There are easier tasks than the one facing Kevan Abrahams. As a Nassau County Legislator, he will be grappling with the issues facing the cash strapped county and in particular will be deliberating on a budget which may call for more layoffs of county workers, reduction of services and changes for Nassau police precincts. As the Democratic Minority Leader in the legislature, he will be one of the more prominent figures as those discussions take place, a position that requires he walk a political tightrope as he leads the opposition to some of those proposals while also trying to get Republican County Executive Ed Mangano and the Republicans in control of the Legislature to give consideration to his party’s suggestions and input. And, he will also do so while getting a feel for his new role as he has just taken over the position of the Minority Leader in the Legislature after being chosen by his party last November. Yet, despite all of this, there is a calmness and confidence about him as he takes this all on, something that he attributes to many years of experience in both politics and finance.
Numerous Long Island lawmakers, joined by both the Nassau and Suffolk County Executives, plus Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos were out in force last Friday, calling for further reductions in the MTA payroll tax.
The press conference, held at the Nassau County Executive & Legislative Building, introduced state legislation (S-6206), one co-authored by State Senators Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Lee Zeldin (R,C,I-Shirley). The bill would exempt villages, towns, and counties in New York State from the MTA payroll tax. Municipalities in New York State, both lawmakers said, currently pay a .34 percent tax per $100 of payroll to pay for the MTA.
“Property taxpayers paying for village, town and county services should not have their hard-earned tax dollars diverted to subsidize the MTA through this payroll tax,” Senator Martins said. “We need to alleviate some of the burdens placed on our local governments. This legislation does that and the result will be relief for our taxpayers, something we desperately need.”
Several times each month, Carol and Mark Klein, owners of Mismatch the Clown Entertainment in Levittown, host “give back” nights, called “Our Heroes Night Out” (OHNO) to the veterans who are in transition at the Salvation Army residence in Northport. They generate the support from entertainers and businesses across Long Island to provide a night of entertainment or a sampling of their service as a way to thank these veterans for their service to our country.
The story of how OHNO began was quite by accident. Three years ago, the Northport VA hired Carol through her Levittown business, Mismatch the Clown, to do balloons and magic for their annual winter festival. Carol said she taught the veterans how to make balloon animals and how to perform simple magic tricks, which she regularly performs for Scouts, libraries and schools across Long Island. The veterans enjoyed the performance and learning the techniques, wanting to learn more.
The phrase “every dog has his day” refers to the idea that everyone will have good things happen to them at some point, regardless of stature or previous luck. But on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the regular public meeting of the Island Trees Board of Education, it was a “Dawg” who had his day. Hundreds of Island Trees residents and student-athletes from the district packed into the Stephen E. Karopczyc school gym in a show of support for former Lady Dawgs soccer and basketball coach Andy Schneider, a Physical Education teacher in the district who was recently relieved of his coaching duties for posting what was deemed by the school board as inappropriate comments, posted by him onto a social networking site last month.
Schneider allegedly made an ill-advised public comment on Facebook in December, where he essentially made a case for a player from the Island Trees Lady Dawgs girls’ soccer team to be named to Newsday’s All-Long Island Girls’ Soccer Team instead of an athlete from a neighboring district. He claimed that the player from the Lady Dawgs had better stats than the player from the other district, and that she was overlooked for mention on the list because his squad plays in a lower conference.
The Levittown Board of Education unanimously voted Jan. 11 to eliminate the reporting of “rank-in-class” to colleges and universities, effective with the 2012-13 school year.
“The trend across the county, in Suffolk, the lower Hudson, and the tri-state area really is to move away from assigning specific class ranking, and reporting that number to colleges,” Superintendent James Grossane said. “Colleges are looking more and more at the strength of the programs that students take, and as student grades have risen, students with an average grade of as high as 85 on any given year would end up in the bottom 50 percent of one of our graduating classes.”
Grossane added that not reporting class rank to colleges means that student applications will have a better chance of getting looked at. “Some universities won’t look at you at all if you’re in the bottom 50 percent,” he noted. “However, if you don’t rank, they are more inclined to look at your transcript and full body of work more closely. The experience of many school districts around the area is that they’ve seen a rise in acceptance rates of students to more competitive and more prestigious colleges [after removing the reporting of class rank.]” Trustee Peter Porrazzo noted in the discussion “27 of 33 schools sampled in the area have eliminated the reporting of class-ranking to colleges.”
