Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 10 September 2010 00:00
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy sat down with editors of Anton Community Newspapers last week to discuss some of the hot-button issues in Washington and some specific to the 4th District that she represents.
She addressed various topics ranging from local airplane noise to Iraq, Afganistan and education. But it is her work on childhood obesity that she says has become one of her champion causes. McCarthy started working on the issue when she took over the chairmanship of Education and Labor Committee four years ago. She said that when she was considering the position, she researched the subject and it entailed everything she would want to work on. Prior to her political career, McCarthy was a nurse for 32 years.
“I started working on childhood obesity mainly because I thought that our children today who are growing up to be adults are not healthy,” she said. “When the National Pediatric Association came out and started talking about putting 12-year-old children on cholesterol medication, that pushed it.”
McCarthy and her staff began doing research and joined forces with North Shore LIJ Hospital and schools in the 4th congressional district. As a result, some of the schools started obesity and childhood nutrition programs, as well as enhanced physical education standards.
“These schools came up with a terrific program,” McCarthy stated. “Not only on the nutrition end of it, but the physical aspect of the program was successful too. Kids are able to exercise at the class desk and get a lesson at the same time. They would take those letters and put it into exercises.”
Another alarming health issue to McCarthy is the growing rate of individuals who are unfit entering the military. According to McCarthy, certain exercise programs have been changed.
“A lot of young people coming into the military are signing up unfit,” she said. “They’re coming in and they’re getting injured very easily. I know a lot of my experiences are geared toward my life as a nurse, but those are my world experiences and I’m taking that knowledge and putting it to place in Congress. With that being said, our military does a fine job at training its servicemen and women.”
McCarthy, a resident of Mineola, has represented the 4th congressional district since 1996. She serves as a senior member of the Committee on Education and Labor. Since 2007, she has been chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities, where she plays role in reauthorizing and drafting legislation to protect children. McCarthy has held congressional hearings on topics such as improving childhood nutrition and reducing cyber-bullying among youth.
She is also on the Financial Services Committee. This legislative session, the Congresswoman was involved in the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which was signed into law on July 21.
McCarthy, who recently backed legislation on increased border control, said the legislation provides more than $600 million to security and enforcement efforts. However, the Congresswoman said that total border control is a step-by-step process.
“The states are the ones who requested more border patrols there,” she said. “Do I think it will work in the long run, absolutely? Do I think we are going to be able to stop every undocumented person coming into this country? You can’t. We have many borders. Those that want to get in this country are going to keep trying.”
McCarthy stated that Congress is continuing to pursue better means of border patrol along the southern most part of the United States.
The Congresswoman presented her stance on the war in Iraq. She stated that she voted for the war and addressed President Barack Obama’s decision to pull the majority of troops out.
“Yes he’s pulling out a big amount, but we’re still going to have a large contingency there working with the Iraqi police and military,” she said. “When I had been over in Iraq a few times, in looking at those who were volunteering for the police and military, anyone was looking for a job. They were sending over young kids to join up with adults. But that has changed rapidly. The Iraqi people are looking at this as an opportunity. They want to go forward with their lives.
“I did vote for the Iraq war, but over time, I realized that’s not where we should’ve been and should’ve concentrated more on Afghanistan.”
McCarthy said she believes the Iraqi people will be able to hold the country together even though a tough future lies ahead.
“Afghanistan is much worse,” McCarthy said. She added, “Some of the other Middle Eastern countries don’t want to see Iraq [or Afghanistan] fail because the other countries are afraid that the insurgents will come into their life as well.”
On the subject of education, McCarthy pointed to the fact that some schools in the 4th Congressional District are struggling. She specifically mentioned Roosevelt, Westbury, West Hempstead and Freeport. “The schools are not where they should be, but they’re certainly a lot better off than they were in previous years,” she said.
(As reported in The Westbury Times, Westbury School District Superintendent Dr. Constance Clarke-Snead recently said that each school in the district will be required to develop a school improvement plan based around improving student achievement in mathematics and ELA. The superintendent said the drop in performance was not as significant in mathematics [grades] three through eight as perhaps in English language arts. The article quoted Dr. Clarke-Snead saying, “We have been in this place before where the test results were not acceptable by this administration and board and so we will make every effort, even given the budget constraints that we’re facing, and we’ll do everything possible to increase our test scores as we move forward during the school year,” Dr. Clark-Snead said.)
McCarthy said she was instrumental in starting an ROTC (Reserved Officers Training Corp.) program at the Westbury High School. “I got a lot of angry letters from parents,” she said. “But the program became so popular they couldn’t accept all the kids that wanted to join.”
Also on the local front, McCarthy said that aircraft noise remains a disturbing issue for her constituents and one she relates to, as a resident of Mineola.
“Believe me, I understand it more… I am in the pathway, the wheels go down over my house,” she explained. “For the Garden City area, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, and then obviously going into the Five Towns area — it’s bad. I mean there’s no two ways about it.” She went on to say that she has met with those adversely affected by the noise in the district and has presented the complaints to the FAA. She added that she was also concerned about most recent incident of an access door falling off an Alitalia jet that landed in front of the Courthouse Building in Mineola.
The three-horse race between Republican challengers Frank Scaturro, Francis Becker and Peter Maloney for incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s seat may be shaping up to be a photo finish. The Republican primary will be held Sept. 14.