Westchester BOL Chairman Jenkins to Challenge Judge’s Dismissal of Bus Route Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 7, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 | 914-419-5221 (cell)

BOL Chairman Jenkins to Challenge Judge’s Dismissal of Bus Route Lawsuit

Merits of Case Not Addressed in Decision

White Plains, NY – Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) announced today that he plans to file an appeal of Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary’s recent decision to dismiss the lawsuit to restore the Route 76 bus line between Port Chester and Milton Point in Rye.

Judge Neary based his decision on the idea that the lawsuit is no longer relevant because it was based on restoring the funding for the bus route to the County’s 2012 Adopted Budget. But Jenkins noted that his lawsuit, which was filed in August 2012, is centered on whether County Executive Rob Astorino broke the law by eliminating the bus route.

“I think the merits of this lawsuit, like several other lawsuits initiated against County Executive Astorino, focus clearly on whether the County Executive can ignore legally adopted legislation and the County Charter, both of which occurred in this instance,” said Jenkins. “This issue was not mentioned at all in the judge’s dismissal of the case, and it still needs to be addressed.”

On December 22, 2011, just days before County Executive Astorino summarily axed the bus line service, the BOL had voted to override the County Executive’s veto of $243,436 of spending in the 2012 County Budget for the Route 76 line. Later, the BOL approved a resolution at a special meeting on February 6, 2012 protesting the application of Liberty Lines Transit, Inc., for service modifications of the Route 13 bus line.

Astorino’s circumvention of the BOL veto override is in complete disregard of the laws of the County Charter, which explicitly states that the County Executive must administer the approved laws and resolutions passed by the BOL. Jenkins noted this is the crux of his lawsuit.

“Westchester residents expect good governance and open, transparent decision-making from their elected leaders, but in this and other instances County Executive Astorino has acted to the contrary,” said Jenkins.

County Executive Rob Astorino abruptly cancelled the Route 76 bus line service on December 27, 2011, during a week when many riders were taking a winter vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. There were no public hearings held on the subject. (The BOL held a public hearing on the route cancellation later in 2012.) Notably, the inclusion of funding for the 76 Route did not add any cost the 2012 County Tax levy.

The new Route 13 bus line, with its modifications that cover a small portion of the Route 76 line, has been operating contrary to laws in the County Charter, which require bus route franchise modifications to be approved by the BOL. The modifications, however, do not meet the needs of many residents, businesses, employees, and senior citizens in Rye, Port Chester and elsewhere who depended on the bus service out to Milton Point on a daily basis.

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=Bazzo 06/08/13

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