Written by Dave Gil de Rubio and Christy Hinko Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
By Dave Gil de Rubio
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters will go to the polls to decide whether Senator Kemp Hannon (R, C, I, TR) will return to serve his 13th term overall in New York’s 6th Senate District. Running against Hannon is newcomer and fellow Garden City resident Ryan Cronin, a litigator with experience representing victims of financial fraud and a former executive director of the Nassau County Democratic Committee. Hannon recently came in to sit down with Anton Community Newspapers editors to discuss past, present and future issues facing his constituents and policies he’s enacted to address these concerns.
As chairman of the Health Committee, much of Sen. Hannon’s time has been consumed with working on various pieces of legislation, especially given the effects the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) will have on health care on the state level. And while this particular issue has caused deep partisan lines to be drawn in the sand, Hannon has used a calm and measured approach toward dealing with these complex health care policy issues. Particularly in the case of Family Health Plus, a public health insurance program for adults age 19 to 64 who have income too high to qualify for Medicaid.
“I’ve been the [health] chair since 1995 and I had kind of set the tone that we would be progressive about how we would approach health care and made the point to people making policy in general that if we could cover more people, we would be supporting the base—the providers, the physicians, the home health care community, the hospitals,” Hannon explained. “So once the base was taken care of, people would do better and we would be avoiding emergency room use. The first time we [expanded Family Health Plus], it became a model for the Clinton-Gingrich debacle going on in the mid-’90s. We saw what they did and went back and expanded it again and managed to do a pretty good job and reach part of the middle class in Nassau County.”
While this was legislation that’s been tweaked and fine-tuned over the years, Hannon has more recent statutes his name is attached to.
“I’ve done some major things in regard to some individual laws, two of which have occupied lots of time. One is the I-Stop legislation, dealing with opiate drug abuse. In addition to the usual things of getting the law passed and dealing with the problem, I had to deal with the fact of the governor and attorney general not getting along too well and I had to make sure they got along,” he said. Another statute that I got enacted was the ‘Return To Play’ in high school sports and actually all high schools and it’s not actually only for people that play sports. If there’s a concussion, what are the standards? Getting each of the school districts to set up some kind of board that’s going to take a look at that and we’re trying to move beyond that also. But that took a number of years. It wasn’t the medical part that was the problem; it was the bureaucracy in getting them all to be happy.”
According to Hannon, 10 years ago, people were concerned equally with the economy, the environment and education. Nowadays, the most mentioned issues are taxes and jobs. For the Garden City resident, the key to turning around Long Island’s economic fortunes and keeping its young people from taking their talents elsewhere is keeping jobs—specifically with high-tech companies.
“The more we can do and the more we can aim for a higher tech type of product that people can be employed at, whether it’s pure brainwork, research or an actual product, that’s the type of thing that we’re going to have to do,” Hannon declared. “We worked [with] the Broadhollow Foundation, where we have OSI [Pharmaceuticals, Inc.] out in Farmingdale. The whole idea of that is to try and resuscitate [it] even more and use it as an incubator. Have people start there and let the company spin off. It’s actually happened with one. We have some great stores out there. How many mattress or furniture shops do we need? That can be taken over by an office building or a light manufacturing building without changing the zoning character or getting neighbors upset and yet it can start to form a hub. That’s what I’d really love to see happen and move forward with.”
Should the electorate choose to return Kemp Hannon to office, health care reform will continue to be a central tenant of his term along with finding a way to bring more jobs to the area while continuing to wrestle with thorny tax issues.
“[We have to] get more jobs here, keep these taxes intact to the extent where we can find places to repeal them and pare them back. That’s what we have to do and you’re only going to do that by lessening the mandates,” Hannon said. “People say you can’t get rid of the MTA tax. It was over a billion and a half dollars generated from it. People [at the MTA] have said to me that they are very transparent and I should take a look at what they’re doing. I spent the day reading their annual reports and footnotes on their website and in print. The whole thing was a Ponzi scheme. Move money from here and move money from there. Temporary borrowing. It needs a huge amount of management. Will you ever get this to be low-cost? No. We’re in the Northeast. Twenty-five percent of our work force is unionized. It’s not going to happen very easily but we’ve had no real handle on this."
By Christy Hinko
In a recent informal sit down with Anton Community Newspapers, State Senate candidate Ryan Cronin (D, WF) addressed some of the major topics he believes are affecting the Sixth Senatorial District, and some of the challenges which he anticipates facing if elected in just a few short weeks.
Cronin discussed some of the widespread employment and health care issues, directly impacting residents within the diverse demographics of the district, stretching from Garden City to Roosevelt and out to Farmingdale. “Nassau is one of the most, if not the most, segregated place in the country; I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s reality,” said Cronin.
Cronin explained the varied demographic makeup of the district, saying it encompasses many from the upper middle class, to the working middle class, to minorities, Democrats and largely Republicans. Cronin said the interests of those in the district translate into the same needs, “Everyone’s interests are the same; they want to be able to afford the home they are living in, be able to live comfortably in a safe place, and in a good school district.” He continued, “When people see a younger candidate there’s a greater optimism,” said Cronin. “It’s exciting.”
