Decision Maker

Peter T. King

  • NY02
  • Representative

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Petitioning President of the United States, US department of commerce, Census Bureau, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Dana Rohrabacher, Seth Moulton, Jim McGovern, Jim Cost...

Remove sub-Asian boxes on Census Form 2020! Stop racist anti-Asian anti-immigrant legacy!

Dear fellow Americans for justice, brothers and sisters against racism, The glaringly racist legacy of sub-Asian boxes on the Census form was started in 1870, after the Burlingame Treaty of 1868, which eventually led to the infamous, racist, and inhumane Chinese Exclusion Act spanning from 1882 to 1943, which among other terrible abominations, banned U.S. residents of Chinese descent from having children or getting married; their family members in Asia were forbidden from entry to U.S. and reuniting as families. The Census form has no "Asian/Asian American" category. In its place are a group of boxes signifying foreign nationalities in Asia as if Asian Americans were all “perpetual foreigners.” It intrusively identified and collected data on which U.S. residents were of Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese...descent. While the Chinese Exclusion Act ended in 1943, did these racist, humiliating, dehumanizing sub-Asian boxes get removed from the Census form? No, they were kept on the Census form by the U.S. government even until today, and if we don't fight back and boycott the Census form with sub-Asian boxes, it will stay on the 2020 Census form and beyond, prolonging a racist American legacy, a shame to all Americans. This legacy treats Americans of Asian descent as perpetual foreigners, and collects intrusive personal ancestral origin data used in many kinds of racial discrimination and persecution. In one example, the U.S. government used information from the Census Bureau to identify native born Americans of Japanese descent and sent them to Internment Camps during the World War II. There were also discriminatory laws against Americans of various Asian descent, such as Filipino. Such horrendous trampling of humanity will happen again unless you and I act now to boycott a 2020 Census form with sub-Asian boxes. We demand these sub-Asian boxes be removed and replaced with one description--"Asian/Asian American." Injustice to one human being is injustice to all human kind. If we don't stop this racist and anti-immigrant legacy, its “logic” and mentality will be repeated in current and future policy-making. Let's keep fighting against racism and improve the human condition step by step. Please join the good fight to make this historically significant change happen for now and forever, by signing this petition and sharing it on social media and by email, word of mouth. Power to the people! Fighting on, Americans against racism and anti-Asian anti-immigrant legacy

Swan Lee
56,269 supporters
Petitioning DIane Feinstein, Peter Aguilar, Nanette Barragan, Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Ami Bera, Julia Brownley, Jeff Denham, Mark DeSaulnier, Anna Eshoo, John Garamendi, Jimmy Gomez, Kamala Harris, Jared H...

