TODAY'S PAPER
60° Good Evening
60° Good Evening
Opinion

Feud between most Democrats on Westchester board and County Executive Astorino is unproductive

Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins

Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins at the State of the County address at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains. (April 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Faye Murman

Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators should put a failed power grab behind them and move on.

An ill-conceived, open-ended and hastily concocted measure that would have given board Chairman Ken Jenkins the authority to "take any and all appropriate action" to enforce the county board's own rules and laws when Republican County Executive Rob Astorino doesn't was rightfully rejected recently by legislators.

What's surprising is that this vote, 9-8, was even close. It would have passed had it not been for the defection of two Democrats, Legis. Michael Kaplowitz of Somers and Virginia Perez of Yonkers, who joined seven Republicans and refused to go along with what they viewed as an undemocratic power grab.

Jenkins backers say they were preserving the integrity and prerogative of the legislature -- whatever that means -- but all they were really doing was undermining fundamental checks and balances of U.S. government.

If either side doesn't like the actions of the other, it can call on the judicial branch or practice that age-old art of compromise, something that at times is sorely missing at the Michaelian Office Building in White Plains.

Feuds between the Republican executive and Democratic majority are well-documented through vetoes, overrides and partisan news releases.

This latest impulsive move by the board's leadership no doubt has grown out of frustration, the loss of a 12-5 supermajority and a failure of the two branches to work together when they disagree, particularly on important issues like funding for day care, bus routes and playgrounds. Not to mention the pushing and shoving now in the courts over who sits with Astorino and Jenkins on the three-member Board of Acquisition and Contract that controls millions in spending.

The bipartisan jubilation that followed last year's passage of a $1.69-billion budget that didn't raise taxes was short-lived. But that accord showed that the two parties can work together on big-ticket issues. Both sides would be served by remembering that moment; it followed a roughly 16-hour horse-trading session that went well into the morning in December. The average taxpayer has little interest in the latest example of Washington-esque gridlock.

It's all but expected that the next two years will be messy as Jenkins, a Democrat, is believed to have his sights on the county executive's seat and Astorino continues to buck Democrats on key issues.

Before any such race, it's wise to shed the petty politics and bickering.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Columns