A few days ago I was asked to speak on behalf of Counseling Center at a rally at the Nassau County Executive Building and before the legislative session that followed. Public speaking is not something I do professionally nor is it something I particularly relish however I accepted enthusiastically because of what I see going on in Massapequa as well as our surrounding communities. I also accepted because I planned on including my children and wanted to demonstrate that quotes such as be the change you wish to see in the world are more than just inspirational words stolen from Gandhi to be posted on social media. They are words that deserve action.
My daughter and three of her best friends attended the rally with me. It was with great pride that I watched as they stood on the steps of the Executive Building and fielded questions from news organizations. At 14 and 15, they stood there representing a small segment of our future. It was, I hoped, something our legislators would have the opportunity to see. I had hoped that those people who are voted into office would look into those faces and all of the other young faces that showed up in hopes that voices would be heard, and have to tell those kids why their programs were being held hostage to political machinations.
While in the legislative session which could be a reality show called Legislators Behaving Badly, my daughter and her friends were paying attention. Our Presiding Officer Republican Peter Schmitt and our Minority Leader Democrat Kevan Abrahams went back and forth each blaming the other party for this funding issue. Neither denied that the funding was there yet neither side could come to a reasonable solution that would help our youth and families. The word pawn was thrown around and my daughter’s friend, Jess, whispered that the legislators both needed a sharing stick. My daughter smiled and suggested that if she fought with her brothers like that, they’d get sent to their room for a time-out. Out of the mouths of babes….
Unfortunately, while I had the opportunity to speak at the press conference, the legislators all chose to interrupt the public comments to fight over closing out the 2011 budget. It seemed that this session was the first time that any of them had seen the budget, at least that was the impression I had after listening to over an hour of questions and fighting over funds that one legislator labeled fictitious. I am not a professional demonstrator nor would I classify myself as politically savvy but it seemed to me the timing of the closing out of the budget business was designed to clear out the room, which it did. We finally had to leave at 3:45 while legislators were still fighting over whether funds were fictitious or not and whether or not money that is fictitious could be borrowed.
I have met Peter Schmitt in the past just as I have met Kevan Abrahams. They both seem like nice men though I don’t know either of them personally. I have written both. The Minority Leader does not represent my community though he is a representative of my County. Every legislator there represents Nassau County, the county I live in. My interest doesn’t end at the Massapequa borders. I hold every legislator there responsible for what will happen to our youth if they continue to hold our kids as pawns. It was, by the way, a lovely description provided by our legislators. Pawns.
What our legislators really need to understand is that I am not just a pawn. I am a taxpayer and a voter. I do not limit my votes to party lines. I look at the issues and the people who are running, people who may be very nice people, but people who in the end, will be serving me, my kids, and my community. They serve all of us, not just Republicans and not just Democrats. They serve all of us. In three years, my daughter and her friends will be eligible to vote. It isn’t that far away. Those legislators need to end their squabbling and do what is right for their communities. But they will only do that if all of the pawns step up and let their voices be heard.
There will be another session on Monday, June 25. This pawn, I mean voter, plans on attending. My voice will be heard.