Gabriel's Law

Bill Summary This bill will require the creation and installment of a new student reporting system that will be accessed by all agencies that deal with children, create an educational seminar on child abuse incorporated into their early education curriculum and up through high school, add additional changes to the way Child Protective Services operates, and restrict records for deceased children from being redacted Background We have heard many stories of child abuse and neglect as a nationwide, systemic problem, citing case overloads as part of a bigger issue. According to the 26th Child Maltreatment Report created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1575 child fatalities reported in 2011; 1619 child fatalities reported in 2012; 1551 child fatalities reported in 2013; 1583 child fatalities reported in 2014; and 1585 child fatalities reported in 2015, nationwide.  In 2015, nationwide, 78.61% of those children were all school age or otherwise, < 2 years old. On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez, DOB February 20, 2005, received emergency response services due to full arrest as a result of approximately 8 months of child abuse and neglect at the hands of Pearl Sinthia Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre.  Over the course of 8 months, over 50 reports were phoned into social workers to report abuse that went undocumented and unfounded, along with phone calls made to sheriff’s deputies, in regards to Gabriel.  In particular, Gabriel’s teacher, Jennifer Garcia, made numerous phone calls to the social worker on his case, citing his injuries.  Gabriel succumbed to his injuries on May 24, 2013, in what we know now as one of the worst cases of child abuse known to the United States of America.  On November 15, 2017, Isauro Aguirre was found guilty of 1st-degree murder with special circumstances of torture.  A trial for Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and the four social workers involved with Gabriel’s case are still pending.  When looking into other child abuse fatalities, it was found that the Department of Child and Family Services began redacting all of their records to prevent the community from researching cases. Transparency is vital to instill confidence in the agencies entrusted to protect children. According to “The economic burden of child maltreatment in the Unites States and implications for prevention” (Child Abuse and Neglect. The International Journal. Fang, Brown, Florence, Mercy 2012), cited by the Center of Disease Control, “The estimated average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment is $210,012 in 2010 dollars, including $32,648 in childhood health care costs; $10,530 in adult medical costs; $144,360 in productivity losses; $7,728 in child welfare costs; $6,747 in criminal justice costs; and $7,999 in special education costs. The estimated average lifetime cost per death is $1,272,900, including $14,100 in medical costs and $1,258,800 in productivity losses. The total lifetime economic burden resulting from new cases of fatal and nonfatal child maltreatment in the United States in 2008 is approximately $124 billion. In sensitivity analysis, the total burden is estimated to be as large as $585 billion. Findings concluded that the cost of living children who suffered maltreatment, in 2008, estimated a lifetime amount of approximately $210,012, while those whose maltreatment resulted in fatality cost an estimated lifetime amount of approximately $1.3 million.  Problem There is a systematic failure in communication with regards to the safety and welfare of at-risk children who depend on adults to protect them.  Had there been a system in place to allow for all agencies to effectively communicate with one another, and track all reports and documents, in regards to any reported child abuse, that may have helped save Gabriel’s life.  Children depend on adults for protection and safeguarding.  We are in an era of technology where we have need to improve, exponentially, our ability and duties to safeguard children.  Records for child abuse fatalities should be unsealed and social workers who have repeat fatalities need to be investigated and retrained. Solution         I.            A nationwide system needs to be installed, in all schools, child welfare agencies, law enforcement agencies, doctor’s offices, and district attorney’s office, that help mandated reporters create electronic SCAR (Suspected Child Abuse Report), allow the agencies to track reports and status of child abuse. a.      The system shall have an alert for law enforcement and social worker of any extended absence that doesn’t have any parent contact/medical documentation over a 2-day period/as reported by the attending school.  b.      The system shall have an alert for law enforcement and assigned social workers and their supervisors of any non-enrollment of children within a 2-day period.  c.       The system shall have an alert for CPS supervisors for a daily review of any child that has repeated reports. d.      In conjunction with each agency, especially if a school alert comes in, an immediate action plan is put in place to ensure the safety of the child. e.      