With County Executive Rob Astorino traveling the state as he runs for governor, the Democratic caucus of the Westchester Board of Legislators has introduced a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of county executive and calling for a special election.
Democrats have been criticizing Astorino for spending many days away from the office as he campaigns for governor. The party’s designated tool for criticizing Astorino, the Astorino Truth Squad, has set up a tracker at WhereIsRob.com (though it hasn’t been recently updated).
The county charter requires the executive to “devote his whole time to the duties of the office,” says a statement from the Democrats.
“County Executive Astorino is not fulfilling the lawful requirements of his office,” said BOL Majority Leader Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining. “He is abdicating his sworn responsibilities if he’s hundreds of miles away from Westchester during working hours and talking to voters about why he wants to be governor. Enough is enough.”
The statement goes on to say:
The Democratic caucus members said they are particularly troubled by Astorino’s absences from Westchester because:
* While the County Executive was meeting with New Jersey Governor Christie in Arizona, Moody’s downgraded Westchester’s credit rating, which the County Executive had “guaranteed” would never happen (a remark made at Town Hall meeting in Armonk, June 2013)
* The ongoing dispute with the federal government over compliance with the 2009 Housing Settlement has jeopardized needed funding for Westchester residents, including CDBG, Lead Abatement and other federal monies
* The County Executive has failed to reach a contract agreement with 3000 county employees
* The County Executive has failed to properly manage the County’s pension system, borrowing $43 million in 2013, and $28 million in 2014 to meet annual ongoing pension obligations
* The County Executive’s chosen vendor for the reinvention of Playland halted the redevelopment review process on April 1, 2014, citing a lack of vision and by the County. The County Executive has stated the reinvention of Playland has been a priority of his since taking office (County Executive press release, August 2012) yet he was out of the county at a gun rally at this critical juncture in the process.
* The County Executive failed to comply with the Safe Water Drinking Act, resulting in a Department of Justice lawsuit that could potentially result in millions of dollars of fines to county taxpayers.
“The people of Westchester didn’t vote for a part-time County Executive and the County Charter doesn’t allow for one,” said Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers).
Added Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), “Since Rob Astorino is more interested in Buffalo than he is in Westchester, the people of the county should have an opportunity to hire someone to run this county full-time, as required by the law.”
Photo: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino