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Probe into Rockland County, NY Community Development Program

quagmire

Introduction by Smith Young, “:)” Why does Rockland County, NY require a Commission on Human Rights?  This sounds very much like a type of European Union (EU) governmental entity set up to mitigate problems due to the Syrian immigration.  Just saying, from a Colorado perspective we have to wonder what kind of diverse cesspool is Rockland County that it needs such a commission in the first place.

This article illustrates the rat hole opened up by HUD, the AFFH rule, and a recipient of CDBG grants.  HUD depends on its relationship with local governments, the “endowment communities”, to take grants (bribes) and give it (HUD) legs for the continued execution of its federal programs.  It wasn’t always this way, but the transition by Obama to levying legal liabilities on grant recipients is about complete with the new 2015 AFFH rule, the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) and the process for the new consolidated plan.

That said, this article describes a county Commission on Human Rights and the quagmire essentially created by HUD where Rockland County legislators with oversight on the purse strings must negotiate solutions with the executive responsible for operations to include the disbursement of HUD funds.  Sometime a long long time ago Rockland created this structure for the purpose of taking HUD funds.  Hence, the county government created its bed based on a foundation of quagmire and must now sleep in it.

From far away in Colorado, Rockland County politics is anything but boring.  Just wait until the new Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) and Consolidated plan due in 2019 for Rockland County (search “Rockland” in http://www.prrac.org/pdf/Combined_Due_Dates.pdf) gets on the radar.  Rockland, like Westchester County would be well advised to stop taking HUD grants and eliminate the Commission on Human Rights with its $102,000 annual salary, not to mention the underlying (sometime corrupt?) administration.

lohud journal news (USA TODAY NETWORK) – Legislator wants information on probe of community development program

The legislature has refused to confirm Penny Jennings as human rights commissioner; she also serves as the county’s director of community development.

The chairman of the Rockland County Legislature is asking the county’s acting human rights commissioner and the county executive to reveal the potential corruption they claim she uncovered in the county disbursement of federal funds.

The chairman, Alden Wolfe, D-Montebello, says commissioner Penny Jennings and County Executive Ed Day should provide the Legislature with details on the claims, made by Day days after the legislature voted against confirming Jennings to the permanent job. Jennings also serves as the county’s director of community development.

Wolfe also called for investigations into the matter by the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development,  which Day says are underway.

Wolfe said Friday that he’s concerned about allegations of missing or otherwise unaccounted for money received by the county from HUD. The federal agency administers the Community Development Block Grant Program nationally. Rockland controls more than $2.38 million for more than 30 municipalities, non-profits and community groups.

“If this information is accurate, then we must fulfill our role as watchdogs and do everything to ensure that any ‘wrongdoing and possible corruption’ is thoroughly investigated,” Wolfe said.

Day responded that Wolfe and his Democratic colleagues had missed an opportunity to question Jennings during the confirmation process about the county’s review of the Community Development Office, which oversees federal funds for projects in low-income areas of the county.

Day had named Jennings as acting commissioner in May.

“Instead of insulting her, they too would have heard about her concerns regarding use of federal funds,” Day said. “But instead of asking her about the work she was doing in both the departments … Wolfe and some members of the legislative majority took the nearly unprecedented step of failing to confirm a sitting Commissioner.”

(Note:  When does appointing someone to an “acting” position translate into a sitting incumbent?)

Day said the county has been working with HUD investigators concerning the past practices of the Community Development Office. He said information the county’s probe uncovered has been referred to the Rockland District Attorney’s Office for review.

Wolfe said Friday that his call for the legislature to be provided with information on potential corruption has nothing to do with the vote to deny Jennings confirmation.

He said he first learned about the investigation through Day’s comments in a Journal News/www.lohud.com article on Nov. 6. The vote against confirming her came five days earlier, when nine Legislature Democrats blocked Jennings’ confirmation. The board’s six Republicans and Democrat Harriet Cornell, D-New City, voted for Jennings.

Wolfe said he opposed Jennings confirmation because she has not responded to requests to meet with legislators as she had promised. Wolfe said the legislature is an equal branch of government and Day tries to control legislative access to department heads and other employees.

Wolfe said the county needs an “outside reviewer whose conclusions will hopefully put our taxpayers at ease when it comes to a full financial accounting and to maintaining the integrity of the CDBG program in Rockland.”

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he would not comment on investigations by his office. He did confirm Day’s office had sent the office information about the administration of funds through the federal program.

“We asked for more information,” Zugibe said. “We’re waiting.”

Rockland auditor Robert Bergman found potential problems with the block program involving business grants, Day said, and HUD has assigned a special investigator to the case.

HUD’s New York spokesman Charles McNally said the people who would be able to confirm whether that was true were not in Friday due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Jennings will lose her $102,000 position if she’s not confirmed by Nov. 19. Wolfe has said does not expect a revote.

Twitter: @lohudlegal

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