Letter To The Editor: Astorino Is Abusing His Power

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The New York Post has just reported that a Westchester Deputy Commissioner told employees to use taxpayer funded leave time to help Rob Astorino's reelection bid.

Did Phil Gille, Deputy Commissioner of the Westchester Department of Social Services violate the Hatch Act (the federal legislation that restricts government employees’ political activity … to [limit] the influence of partisan politics in government institutions …and to protect public servants from perceived pressure from political parties to work on political campaigns) when he emailed government employees, ordering them to “clear their schedule and donate Thursday, Friday and Monday to the campaign” to re-elect his (and their) boss, Rob Astorino. It sure sounds that way.

Mr. Gille is violating the law by using his position for political purposes when he tells them to “expect to donate …[their] time...”on Election Day, described by the Post as “a paid day off for most government workers” and in instructing them to meet in order to hear “’what is expected’ of them.” The Hatch Act applies to Mr. Gille as an employee of an agency financed in part by the federal government. As deputy commissioner, he has authority over employees. Because the addressees’ names were redacted from the email sent to the Post, it is impossible to check whether the recipients had been pressured to express interest in such servitude or whether they felt that their jobs depended upon their acquiescence. Here again, the manipulative, duplicitous, and unethical behavior employed by the County Executive and his enablers mimics the tactics in Washington D.C..

Voters have started to wake up to Astorino’s abuse of his power, so now his supporters are abusing theirs. Gille should face charges for ethics violations. Astorino’s responsibility for Gille’s orders should be investigated. Westchester voters should vote for George Latimer this Tuesday.

Yours truly,

Beatrice Birch

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