Conflict Created by Unauthorized Document Hand Delivered to County Attorney by Chairman Jenkins – Forces County to Spend Thousands on Legal Fees

In the ongoing, somewhat confusing CSEA lawsuit pursuing 38 jobs that no longer exist, the plot thickens with discovery of an unauthorized document authored by Chairman Jenkins to County Attorney Meehan. The document, discovered by the Republican caucus on March 22, was hand delivered to the County Attorney on February 3 (see document below) and included directives from Chairman Jenkins to Meehan to “answer the verified petition and assert cross claims” against County Executive Astorino and, therefore, take a position on behalf of the 38 workers against the taxpayers of Westchester.

None of the members of the Republican Caucus were ever provided a copy of this letter and had no knowledge that it existed until this week.

As a result of the directives from Chairman Jenkins, County Attorney Meehan recused himself from the CSEA litigation declaring that a conflict existed. Prior to that letter Chairman Jenkins had sent another directive which ordered Meehan not to file
a motion to dismiss. In both instances, Chairman Jenkins improperly acted on his own and without the consent of the board of legislators.  The Chairman of the board can only take such actions after the board itself has taken a formal position by an appropriate vote.

When confronted with the fact that the letter had surfaced, Chairman Jenkins denied knowledge and responded in an email ” no such document exists”.

The Republican caucus is outraged by these unilateral actions taken by Jenkins and notes that there have been a series of inappropriate actions taken by Jenkins relating to the CSEA lawsuit including a document released by the CSEA that revealed that the Chairman had a telephone conversation with the attorneys of the CSEA about the litigation prior to the suit being filed. The document went on to state that after the suit was filed the CSEA was contacted by “attorneys purportedly representing the Board of Legislators” and were asked to send over courtesy copies of the action.

The Board of Legislators met on Monday, March 21, to discuss how it would address being named as a necessary party in the CSEA litigation.  Due to conflicting viewpoints on how to proceed in the lawsuit, the legislators agreed to review a draft of the verified answer and to renew the discussion at a follow-up meeting this Monday, March 28.  Despite the result of that meeting, the Republican legislators were shocked to learn that a “verified answer” was submitted on behalf of the board of legislators to the court on Thursday, March 24, by an attorney acting upon orders of Chairman Jenkins.

“I am outraged at the actions of Chairman Jenkins, who appears to be intent on standing with the plaintiffs instead of the taxpayers. What is even more troubling is that someone in such a leadership position has violated the trust of the board of legislators and the residents of Westchester County,” stated Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R, Eastchester).

Legislator Testa ( R – District 1) went on to say…”I am disappointed and this whole incident is extremely unfortunate.  The entire board has been blindsided by Chairman Jenkins and it’s not only not good government, but it’s certainly not transparent government”

“Chairman Jenkin’s has taken far too many liberties in this matter and in his role as the Chairman. We are a 17 member board and each voice should be heard and respected,” commented Legislator Burrows (R -District 15)

Minority Leader and Legislator Jim Maisano (R District 11), an attorney, spent most of Friday reviewing the submitted court documents and began working on an answer and/or motion to dismiss that could be filed by an expected bipartisan coalition of legislators who are opposed to Jenkins’ actions.

Jenkins letter to County Attorney 2/3/11

About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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