9/9/2009 10:27:26 AM

 

 

Westchester County Legislator Jim Maisano (R, New Rochelle) announced today that he will be holding a town hall meeting to discuss the proposal before the County Legislature to settle the lawsuit accusing Westchester County of filing false statements with the federal government relating to the Community Development Block Grant program on Thursday, September 17, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM at the New Rochelle City Hall Annex (the old courthouse), 90 Beaufort Place, Room B1, New Rochelle, New York.

 

The centerpiece of the complex proposed settlement agreement would require the County to develop 750 new affordable housing units in upscale areas of Westchester at a cost of approximately $62 million.  The next step in the process is for the County Legislature to accept or reject the settlement agreement.  If the settlement is rejected, the lawsuit against the County will proceed to trial.  If the County loses at trial, the damages could be as much as $200 million, although it is also expected that the County will then file an appeal.

 

Legislator Maisano stated, “This is a very complicated issue and the settlement agreement has raised many questions from my constituents.  This issue has been called one of the most important disputes the County has ever faced.  With the stakes so high, I want to hear views on it by the people of New Rochelle and Pelham. This meeting will be an important part of my decision-making process on this vote scheduled for September 21.”

 

Legislator Maisano has been contacted by constituents who are both in favor and opposed to the settlement agreement.  While some have argued that the risk of not settling the lawsuit could lead to a significantly worse result at trial; others have raised concerns about the overriding of local zoning laws, limits on the number of senior citizens to live in the housing built pursuant to the settlement, and why New Rochelle taxpayers must pay for the settlement when New Rochelle does not receive Community Development Block Grants through the County government.

 

Legislator Maisano will open the meeting with limited comments on the settlement agreement, and the remainder of the meeting will be reserved for public comments by his constituents (comments will be limited to three minutes per person).  If you would like to review the settlement agreement, it can be found at http://www.westchestergov.com/pdfs/Housingsettlementtext.pdf, or call Legislator Maisano’s office at 995-2826, and it can be emailed or mailed to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/9/2009 10:29:27 AM

WHAT:   

Westchester County Legislator James Maisano (R/New Rochelle) is hosting a town hall meeting to hear the views of his constituents on the proposed settlement agreement for this controversial federal litigation and to fund costs related to the settlement.
 

WHO: 

Westchester County Legislator James Maisano
 

WHERE:   

New Rochelle City Hall Annex
90 Beaufort Place, Room B1 (the old courthouse)
New Rochelle, New York 
 

WHEN:   

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
 

WHY:       

Legislator Maisano will open the meeting with brief comments on the settlement agreement, and then will open the meeting to testimony on this issue from his constituents.

9/9/2009 10:44:20 AM

What:

Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D, I, WFP-White Plains) and Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham (D, I, WFP-Katonah), along with several county legislators will announce a committee vote and movement towards passage of historic legislation that would require the forfeiture of vehicles for those convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while engaged in unlawful speed contests or races throughout Westchester County.  Today, the Board leadership is pleased to announce that enough legislators have committed their support for passage of this legislation out of committee and to a full floor vote at our next Board meeting. Ryan and Harckham will be joined by fellow legislators, representatives of various law enforcement agencies and community advocates who have been vocal in their support of the immediate passage of this legislation.
 

Who: 

Speakers to attend are (still in formation):

  • Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D,I, WFP-White Plains)
  • Legislator Peter Harckham (D, I, WFP-Katonah) – primary author of the legislation
  • Legislator and Board Vice-Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D,I-Somers)
  • Legislator William Burton (D,I, WFP-Ossining) – Chairman, Committee on Legislation
  • Legislator Vito Pinto (D,I-Tuckahoe) – Chairman, Committee on Public Safety
  • Legislator and Board Majority Leader Martin Rogowsky (D-Harrison)
  •  Legislator Ken Jenkins (D,I,WFP-Yonkers) – Chairman, Committee on Government Operations
  • Legislator Jose Alvarado (D,I,WFP-Yonkers) – Chairman, Committee on Budget and Appropriations
  • Representatives from Northern Westchester Hospital
  • Alonzo West of the Westchester Correction Officers Benevolent Association
  • Mike Hagan of the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association
  • Robert Buckley of the Westchester County Correction Superior Officers Association
  • Helene Hodapp of the Westchester County Probation Officers Association

Where:    

Westchester County Board of Legislators Rotunda

800 Michaelian Office Building
148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor (corner of Court Street)
White Plains, NY
 

When: 

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 12pm noon SHARP!

