White Plains, NY – Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino again falsely blamed the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) for not approving capital projects that would create hundreds of construction jobs—this time, incredibly enough, in his veto message today of the Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access bill.
Astorino fails to state that his Administration stopped presenting capital projects in 2010. And, as usual, Astorino was nowhere near the facts in his comment on capital projects. Why he would tuck this incongruous and gratuitous falsehood into his disapproval of a bill meant to safeguard access to health care facilities and protect the privacy of residents is anybody’s guess.
“Does County Executive Astorino even know what’s going on, week after week, during the Board’s Budget and Appropriations Committee meetings, where we regularly approve bonding for important capital projects?” asked Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL’s Budget & Appropriations Committee. “Does Astorino know we’re constantly meeting with commissioners, department heads and members of his Administration in attempt to get information about these projects before we grant bonding approval for them? Does he know the projects often need approval in three different Board committees? Under threat of reprisals, commissioners stonewall the legislators when they try to get information about the projects.”
Added Myers: “The Board of Legislators will continue to do its due diligence to make sure all of the capital projects that Westchester taxpayers are paying for are properly planned and legitimately executed. That’s our job. It makes me wonder whether County Executive Astorino understands the legislative process or is merely willing to issue misleading propaganda whenever and wherever.”
As he did in his short-on-substance “State of the County” Address, Astorino complained today the BOL was holding up $80 million in 62 capital projects. In reality, 41 of those projects are not yet designed, representing about $44 million of the aforementioned $80 million. Another seven projects are equipment purchases, which won’t create a single job in Westchester. Another capital project is a land purchase for $2.8 million.
Only 13 projects worth $25.8 million that the BOL is currently deliberating on — and waiting for information on from the Administration to be able to make decisions in a responsible manner—are shovel-ready.
Astorino fails to mention that the BOL approved $84.3 million in 57 capital projects last year, which then went to the Astorino-controlled Acquisitions and Contracts (A&C) Board for approval, but only $28 million in 10 projects went forward. All told, between 2009 and 2011, Astorino has sat on approximately $77 million in capital projects, which are ready for construction and represent over 900 new jobs. Often, Astorino has not communicated to the BOL why he is holding up the projects.
After the “State of the County” Address, BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins requested that County Executive Astorino apologize to the Board of Legislators and the people of Westchester “for presenting misleading and erroneous information on capital projects, and for wrongly accusing the Board for not creating jobs.” Astorino has not apologized, though.
Jenkins reiterated his request for an apology today, and also emphasized that the BOL will not rubber stamp authorizations for spending the money of Westchester taxpayers.