Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00
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.
This comes on the heels of the official redistricting advisory commission’s failure to produce a map both sides could agree on. While the Republican-led legislature will likely consider the map put forward by the Republican members of the commission for implementation, speakers at the press conference made it clear that they did not consider a map created by one side of the aisle to be an acceptable solution.
“We are extremely disappointed in the commission’s inability to work together to have one map,” said Barbara Epstein, Redistricting Co-Chair for the Nassau County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, going on to urge the legislature to adopt the coalition’s non-partisan map, with modifications if necessary.
Furthermore, in addition to concerns that the Republican map was drawn without input from the minority party, many believe the map is unconstitutional, since it splits many traditional communities of interest like Great Neck and the Five Towns.
“One of the things that we have to understand is that what has been proposed by the Republicans on the commission moves over half of the population of Nassau County into different districts and attempts to try to separate brother from brother and sister from sister,” said Fred Brewington, a civil rights lawyer who has made it abundantly clear that he is prepared to sue the legislature if they adopt the Republican map. “The whole point of redistricting is to be fair. What has happened thus far is completely unfair, but more so, it is insidious.”
“You know they are trying to dilute the voice of the people and we will not stand for it anymore,” added Mimi Pierre Johnson from New York Communities for Change, an Elmont resident.
Later, at the legislative meeting, it was Brian Paul from Common Cause NY who presented the new map on behalf of the coalition, stating that it “offers a clear alternative to the partisan dysfunction and gerrymandering that has come to characterize the legislators official process.” Paul also read a list of demands to the legislature, including the stipulation that the legislature must release its proposed redistricting plan to the public no later than Jan. 25 (one month before the next scheduled public legislative session), and that at least four public hearings must be held during the following two weeks.
There was no specific discussion of the coalition’s map during the session, but Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams agreed with the commission on the subject of public hearings, stating that the legislature should hold as many as possible.
“If we owe the public anything, we owe them that,” Abrahams said.
The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition includes Common Cause/NY, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and the New York Civil Liberties Union of Nassau County. To view the data used to create the coalition’s map, visit www.nassauunited redistricting.org.
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.
All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.
Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.
Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.
In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.
“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”
With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.
Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.
The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.
The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “
At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.
Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.
Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.
The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county.
The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.
In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.
Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games.