On April 20, 2017, Rob Astorino sounded forth on the State of the County. It wasn’t an Ed Koch “How am I doing?” but more of a matter-of-fact “Here’s how I’m doing.” If We the People are going to demand he answer our questions regarding Westchester County, making things a wee bit awkward for the County Executive, his solution is to thumb through the playbook used by his friend and ideological colleague Donald Trump and changes the rules to suit him: present an invitation-only State of the County address. And schedule it without much advance notice.
Once again, Westchester Citizens are left to answer their own questions for Rob Astorino due to the communication vacuum. We are all back to February 27th when we #TriedtoAskAstorino.
Fortunately, the population is more vigilant than before. Expect posts from citizens who are not affiliated with a political party. In the meantime, here is the transcript of Democratic Majority Leader Catherine Borgia’s Rebuttal to County Executive Astorino’s State of the County address. Video is HERE.
Good Evening; I’m Legislator Catherine Borgia, the Democratic Majority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.
Tonight, with plenty of pomp and circumstance, the County Executive expressed his opinions of the current state of Westchester.
Here are the facts:
Under this Administration, our finances have been treated like a credit card. For years the County has been forced to borrow in order to meet basic operating expenses. When you borrow money you have to pay it back – with interest.
Democratic Legislators like Ben Boykin have long warned of the enormous budget shortfalls from this practice – and last year, the County Executive’s budget stuck you with a $15 Million bill.
To fill this gap, Mr. Astorino tried to negotiate a backroom deal to effectively sell off the County airport to cover his own fiscal mismanagement. For a brief cash advance, Westchester would have lost millions in revenue in the long term.
Instead, Democrats compelled the Administration to conduct a fair and open process. Legislators, like Lyndon Williams, are working to ensure that any proposed airport privatization plan is the best deal for ALL Westchester taxpayers – even if that means no deal at all.
Moody’s Credit Rating Agency issued a list of three practices that would place Westchester County at the risk of a credit rating downgrade:
First, they warned against borrowing for operating expenses, which the Astorino Budget did. Second, they warned against overestimating the County’s revenue from Sales Tax, which, again, the Astorino Budget did. Third, they warned against depleting our ‘rainy day fund,’ the Astorino Budget checked that box as well. See a trend here?
Democrats like Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky have been fighting for funding of over $1 billion dollars’ worth of needed repairs to our bridges, roads, and infrastructure while the County Executive asks for $25 Million for a new skating rink. Again, Democrats stepped up for the taxpayers and said no to that wasteful spending project.
This administration spends resources in the wrong places because of personal political ambition.
Democrats, like Ken Jenkins, have long advocated for a safe level of County police. Westchester has seen a 61% spike in opioid deaths, while the Narcotics Unit lost 20% of its personnel. The County’s actions have real life consequences.
Recently, Westchester County has seen an uptick in hate crimes that runs against our principles. Democrats like Alfreda Williams and Catherine Parker have repeatedly called for an accountable Human Rights Commission that tracks all incidents of hate and works with local police departments to stay vigilant and educate the public.
There has been a massive shift in the political climate around the country; and we’ve seen it here at home. I am in awe of the efforts taxpayers are making around Westchester to make their voices heard and hold those in office accountable.
The Astorino Administration has fully embraced the agenda of Donald Trump and these are NOT the values we as Westchester residents stand for. We believe in a Westchester County that gives all people an opportunity to thrive.
While Mr. Astorino welcomed and justifies a Gun Show where Nazi and Confederate Memorabilia were sold, we stood with thousands of taxpayers against the misuse of our County facilities.
Democrats are working hard for the creation of good jobs on innovative projects like the Bio-tech center development at North 60 while providing opportunities for minority and women owned businesses.
We also believe in just proposals like Paid Sick Leave so workers won’t have to choose between earning a day’s pay or taking care of their health or the health of their loved ones.
Every day we are fighting to empower families. That’s why we are working with local leaders from around the County on a task force that tackles issues like transportation and have proposed common sense measures like a drug take back bill aimed at combating the scourge of opioids in Westchester.
Our vision for Westchester embraces immigrants in our community. We have introduced the immigration protection act to help build a relationship of trust between our immigrant neighbors and the local police – while also taking a stand against the inhumane treatment by the Trump administration.
Lastly, we need policies that will put Westchester back on sound fiscal footing. Passing Democratic initiatives and putting wasteful lawsuits and pet projects behind us is the right place to start.
Westchester County is our home. Where Rob Astorino’s policies have set us back, Democrats have the plan to move all of us forward together.