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Attorney General intervention sought in face of local prosecutor's unwillingness to vindicate decree

More civil rights groups have concluded that enforcement of the landmark housing desegregation court order entered against Westchester County five years ago has been entirely inadequate and are demanding that the Justice Department "alter course and vindicate the integrity of the consent decree."

National civil rights groups speak out on Westchester

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council have recently sent a letter to Jim Johnson, the Monitor in the Westchester case, challenging both the rosy view of enforcement efforts peddled to the Court by the U.S. Attorney and the Monitor’s intended method to assess the disparate impact caused by restrictive zoning in Westchester’s towns and villages.

Monitor's Biennial Report a Masterwork of Misdirection

As usual, the important thing is to recognize what isn't being said or done.

Latest fantasy game in Westchester: pretending only seven municipalities are in play

If one bothers to consider all the towns and villages that retain barriers to fair housing choice, the list is much longer.

U.S. Attorney, representing HUD, concocts bizarrely limiting interpretation of key consent decree provision

At court conference on Westchester case, U.S. attorney tries to excuse its failure to hold Westchester to account by suggesting that a defendant can shield itself from having to perform court-ordered tasks by denying the existence of facts staring the defendant in the face.

Cheating On Every Level: Anatomy of the Demise of a Civil Rights Consent Decree

ADC's April 2014 report documents Westchester County's ongoing violations of the housing desegregation consent decree that was entered into in August 2009 as a result of the False Claims Act case that ADC brought against the County.  It also documents the failure of the Government and the Monitor to hold Westchester to account.

Further evidence of Monitor downplaying of Westchester exclusionary zoning

The "summary charts of municipal zoning data" further demonstrate how and where the Monitor underplayed the existence of exclusionary zoning. Contrary to his letter, far more seven Westchester municipalities are characterized by that problem.

Monitor's zoning analysis profoundly understates exclusionary zoning

Facts shout "exclusion" but Monitor glosses over them, mangles disparate impact analysis.

ADC's latest letters on Westchester

Nearly four years after the entry of the Consent Decree, the U.S. Attorney, HUD, and the Monitor need to stop pretending that progress has been made and concentrate on holding Westchester accountable for all of its Consent Decree violations.

Doesn't the Westchester Consent Decree require an Implementation Plan that insures pro-AFFH development?

Yes it does, but three years after the entry of the Consent Decree no such Implementation Plan exists.

ADC Motions to Enforce and to Intervene

Westchester's pattern of violating all material elements of the Consent Decree was apparent from the outset. By 2011, it had also become painfully clear that the U.S. Attorney, HUD, and the Monitor were deaf to pleas to hold Westchester to account. So ADC made motions to enforce and to intervene. Read the court papers.

HUD demonstrates anew lack of will to enforce consent decree

Agency still not responding to the fact that Westchester doesn't only have the obligations of any recipient of federal housing funding, but has unique court-ordered obligations that it has continued to violate for more than three years.

Monitor files annual report to court for 2012

Full text available here along with ADC's preliminary observations.

Soft on Segregation: How the Feds Failed to Integrate Westchester County

Part 2 of ProPublica's series on "affirmatively furthering fair housing." This article focuses on the failure of the Government and the Monitor to hold Westchester to its obligations under the historic housing desegregation Consent Decree entered by U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote in August, 2009.

Where have we heard this before?

Westchester County Executive's rhetoric hits new low with crude appeal to fear.

Feds want Westchester ordered to provide info but continue to let County skate on its failure to act

New motion highlights one aspect of Westchester's contempt and acknowledges that continuation of County's course of conduct "will make it all but impossible to achieve the results contemplated" by the Consent Decree. But the Government still fails to ask the Court to remedy Westchester's three-year failure to take action against the exclusionary zoning that pervades the County.

When will the Government actually fight "the battle of Westchester"?

A recent New York Times editorial accurately described Westchester's ongoing resistance to integrated housing as constituting "the battle for Westchester." But, two years and nine months after the entry of the consent decree, the federal government has yet to engage seriously in that battle.

