Every time I open a local newspaper or turn on the local news channel I see Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Ken Jenkins. I swear this man is ubiquitous. How can he actually be governing when it seems that he is always courting the media? Who is this guy? What is he saying and what in Sam Hill does he want? He wants to be king.
Ken Jenkins, known within some political circles the “poverty pimp”, and in other circles the “demopublican” with close friends Nick, Mike and Lenny Spano and Mike, "The Consultant" a/k/a "anon" Edelman, is the Chairman of the Board of County Legislators here in Westchester County. He was elected in a special election in 2007 to serve Yonkers’ 16th District. Alas, it seems Ken Jenkins doesn’t quite know where he lives. He has given two addresses when queried about his residence. One address is 108 Bushie Avenue which is within District 15, represented by Legislator Gordon Burrows. Does Ken sincerely believe he and Gordon bear such close resemblance that nobody would notice? His other residence, where he apparently resides is to be found on Moultrie Street. I’m already confused. Isn’t that in violation of the Federal Election Law to reside other than where you were elected to serve? One must infer that the Feds are too busy checking out where Pedro Espada lives to come after Ken. Even neighbors say that he only comes to the Moultrie Street residence to pick up mail. Ken is sure to utter another glib answer to that question. He always does.
It was in 1998 when Ken Jenkins became somewhat of a talking head when he landed a gig espousing the Democrat party perspective opposite Mike Edelman on Cable News 12 Westchester. Ever since Ken was elected Chairman of the Westchester County Board Chairman, January 2010, the press releases he has issued have gathered momentum. Truly an achievement wrangling that spot away from Bill “Boss” Ryan. Westchesterites had hoped for something a little different with Ken’s elevation to chair. They had hoped there would be less of a tax and spend mantra from the 8th floor and a little more visibility with the County Board of Legislators and their legislative processes. Boy we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Right out of the gate, along the rail comes the appointment of David Paterson’s alleged mistress. Well nobody really cared about who Mr. Paterson was poking but this appointment literally became the talk of the town when her salary was announced. Lila Kirton is paid 135K to assist Mr. Jenkins. Ummm… we were under the impression that the county was cash strapped and would have massive layoffs and Ken Jenkins goes out and hires the governor’s former girlfriend. No savings there!. So instead of the taxpayer fraud that we had with Gary Kriss, we have a patronage princess that we never hear from. But we do continue to hear a lot from Ken.
Westchester County has a myriad of problems and Ken Jenkins has a lot to say about most of them. Predictably most of his comments are made on the heels of any statement issued by County Executive Astorino. If Astorino wants employee contributions toward healthcare, Ken says, “No way!"
If Astorino talks about capping taxes or pensions, Ken jumps in and says that it is not a good idea, that is until he releases a press statement a few days later saying that those caps might be a good idea indeed.
One of the more laughable suggestions from the Chairman comes in the form of a proposal to abolish the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contracts. The BoA&C has been around since about 1937 and seems to be one of the only branches of county government to br functioning. It works because the bulk of the leg work is done by individual departments, then sent to respective committees to earn approval and final signatures. It seems Mr. Jenkins is pushing for the WCBoL to take over the BoA&C. This acid tongued blogger believes what Ken Jenkins really does not like is that the BoA&C is no longer only controlled by Democrats. Ken finds himself now having to share some of that responsibility with that little Republican interloper Rob Astorino. Oh, Lordy be Mr. Jenkins, you do enjoy the whine and howl among the “three men in a room” politics but you do not want anyone to know that you are one of those men. Quite frankly, we do not appreciate all the drama you created about this little trio. Isn’t this what your colleagues Nick, Lenny and Mike did and do when they are making Demopublican deals?
Then there are the comments made about the layoffs at the Westchester Medical Center. This was spun so that the good people of Westchester would think that this Medical Center is so poorly run, that they are not a viable hospital, and that they will never be able to repay any money owed to the county. Mr. Jenkins does not want the average person to know that this is a privatized institution that happens to contract some services with the county and and some with the state.. It is not the Westchester County Medical Center; it is the Westchester Medical Center. WMC receives some funding from the state and the county but the county does not own it. Here again. it seems Mr. Jenkin’s beef is not with the medical center but is with County Executive Astorino and his decision to outsource inmate care, thus eliminating over one hundred jobs.
Perhaps the most troubling statements that Mr. Jenkins has made concern County government’s handling of the federally imposed Housing Settlement. So far, HUD housing monitor Jim Johnson has not accepted any of the County’s proposals. Riding on the coattails of the HUD monitor, Chairman Jenkins has been critical of every proposal put forth by the county. Given the fact that Jenkins is a Real Estate agent and an elected official who has veiled his own residence with smoke and mirrors is indeed troubling. This is a real issue that the residents and administration are dealing with and its delays should not be presented with veiled references to racism by any elected official, much less by the Chairman of the County Board of Legislators. Housing, even if it is Federally mandated, is a very personal choice to those for whom those units are intended. They may be poor but they don’t want be pimped by county officials masquerading as a poverty pimp.
It is clear that Ken Jenkins in his own recalcitrant manner has launched his campaign to run for Westchester County Executive. We have his budget projections when it comes to the county deficit. We have his projections concerning layoffs. We have Ken Jenkins arguing with Jim Maisano on News 12’s Newsmakers show, and we have Ken’s emails insinuating himself into the race for Westchester County Family Court Judge. It is obvious that Ken Jenkins and Westchester County Democratic Party Chairman and Westchester County Board of Elections Commissioner Reggie Lafayette do not want Judge Bill Edwards to win the election, but one would hope they would know better as to where their name is on an email chain and where it will ultimately land.
Finally this week we see Mr. Jenkins at the Mt.Vernon/Greenburgh Health Center’s annual barbecue. Accompanying him were Westchester County Clerk Idoni and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and a few fresh faced campaign volunteers carrying a Thomas DiNapoli for Comptoller sign. Not once did I see Mr. Jenkins reach out to any of the staff or volunteers to laud over them for serving the community in the manner in which they do. Nor did he cast a glance toward any of the clients attending the barbecue. Suddenly it dawned on this acid tongued blogger, there was no media covering him and he was gone… just like that.
It is apparent to even the most politically unsavvy that Ken Jenkins is positioning himself to run for Westchester County Executive. After these crucial mid-term local elections and the release of Astorino’s budget Westchesterites can count on hearing more from Mr. Jenkins.
The opening line to his announcement speech will likely be…. “I wanna be king!”