Carrying signs that read “Save Our Police Precincts,” “Precincts Save Lives” and “Keep Crime Out of Nassau,” dozens of police officers, firefighters and Nassau County residents converged on the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Monday, Feb. 6, to protest a committee vote on closing down four precinct houses and turning them into community policing centers.
Speakers warned of increases in both the workloads for detectives and response time for police officers on patrol if the proposed precinct closings are approved by the Nassau County Legislature. The precincts in question are the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Precincts.
The day ended with public comments made before the Public Safety Committee. Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt also announced that there would be public hearings on the matter on Monday, Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. in front of the Public Safety Committee and another hearing on Monday, Feb. 27 in front of the full legislature.
At the rally, Jim Carver, the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) president, said that precinct stations are more than places where people file accident reports. They are also places that receive hundreds of incidents “private in nature.” Carver was also critical of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano for proposing the closings while the county spends “tens of millions” of dollars to refurbish what Carver called a “political building” on West Street, directly adjacent to where the rally was held.
The speakers agreed that savings need to be made in the county budget. Gary Learned, president of the Nassau County Superior Officers (SOA), said the county should look at uncollected funds from traffic costs, which he said would save $44 million. Another speaker, Pat Nicolosi, a civic association leader in Elmont, said that “hundreds of millions” could be saved if the county would “get out” of both the road and assessment aspects of the budget, transferring those items, instead, to town governments. Nicolosi said precinct closings would increase response time from police officers, a situation that he believed would prove especially dire for Elmont, as he recounted crime problems in that village. Another Elmont resident, Vincente Miligros, said she had collected 78 signatures in an hour-and-a-half of petitioning, all by local residents who wished to keep her local precinct open.
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman also lent his support to the PBA, asking the legislature not to “sacrifice [this] fundamental service.” In all, Carver asked that the legislature “slow down the process until our questions are answered,” adding that that body needs to find “different ways of saving money.” He was also critical of the legislature for scheduling a meeting at, as he termed it, “the last minute” which he claimed was done to reduce any opposition presence at the committee vote.
County Executive Mangano issued his own statement on the rally, singling out two Democratic Party legislators, Richard Scannell and Carrie Solages, for “playing politics with public safety.”
“I refuse to play politics with public safety,” the statement read, claiming that the PBA’s opposition is, in part, political in nature. “I understand why the PBA opposes my plan that reduces costly police overtime and eliminates unnecessary administrative positions, saving residents millions in higher taxes. I don’t understand why a few legislators are opposing saving residents up to $20 million. One has to question whether the PBA’s $600,000 in political contributions has something to do with their fear-mongering approach to the issue.
I had a choice. I could raise property taxes 19 percent or I could cut spending, including a long overdue reorganization of the police department. I chose to cut spending because I will not raise property taxes in this economy. The police reorganization plan takes cops from behind desks and reassigns them to community policing while keeping the same number of patrol cars on our streets.
“Residents should not be fooled by the PBA’s scare tactics,” the statement continued. “When you dial 911, the call goes to a 911 Call Center in New Cassel, then to the police car in your neighborhood. That will not change under this plan as all 177 patrol cars remain in their current neighborhoods. The three-dozen police officers earning six-figure salaries that staff administrative desk jobs in the back office of the police precinct will now be moved. Currently, these officers are restricted by contractual rules from leaving their position to assist the public. They must man these positions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and do not have police cars at their disposal. This plan consolidates these administrative desk positions within four precincts while keeping all eight current buildings open—four as precincts and four as Community Policing Centers [“COP Plan”].
“In order to change the status quo, Nassau legislators must stand up to the special interests groups,” the statement concluded. “I trust that a majority of Nassau County Legislators will do so, as we must protect both public safety and family budgets.”
Prior to the last Herricks School Board meeting at the high school, the board met with the high school students for the purpose of hearing their comments and suggestions regarding the school.
The first student to speak was the president of the student council, Natalie Quan, who said that she and members of the student council had carefully read the budget and she noted it said that class sizes could become larger.
She said, “How realistic is that because I know that class sizes have gotten larger, from the past few years, and in my classes now there aren’t even enough desks for some kids. So, I’m thinking even extra help sessions are not as personal as they used to be and if we go to the computer lab sometimes there aren’t even enough computers for us to use. The books and supplies and are not enough. So, I’m asking, how much larger are we looking at?”
