Speak at the County Legislature public hearing – “Make the 2024 budget reflect our needed priorities”:
THURSDAY OCTOBER 5TH 4:00 PM GENERAL SESSION | 5:30 PM BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING –
ONONDAGA COUNTY LEGISLATURE | 401 MONTGOMERY STREET suite 407 in Syracuse
Those wishing to speak should sign up on the sign up sheet with the 4th floor clerk (the entrance to the chambers) prior to the 5:30 start of the public hearing, earlier if possible. Persons will be called to speak in the order they sign up. The 4pm meeting may be in session when you arrive. If so, please enter the chamber through the side entrance from the hallway.
Keep your comments to 3 minutes or less.
If you wish to confirm that your comments are written into the hearing transcript, bring a copy with you to submit.
2024 Onondaga County Budget Documents at http://ongov.net/finance/budgetDocuments.html
We hope you will consider attending. If you have concerns, use your rights to express these concerns on Thursday. Can’t make it in person? Contact your legislator TODAY; we encourage you to take it a step further and message the county executive branch as well.
TALKING POINTS FROM FAMILIES FOR LEAD FREEDOM NOW
Talking Point A: HOW DOES UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH REACH OUR CHILDREN?
Value at Stake: Everyone benefits from our county’s growth and development
- Radio station WAER quoted County Executive McMahon when he presented his budget: “We must make sure that every person in our county has the ability to take advantage of the unprecedented growth and opportunity that is taking place…” https://www.waer.org/news/2023-09-18/onondaga-county-executive-presents-a-1-5-billion-budget
- He was talking about funding for widespread workforce development, but the human value in those words apply to our children as well. As long as we let Onondaga County’s childhood lead poisoning crisis fester and continue, the brain damage and other biological damage from lead poisoning on our community’s children means they, the children, may never be able to enjoy the “unprecedented growth and opportunity that is taking place.”
- The county should give ten times more resources to end this public health crisis. $9 or $10 million isn’t nearly enough. And what better time than now, during a moment of “unprecedented growth and opportunity”?
Talking Point B: HOLD LANDLORDS ACCOUNTABLE
Value at Stake: Holding landlords accountable to the rules of the game
- It is a fact that many landlords aren’t complying with the rules of the game. Many refuse to go on the Syracuse rental registry. Others refuse to comply with orders from the county health department to correct lead hazards. Others hide their real names behind LLC disguises.
- Given what lead poisoning unfortunately does to affect our children, when landlords refusal to co-operate in making their homes safe, they are promoting a public safety crisis in our midst.
- I urge the county executive to issue an emergency order blocking any landlord not in strict and immediate compliance with county public health codes from doing business anywhere in Onondaga County.
- I further urge the county executive to refer all such landlords to the Attorney General’s office for additional enforcement actions.
Talking Point C: SET MEASURABLE GOALS TO REDUCE LEAD POISONING IN CHILDREN
What’s at Stake: A bold, courageous and measurable goal for ending childhood lead poisoning
- The county has held several press conferences since 2019 about the lead crisis. About the lead testing van. About social services withholding rent from landlords. About remediation funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- These programs are necessary and urgent. But none of this tells the community you’re going to permanently stop childhood lead poisoning.
- So, I challenge you to set a public goal against which to measure yourselves. The estimate is that over 600 children per year test positive for elevated blood lead levels. Will you set a goal to reduce that number to fewer than 300 within three years? Or even lower?
- That is the kind of bold, courageous and measurable commitment we need from our elected representatives.
Talking Point D: TESTING FOR LEAD
What’s at Stake: Transparency on the Lead Testing
- For years, community members have called for a return to blood-lead testing at the Women, Children, and Infants (WIC) Clinic. Other states do this. The WIC clinic could reach hundreds upon hundreds of children.
- Instead, today, we have the lead testing van. I applaud the county for bringing back the lead testing van. But where is it testing? Who has it tested? Families for Lead Freedom Now is now aware that the mobile testing van this community worked so hard for, has now been to at least EIGHT events with up to hundreds of children, and only tested 4 children. It has been requiring advanced sign-up to receive testing, while it has missed testing hundreds of children at these events.
- Someone told me you have tested four children. Is that true? Didn’t we test hundreds of children through WIC? But now, with the mobile van, we’re testing a tiny fraction of that number? WHY?
- I would encourage the county government to provide the public with real transparency on what they’re doing with the $200,000 mobile medical van that should be in full use to protect and aid our families.
Talking Point E: A SAFE HOME FOR OUR CHILDREN
What’s at Stake: A safe home for all our children.
- All our children deserve a safe home. You do not have the right to be a landlord, to promise a safe place to live, and then allow it to poison a single child. That is a clear and particularly awful failure of your duties as a landlord.
- The county has a responsibility, and culpability, in this crisis because it has allowed landlords to operate for far too many years in this reckless way, without causing severe penalties, without imposing severe sanctions, without obtaining strict accountability from landlords.
- A solution to the county’s responsibility in this problem is for the county to make a much larger investment in ending childhood lead poisoning. Tens of millions more.
- Money for programs, funds for qualified personnel, funds to support the schools in providing services to our children affected by lead poisoning. There should be funds to bring medical professionals who can implement educational interventions for our children here. And funds for a bi-annual summit of parents and experts to tackle this problem until it’s solved.
- All our children deserve a safe home in Onondaga County. That principle is as important as bringing a major computer chip manufacturer to the town of Clay. We should become a county known for housing that keeps our children safe and healthy.
- I would encourage you to increase your budget outlays exponentially on this public health issue. I don’t see any other way we can have a county budget that truly values and prioritizes the well-being, health, and safety of all our community’s children.