WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Lawsuits and rancor have been replaced by negotiations and the “purr of an engine that’s working pretty well” for the Westchester County Board of Legislators, according to Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (D – Somers), who reflected on his first six months as chairman.
Kaplowitz, a Somers resident, sat down with Daily Voice to go over some highlights of the last six months for what he termed a mid-term report card.
“We’ve been able to accomplish quite a bit, and at the same time this bipartisanship, this lack of rancor, this consensus building has allowed us to spend time in our committee rooms, not in courtrooms,” he said.
The BOL’s accomplishments include approving about 78 capital budget items and $128 million in critical infrastructure projects, which Kaplowitz said creates both permanent and temporary jobs.
“It's been a tremendously big turnaround in terms of the positive nature of the board and the process that has been made working together to get things through the legislature, especially projects that need to get done throughout the county,” said Minority Leader John Testa (R – Peekskill).
Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D – Ossining) agreed that Republicans and Democrats are working well together, but said that isn’t necessarily new.
“Most of our business is passed unanimously anyway,” she said. “And I don’t think that has really changed. I think the legislature has always been the more functional of the two branches of government. Even though Michael’s style is different than previous chairs I think there are still very serious balance of power issues that we are still battling with the administration.”
Borgia applauded Kaplowtiz’s attempts to “move the needle” on the fair and affordable housing settlement. He has led the BOL to take a more active role in bringing Westchester into compliance and avoid losing $5.2 million in federal grants, on top of the $7.4 million lost last year.
Because of that, the federal monitor overseeing the settlement is conducting an analysis of impediments that is expected to be completed by Aug. 15.
In the meantime, the BOL is working with the six communities to get them off the monitor’s list of communities with exclusionary zoning. Mamaroneck was taken off after making a minor zoning change, and Kaplowitz said two more are close to being removed. He would not say which two.
Check back with The Daily Voice to read what Kaplowitz had to say about the future of Playland.