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Agency leaders rally against service cuts

Various youth groups of Nassau County rally outside

Various youth groups of Nassau County rally outside the Theodore Roosevelt County Executive and Legislative building in Mineola, New York. (July 6, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Dozens of youth service and other social service agency leaders, along with many of their clients, rallied Friday for restoration of contracts that Nassau County canceled this week.

"The county legislators and the county executive clearly do not care about children, veterans, seniors or residents in general," Sergio Argueta, head of the STRONG anti-gang program in Hempstead and Uniondale, told more than 200 people outside county headquarters in Mineola.

The legislature, with a GOP 10-9 majority, is in a bitter partisan fight over a Republican proposal for new legislative districts. Democrats have said the plan is "unfair" and have refused to give Republicans the necessary three votes for a supermajority to borrow money to pay tax refunds.

Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) and Republican County Executive Edward Mangano met Friday morning. "Nothing was resolved, but we'll meet again tomorrow morning," Abrahams said.

In a statement, Mangano said he was continuing to have "healthy conversations" with Abrahams to "address youth board funding."

Mangano, backed by the GOP legislative majority, has redirected to the general fund revenue from red-light camera fines that had funded social service agencies. The agencies' funding for the second half of the year was canceled Thursday.

"We and our communities are under attack, not by the Bloods and the Crips, but by the Republicans and the Democrats," said Argueta.

Forty youth contracts have been terminated, while 13 mental health and chemical dependency programs are receiving reduced funding.

Maria Cuadra, president of the Long Island Hispanic Coalition, called on the county to use contingency funding for the programs. "If the children, mentally ill, chemically dependent, depressed and anxious of Nassau aren't an emergency, then I don't know what is."

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