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Black Democrats back civil rights lawsuit against Westchester County. "We are proud to join with the Anti-Discrimination Center in support of their legal action to get Rob Astorino to comply with federal civil rights law.'
Text of press release.

For Immediate Release: September 28, 2014




New York, NY – African American leaders from throughout New York State joined together today to support legal action to get Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to comply with federal civil rights law. The lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center led to a 2009 settlement with the federal government that Astorino has repeatedly violated. Astorino has been ordered by a federal judge to testify under oath after a federal monitor accused him of lying and misleading the public. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has agreed that Astorino has made “numerous false and misleading statements” about the case.

“We are proud to join with the Anti-Discrimination Center in support of their legal action to get Rob Astorino to comply with federal civil rights law. Astorino is the only county executive in the United States who has been charged by the federal government with refusing to enforce anti-discrimination laws and his actions have already cost the county over $10 million in much-needed federal funds. Astorino should stop misleading the people of Westchester and simply follow the law,” said former Governor David Paterson.

“New York has a proud history of fighting discrimination, which is why it is so shocking that it would take a sworn deposition to stop Astorino from repeatedly making false and misleading statements about the case. There’s only one person responsible for Rob Astorino’s refusal to comply with federal civil rights laws, and that’s Rob Astorino,” said Carl McCall.

“We need leaders who work to bring people together, not divide and conquer communities. I am proud to stand with the Anti-Discrimination Center in putting a stop to Rob Astorino’s violations of civil rights laws," said Assemnblyman J. Gary Pretlow

African American community leaders throughout the state have announced their support for the lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center. The Center has detailed multiple violations of the 2009 settlement. Community leaders announcing their support include:

New York City

NYC Council Member Inez Dickens

Assemblyman Denny Farrell

Rev. Dr. Johnnie M. Green, Mt. Neboh Baptist Church

The Honorable Carl McCall

Former Governor David Paterson

Rev. Dr. Carl L. Washington, New Mount Zion Baptist Church

Rev. James E. Wilson, Jr., First Union Baptist

Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, St. Paul Community Baptist Church

Westchester County

Rev. Troy DeCohen, Mt. Vernon Heights Congregational Church

Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson

Rev. Dr. Darren M. Morton, Macedonia Baptist Church

Rev. Edward Mulraine, Unity Baptist Tabernacle Church

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow

When he became County Executive, Rob Astorino made no secret that he opposed the enforcement of the 2009 fair housing settlement that requires the county to build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 communities with small minority populations and to take several other steps to provide opportunities for minorities to move to predominantly white towns. In 2013, Astorino even vetoed legislation that would have prevented landlords from discriminating against tenants who use federal housing vouchers. A federal judge ruled that “Mr Astorino had done ‘the very opposite’” of what he was required to do under the law. Astorino refused to enforce the court order, leading the U.S. Department of Justice to threaten Astorino with contempt for violating federal civil rights laws. He remains the only County Executive in the United States of America who has consistently refused to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws.

AP: “Astorino Under Fire From Feds”

The Associated Press reported, “A judge has ordered Astorino, over his objections, to submit to seven hours of depositions by a federal monitor who says Astorino, the Westchester County executive, has been lying to the public about a housing desegregation settlement. ‘The office of the county executive and some of those reporting to him have for years publicly disparaged the settlement, cast doubt on the existence of certain of its provisions, spread misinformation about its objectives and undermined public confidence in its implementation,’ monitor James E. Johnson told the judge. In papers supporting the motion, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara agreed that Astorino had made ‘numerous false and misleading statements’ about the case.” (Associated Press, 8/9/14)

New York Times: “Die-Hard Resistance To Civil-Rights”

In an editorial, the New York Times wrote, “Die-hard resistance to civil-rights laws didn’t work out for the South half-a-century ago, and it won’t work now.” (New York Times, 4/15/13)

Journal News: “Feds Threaten Astorino with Contempt”

The Journal News reported, “The U.S. Justice Department said it will seek a contempt ruling against Westchester County and County Executive Rob Astorino if he doesn’t agree by Thursday to introduce legislation to implement the county’s 2009 fair housing settlement, The Journal News/ reports today. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent the letter to the county Friday.” (The Journal News, 4/23/13)

AP: “Westchester’s Executive Violated Housing Deal, Judge Rules”

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