Doctor’s may flag any injury as possible child abuse which will create an electronic SCAR. f.        District Attorney’s office will have the ability to create customizable reports and alerts based on criteria needed to help with cases and decisions made in regards to court cases and as needed.       II.            A child abuse curriculum needs to be created and implemented starting at early education and moving up through high school.  This curriculum needs to be implemented into the foster system and the juvenile hall system as well.  The curriculum should include a discussion on all forms of abuse, from sexual harassment/sexual assault to all types of child abuse that can occur within the home.     III.            Specific changes need to be made within the Child Protective Services to ensure adequate and complete recording. a.      Assign nurses to social workers for house visits and documentation of any abuse to any child. b.      Social workers assigned to Child Protective Services need to be able to handle the caseloads and demonstrate effective investigative and communicative skills. The requirement is 40 hours of in-service training to advance from CSW II to CSW III. c.       If a worker cannot perform their tasks effectively, there needs to be immediate consequences or corrective discipline to ensure the safety of children in their care. d.      Supervisor technique training needs to be provided to all current and future supervisors, to help ensure supervisory skills.  Additionally, they need to also have all the knowledge of working as a Child Protective Services social worker prior to being a supervisor for that department.  e.      Computer systems must be well maintained and updated on a 5-year basis, to the most current technology, to keep up with efficiency. f.        Any fatalities under a social worker must be thoroughly investigated and the worker must be removed from the Child Protective Services department until uptraining is completed and they can prove themselves capable of the position. g.      Mandatory recorded interviews with social worker, nurse, and interviewee.     IV.            Law Enforcement needs to be accountable and understand that child abuse claims are not only important but need to be documented. a.      Any type of child abuse needs to be reported, via the new system, which will generate a SCAR b.      Any call to a scene should include an address lookup to see if there are children residing at the residence and if there are any child abuse reports made, to make sure they have a well-rounded understanding of what they are walking into. c.       The alert for suspected child abuse reports should be reviewed by Special Victims Unit, or a specific unit, to ensure that follow up.       V.            Educational institutes should have the ability to have access to the system and file reports based on extended absences, tardiness or signs of abuse. a.      Teachers should be able to file a SCAR from their desk in their classroom b.      An alert from school should immediately trigger with Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services.     VI.            Doctor’s office will be able to flag and note a child’s record in ways that will flag agencies depending on the situation. a.      Extended absences will be flagged to go directly to school’s attendance office and immediately alert school of extended absence. b.      The doctor can flag any abnormalities that appear to be child abuse that will create a SCAR to alert Child Protective Services of injuries and suspicions.   VII.            All documents pertaining to a deceased child shall be made available, via an amendment to privacy laws, with all redaction markings removed. VIII.            Increase Statute of Limitations for felony child abuse should be increased from 3 years to 6 years. In Many cases, children are not aware that they are victims to begin with. Often, it is not a single event, but consecutive instances over a span of time which requires that the statute be extended to the point where the victim first files a report of abuse.     IX.            Failure to Report Child Abuse should be changed from a straight misdemeanor to a “wobbler” with a 3 or 6-year statute of limitations. Negligence to report abuse is not an acceptable excuse to prevent a child from obtaining criminal action. Purposefully declining or avoiding to file a report of abuse should be met with the more severe penalty.       X.            Children who are in a coma or dying in manners consistent with murder or suspected foul play must undergo autopsy once deceased.     XI.            Mandatory Child Abuse Education classes for all new welfare applicants.   XII.            Adults living in a household, and witnesses to abuse of any minors within that household, who fail to report or try to prevent abuse to minors shall be charged as follows: a.      Non-fatal injury to child - Accomplice to Child Abuse – min. 1-year b.      Child Abuse resulting in fatal injury – Accomplice to Child Abuse resulting in Fatality – min 10 year. 

