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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Tensions mark Nassau map hearing

Nassau County Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt

Nassau County Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt Credit: Howard Schnapp

Monday’s public hearing by the Nassau County Legislature on the Republican proposal for redrawing the lines of its 19 districts drew several angry outbursts.

One was sort of undocumented in that most people did not give much attention to the raised voices at the back of the chambers room shortly after the 10 a.m. hearing began.

People were being refused entry and were quite indignant about it. One of the wardens at the door, a legislative clerk, was denying entry because all of the seats had been taken, and the 251 person maximum mandated by the Fire Marshal’s office was already exceeded, the warden said.

Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, (R-Massapequa), above, said “Let everybody in.” A fire marshal, standing on the side, looked at his shoes.

A little later, Schmitt  said, County Attorney John Ciampoli would give his testimony, then the Republicans could question him; then the Democrats. “After that, the public can be heard,” he said.

There were outraged cries from the audience and from the Democratic side of the chamber. Schmitt reiterated his statement, adding that “procedure will be followed.” But after further groans from the mostly Democratic audience, he relented, and said the public would be heard after Ciampoli.

At about 3:30 p.m.,  a near fight broke out when Regis Lawrence Thompson of Hempstead told Schmitt he had taken his sheet off, insinuating the preciding officer is a Ku Klux Klanner.

Schmitt took umbrage at what she said and responded: “if you’re the best the New Hempstead Democratic Club has to offer . . .”  At that point, Dennis Jones and Ramel Smith, both club members, joined Thompson at the podium, shouting that they supported her.

An angry Fran Becker (R-Lynbrook), said something that caused several others to jump from their seats shouting.

Three Nassau County police officers on duty in the building soon arrived at the podium and escorted Thompson, Jones and Smith and their supporters into the hall. Shortly afterward, they all returned to the chambers.

The hearing was still going on as of this posting.

Photo: Nassau Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, (R-Massapequa)

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