Kaplowitz Reflects On First Six Months As Westchester BOL Chair

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Lawsuits and rancor have been replaced by negotiations and the “purr of an engine that’s working pretty well” for the Westchester County Board of Legislators, according to Legislator Michael Kaplowitz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.

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Kaplowitz has the unique ability to get all sides to the table and to iron out differences in a non combative way. This has been very evident in his last 6 months as Chair of the BOL. You may not agree on everything he stands for but somewhere in the negotiations there is common ground and he finds it. He also has the history of keeping and holding our county property taxes very low with virtually no increases over the last 8 years, especially when compared to our inordinate increases in our school taxes. From Indian Point, Playland, to the recent HUD debacle, Mike has performed admirably as he represents us, the taxpayer.

Mike,
How does it feel to be part of a totally unnecessary redundant county government? Why does Westchester have two separate elected forms of government, the BOL and County Executive? Why do our country cops make hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why do we have so many county parks, some so obscure and unused, all staffed of course (I.e. Merestead)? Why are you standing back and allowing the Riverkeeper (AKA Kennedy's) to lobby to close Indian Point, which will increase our already highest electric rates in the country to astronomical proportions? I love it when you disagree with the county executive and you sure each other and we of course have to pick up the legal tabs. Your answers will undoubtedly be that all this and much more is beyond your control, so what is it exactly that you do?

Mike,
What have you done for the people In loweringt axes and cut wasteful spending throughout westchester? Why is westchester still the highest taxed county in our nation? Why doesnt the county do anything about these problems? Why doesnt the monitor and control all spending? Why cant the county consolidate its many un-nessesary departments?
Who over-sees where the money goes on big projects or how its spent or if there are any conflicts of interests with the companys the county hires or the employees they
hire who maybe related or a long time friend?