Actions by Board Chairman Ken Jenkins Create Conflict for County Attorney That Will Cost Westchester County Taxpayers -Democratic Majority Teams with CSEA Union in Lawsuit against County

“Taxpayers have already lost,” said Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R-Eastchester/New Rochelle), reacting to the need for both the Westchester County Executive and Board of Legislators to hire outside counsel because of a conflict of interest created by actions of Chairman Ken Jenkins and the Democratic County Legislators in siding with the CSEA union in its lawsuit against Westchester County.

“County Legislators have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers of Westchester,” stated Minority Leader Jim Maisano (New Rochelle/Pelham), “and therefore, we have a duty to taxpayers to oppose this lawsuit.  The Republican legislators have introduced a resolution for the February 14 legislative meeting, calling on the entire Board to join us in opposing the lawsuit and seeking to have it dismissed.”

In its ongoing effort to reduce the cost of county government, the Astorino administration terminated the county’s contract with the state to administer the Section 8 housing program. It cancelled the contract because the responsibility for running this federal housing program belonged to the state – not the county – and the county was losing upwards of $1 million a year when the full costs of administering the program were calculated. The contract ended on Dec. 31, resulting in the layoff of 38 county workers assigned to the program, and the state then sought proposals from non-profit agencies to run the program.

Remarkably, the Democratic legislators voted to restore the 38 positions in the 2011 county budget, even though the contract was ended and there was no work for these workers to perform.  The County Executive vetoed this fiscally irresponsible action, but the Democratic legislators overrode the veto.  The CSEA, the union representing the workers, filed a lawsuit against the county in January to have the jobs restored.

The opposing positions by the Board and County Executive forced the County Attorney to remove himself from the case on February 3rd. Under the Westchester County Charter, the County Attorney represents both the Board of Legislators and County Executive. The County Attorney then advised both sides to hire outside counsel, which will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

“By taking a position against the county, the Democratic legislators are automatically sending a bill to taxpayers for legal fees, even if the county wins. This begs the question, who do we work for?” an exasperated John G. Testa (R-Peekskill/Cortlandt) stated.

Beyond the costly legal fees, the cost to taxpayers could be millions if the union wins. “The Democratic legislators knew full well that by overriding the veto they were inviting costly and unnecessary litigation that will waste taxpayer dollars,” said Minority Whip Gordon A. Burrows (R-Yonkers/Bronxville).

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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1 Response to Actions by Board Chairman Ken Jenkins Create Conflict for County Attorney That Will Cost Westchester County Taxpayers -Democratic Majority Teams with CSEA Union in Lawsuit against County

  1. Pingback: [New post] Actions by Board Chairman Ken Jenkins Create Conflict for County Attorney That Will Cost Westchester County Taxpayers Democratic Majority Teams with CSEA Union in Lawsuit against County | Warning … Bazzo at Work!

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