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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins

We Deserve Better

I’m going to get straight to the point.  Superstorm Sandy slammed into the south shore of Long Island on Oct. 29, 2012.  On that date, more than 400 days ago, millions were left without power, and tens of thousands were displaced.


Now I’m reading newspaper articles that are making my stomach turn.  Apparently only four (that’s right, four) of the 4,178 Superstorm Sandy-ravaged Long Island homeowners who qualified for federal housing reconstruction aid have actually received a check.  Let me elaborate.  More than 10,000 homeowners asked for help.  Thus far a few more than 4,000 have heard back and only four have actually received a check.  We watched press conference after press conference at which eager politicians promised help and took credit for new funding and here we are more than a year later and only 4 people have received a check.  


Can someone please explain how this is possible?     


More than 14 months after the storm forced tens of thousands of our fellow Long Islanders out of their flooded and broken homes, they are still waiting.  More than 13 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo stood right here on our Long Island shores and told us help was on the way, they are still waiting.  More than 11 months after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shamed Congress into finally releasing those much-needed emergency funds, they are still waiting.  And now, more than seven months after the state’s program to distribute those funds was finally created, our friends and neighbors are still waiting.   


Each of these Long Island homeowners have literally filled out hundreds of pages of forms, faxed just as many, subjected themselves to multiple inspections and permit applications while spending God-only-knows how many hours on phone calls with everyone from con-artist contractors to tone-deaf insurance companies to indifferent government bureaucrats – and they’re still waiting!  Their reward for paying some of the highest taxes in the world, their reward for being citizens of a region that sends far more money to the government then it receives in services, their reward for being universally recognized as some of the most generous people in the world when disaster strikes elsewhere – is a big fat kick in the teeth from the elected officials who promised to help.  They get to spend yet another anxiety-filled holiday season ousted from their homes, crammed into rentals, explaining to their kids why they’re not in the same schools as their friends.  


And those officials hide behind mounds of paperwork in their offices and offer us convoluted excuses about vetting out fraud and letting the system progress, however slowly.  Why is it that good hard-working people, who’ve never even asked the time of day from a clock, are getting stiffed? 


There’s literally hundreds of millions of dollars waiting to be distributed.  Realistically, homeowners are not getting cash, the payments go directly to repairs so why can’t the government simply finance those repairs and get our families back on their feet?  At this point, any of these devastated homeowners would be more than happy to sign whatever assurances the government needs but let’s face it, a new layer of bureaucracy and tons of government patronage jobs took precedence.  


It’s unforgivable.  And no matter whom these Superstorm Sandy victims speak to – their case managers, the inspectors, the program managers – the buck always gets passed right on up the line with no answers.  It has to eventually stop somewhere and plainly speaking, it stops with the governor, so he needs to hear from us.  


We must make it abundantly clear that Long Island is much more than a pit stop for the every other day press conferences that took place in the storm’s aftermath.  We are communities, people with families, homes, jobs and lives that we’d like to get on with. 

Promises were made to us that were not kept.  


Whether you’ve been impacted by Superstorm Sandy, you have friends and neighbors who are still struggling, or you’re just fed up with government red tape, contact the Governor’s office and tell him that “we deserve better.” 


Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 


Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 


The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.

Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.


Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


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