The Republican members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) were frustrated, but not surprised, to learn that Chairman Ken Jenkins and his staff lawyer have once again sued County Executive Rob Astorino. The commencement of this latest litigation is wrong as policy, procedurally flawed and continues a troubling pattern by the Democrats of practicing “government by litigation.”
The Democrats are now suing to overturn the administration’s decision to cancel a service contract with a bus company for a significantly underutilized and outrageously expensive route that served a small number of people in Rye. The cost of the contract was more than $240,000 a year and served just 30 riders per day. That is an annual cost of $8,000 per rider or a monthly cost of $665. The County Executive was right to cancel that contract. Proper and timely notice was made to the vendor in accordance with state law. To continue to drain money away from an already cash-strapped bus system to subsidize one lightly used route would have been fiscally irresponsible. By working with another bus service provider, much of the cancelled route has now been combined with the existing Route 13. The County Executive made a difficult but fiscally prudent decision on behalf of the entire Bee-Line Bus System and the taxpayers of Westchester County.
The Democrat Legislators’ failure to understand their proper role under our system of government, their continued violation of the separation of powers doctrine and their habit of running to the Courthouse every time they have a disagreement with the County Executive is a drain on the taxpayers’ resources, a disservice to County residents and an abdication of the responsibilities of their elected offices. Minority Leader James Maisano, (R-New Rochelle) said, “In the 40 years the BOL has been in existence, there have been just a few litigations between the BOL and the County Executive. The current Democrat leaders have now brought about three times as many lawsuits as compared to the prior four decades. Democrat and Republican legislators worked in a bipartisan way with County Executives from both parties for decades until the Jenkins’ team took control. The voters did not elect judges to make policy decisions – they elected legislators. The Democrats need to stop running to court and start governing, compromising and working in a responsible manner.” Maisano went on to say, “We were elected to discuss and debate the issues, work in a collegial and professional manner with our legislative colleagues and the County Executive, and then make important decisions. The Democrats are destroying the decades long tradition of bipartisan governance on the BOL.”
The Democrats penchant for political litigation has been taken up by their staff lawyer, Matthew Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher is listed on the petition as the attorney representing Chairman Ken Jenkins on behalf of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. In this proceeding and in their previous litigation filed on July 26, 2012, Mr. Gallagher is self-identified as “Legislative Counsel, Westchester County Board of Legislators,” However, Matthew Gallagher is not authorized to represent the Board of Legislators in any legal proceedings because it is a clear and illegal violation of the statutory functions of the Westchester County Attorney. Attached is an opinion from County Attorney Robert P. Meehan addressing this charter violation caused by Mr. Gallagher’s role as the BOL’s litigation attorney. The Republican Legislators demand that their colleagues on the other side of the aisle start following the law cited by County Attorney Meehan.