Rob Astorino

In County Exec Race, Astorino Seizes On Property Tax Issue

The campaign of Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has for the last several weeks blasted his Democratic opponent George Latimer over $48,000 in unpaid property taxes on a Rye home owned by the lawmaker’s wife.

And on Wednesday, extensive criticism was leveled at Latimer by Astorino himself over the issue, which Latimer has said stems from unsettled issues surrounding the estate of his late mother-in-law, who owned the home.

“George will somehow claim to be the victim of this great big misunderstanding, and make the news media feel badly and want to stop asking questions,” Astorino said. “But this is a serious public policy issue: We’re talking about a sitting state senator and county executive candidate refusing to pay taxes. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Questions need to be asked.”

In his remarks, Astorino pointed to Latimer claiming he owned the home on financial disclosure forms, noting a line of attack for Latimer’s re-election in 2014 was to knock his Republican opponent’s lack of mortgage payments.

“And now the kicker: We found out right after the election, of course, that Senator Latimer’s house was going into foreclosure all the while, and he was being sued by all sorts of creditors,” Astorino said. “Who does that? Really. Who does that?”

Latimer spokesman Jon Greenfield blasted Astorino, calling the claims made in the remarks lies.

“Rob Astorino’s lies about the Senator and his family are a sad reflection of his character, his campaign’s desperate need to distract from his own tax hikes and misspending, and what politics have become under his friend Donald Trump,” Greenfield said. “He really should be ashamed.”

The odd-numbered election year is an otherwise sleepy one in the race of the state, but the outcome in Westchester County could have a wide-ranging impact on the politics of 2018. Astorino is widely considered to be a potential candidate for governor again next year after losing to Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

Latimer on Wednesday, meanwhile, focused on the county’s financial issues, rolling out a shared services plan he said would save taxpayers money.

“Rob Astorino continues to show that he’s more interested in political grandstanding than helping Westchester taxpayers,” Latimer said. “We have some of the highest property taxes in the nation and we continue to suffer the consequences of Astorino’s borrow and spend policies. Sharing municipal services is a pragmatic plan for cost-saving that will help put our county back on sound financial footing.”

Astorino Blasts TZB Renaming In Honor Of Mario Cuomo

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a radio interview Wednesday roundly criticized the naming of the new Tappan Zee Bridge after the late father of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling the move “despicable” and “the highest form of ego.”

Astorino, a Republican, ran against Cuomo in 2014 and is expected to launch a second bid next year, providing he wins re-election as county executive this year.

In the interview with Fred Dicker on his TALK-1300 radio show, Astorino insisted he was still undecided on whether he would run again for governor.

“I have no idea if I’m going to run again next year,” he said, while also knocking Cuomo’s stated disinterest in running for president in 2020, calling the posture “a lie.”

Astorino would not criticize Senate Republicans directly for backing the bridge re-naming in honor Mario Cuomo, but commended Sen. Terrence Murphy for casting a vote against the omnibus bill that contained the provision (Murphy previously support a stand-alone version of the bridge bill that was approved a week earlier by the Senate).

“It’s a real head-scratcher” as to why Republicans backed the legislation, which also included an extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, the re-approval of local sales tax measures and several other measures aimed at upstate communities for flood relief.

Several other Republicans have indicated they are interested in running for governor, including Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, businessman Harry Wilson and the two Republican leaders of the Senate, John Flanagan and John DeFrancisco.

Astorino Blasts ‘Hypocrisy’ Of Property Tax Plan

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a radio interview on Monday blasted the plan approved in the 2017-18 state budget that encourages local government consolidation and sharing of services.

“It’s so hypocritical of this governor to order everyone in a room and come up with a plan,” he told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show.

The plan approved in the finalized budget is aimed at nudging county government leaders to have local municipalities develop ways of consolidating functions in order to reduce property taxes. A key provision of the initial proposal — the measure be put to voters this year in a referendum — was not included in the final deal.

Instead, county leaders will have to hold public forums on the proposals.

In the interview, Astorino knocked the mandated spending requirements in the budget he says make it harder for local governments to cut costs and keep taxes down.

“It’s all for show,” Astorino said. “From one end of the mouth they’re saying you have to cut costs and consolidate and yet on the other side of the mouth they’re voting on measures to make it harder to do so.”

He added: “It is the height of hypocrisy what the governor did and the Legislature did, too.”

Astorino overall was down on the budget, critical of the plan to provide free tuition to families earning under $125,000 to SUNY and CUNY schools.

