About a dozen Long Island government and school leaders gathered it the Hempstead Public Library Thursday to discuss innovative efficiencies — some established and others just ideas — and to identify government barriers that need removal to enable such innovations.
They were led by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, president of the New York State County Executives Association and the head of PAYGo, which he describes as a plan to protect taxpayers and provide high-quality essential service. This was the second stop of five on Hein’s statewide policy tour.
He talked about moving SUNY Ulster’s satellite community college campus to a centrally located elementary school that would have become an empty building. “This initiative increases access to college while saving taxpayers millions over the next decade,” he said.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice talked about the innovative action she took with village officials to close down “an open air drug market” on Terrace Avenue in Hempstead Village.
“We not only got rid of drug dealers,” she said, “but on the back end were able to help many people get the resources they needed for re-entry into society.”
Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. later picked up that thread, saying it was an idea that has worked and made residents feel safer. “We got the community to buy into what we were doing,” he said.
Kishore Kuncham, the Freeport schools superintendent, had a book of innovations including a deal with the village utility company for fiber optics for the schools, another with private companies for an after-school program, and an agreement to outsource its prekindergarten program “to save the district more than $1 million annually,” he said.
Others in attendance included Deputy County Executive Charles Theofan, Nassau County Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Malverne Mayor Patty McDonald and Clerk Treasurer Teresa Emmel, Brookhaven risk management director John Brooks, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Hempstead schools Deputy Superintendent Julius Brown, and Hempstead Deputy Mayor Walylyn Hobbs.
PAYGo NY will include stops through the state and will conclude with a final report to state and local leaders.