County Exec mischaracterizes Magistrate's ruling, but is still getting last laugh

Anyone reading the decision will see that the County Executive's spin is inaccurate and misleading; what people may not realize at first is that the ruling makes all too clear the fact that the Government and the Monitor hadn't even demanded that Westchester be made to do very much.

Monitor’s “2-year review” fails to hold Westchester to account

Pretense of “progress” still being clung to despite fact that the units to be built do not affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). Review fails to articulate plainly that County has rejected every major premise and violated every major obligation of Decree. Monitor reveals he is prepared to accept Implementation Plan not designed to AFFH. Along with HUD and U.S. Attorney, Monitor fails to assess Westchester’s refusal to meet Decree-ordered obligations of using all housing policies and programs to end segregation. All ignore that evidence is already in on presence of extensive exclusionary zoning and on fact that Westchester has failed to meet its obligation to combat that critical barrier to expanding fair housing choice.

ADC statement on Court's denial of motion to intervene

ADC is most disappointed by the Court's failure to exercise its authority to vindicate its own interest in seeing that its order is obeyed.

Civil rights groups: enforce the Consent Decree, support ADC motion to intervene (PDF - 30.8 KB)

In a Nov. 29, 2011 letter to the Monitor, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and the National Fair Housing Alliance note that, "It is now 27 months after the entry of the Decree, and there has not been any material progress or compliance." The civil rights groups express their concern about the "failure of the Monitor and the Government to fully implement all the terms and objectives of the Decree, despite ample authority to do so," and call on the Monitor "to reverse [his] earlier opposition to the Motion to Intervene filed by the Anti-Discrimination Center (the organization that litigated the matter in the first place) to ensure the presence of a party that will seek vigorous enforcement of the Consent Decree."

County cited for two violations, but Gov't, Monitor still don't see big picture

For more than two years, the Government and the Monitor have done nothing except watch Westchester make a mockery of the Consent Decree.  Last night, a report from the Monitor dealt with a small subset of the outstanding issues.

In these circumstances, there is a natural tendency to lose track of the overall context. In fact, the Government and the Monitor continue to ignore a variety of crucial questions. They proceed as though Westchester has not made it unmistakably clear that it fundamentally rejects the goals, premises, and chosen tools of the Decree, and that it is determined never to comply.

As such, they are still failing to fulfill their responsibility to vindicate the Decree.

County Executive formally declares war on Consent Decree

As the Westchester Journal News explained in its editorial: "In both deed and stubborn word, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has made plain that he has no plans to honor key provisions of the False Claims Act/fair housing settlement...The sooner HUD, the monitor and, ultimately, the U.S. District Court hold him accountable, the better for Westchester and fair-housing choice throughout the county."

Westchester development sites

Look at aerial images or maps of the kind of development sites that Westchester has been focusing on in order to evade its obligations and minimize change.

June 1, 2011 ADC Statement on Motions to Enforce and to Intervene

Faced with Westchester's comprehensive and unrelenting violations of its housing desegregation obligations under a federal court Consent Decree, and with the failure of the federal government and its Monitor to enforce those obligations, the Anti-Discrimination Center ("ADC") has moved for Court enforcement of the Decree.

Memorandum in Support of Motion to Enforce (PDF - 1.32 MB)

The May 31, 2011 memorandum explains how Westchester has been comprehensively violating its Consent Decree obligations, continuing the failure to affirmatively further fair housing that marked its behavior before and during Phase I of the litigation.

Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene (PDF - 1.27 MB)

The May 31, 2011 memorandum explains why the failure of the federal government and its Monitor to vindicate the terms and objectives of the Consent Decree makes it necessary for ADC to intervene.

ADC statement on Monitor's April 25, 2011 report to the Court

Unfortunately, the Monitor has once again closed his eyes to Westchester's persistent refusal to accept even the principles of the Consent Decree -- let alone comply with the obligations set forth in the Decree.

Westchester Desegregation Planning Rejected by HUD

Westchester has failed to comply with yet another of its obligations under the consent decree. The County was required to develop an “analysis of impediments” to fair housing choice that was acceptable to HUD. That meant it was supposed to identify, analyze, and take the actions necessary to overcome all barriers to fair housing. HUD has now found that the AI is indeed “incomplete and unacceptable,” and has rejected the submission.

