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Government panel bios

Westchester County Executive ROB ASTORINO was elected to office in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 with bipartisan support, winning by a 13-point margin. During his first term in office, Astorino froze or cut the county tax levy four years in a row, reduced overall spending in the county by 4.4 percent, maintained the highest credit rating among counties in New York state, attracted new businesses to the county and helped create 30,000 new jobs. In addition, he has worked hard to preserve essential services by maintaining a sizable social safety net, improving ParaTrainsit for the disabled, establishing public-private partnerships and expanding environmental and recycling initiatives. Astorino continues to lead Westchester in the right direction by sticking to what he calls the 3 Ps – protect taxpayers, preserve essential services and promote economic growth. Astorino was first elected to public office at age 21, serving as a member of the Mount Pleasant Board of Education. During his tenure, he also served as the board’s vice president. He went on to serve for 12 years as a councilman on the Mount Pleasant Town Board, including six years as deputy supervisor. In 2003, he was elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators. Before taking office as County Executive on Jan. 1, 2010, Astorino had a long career in the radio industry. He was the station manager and program director of The Catholic Channel on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio and hosted a weekly radio show from St. Patrick’s Cathedral with the archbishop of New York. In 2001, he helped launch ESPN Radio in New York. He became the station’s senior producer and was executive producer of “The Michael Kay Show.” He has also held a wide range of volunteer and civic positions serving on The Westchester Business Council’s Government Action Committee, the Mount Pleasant Rotary, the North Castle Land Trust, the Hudson Valley Greenway and two terms as vice chairman of the Westchester County Board of Ethics. Astorino earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at Fordham University, where he also minored in Spanish and political science. In 2001, he studied in Barcelona, Spain, and received a Spanish Immersion Diploma from the Enforex School of International Studies.

RICHARD BRODSKY has had a distinguished career in public service, and as a lawyer.  His record of public service includes 28 years as a Member of the New York State Assembly, where he Chaired the Committee on Corporations which has jurisdiction over business, not-for-profit and public corporations; the Committee on Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over air, water solid waste and other permitting programs; and the Committee on Investigations which focused on issues in higher education, insurance and government operations.  In recognition of his public service he has received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, the Nelson Rockefeller Distinguished Public Service Award, the Westchester Distinguished Service Medal, and others. His career as a practicing attorney spans forty years.  His litigation record includes a record $18 million jury verdict in a civil rights lawsuit, and wide experience litigating commercial and administrative disputes in state and federal courts.  He recently became Of Counsel to the Oxman Law Firm in White Plains. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he has been a Professor of Law at Pace University School of Law and St. John’s University School of Law. Richard currently teaches Public/Private Finance at NYU’s Wagner School, where he serves as a Senior Fellow.  He writes regularly for Huffington Post, the Albany Times-Union, and City and State.  He appears regularly on public affairs television. Richard, a life-long Westchester resident, is married to the former Paige Massman.  They have two daughters, Emily and Willie.

WALTER RAQUET is a leader whose innovations and values have had a profound effect on American business. In 1980, Raquet uncovered the largest tax fraud ($1 billion) in the history of the United States and assisted the U.S. Treasury and the IRS in shutting it down. In 1984, he created the first sophisticated equity trading system, called COLT, which was used by the majority of the world’s trading firms. In 1995, he founded a company with $17 million in capital and 70 employees. In its fifth year, the company had an EBITDA of $301 million, employed 1,400 people and its public value rose as high as $8 billion. Raquet, during that period, predicted that asinine regulation by Arthur Levitt, then the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, would gravely harm the capital markets. Levitt’s over-regulation caused the loss of 18 million jobs in the U.S. over a 15-year period (1997). At the age of 26, Raquet was the corporate controller of the 10th largest Wall Street firm. Today, at 71, he is working closely with the CEO of a company called AtmosAir.com that cleans the air and reduces electric use dramatically and plans to grow this business into a multibillion dollar company over the next few years. He is the author of “Government is Killing the Economy!”

BOB BERKOWITZ has been a major force in American media and media training for nearly 40 years. He was a founding correspondent for CNN, covering the 1980 presidential campaign. After the election of Ronald Reagan, he was named senior White House correspondent. Among the many stories he’s covered is the assassination attempt on President Reagan. He then went to ABC News as a general assignment reporter covering such events as the Falklands war in Argentina and the Tylenol murders in Chicago. He was also a substitute host for “Good Morning America,” a reporter for “Today” at NBC and hosted talk shows on The Financial News Network and CNBC. In addition, he was one of the first national news correspondents on the scene for the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Berkowitz covered Pope John Paul II in the U.S., Mexico, Argentina and the Vatican. He’s served as an advisor to two heads of state and was the communications consultant for two overseas elections as well as domestic campaigns. Berkowitz’ career started in Denver and San Francisco as a radio talk show host. He turned to journalism as a national news editor for Associated Press Radio in Washington and became AP Radio’s chief Senate and political reporter, and he covered the 1976 Carter presidential campaign. Berkowitz has appeared numerous times as a commentator on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. A recipient of the Overseas Press Club award and the Freedom Foundation award for journalism, Berkowitz has extensive experience in media and presentation training. He has assisted Fortune 500 executives, a prime minister, candidates for Parliament, one of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate, the senior partners of one of the biggest law firms in the world and numerous authors. He holds a degree in business from the State University of New York at Delhi and a B.A. in communications from the University of Denver.