“I’m trying to think where we’re going as a state here or if anyone cares,” he said. “The people with incomes are leaving. There is mobility and they’re choosing to get in the moving vans and they’re leaving the state.”

Astorino was the Republican nominee for governor in 2014 and is considering a second run statewide in 2018, but is also running for a third term as county executive this year.

For now, he remains non-committal on his plans for next year.

“Honestly I have no idea. I don’t know where the world is going to be next year,” he said, questioning Cuomo’s political plans as well as the discussions of other Republicans considering campaigns. “It’s so up in the air. It’s always one step at a time.”

Astorino Compares Cuomo’s Agenda To Candy

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino compared Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agenda to children’s candy: Fun to eat, but could cause cavities.

“Last night I took the kids to the diner and they give away lollipops at the end when you pay,” he told reporters at an annual gathering of the Conservative Party in Albany. “Kids want a lollipop because they’re free and they taste good. It doesn’t mean they’re good for their teeth.”

A Siena College poll released this morning found there was broad support for most of Cuomo’s major agenda in the new year, including an extension of the state’s surcharge on millions, reduced tuition costs for SUNY students whose families earn $125,000 a year and less and a $2 billion clean water infrastructure fund.

Most of the measures have majority support and the backing of Republican voters, including the millionaires’ tax extension.

But Astorino cautioned there needs to be a thorough review of the governor’s agenda needs to be conducted.

“This state is rotting. It’s rotting because we can’t afford what we already do,” he said. “Nobody thinks that free is free and somebody has to pay.”

Astorino is considering a second run for governor next year as Cuomo seeks a third term.

Astorino Says He’ll Talk To Rick Perry About Indian Point Closure

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino plans to speak with Energy Sectetary-designate Rick Perry about the planned closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan.

Astorino, speaking with reporters on Monday after addressing the Conservative Party’s annual confab in Albany, pointed to a federal law that gives the Department of Energy authority over the closure of nuclear power plants.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Entergy this month announced plans to phase out and close Indian Point in Westhchester County, but opponents of the plan insist there isn’t a viable energy source to replace the power needs for the metropolitan area.

“That’s something that we need to talk about because just blowing in the wind and hoping the sun comes out is not going to bring out the energy that we need in Westchester,” Astorino said. “That’s going to cause if worst comes to fruition, higher energy rates.”

Astorino has met with Perry before as the former Texas governor was launching his second bid for the presidency. At the time, Perry posed with Astorino, then a candidate for governor in New York, after Perry’s 2016 Republican presidential rival Chris Christie referred to the GOP candidate’s bid against Cuomo as a lost cause.

Astorino is considering another bid for governor in 2018.

Pending ‘Family First’ Legislation Receives Bi-Partisan Opposition From County Executives

Members of the New York State County Executives Association are asking New York’s two U.S. Senators to oppose pending legislation they say will cost New York state and county governments hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Democrat and Republican county executives held a press conference Tuesday in Niagara Falls to draw attention to the issue.

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016, already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, would require states to provide preventive services to parents and children, designed to keep children out of foster care.

“This is a very well-meaning bill. This bill will truthfully assist other states, set up the programs that we’ve had in New York state for quite some time,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, D, said.

The county executives said New York already requires counties to provide these services under a Foster Care Block Grant, which is mainly funded through federal sources. The Family First Act creates new standards a county must meet in order to access federal funds.

“The problem is, it will now shift cost directly to the state and to the counties,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, R, said.

Astorino estimated, if passed, the law would cost Westchester County $15 million, annually. Poloncarz said it would be $8-$12 million in Erie County.

“If we did lose this revenue, because we’d still be required to provide the programming, we’d have to either cut from elsewhere in county government or raise taxes,” Poloncarz said.

Both County Executives have sent letters to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, asking them to strongly consider the bill’s unintended consequences. Other county executives who joined the effort included Marc Molinaro, R-Dutchess County, and Kathy Jimino, R-Rensselaer County.

Astorino: $1.7M In Cash On Hand

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Friday announced having raised just shy of $1 million for his re-election bid in 2017.

Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor who is considering a second run for the executive mansion in 2018, has signaled he will run for a third term as county executive next year.

Astorino reported raising $952,612 in the last six months, ending the filing period with $1.7 million in the bank.

“So many New Yorkers know firsthand that the state is headed in the wrong direction and they share my vision of protecting our middle class, helping small businesses and revitalizing our economy,” Astorino said. “I am grateful for their support.”

Astorino hasn’t drawn a Democratic challenger just yet, but names floated include Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and County Legislator Ken Jenkins.

