Written by Ronald Scaglia Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00
Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt died suddenly on the morning of Oct. 3. According to Ed Ward, spokesperson from the legislator’s office, Schmitt, 62, collapsed while in a budget meeting with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building and was rushed to Winthrop Hospital. He died at 11:55 a.m.
“Nassau County has lost a dedicated public servant,” said Mangano in a statement. “My wife Linda and I lost a friend of over 20 years. Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt served the residents of Nassau County with great integrity and pride. I had the privilege of serving closely with Peter in the legislature since its creation in 1996, where he distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 12th Legislative District.”
Schmitt is the only person to ever represent the 12th Legislative District, which encompasses Massapequa and Massapequa Park as well as portions of Seaford and North Massapequa. Local elected officials who have worked with Schmitt expressed shock and sadness at his sudden passing.
“Peter Schmitt was a great friend,” said Congressman Peter King, whose 3rd Congressional District currently includes all of the 12th Legislative District. “I’ve never known anyone who worked, or who fought harder, for his constituents than Peter Schmitt. He was politically incorrect at times, but always honest and always dedicated.”
“We all lost a great friend,” said Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna. “I’m going to miss Peter as a friend and Massapequa lost a wonderful advocate for all of us. I am deeply saddened by the loss.”
In addition to serving as legislator representing the 12th Legislative District, Schmitt had been deputy presiding officer, minority leader and since Republicans gained back control of the legislature in the 2009 elections, majority leader and presiding officer. As the leader of the Republicans in the legislature, Schmitt often sparred politically with his Democratic counterparts. However, officials from both sides of the aisle expressed sadness and respect for Schmitt.
“I’ve known this man 17 years,” said Legislator Judy Jacobs, who served as the presiding officer when Democrats held the majority, and Schmitt served as the minority leader. “I just can’t believe it. It’s a sad day. We may have been adversaries on the way we do things in the governmental sphere, but we were always friends on a personal level. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”
“Our entire caucus is shocked and saddened by the passing of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt,” Kevan Abrahams, the Nassau County Legislature minority leader said in a statement. “He was an iconic leader of our legislature since its inception in 1995. Through his career spent in public service he has left an indelible mark on Nassau County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Schmitt is survived by his wife Lois, a daughter, Samantha and a grandchild, of whom he often spoke proudly.
Despite Schmitt’s penchant for speaking candidly, Congressman King recalled a man whose private persona was different from his public image.
“Peter and Lois were inseparable,” said King about the relationship between Schmitt and his wife. “In fact, just two weeks ago I had my fundraiser. The two of them were there. They were the first to arrive and the last to leave. They sat quietly at a table. Here he was, one of the top two or three people in Nassau County and if you walked in the room, he was just sitting there, a regular guy.”
According to county sources, the Nassau County charter stipulates that a special election to fill the position of legislator from the 12th District must be held within 30 to 60 days. As the deputy presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves, will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the presiding officer, but will not officially become the presiding officer unless confirmed by the legislature. With the legislature now split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, it is not known if that will happen. Gonsalves represents the 13th Legislative District, which encompasses East Meadow, Salisbury and North Merrick.
That split could also affect next year’s budget, as the legislature must approve the county budget by Oct. 31. Because of Schmitt’s death, even if all nine Republican legislators approve it, at least one Democrat must also vote to approve it, in order to get the 10 votes needed to pass. If the budget is not approved, last year’s budget automatically goes into effect.
Schmitt’s funeral was held on Monday, Oct. 8 at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa. He was buried at Grace Cemetery, also in Massapequa.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
On May 8, more than 500 fashionably dressed women converged on the Garden City Hotel for the Sid Jacobson JCC’s tenth annual Friendship Circle Luncheon. Notable celebrities on hand were Good Day New York co-host Rosanna Scotto, who was also the event’s MC, and singer/actress Megan Hilty from the Broadway play Wicked and NBC’s hit drama Smash, who entertained the ladies with her favorite songs from both shows.
The Friendship Circle Luncheon was started 10 years ago by Denise Silverberg, as a way to raise money for programs providing support for adults in their 30s, 40 s and 50s that are afflicted by Alzheimer’s. Silverberg’s mother has the disease, so she understands firsthand the role of a caregiver and the stresses involved in taking care of someone who has it.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Deputy Mayor Nicholas Episcopia attended the HUB Stakeholders Meeting held by Nassau County’s consultants on the Transportation Project. He was joined by EPOA President Judy Courtney, Vice President Chris Mullaney, and Director Leo Stimmler, as well as William Bellmer, a member of the Garden City Planning Commission, Dorothy Episcopia, past EPOA president, and former mayor Robert Rothschild. Bob Schoelle and Brian Ridgeway attended the afternoon session. Garden City is a stakeholder because a large portion of the village lies within the defined HUB area.
As presented, the currently preferred alternative transportation plan appears reasonable and eliminates the construction of a light rail system that would run from the Mineola Station, south behind Arthur Street, and east along the spur adjacent to St. James Street South, as was initially proposed. Nonetheless, as we have consistently done over the years, we will continue to monitor plans for the transportation project and strongly express our opinion if we believe any aspect of this project would be detrimental to the quality of life in Garden City.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
The Garden City JV lacrosse team finished the year with a stellar 14-0-1 record. Led by Head Coach Tom Flatley and Assistant Coach Brett Hepworth, the Trojans overpowered most of their opponents with explosive offensive bursts, tough-nosed gritty defense, and rock-solid goaltending. The offense averaged over 15 goals per game, while the defense allowed just over three goals per game.
The season commenced with a hard fought, triple overtime thriller against Syosset that ended in a 7-7 tie. As the team became more cohesive, most of the next few opponents, including Hewlett, Lynbrook, Carey, Roslyn, Kellenberg, and others, found themselves overmatched against this Trojan team. However, that did not dissuade Ward Melville from putting forth an inspired effort on their home turf for three quarters, before finally falling to Garden City 12-7.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
The boys and girls high school teams are both rolling and have their sights set on a long run in the playoffs. Both team have faced a number of formidable opponents throughout the season and have successfully navigated their schedules. One thing that has been consistent for both teams has been that their defenses have had to stand tall at key times and shut down very active offenses. Both Coach Finnell and Coach Chapman have made sure that the non-league schedules of their teams will ensure that their teams are prepared for whatever the playoffs can throw at them.
After going the full season last year undefeated, the boys team has three blemishes on their record with losses to powerhouses Ward Melville, Manhasset and LaSalle of PA. With a 9-3 record the Trojans are looking to wrap up the number two seed in the playoffs to force a rematch of the Manhasset game in the County finals. The boys have excelled defensively only allowing 4.25 goals against per game. And if you remove those three tough losses the goals against average drops to 3.1.