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Westchester GOP legislators blast Ken Jenkins over letter to judge
Westchester County Republican lawmakers are taking Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins to task for sending a letter last week to the federal judge presiding over the county's housing discrimination case, in which he claimed lawmakers were in support of legislation requiring private landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers for rent payments.
In an Aug. 21 letter to Manhattan District Court Judge Denise Cote, Jenkins requested that correspondence about the litigation between County Executive Rob Astorino and the federal government be directed to the executive, not legislative branch.
"The county board remains fully committed to fulfilling the county's obligations under the terms of the settlement rather than participating in the protracted litigation supported by the county executive," he wrote.
In a written response to Jenkins, Republicans said their approval to send the letter on behalf of the board was "never sought nor granted."
Republicans argue that this isn't the first time Jenkins -- who is preparing to challenge Astorino for county executive next year -- has overstepped his authority by claiming to represent the whole board.
"As you have been advised in the past, the board of legislators only speaks with one voice through the passage of an act, law or resolution at a meeting of the full board," the 7-member Republican caucus wrote in the letter to Jenkins. "No meeting of the county board was ever called to discuss the content of said letter."
In a reply, Jenkins reminded Republicans that they voted with Democrats to approve a 2009 act signing off on the housing settlement with HUD, and argued that that gave him the option as chairman of the board to seek "declarative judgment on the failure of the County Executive and County Attorney to follow the provisions of the Act."
"All Legislators should be concerned about the recalcitrant position of this administration in the face of an impending motion to hold Westchester County in contempt of court," Jenkins said. "There should be no disagreement on the County Board that the people of Westchester should not be exposed to fines that could total more than $500 million dollars, without the required authorization from the elected County."