Action Alert: Mayday for Mandate Relief!

We are teaming with our friends at on an exciting but quick-turnaround-action-needed initiative called Mayday for Mandate Relief!

Please contact your county government officials and ask them to support this initiative.  Here are some suggestions for how to best do this:

  • Email your request first; then follow up with a phone call if necessary.
  • Some counties have a Board of Supervisors – for these counties, address your email to the Chair of the Board of Supervisors and cc: the other supervisors.
  • Other counties have a Legislature and a County Executive.  For these counties, address your email to the Chair of the Legislature and the County Executive, and cc: the other legislators.
  • If the Board/Legislature is very large, you don’t have to include every one on the email – include whoever you can.
  • You can find these email addresses on the county government webpage.  Some are listed below.
  • Suggested text for your email is as follows:

Supervisor ______, (or ___________, County Executive and _____, Chair of the Legislature)

I would like to express my support for the Mayday for Mandate Relief initiative that has been introduced by and has been endorsed by NYSAC. I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to achieving significant mandate relief in NY State is the fact that the public is, in general, not aware of what unfunded/underfunded mandates are or how our local communities are being affected by them.

There are two main objectives to the Mayday for Mandate Relief initiative: (1) to raise public awareness about the problem and (2) to issue a resolution calling on the Mandate Relief Council to take swift action in submitting a package of Mandate Relief proposals to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to be voted on by our State Representatives during the 2012 State Legislative Session. NYSAC sent a draft resolution to this effect to all 62 counties (attached to this message). An example of the type of presentation that might be presented at a town hall meeting is also attached.

I think this is a great opportunity for _______ County to educate its residents about this issue. I hope that we will take advantage of this opportunity and participate in this initiative!

<<your name>>

The two attachments mentioned above are below:  download them and attach them to the email:

Questions may be directed to Mark Westcott at / 518-894-6811 or Lisa Donovan at / 518-424-5816.

Please spread the word about this initiative.  This is something we all can do!  Whatever county you live in, contact your County Board of Supervisors or County Legislature and ask them to support this initiative.  Let us know what kind of response you get!

**** By the way, encourage your county to videotape the town meeting or press conference – we would like to post as many of these as possible so that they are available for future use!  ****


Email addresses for some counties:  (I will add counties as requested; if your county is not on this list and you need help finding the email addresses, please contact Lisa at

  • Albany County
  • Schenectady County
    • Schenectady County Legislature Chair Judith Dagostino, (This email address is for the whole legislature, not just the chair)
    • Schenectady County Executive:  I can’t find any reference to this position in Schenectady County.  Perhaps they don’t have a county executive?
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Mayday for Mandate Relief!

So now that the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally is over, what’s next?  The answer comes from our friends at  Mark Westcott started this initiative in Warren County, where he is the Queensbury Supervisor at Large and a member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.  We previously linked to an article that he wrote here.

Mark is organizing an initiative called “Mayday for Mandate Relief.”  This comes from an email from Mark:

Last week NYSAC endorsed our Mayday for Mandate Relief initiative announcing it in their weekly Monday morning “Weekly Wire”:

NYSAC and are calling on local community leaders to hold town halls and press conferences in May across New York State to raise awareness for the need for Mandate Relief and Reform. Attached is a draft resolution NYSAC sent to all of the counties asking them to declare a date in May – Mayday for Mandate Relief, and to hold a town hall and press conference on the issue.

We are asking for your support:

  • Please work with your county legislature or board to pass the Mayday for Mandate Relief resolution (draft copy here).
  • Please confirm that you will hold a town hall and/or press conference on Mandate Relief and Reform in May (if possible on May 15).

NYSAC and are working together on presentation materials for the town halls/press conferences including a Powerpoint presentation, press release and event check list. We can work with you to help plan your event. Don’t hesitate to contact us at or call me at (c) 518-894-6811.

Please spread the word about this initiative.  This is something we all can do!  Whatever county you live in, contact your County Board of Supervisors or County Legislature and ask them to support this initiative.  Let us know what kind of response you get!

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Mayday for Mandate Relief Summary

Partnering with our friends at and NYSAC, we reached out to all 62 counties in New York to join us in demanding mandate relief from Albany lawmakers.  Of these, 46 counties heeded the call and took action – passing resolutions, holding town hall meetings, press conferences, and rallies – to educate their citizens and send a message to Albany.

We especially liked the resolution passed by Saratoga County, which not only called on the Governor’s Mandate Relief Council to submit recommendations this year to the Governor and Legislature, but also called for reform of the Mandate Relief Council itself.  The Council consists of state legislators and members of the governor’s own office – no county, town, or school representation!  This cannot stand – how can the council understand the recommendations and complaints that are pouring in from around the state if no one on the council represents those viewpoints?  Warren County picked up on this thought and passed a similar resolution of their own.   Warren County also formed an ad hoc committee on Mandate Relief.  We are grateful for the leadership of these and other counties who are working diligently to solve this problem.

