Westchester County Legislators

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Chairman Kaplowitz Announces Task Force to Review-Ethics Waiver Requests

Chairman Kaplowitz Announces Task Force to Review-Ethics Waiver Requests

In 2014, the Westchester County Charter Revision Commission recommended several updates to the Board of Legislators (BOL) regarding the Ethics Board and dealing with employment waiver requests.  The BOL has been discussing this issue and debating various reforms since that time. Read more

Released:08-04-2016 | See More _Newsroom

Board of Legislators, Ferari Associates Agree on Deal to Fund Studies on ‘North 60’ Development

Board of Legislators, Ferari Associates Agree on Deal to Fund Studies on ‘North 60’ Development

Today at the weekly meeting of the Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contracts an amendment was approved to an existing contract with Fareri Associates LP to reimburse the county for studies which are being done on the proposed $1.2 billion bio-science project at the Grasslands Campus.  The project which seeks to develop 60 acres of county-owned property along with an adjacent tract of 20 acres owned by Fareri next... Read more

Released:08-04-2016 | See More _Newsroom

Legislator Testa Proposes Resolution Opposing New Oil Barge Anchorage Sites on Hudson River

Legislator Testa Proposes Resolution Opposing New Oil Barge Anchorage Sites on Hudson River

Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, The Board of Legislators’ (BOL) Minority Leader is sponsoring a resolution voicing the BOL’s opposition to a proposed U.S. Coast Guard rule which would create anchorage sites in the Hudson River for vessels carrying oil to refinery’s south of Westchester County. Read more

Released:08-23-2016 | See More _Newsroom

BOL Litigation Committee Rejects Rye City’s Environmental Claims

BOL Litigation Committee Rejects Rye City’s Environmental Claims

On Thursday, the Board of Legislators (BOL) Litigation Committee met with County Attorney Robert Meehan to discuss Westchester County’s response to the Article 78 court action brought against Westchester County by Rye City Mayor Joe Sack.  Among other things, the City of Rye’s complaint claims that the County should not be the lead agency in certifying compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and that Mayor Sack and... Read more

Released:08-25-2016 | See More _Newsroom

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Democratic BOL Leaders Win A&C Court Ruling To Make County Executive Follow the Law

Gavel

Ruling brings clarity and closure

 

White Plains, NY – Acting Justice New York State Supreme Court Barry E. Warhit released his decision yesterday  in favor of the three leaders of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL)—Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) and Majority Leader Peter Harckham (D-Katonah)—in their lawsuit against County Executive Rob Astorino regarding the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C), which handles contracts for capital projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars yearly for Westchester.

Court Decision (pdf)

In December 2011, the BOL voted to change the composition of the three-member A&C Board, replacing the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) with the County Budget Director. Both positions are named by the County Executive and are subject to BOL approval. The County Executive and BOL Chairman make up the other two A&C members.

    

Even after the law, which the County Executive vetoed and the BOL overrode, was duly filed with New York State, and in actions clearly violating the law, Astorino continued to direct the DPWT Commissioner to sit at the A&C meetings—and vote.

     

In March 2012, the three BOL Democratic leaders filed a lawsuit to determine, once and for all, whether Astorino had to follow a duly enacted law.

    

Judge Warhit’s decision orders that the County Executive must “implement and enforce” the Resolutions, Acts and Local Laws adopted by the BOL.

    

“This ruling confirms one the major tenets of our democracy: A law is a law, and the rule of law must apply to everyone, regardless of their position or office,” said Williams, a practicing attorney. “Also, the County Attorney should have advised the County Executive to follow this law rather than ignore it. Only a court can decide a disagreement of law—not the county attorney.”

    

Exacerbating the issue further, Jay Pisco, named by Astorino as DPWT Commissioner, had his appointment sent to committee by the BOL, which the BOL did not send to Committee.  Warhit declined to rule on Pisco’s appointment, and instead rules Pisco may no longer serve on the A&C Board as a result of the court’s decision.

    

“My Board colleagues and I undertook this legal action reluctantly, after many attempts to settle our differences with the Astorino Administration,” said Jenkins. “But the Administration’s refusal to follow the law is not something that could be taken lightly. It was not just a matter of ‘running to court’ for a superfluous reason. Our oaths of office demand that we respect, follow and stand up for the law and the rules of governance as determined in the County Charter. Ignoring this law posed a grave threat to Westchester and put all of our contracts at risk.”

 

In his decision Judge Warhit agrees with the three plaintiffs that County Executive Astorino failed to enforce the provisions of a local law, thus violating his statutory duty as written as law in the County Charter.

   

The law changing the A&C Board became a major issue for the BOL when Jenkins, Williams and Harckham were troubled in February 2012 by the Astorino Administration, thus operating illegally and without transparency in the County’s Board of Acquisition & Contract (A&C), “approved” a $13 million capital project on February 16 without first presenting it to the BOL—contrary to the laws set in the County Charter—for any discussion, vetting or due diligence whatsoever regarding the funding, despite information about bonding options that could have saved the County over $1 million. As it stands, this project would be subject to a public referendum since it exceeds the County’s bond cap of ten million dollars. Moreover, the 2-1 vote at A&C included a vote from Pisco.

    

“The County Charter and local laws need to be followed for our government to work properly and our residents to have confidence in what their elected leaders are doing,” said Harckham. “Judge Warhit has provided the clarity and closure that we are seeking.”

 

 

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