Since the beginning of this legislative term, the Democrats on the Board of Legislators (BOL) and the County Executive (CE) have been at odds over a law that was passed by the BOL last year to reform the Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C Board). The law was vetoed by the County Executive, and his veto was then overridden by the Democrats on the BOL. The Republican legislators voted to sustain the veto believing that the law required a referendum vote by the residents of Westchester County and the mandatory referendum was not contained in the law. The CE‘s position was that the law was null and void because it was not subjected to the mandatory referendum, and he offers an opinion from the County Attorney to support this position.
It is the position of the Republican County Legislators that our County Charter dictates that any law that changes the powers of any elected official is subject to a mandatory referendum by Westchester County voters and that this A&C Board law does clearly alter the powers of the CE. Therefore, this change to our County Charter requires the approval of the voters through a referendum vote this upcoming Election Day.
On Wednesday, the BOL Democrats filed a court action requesting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and other relief relating to the functioning of the A&C Board. This morning, Judge Barry Warhit granted a temporary restraining order that effectively blocks the A&C Board from meeting as it is currently comprised until a decision is reached on this dispute. The Democrats on the BOL and the County Attorney representing the CE will go before Judge Warhit on this issue again on April 9th.
Republican Minority Leader Jim Maisano, who is a practicing attorney said, “I’m disappointed the TRO was granted and that the A&C Board cannot continue to do the very important work of reviewing and executing the contracts that are necessary to keep our government functioning. I’m far more disappointed that this issue ended up in court in the first place.” Maisano continued, “I have urged my Democrat colleagues to resolve this issue through negotiation and compromise and to simply amend the law so that a mandatory referendum will take place in this November’s election. Unfortunately, they chose litigation over letting the people’s voices be heard in the referendum.” Maisano concluded, “The Republican legislators are committed to seeing that the A&C Board functions properly and that all of its actions are above reproach, because the A&C Board is dealing with tens of millions of dollars in public works projects that are critical to our local economy, jobs and local businesses looking to do work in Westchester. Now, due to the litigiousness of the Democrat legislators, the advancement of important public works projects has been halted.”