Written by State Senator Jack Martins Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:00
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the phrase, “Bring Back Our Girls.” It’s the rallying cry of a movement to pressure the international community to rescue the 280 teenage schoolgirls who were brazenly kidnapped from their Nigerian classrooms on April 14th. The words have been tweeted over one million times across the Internet and have generated numerous Facebook pages that count hundreds of thousands of followers. Even the “old” media has joined in as 24-hour news outlets vie to be the first to flash photos of celebrities holding the words emblazoned across their chests.
These kidnappings are just the latest in a long list of atrocities perpetrated against the Nigerian people by the deadly extremist group Boko Haram who further outraged the world with a video broadcast threatening to sell the girls into slavery. New Yorkers in particular, always leaders in social justice, were enraged at this blatant human trafficking. Today, with this column, I hope to tap into that rage to bring your attention to a problem we have right here at home.
I’ll begin with an uncomfortable fact –Human trafficking takes place here in New York State. It also takes place every day on Long Island. And yes, it happens on the main streets and shopping centers of your town–where you and your families eat, shop, work and live. Let me emphasize that point: As you read this, human-trafficking is taking place throughout the great State of New York. How big is the problem? One study from Hofstra University conservatively puts the number of trafficking victims that have come forward here at more than 11,000.
And you know what’s worse? Our pitifully feeble and politicized response. You see, last year the New York Senate passed the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act which gives our law enforcement authorities a fighting chance to take down abusers. The bill makes engaging in human trafficking a B felony, with stiffer penalties of up to 25 years in prison, while also making it easier for prosecutors to build cases against suspected human traffickers. And while the bill has clear bi-partisan support in both houses, a group of dissenters in the Assembly have kept the bill tied to expanding abortion provisions within the state.
As a result, it’s been at a standstill for more than a year.
We can all appreciate that true debate and discussion are what makes our political system work. No one side has a lock on the truth and we’re certainly not expected to agree on everything. But continuously tying this much needed bill to one that is unrelated and explosively divisive simply for the advantage of political leverage is despicable. We can do something to fight human trafficking and we can do it right now. Instead, the effort (and the victims) are being held hostage. It troubles me and it should trouble you too. I am working with Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) to have this bill stand alone and we need your support. If we come together maybe we can save the human trafficking victims right here at home.
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00
The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Mineola.
With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.
Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00
As I tried to make my way through the unforgiving monsoon season, rain pouring as far as the eye could see, dodging puddles I rushed inside the school building. The guard yelled in the background for the children to come in quickly before they dragged in even more mud inside. Trying hard not to slip on the wet dirty floor, I pondered to myself what
exactly I was doing here. The words of Mahatma Gandhi resonated inside my head, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Here I was at a school in Mumbai India, 7800 miles from my home in Mineola, volunteering with “Aseema,” a non-governmental organization whose mission is to empower and educate the under privileged children. Children living on the streets or in slums and in inhuman conditions.
Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00
The Mineola Mustangs varsity football team defeated the Roosevelt Roughriders 47-38 on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Senior quarterback James Gerstner led the Mustangs (2-0) to victory by rushing 212 yards and securing five touchdowns on 23 carries. He also completed 11 of 13 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown.
“This was a big game—we were ready and pumped up all week,” Gerstner said. “We came in ranked third but we knew we could beat them.”
Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00
The Mineola Varsity Football team’s defense dominated Valley Stream South, winning 21-0 on Sept. 13. The Falcons never got further then Mineola’s 30 yard line. The defense was lead by senior linebackers Eric Guardado (8 tackles 6 assist), Ed Hincapie (6 tackles, 5 assist) and safety John Clancy (tackles, 3 assist).
Defensive linemen Anthony Sarno, Luigi Athan, Victor Tineo, Matt Lafaye and Chris Brenes controlled the line of scrimmage. Defensive backs Peter McCormack and Chris Lockwood played very well as they combined for eight tackles and only allowed two pass completions. Linebacker Kyle Dunleavy, Ben Carbone, Matt Kosowski and Brian Smith also played very well.