We want to thank the 46 participating counties for joining us in this in this cause:

Allegany County
Cattaraugus County
Cayuga County
Chautauqua County
Chemung County
Chenango County
Clinton County
Columbia County
Cortland County
Dutchess County
Essex County
Franklin County
Fulton County
Genesee County
Greene County
Hamilton County
Herkimer County
Jefferson County
Lewis County
Livingston County
Madison County
Monroe County
Montgomery County
Oneida County
Ontario County
Orange County
Orleans County
Oswego County
Otsego County
Putnam County
Rensselaer County
Rockland County
Saratoga County
Schenectady County
Schoharie County
Steuben County
Suffolk County
Sullivan County
Tioga County
Tompkins County
Ulster County
Warren County
Washington County
Wayne County
Wyoming County
Yates County

Our next steps will be posted soon – stay tuned!

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The Walking Tour Finishes Today!

Congratulations to Tom Cavanagh, who finishes his Walking Tour today when he reaches the Montauk lighthouse.  See video from Day 17 here! Assemblyman Dean Murray (AD3), a strong proponent for mandate reform, will be joining Tom for the final mile.

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The Walking Tour is Almost Complete!

Tom Cavanagh is 2 days away from finishing his 459-mile walk across NY State to raise awareness about the need for mandate relief.  Find out more about the walk & media coverage!

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Excellent article covering the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally!

Area citizens, politicians rally at Capitol to protest costly state mandates

By Thom Randall, Adirondack Journal, 4/23/2012

This was an excellent article covering the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally, held on April 21, 2012 in West Capitol Park, Albany.  The text of the article follows:

ALBANY — Unfunded state mandates are forcing local government services to be eliminated and are prompting people and jobs to move out of state, area politicians said at a rally held Saturday April 21 at the state Capitol.

Nearly 100 people — including a dozen or so from Warren County — gathered on the Capitol steps to protest the burden of unfunded mandates that the state has imposed on its local municipalities.

Two Queensbury supervisors, Dan Stec and Mark Westcott — who have campaigned extensively on the issue — were among the featured speakers at the rally. Westcott is an at-large supervisor from Queensbury, and Stec is head of the town government, as well as chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.

Noting that state dictates are responsible for 90 percent of the county’s tax levy, Stec implored the protesters to lobby their legislators to outlaw or restrict unfunded mandates, as 27 other states have.

Stec compared unfunded mandates to a frustrating hiking expedition — that local governments were being commanded to move faster, as more rocks were being put into their backpacks. “These mandates are killing the property taxpayers and the business climate,” Stec said. “Let’s pull these rocks out of our packs and leave them on the trail,” he said.

Westcott said that with the tax cap, the ever-increasing mandates were forcing local governments — under the new 2 percent tax cap — to slash vital services. “Unfunded mandates are growing at an unsustainable rate, and they are choking out local community programs,” he said.

Town of Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth noted that unfunded mandates passed down to Saratoga County cost the local taxpayers $61 million annually. “If the state paid for their own mandates, there would be no property tax at all in Saratoga County,” she said.

It’s not only local governments that are being burdened, said John Blowers, a member of the Ballston Lake-Burnt Hills school board. He noted that by merely repealing a few key laws, school districts would have have millions of dollars more annually to spend on providing a quality education. The most expensive and burdensome dictates, which should be repealed, he said, were:

  • The laws which restrict school boards in effective contract bargaining contracts with teachers’ unions and virtually guarantee teachers raises in perpetuity;
  • Laws that guarantee top wages for workers on school construction jobs, regardless of the local labor market;
  • Restrictions on purchasing of materials and equipment that artificially boost prices born by taxpayers;
  • State policies that dictate excess special education procedures and rules; and
  • The state’s Triborough Amendment, which guarantees teachers raises even while contracts are under protracted negotiation.

Blowers said this last dictate alone costs his school district $550 per year, and adds a burden of about $93.5 million to property tax bills annually across the state.

Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino said that unfunded mandates boost local taxes in the state so dramatically, they are 80 percent higher than the national average. She noted that in her county, money spent on the mandates spiraled 54 percent over the past five years, while local officials were forced to cut 11 percent from essential but non-mandated local services — which include paving roads, providing veterans’ medical transportation and senior meals.

Brian Telesh, a G.O.P official from Clifton Park, called for change via the voting booth.  ”Throw out the politicians that aren’t voting against mandates, and keep the ones who are fighting for fiscal sanity,” he said.

Former Guilderland councilman and reformist Mark Grimm endorsed Telesh’s idea, urging citizens to recruit people untainted by politics to run for office and fight for fiscal sanity.  “New Yorkers will be dealing with unfunded mandates from now until doomsday unless we recruit the right new leaders,” he said.

Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione told the protesters how citizen outcry could make a difference. She noted that in fall 2009, when the state tried to impose a requirement that all motorists buy new license plates, 110,000 citizens signed an online petition, and the mandate was dropped. “Democracy still works,” she said. “People taking action makes a huge difference.”

