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 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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