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Jenkins Mum on Litigation, Backs Parallel County Budget Review

The top legislators for both parties, while speaking with the press, defend their actions at the Dec. 7 meeting while questioning the legitimacy of each others's moves.

With a weekend behind them, Westchester County's top legislators are still at odds over Friday's contentious passage of a disputed budget.

Talking to reporters Monday, Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), reiterated the feeling from his caucus that the 2013 budget approved was not a legitimate one. The package was approved 9-0 because two Democrats joined with seven Republicans after the rest of their party's members left the floor. County Executive Rob Astorino signed the measure later that day.

The legislation is disputed to the point that there is even argument over what to call it; Jenkins was careful not to describe what was passed as being a budget.

When one reporter directly asked Jenkins if there is a budget in place, he replied, “Like I said, we have serious concerns about that.”

Jenkins was asked about whether a legal challenge would be made against what was passed but declined to explicitly answer whether it was planned and did not rule it out.

“Can't say," he replied.

The chairman felt that whether to go forward with with a lawsuit would not be known after until after an analysis is done. The analysis he described to reporters would entail a parallel budget review from staff and a review of the Dec. 7 meeting. Review for the later will include the clerk evaluating video of it.

The staff review is for the board's budget committee because Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), who chairs it, opted on Friday to send a proposed version back, a process known as recommitting.

Legislators on both sides of the issue dispute whether recommitting was properly followed on Friday.

Mike Kaplowitz (D-Somers), one of the two Democrats to back the Republican-led budget, noted in a Friday interview that a vote to suspend a rule on recommit meant that Myers could not act as she did. Jenkins, talking to reporters Monday, disagreed, and argued that suspension merely lifted the restriction on who could excerise recommitting and that it was opened up to all legislators. That process, Jenkins argued, is normally reserved for the board chair, majority leader and chair of a relevant committee. 

Kaplowitz, in his vote, was joined by Virginia Perez (D-Yonkers).

Talking to reporters from his office at a subsequent press conference, Minority Leader Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) was adamant in his defense of the budget being lawful.

“We followed the law, there's no question," Maisano said at his press conference.

On another point of legitimacy for the legislation, Jenkins and Maisano are at odds over whether or not the Friday meeting was adjourned when the approval vote was taken. Jenkins, along with Majority Leader Peter Harckham (D-North Salem), argue that it was, while Maisano and Kaplowitz argued that the Democrats simply left with it still being in session.

Jenkins, a legislator since the late 2000s, argued that meetings being adjourned involved unilateral talk from the majority leader, rather than a specific vote. He also argued that the clerk has express similar sentiment.

Maisano said that he was pointing out on Friday that the meeing was not over. Reading from rules text to the press in his office, Maisano argued that a majority vote was needed on a motion to adjourn. 

Matthew Richter, a spokesman for the legislative Republicans, responded to Jenkins' assertion by saying that in order to adjourn a meeting without a vote, that it is “without objection, this meeting is adjourned.”

At his press conference, Jenkins was asked by a reporter what would happen if Astorino were to go ahead and act as if he has a budget in place.

“Well, there are certainly options that we have available to us," he replied. 

The budget approved by the nine legislators included adding back 27 jobs that Astorino proposed to cut in his early November iteration and raises the parental share of county-supported daycare subsidies to 27 percent, versus 35 percent that Astorino proposed. The legislation does not include a tax levy increase and does not use any reserves; the later item is a point of dispute, with Astorino wanting to avoid reserves spending. 

Bob Zahm December 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
My, my, Mr. Jenkens seems to be grasping at straws to find a way to try to invalidate the passed budget. He gets to declare a meeting over? Since when? More interestingly, if there are 9 votes in favor of the approved compromise, what can Boss Jenkens do to get his version of an alternative passed? Nothing but brow beat and threaten (out of public view) the two legislators who had the courage to not let games be played this year. But of course, Boss Jenkens likes games - as witness his walking out of the in-progress meeting, turning off the lights to the meeting room, and having a buzzer sound throughout the session. Please, Mr. Jenkens, let this go. You are only serving to further isolate yourself. Of course, your supporters want you to fight your corner, but that's not in the best interest of the county, only potentially yourself and your candidancy for county executive.
Aidan December 11, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Love the last paragraph. He's choreographing now.
smellyp@nts December 11, 2012 at 06:36 PM
My, my, Mr. Z., your opinion aside, with the article staring U right in the face, how can you not even get the guy's name right but I agree with U. Jenkins running for county exec? Instead of donating to his campaign, buy powerball tickets; you'll have a better chance of winning than Jenkins will.
Bob Zahm December 11, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Ya got me. I type the guy’s name wrong. I've done it repeatedly. I'll try to get better. Interesting, though, that you're so concerned about retribution that you felt the need to make such a highly critical comment under a pseudonym. As to donating to his campaign, your inference that I would do that is odd given that I have consistently attacked Jenkins’ childish behavior, his focus on his own career at the expense of all Westchester citizens, and his generally bad policy aims. I’d rather burn my money than see it wasted on him or a public lottery.
Nummy December 11, 2012 at 08:58 PM
"Jenkins’ childish behavior, his focus on his own career at the expense of all Westchester citizens, and his generally bad policy aims" Wow Mr Z all you have to do is change the word Westchester to New Rochelle and you you summed up Mayor Bumson as well.

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