Gabriel's Justice
12,407 supporters
Petitioning Donald J. Trump, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Andrew M. Cuomo, United States Department of Transportation, Charles E. Schumer, New York Governor, New York State Senate, New York Times, Catharine Young, Ne...

Require School Buses To Have Proper Safety Equipment

Lets keep our children safe and let’s start from enforcing stricter laws on people obliviously passing the school bus red lights, stop signs. More then 50,000 people in New York State pass school buses that are loading or unloading students each day. We want all our kids to come home safely and alive from school as many of us “parents” have work and need to find private transportation for them to school and from school and the only way we can make a change is by showing the government on how important our kids life’s are and how much we love them. As a school bus driver I see many drivers not only passing my school bus signs but speeding though them we need this to stop  especially for a City like New York itself. IF YOU LOVE AND CARE FOR YOUR CHILD YOU WOULD NOT HESITATE TO SIGN THIS PETITION AND FIGHT FOR OUR CHILDRENS SAFETY, HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.  For The decision makers, • Traffic cameras on all SCHOOL BUSES like citi buses have.                         • GPS on all school buses• more law enforcement agencies looking out for our children.• Drivers having direct communication with 911 in case of a tragedy like this happens they don’t have to pick up a phone dial 911 explain the situation give their location because by that time that child will be deceased. All buses work with students. MAKE IT SAFE.

