It’s not uncommon for constituents to visit their elected officials to ask for relief from government abuse. Yesterday, an elected official visited a constituent for the same purpose:
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino walked up to the gated entrance to the Clinton home in this leafy hamlet on Friday, telling the guard he wanted to see Hillary. . . .
Astorino, a Republican, had summoned reporters to the cul-de-sac outside the home of the Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State to draw attention to Westchester’s fight with federal officials over an affordable housing settlement. He said he planned to ask Clinton if she thought the town she lives in is discriminatory. . . .
Spoiler alert: He didn’t get in.
Add Astorino to the long and growing list of folks whose questions Hillary Clinton won’t answer.
We’ve written about the dispute between Westchester County and the Obama administration over “fair housing”:
Westchester County made the mistake of entering into a settlement with HUD, regarding it as a reasonable bureaucracy based on its experience with the Bush administration. Unfortunately, the settlement was with Obama’s HUD.
Under the settlement, the County agreed to build 750 “affordable housing units,” 650 of which would be in municipalities with less than 3 percent American-American population and less than 7 percent Hispanic population. HUD insisted on this deal even though Westchester County had not been accused of engaging in housing discrimination.
As further penance for its non-wrongdoing, Westchester County agreed to advertise its affordable housing units to people living outside the County. The non-residents were to be lured into the County to try to ensure that the new housing units would be filled by the desired number of members of the HUD-preferred racial and ethic groups. To this end, Westchester County was required to spend money on behalf of people who don’t live there. This is “regionalism” in action.
Since I wrote this in December 2013, matters, not surprisingly, have gotten worse in Hillary Clinton’s home county — and, in fact, her home town. Stanley Kurtz explains:
The Draconian legal settlement imposed on Westchester several years ago by the Obama administration creates a court-appointed “monitor” who has effectively usurped Westchester County’s right to democratic self-governance. The monitor insists, and Obama’s Department of Justice agrees, that Westchester County officials must not only obtain financing for new low-income housing developments in Chappaqua, but must suppress local opposition to the project.
Justice Department officials have just asked a court to impose massive fines if Westchester officials don’t compel the local town council to approve a low-income housing development in Chappaqua. Westchester officials are to be forced to put a letter endorsing the Chappaqua project on the county’s website, and to publish the same letter in the Sunday edition of the local paper. Westchester County is further instructed to write monthly letters to the town of New Castle inquiring after the status of the Chappaqua project and asking why approvals haven’t been granted. County officials are also to be forced to attend all local public hearings regarding the project.
In order to force federal diktat on Hillary’s hometown, the elected officials of Westchester County are to be turned into puppets of the Obama administration. And if Westchester and New Castle/Chappaqua don’t give in, the massive and ever-increasing fines paid by the county are to be used to build even more low-income housing in the area.
This massive anti-democratic intrusion by the federal government into local affairs is not limited to Westchester County. It is the very objective of the Obama administration’s new “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule.
It’s no coincidence that, under AFFH, local officials applying for HUD funding must fill out an intrusive questionnaire that asks them to identify any local opposition to low income housing projects. These filings could then be used to hold federal funds hostage, or perhaps to file suits against localities like the one the feds have pressed against Westchester.
As Kurtz concludes, “AFFH comes close to institutionalizing the idea that local government officials must treat their own constituents as a kind of illegitimate opposition to be overcome.” This is, to my knowledge, an unparalleled instance of the federal government commandeering local governments to serve federal purposes. The Supreme Court has said that federal commandeering of state executive officers or officers “of their political subdivisions” to “administer or enforce a federal regulatory program” is “fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”
There’s no silver lining to the Westchester County story, but there’s a nice piece of irony in seeing AFFH land at Hillary Clinton’s gate. Not because it will affect Clinton’s personal life. She can live anywhere she wants to except, perhaps, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.
But AFFH may now affect Hillary’s political life (and thus where she lives beginning in 2017). She doesn’t have to speak to Rob Asterino. With AFFH hitting so close to home, however, she may come under pressure to respond to the kinds of questionss he is trying to raise. Such questions include:
Does Hillary Clinton favor the low-income housing project under debate in Chappaqua?
Does Hillary Clinton see the Obama administration’s orders against the leaders of Westchester County as a legitimate use of federal authority?
Does Hillary Clinton support the Obama administration’s new rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing?