Hempstead Town Launches Awareness Campaign To Protect Endangered Species With Local Students And Conservationists
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen joined with Audubon New York and a group of young Piping Plover-loving conservationists from the Brandeis School in Lawrence to launch an awareness campaign about the endangered species that nest on Hempstead Town Beaches.
The fourth grade students placed artistic billboards that they designed in class along sand dunes to alert beachgoers to stay away from Piping Plover nesting areas.
The Town of Hempstead is home to over a dozen nests belonging to the small, federally protected birds.
“Hempstead’s beaches are among the most beautiful and most visited on Long Island,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen. “This is a great way to learn about coexisting, often literally side-by-side, with our endangered, feathered friends. We are thankful to these students, along with our friends at Audubon New York, for their efforts to protect these birds.”
“Our shared efforts to protect Piping Plovers and their habitats has led to an inspirational transformation in the Town of Hempstead,” said Ana Paula Tavares, executive director of Audubon New York. “The town has found a balance between recreation and conservation that benefits birds and people, and that makes them a model for others. We applaud the town on their dedicated work to ‘Share the Shore.’”
Last year the Town of Hempstead recorded an increased number of Piping Plover chicks after years of efforts to protect their habitats by raising awareness.
Sen. Kaminsky Pushes Bills To Crack Down Anti-Semitic Vandalism And Other Religious Desecration
In light of the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism across New York State and the nation as a whole, Senator Todd Kaminsky is pushing for several key pieces of legislation to protect shuls and the community at-large from incidents of hate-filled vandalism (S.353) and bias graffiti (S.83). Kaminsky’s bills would significantly heighten punishments for criminals who vandalize houses of worship, museums, and religious items.
“Our shuls are the crown jewels of our neighborhoods and it is critical for us to do all we can to keep them safe for our families to gather together and pray,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky. “I was proud to introduce several critical pieces of legislation designed to serve as a strong deterrent to those who contemplate doing our communities harm. By ensuring those who vandalize our houses of worship and museums are punished appropriately, we are sending a strong and clear message that dastardly acts of anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in New York State.”
Most recently, the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn was vandalized with a note stating that “Hitler is coming” posted on a billboard display outside of the museum. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have skyrocketed in the past two years across New York State and the nation at-large.
Senator Kaminsky has been at the forefront of the fight to protect local shuls and yeshivas from anti-Semitic acts. Recently, he reintroduced legislation mandating law enforcement officers be trained in identifying, investigating, and responding to hate crimes. In last year’s budget, Kaminsky successfully advocated for a record amount of state aid for yeshivas, including $15 million in security funding. This past summer, he secured more than $2 million for local yeshivas from the Governor’s Securing Communities Against Hate Grant Program and recently worked with countless community institutions to assist them in obtaining vital grant funding from the program’s most recent application cycle in December.
Senate Passes Bill Mandating Fingerprinting At All NY Schools
Senator Todd Kaminsky announced that legislation he sponsored to mandate fingerprint-based criminal background checks for staff at private and parochial schools (S.3335) passed the State Senate. Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Rozic hailed the development which will help ensure student safety and prevent child predators from getting jobs in schools.
“It is imperative for us to do all we can to protect our children from abuse—especially in their very own schools,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky. “I am pleased the Senate passed my common-sense bill to mandate all New York schools fingerprint prospective employees and conduct comprehensive criminal background checks. Our children deserve safe classrooms, and I urge the Assembly to pass this vital piece of legislation to prevent child predators from being hired in our children’s classrooms.”
“With students spending a majority of their day in school, it is critical that their school environment be safe and supportive,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “Implementing a fingerprinting procedure that is already standard practice at public schools would provide families with peace of mind, knowing that all children are safe, no matter what school they attend.”
“The 40,000 registered sex offenders in New York State, and thousands of other persons with serious criminal histories, should not work in either public or nonpublic schools. The law that requires public schools to fingerprint and background check their job applicants should be extended to the nonpublic schools. The experts are unanimous that employee fingerprinting and background checks are an essential tool for assuring child safety. The U.S. Education Department, in their 2004 publication, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature,” reported this consensus when they wrote, “Background checks with fingerprint screens should be completed for all current and new employees” (section 12.3, p.48). We hope and pray that the Senate and Assembly pass the Kaminsky/Rozic bill,” said Elliot Pasik, Esq., president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children.
