Feds threaten Astorino, county with contempt violation in housing case

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The U.S. Justice Department said it will seek a contempt ruling against Westchester County and County Executive Rob Astorino if he doesn’t agree by Thursday to introduce legislation to implement the county’s 2009 fair housing settlement, The Journal News/lohud.com reports today. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent the letter to the county Friday.

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that the county had breached the settlement with the federal government. The breach stems from Astorino’s veto of legislation in 2010 that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters who use income such as Section 8 vouchers or veterans benefits to pay rent.

Following the Court of Appeals ruling, Astorino said he was already in compliance with the court order because he had asked the Board of Legislators to reintroduce the legislation.

Bharara said that was insufficient.

“Not only did the county executive veto the legislation before him on June 25, 2010, but now that the (appeals court) has upheld the district court’s decision he has made no legitimately reasonable effort to persuade the current Board of Legislators to promulgate and adopt legislation and has, to the contrary, derogated the legislation,” the letter said. “The county executive’s failure to promote source-of-income legislation is the primary reason such legislation has not been enacted.”

In a response today, County Attorney Robert Meehan reasserted that the county is in compliance with the language of the court orders, which say Astorino must ask the board to reintroduce the legislation.

Astorino has been critical of the settlement, which was agreed to before he took office. He has fought the requirement that landlords would be barred from discriminating based on the source of income for rent through several rounds in the courts.

U.S. Department of Justice Letter to County Executive Rob Astorino

County attorney response letter April 23 2013

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3 Comments

  1. November Five on

    So we cant wait to kick this mistake out with the Wed trash pickup On Nov 6.
    It has to be or we are all doomed in Westchester with more taxes, no money for what we want from our taxes, and a national reputation for being stupid …all because of this mistake named Astorino
    Serves us right for electing a sportscaster professional talker with no credentials in people skills or objectivity

  2. fool me twice on

    Its clear now that Rob Astorino has never taken this HUD thing seriously. He has been willing to take a HUGE gamble with the taxpayers money…and for what? To enrich his conservative credentials? When you add this to his union busting efforts and you combine it with his radio experience ( and his numerous recent appearances on tv talk shows) it seems to me that someone is trying to turn himself into a conservative folk hero in order to land himself a fox news gig. And you, the taxpayers of westchester, may be the ones footing the bill (through fines) for this man’s narcissistic quest to make millions on tv in a future job. Its just a theory, but everyone has to think about their “next step” in these uncertain times…

  3. are you kidding on

    the truth of the matter is that it appears that astorino caved to a threatened contempt citation by the US attorney when he could have simply obeyed the appellate
    court decision and blamed the spano administration for
    the problem…..playing defense is never the key to re election