Senator George Latimer and Assemblyman Steve Otis – Rye residents – held their "Coffee and Conversation" series on December 20th and state Senator George Latimer submitted the following report to MyRye.com:
A dozen residents postponed their Christmas shopping for 90 minutes on the Saturday before the holiday (Dec. 20), stopping in to Ruby's Oyster Bar on Purchase Street in Rye, for the most recent session of Coffee and Conversation, joining with state Senator George Latimer and state Assemblyman Steve Otis (County Legislator Catherine Parker was unable to attend due to a last minute emergency). This continues a series of open discussions started a decade ago by Latimer when he was a County Legislator and has continued in Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Yonkers and other Westchester communities on an on-going basis.
The issues raised covered a range of state issues. Brian Kerr, a SUNY Purchase student, raised the recent decision on casino gambling sites; Senator Latimer outlined the announcement made earlier in the week that selected a Catskill location, one in the Finger Lakes and on in Schenectady. Assemblyman Otis tackled the question from Dr. Rick Buzin, a former Blind Brook School Board member, on Field Testing of academic questions tied in to Common Core implementation; Rye's Maurio Sax added his deep concerns over expansion of charter schools, another major education issue to be dealt with in the 2015 Legislative Session.
A local housing project proposed in Harrison, developed with the MTA adjacent to the Harrison station, drew questions from Hal Aken of Rye, pivoting on the number of affordable housing units planned. Aken and others also raised the problems of lack of lights along Westchester County-owned Playland Parkway and the access road, which the legislators agreed to further investigate.
The 2015 State Budget, to be released by Governor Cuomo before the end of January, will include a $5 billion one-year windfall expected to be used for capital projects. Linda Lefkowitz of Rye urged use of fund to repair badly damaged roads in the region.
Latimer and Otis agreed to update the attendees on progress on all the issues raised.
All three legislators met the prior Saturday, December 13 at The Nautilus Diner in Mamaroneck with Larchmont and Mamaroneck residents present. Otis and Latimer also represent Port Chester and Rye Brook and plan their next session at the Port Chester Seniors Center on Grace Church Street in January, date to be determined.
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