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County’s Low Child Care Enrollment Prompts Action from Democratic Legislators

County’s Low Child Care Enrollment Prompts Action from Democratic Legislators

White Plains, NY – Democratic Caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) questioned why one of the County’s subsidized child care programs, known as Title XX, was running at only one-third of the enrollment projected in 2014 Budget. The low numbers seem attributable to some problems with the enrollment process and publicizing the program, and the legislators said they will press the Astorino Administration for better performances... Read more

Released:07-31-2014 | See More _Newsroom

Kaplowitz Votes To Give Yorktown County Paratransit Bus For $1---Touts Legislature's Commitment to Shared Services

Kaplowitz Votes To Give Yorktown County Paratransit Bus For $1---Touts Legislature's Commitment to Shared Services

  Westchester County Board of Legislators' Chairman Michael B. Kaplowitz (D, Yorktown, Somers, New Castle), one of the three voting members of the County's Board of Acquisition & Contract, passed a measure this week that secured a County-owned 2008 Ford E350, a shuttle-type bus, for the Town of Yorktown for just a buck.  Up until now, the bus has been utilized by the County's Pararansit system. Read more

Released:07-22-2014 | See More _Newsroom

Shimsky Touts Legislature’s Commitment To Shared Services---Village of Dobbs Ferry gets County surplus Paratransit bus for $1

Shimsky Touts Legislature’s Commitment To Shared Services---Village of Dobbs Ferry gets County surplus Paratransit bus for $1

  Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D, Hastings-on-Hudson), chair of the Legislature’s Infrastructure Committee, this week announced that the County approved the transfer of ownership of a County-owned 2008 E350, a shuttle-type bus.  Up until now, the bus has been utilized by the County’s ParaTransit system. Read more

Released:07-22-2014 | See More _Newsroom

Westchester Legislators Provide Continued Oversight of Flood Mitigation Efforts on Bronx River

Westchester Legislators Provide Continued Oversight of Flood Mitigation Efforts on Bronx River

White Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) continued its oversight of stormwater management efforts in flood prone areas and began laying groundwork for new mitigation projects this week when it held a July 16 meeting of the Bronx River Advisory Board (BRAB), which is chaired by Legislator Bernice Spreckman (R-Yonkers). Read more

Released:07-18-2014 | See More _Newsroom

Westchester Legislators Express Opposition to LG Electronics’ Building on Top of Palisades

Westchester Legislators Express Opposition to LG Electronics’ Building on Top of Palisades

White Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) approved a resolution last night expressing opposition to LG Electronics’ plan to build a 143-foot tall office building on top of the cliffs of the Palisades along the Hudson River, two to three times higher than the tree line. The vote came during the regular BOL meeting. Read more

Released:07-15-2014 | 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.”

 

 

Tags: District 2-Peter Harckham District 13-Lyndon Williams District 16-Kenneth W. Jenkins

The Week at the Board

Monday, 8/4

BOL Meeting 10:00 AM
LAW 12:00 PM
LEG / B&A / CCRTF   1:30 PM
E&E / LEG / INFRA   3:00 PM

 

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