The vexatious litigation over the petition by residents of the Edgemont section of the Town of Greenburgh whether they will be able to vote on becoming the seventh incorporated village in the Town demonstrates how deformed our one-party local government has become.
Fifty years ago, in 1966, then Town Supervisor Edward Vetrano (a Republican) held a hearing on the legal sufficiency of a petition seeking Edgemont’s incorporation. Lasting only 30 minutes, and despite “finding the second sentence of the prefatory statement was misleading in grammatical import,” Vetrano observed “local control” was a valued principle and that it was the “people’s choice” to incorporate. After scheduling an election, debates were held, letters to the newspapers were written, and yes, a last-ditch legal challenge was filed by a citizens’ committee opposing incorporation. Incorporation was defeated at the polls by a 3:1 margin.
Over the past four years, multiple and contentious hearings have been held on two Edgemont incorporation petitions (including one reprehensibly convened on Father’s Day); the current supervisor rejected both. His decisions were then twice reversed by the Westchester Supreme Court, then appealed. At the most recent appellate hearing, discussed last week in Nicholas Perrone’s article in the Enterprise, Justices Dillon and Wooten decidedly signaled the Town’s professed concerns about the incorporation petition were masking unabashed voter suppression. Yet not one public official in the Town’s six villages has raised their voice against this impropriety despite decrying the same voter disenfranchisement at the national level. Nor has any village official expressed concern over the exorbitant cost of this litigation (now in the hundreds of thousands of dollars), funded by village taxpayers who hypocritically deny Edgemont the right to live in a village. Our local one-party state assemblyman (who was previously pushing anti-vaccine laws) has repeatedly sponsored legislation in Albany to restrict the right to form a village in New York State — the only recourse a minority political jurisdiction has if it believes its interests are being ignored.
The advocate for the petitioners seeking Edgemont’s incorporation made a salient point to the Appellate bench — filing an incorporation petition is intended to be a simple procedure an ordinary citizen should be able to accomplish. However, this right has been nullified by the Town’s “scorched earth” litigation strategy. While a two-party government system provides no guaranty of progress, our one-party government has turned Greenburgh into Rottenburgh.