Thursday, November 18, 2010

BOL 2011 Budget Hearings - Last Night in Yonkers

Here is the statement (.pdf) I made last night at the BOL public hearing on the 2011 budget in support of environmental planning department staffing and in support of the Westchester CCE.

The auditorium was packed for most of the 3 1/2 hour session with 9 Legislators in attendance on stage and over 100 speakers scheduled to present 3 minute statements each. (Not all ended up speaking due to the lengthy wait times - but perhaps 60-70 folks did speak up.)

I am sad to report the overwhelming number of speakers describing first hand experiences with, and concerns for, the continuance of public and non-profit social, legal and health safety nets in the county. ("It's the economy, stupid.")

However, a few other topics were covered:

10 speakers in support of Hilltop Hanover (all staff and friends of).
8 speakers in support of the county forensics lab.
2 speakers in favor of the tax cuts.
2 speakers in favor of CCE.
1 speaker in favor of GNC (Greenburgh Nature Center).

I URGE YOU TO COME OUT TO THE NEXT PUBLIC HEARING IN PLEASANTVILLE (Nov 23rd) or the FINAL ONE in the BOL chambers (White Plains - Dec 9th) - see below. Without a strong show of public support, it is not clear that the Legislators will feel compelled to restore the county's budget cuts of CCE or GNC programs. The impact on outreach and educational services will be drastic.

MASTER GARDENER should make a statement at these hearings about their own activities and the benefits of their outreach to the public, the schools, etc. Local ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS, ARBORISTS, or those involved in the GREEN INDUSTRY should also speak up about the real world benefits and the "multiplier effects" of CCE and/or GNC programs.

One word of advice from someone who has sat thru 3 1/2 hours of speakers - be ready to edit your statement "on the fly". It comes off best if statements in support of the same organization are not overly repetitive, rather taken together present a full picture - but one without excessive repetition!

This urgent message for support needs to be sent out in as many channels as possible - feel free to repost and share with your own lists. We need to make sure anyone associated with either CCE or GNC programs or who has made use of their services will speak up in support at one of the last two public hearings:

Northern County Public Hearing
Tuesday, November 23rd
Location: Pleasantville High School, 60 Romer Avenue (corner of Romer and Clinton Street), Pleasantville

Final Public Hearing
Thursday, December 9th
Location: County Board Legislative Chambers, 148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor (corner of Martine and Court Street), White Plains

All hearings start at 7:00pm.

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