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guest columnist
Anthony Marino,

Orange County
Minority Leader

Notes From Orange County Minority Leader Anthony Marino

The interviews have all been held and, by the time you read this article, the County Executive may already have announced his choice to be the new Commissioner of Health for Orange County. The Interview Committee, of which I was a member, recommended the names of two finalists for the County Executive from which to choose. Both finalists had excellent resumes and wishes to be pro-active in their approach to health issues in Orange County. There are many areas of health concerns that Orange County should be addressing and the new Commissioner, whomever it is, appears to be willing to do just that. Issues such as eating habits for our young people, children with special needs, obesity, cancer screening for adults and proper recreation are only some areas that we need to study further. I am hopeful that this office will become very active in focusing attention on preventive measures for proper health. The Democratic Caucus looks forward to working with the new Commissioner in these areas.

The first and only open, public hearing on Indian Point our County’s Evacuation Plan was held this Spring in Woodbury. The Democratic Caucus take a great deal of credit for this as we pushed for over one year to have such an open public meeting. We felt it was important that the residents of Orange County have an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. After this meeting, I wrote to the County Executive asking that he meet with the full Legislature to discuss some concerns that were raised that evening. There are still some unanswered questions pending regarding a public disaster. For example, how do we deal with senior housing projects, day care centers, latch-key children and “shut-ins”? Who will evacuate those people? Who will notify their families of their evacuation and location? These and other questions raised need to be addressed. We also should drop the idea that Orange County will blockade roads from Rockland County so anyone entering Orange County from Rockland will not be prevented from doing so. There may be Orange County residents who work outside of the County who will be rushing home to be with their families. How can you stop them at the County line? That statement made by a County official was poorly thought out and should not be repeated at future presentations. I am waiting to hear from the County Executive on my request.

The Democratic Caucus applauds the Legislature and the County Executive for working out a plan to keep Crestview Lake open this summer for our County residents’ use. It is a great family recreation center that many County residents are finding accessible and very enjoyable. Many thanks go to the great effort made by the “grass roots committee” in New Windsor to circulate petitions and focus attention on the lake. The attendance for the first two weeks has been record setting and there were days when there was a “waiting line” of cars outside the gate. I am hopeful that Orange County will be able to work out a permanent plan to keep Crestview Lake open for our residents. Family recreational sites such as this is what makes Orange County a desirable county in which to live and we can not afford to lose it. We will work closely with the County Executive on this issue.

There is an issue facing Orange County that we hesitate to address because it is so controversial. It’s ugly and smelly. It’s Garbage!!!! At the present time Orange County’s solution to our garbage is to send it to Pennsylvania. If, in the future, Pennsylvania should decide to stop out-of-state garbage, which is possible, our back-up plan is to send it to two counties in upstate New York. We have a contract with a carrier to do just that. We do not believe that this is a solid permanent solution to our garbage problem. If we, in Orange County, refused in the past and still refuse now to accept out-of-county or even out-of-state garbage, why should we be so complacent in thinking our plan for garbage is so good. The Democratic Caucus believes that Orange County should resurrect its Solid Waste Management Committee, which it disbanded a few years ago, to begin studying a permanent solution to our problem. We can not wait until a crisis occurs and then try and find a solution. We should begin to plan now.

Orange County has now started to reapportion all twenty-one legislative districts based on the 2000 census. It is the Chairman’s plan to have completed and have ready for a vote in the Spring of 2004, the new district lines. He has asked the Commissioner of Planning to begin this work and has indicated that he would like to decrease the number of municipalities that some Legislators represent and also eliminate the possibility of placing two Legislators in the same district thus forcing them into a primary. The Democratic Caucus appreciates the good intentions and the fairness displayed by our Chairman in address this very difficult issue. We know that probably all Legislators will have changes made in their district lines due to shifting population, but we ask only that addressing this issue, it’s done in a fair manner. We do not want to see any Legislator being “targeted” due to his/her voting record in the Legislature. We insist that this be done. We are very hopeful that this will be done in a much better manner than has been done previously. We look forward to working with our Chairman on this issue to insure that the residents of Orange County receive the representation to which they are entitled.

Anthony Marino
Orange County Legislator
Minority Leader

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