Antoni Parys
9,490 supporters
Petitioning Donald J. Trump

Police Officers Right to Carry Firearms

We live in a society where terror attacks or mass shootings by disturbed people are almost common, everyday occurrences. Yet despite all these horrific events, we continue to disarm the very people who could be key in stopping some of these mass attacks. We train our police officers to respond to these types of incidents, yet in their off duty status we allow way too many private venues to ban them from carrying their weapons inside. In many police departments or other law enforcement agencies, officers are trained with a variety of weapons, including handguns, shotguns and rifles. We trust them with these weapons, and in fact even after they retire they can carry the weapons and have to qualify with them annually.  Eleven years ago, HR 218 was enacted into law. The Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act, simply known as the national carry law, allows sworn police officers, both active and retired, to carry a gun anywhere in the US. The intent of the act, and its subsequent revisions, is quite clear. Trained, armed police officers are a good thing, and there should be a consistent federal model rather than allowing individual states to set laws prohibiting off duty police officers from carrying weapons. Before the enactment of this law, many other police officers were actually in technical violation of the law by simply traveling to work. An example would be in the Northern NY suburbs where the direct route into New York City required 15 minutes or so of travel through New Jersey before crossing a bridge and reentering New York. The insanity of that was driven home to me late one night while traveling home from work in New York City after an evening shift. I found myself stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on a foggy parkway just over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. As we crawled along the parkway, several gunshots rang out. Needless to say as I crawled along I grabbed my gun and peered into the fog to see what was happening. As it turned out, there was a jeweler who was followed home from New York City, who was purposely rear-ended in his car by a group who then robbed him and during the course of the robbery fired several shots. By the time I got to where the robbery took place the suspects were gone, but it was a tense few minutes. It would have been more harrowing had I not carried my weapon with me, and so HR 218 takes issues like that off the table.  Unfortunately, there is another huge impediment to a true national law enforcement officer’s carry act. Although LEOSA preempts state and local laws, there are two notable exceptions built right into the law: State law permits private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property (such as a bars, private clubs, amusement parks, etc.), and can prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park. Additionally, LEOSA does not override the federal Gun-Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) which prohibits carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools. Although the GFSZA authorizes on-duty law enforcement officers to carry firearms in such circumstances, off-duty and retired law enforcement officers are still restricted from doing so unless they have a firearms license issued from the state in which they reside and then it is only good for the state in which they reside. Individuals must also obey any federal laws and federal agency policies that restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in certain federal buildings and lands, as well as federal regulations prohibiting the carriage of firearms on airplanes Of course, there are other venues where a police officer is not allowed to carry a weapon absent some special circumstances, such as planes and various federal facilities. Even some of these restrictions can use some further examination to see if they actually serve the purpose of both the law and the public at-large. A few years ago I went into New York City to attend a concert at the Nokia Theater. As is my usual practice, especially when traveling into NYC, I had my firearm with me. Security would not let me in, so I asked for a supervisor. The house manager came and spoke with me, and told me their policy was not to let anyone with firearms inside. I even spoke with several officers working the event, and they said even they can’t carry their firearms inside off duty. So now I was faced with what to do with my weapon. I let my wife go inside, while I ran several blocks to the nearest police precinct. They were kind enough to hold onto my weapon, although they had no facilities to do so and I suspect they get asked to do this fairly frequently. One of the officers at the desk was willing to hold the gun in his locker. Now as I head back to the theater, I am unarmed and my value as a trained law enforcement officer is diminished.  Recently I made several trips into New York City. I know now to call in advance to ascertain any venue’s policy on off duty law enforcement and firearms. More and more are banning weapons, and some tell you ridiculous things such as "lock it in your car". Unless your car is actually equipped with a lock box for weapons, being told to leave a weapon in a car is extremely naive and irresponsible, and just points out how ill-equipped these “security” personnel are. Frankly, when you arrive at most venues, their security is not equipped or trained to deal with armed intruders. Some have off duty officers moonlighting, but many have unarmed, and poorly trained security staff that they rely upon. For most people, that means leaving the weapon at home, the result being you have totally disarmed officers which to me defeats the intent of the LEOSA.  I assume most of those in charge of these large venues feel their security can handle any matters that occur, and if not the local police are just a phone call away. I have already expressed my opinion that most of the security at these venues are not trained or equipped to handle an active shooter situation. Even if there are armed personnel inside, their ability to intercede in an active shooter scenario depends on where everyone is situated if and when such an event occurs. It takes seconds for an armed individual to wreak havoc, especially in a crowded location. The closer an armed and trained law enforcement officer is the sooner the carnage may be terminated. Yet the very same people who you would hope would arrive when you call 911 are the people you don’t trust to bring their weapons inside? Does the training go away because you are off duty? I mentioned involvement in some off duty events earlier in this letter, and have made several off duty arrests during my career. I know that any of these situations could turn bad real fast, and if I were not armed I would be far less likely to act. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since most police departments now prefer off duty officers to observe and call for on duty help rather than taking enforcement action off duty, when possible. But no one in law enforcement, or the public for that matter, would mind an armed off duty officer terminating an active shooting event by being armed and in the right place at the right time. Just ask Trooper Edward Andersson, a 27-year veteran of the Arizona Department of Public Safety whose life was saved by an armed citizen passing by intervened. Imagine a trained officer was passing by but left his gun at home because he was going to an event at a facility that banned officers from carrying their weapons. In my opinion, the LEOSA needs to be amended to remove the right of private property owners that allows them to prohibit those officers covered under the act from carrying their firearms inside private premises. The provisions regarding Gun_free school zones should also not apply to those covered under the act. It is just a legal trap that an officer from out of state can easily fall prey to. I can understand retaining the right for government to prevent the carrying on government property, since most of those locations have trained, on duty law enforcement in place. But to give full force and effect to the spirit of the LEOSA, you need to allow officers to carry their weapons with them. Having officers leave their weapons home because at some point in their travel they are going to enter a private business that will not allow them in forces officers to disarm or to forgo enjoying concerns, sporting events, theater and the like. Please join me in getting these important changes to the LEOSA enacted. The safety of our citizens can not be understated, and we may now have a President who might be able to help make this happen. 

Dan Weisberg
6,289 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, Jerry Brown, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Gary Peters, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), International Animal Rescue, Animal Planet, Animal ACTion ...

End Kitten Mills

Kitten mills are places where female cats are bred and bred over and over to make many litters of kittens. The kittens are born with diseases because the female cat had many diseases due to shortage of water, starvation, and filthy places to stay. The kittens that are bred are usually cramped together in a tiny cage filled with old urine, bugs, and dirty food. Kitten mills ordinarily take place in small houses that are not taken care of. Kittens are also found dead on a daily basis because of all the filthy conditions they are in. This problem impacts all animal lovers and people who want cats as pets. TIP: Don't buy your pets from pet stores because the animals usually come from kitten or puppy mills! Help put a stop to this by signing the petition! Thank you and #StopAnimalAbuse

Shanti Hilton
5,537 supporters
Petitioning Charles Schumer, Kathleen Rice, Kenneth LaValle, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete King, Andrew Cuomo, Catharine Young, Steve Israel

Local Marine Mammal Contingency Plan

We propose the "Local Marine Mammal Contingency Plan" to be written into law.Giving local authorities or properly trained citizens to the right supersede the Federal government and gain the legal right to provide needed rescue efforts when these federally protected mammals become stranded or beached within locally regulated waters. This week's events in Moriches bay on Long Island have proven that waiting on the Federal government (NOAA) cannot be the only course of action for these animals. It also proved that our Local Agencies, the NYS DEC and the Riverhead Foundation are unprepared for a handling a situation like this. NOAA, and their affiliate lacked any physical efforts to aid the whale, instead continually stating that they were "carefully monitoring and assessing" the situation. By the time NOAA had vets on-site, it was determined that the whale "looked sick" and needed to be killed. It is common knowledge that a beached marine mammal must to be kept wet with either towels, buckets or hoses when beached to prevent sunburn, blistering of the skin and damage from gulls. NOAA's lack of presence and lack of delegation of actions clearly indicates their pre-determined decision that the whale would be "euthanized"The unnecessary death of this humpback has not gone unnoticed by thousands of Long Islanders and many others from around the Country and World. NOAA delayed any attempts of rescue only to bring a vet in four (4) days later to kill it via injection. Officials claimed they were monitoring the whale since it arrived into the bay, but lacked critical information about what lead up to the whale becoming beached.Federal officials claimed the whale was sick and that whales often beach due to illness - - however eyewitness accounts indicate the whale was previously healthy and may have made a mistake in navigating the shallow bay. The results of the necropsy will surely show evidence the whale was in "poor health", however that is to be expected after four (4) days of stranding.The entire community agrees that the whale could have been saved by if actions were immediately taken to assist the animal. Local organizations, citizens and local government agencies rallied together and rounded up a dedicated crew of 7 boats with pumps and hoses, to 20+ divers and even a barge with the capability to dredge a path to free the whale without physically interacting with the whale. These dedicated citizens were in place to begin a rescue attempt when the federal government told them to stand down and threatened fines and arrests.The desired Plan would not permit anyone to act on their own to save a protected species. Rather, it would facilitate a "task-force" comprised local authorities, Fire Departments, foundations and organized groups to be able to handle these situations without needing to wait for NOAA to arrive on-site at their convenience. We must take action to make change the response system for protected species that find themselves in trouble without relying on a federal agency located hundreds of miles away.

Local's Only
4,220 supporters
Petitioning Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete King

Save a local, hard working family from deportation due to TPS

Our country needs to care for our best and brightest, the hardworking and educated youth of Suffolk County. This petition is to implore Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to protect the Espinal family. It is also a letter to remind Congressman Peter King of his January 2018 statement when he said, “TPS should be permanently extended,” and to ask him to protect the Espinal family from deportation. Please read the story of the Espinal family: Gabriela Espinal is the oldest of the Espinal children. She is a New York City Social Studies teacher with a masters degree and runs several programs for her students. It was because of our amazing Bay Shore schools that she is a teacher today. Gabriela has three brothers. The eldest is Mauricio, a SUNY Maritime educated engineer who works in New York City. Gabriela’s two youngest brothers are Fabio and Carlos. Fabio is an Environmental Science Major at SUNY Buffalo. Carlos, a senior at Bay Shore High School, is a top athlete on the wrestling team, a leader in the peer support program, and part of the symphony band. All four have been here for the last 17 years under TPS. According to Gabriela, their intellect, industriousness, and work ethic came from their parents, Claudia and Mauricio, who have worked tirelessly to provide for their family and raise them with the values that every American wants: access to the American Dream. They believe hard work, a good education, and determination will lead to success. They do not have criminal records and do not want a handout.  What the Espinal family needs: What the Espinal family needs is what everyone would want: they need the government, to which they pay taxes, to recognize them as a permanent part of this country, their country and ours. What you can do: As we know, the Espinal family is one of hundreds of families affected by TPS in our community. By signing this petition, you are letting our leaders know we are proud of our hard working Bay Shore families, that they are part of our community, and it’s families like the Espinals that make our community and our country great.

Bay Shore-Babylon Women's Huddle
3,861 supporters
Petitioning Paul Ryan, Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney, Nita Lowey, Gregory Meeks, Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Jerry Nadler, Pete King, John Flanagan, Joseph Crowley, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Grace Meng...

