Mineola, NY

The Truth is Out There – WAY Out There ! !

The Ugly Side of Democracy

One of the purposes of a public meeting is to educate.  It gives residents not only a chance to air any grievances they might have, but to advise other residents about what’s going on in the neighborhood – for good or for ill.  A prime example of the good that can come from a public meeting is all the money that has been raised over the past several years as a result of Bill Urianek speaking about his mission to collect and redeem bottles and cans.  Two young soldiers and their families have received much-needed financial assistance and moral support due to people hearing about Mr. Urainek’s collections at the public hearings.  And as a result of the meetings being broadcast into other communities, a boy in Elmont was inspired to launch his own campaign at his school in cooperation with Mr. Urianek.  I guess this is most readily likened to dropping a pebble into Lake Good Karma and watching the ripples spread out.

Sometimes students from grammar schools and high schools sit in on our meetings as part of a school project.  Such was the case at the February 20th VOM Work Session and Public Meeting.  And if you’ve watched the meetings on Cablevision or Fios, you might have heard Mayor Strauss welcome these young people who were sitting among the “Sunshine” attendees.


At the Public Session Mr. Brummel, a gentleman from East Hills, returned to the podium to again urge Mineola’s Board of Trustees to issue a proclamation or possibly enact other legislation to protect a certain tree at an address on Roslyn Road.  This was the third time Mr. Brummel approached the Board, who had entertained him for just over 30 minutes at the prior meeting while others waited to speak.  That was a VERY generous amount of time.  At the February 20th session however, the mayor exhibited somewhat less patience and in his exasperation, he cut Mr. Brummel off in mid-sentence.  The tone of the meeting quickly devolved from there.

I left the session that night wondering what those high school kids were going to tell their schoolmates the next day.   Perhaps something along the line of  “I went to a public meeting in Mineola and a hockey game broke out !!”  Or maybe they just went home, crawled under their bed covers and cringed.  It was not one of our more decorous engagements.

Here’s the thing these future members of our electorate need to understand:  while democracy is a beautiful thing, the democratic process itself can be ugly.  People get their arms and legs and faces blown off fighting to preserve our way of life which includes the right to freely assemble at public meetings to voice our opinions.  And when folks exercise their rights to freely assemble at public meetings to voice their opinions, or to call attention to a situation that concerns them, sometimes tempers flare and things can turn ugly.  But the alternative of allowing ourselves to be kept in the dark as we march like lemmings, off a cliff is far uglier.

I hope our young visitors were not completely scared off by the turn the meeting took.  It IS a part of the process sometimes.

So please join us again.  We need you to be part of this exercise even if only as witnesses.  And we’ll try to keep the volume down.

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment