By Fran Fox-Pizzonia, Candidate for Orange County Legislator District 9, Montgomery
On June 21, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler publicly denounced the recently expelled Board of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for their negligence and incompetence that resulted in fraudulent, shameful crimes committed at the expense of local taxpayers. County Legislator Steve Brescia sat on that Board.
Among those who pled guilty to felony crimes were former IDA Board Member (and former County Executive and Town of Wallkill Supervisor) Edward Diana, former IDA Managing Director Vincent Cozzolino and former IDA CEO Laurie Villasuso. Each played a role in redirecting 1.3 million dollars of IDA funds to pad their own pockets while the rest of the County IDA Board sat idle and failed their fiduciary duty to the IDA and the County.
DA Hoovler criticized the “negligent oversight” of the IDA Board of Directors who permitted vague contracts, attended short meetings of little or no substance and employed high level personnel without so much as a job description. Some board members knew about the conflicts of interest but failed to act. According to DA Hoovler, “They never exercised any reasonable oversight of the IDA, its daily operations, its contracts or its financials. The very job they were put there to do.” NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli added “This spider web of a scheme could’ve been prevented with better oversight and transparency.”
As Chair of the Orange County Legislature, with a 27 year tenure as an Orange County Legislator, Steve Brescia should have known the oversight requirements of an IDA Board Member. Brescia utterly failed his obligation to look out for the taxpayers of Orange County in failing to carry out the basic expectations of Board oversight.
Further, if Brescia and the other removed IDA Board members could not perform their basic functions, how do we know they performed their other functions properly? For example, when the IDA granted tax relief to companies coming into Orange County, did they properly monitor whether those companies actually produced the jobs they had contracted to provide? If not, we, the taxpayers, have given tax relief to companies for nothing.
DA Hoovler made it clear he would have liked to charge Board Members but later explained, “There’s no criminal liability for incompetence.” There may be no criminal liability for incompetence but that does not mean there should be no consequences. Breaking the public trust, failing to exercise proper fiscal management and oversight MUST result in consequences.
As a public servant, representing you, his constituents, and your tax dollars, Steve Brescia has failed epically at his job. You deserve a County Government representative who is honest, competent and transparent. It’s time to hold Steve Brescia accountable. It’s time for real change.
In November, I ask the constituents of District 9 in Montgomery and Wallkill to hold Steve Brescia accountable and vote him out of office.
On November 2 let your vote do the talking.