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Long IslandNassau

Youth advocate: $1.1M cut against the law

The administration of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is violating the county's own law by proposing $1.1 million in cuts to agencies contracted to his Youth Board, according to a youth agency advocate.

"It's wrong and it's unnecessary," Long Beach Reach head Joe Smith told the county legislature Monday. "The law says you must fund these agencies with red-light camera revenue, and there was more than enough for the four departments [assigned] in the law."

The law, passed in June 2009, says: "All funds collected . . . shall be utilized . . . to provide funding for contracts . . . between the Youth Board [and three other county departments]."

But Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin responded that the "costs from those three other departments, together with Youth Board programs, exceed red-light camera revenue."

Outside the legislative chambers, Lorraine Danser, the head of the 30-year-old Uniondale Community Council, lamented that the proposed cuts would close the agency's doors. "We serve more than 600 children annually, not including our summer programs," she said.

In the chambers, with his wheelchair-bound 19-year-old son, Joshua, Merritt Benson of Westbury pleaded for his other children: "Please spare the PAL [Police Athletic League]. The officers love the kids, and the kids love the officers."

Sergio Argueta, of the STRONG youth program in Hempstead, began putting two legislators on the spot, asking them in a booming voice: "Do you support the full restoration of Youth Board funding?"

Francis Becker, (R-Lynbrook) said yes. Denise Ford, (R-Long Beach), seemed on the verge of saying yes, when the questioning was shut down.

Pat Boyle, of Elmont's Gateway Youth Program, asked legislators to support a state red-light camera bill for Nassau, sponsored by Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, (D-Hempstead). That bill wants 25 percent of net revenue from the 50 new cameras given to the state comptroller for a county youth services fund.

Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said he was not sure he could support the bill without assurances from the administration that it would adhere to the 2009 county law.

In other action, Civil Service Employees Association President Jerry Laricchiuta told the legislature that union members would "remember" those who support an administration proposal to give inmate hospital care at the jail to a private company, causing 118 of his members to lose their jobs.

The Republicans later passed it 4-2 in the Rules Committee. Afterward, the GOP administration issued a release headlined: "County Democrats . . . stand with inmates over taxpayers."

Laricchiuta said that Democrats had sided with labor. "We're not inmates," he added.


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