Justice for Haley Anderson

Justice for Haley Anderson Orlando Tercero, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder in the strangulation death of Haley Anderson, also 22, who called Westbury (Long Island) her home but was studying nursing at Binghamton University.  Tercero, according to Binghamton police,“fled” to his native Nicaragua before Anderson’s body was found in his apartment March 9. The Broome County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to have Tercero brought back to Binghamton to stand trial. The Nicaragua government is not commenting and it could take years for this savage to be brought back to New York to face this heinous crime.  Signatures are needed to expedite the process, apply political pressure and get justice for Haley Anderson.   

Jamie Atkinson
3,337 supporters
Petitioning Peter T. King, New York State House

The State of New York to provide the funding to Nassau Country OEM Firefighter Scholarship

The Funding for the Nassau County Firefighters grant, which sends our volunteers to school to receive a higher education, while serving their communities, has been suspended.  We are looking to gain signatures in support of this grant, to keep the program funded and send to our state representatives. Many volunteers access the county rely of this scholarship to pay the tuition fees for classes that we attend, and pass with a minimum grade of “C”.  Please help us support our Volunteers, who answer the call to support their districts in the time of need, rather it be fire protection or medical services. We always answer the call.  Thank you in advance from all our volunteers. 

Joseph Virgilio
3,214 supporters
Petitioning Philip Berdolt, Richard F. White Jr., Terence McSweeney, Dawn Hopkins, Alexander G. McKay, Peter Leis, Terrence Pearsall, Gil Cardillo, Kathleen Gooding, Michael Rosato, William B. Sickles, Arthur ...

