In the ongoing, somewhat confusing CSEA lawsuit pursuing 38 jobs that no longer exist, the plot thickens with discovery of a clandestine document authored by Chairmen Ken Jenkins to County Attorney Robert Meehan.
The document, discovered by the Republican caucus on March 22, was hand delivered to the County Attorney on February 3 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 on 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 John Testa (R, Peekskill) 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, it’s certainly not transparent government.”
“Chairman Jenkins 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 Gordon Burroughs (R, Yonkers).
Legislator Jim Maisano (R, New Rochelle), an attorney, spent most of Friday, March 25 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.