Michael F. Uttaro and Diane Thorp have announced they are running for the two Village of Williston Park Trustee positions. The Village of Williston Park elections will take place March 20. Both candidates are running under the Representative Party.
Both Uttaro and Thorp feel that they will bring a lot to the trustee positions. Both have extensive work and community volunteer experience, as well as a deep commitment to the Village of Williston Park that will enhance the trustee positions, the Representative Party stated.
At the beginning of the last Williston Park Village Board meeting, mayor Paul Ehrbar called for a moment of silence to honor the recently deceased Joe Camisa, who for 16 years, had been the head of the Williston Park Auxiliary Police.
He then introduced Jean Franchine, who will now be heading up the Williston Park Auxiliary Police.
Franchine said, “I’m looking forward to this new position because I know that behind me I have a very supportive village board.”
Before hearing the local law, Mayor Ehrbar announced that Donna McKenna, who was in the audience and who is the Williston Park Library director, is expecting twins in June and, naturally, everyone in the audience was very happy for her and they gave her a big round of applause.
“Villages were created to provide efficient services under local control and the watchful eye of residents,” stated Nassau County Village Officials Association President Ralph Kreitzman, mayor of the Village of Great Neck. “Village government is the government closest to the people, the most cost-effective, efficient, and responsive form of local government.” And it is the mission of the NCVOA to support and preserve these critical municipalities.
Founded in 1925, the NCVOA consists of the 64 incorporated villages in Nassau County, with nearly 435,000 residents. “Our organization proudly serves as an advocate for municipal governments and residents on local, state and national levels,” Mayor Kreitzman told Anton Newspapers. The NCVOA leaders are the mayors and trustees of the villages, “your friends and neighbors … accessible at all hours of the day and night … they care about the communities in which they live and are dedicated to making them as desirable as possible.”
Mayor Kreitzman continued, explaining that the “NCVOA functions as a resource for village officials, providing education, shared services, and other opportunities for villages to improve efficiencies and maintain a quality of life for their residents.”
The year 2012 is still in its infancy, but an issue that dates back years in New York State and other states, is dominating its first steps into the New Year. Local municipalities and school districts will work to get under the inaugural 2 percent property tax cap that was enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June.
La Marmite in Williston Park went from a fine dining restaurant to debating ground on Jan. 10. The Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA), New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and the State Comptroller’s Office hammered out the issues and implications on the property tax cap and its affect on municipalities.
At the beginning of the last Herricks School Board meeting, president Christine Turner said, “Just let me give you a little background regarding how we arrive at the school budget. In a normal school year the school board gives guidelines to the superintendent in preparing the budget, I would say in December. Then the superintendent, assistant superintendent and the principals and all the teams work on preparing the budget. Then the board is presented with the budget usually at the end of January. We then have budget hearings in February and March and then the board adopts the budget in March.
Pointing to the new administration comprised of a history-making female majority and the first Iranian American elected to office in New York State, Supervisor Jon Kaiman took the oath of office for a fifth term Jan. 2, promising to hit the ground running with his reshuffled team and to continue stressing innovation, continuity and accountability.
With his wife, Kim, and his three children by his side along with a number of other family members, North Hempstead’s fifth-term supervisor was sworn in by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer at a mid afternoon ceremony at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park. He paid tribute afterwards to the political process and America, a place where one can go from political refugee to politician.
At the last New Hyde Park Village Board meeting, village clerk Cathryn Hillman was appointed as the village’s first budget officer and the budget public hearing will be on Monday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. followed by the Annual Meeting of the Village of New Hyde Park directly after the public hearing also on April 2.
The board also approved a request from the New Hyde Park Road School to create a “drop off” zone on Park Avenue, subject to approval by the village attorney, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
The New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with the installation of a new slate of officers.
Mark Laytin will be installed as president. He was named, this year as “small business person of the year” by the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and is the president of ML Marketing, a consulting firm offering Cloud Computing computer security as well as identity protection for residences and businesses. He is a 25-year resident of New Hyde Park and is very active in the community.
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