One of the oldest, largest and most well-respected community-based human service agencies closed on Jan. 27. Some 300 employees at Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Association were handed layoff notices and final paychecks and were notified of the immediate discontinuation of their health care benefits. This is a tragedy and an ominous sign.
Hull House was founded in 1889 by social worker and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and her lifetime friend and community-activist Ellen Gates Starr. Hull House began as a home for disenfranchised citizens. The organization’s mission was “neighbors helping neighbors.” In its early years Hull House was organized to help immigrants to learn English and the principles of democratic citizenship and to improve the lives and working conditions of many of those living on the west side of Chicago. In recent years Hull House’s focus was on foster care, child care, domestic violence counseling and job training.
I hope everyone is enjoying our mild winter. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it lasts into spring since I’ve delayed buying a snow blower this season. The groundhogs can’t even agree on the forecast. I’m glad they’re not weathermen.
February is a quiet month for us, but we are hard at work planning our Community Festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend starting on Friday, May 25 through Sunday, May 27. The festival will be held at the Massapequa railroad parking lot M5 located at Sunrise Highway and Broadway. If anyone is interested in being a sponsor, craft vendor or volunteer, please call the office at 541-1443 for details.
Let’s flash forward to November 2012: The leaves are in full bloom, you’re getting ready for the holidays, and the Yankees have just won the World Series again (sorry Mets fans).
It’s also time to vote. You’re registered and ready to have a say in who represents your community. Democracy is about you, right?
But it’s too late. State politicians in Albany have already decided who will represent you when they drew district lines back in the beginning of the year. You’re stuck with Assemblyman X and Senator Y, whether you like it or not.
This isn’t a dystopian fantasy: In 2006, no incumbent lost a race for the New York State Senate or Assembly. That either means that New Yorkers think all state politicians are doing a fantastic job, or the system is rigged.
Long Island residents benefit from some of the most abundant and most affordable drinking water in the entire country, but that makes it all the more vital that we preserve our precious natural resource. While the deep aquifers from which Long Island draws its water supply are much less susceptible to contamination than most other sources of drinking water, it is nevertheless important to be aware of possible hazards and take all necessary steps to avoid them. With 3 million Long Islanders living, working, and playing on top of our water supply, some contamination is inevitable. The Long Island Water Conference suggests that we all take the following steps to help conserve and protect our unique water supply.
Always ensure that hazardous materials, such as household chemicals, paints, oils and batteries are disposed of properly. Because Long Island’s drinking water supply is derived from underground aquifers, it is very important for residents to minimize their households’ runoff of hazardous materials. One quart of oil can contaminate up to 250,000 gallons of water, effectively eliminating that much water from our water supply.
I often get curious looks when I tell people that Long Island could be the next Silicon Valley or San Diego. Believe it or not, we’re not so far off.
Like Silicon Valley and San Diego, Long Island is ripe with innovation. We have world-class research centers like Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Feinstein Institute at North Shore LIJ. We also have successful research universities in Stony Brook University, Hofstra University and Farmingdale to name a few. These institutions are having an impact.
As the newly released Long Island Index report shows, our science and engineering sectors are growing. Long Island has already created nearly 46,000 technology jobs. From 2000-2010, federal funding for research and development increased 50 percent. Over the past three years, Long Island churned out over 2,000 patents – a record for our region. Last year, Long Island was second only to Silicon Valley in the number of small business grants.
Submitted by the New York State School Boards Association
School board members don’t see a quick resolution to the teacher evaluation process even though state and federal aid are at stake, according to a recent online poll from the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA).
Nearly two-thirds of the 526 respondents to the poll said they did not believe linking state aid to the completion of a teacher and principal evaluation system would expedite a fair agreement.
“School boards do not want to be put in a position to accept a watered-down evaluation system,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “The threat of funding losses will not resonate as strongly with employees as it does with school officials who must manage the budget and make ends meet.”
In the five-year period from 2005 to 2009 there was a dramatic increase in emergency room visits related to nonalcoholic energy drinks, according to a report issued on November 22, 2011 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Just about half of those emergency room visits were made by 18- to 25-year-olds who were found to be using alcohol, illicit drugs or pharmaceuticals.
What are energy drinks? They are highly-caffeinated flavored beverages for sale in cans and bottles in grocery stores and vending machines. Children, adolescents and young adults - half of the energy-drink market - are the primary targets of energy-drink marketing.
One popular energy drink – Red Bull – bills its beverage as “developed for people who want to have a clear and focused mind, perform physically, are dynamic and performance-oriented.”
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released his Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (TPVA) audit conducted at the request of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Executive Director Judge John Marks. Since taking over the agency on Jan. 26, 2010 Judge John Marks has implemented a number of initiatives to improve collections through improved management effectiveness. The audit found that the improvements already implemented are a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to collect the large backlog of unpaid parking and traffic tickets, especially the rising number of unpaid Red Light Camera fines. Also, while auditors found no instances of ticket fixing, more safeguards are needed to prevent future fraud.
“Our taxpayers need to have assurances that they are part of a fair system where everyone is treated equally and tickets are not being dismissed or, perhaps, changed improperly,” Maragos said. “The current administration has addressed this issue by limiting access to the system and establishing security profiles which limit system access to only assigned personnel functions. The growing backlog of unpaid tickets is an urgent issue that requires more aggressive collection efforts.”
This November, Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) became Nassau County’s first Haitian American elected official after a hard-fought victory over the Third Legislative District incumbent John Ciotti. Raised on Long Island by Haitian parents, Solages overcame the struggles of a second-generation immigrant to serve as a prosecutor in the Bronx and the head of the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights before running for the legislature.
Long Island Wins recently caught up with Solages to ask about his background, the economy, and racism he encountered during his campaign:
LIW: The area you represent is one of the most diverse on Long Island, with immigrants from around the world. Did your campaign encourage immigrant communities to vote?
While it is true that the issues related to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” are not simple we should not be influenced by much of the misinformation that has been disseminated and we should base our decisions on the facts and develop a regulatory regime which can assure safety and environmental sensitivity.
It is ironic that natural gas development, which can reduce carbon emissions by a third compared to oil and a half compared to coal, is caught in an emotional debate over environmental impacts. As businessman and publisher Mortimer Zuckerman pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, this abundant new gas source has reduced our oil imports from 60 percent in 2005 to 47 percent today. Recent events in the Middle East should reinforce the need for a U.S. energy policy based on domestic natural gas.
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