Minority Leader Criticizes Spano for Using Racist Card

8/17/2009 2:48:18 PM



Westchester County Legislator George Oros (R/C Cortlandt), Minority Leader of the Board of Legislators, issued the following statement today following the appearance of County Executive Andrew Spano at a meeting of the Budget Committee:


 “This morning, County Executive Andy Spano discussed plans to build subsidized housing in upscale communities as part of the federal lawsuit settlement. In the course of his remarks, the County Executive unjustifiably played the race card on Majority Leader Martin Rogowsky (D/Harrison), Vice Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D/Somers) and Chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee Thomas Abinanti (D/Greenburgh). The County Executive apparently singled out those three legislators because since the announcement of the proposed settlement they have shared many of the same reservations as I and other legislators have regarding the terms of settlement the County Executive agreed to.


Over the years, I have butted heads with these three colleagues on numerous issues. They are strong advocates for their positions. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. But these are good men without a bigoted bone in their bodies.


Each of them has sensible questions regarding the County Executive’s plan to use taxpayers’ money on an abstruse exercise in social engineering. Their questions and even their intentions are not a sign of bigotry.  It is a sign of legislative diligence and integrity.”









RE: Todays Budget & Appropriations committee vote to approve the proposed affordable housing settlement agreement and bond act

8/17/2009 4:05:00 PM



Today, the Budget & Appropriations Committee took the first step toward ratification of this settlement and bond act by approving these measures.  Our review of this matter will continue in future committee meetings.  We are on track for a floor vote at our next full board meeting. 


We agree with the County Executive that this is the most important vote that any legislative body has had to take in the history of the county.  However, notwithstanding, it is essential that we not rush into an agreement that will cost county taxpayers millions of dollars without asking the tough questions and understanding the county’s future fiscal commitment, as well as detailing the implementation of the creation of the 750 units that the stipulation agreement requires.


The injection of race into the discussion of this issue from others is irresponsible and offensive.  Let us be perfectly clear – the Board of Legislators has always considered the impact of race when taking action towards the creation of affordable housing.  In fact, county government has been active and successful in creating and sustaining affordable housing units throughout the county and has always been committed to ensuring fair access to housing for all people.







Our State Constitution Should have a 25th Amendment, akin to that of the U.S. Constitution. -- Kaplowitz

8/21/2009 9:55:11 AM



(White Plains, NY) ~ It was about six weeks ago, during the now infamous New York State Senate stalemate, when Westchester County Legislator and Board Vice Chairman Michael B. Kaplowitz (D-I, Somers), first called for an amendment to the state constitution, in order to properly deal with a vacancy of the office of Lieutenant Governor and other statewide offices.


“In light of today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals, invalidating Gov. Paterson’s recent appointment of Mr. Ravitch as Lt. Governor, I think the time is appropriate for the State Legislature to begin the process of amending the constitution to include provisions for filling a vacancy in any of the three statewide offices; Lt. Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General,” said Kaplowitz.  “The amendment should be akin to the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment which, in the case of Lt. Governor, would require the Governor to nominate someone who would assume the office of Lt. Governor if that person is confirmed by a majority vote of both the Assembly and the Senate.”


According to Kaplowitz, the replacement of Comptroller and Attorney General should be via a special election to be held within 90 days of the vacancy, in which time a temporary appointment may be made by a majority vote of the Legislature.


Kaplowitz noted that the reason for different processes is that the Lt. Governor is the only position out of the three statewide offices that is part of the Executive Branch.


“An amendment of the state constitution requires the vote of two consecutive legislatures.  Each legislature serves one two-year term.  Therefore, the time to begin this deliberation is now, so that a vote can be taken by the current legislature in 2010, and then the second vote by the next legislature in 2011,” stated Kaplowitz.  “This amendment would act as a type of insurance policy for the public in the sense that it would prevent any future instances of the extreme uncertainty, chaos and gridlock that took place in the Senate a couple of months ago.”









8/26/2009 9:53:54 AM



(White Plains, NY) ~ Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman William Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains) met this week with members of the Zeta Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., an organization with a long history of service to the African-American community, to discuss reducing incidents of domestic violence in the county.  Domestic violence affects all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. However, this threat has disproportionately dire consequences for African-American women.  Intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45. 


“Westchester county government has historically provided resources to enable victims of domestic violence to access support services such as counseling, advocacy, safety planning, court accompaniment,” said Ryan during this meeting.  Ryan met with Brenda Smith, Legislative Chair and former Superintendent of the Mt. Vernon Public Schools, Karen Williams, First Vice President of the local AKA chapter and Karen Cheeks-Lomax, Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place. The group explained the Sorority’s desire to empower young women to recognize and address violence. 


Alpha Kappa Alpha is reaching out nationally to educate and provide more support to young women.  Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the oldest historically African-American sorority in the United States.  It continues to empower communities through exemplary service initiatives and progressive programs.  Inspired by service to the community and commitment to sisterhood, its members resolve to build on the legacy of their founders.











Westchester County Board of Legislators will help the United Way place volunteers who will deliver services to our residents

8/26/2009 11:10:51 AM



(White Plains, NY) ~ In this tough economy, with money tight and community-based organizations in need of volunteers, Westchester County Board of Legislators Chair William Ryan (D, WFP - White Plains) today announced that funding will be provided to the Volunteer Center of the United Way to help the Center place volunteers in a variety of programs and services benefiting county residents.  “The recession has placed considerable stress on the budgets of many organizations in the county,” stated Chairman Ryan.  “Volunteers on staff can help these organizations maintain programs and services used by thousands of people throughout Westchester.” 


The funding for the Volunteer Center addresses the need for community outreach to inform volunteers of work opportunities and for training organizations in effective ways to engage their volunteers.  Learning how to find and make creative use of the skills of volunteers enhances the experience for all parties.  “The return on this investment is immense,” said Chairman Ryan, “in terms of opening doors for people who want to help others and in helping the underemployed find a job.” 


The volunteers are out there in large numbers.  The Westchester Serves Expo, held recently at the County Center, attracted an overflow crowd of hundreds looking for opportunities to volunteer in such areas as health, emergency services, the arts, social services, and the environment. 


The Volunteer Center of the United Way matches the interest and availability of hundreds of volunteer workers with the needs of not-for-profit organizations and it works to improve the quality of the volunteer experience through training.  Over the last several months, visits to the Volunteer Center website have increased dramatically and volunteer referrals to organizations have more than doubled.