Astorino Administration Jeopardizes Westchester County Contracts and Agreements

Written By: Talk of the Sound News

White Plains, NY – Another week, and another rash of illegal and invalid “approvals” of contracts and agreements made by the County’s Board of Acquisition & Contract (A&C), thanks to Jay T. Pisco’s participation and “votes” at yesterday’s meeting.

Last week, with a 2-1 vote, the A&C “approved” a $13 million agreement with the New York Power Authority to fund a capital project without the necessary public scrutiny of the BOL—and with an illegal vote from Jay T. Pisco, whose appointment as Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW) was turned down by the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday, February 13 at its regular meeting.

Because the BOL voted not to consider his appointment, already back dated to January 23, 2012, to the BOL Committee on Appointments, he is not able to legally act as Commissioner or vote on County matters as specified by the position. Section 110.21 of the County Charter explicitly states the Commissioner and Acting Commissioners need BOL approval before they can assume the duties of the office.

Pisco again provided the deciding vote on nearly 40 different contracts and agreements at yesterday’s A&C meeting, despite vigorous objections from BOL Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon).

“By allowing Mr. Pisco to cast votes on these contracts and agreements, the Astorino Administration not only recklessly disregards the Laws of the County, it also sets up potential legal challenges to the validity of the ‘approved’ actions,” said Williams, who attended the A&C meeting in place of BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers).

At the onset of yesterday’s A&C meeting, BOL Vice Chair Williams read into the record a statement explaining the BOL vote that rejected Pisco’s appointment, and also requested that the Astorino Administration provide the BOL with the County Attorney’s legal opinion that they are relying on to support these unlawful actions. The Administration has failed to do so. Williams presented Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, who was presiding over the A&C meeting, with the legal basis, accompanied by citations to numerous legal authorities, as to why the BOL’s vote against Pisco will stand. Plunkett did not have a legitimate response for Williams as to why the Administration was not subjected to the laws of the State of New York and the County of Westchester.

“It is a well settled principal of law in this state that each department of government should be free from interference in the lawful discharge of its duties by either of the other branches,” said Williams. “Mr. Pisco is neither the Commissioner nor Acting Commissioner of Public Works and Transportation in Westchester, and the Astorino Administration should follow the process outlined in the law of Westchester County which calls for the citizen-led Transportation Board to develop specifications and guidelines for Commissioner, review candidates, and make recommendations to the County Executive and a referral to the Board of Legislators. In the meantime, Mr. Pisco’s participation as a voting member of the A&C board is a violation of law. Only a court can decide otherwise.”