Dan Branda demands answers from Westchester County Government
With the beginning of the school year last week, Dan Branda, candidate for Westchester County Legislator, District 4, is asking about Westchester County government’s disappointing lack of progress on its signature school safety initiative. Although the school bus stop-arm camera program was adopted in April with tremendous fanfare, the county does not have any agreements in place with school districts to install cameras.
“If I was on the Board of Legislators, I’d be hopping mad right now and demanding public accountability from our County Executive. Instead, our legislators are giving themselves a pat on the back,” Branda said. “Westchester County once again lags behind its neighbors, failing to launch this crucial school safety program five years after it was passed in Albany. Whether by neglect or incompetence, our government’s failure to implement is inexcusable.”
This week, Chairman Vedat Gashi and several other county legislators sent government-funded mailers to voters that highlighted the passage of the school bus stop-arm law, manufacturing the false impression that these cameras were now operational. Westchester was the last county in the Hudson Valley to enact the program.
Branda said, “What is the status of the stop-arm camera program? What school districts are negotiating with the county to install these vital cameras? We are now in the last full school year to even have this program before it sunsets: Time is running out and our children’s safety is being compromised by our elected leaders in Westchester for no good reason.”
Branda expressed alarm over the county’s inability to reach agreements with the Somers and Hendrick Hudson school districts in particular. These districts, which participated in a pilot program last year, actively petitioned the county to take action because the pilot program results demonstrated a significant public safety benefit for our kids.
In April, Westchester County responded to the fervent advocacy from Somers and Hendrick Hudson to finally adopt the New York State program and equip our school buses’ stop signs with cameras that allow law enforcement to enforce penalties on reckless drivers who jeopardize our children’s safety.
However, the program requires school districts to enter into an Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) with Westchester County to operate the program. As with the School Resource Officer program, for example, each IMA for the stop-arm camera program must be enacted by the Board of Legislators.
To date, no IMAs have been enacted and no IMAs are on the Board of Legislators’ future agenda. Branda is simply asking, why?