|WARWICK — Warwick Town Supervisor, Michael Sweeton, reacted sharply today to County Executive Ed Diana’s combative Annual Budget Address last Friday. In that speech Diana referred dismissively to certain “wannabees” in the audience. “Yes,” said Sweeton, who was in the audience,
“I am a ‘wannabee’. I want to be your next County Executive because I know how to govern effectively. I want to get this County back on the right track. County government has gone off the rails. I want to offer the people of Orange County a more effective style of leadership. Simply put: I won’t bully – I will reason with people who have a different opinion. I won’t resort to intimidation – I will find consensus whenever possible. And most importantly, I won’t start with a conclusion that I like and then concoct a scenario to support it – I’ll start with the facts and work toward a sound solution that will have broad support.”
On the Valley View Nursing Home, Sweeton said, “Nobody in the current debate has all the right answers. But everybody has some of the answers.” He allowed that “this issue in particular is an emotional one because it deals with our elderly and the care they receive in their sunset years. It deals with county workers who see their jobs threatened. Instead of fanning those flames and driving people further apart, effective leadership would acknowledge the concerns of all the parties and then begin the hard work of crafting a workable solution. There is room for compromise on all sides. Diana’s ‘my way or the highway’ style of negotiating gets us nowhere and it insults our hard-working legislators.”
Sweeton lamented that Diana presented the sale of the nursing home as the only way to balance the county budget. “He made no other suggestions for cost savings or increasing revenues in the nursing home itself or in any other parts of the county budget. He asserted that selling the nursing home was the only way of coming up with $20 million in savings.” Legislators and other experts have shown recently that the $20 million cost to the taxpayers for operating the nursing home as a county facility may be more in the area of $5 million if cost saving measures and revenue increasing methods can be implemented.
“Diana started with the faulty premise requiring a $20 million budget cut, then he found a single line-item in his budget, the nursing home, that conveniently approximated that amount and took an axe to it, balancing the whole budget on the backs of our seniors and our dedicated nursing home employees,” said Sweeton. “Mr. Diana makes a show of saying he’s been elected to make the hard decisions, but what he has proposed is a cop-out and a complete abdication of leadership. A true leader would take on the really hard work of cutting costs across the board to get government expenditures back in line with reality.”