February 2012

Amy Paulin Law in Action: New Rochelle Board of Education Begins Publishing Meeting Document to NRED Web Site

February 18, 2012 - 19:47

The New Rochelle Board of Education has begun to implement the law originally drafted by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin by publishing documents presented during meetings on the district's web site.

Paul Costiglio, spokesman for the district, tells Talk of the Sound the intent is to publish all the documents they get before the meeting in advance and then add additional documents as they get them.

The law went into effect on February 1, 2012.

The first New Rochelle Board of Education meeting under the new policy was held February 7, 2012.

Residents can now access all of the draft resolutions reviewed at board meetings as well as presentations and reports made by staff. There was a presentation by Dr. Rhonda Jones during the meeting. Costiglio says he will add that document shortly.

Astorino Appoints Jay T. Pisco Commissioner Of The Department Of Public Works And Transportation

February 18, 2012 - 17:57

Jay PiscoWestchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino today announced the appointment of Jay T. Pisco, an engineer and executive manager with over 30 years of experience, as Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Transportation. The appointment follows the retirement of John J. Hsu.
Pisco has experience working on municipal and private projects in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. He is a licensed engineer in five states and holds a Biomedical Engineering degree from Manhattan College and a Master’s in Computer Science from Iona College. His most recent position was vice president of BSG Engineering, Surveying & Landscape Architecture in White Plains.

“Jay’s deep background managing both the design and construction of projects will be a tremendous asset in evaluating and overseeing the county’s infrastructure, especially at a time when the challenges of delivering services and stretching tax dollars are so great,” Astorino said.

Astorino Submits Bonding Resolutions For $58 Million In Capital Projects

February 18, 2012 - 17:54

County Executive Robert P. Astorino has asked the Board of Legislators to approve the bonding for $58 million of capital projects that would restore important infrastructure and protect public safety, while creating about 550 jobs in construction.

The approval requests, sent on an ongoing basis since Jan. 1, include about $26 million for 15 new projects and about $32.3 million in other projects that the legislators failed to act on in 2011. Collectively, they focus on bridges and roads, county parks and county buildings.

“Each of these projects is a priority,” said Astorino. “They involve work in all parts of the county, north and south, east and west. I urge the Board of Legislators to act promptly. These projects will create about 550 jobs that will boost our local economy and address critical infrastructure needs that will protect the safety and well-being of our residents.”

The 15 new projects involve infrastructure improvements to various county buildings, roads and bridges in properties in Tuckahoe, White Plains, Valhalla, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Harrison, Rye and Peekskill, among others.

These include:

Westchester Legislators Appreciate Forward Movement on County’s Capital Projects

February 18, 2012 - 17:52

White Plains, NY – Members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators offered guarded appreciation today in response to the announcement by County Executive Robert P. Astorino that he will be asking for approval of $58 million in capital projects “to restore important infrastructure and protect public safety,” but noted that he still needed to act on dozens of other projects that have already earned BOL approval—and which could potentially create over 1,500 jobs.

“The Board of Legislators has made scores of crucial investments and smart spending decisions regarding infrastructure repairs, public safety upgrades and transportation improvements, so news that the County Executive has finally decided to open the spigot a bit is certainly welcome,” said Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon). “But we still have over $100 million in approved projects that he needs to act on. In the meantime, trades people around the County are waiting for new construction jobs and meaningful work to begin. That time is now.”

Astorino Administration Ignores County Charter and Embraces Illegalities

February 18, 2012 - 17:46

White Plains, NY – County Executive Robert P. Astorino ignored the County Charter when he abruptly eliminated the Route 76 bus line without a public hearing and suddenly announced he was hiking the parent share of child care subsidies for low-income working mothers without voted approval from the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Now, Astorino is trying to defend the County’s Board of Acquisition & Contract (A&C) illegal “approval” of a $13 million capital project yesterday, which, again, blatantly ignores the Charter.

Why is the A&C vote illegal?

Because the appointment of Jay T. Pisco as Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW) was turned down by the BOL on Monday, February 13 at its regular meeting. As members of the Astorino Administration certainly know, the vote on Pisco was severed and received a stand alone, up or down vote on whether to recommend Pisco’s nomination to the BOL’s Committee on Appointments. It failed by a vote of 8-9.

Democratic Legislators Urge Republican Colleagues to “Accentuate the Positive”

February 18, 2012 - 17:45

White Plains, NY – In the warm-hearted spirit of Valentine’s Day and the need to focus on the issues that matter most to Westchester residents, Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) urged their Republican colleagues to work together in collaboration, and to abandon their partisan whining and embarrassing displays of faux shock and exaggerated indignation.

At last night’s regular meeting of the BOL, members unanimously approved a bond act to pay for helicopter engine inspections that will maintain the high level of service presently afforded to residents and business owners by the Westchester County Department of Public Safety’s Aviation Unit. More than ever before, local law enforcement agencies around Westchester communities are calling the Department of Public Safety Department for aerial assistance, which necessitates greater use of the county’s two helicopters.

Astorino Administration Responds To Board Of Legislators’ Press Release That Contains Erroneous And Misleading Information

February 18, 2012 - 17:44

A press release sent out by the Board of Legislators on Thursday contained a number of incorrect statements and assertions.

There was nothing “illegal” or even uncommon about Thursday’s Board of Acquisition & Contract meeting at which the county approved work to begin on the renovation of the Yonkers Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The renovation project has been before the county since 2009 and the approval process has been fully transparent each step along the way. The contract approved on Thursday had been reviewed and recommended by the county’s departments of Law, Budget and Public Works and is similar to past contracts approved by the Board of Acquisition and Contract.

BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins is incorrect in suggesting the project is “subject to a public referendum since it exceeds the county’s bond cap of $10 million.”

The project does not involve bonding. It is being financed out of the operating budget and is not subject to restrictions on bonding.

Astorino Administration Pushes through Illegal “Approval” of $13 Million Contract

February 18, 2012 - 17:43

White Plains, NY – In yet another egregious and troubling example of County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s Administration operating illegally and without transparency, the County’s Board of Acquisition & Contract (A&C) “approved” a $13 million capital project today without first presenting it to Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL)—contrary to the laws set in the County Charter—for any discussion, vetting or due diligence whatsoever regarding the funding, despite information about bonding options that could save the County over $1 million.

“The Board of Legislators has worked so hard with the County Executive to effectuate real property tax relief and make smart investments with the taxpayer dollars from our County’s residents and business owners, so the Administration’s pushing forward of a capital project costing over thirteen million dollars without public scrutiny is deeply disturbing and an affront to transparency,” said BOL Chairman Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “As it stands, this project would be subject to a public referendum since it exceeds the County’s bond cap of ten million dollars.”

Westchester Legislators Unanimously Approve 2012 State Legislative Program

February 18, 2012 - 17:40

White Plains, NY - The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously approved the 2012 State Legislative Program on Monday, February 13 at its regular meeting. The program emphasizes the need to eliminate the burdensome Medicaid mandate. The legislative program is delivered to State lawmakers at the beginning of each new session and serves as a list of essential actions that need to be taken to assist Westchester County in its role as the service delivery arm of the State. Also included in the program, which both the County Administration and BOL have agreed upon, are insurance reimbursements for early intervention services and an increase in State Transit Operating Assistance funding for the county.