FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Democratic BOL Leaders Applaud Positive Rulings in Capital Projects Decision
White Plains, NY – Democratic leaders on the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) applauded the positive rulings regarding governance and legal representation that were included in Acting Justice of New York State Supreme Court James W. Hubert’s dismissal of the case that claimed County Executive Rob Astorino was wrong to, in effect, veto the BOL’s override of the capital projects added by the BOL to 2011 County Budget.
Those positive rulings found in the court’s decision today include an acknowledgement that the County Executive nullified the vote of BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and other County legislators by failing to adopt the 2011 Budget as endorsed by two-thirds of the legislative body in an override vote. The court also found that Jenkins obtained specific authorization in his capacity as chair of the BOL to sue the County Executive in this matter on behalf of the BOL.
“A number of capital projects that the BOL determined are essential to the health, safety and well-being of County residents, like flood mitigation and collaborative assessment, should move forward,” said Jenkins. “I am calling for the Administration to work with the Board of Legislators to get these critical projects moving again.”
As for the lawsuit itself, Hubert ruled the BOL is not subject to the same process as County departments as it relates to capital projects, but the judge stated he couldn’t rule on the capital projects added by the BOL in 2011 and 2012, as the issue was moot.
Judge Hubert also held in his ruling today that New York State law specifically mandates that when the interest of the BOL is inconsistent with that of any county officer, including the County Executive, the County Attorney must represent the BOL in legal conflicts of this nature.
Since his appointment in 2010, however, County Attorney Robert F. Meehan has consistently opined that he alone determines if there is conflict in his legal representation between the BOL and the Administration. Notwithstanding the plain language of New York State law, Meehan has represented County Executive Astorino in seven different lawsuits between the BOL and the Administration.
“As we have argued all along, there is a process of governance that has to be respected,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “Today’s court ruling provides clarity in terms of the powers granted to the Board of Legislators by the Charter and New York State law, as well as the statutory duties of the County Attorney.”
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