Written by Ronald Scaglia Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt died suddenly on the morning of Oct. 3. According to Ed Ward, spokesperson from the legislator’s office, Schmitt, 62, collapsed while in a budget meeting with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building and was rushed to Winthrop Hospital. He died at 11:55 a.m.
“Nassau County has lost a dedicated public servant,” said Mangano in a statement. “My wife Linda and I lost a friend of over 20 years. Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt served the residents of Nassau County with great integrity and pride. I had the privilege of serving closely with Peter in the legislature since its creation in 1996, where he distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 12th Legislative District.”
Schmitt is the only person to ever represent the 12th Legislative District, which encompasses Massapequa and Massapequa Park as well as portions of Seaford and North Massapequa. Local elected officials who have worked with Schmitt expressed shock and sadness at his sudden passing.
“Peter Schmitt was a great friend,” said Congressman Peter King, whose 3rd Congressional District currently includes all of the 12th Legislative District. “I’ve never known anyone who worked, or who fought harder, for his constituents than Peter Schmitt. He was politically incorrect at times, but always honest and always dedicated.”
“We all lost a great friend,” said Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna. “I’m going to miss Peter as a friend and Massapequa lost a wonderful advocate for all of us. I am deeply saddened by the loss.”
In addition to serving as legislator representing the 12th Legislative District, Schmitt had been deputy presiding officer, minority leader and since Republicans gained back control of the legislature in the 2009 elections, majority leader and presiding officer. As the leader of the Republicans in the legislature, Schmitt often sparred politically with his Democratic counterparts. However, officials from both sides of the aisle expressed sadness and respect for Schmitt.
“I’ve known this man 17 years,” said Legislator Judy Jacobs, who served as the presiding officer when Democrats held the majority, and Schmitt served as the minority leader. “I just can’t believe it. It’s a sad day. We may have been adversaries on the way we do things in the governmental sphere, but we were always friends on a personal level. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”
“Our entire caucus is shocked and saddened by the passing of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt,” Kevan Abrahams, the Nassau County Legislature minority leader said in a statement. “He was an iconic leader of our legislature since its inception in 1995. Through his career spent in public service he has left an indelible mark on Nassau County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Schmitt is survived by his wife Lois, a daughter, Samantha and a grandchild, of whom he often spoke proudly.
Despite Schmitt’s penchant for speaking candidly, Congressman King recalled a man whose private persona was different from his public image.
“Peter and Lois were inseparable,” said King about the relationship between Schmitt and his wife. “In fact, just two weeks ago I had my fundraiser. The two of them were there. They were the first to arrive and the last to leave. They sat quietly at a table. Here he was, one of the top two or three people in Nassau County and if you walked in the room, he was just sitting there, a regular guy.”
According to county sources, the Nassau County charter stipulates that a special election to fill the position of legislator from the 12th District must be held within 30 to 60 days. As the deputy presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves, will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the presiding officer, but will not officially become the presiding officer unless confirmed by the legislature. With the legislature now split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, it is not known if that will happen. Gonsalves represents the 13th Legislative District, which encompasses East Meadow, Salisbury and North Merrick.
That split could also affect next year’s budget, as the legislature must approve the county budget by Oct. 31. Because of Schmitt’s death, even if all nine Republican legislators approve it, at least one Democrat must also vote to approve it, in order to get the 10 votes needed to pass. If the budget is not approved, last year’s budget automatically goes into effect.
A wake will be held at Massapequa Funeral Home, south chapel, located at 4980 Merrick Road on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will be on Monday, Oct. 8 at St. Rose of Lima Church on Merrick Road in Massapequa at 11 a.m.
Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:00
A vehicle accident left a motorcyclist and his passenger dead following an accident on the New York State Thruway. The fatal motorcycle accident occurred at 1:10 a.m. on Sunday, June 2 near Exit 16 in Woodbury, the Associated Press reported.
According to officials, a Suzuki motorcycle operated by Rafaelito DeJesus, 23, of Valley Stream was headed north on the Thruway when he was hit by another vehicle.
Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00
The New York State Senate today passed a bill to protect young and inexperienced drivers by helping to remove distractions that could lead to accidents. The legislation. sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellin (R, Syosset), prohibits the use of cell phones—including hands-free devices—by drivers who hold learner’s permits.
“Young and inexperienced drivers, holding only a learner’s permit, are behind the wheel for one purpose—to learn how to safely operate a vehicle. These drivers need their full attention on the road and for the task of becoming a responsible driver,” said Senator Marcellino. “Even the best teenage drivers don’t have the judgment that comes with experience. Until a new driver has some skill and experience, the use of cell phones while driving should be banned.”
Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
This spring, in anticipation of fielding their strongest Varsity Baseball squad since the program began eight years ago, Portledge decided to change leagues from IPPSAL (Independent Private and Parochial Schools Athletic League) to the Private School Athletic Association and Athletic Conference of Independent Schools (PSAA/ACIS Alliance), in hopes of finding stronger and more consistent competition. As a newcomer to the Alliance League, which consists of independent school teams from all over the metropolitan area, the Panthers were placed in the 10-team 2nd Division.
It didn’t take long for Portledge to demonstrate the rapidly developing quality of their baseball program, as the Panthers hammered their way to a regular season mark of 9 wins and 1 loss. Moving on to the league playoffs, Portledge quickly dispatched their quarter and semi-final foes before heading to the championship game against Bay Ridge Prep on May 21 at MCU (Municipal Credit Union) Park in Brooklyn.
Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
The weather was blustery but hearts were warm at the SYAC Pony League All-Star Game, held at H.B. Thompson Middle School last month.
Thirty specially selected girls who play in the Pony League (grades 2-3) of SYAC Girls Softball put on a fine show for the bundled-up fans. They provided a barrage of hitting, combined with great fielding that ended rallies, sometimes by double plays. Eight dads who volunteer as coaches in the SYAC softball program, assisted the players.