Ulster County Comptroller Speaks at Chamber BreakfastJun 22nd, 2012 | By HV Insider | Category: Business News
Comptroller Auerbach: Students are our future
It was a look into the future as Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach addressed the June 20 breakfast meeting of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Auerbach opened his remarks by introducing the 2012 class of his “Recognizing Success” program, which honors exceptional high school students who have stepped forward to “make a difference” in school or in the community.
The Chamber also honored the state championship baseball teams from both Kingston and Coleman Catholic high schools.
“I can assure you that not only do we live in an area rich in resources and beauty, but, as you have witnessed, it abounds in talented high school students,” the comptroller said.
Noting that the last two breakfast speakers— Kingston City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Padalino and HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley CEO David Lundquist—had brought sobering messages, Auerbach sounded an upbeat tone.
“Each message resonated with the underlying theme that while we are living in a climate of change—our ability to adapt—through ingenuity and what I like to call big thinking, will reenergize us and return us to greatness,” he said.
Auerbach weaved the similarities between education and government into his speech, explaining that just as the state Regents exams cover nearly a dozen subjects, his office audits, reviews and reports on more than 40 departments and divisions of county government.
The comptroller’s office reviews claims, vouchers and requests for payment averaging close to $1 million a day, Auerbach said. The office also double-checks each item.
“Much like the motivated high school student, we are motivated to study,” he said. “In order for us to gain a better understanding of the subject matter, in this case the millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money being spent, we share the challenge of doing our daily assignments correctly and in a timely manner.”
However, all too often both students and government are “perceived as falling short of the mark,” the comptroller said.
“Our students, our teachers, our governments and the people who run them are under assault by economic and social conditions as challenging as any generation that has gone before them,” Auerbach said. “But, thank goodness, this morning we are reminded that local education and local government share at least one other common trait—inside our ranks are shining stars!”
Auerbach said he sees those stars in the students he honored and among the 1,800 county employees who “blow away the stereotypes.”
“We need not be resigned to underachievement because of the challenges we face—at least not here in Ulster County,” Auerbach said.
“I know because I’ve had the good fortune to see both our schools and our county function at their highest level. It begins with backbreaking work of sowing and reaping, which enables us to yield something else here in abundance in Ulster County. We cultivate character.
“And it is the seeds of that character—the insight, perseverance, integrity and entrepreneurial energy which have been sown in our high schools that will be sown throughout the world by these kids we honor today, and by countless others who we have not yet recognized.”
Auerbach noted that many of the county’s top elected officials were educated in local high schools.
“And it is in those deeply rooted core values of our leaders that provide a vision for economic growth, public integrity and principled stewardship that can be a model for county government everywhere,” he said.
Auerbach said those same leaders are not looking for answers from Albany or Washington.
“We know that our future will be determined right here,” he said. “All around us … at our dinner tables … in our classrooms … in the office next to ours.
“Our county and all of you in this room are equal to the task. That is my prediction and there is no place I would rather be right now than among this company.”