A typical response to criticism is “If you don’t like it, let’s see you do better.” Members of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition did just that: they didn’t like the map that the Republican members of the redistricting advisory commission drew for the county at all, so they decided to create their own. Furthermore, unlike the commission, which had a budget of $500,000, they did it with nothing.
“With no money in our budget, we have come up with a better map— an incredible map that involves listening to the community, listening to the vast numbers of residents that showed up to the public hearings, which the commission, oddly, ignored,” said Jackson Chin for LatinoJustice, a member organization of the coalition.
At a press conference held on the steps of the Legislative Building on Monday, Jan. 14, Chin and other speakers presented the coalition’s own non-partisan map, and spoke about the importance of working toward fair redistricting. After the press conference, they formally presented the map to the county legislature.
In the continuing aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, readers are still reporting dangling, drooping wires in their towns and villages.
There is a difference between power lines and cable wires. LIPA and Verizon said that the top two wires on utility poles are power lines. Verizon spokesperson John Bonomo said, “The reason that electric is at the top is simply for safety sake, and that no employees of any other utility needs to go near the electric wires when repairing their own facilities.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for strong anti-gun legislation has found a chorus of support among state legislators, who have called for a broad plan to curb firepower available to criminals.
Support for the governor’s program has come from nearly 100 state legislators, after the horrific mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and siux staff members at the Sandy Hook elementary school. The support comes also after the murders of two fire fighters in Webster, N.Y., who were shot by a gunman after the gunman set a fire to lure the fire fighters.
The hundreds of people gathered in Mineola for the last meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission on Jan. 3 didn’t throw any tomatoes at the front of the room, but some came close. For over four hours, approximately 50 speakers lambasted the map proposed by the Republican side of the commission, generally characterizing it as a transparent power play with no consideration for the public good or even the law. The Democratic commissioners were not completely spared the public’s ire, but most of the anger was directed at the Republicans; the Democrats’ map, proposed at nearly the last minute on Dec. 31, was praised, although somewhat tepidly, as a fair plan.
Considering the fact that hundreds of angry people were crammed into the Legislative Chambers demanding answers from the Republican commissioners, who by and large refused to respond at all—as though the concerns of the public were beneath their notice—it is perhaps a small miracle that no one was set on fire.
It’s only a theoretical possibility, but if a Republican drawn map for new legislative districts is adopted, Democratic incumbents Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and Judy Jacobs could face each other in a Democratic primary this year. The proposed map would place both DeRiggi-Whitton and Jacobs in the same district.
“I have never seen anything like this,” commented Jacobs, about the proposed GOP plan. “Everyone knows that redistricting is always political. However, there is a way to do it that makes sense and there is a way to do it that is a blatant misuse.”
Angela Susan Anton, publisher and CEO of Anton Community Newspapers, has named John Owens editor-in-chief of the 17-newspaper chain. Owens is an award-winning journalist and long-time publishing executive known for building strong editorial teams and producing targeted, must-read publications.
“John is a proven editorial leader with fresh ideas, energy and vision,” said Ms. Anton. “Our organization has long been the source for community news, and now, with John spearheading the effort, our editorial success can soar to the next level.”
Owens will direct the news-gathering operations of the editors and writers covering 70 communities in Nassau County.
Leave it to Kids Helping Kids to get started on its Ninth Annual “Making a Warmth of a Difference” Winter Apparel Drive long before winter. While the official kickoff for the annual clothing drive took place on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the palatial Oheka Castle in Huntington, the nonprofit organization had already donated 3,000 pieces of winter apparel, including brand-new coats, hats, scarves and other cold weather gear, to those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the fall. While the Superstorm may have presented an unusual situation, being ahead of the game is nothing new for this nonprofit started by Robert A.J. Eslick of Old Bethpage—when he was only 9 years old.
“You don’t have to be a grownup to make a difference,” said Bob Eslick, Robert’s father, who co-founded the organization with his son in 1997. Now, both Robert and his brother Philip are college graduates, but under Eslick’s watch, the organization continues to teach a new generation of kids the fulfillment of helping their peers.
The last meeting of 2012 for the Syosset CSD Board of Education started off on a somber note with a moment of silence for the 26 victims of the Newtown, CT school shooting. However, the quiet, contemplative mood did not continue: the Monday, Dec. 17 meeting was filled with arguments. While the board did cover a wide variety of topics, clearly granting the community’s wish from earlier in the year for greater transparency and more public discussion, several trustees, as well as the residents in the audience, often seemed confused about what was going on. Several months into the 2012-2013 academic year, it seems the board is still figuring out how to work together effectively.
Even a seemingly simple suggestion, like trustee Josh Lafazan’s motion to set up an official district Facebook page to be used for emergency communications during storms like Hurricane Sandy, resulted in a lot of friction; Superintendent Dr. Carole G. Hankin indicated she didn’t see what purpose a Facebook page would serve, board president Dr. Michael Cohen said that communication during the hurricane had been sufficient, and trustee Stephanie Avidon contended that keeping up with a Facebook page was really “a full-time job.” As he did throughout the evening with several motions, Lafazan tried to garner support for his idea, only to have the board unable to come to a consensus and prolong the decision for another night.
Despite grappling with a very difficult situation, Alison Bird hasn’t come close to losing her sense of humor. The Syosset native can describe the fall in October of 2011 that left her with a life-threatening condition as though it were something that happened to Wile E. Coyote.
“I took the stupidest fall you could ever take,” she said. “I was getting my neighbor’s newspaper, then I just took like a banana peel, like you’d see in a cartoon, sort of fall.”
Being Alison Bird however, at first she shrugged it off and went to work. A trained Iron Woman, active in the triathlon committee, she was hardly one to let a little doorstep mishap keep her from her job as assistant principal at North Massapequa’s Plainedge High School. However, throughout the school day, the pain and dizziness made it clear that something was seriously wrong. Bird had already been seeing a chiropractor, who immediately scheduled her for an MRI. She made a follow-up appointment for a week after the test, but there ended up being no waiting involved; her doctor wanted her back in the office immediately.
The National Association for Music Education has designated five Syosset High School students as All-Eastern musicians. In April, the selected students will perform with the 2013 All-Eastern Honors Ensembles, which include a mixed chorus, treble voice chorus, jazz ensemble, concert band and symphony orchestra.
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