FLASHPOINT: Westchester County, NY

Flashpoint-bannerThe federal government confiscates taxes and redistributes wealth nationwide as a means of controlling people. This places many people in the ludicrous position of being forced to subsidize things they disagree with, or even things that hurt them.

In order to deploy as many tentacles as possible, the government sets up departments and agencies and so forth to slither their way into various facets of American life, both public and private. One of these departments is the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, a.k.a. HUD.

You may remember HUD from the 1990s, when they helped implement the Community Reinvestment Act, forcing banks to make all kinds of crappy loans to people who couldn’t pay them back and laying the groundwork for the housing bubble and subsequent economic crisis. President Clinton appointed Andrew Cuomo as HUD Secretary at that time; remember that name, because it’s part of this flashpoint.

HUD administers “fair housing” laws, which sprang from the 1968 Civil Rights Act. Landowners were no longer allowed to discriminate against buyers or renters on the basis of race or several other criteria. From this simple principle, HUD has over the years developed a mind-numbing pseudo-science by which they now accuse entire neighborhoods, towns, and counties of discriminatory housing policies. Without bogging ourselves in the morass of tortured logic and statistics they use to justify this, let’s just understand that HUD will look at a neighborhood or town and declare it “too white.” (Yet the neighborhood is the party who is “discriminatory,” right? Oh, the irony.)

Anyway, the government is now in the business of saying who may live where, a decision they base on race, of course, since that’s been their go-to, all-purpose tool for nearly three generations now. Just let that sink in for a minute. Is there anything more classically Communist than Central Planning deciding who may live where, and using confiscated wealth to build depressing little cinderblock rabbit hutches in which to warehouse dependents? And is there anything more classically Fascist than divisively bean-counting human beings according to superficial criteria such as race and ethnicity? This situation should make everyone’s blood run cold.

HUD uses a combination of lawsuits and withholding of federal funds to bully municipalities into compliance. With the advent of hopenchange, the Department of Justice got into the mix, to assist HUD as the race-mongering prosecutorial tine of the strategy. This newly-energized, forced ethnic integration machine then began to look for a likely test subject, and they found a weak spot into which they were able to insert themselves.

The weak spot was Westchester County, an affluent suburb to the north of New York City, within New York State. Westchester was a good target because it was headed by a compliant Democrat County Executive at that time, Andrew Spano, and located in a corrupt, liberal state that would likely comply or even assist with a Progressive federal agenda. You may recall that at that time, David Paterson was the governor, having ascended to the position from deputy governor after Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in the wake of a cross-state-lines prostitution scandal. Paterson was a nice enough fellow but was liberal, melanin affluent, and also legally blind: in other words, a dues-paying member of the aggrieved class. Let’s just say that New York State was not a fortress of moral virtue.

According to a 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, the fun started in 2006 when a non-profit called the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York sued Westchester County for using federal funds to build low-income housing in such a way as to further racial segregation. Westchester County explained it was building the required units in accordance with its zoning laws and was actually ahead of schedule. This suit wrangled on for three years until in 2009, County Executive Spano finally asked the Obama Administration to intervene and broker a settlement. Thus, he opened the door for the Eric Holders and the ACORNS to come in and dictate how and where people might live in Westchester. The resulting settlement requires the county to spend $50 million over the next seven years to build or acquire 750 homes, including at least 630 in municipalities with few minorities.

HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims helpfully explained that studies have shown that zip codes are good predictors of life expectancy, and “It’s time to remove zip codes as a factor in the quality of life in America.”

County Executive Spano explained that the agreement represented a “sea change in American policy,” because it guaranteed access to fair and affordable housing “all over,” instead of just in certain areas. (You know – where it might actually make sense because of zoning statutes and land value.)

In other words, Westchester is the test case for an aggressive new housing integration scheme that the Progressive government plans to roll out nation-wide someday. HUD is calling Westchester their “Grand Experiment,” and once they succeed in steamrollering local jurisdictions into placing the 750 units willy-nilly into formerly nice neighborhoods, plans are already in the works for cramming an additional 10,500+ units into Westchester County at a projected cost of around $1 billion.

In the 2009 election, Westchester County threw over 2-term incumbent Andrew Spano by 15 points in favor of a new County Executive, Republican Rob Astorino. Astorino did a fabulous job managing the roll-out of the county’s agreement with HUD and building affordable housing units ahead of schedule. However, he also did this in accordance with local zoning statute. This was, of course, unacceptable to the all-powerful planners, and the battle raged on.

About a year ago, Rob Astorino wrote a tasty editorial for the Wall Street Journal, which I will now shamelessly excerpt:

In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like.

Local governments will have to “take meaningful actions to further the goals identified.” If they fail to comply, HUD can cut federal funding. Westchester County north of New York City has firsthand experience of what the rest of the nation can expect. 

HUD and Westchester are battling over local zoning that arose from a 2009 settlement (signed by my predecessor) to build 750 affordable-housing units in 31 mostly white communities. Westchester is well ahead of schedule in meeting these obligations. Almost 400 units have financing and 124 are already occupied. But HUD isn’t satisfied because it wants to control local zoning and remake communities. 

HUD has told Westchester that any limits on the size, type, height and density of buildings are “restrictive practices.” It demands that the county sue its localities over such common zoning regulations, which are not exclusionary by any stretch of the imagination. If HUD can define what constitutes exclusionary practices, then local zoning as it is known today disappears. Apartments, high rises or whatever else the federal government or a developer wants can be built on any block in America.

This is not hyperbole. Consider that HUD’s list of “restrictive practices” includes limits on density even around reservoirs that supply drinking water to New York City’s eight million residents. Who knew ensuring clean water was discriminatory?

HUD’s power grab is based on the mistaken belief that zoning and discrimination are the same. They are not. Zoning restricts what can be built, not who lives there.

Amen, brothuh. Amen.

A year has passed and Rob Astorino is now running for Governor of New York State against the Democrat incumbent, who is none other than … Andrew Cuomo, our old friend the HUD secretary during the Clinton Administration. You can guess where he stands on this issue.

As of now, Astorino is standing resolute against Federal heavy handedness as he campaigns against Cuomo, who is a legacy cog in the Progressive machine. The Rye Daily Voice reports that Cuomo is blasting Astorino for failing to comply with this dog of a settlement that he inherited from his predecessor (an accusation that is or isn’t true, depending on who you ask and what day of the week it is). “I have no reason to disagree with the federal findings,” says Cuomo. Why, “I used to bring these cases as HUD secretary. There’s a science to it, and they are saying that when you look at the numbers and the statistics, that Westchester County is violating the fair housing law … which is very, very serious.”

Astorino responded, “How dare Andrew Cuomo disparage Westchester families with a blatantly false and inflammatory charge. Andrew Cuomo owes the families of Westchester an immediate apology.… Anyone can live anywhere they can afford in this county,…

“Westchester County is the fourth most diverse county in New York state, tied with Manhattan, and we welcome that diversity,” Astorino said.

Hats off to Rob Astorino as he fights Big Government for the local autonomy of Westchester County, which is today’s Right-Wing Riot Flashpoint.

UPDATE: The Prince of White Bread has alerted me to this related article over at the magnificent Taki’s Magazine. Explains the growing interest in redistributing the “undesirables” out to the ‘burbs.

 

by Ms. Always Right

Ms. Always Right Labeled

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