Eliminate the new Suffolk County Parks fee structure

If you don't have time to read the entire petition, key points are in BOLD. Dear Parks Commissioner and Suffolk County Legislators, In 2016, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to increase the fees for residents using its parks, golfing facilities, boating facilities, and campgrounds.  This represented a 10% increase over the previous year’s budget. Reasons cited for this increase included the “...increased cost of providing the facilities and activities.”  Now again, in 2017, our legislators have voted to increase the fees.  This time, at a rate of almost 11%.  These increases add up to a 21% fee hike over a little less than 2 years.  Lawmakers cited a need for more funds in order to provide “...crucial services.”  Additionally, disabled veterans, volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel who previously used certain facilities at a reduced, or no cost, are now being charged.  We, the taxpayers, campers, boaters, golfers, disabled veterans and nature lovers of Suffolk County wish to express our disappointment with these fee hikes and our disillusionment concerning lawmakers we voted into office - believing they had their constituents’ best interests at heart.   Suffolk County residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation.  On a house assessed at $550,000, we pay 2.219% taxes, or $12,205 per year.  Compare this to the 1.578% paid by New York City residents ( $8,679) or the average 1.211% national rate ($6,661).   Simply put, our property taxes are almost double what most other Americans pay.  A portion of these taxes go to the parks, and it is that money that we believe should be enough to cover the costs of running the parks. We understand the the cost of living rises each year, but we also understand that our property taxes rise accordingly.  Why, then, this need to increase a budget by 21% over the course of barely two years?  This type of fee hike is largely unprecedented and is aimed at a group of people who, until now, have been silent. Lawmakers tell us that this increase in fees is for our benefit.  The money will help provide “facilities and activities” and will also facilitate the implementation and running of “crucial services.”  This ambiguous language represents an effort on the lawmakers’ part to justify fee increases without providing any concrete or practical examples of its beneficial use.  Many of us have enjoyed the county’s parks all our lives, yet we are at a loss to recall any improvements of “facilities”, and implementation of “activities” or any upgrades in “crucial services.”  Where are the fruits of this increased revenue?  Where is the proof that this money has benefited the taxpayers?   As campers, for example,  we can cite no improvements, upgrades or additions to campgrounds that have been in any way proportional to the fee hikes.  In fact, at most campgrounds, the bathroom facilities are just as smelly, dirty, leaky, and unsanitary as they’ve ever been, and activities at county campgrounds are- and always have been...non-existent.  So again, just what exactly are we getting for our extra fees? We stand united in stating that we find these fees to be arbitrary, unfair and unnecessary.  It seems to us that the County’s ongoing struggle to balance the budget has placed a biased and undue burden on those of us who choose to enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island.  Our tax dollars already pay for these parks, and the previous fees helped to augment that revenue.  This 21% hike is ludicrous and we have not seen any evidence that the money will, in fact, be spent in a way that reflects the desires and needs of those constituents enjoying the facilities and activities.  Additionally, there are a number of poor practices that we believe should be reconsidered and repealed. The “revamped” Suffolk County Campground Online Reservation System.  A travesty.  This is a system that creates complete chaos for those trying to secure a site. The lack of a waiting list (to fill those cancellations) , is a perfect example of the minimal foresight employed in the site’s creation.  New York State campgrounds, for example, provide a waiting list for cancelled sites - why can’t Suffolk County? “Flagship Campgrounds”  What exactly does this mean?  Water views?  As previously stated, we are already being taxed to enjoy the natural environment - now there is to be an extra fee for that same enjoyment.  When the term “Flagship Campgrounds” first appeared, many of us had visions of renovated campgrounds without garbage strewn about, with clean bathing facilities, with maybe an events center or recreational building for children’s activities, group games, or movie nights.  Perhaps new playgrounds or a dog park...Turns out “Flagship Campgrounds” are the same old same old.  Just a fancy word and a lot more money for the County.  Nothing new for the taxpayer… Perhaps the saddest and most insidious aspect of this rate increase (and the false representation of the use of the revenue), is the perceived  intent to create yet another “elitist” environment where only those with means can enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island.  We are all Long Islanders and taxpayers and citizens with equal protection under the law.  Are boating, camping, public golfing and outdoor recreation on public lands to stay available to all citizens?  Or is this yet another example of our government’s propensity to create and perpetuate an environment where only a select few can enjoy those things originally designated for the masses?  Many families who camp, for example, do it for the love of nature - but also because it provides a fun vacation that is budget friendly.  A week long vacation that would normally cost $100 can now cost close to $200.  This is a week’s worth of groceries for some Long Islanders.  Are our elected officials so out of touch that they think these fee hikes won’t impact the average boater, camper or golfer?   These fees are exclusionary. Plain and simple. Finally, we must address the issue facing disabled veterans; many of whom live on VA pensions with restricted means to recreation, outdoor activities and travel.  These are men and women who served this country and suffered as a result.  They still pay their property taxes like the rest of us, and were (in the past) exempt from paying additional fees for camping, boating, or golfing.  Now, in 2017, veterans will have the initial fee waived but will be responsible for paying all the other fees associated with this new fee increase.  For example, a veteran who used to camp for the cost of the $13 reservation fee, will now have to pay approximately $175 per week.  Again, to lawmakers, perhaps this is not a large amount, but to a disabled person living on a fixed income, it is.  How often do officials get elected on the promises of protecting and respecting our veterans?  How many TV commercials and public events show candidates touting their reverence for those who served?  Politicians are often elected (at least in part) for holding such views and beliefs. What message does this revocation of benefits send?  It is shameful that after instituting a 21% tax increase, somehow there is still not enough money to continue to honor our disabled vets with “free” access to our parks. We are boaters, campers, golfers, and disabled veterans. We are Long Islanders who are faced with a growing sense of being disenfranchised by the officials we helped to elect. Taxes levied to benefit our parks have become burdensome and exclusionary.  They are arbitrary and they show no signs of actually improving the institutions for which they are raised.  We respectfully request that these fees be reconsidered, and that the unfair treatment they represent be discarded as actions that are in opposition to the true spirit and tradition of the public parks philosophy. Our county parks are a wonderful part of our shared heritage.  Will that heritage now only belong to a select segment of our population?  

Concerned Green Key Holders
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