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by Stewart S. Lilker
March 1, 2003

Freeporters At Risk
Time To Get Tough

As the guns blazed in Freeport once again and blood ran in the streets, Freeport's leaders were again struck mute by the now all too familiar gang violence that seems to have enveloped Freeport like a dark cloud. No longer able to run from and cover up the gang activity and its inherent violence, Freeport's leaders just remain silent. Residents wonder whether they need a flack jacket to walk the streets and if their children will be safe and out of range of the cross fire of the next incident. Freeport's central business district, the home of many Latino businesses, is now mostly devoid of Anglos and there is no police presence on the street.

At this past Monday night's Village meeting, twelve hours after the latest shoot-out, Freeport's Mayor Glacken was nowhere to be seen. Wherever he was, one has to wonder why he did not at least leave a message to be delivered by his Deputy, Renier Frierson, Nassau County's Commissioner of Human Rights. Unfortunately and as usual, neither Frierson, nor any of the other Glackenites had a word to say about the recent violence.

Also absent from the Village Board meeting, was Freeport's Police Chief, Mike Woodward. Chief Woodward, is another one who will not admit to a gang problem in Freeport. His main assault on the gangs seems to be the Village's pet program, "Adopt a Cop," a program in which Freeport's public school children get to know a particular police officer.

Well folks, news flash, it's not a bunch of fourth graders that are driving around Freeport's streets blowing people away by shooting them in the face. It is a bunch of adults and the police should be on the street, where they belong, along with Freeport's bloated command staff. The criminals aren't hanging out in Police Headquarters, they are on the street. Why doesn't the Chief know that?

The ostrich mentality is not left behind in the Freeport schools.

At Wednesday night's School Board meeting nothing would have been said about Freeport's latest gang related shoot-out, if not for Board member Joe Cattano's inquiry of the Superintendent. As the meeting was drawing to a close, Cattano meekly asked Superintendent Eversley if he had spoken to Chief Woodward about the latest violence. Eversley claimed that he had left a message on Woodward's answer machine.

Freeport's Superintendent, Dr. Eric Eversley has a wealth of experience in dealing with violent schools. In Illinois, Eversley presided over one of the most violent and low performing districts in the state. The schools were so terrible, that part of the school district wanted to secede.

How bad were Eversley's schools and his leadership? In 1996 the Chicago Tribune reported about one of the board meetings, "Local parents and grandparents promptly laid it on the line: the reasons are tied to the dreadful achievement scores at the Maywood high school and fears that its students are not safe on campus."

By 1998, after years of Eversley's leadership, it was reported that the schools had degenerated to such a point that Eversley wanted to bring dogs into the schools "to search classrooms and belongings."

After being in the district for six years, Eversley's schools were spiraling out of control. Astonishingly, Eversley finally came to the conclusion that "the district must ensure a safe environment for students."

Eversley abandoned Illinois and came to Long Island, bringing his well honed brand of indecisiveness with him.

At Wednesday's Board Meeting the rifle range was again a topic of discussion as Assistant Superintendent of business, Kishore Kuncham explained that it could cost up to $340,000 to have the rifle range meet state safety standards. The Board had no questions and Freeport's only Latino Board member and public official, Carmen Pineyro, once again had no public comment on keeping rifles out of the schools, as Latino on Latino violence is not only increasing in the community, but a magnet to the community.

It is no secret to the world that the blood is running in Freeport's streets. If Freeporters don't wake up, stand up and fight and demand that their leaders do something now, soon, more and more of them will be at risk of drowning in that blood, also.

It's time to get tough. Tough with Freeport's leaders.



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