Astorino: I Told You So

Republican Rob Astorino ripped Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Thursday, saying the issues surrounding investigations into upstate economic development efforts were initially raised by his gubernatorial campaign in 2014.

“The public is now seeing what we knew to be true and saying about the Cuomo administration,” said Astorino, the Westchester county executive, in an interview on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show. “For Cuomo to level all this nonsense against me with his $45 million against our $6 was very hard, but ultimately everything we’ve said is coming true.”

Cuomo defeated Astorino in 2014 to win a second term as governor.

During the campaign, Astorino had questioned Cuomo’s efforts on upstate economic development, especially with regard to the spending of millions of dollars to encourage businesses in economically troubled upstate cities. Astorino had also faulted Cuomo for not supporting high-volume hydrofracking in the state, a natural gas extraction process Cuomo would later ban after the election.

Federal and state investigators are reviewing contracts into the Buffalo Billion as well as issues surrounding contracting at SUNY Polytechnic. At the same time, lobbyist Todd Howe, who has ties to Cuomo and his father, is also under investigation.

“For Buffalo’s sake I hope this doesn’t happen, but you look at what’s happening with corruption and potential bid rigging, you see why this state is dead last,” Astorino said.

Meanwhile, Astorino cast doubt on claims made by the governor that he was unaware his former top aide, Joe Percoco, was receiving consulting fees from companies with business before the state while he was managing Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

“Nobody is believing Andrew Cuomo he had no idea what’s going on with his closest friend,” Astorino said. “To sit there and throw him under the bus, I think it says a lot about Andrew Cuomo’s character.”

Astorino indicated he was yet to make a decision on whether he will run again for governor in 2018. He is planning to run for a third term as county executive in 2017 and his path to the GOP nomination for governor was made considerably clearer when Rep. Chris Gibson this month announced he would not run.

“At the right time in ’18, if it’s there, I’ll go for it,” he said.

Astorino Fundraises Off $15 Minimum Wage

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Tuesday released a fundraising email opposing the increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15, urging supports to help him have the “tools” to get his message out.

In the email, Astorino claimed the minimum wage hike won’t just hurt businesses, but minorities and younger workers.

“It means fewer jobs for New Yorkers starting out — up to a half million fewer according to some experts. It means increased automation and higher prices for basic necessities, like milk, bread, and baby formula,” Astorino wrote in the email. “It means businesses of all sizes cutting jobs or shuttering their doors.”

“And who gets hurt most? Minorities and young people looking for a first job or an extra part-time job to make ends meet. But to hell with them — right? Andrew Cuomo had to get his headlines.”

The minimum wage is due to phase in to $15 over the next several years in New York City and the suburban counties on Long Island and in Westchester. North of Westchester County, the wage will grow to $12.50 and then future increases will be linked to an economic analysis from the Division of Budget and Department of Labor.

The measure, contained in a budget bill that included a boost in state aid for education and the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, was approved unanimously by Republicans in the state Senate.

Astorino, the 2014 Republican nominee for governor, has not ruled out another campaign in 2018. He has also indicated plans to run for a third term as county executive.

“Bringing fiscal sanity back to New York will not come cheaply. It will cost money and effort. But if we do nothing, we’re done as a state,” Astorino said. ”
It’s that simple. We’ve done it in Westchester by not raising the tax levy for six straight years, lowering the budget to below what it was in 2010, and installing pro-growth policies that have helped create almost 40,000 new private sector jobs in our county.”

Astorino To Mexico Next Week

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will be traveling to Mexico on Sunday, with plans to stay there until next Friday, according to spokesman Bill O’Reilly.

The trip is going to be paid for by Astorino’s campaign.

Astorino is due to meet with a variety of Mexican officials, including the governor of the state Of Puebla and he will be addressing the Puebla legislative body.

Astorino’s trip comes as the suburban county, one of the wealthiest in the nation, is increasingly diverse. Westchester is now 25 percent Hispanic, and the largest percentage of that demographic coming from Puebla, Mexico. The governor of Puebla recently visited Astorino at his White Plains office.

Astorino is fluent in Spanish, having studied abroad in Spain while in college.

The 2014 Republican nominee for governor, Astorino lost to Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo. He has not ruled out another run for governor in 2018, and at the same time has signaled he will run for re-election as county executive in 2017.

Previously, Astorino has traveled to Italy, Ireland and Israel.

The trip to Mexico comes after Pope Francis recently departed the country, causing a stir when he commented on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration policies.