Above: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Businessweek has an article on the conflict between hasidim and almost everyone else who lives in Rockland, Orange and Ramapo counties in New York State.
And while the article incorrectly states the average hasidic family has 4 children – the number is closer to 6 per family – it still sums up a root of the problem non-haredim in those counties face from rapid hasidic expansion, as the extened excerpt shows:
…[Governor Andrew] Cuomo’s father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, backed the creation of the Kiryas Joel school district in 1990, which helped the community tap state funding for special-education students. In 2010, Andrew Cuomo told one of the two chief rabbis of the Satmar Hasidic sect that he “did a lot of work” at Kiryas Joel as U.S. housing secretary under President Bill Clinton because of the connection between the village and his father.
“I understand your community, I understand our relationship and I want to be as helpful as I can,” Cuomo said…
Oscar Cohen, the education chairman for the Spring Valley National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he formed Rockland Clergy for Social Justice to give a voice in Albany to the East Ramapo public-school students. Last week, the group met with Larry Schwartz, Cuomo’s top aide, to press for state oversight and a task force to determine how districts like East Ramapo could be better governed.
“We’re saying that currently the governor is part of the problem, the legislature is part of the problem, by knowing this and not doing anything,” Cohen said. “The Haitian, Latino, and African-American groups aren’t being heard in this because they don’t come together as a bloc vote.”…
David Pollock, the director of governor relations and security at the Jewish Community Relations Council in New York, said an endorsement by Hasidic leaders usually indicates who will win an election.
“There’s very few ways to acquire votes wholesale,” Pollock. “Hasidic communities are one of the few groups with a proven track record of delivering blocs of votes.”
Satmar, the biggest faction of Hasidim, are split between two brothers. Cuomo received the backing of both leaders when he won election. In his first year in office, he fulfilled a promise he made to one of the grand rabbis, Aaron Teitelbaum: He pushed through a bill that gave theological undergraduate students -- including those studying at yeshivas, or Jewish schools -- access to millions of dollars in state grants.
Robert Rhodes, a Democrat and chairman of Preserve Ramapo, which joined with the Clarkstown Preservation Society last year to form Preserve Rockland, said he won’t vote for Cuomo because of the way the governor has handled East Ramapo.
In November, Preserve Rockland, whose members are mostly Democrats, according to Rhodes, threw almost 9,000 votes behind Ed Day, a Republican, to put him ahead by about 4,000 votes in the county executive race. Though Cuomo hasn’t formally entered the gubernatorial race, he’s raised more than $30 million for re-election.
“We’re hoping to embarrass Cuomo as much as possible,” Rhodes said. “Here’s a guy who faces no problem getting re-elected and yet he refuses to help East Ramapo schools.”