Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Green With Envy

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Orre, an intern at the Long Island Progressive CoalitionThere are many ways to make your everyday life greener without sacrifice. You probably waste more energy than you think, thus also wasting your money. Energy is expensive, but changing just a few of your habits can lower your usage and bills, and help save the environment at the same time. Install a low-flow showerhead, turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, cut one minute from your shower time to save gallons, don’t let tap water run while you wash your dishes, and fix your water leaks. Unplug chargers and small appliances when not in use because plugged-in electronics still use energy. Use your refrigerator efficiently by adjusting the thermostat to recommended setting, allow hot food to cool before putting it inside and avoid opening the door multiple times. Before working at the Long Island Progressive Coalition I was never really concerned with environmental issues or energy efficiency. I have become increasingly more aware of adjustments in my own life I should take that will not only benefit me when it comes to utility bills, but will also have a small environmental impact on the planet. I believe that these small changes are something everyone should be able to incorporate into their everyday life.

To take your green new lifestyle to the next level and save even more money contact the Long Island Progressive Coalitions PowerUp Communities program and get your home retrofitted! It all starts with a free home energy assessment, conducted by a certified contractor who will comprehensively assess your homes energy use. Shortly after the assessment, your contractor will present a report of your homes efficiency and outline the ways you can reduce drafts and save money on your utility costs. PowerUp will walk you through the process of getting the rebates and financing you qualify for. Some energy efficiency measures that can cut your energy waste significantly are replacing and upgrading your boiler, converting from oil to gas and properly insulating your home. Make these changes, save a heap of money and make your neighbors green with envy! Working closely with PowerUp over the past couple of months I have learned about how the process can really change someone’s life. I think that it’s a program that results in a spectrum of positive outcomes, from cutting waste and saving people money to sparking job and business opportunities locally. I am sure that having a larger amount of energy efficiency programs like PowerUp would reduce green house gases emissions significantly worldwide.

I recently attended a meeting with my magnificent supervisor Marriele Robinson for New York community based organizations working for energy efficiency. One of the interesting issues we discussed was how important it is for the different organizations to have energy efficient offices. Some of the simpler changes in habits offices can implement have to do with making office operations and office purchasing more energy efficient. It can include using environmental friendly copiers, paper and ink. You can cut down on electronic waste by using power strips, setting computers to sleep after a given time and having an admin-controlled thermostat. Digitizing folders, printing double sided and having electronic signatures can significantly cut down the usage of paper.

It is a fact that the climate is changing and that people have a profound effect on that change. We need to significantly reduce our emissions and one way to do that is to use energy more efficiently. Energy efficiency improvements can slow down global warming and its frightening consequences.


Helen Fitzgerald Dies

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Springs resident’s funeral is scheduled Monday in Bridgehampton.

Helen Theresa (Higgins) Fitzgerald, who lived in Springs since 1995, died there on Wednesday. She would have been 83 on April 3.

Fitzgerald was a graduate of the College of New Rochelle where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in French. She earned her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

She worked in outside sales for Pitney Bowes, Inc.  Earlier in her career she taught Religion at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville. She served as secretary of the East Hampton Housing Authority, served on the Board of Directors for Windmill Village Houses, was on the board  of Whalebone Village Housing Authority, and was a Suffolk County Ombudsman for nursing home residents.

She was also a founding member of the East End Peace and Justice group, an ESL tutor for Spanish Speaking residents, and a member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. She served as a past president of the local chapter of the American Association of University Women. In her spare time she was a writer of distinction and a sailing enthusiast.

A former resident of Massapequa Park for over 40 years, Fitzgerald was the mother of the late William Joseph, Peter and Susan of East Hampton, David and Jo-Anne of Amityville, Thomas A. and Diane of Massapequa Park, Raymond of Westchester, NY, Megan of Copiague, Sheila and Frank Taylor of Durham, NC, Brian and Patricia of Melbourne Beach, FL, and Jean and George Feeney of Johnson VT.

Her grandchildren are David, Michael, Ryan, Joseph, Alice, Nolan, Cassidy, Jonathan, Brianna, Zachary, William, and Katie.

Visitation will be at Yardley & Pino Funeral Home of East Hampton on Sunday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. There will be a service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton, on Monday at 10 a.m., followed by internment at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY.

In lieu of flowers donations to East End Hospice are appreciated.

Meeting with Long Island Progressive Coalition

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

By: Virginia Gerardi

Topic: Reviving the co-housing initiative. Years ago, a group of coalition members formed to explore reclaiming the Bulova Watch case factory as a co-housing community. As often happens, lack of human resources and other obstacles resulted in the group disbanding. Once again, a property has been identified with community development potential. Bill Chaleff, a member of the LIPC, invited me along to present the vision and budget for developing the property on the corner of Joel’s Lane in Sag Harbor. Three other members in attendance asked questions about the co-housing concept and about the property in particular.  All are aware of the zoning variances that will be required to build our desired number of living spaces and of the resistance on the part of the entrenched elites in town gov’t toward middle and lower income people residing here.