ADC status report - November 1, 2010

Westchester's resistance is being rewarded.

August 2010 Implementation Plan: Still Just Window-Dressing

On August 9, 2010, the County submitted the third iteration of an "Implementation Plan," the first two having been rejected by the Monitor.  As before, the key to the document is understanding that the County's goals were: (1) avoiding committing to taking any specific actions that could then be deemed enforceable obligations under the Consent Decree; and (2) proceeding in a way to maintain the demographic and zoning status quo as much as possible.

County "Analysis of Impediments" Woefully Inadequate

On July 23, 2010, Westchester submitted to HUD an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice ("AI").  The submission was required by the Consent Decree, and, pursuant to paragraph 32 of the Consent Decree, is not compliant unless it is deemed acceptable by HUD.  A brief summary of some of the egregious deficiencies of the AI (along with the full document and attachments thereto) is available by clicking "more."

ADC Statement on Monitor's July 2010 Rejection of County Implementation Submission

A statement from Craig Gurian, ADC's Executive Director. 

Excerpts from Monitor's July 2010 Submission to the Court

Some of the key points made in the Monitor's submission.

Monitor's July 2010 Submission to the Court Rejecting Westchester's Plan (PDF - 280.46 KB)

The July 7, 2010 Monitor filing with the Court whereby he found that Westchester had once again failed to comply with the requirements of the Consent Decree.  The report of his Housing Advisor, the Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, submitted as Exhibit 1 to the Monitor's Court filing, is appended.

ADC's Draft Implementation Plan (PDF - 171.04 KB)

Shortly after Westchester published its second attempt at an "implementation plan" on March 12, 2010, ADC -- recognizing that the County had no intention of developing a compliant plan on its own -- submitted a Draft Implementation Plan to the Monitor.  ADC's Draft Implementation Plan was included as Exhibit 3 to the Monitor's July 2010 submission to the Court.

Civil Rights Advocates Highlight Importance of Full County Compliance (PDF - 40.93 KB)

In late-February, 2010, close to 100 civil rights organizations and advocates called on the Monitor to "require Westchester to remedy each and all of the deficiencies identified by ADC in Prescription for Failure."  The letter was contained as part of Exhibit 4 to the Monitor's July 2010 submission to the Court.

Monitor Rejects Westchester's Jan. 2010 Submission in Filing to Federal Court (PDF - 33.9 KB)

Hard on the heels of ADC's Prescription for Failure report, the federal Monitor appointed to oversee compliance with the Settlement Order has rejected what Westchester had described as an "implementation plan."  In February, 2010, the Monitor found a "lack of specificity with respect to accountability, timeframes and processes,"and further found that the County's submission lacked "any concrete short-medium- or long-term strategies" for how the County plans to develop the affordablehousing required by the Settlement Order to foster desegregation inWestchester.  Noting the Settlement Order's requirement that the County use all means, including legal action, to overcome municipal resistance to the goals of the Settlement Order, the Monitorspecified that a revised plan "should include a clear strategy for how the County will employ carrots and sticks to encourage compliance bymunicipal governments" (emphasis added).

Prescription for Failure (PDF - 10.67 MB)


ADC's February 2010 analysis of Westchester's submission to the Monitor, subtitled "A Preliminary Report on Westchester's Attempt to Ignore and Evade the Requirements of the Historic Desegregation Order Entered in U.S. ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v.Westchester County, a/k/a Westchester's 'Implementation Plan'"


Monitor Letter to County Executive Astorino (PDF - 1.31 MB)

A letter summarizing the Monitor's initial findings regarding the deficiencies of Westchester's submission.  The letter directs Westchester to review ADC's report, putting the County on notice that the Monitor was likely to request the County's response to at least some of the issues raised by "Prescription for Failure."

Westchester False Claims / Desegregation Press

A compiliation of some of the extensive media coverage of the case, the Settlement Order, and (prospective) implementation.

Fact Sheet on Key Elements of the Settlement

If implemented properly, this settlement will mark the end of unchecked residential racial segregation in Westchester County.

