A contract to spend upwards of $40,000 of taxpayer dollars for legal work regarding County Executive Rob Astorino’s potential Supreme Court appeal of an Appellate Court decision regarding the Housing Settlement was wisely tabled during today’s meeting of the County’s Acquisition and Contract Board (A&C).
The A&C Board is comprised of Astorino, Budget Director Lawrence Soule and Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Ken Jenkins. Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett tabled the contract on behalf of County Executive Astorino to authorize County Attorney Robert Meehan to enter into an agreement with the firm Z & J LLC doing business as AppealTech “to provide specialized document services related to the County’s petition to the Supreme Court of the United States,” according to the A&C agenda.
It appears that County Executive Astorino intends to fight the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to uphold the federal District Court decision that he had violated the terms of the housing settlement between Westchester and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by not “promoting” and instead vetoing Source of Income legislation that the BOL had passed in 2010.
The A&C Board tabled Astorino’s contract for legal assistance until the June 20, 2013 A&C meeting, by which time it is expected that the BOL will vote on and approve a slightly amended version of the Source of Income legislation that Astorino presented to the BOL in April. Since Astorino’s appeal to the Supreme Court would be predicated on his specious argument that he shouldn’t have to “promote” the Source of Income legislation, the bill’s passage will render that portion of the argument moot. Astorino has stated that he will sign into law the amended version of the legislation to avoid being in contempt of court on this issue.
“The willingness of the Astorino Administration to place this item on the A and C agenda is disturbing for several reasons, chief among them that this Source of Income legislation, which has advanced with bipartisan support, is right for Westchester residents and business owners,” said Jenkins. “But if the Board of Legislators had not held over this item last week, taxpayer dollars would have been spent because of the County Executive’s stubborn refusal to comply with the stipulations of the housing settlement. It is bad enough that the County Executive’s actions in this regard are already putting at risk for municipalities and taxpayers nearly fifteen million dollars in Community Development Block Grants from the federal government meant for our communities.”