A public forum was suggested to raise awareness, and methods of publicizing that were presented by the members. A big project, worth doing, step by step.

Message to Lawmakers: Stick with What Works for Youngest New Yorkers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By: Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NY

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been using competitive grants to spur competition among school districts, but today lawmakers are being urged to not rely on that approach for early education funding. The jury is out on competitive grants, according to Danielle Asher, early childhood education campaign coordinator with the Long Island Progressive Coalition; she says maybe they’ll work, maybe not.

That’s why Asher says it’s dangerous to use that system to fund early education programs, which she says have been proved to save the state money and provide a quality education.

“It is proven to reduce grade repetition and disciplinary referrals, special education costs; it will save the state $22 million to $32 million, so we need to invest in Pre-K programs.”

Asher is one of the more than 100 parents, teachers and advocates traveling to Albany to urge lawmakers to restore $53 million in early education funding to the general fund. The Board of Regents also backs that approach, while Governor Cuomo lumped funding for early education into $250 million in competitive grants in his executive budget.

Currently, many of New York’s youngest children are on waiting lists to get into early-learning programs, according to Marsha Basloe, executive director of the Early Care and Learning Council. She says that’s a shame, because decades worth of studies show these programs work.

“Students that participate in quality early-care and learning programs are far more likely to attend college and get higher-paying jobs; avoid teen pregnancy; avoid welfare dependency; avoid delinquency and/or crime.”

Basloe plans to meet with lawmakers to talk about the need to find $20 million to fund a Quality Stars program to rate local early education programs.

A news briefing is planned for 11 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building.

A report is at More on the QUALITYstarsNY program is at

Calls for Equal Funding in High-Need Schools

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

By: Rashed Mian

Amparo Sadler, a grandmother from Central Islip, stood across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr., elementary school in Wyandanch on Wednesday and called on New York State legislators to equally allocate more than $200 million to more than two dozen high-need school districts, instead of forcing them to compete for the precious aid.

“Our children…should not have to compete against one another,” said Sadler, who also serves on the board of Alliance for Quality Education, a group that advocates for public education.

Members of AQE and Long Island Progressive Coalition joined together outside the elementary school to offer a list of recommendations to the state legislature concerning Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed executive budget that includes $805 million in school aid.

About 31 percent—$250 million—of the aid is tied to the performance grants. It also includes $113 million for average-need districts, $18 million to low-need districts and $421 million to high-need districts, according an analysis of Cuomo’s executive budget proposal by AQE.

Advocates said they are grateful for the additional aid from the state for high-need districts like Brentwood, Central Islip and Wyandanch, but they argued that having school districts compete for aid will leave some schools without proper funding.

“Wealthy districts throughout the state have received cuts as well, but they do not run as deep as the cuts that high needs districts are facing,” said Melanie Lawrence of LIPC.

Cuomo’s competitive grant program was established as an incentive to reward the school districts that improve performance.

The group also recommended that the sate redirect $53 million of competitive grant funds to expand pre-kindergarten education, which also falls in line with suggestions from the Board of Regents, they said.

Sadler said her family is looking to get her granddaughter into pre-K in September, but is concerned that she might not be selected by the lottery system that her district uses to place pre-K students.

If her granddaughter doesn’t get picked by the lottery, Sadler said they will have to look at other services, including private school.

“Albany listen to me clearly,” she said. “This is not a damn game show, education is a civil right—it is the law.”

Residents Seek to End Sanitation District

Monday, January 16th, 2012

By: Aisha Al-Muslim

Those circulating a petition to dissolve the sanitation district based in Baldwin hope to trim property taxes, but district representatives say the change would cost jobs and save little money.

Spearheading the effort with taxpayers in the district are two grassroots groups: Residents for Efficient Special Districts (RESD), based in Baldwin, and Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), of Massapequa.

Members hope to collect 5,000 signatures from residents to call for a referendum to do away with the nearly 84-year-old Sanitation District No. 2 that serves Baldwin, Roosevelt, South Hempstead and sections of Freeport, Rockville Centre and Uniondale.

“These districts are not economically sustainable,” said Laura Mallay, RESD’s executive director and a 20-year Baldwin resident who lost a bid for district commissioner in 2005. “Services will go down if we don’t do anything now.”

The New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act of 2009 gives residents a mechanism to consolidate and dissolve local governments. If advocates can secure the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in the district, or 5,000 residents, the issue can go on the ballot.