Under current law, public schools in New York State are mandated by Education Law § 305(30) to fingerprint prospective employees who have contact with students and submit them for comprehensive background checks by the State Department of Criminal Justice Services and FBI. However, such measures are optional for employees of New York’s non-public schools. This legislation would amend state law to require all elementary, middle, and high schools—both public and non-public—across the State of New York, to require the fingerprinting of all employees for the purposes of a government-conducted criminal background check.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Gillen Announces Special Community Task Force To Address Brown Water In Residential Homes
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen announced the formation of a new community task force, comprised of representatives from the Town of Hempstead, New York American Water, and local communities that have been reporting brown, discolored water coming out of their taps. The creation of the group is the direct result of a letter sent by Supervisor Gillen to New York American Water. The task force will be charged with identifying hot spots and patterns where water discoloration issues are being discovered in order to assist New York American Water with more rapid responses to fixing the problem. Task force members will also share customer concerns, identify action items, and report back to their communities on steps that New York American Water is taking to address their concerns.
“I am glad that residents will have a direct pipeline to New York American Water officials to get the information they need and provide feedback on the problems they are facing,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, who requested the formation of a task force earlier this month after her office was inundated with calls from concerned residents. “Many ratepayers have been disgusted by bathtubs filled with brown water and the feeling that their concerns have been ignored. This will help customers hold New York American Water’s feet to the fire and lead to quicker and more sustainable solutions.”
New York American Water attributes the brown discoloration flowing out of some residential taps to higher levels of iron in the water, due to aging water mains and corrosion in pipes that are in the process of being replaced. Though not dangerous, it has rightly raised concerns for thousands of families and businesses across the south shore of the Town of Hempstead, especially those living in the Five Towns.
“Addressing the cause of discolored water and directly answering every complaint is our top priority, so we thank Supervisor Gillen for giving the Hempstead Town communities we serve a closer and more active role in fixing this problem,” said Lee Mueller, external affairs manager for New York American Water. “We share Supervisor Gillen’s position that urgent action is required.”
Supervisor Gillen will be appointing a dozen local residents from the Hempstead Town communities that have reported issues with brown water to the task force.
“Residents deserve to be able to live without worrying about the quality of their water,” said Gillen. “This task force is an important step in providing our communities with the transparency, answers, and peace of mind that they deserve.”
Assemblywoman Miller Honors Individuals With Disabilities And Advocates On Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day
Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach) joined her fellow colleagues recently as they celebrated New York State Assembly’s Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day (LDAD) to inform Assembly members, their staff, and the general public about the issues faced by the disability community, and at the same time recognize the achievements and accomplishments of people with disabilities and advocates alike.
“As the mother of children with disabilities, I understand firsthand the unique challenges those with developmental disabilities, their caregivers, and families face on a day-to-day basis. It is through my experience of caring for my children and watching with immense pride their determination to succeed that I am inspired to fight to end the inequalities that still plague our state,” said Miller, ranking minority member on the Assembly Mental Hygiene Committee. “As legislators, we must do a better job of addressing the enduring issues facing those within the disability community, including providing higher levels of assistance and protections and better accessibility for those who need it most.”
This year’s event awarded Barbara Crosier, the vice president for government relations at Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS, with the Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Advocacy Award honoring her advocacy, support, and dedication on behalf of everything she has done for Cerebral Palsy and the disability community.
Assemblywoman Miller Supports Income Tax Exemption For Volunteer Firefighters And EMS Personnel
Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach) supports new legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I, Ref-Schoharie) that will give an income tax exemption to volunteer firefighters, EMS personnel, and emergency medical service providers.
“I fully support this noble initiative to help the most hard-working and self-sacrificing people in our communities. Many people, out of the goodness of their heart volunteer to be firefighters and EMS personnel, and there are around 100,000 volunteers in New York State. It’s time we give back to them for protecting us and I think it is right to allow them an income tax exemption,” said Miller.
Recent reports show that many volunteer firehouses and medical service providers have had to shut their doors due to a lack of funding and labor. This bill is about giving back to those who sacrifice to keep us safe and ensure that their firehouses and ambulances have the funding required to function. The cost of this exemption would be minimal compared to the amount of switching to fully paid departments and if we funded fully paid fire departments we’d need to raise property taxes 26%.