On Saturday, Jan. 21 families and friends of Catholic schools across Long Island braved the freezing temperatures and icy conditions to rally in protest of the closings announced by the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Dec. 6. Families not only wanted to voice their opposition to the closings scheduled for the end of this school year, but rallied in support of Catholic school education in general. They pleaded for Bishop William Murphy and all Catholics in the Diocese to hear their concerns and understand that despite the threat of their schools closing, they do value and support the Catholic elementary school education.
Most of the rally crowd came from the six schools stated to close, along with St. Agnes parishioners who came out to show their support.
In the original school-closing announcement Bishop Murphy said, “While these choices have not been easy and closing schools is one of the most painful parts of my ministry, I want to assure the parents and children that they are uppermost in my mind.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center (KPTC) held its annual meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Manhasset. They received a welcome surprise from Levittown Kiwanian Ann Torcivia, who spent weeks gathering support for her project to present a Sparky the Dog costume to KPTC at North Shore LIJ Hospital.
Just several weeks before the gift presentation to KPTC, Torcivia set up a craft booth at Tri-County Flea market to sell jewelry and trinkets during the regular holiday bazaar in Levittown. The booth space was donated by Alan Finchley of Nassau County Craft Shows and Grant Donnely of Tri-County Flea Markets. Both men were honored by Kiwanis for their generous support toward Torcivia’s costume goal.
Torcivia was able to then dedicate more of the proceeds from her sales to the Sparky the Dog costume, which also comes with a robotic voice changer, helpful when delivering the special fire safety presentations to young children.
On Thursday, Jan. 12, County Executive Edward Mangano announced the ‘soft launch’ of “Nassau Now,” the County’s newest mobile and web application for residents to use an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Android smartphone or tablet to contact Nassau County directly. The government app features requests, events, information, news alerts, traffic advisories, and forms.
The system is up and operational; it is being monitored by system administrators to collect data about how the service is being used and tally the volume of inquiries being submitted through the new application. Mangano expects that there could be some ‘bugs’ to work out of the system within the initial 60 days, but is confident that this will streamline the process and eliminate a lot of liabilities resulting from nonemergency reports, such as a request for pothole repair. The county will assess the service in a couple of months and identify any issues with the software that need to be corrected.
Mangano said, “We believe this is definitely creating efficiency, definitely save us man hours, definitely going to reduce paper here in the county in the onset; it has a little bit more transparency because you can really track everything.”
In a press conference held on Dec. 15 at Cedar Creek Park Playground, just north of the sewage facility in Wantagh, County Legislator Dave Denenberg, of the 19th District, announced his request for State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the legality of County Executive Edward Mangano’s plan to privatize the county’s sewage treatment plants.
Legislator Denenberg submitted his request for investigation in a letter, dated December 14, 2011, to A.G. Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He said his request is on behalf of several residents regarding the sale or lease of the county’s sewage treatment plants and infrastructure, with concerns that the deal is a “‘one shot budget gimmick’ that will result in higher sewage charges to taxpayers and less public oversight of this vital county function and environmental issue.”
Kate Murray, the first woman elected Supervisor of America’s largest township, was inducted for her fifth term during a ceremony at Hempstead Town Hall on Jan. 3, 2012.
Murray focused her remarks at the inauguration on the township we call home, the unity among neighbors and officials, as well as economic growth. She detailed the initiatives she has undertaken for the future of the township, specifically speaking about the town’s economic and budgetary strength, development, housing, senior citizen programs and efforts to preserve the environment. One of the coming projects to which Murray pointed out with a personal sense of pride, is the construction of a building to house the ANCHOR program for special needs children and adults. “Of all the work our town’s administration has undertaken, the construction of a permanent home for ANCHOR will be the most rewarding project in my tenure as supervisor,” said Murray. The recreation center will be named in memory of three Camp ANCHOR counselors who died in a tragic accident on their way to work.
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