Advocates wanting to get rid of the sanitation district have collected more than 3,000 signatures since March, Mallay said.

“Many of the residents of the area have been saying taxes are high,” said Serena Liguori, coordinator of LIPC’s Government Efficiency Project. “We certainly want to help support residents and help them save money if they can.”

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) introduced a bill last January to amend the consolidation law to require a detailed alternate plan when there’s a vote on consolidation. Now, if residents vote to consolidate a local government, it must formulate a plan on how the services will be picked up. “Residents should know how those services are going to be provided and the cost of providing those services after the special district is eliminated,” Martins said.

Residents in the district would pay half of what they pay now if the district is dissolved and the Town of Hempstead picks up the sanitation services, Mallay said. A home assessed at $400,000 serviced by the Town of Hempstead paid $267 in sanitation taxes in 2010, while an identically assessed home in District 2 paid $509, advocates said.

“We feel that in one town there should be one tax rate,” Mallay said.

Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery said it’s “premature” for the town to consider taking over the district because no detailed plan has been made.

Former district board secretary Bob Noble, who spoke for the district, said the advocates’ claims are misleading. He said it appeared that their taxes are higher because insurance costs are calculated in the district budget. “Their cost analysis is faulty,” he said. About 70 people could lose their jobs if the district were abolished, he said.

“Is bigger always better?” Noble said. “We are small enough and responsible enough to get to people right away. Most people are not willing to give that up.”

‘Affordable housing’ projects seek to keep residents on Long Island

Friday, November 4th, 2011

By: Jim Mancari

Though shelter—along with food and clothing—is a basic necessity of life, rising prices are making affordable housing increasingly difficult to find for young people and families on Long Island.

Nassau and Suffolk counties are ranked in the top-10 least affordable living counties in the U.S. Currently, over one-fifth of Long Island households spend more than half their income on housing.

Meanwhile, since 2000, rents have increased 39 percent throughout the island.

Despite these statistics, both counties are taking strides to lessen the financial burden on residents by offering affordable housing.

What is affordable housing?

The Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC) introduced the “Yes in My Backyard” project in 1979. It defines “affordable housing” as housing that costs no more than 30 percent of the monthly household income for rent and utilities. The project also guarantees the housing will remain affordable to families who qualify under specific guidelines.

What steps are Nassau and Suffolk taking to increase availability of affordable housing?

On Oct. 31, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano joined the Long Island Housing Partnership (LIHP) in Inwood to break ground on four new 3-bedroom, 1.5-bath homes, which have been made affordable through grants from the county, the Federal HOME Program and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. LIHP seeks to provide increased housing opportunities for Long Islanders unable to afford decent and safe homes.

“It is extremely important that we increase affordable housing opportunities available to our residents,” said Mangano. “These homes provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to those who need it the most, while also creating construction jobs which are the backbone of our economy.”

Mangano said these homes will revitalize neighborhoods and put federal dollars to good use for residents. Barring the Nassau Interim Finance Authority’s approval of Mangano’s most recent 2012 budget proposal, Nassau residents will not experience a property tax increase in the near future.

“Any time you can create an affordable housing market, coupled with the certainty of no new county property taxes and then offer the individual or family the services and quality of life that Nassau County delivers, you create a very desirable place to live,” Mangano said.

Nassau County Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) also dug his shovel into the earth at the Inwood ground breaking ceremony.

“Making affordable housing available across Nassau County is fundamental to our long-term economic prosperity,” said Kopel.

Several months ago in Suffolk County, the LIPC fought for the approval of a 490-unit mixed availability living community in Huntington Station designed by AvalonBay. Though ground has yet to be broken, LIPC director Lisa Tyson said the goal is for nearly 20 percent of these units to be affordable housing.

Additionally, for the past decade, land developer Gerald Wolkoff has fought for the approval of the Heartland Project in Brentwood, which would create new shops, restaurants and apartments, in addition to jobs. Of the proposed 9,000 rental units, 23 percent would qualify as affordable housing. Disputes over labor and money have delayed this $4 billion project.

What does the future hold?

By the time these housing projects are completed, there may not be any buyers left. In 2008, the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research reported that 65 percent of Long Island residents between 18 and 24 said they were likely to move away from the island in the next five years.

“Most people cannot go from living in their parents’ home to owning a home,” said Tyson. “Young people don’t want to live in their parents’ basements or attics. They can’t pay $1,500 a month, so there is just very little opportunity.”

While the economy doesn’t seem to be improving anytime soon, local officials hope that affordable housing will keep Long Island residents—and taxpayers—on the island for the long haul.