Why: 

Currently, twenty states permit the confiscation of vehicles for DWI offenses, with New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, specifically within New York State.  Most of them are for second offenses or more. Within the last four years, Westchester County has seen a steady increase in DWI/DUI arrests.  According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, adult arrests in Westchester County for felony and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) offenses rose from 2,337 in 2002 to 2,650 in 2007.  The Westchester County Department of Probation reports that DWI cases represent the largest percentage of their total cases – 23 percent.  Additionally, it has been reported that nationwide, 17,000 people die each year in alcohol-related accidents; 80 percent involve recidivist drunk drivers.

Legislator Harckham – the primary sponsor of this legislation – has worked to build a bipartisan coalition of legislators that has debated the details of this bill within the Committees of Legislation and Public Safety for over a year and has worked to add several constitutional protections for due process.  On the heels on the tragic deaths of members of the Bastardi and Schuler families on the Taconic Parkway, the Board has found that while larger fines, longer license suspensions, and increased jail sentences may deter some offenders, a stronger deterrent is necessary to protect the public.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board, civil forfeiture of motor vehicles laws serve as a deterrent to recidivism may reduce first-time offenses and will send a stern message that driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs will not be tolerated in Westchester County. 

*** PHOTO OPP AND VIDEO INTERVIEWS ARE AVAILABLE ***

Minority Leader Also Cautions Bill that Would Raise Taxes on Condos, Co-Ops, Commercial Buildings and Apartments is Still Pending in Albany

9/9/2009 1:17:26 PM

 

 

Westchester County Legislator George Oros (R/Cortlandt) joined State Senator Vincent Leibell (R/Patterson), State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R/Patterson) and a large contingent of senior citizens in decrying a decrease in the state’s STAR program. 

 

Speaking at the Jefferson Village community center in Jefferson Valley, Oros said the state Legislature placed a financial burden on property owners throughout the state, particularly senior citizens, by reducing the Enhanced STAR allotment and eliminating STAR rebate checks in the 2009-10 budget.

 

“During these tough economic times people who live on fixed incomes, such as seniors, are being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford to pay rising taxes to support Albany’s spending habit,” Oros said. “The people in this county and state need true reform supported by action, not more empty promises.”

 

Overall, Westchester residents will lose an estimated $138.8 million from the loss of the rebate program, which netted property owners between $100 and $1,500. STAR savings for many homeowners also dropped from last year.

 

Meanwhile, Oros cautioned state legislation that would increase property assessments on condominiums, cooperative apartments, rental apartments and commercial buildings was still pending in Albany.

 

 

Oros said the so-called Commercial Assessment Ratio Bill, if passed, would result in certain property owners paying higher school, county and municipal taxes.

 

Even more proposterous is the bill, which passed the Assembly and is co-sponsored in the Senate by Suzi Oppenheimer (D/Mamaroneck) and  Diaz (D/Bronx), specifically only affects Westchester since Westchester is the only county that falls within the population guidelines of the potentially devastating legislation.

 

“This is another example of just how out of touch our state leaders in Albany are with their constituents,” Oros said. “Many hard working citizens in Westchester can only afford a condominium, a cooperative apartment or a rental unit. Raising the property assessment will leave many of the units unaffordable. And commercial property owners will likely pack up and move elsewhere as well where they can hold on to more of their profits.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/9/2009 2:18:21 PM

 

 

Flood mitigation projects in Mamaroneck and Rye will be among the first projects to receive funding from a Flood Action Plan aimed at reducing the local impact of severe storms.  County Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) announced that the County Board  approved at its meeting on September 8 the allocation of $4.5 million to fund four flood mitigation projects in the county.

 

Two of the four projects approved were for the Sound Shore area that Myers represents. They include Gardens Lake in the Town of Mamaroneck and the Bowman Avenue Dam, serving Rye and Rye Brook.  The other projects selected for the first round of funding are located in Scarsdale and Tarrytown. Federal and local funds will also help to finance these flood-mitigation projects.

 

“I applaud my fellow legislators for having the wisdom to prioritize the funding for these critically important projects,” said Myers who as a member of the Flood Action Task Force pushed hard for the Sound Shore projects’ inclusion in the first round of funding. “We cannot eliminate all flooding but the technology exists to mitigate much of the flooding and the loss of private and public property that major storms such as the 2007 one can so quickly cause.”

 

The Flood Action Plan calls for the county to allocate $10 million a year for the next five years to make the county a safer, dryer place. The job of the Flood Action Task Force, also formed in the wake of the devastating Nor-easter of April 2007, is to study and recommend steps to reduce flooding in the county.

 

Myers said the memory of the devastation of the 2007 storm remains a forceful and ever-present reminder that an aggressive course of flood-mitigation efforts is essential. She said the Task Force will continue to evaluate the flood mitigation projects submitted for consideration by municipalities throughout Westchester.

 

 “I look forward to continuing this program so that all impacted municipalities can be helped,” she said.