County Announces New Partnership With Religious Groups

County Executive Robert Astorino said he hopes the new faith-based community partnership will help guide county resources to those that need them.

In an effort to help connect county programs to the people who need them, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino announced a new partnership Wednesday with the area's faith-based organizations.

Rosa Boone, the county's deputy social services commissioner, will now also serve as a liaison for the county's faith-based organizations. She will work with leaders from various religious groups to help "cut through government red tape and share information", Astorino said.

"The bond that I have with these members of the clergy is that we are all really in the helping business, and often we are trying to help the same people," Astorino said.

The county executive made the announcement with representatives from several religious groups in attendance. Boone will serve as a contact person for these groups, and others, to help ensure that their organizations and congregants receive the help and assistance already available to them.

"The power of that combination means we can do more for others, and that's why we are all here," Astorino said.

Boone has served as deputy social services commissioner since 2011. She will now help religious groups navigate through at least 36 different departments when they are in need of information or assistance. She will continue to serve in her previous role, so the new program won't cost any additional money.

"As someone who has worked closely with community organizations for almost two decades, I know the great work done by religious groups," Boone said. "Budgets are always tight. Sharing ideas, expertise and resources is a way we can leverage programs and services to do more for those who need our help."

A new section of the county's website will also be devoted to faith-based groups, offering them the opportunity to connect with the county and one another. Astorino said he is hopeful the new partnership will make it easier for people to access the programs already available to them.

"(Religious groups) can identify people in the pews that need help," he said. "They know their congregants best."

Joe Stampf January 17, 2013 at 01:52 PM
what about the people who are not in the pews?
Axle January 17, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Exactly. Why is the County Executive reaching out to help make faith-based organizations efforts more streamlined? Was there disparity between how faith-based and non-faith-based organizations were being helped? Was there a big difference in the amount of funding these types of organizations received? Don't get me wrong. The easier it is to help people in need, the better. But if some type of favoritism is being applied based on religious beliefs, there's a problem. It would be nice to have more perspective on this, as it seems, on face value, a bit off.
joe January 17, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Picky, Picky, Picky. Astorino is simply trying to get rid of the red tape and onerous regulation that has built up over the years.
Axle January 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
... for faith-based organizations. At least that's what the article appears to be telling us. What about non-faith-based organizations? It would be helpful if this article went a little farther than it does. It's not giving a complete picture. Also, if Astorino held a press conference saying that he was making changes to the way the county allocated funds for organizations that help those in need in order for it to be easier, there wouldn't be an issue. The issue is that it appears he's doing it for one specific group, and for the members of these groups. If this is about a specific program that works specifically with faith-based organizations, then that's a different story. My point being, it's not made clear by the article.
joe January 17, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Axle, That's true. It's a poor article in that respect. What I heard, is that much of the regulation is there to make sure that organizations are legit; that they are registered 501c's, that they are not scammers---all good. What Asterino is saying is that we really don't have to go through all those hoops for the local church or synagogue.
Axle January 17, 2013 at 05:29 PM
If the local church or synagogue isn't required to go through the same hoops as non-faith-based organizations, it is clear favoritism. This also seems to make the assumption that just because an organization is faith-based it is immune to corruption, and that is a very dangerous assumption to make.
William Demarest (Editor) January 17, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Democratic members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Alfreda Williams and MaryJane Shimsky are critical of the initiative. They call it a “smokescreen” for cuts to programs and services in the 2013 Budget. http://westchesterlegislators.com/media-center/2218-democratic-legislators-call-astorino-s-faith-based-initiative-a-smokescreen-for-his-budget-cuts.html
Cadeyrn January 17, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Dumb remarks. Go to any Catholic hospital ... and you'll find folks of every faith and of NO faith. There's NO "pew dues". Know the facts. This effort helps people. Now liberals are deciding what sort of community care counts as acceptable or not. Do you know how foolish that sounds? Btw, explain that to the destitute who need such critical attention. I wanna hear their reaction. The liberals are just rummaging for an issue.
joe January 17, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Axle. Please read carfully. Do YOU think the local church has to waste time filling out applications to prove it is a non-profit, 501, all adminstators bonded, criminal background check, etc? Or do you think it is favoritism. Like YOU said "the easier it is to help people, the better"
joe January 17, 2013 at 09:12 PM
So to give the other side of the story, you link us to Ken Jenkins? At least explain to your readers that he is running for Astorino's seat.
Gargamel January 17, 2013 at 09:16 PM
aaahhhhhhhh Amen, Brother !!!
joe January 17, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Axle January 17, 2013 at 09:30 PM
My point is this: an organization, no matter its function, should not be given special treatment or afforded leniency by our government, be it local, state, or federal, because it is faith-based. A faith-based organization should be held to the same standards and requirements as any other organization. Establishment Clause, anyone? Now, if Astorino is in fact using this announcement of a special liaison as a smokescreen to distract from cuts in programs that help the needy, as is suggested by county legislators in the above linked article, the focus of this discussion should shift.
joe January 17, 2013 at 09:45 PM
As I told the author, the link is from Ken Jenkins. Of course he will say it is a smoke screen. The fact is this: we need to make cuts. (Connecticut doesn't even have county governments) We are going broke. We have unfunded mandates from albany. So if the decision is to cut the red tape to faith based organizations---even if funds were just cut FROM those organization, then it could be a good idea. It's FAR from an establishment clause issue. (churches don't pay taxes, do they).
Joe Stampf January 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM
joe and Caderyn, disputing the BOL assertions from the referenced post based on the premise that Jenkins is a competitor of Asorino and therefore his claims are untrue, is ludicrous! The linked article makes a number of assertions about Astorino and backs them up with verifiable facts, therefore if you wish to offer a dispute then you must offer meaningful facts to counter. The notion that a competitor's retort is inherently untrue solely because they are a competitor is a fallacy, do you follow? In the title of this article it reads "County Executive Robert Astorino said he hopes the new faith-based community partnership will help guide county resources to those that need them." and the retort in the linked article (in summary) claims this is a "smokescreen" **because** (facts follow) Astorino has actually made many *cuts* to social programs, including those run out of churches, synagogues and other houses of worship, and attempted to skew budget numbers to make a surplus appear as a deficit to justify cuts. If you have verifiable facts to counter with, by all means present them. Partisan rhetoric and generalizations just aren't very meaningful.
joe January 18, 2013 at 06:34 PM
You sound eloquent but you are missing the point: Whether or not Astorino proposed this to faith based organizations has nothing to do with a smokescreen. In fact, knowing that cuts in county aid would bring less to some non-profits, he is working on ways to restore some of those funds.
Joe Stampf January 18, 2013 at 07:52 PM
joe, respectfully, I think you have actually missed the point. According to the article, Astorino is the one who *made the cuts* due to his manipulation of budget figures to make the cuts appear necessary when they actually were not. The 'smokescreen' refers to this 'faith initiative' which garners great PR for the exec (something he seems to be very adept at) while trying to avoid revealing the budget cuts he made to those programs himself in the first place. The meat of this 'faith initiative' is purportedly to 'help cut through red tape' (ie bypass validation measures that non faith-based organizations must still endure) - it does not mention restoring or directing funds to help the people in need, funds that Astorino has actually worked very hard to deny. You say now he is working on ways to restore those cuts. If you can cite some examples of budget money he is *re*-making available, or if you have evidence that all or parts of the 'Jenkins' post is inaccurate, please let us know. But nothing in this article states he is actually restoring any funds to those in need.


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