Letter: Keep tax surcharge on NY's richest

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Article by: Claudia Hanover, Board Member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition

In response to your editorial “How to keep a millionaire” [Oct. 20], nothing could be more askew. The editorial board suggests that “the state should let its income-tax surcharge on those earning more than $200,000 a year (or married couples earning more than $300,000 a year) expire at year’s end.”

The editorial board would do well to look carefully at the coverage of Occupy Wall Street and its offspring all over the world. Those folks in the United States are decrying these basic facts: From 1979 to 2006, the average household after-tax income, including public and private benefits, rose at paltry rates for the bottom three quintiles.

By contrast, the top quintile says it all: It enjoyed a 55 percent increase, while the very top 1 percent took away a 256 percent gain. Put another way, that amounts to the top 1 percent more than tripling its already substantial disparate gains in 1979. These figures are from the Congressional Budget Office.

To suggest that anything other than an immediate and bold tax be levied against the richest among us is to be anti-American, anti-democratic and anti-humanity.

Teachers’ Organizations Rally to End Budget Cuts

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Article by: Tracy Diamond

An organization held a rally outside of South Ocean Middle School Wednesday to share stories and speak out against budget cuts to Long Island public schools.

The Long Island Education Coalition (LIEC), the Long Island Progressive Coalition and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) teamed up to voice their disagreement with the $1.3 billion budget cut.

Aside from being held in front of the middle school, the rally was not affiliated with the Patchogue-Medford School District.

“Our message today is to let Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and the state legislator know that school cuts hurt our kids,” AQE Community Organizer Danielle Asher said. “Three weeks into the school year, we’re feeling those effects, whether it’s pre-k or kindergarten programs being cut to half day, or sports programs.”

According to Asher, the main areas of loss have been to after school programs, athletics, and advanced placement courses.

“The Patchogue Medford school district has been hit very hard, as well as many surrounding districts like William Floyd, Longwood, and Brentwood, so we wanted to be in the area that was hit the hardest,” Asher said.

LIEC co-chair Vincent Lyons said a survey was sent to the 120 LI school districts and preliminary findings were made out of 101 responses, showing the differences between low wealth and high wealth schools.

“The state aid cuts had a direct, negative impact on the lower wealth districts- class sizes, AP courses, career and tech- they had to reduce their programs by 40 percent,” Lyons said. “The high wealth districts, because they’re not dependent on state aid, had no adverse impact at all, they didn’t cut any programs.”

Lyons explained that schools have two streams of funding: tax-based and state aid, and with reductions in both comes losses in low and high wealth districts, but the difference in the amount of cuts between the two is evident.

“What we’re concerned about is the achievement gap, this growing disparity between the haves and have-nots,” Lyons said.

The preliminary findings offer statistics regarding each area of loss faced by low and high wealth districts, the numbers for low wealth significantly higher.

“They have to start protecting our children and putting funding into our public schools,” Asher said.

The Perfect Storm of State Disaster- Education Cuts

Friday, August 27th, 2010

August 27th, 2010 7:18 pm ET

“The perfect storm of state disaster” is what state assemblyman Tom Alfano calls the governor’s proposed budget for schools.  This is a very apt statement, whether you are a parent of a child in a school on Long Island or a teacher.  This statement was made on December 19, 2008 in the Floral Dispatch, online edition.  However, this statement still holds true today as well.  Alfano also stated in his op-ed that these cuts would impact such areas in education as bigger class sizes, cuts in technology, and special education.

In order to decrease the gap in funding versus educational needs, New York attempted to win The Race to the Top.  According to a report by Newsday, New York State went from also-ran to winner in the federal Race To The Top competition, officials said.  New York is one of nine states splitting $3.3 billion.  Timothy Kremer of the state School Boards Association states that “it will not replace the $1.4-billion cut in school aid that forced some school districts to lay off teachers, close schools and cut programs.”

Long Island schools are showing their disagreement with state cuts.  One such district is in Wyandanch had fifty community residents on Saturday August 14, 2010 participate in a rally lad by local activists and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a regional volunteer group.  Ironically when the state raised passing standards on its tests last month, the number of failed students soared – in Wyandanch and island wide.  So with the passing test score being increased as well as class sizes rising due to budget cuts, students will suffer.  New York state is going to receive some financial help from the federal government of $26 billion.  $607 million of that money – equivalent to more than 40 percent of state-aid cuts will go to New York.  But Albany authorities have not yet announced how the money will be distributed to schools.

Even with all of these cuts, there is still a silver-lining to this cloud.  People are still choosing to teach, and many of them return to the schools they went through.  Michael Arnone returned to teach third grad in the same classroom he had third grade in Glen Cove.  Sari Goldberg Alfano of Levittown returned to her elementary school as well to teach.  These teachers and teachers like them still believe in our education system here in Long Island, and so should you.