Cronin said, if elected, his first order of business would be to address issues in the job market on Long Island, “We have to come up with some pretty creative solutions to bring jobs back to Nassau County.” Additionally Cronin said, “We can create jobs here by upgrading how we get our energy; we have to urgently address the job market here.”
He acknowledged the magnitude of the task by saying, “It’s going to be very difficult to bring back big industries based on the status of our economy and the cost of living here, but the next big industries can start here; Google is not coming to Nassau County, but the next ‘Google’ can be started here.” Cronin said it’s time to capitalize on the universities, local resources, and the attractiveness of the region, the beaches and the proximity to New York City.
Cronin also made an example of construction job availability on Long Island such as the Hub at Nassau Coliseum or new housing projects by saying, “Those projects should come with a requirement that there is a significant percentage of local hiring.” He said he has already met with many in the district who are construction workers, but cannot find jobs.
“We are faced with an economy where businesses don’t want to start here or people can’t afford to come here because of this taxing mentality that’s been advanced over the past three decades,” he said. Cronin’s solution is a fresh vision and a modern economy.
“We have the highest net-out migration of young people, among the highest in the country; that’s disappointing, scary, a result of a lot of failed leadership at a number of levels,” Cronin said. “When I look at the landscape of our region I don’t see enough creativity in terms of developing a modern economy, at least on a government level; that’s what I want my campaign to be about, I think I have developed a skill set where I can be an effective legislator.”
When asked about his opinion about the minimum wage, Cronin told Anton Newspapers, “The argument is that when you have a population with better buying power it’s better for small business.” Cronin said even a slight increase to $8.50 would stimulate the economy. He said raising minimum wage would not hurt small businesses; it would help small businesses, stimulating the local economy and create more jobs. He added, “We have some of the highest cost of living in New York, yet we have the lowest minimum wage that we are allowed by federal law; it just doesn’t make sense.”
“Moving our economy to a modern time, that’s what my campaign is all about, thinking in an innovative way,” Cronin said. “We don’t have leaders that use the word ‘innovative’ as much as they should, and we don’t have leaders that think innovatively, as much as they should.”
Cronin continued, “Senator Hannon, I am sure he’s a very nice guy, but with 35 years comes a great deal of complacency, some bad practices, a lack of motivation, to a certain degree, but also a lack of vision; we need to develop a modern economy here and we aren’t doing that.”
“Women’s reproductive health has become a big issue in this state and in this country and I am running against somebody who is the head of the health committee and he stood in the way of the Reproduction Health Act (RHA) and the passage of the Reproductive Health Act,” said Cronin. “I don’t believe that that is a reflection of what people in our district want.”
According to the language of the bill, RHA legislation would declare women’s reproductive decisions, such as contraception, pregnancy, and abortion as private decisions. Some organizations call this proposal pro-abortion; some call it anti-choice. Complete language can be viewed by searching bill “S02524” at http://assembly. state.ny.us/leg/.
About the Affordable Healthcare Act, Cronin said, “I like the idea that it created competitiveness within the market.” He said, “I do believe there will be a net-positive effect,” but also said that he doesn’t think anyone really knows what the economic impact will ultimately be.
Cronin also gave his interpretation of the history of the health benefit exchange policy. He said, “He [Hannon] is the chairman of the health committee; he touts his work on the committee as his main achievement. On the health benefit exchange, it’s important to take a look at the history and the politics; in 2011 Senator Hannon co-sponsored the bill that was going to create the health benefit exchange, and then he doesn’t pass it.” Cronin said, “Then in 2012, he [Hannon] said the very bill that he helped co-sponsor, requires further study; what that did was put federal funding at risk.” He added, “The governor stepped in; did it by executive order to make sure that the health benefit exchange was in place, in time for the federal funds to be delivered to New York.”
Cronin said the Republican majority made a deal saying they would not challenge the governor’s order. He said, “After the legislative session, Senator Hannon, in a political move to cater to his base, came out and challenged the executive order.” Cronin said the legislative history is important for the voting public to be aware of.
While Cronin said he appreciates all of the endorsements that he has received, he mentioned that the labor endorsements are important because it is support from middle class and working class people in the district. To date, Cronin has received public endorsements from:
—Planned Parenthood of Nassau County Action Fund (PPNCAF)
—UFCW 1500, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1500
—32BJ SEIU, building service workers
—IATSE Local One, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
—New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, Inc. (NYSPFFA)
—RWDSU 1102, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
—Plainview-Old Bethpage Congress of Teachers
—Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead), Minority Leader of Nassau County Legislators
Cronin grew up in West Hempstead and Garden City, and graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola and then from Loyola College in Maryland. After working for three years in local politics, he attended the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. Cronin had been practicing law in Manhattan before he decided to move back to Long Island last year. He has spent his legal career in complex litigation and representing victims of financial frauds, including victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and real estate scandals.