Excerpts from Decision Granting Center's Partial Summary Judgment Motion

Some key elements of the Court's decision finding that the County "utterly failed" to meet its affirmatively furthering fair housing obligations and repeatedly submitted claims to the government that were "false or fraudulent."

Final Westchester Attempt to Excuse its Misconduct Rejected (PDF - 37.02 KB)

Westchester tried to argue that the federal government was not hurt by the County's fraud because the government got the "benefit" of the County performing the non-AFFH requirements of its grants.  The Court, in a decision dated April 24, 2009 (2009 WL 1108517) firmly rejected this argument:  "Accepting Westchester's proffered argument that because the grants may have been administered in accordance with other program requirements, the damages to the government are mitigated, would essentially write the requirement to AFFH out of the statutes and regulations. Thus, in the circumstances of this case, Westchester's damages cannot be reduced by reference to the alleged 'benefit' it provided to HUD by administering the grant funds at issue."

Decision on Motion to Dismiss (PDF - 70.63 KB)

The July, 2007 federal court decision denying the County's motion to dismiss.  The citation is 495 F.Supp.2d 375 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).

Decision Establishing that Westchester's False Claims Were "Material" as a Matter of Law (PDF - 36.59 KB)

The Court's April 22nd decision granting the Center's motion to find that Westchester's certifications (already found to be false) were "material" as a matter of law to its receipt of the funding at issue.  The citation is 2009 WL1110572.

Denial of Immediate Appeal of Decision Granting Partial Judgment Against Westchester (PDF - 50.84 KB)

April 9, 2009 decision denying the County's attempt to appeal the decision immediately and get the trial delayed.  Among other things, the decision stated that "the defendant has also repeatedly mischaracterized the [opinion granting partial judgment against the County.]"  [page 7, fn. 3]  The County's prediction of a "stream of follow-on lawsuits," the Court also wrote, depends at least on several things occurring, including "the defendant and other jurisdictions not taking their requirements to affirmatively further fair housing seriously and being unwilling to reform their practices..."  [page 8]

Decision on Motion to Certify Interlocutory Appeal (PDF - 26.36 KB)

The August 2007 federal court decision denying Westchester's motion to certify for interlocutory appeal the denial of its motion to dismiss.  The citation is 2007 WL 2402997 (S.D.N.Y., August 22, 2007).

Some Westchester filings

Read some of the positions that the County took during the litigation.

Complaint (PDF - 233.34 KB)

The complaint, originally filed under seal in April, 2006.

The Monitor himself is violating the Consent Decree?

Since March. Just take a look at paragraph 20(d) of the Consent Decree.  The Monitor knows he is supposed to direct the County to replace its fake implmentation provisions with the real implementation provisions he can specify, but, ignoring the model that ADC provided him, the Monitor still refuses to do his duty.

What kind of a model is the "Model Ordinance" just approved by the Monitor?

A model of how to avoid making structural change. And the Monitor's rationale for accepting Westchester's proposal reveals a series of premises utterly at odds with that of the Consent Decree.

And the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department?

The nation's premier institutional vindicator of civil rights - despite ADC's pleas - has been missing in action.

Just how bad is Westchester's non-compliance?

Fundamental, ongoing, and strikingly violative of its Consent Decree obligations. A brazen challenge to the legitimacy of federal authority not unlike "states rights" battles of the past.

Appeasement only emboldens resistance

Early on, ADC warned that, "There will undoubtedly be some who entertain the fantasy that a "patient" and "compromising" approach holds the promise of change without acrimony. There is no surer path to failed implementation."

Why is everyone playing the "counting" game?

Because, that way, the heart of the Consent Decree is lost.  Let's cut to the chase.

So does Westchester take any command from the Monitor seriously?

Not even the most basic command, as demonstrated over the last few months.

Has HUD fulfilled its obligations?

Absolutely not. For all its initial bravado about holding Westchester's "feet to the fire," HUD has been uncooperative, ineffective, and unwilling to try - directly or through the Monitor - to pursue the crucial principles of the Consent Decree.

The National Fair Housing Alliance stands firm in defense of real civil rights enforcement (PDF - 45.21 KB)

The letter from NFHA - the nation's leading fair housing organization - that the Monitor chose to ignore.