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Protesters call on Cuomo to act on environment, other issues

Protesters, Ann Fawcett Ambia, of Brooklyn, and Arnold

Protesters, Ann Fawcett Ambia, of Brooklyn, and Arnold Froge, of Manhattan, rally against fracking outside the New York State Democratic Convention at the Hilton in Melville on Thursday, May 22, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz

Dozens of protesters lined Route 110 outside the Democratic state convention in Melville Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to act on issues including the environment and education.

Environmentalists, public education advocates, Catholic school backers and supporters of gun rights carried signs and chanted slogans critical of the Democratic governor. Teachers unions and people upset about the pace of recovery from superstorm Sandy also protested Wednesday.

A large group of environmentalists who oppose a method of natural gas drilling called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, carried signs calling on Cuomo to ban the practice.

The governor has delayed his decision on allowing fracking natural gas several times, saying his administration is still conducting a health study. A decision is not expected until after the election.

"You can't wait out the anti-fracking movement," said Alex Beauchamp of New Yorkers Against Fracking.

Members of the Alliance for Quality Education, a nonprofit that seeks to ensure "a high quality public education to all students regardless of ZIP code," and Long Island Opt-out, a grassroots parent organization that supports changes in state law to allow parents to legally pull children out of state tests, stood in the drizzle awaiting the governor's arrival at the Huntington Hilton.

Earlier this school year, thousands of Long Island students opted out of the state math and English Language Arts tests that reflect the more rigorous Common Core curriculum.

"We are fighting the Common Core -- it is the privatization of our schools . . . and anything that sets our children up for failure is wrong," said Pamela Verity, of Commack, a former New York City public schoolteacher and a parent of three school-age children.

Catholic school advocates pressed Cuomo for an education tax credit that would boost donations to school scholarship programs. The advocates said they expected the credit to be approved in the state budget March 31, but it wasn't.

"The governor told us time and time and time again he was with us," said Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. "We think it's time for Governor Cuomo to show us he is."

After the tax credit fell through in March, Cardinal Timothy Dolan sent a letter saying he was "frustrated, disappointed and angry" about the "promised credit" failing to gain approval.Gun-rights activists voiced opposition to gun-control legislation that tightened the state's ban on so-called assault weapons, known as the Safe Act.


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