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Astorino and Westchester Win Against Obama’s HUD


For the past year, New York’s Westchester County has been embroiled in an acrimonious dispute with President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, and they’ve finally won the legal battle.

As I reported in January, the county executive, Rob Astorino, has done a superb job of governing with fiscal discipline, but has been hampered by an appalling example of Obama’s executive overreach. Essentially, an affordable housing project in the county had to abide by the terms of a particular legal settlement, and Astorino maintained that, as executive, he was doing so; in fact, he had the county ahead of schedule. But HUD, which provided the federal funding for the project, insisted that the county’s measures weren’t acceptable, and that more efforts had to be made to counter racial and socioeconomic discrimination, eventually admitting that they wanted Astorino to go “beyond the four corners of the settlement,” by spending more and abrogating local zoning laws. Any examination of the facts of the case (or Westchester’s increasing diversity) reveals that HUD was seriously overreaching its authority, and so Astorino and the county stood their ground.

Now, in the court of law, the county’s work has been vindicated, and the Obama administration’s overreach has been nicely evinced. In the wake of the decision, Astorino explained, “My position from the beginning has been that the county will fulfill its obligations under the settlement, but it will not be bullied by the federal government into doing things that were never agreed to. I have taken principled stands where I believe the government has overreached, and I am pleased and heartened that the magistrate’s decision vindicates my actions.”