State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville), agreed. “The only way we’ll achieve change is through a grassroots effort.”

State Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke), who represents a substantial portion of the 108th district, called unfunded mandates the work of “dictators.” “There’s nothing more un-American than unfunded mandates,” he said. “It’s a cowardly way to govern, and it’s choking the life out of the nation’s greatest state.”

The rally was held April 21 to coincide with the arrival of Tom Cavanagh, who is walking across New York State to protest unfunded mandates. Near the end of the protest rally, Cavanagh showed up, clad in a red, white and blue headwrap. He said that these mandates were boosting property taxes to the point that citizens had to choose whether to pay for food, medicine and utilities — or their ever-increasing property taxes. “These mandates are bankrupting our communities, our counties, or towns — and the taxpayers who foot the bill,” he said, calling for people to urge their local school boards to pass resolutions in protest.

Cavanagh, a citizen of Delaware County, started his 459-mile trek April 15 in Champlain, and plans to finish his trip in Long Island on May 2. Along his route, he stopped in Elizabethtown late last week to talk with Town Supervisor Margaret Barkley.

The rally and trek were sponsored by the Upstate Conservative Coalition.

Stec, a candidate for the 114th state Assembly District seat, and Westcott together were featured on a panel on unfunded mandate relief at the New York State Association of Counties conference held in January. More information may be found at Westcott’s website,

You can view videos of each speaker from the rally at our playlist.

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Rally Photos and Videos Available!

The Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally was a success and just the beginning of the educational outreach to inform our citizens about how unfunded mandates are impacting our local communities.

Rally photos - These are in a photo album on our Facebook page – please contact us at if you are having any trouble viewing them.

Rally videos –  This is a youtube playlist with all of our speakers’ presentations.  It contains a lot of great information and concrete examples of how unfunded mandates are bankrupting our local communities.  It is almost an hour of viewing time broken into 15 videos – please take the time to watch them!  Contact us if you have any trouble viewing the videos.

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Great Coverage of the Walking Tour!

Tom Cavanagh and Carl Gottstein Jr. have been on the Walking and Talking Tour for Mandate Relief since April 15th, 2012.  They are meeting with local elected officials and local media outlets along the way, raising awareness and spreading the word about the problems that unfunded state mandates are causing for our communities.  He has received a warm welcome and widespread support from all those he has met along the way.

Tom and Carl are achieving their goal of bringing attention to this issue.  Here are some of the stories that have been written or broadcast in the past week:

You can find out where Tom’s route will take him here — and don’t forget, join Tom and other New Yorkers at the Capitol building in Albany at 12 noon on Saturday, April 21st for the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally!

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Stand with Us at the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Rally

OUTSTANDING article by Michael Cignoli in the Saratogian about the Stop Unfunded Mandates Now Walking Tour and Rally, and the impact of unfunded mandates on our communities!

Saratoga County, for example, has a mandate bill of $61 million this year, which is about 120 percent of its property tax levy. That means each property tax dollar the county collects — plus an additional $11 million — heads to Albany to pay for programs like Medicaid, the state’s largest mandate, and pensions.

County taxpayers contribute some $7.3 billion toward the state’s Medicaid program, though Saratoga County Administrator Spencer Hellwig lamented that counties have no say in how the program is run. Most other states have eliminated the local share of their respective Medicaid programs.

A total of 27 states have either banned or restricted any form of unfunded mandates, said Cavanagh, who is scheduled to be one of 10 speakers at the Upstate Conservative Coalition’s rally at the West Side Capitol Building in Albany. That rally, the highlight of his journey, will call for more significant mandate relief beyond the proposals currently before the Legislature.

This is what it’s all about, folks!  Please STAND WITH US at the rally in Albany tomorrow, April 21st, at 12 noon on the west-side steps of the Capitol building.

We cannot continue to let Albany legislators bankrupt our counties, towns, and schools, with the taxpayers footing the bill for out-of-control State-mandated spending.  Click the image to see our latest flyer and see the program here.


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Tell Us Why You Support Tom’s Walk!

Patriot Tom Cavanagh is walking the State of New York to raise awareness of the need for serious mandate reform in New York.  Unfunded mandates are restricted or illegal in 27 states … why are they legal in New York?  They are bankrupting our communities – our counties, towns, and cities – not to mention the taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill.  Families, seniors, children, teachers, business owners, residents, property owners, renters … EVERY SINGLE NEW YORKER is affected by the burden of unfunded mandates, and it needs to stop.

Will you be out there greeting Tom as he walks through your town?  (See his route here) Let us know the reasons that you are taking time out of your busy day to support Tom on this walk.  Can’t make it?  Or maybe he’s not walking in your area – that’s okay!  Please let us know why you support mandate reform.

Leave a comment here and tell us how unfunded mandates are affecting you – whether it’s a personal impact or a larger impact, at your place of work or in your community.  We need to gather these stories to let the State Legislature know that their days of being unaccountable for the mandates that they create are over!

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