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Youth Services Coalition Rallies To Restore Funding

Monies eliminated for numerous county agencies

With no budget agreement in sight and numerous agencies now defunded, the Nassau County Youth Services Coalition once again rallied on Friday, July 6, at the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative Executive Building in Mineola to both protest the lack of inaction and to seek the restoration of lost funds.

In June, numerous youth agencies received notice that their county contracts would be cancelled and funding eliminated on July 5 if Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s fiscal recovery plan was not approved.

That is what has happened and in the rally that took place in 90-degree plus weather, speakers invoked Abraham Lincoln, Robert F. Kennedy and Roosevelt himself as they vowed to continue their resistance. And while those speakers criticized both County Executive Mangano and the Nassau County Legislature, one speaker reserved his main scorn for the bosses of both parties.

A flier distributed before the rally singled out Jay Jacobs, the Democratic Party chairman and Joe Mondello, longtime Republican Party chairman as the culprits for a lack of agreement between the legislature and the county executive’s office.

“Nineteen legislatures and a county executive are beholden only to two men who sit in the shadows,” said Andrew Malekoff of the Old Westbury-based North Shore Guidance Center. Declaring that Jacobs and Mondello have “power and control” over elected officials, Malekoff further denounced them for making youth agencies “pawns and hostages in their political war.”

“On this dark day, we are their collateral damage,” Malekoff claimed.

Before and after each speaker, Peter Levy, president of the coalition, listed some of the numerous agencies that have lost funding, including Concerned Citizens for Roslyn Youth, YES Community Counseling, Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, Hicksville Teenage Center, Hempstead Youth Council, North Shore Boys & Girls Club, Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Uniondale Community Center and Nassau County Office of Youth Services.

“Every year, we are placed on the chopping block,” said Joe Smith, executive director of Long Beach Reach, Inc. “This year they have sunk to a new low.” Smith said that the savings from eliminating such programs are estimated at $4 million, all out of a country budget that stands at over $2.7 billion.

Prior to the rally, numerous protestors lined Franklin Avenue carrying such signs as “Social Services Are Not Political Pawns” and “Keep Kids Out Of Politics.” The protestors implored motorists to honk their horns in support and many of them were glad to oblige.

The event billed itself as nonpartisan and the comments from county officials struck a conciliatory note of their own.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the county executive’s necessary cutbacks,” said Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt (R – Massapequa).

“It was the decision by the County Executive and the Republican majority to rescind the money from the red light camera fund that was intended to fund these programs,” said Mike Florio, a spokesman for Democratic Party legislators. “We are continuing to talk with the County Executive and hope an agreement can be made to keep these programs running.”

“We continue to have healthy conversations with Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams to address youth board funding,” added County Executive Mangano.