New York Assemblymen Hold Mock Press Conference


Source: The Huntington Patch

Last Thursday, Assemblymen Chad Lupinacci and Andrew Raia of New York’s tenth and twelfth assembly districts, respectively, held a mock press conference at the South Huntington Public Library. Students from various South Huntington high schools attended the event and were allowed to ask questions of the assemblymen in the place of the press.

Prior to the conference, the assemblymen sent a list of acceptable question subjects to the participating schools. The topics were bullying, the dangers of heroin and prescription drugs, the state budget, texting and driving, animal rights, and cyber bullying. In the spirit of true journalism, some of the student reporters decided to ask questions concerning topics outside those listed.

The first question asked was concerning heroin. The reporter was curious to know what the assemblymen thought the “pull” of heroin was, or what was making it appealing to so many people.

Mr. Raia responded by elaborating on the history of drug use on Long Island. He recalled how prescription drugs were far more available thirty years ago, supplying the numerous “pharm parties” that occurred back in the day. According to him, access to prescription drugs has since been reduced, thus people have turned to heroin in the absence of these other drugs. He also pointed out that heroin is a cheaper alternative to other opioids such as oxycodone, causing those addicted to the more expensive opioids to turn to heroin when they run out of money.

Mr. Raia went on to say that he strongly endorses Narcan training as a means of preventing heroin overdoses. Mr. Lupinacci chimed in by saying that the laws in place are attempting to curb heroin usage by focusing on prevention, rehabilitation, and post-treatment, thus targeting all stages of heroin addiction.

Another student asked what the advantage of Common Core is when many students opt out of taking the test, adding that Common Core neglects to teach interpersonal skills through teamwork. Mr. Lupinacci agreed that teamwork and communication skills are important and he admitted that they, as legislators, needed to work on incorporating teaching those skills in the Common Core education system.

One student asked how much of a risk there is for something like Flint Michigan’s water scandal to happen on Long Island. Mr. Raia responded with skepticism that such a thing could happen here due to political corruption, but he went on to elaborate that Long Island gets its drinking water from three aquifers underground. The aquifer closest to the surface is completely contaminated, so our drinking water currently comes from the second aquifer. He expressed concern regarding water pollution and how it may contaminate the second aquifer. He elaborated about how he and other legislators are hesitant to tap into the third aquifer as it would then be our last source of clean drinking water.

One of the more stirring questions; one student asked what New York was doing to prevent future terrorist attacks considering that if another terrorist attack were to happen in America, it would likely happen in New York. Mr. Lupinacci began addressing this question by elaborating on the structure of New York’s law enforcement and protection. He explained that New York State has its own state department of homeland security that works with local police departments that have their own antiterrorism units to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. Mr. Raia chimed in by stressing the importance of the policy of “See something, say something.” He believes that the cooperation of the general community is the most important means of terrorism prevention. Although this sounded very impressive to hear in person, it became apparent that the assemblymen had no notable examples of terrorist prevention policies besides the status quo organizations.

There were other questions asked at the mock press conference before it was adjourned for lunch, but the aforementioned questions were some of the most significant. Though many of their responses seemed to be in close alignment with Democratic partisan beliefs, one is left to wonder if maybe this mock press conference was also a lesson in political wordplay, as both assemblymen were Republicans.