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McKinstry: Westchester's fair-housing ping-pong match

Ken Jenkins, chairman of the Westchester County Board

Ken Jenkins, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. (April 30, 2012) Credit: Nancy Siesel

Democrats on the Board of Legislators have a message for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino: You do it.

Lawmakers won’t introduce a piece of legislation -- one that threatened to get Astorino, a Republican, in trouble with the courts -- that relates to the federal housing settlement.

The bill in question would bar landlords from rejecting Section 8 housing vouchers and is one of the main sticking points that landed the county and federal officials back in court.

Astorino vetoed the proposed law in 2010 and has maintained that the previous county executive, Andy Spano, actually “promoted” the source-of-income bill, as required under the county’s 2009 fair-housing settlement with the federal government. That is until U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan ordered him in August to act on the bill and sign it (the county is appealing).

Astorino relented last month and called on the Board of Legislators to resubmit the previous legislation after the U.S. Justice Department dangled contempt charges, leaving him with little wiggle room.

So if you’re still with me on the back-and-fourth, Democrats maintain that it’s on the county executive to put forth something he can support, not the other way around. They don’t want to waste their time studying something he might reject. They even passed a resolution Tuesday night -- along party lines -- calling on Astorino to draft something in 60 days.

For sure, these two sides have their reasons and history of soured relations. But to a layman, it just sounds like more of the same: petty politics.

Pictured above: Ken Jenkins, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

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