Preserve Ramapo asks that you support the following candidates in the Village Elections this Tuesday March 21.
Committee for Chestnut Ridge
Sam Presti Mayor
Howard Cohen Trustee
Richard Miller Trustee
Joseph Suarez Justice
Preserve Airmont Party
Peter Blunnie Trustee
Kevin Warbrick Trustee
Anthony Benedict Justice
We have decided not to endorse individuals in Pomona for this election cycle. Please see the Commentary on Pomona (below) for more details.
You can get further information including polling places at the Rockland Board of Elections website here.
Even if your village has a slate of candidates who are unopposed, please go out and vote to show your support for the work they do for you. Vote!
Problems in Pomona
The village of Pomona faces a very uncertain and dangerous future. Regardless of who the new trustees of the village are, they will face a generational divide, a religious divide and a huge lawsuit that was imposed on the village by an extraordinarily well-financed real-estate interest.
To some extent, Pomona’s problems are of its own making. The village’s political leaders have done little to welcome newcomers to the village, but their efforts were made especially difficult by the rapid change in Pomona’s religious composition. At the same time, many new residents remain largely unaware of what is at stake.
Much of Ramapo’s leadership has been indicted or already pled guilty to federal charges. What does this have to do with Pomona? First, most of the village of Pomona exists within the town of Ramapo. Many newcomers to the village are barely aware that Ramapo exists. Second, we should note that this unsavory leadership has been supported by religious residents who have been told that this leadership is defending them from anti-Semites. Consequently, Ramapo’s corrupt leaders have been able to do whatever they wish as long as Ramapo’s real-estate developers rule the roost.
The results have been terrible. Ramapo has endless traffic jams, much of the housing in Ramapo is substandard, and the beginning of a huge and expensive sewer expansion has been launched. And Ramapo’s tax base has been eroded by an inexcusable expansion of tax exempt properties. The result is a terrible financial situation that is already reflected in huge real-estate tax increases in Ramapo including Pomona.
Unfortunately, the situation is much worse than is already obvious. We are still waiting for Ramapo’s financial audit for 2015, which is more than a year overdue. We expect this to be an honest audit only because both the feds and the NYS Comptroller are watching.
Will the village of Pomona become the home for perhaps 4,500 new residents including rabbinical judges in training and their families? This would be a village within a village sponsored by Tartikov. Will Pomona become a miniature Ramapo?
Review these articles for a quick overview of the problem of the proposed Tartikov Rabbinical College: Will Pomona Become a Training Site for Hasidic Judges, The RLUIPA Legislation (see page 1042, The New York Times “A Court Decision Elbows a Village in Favor of Religious Rights.”
New York State has sophisticated and comprehensive land use planning requirements. These have been ignored in Ramapo with predictable results. Unlike Ramapo, Pomona has insisted on its right to follow NYS procedures. Tartikov has insisted that it has the right to bypass state planning requirements and go directly to federal court. So, after informing Pomona that it has enormous financial resources, Tartikov abused the legal process of discovery and forced Pomona to spend over a million dollars just for that part of its legal battle.
This strategy has, not surprisingly, encouraged discontent within the village. No one wants to pay $2,000 a year in village taxes just to support a lawsuit, but the alternative is worse.
Will these arrogant folks be able to run roughshod over this small village? A “voluntary” settlement with Tartikov will not be the end of Pomona’s problems. It will just be the end of the beginning.
Robert I. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Chairman, Preserve Ramapo