Political horseshoes and hand grenades

11 Jul 2019 | 05:13

    Baseball legend Frank Robinson said in 1973 that “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
    The slugger’s maxim rings true when considering how most of Orange County “almost” got some long-needed relief from Albany.
    The 2019 legislative session came and went with a single-party government rapidly passing statewide agenda items. It is arguable that most of that new legislation addressed the sentiments of downstate and New York City voters and not the concerns of most of the electorate in Orange County.
    In the free-wheeling atmosphere of one-party rule, lawmakers had six months to accomplish a few simple acts of legislation that would have resolved so many Orange County issues.
    We got one – after a year of wrangling between activists and Town and State officials: Chester got their preservation bill passed.
    The rest of us sit empty-handed with conciliatory gestures of “I tried, but we came up short this time.”
    In other words, we came “close.”
    The two items that never got out of the starting gate in the State Senate:
    • A simple and sensible bill to increase the minimum number of residents required to form a new village, which was not introduced until two days before the end of the session, and
    • The addition of Orange County to an existing law which would allow Town and City residents to vote on a .75 percent transfer tax to fund the purchase of vacant land for permanent preservation.
    A similar bill for Ulster county flew through the full legislature with bi-partisan support.
    Neither of these issues were new to us. Orange County has been plagued with overdevelopment and the threat of new special-interest villages for decades. When two straightforward bills inexplicably never make it to a vote, our leaders must be held accountable.
    Thankfully, the State Legislature is up for election – and a housecleaning – every two years.
    Over the coming months, we are sure to hear how some “worked tirelessly” in Albany to help our neighborhoods yet were thwarted by extraordinary forces.
    If they can only come “close” for us within the comfort of single-party rule, perhaps it is time to hire some new blood in 2020 who will not squander opportunities to help those who they directly represent.
    John Allegro