The Audicity of Town Hall – What the Press Release Won’t Tell You

In a Town Hall issued press release Petrone Reconvenes Huntington Station Action Coalition, Supervisor Petrone makes another disingenuous claim when he “called for a unified, focused effort to combat the root causes of recent gang related violent incidents that have raised community concerns.”  You can’t obtain a unified effort when key members of the community are intentionally left out of the process.  Prior to the meeting long time community activists Matt Harris and Rich McGrath expressed an interest in attending the gathering.  This was the response from Town Hall:

“There seems to be some confusion about this meeting.  It is not in fact, a “community leaders” meeting nor is it an open forum.   
This is a relatively small meeting with police, elected officials, some clergy and a few of the Chairs of the Huntington Station Action Coalition.  There will be ample opportunity for members of the Huntington School Board, and other interested parties to participate in what no doubt will become an ongoing dialogue to come up with a plan to stem the violence in Huntington Station- an issue that affects us all, of course.
We are very pleased to know you are interested and will surely reach out to the Huntington School Board at the appropriate time.”
The Huntingtonian sent an e-mail to AJ Carter asking the following questions:
1.  Who was invited to the Community Leaders meeting on December 2, 2011?
2. Who actually attended?
3.  What was the criteria for being invited?
We did not receive any response, but later in the day we received a copy of the Press Release.
We contacted Bill Dwyer, who was on the original Huntington Station Action Coalition and the former HUFSD BOE President.  He was not invited.  The current BOE President Emily Rogan was not invited and neither was HUFSD Superintendent James Polansky.  Mr. Polansky has made it publically known that he is very much interested in being part of of these type of groups.
It is our belief that no BOE member or official from the South Huntington School District was included.
Rev. Jerry Artis, of Love of Christ Fellowship Church has been a powerful and unifying voice in the Huntington Station community.  He was not included in the meeting. Rev. Artis has made it his mission to build bridges of racial, economic and political divide.  He has been successful in bringing many of these groups together.  This is not the first time he was disrespected by Town Hall.  Rev. Artis is currently running a recreation program for Teens.  At the meeting is was discussed that “we need innovative ideas for teens” and that “we need to be more proactive about gangs”.  Rev. Artis’  teen program would be a place for these people to focus their efforts.  Several of the people who attended the Town Hall meeting on Friday are aware of the program that Rev. Artis is running.  We wonder why there was no mention of it.
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