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Astorino Drops Plenty Of Political, Personal Jokes During Annual Speech

A slide from Wednesday's "state of the county address" depicts New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, left , with IDA/LDC Executive Director Jim Coleman and Westchester County Director of the Office of Economic Development William M. Mooney III Photo Credit: Provided
With a slide of Rye Playland on the screen, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino joked he has asked the county Board of Legislators to lower the height requirements on rides. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino kept his annual "state of the county address'' under an hour with plenty of jokes. Photo Credit: Provided
Astorino said he will continue to push for railroad safety at all of Westchester's crossings. Photo Credit: File photo

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- No one can accuse Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino of making long, boring speeches -- at least not on Wednesday night.

During his sixth annual "state of the county address" at the county courthouse, Astorino made a joke about his diminutive stature, saying he has directed the county Board of Legislators to lower the height requirement on Playland rides as part of the proposed deal with a new manager.

Astorino also said his son handed him a note saying all three kids wanted to "opt out" of Wednesday's speech. Astorino said, "I'm happy to say, they are all here tonight. Even if it's because I threatened to withhold their financial aid" -- a reference to the state Education Department's ability to deny school  districts money if students fail to take state-required assessment tests.

And the Republican joked that the county government website is "operating from a single server in Chappaqua,'' when it actually has 955 servers -- a poke at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email controversy.

While announcing a new county economic development office in midtown Manhattan, opening next month, Astorino said, "We think Westchester's best asset may be the newest member of our team, Bill de Blasio," mayor of New York City.

A giant image of Mayor de Blasio laughing with County Economic Development Director William Mooney and County Industrial Development Executive Director Jim Coleman -- presumably photo-shopped -- appeared next to Astorino.

On a serious note, Astorino said he is pushing for improved safety at Metro-North railroad crossing after February's fatal car-train crash that killed six people near Commerce Street in Valhalla. "I know that crossing well. I live nearby,'' Astorino said. "We know we can make these crossings safer."

And Astorino said he will continue to litigate with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development if it overreaches in its settlement over affordable housing. Astorino said the county has "exceeded the settlement's benchmarks'' with 223 new housing units occupied and another 454 with financing in place. "Local zoning and home rule are not for sale,'' Astorino said.

More coverage of the entire 45-minute speech can be found here.

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