medicaid equals about 110 percent of property taxes taken in by the county. In the mid-2000s, Vanderhoef gained state attention battling Medicaid fraud — adding to his allure as the GOP’s 2006 candidate for lieutenant governor. Vanderhoef relies on rooting out “abuse and misuse,” of which there is plenty, and the long-sought goal of getting the state to take over more responsibility for the program and restoring the anti-fraud tests, such as asset and residency testing.
Carlucci agrees with those fixes, but adds some more specifics. Carlucci also wants to empower local district attorneys to investigate fraud, the carrot being that counties can keep some of the recovered money. He wants the state to share data with counties, which will make it quicker and easier to uncover fraud and overpayment.