You Might Be Surprised!
A ban on the use of pesticides on school playing fields has passed the NYS Senate by a vote of 39-22, and now makes its way to the Assembly, where passage of the bill is likely.
If such a measure seems like a no-brainer -- and it certainly does to us at The Community Alliance -- why would 22 State Senators, including the Senate's Minority Leader, Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, vote NO.
Is it the old, "the bill doesn't go far enough?" Falacious reasoning, at best, a partial ban on the use of pesticides on school grounds being much better than no ban at all.
Could it be that the voting buttons of certain Senators, notably Republicans, are permanently stuck on NO?
Or is it, perhaps, the strength of the lobbies of special interest groups -- some, like the New York Alliance for Environmental Concerns, little more than professional lawn and grounds care services, that rely on the toxic chemicals for their livelihoods -- who strong-armed our State Senators, filling campaign coffers (or threatening not to) to "buy" those NO votes?
Not to say that New York's venerable State Senators could be bought, or are somehow in the hoppers of the likes of Dow, Monsanto (and isn't there a Bayer chemical plant just outside of Buffalo?), or the businesses and organizations that rely on these nasty pesticides, but it would behoove one to follow the money, if not the actual trail of pesticides that leach down through the soil to the groundwater in the aquifers below.
Okay. So chemical companies and those who use their products in the regular course of business opposed the ban. Fair enough. We get it. But the NYS School Boards Association, representing more than 700 school boards across the State? What's their beef?
Yeah. The old "local school officials know best" when it comes to controling garden-variety pests and keeping our children safe.
How about the argument that taking the organic route to deal with pests, nourish our lawns, and keep grass green costs too much? Specious, at best. Actually, in the long run, going green costs less -- in terms of dollars and cents, as well as the public health.
Our good friends at Citizens Campaign for the Environment applauded the bill's passage, with Executive Director Adrienne Esposito saying, "Children face many potential hazards at schools such as peer pressure, drugs, and bullying – unnecessary pesticide exposure should not be among them..."
CCE's arguments for pesticide-free school zones -- on matters of health, the environment, and the availability of safe, effective, and cost-efficient alternatives -- certainly persuaded us (not that we needed any persuasion). Apparently, it was not enough to move 22 State Senators toward passage.
The actual floor vote on the pesticide ban was as follows:
Ayes (39): ADAMS, ADDABBO, ALESI, AUBERTINE, BRESLIN, DIAZ, DILAN, DUANE, ESPADA, FLANAGAN, FOLEY, FUSCHILLO, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HUNTLEY, JOHNSON C, KLEIN, KRUEGER, KRUGER, LAVALLE, MCDONALD, MONTGOMERY, ONORATO, OPPENHEIMER, PADAVAN, PARKER, PERALTA, PERKINS, ROBACH, SAMPSON, SAVINO, SCHNEIDERMAN, SERRANO, SMITH, SQUADRON, STACHOWSKI, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS, THOMPSON, VALESKY
Nays (22): BONACIC, DEFRANCISCO, FARLEY, GOLDEN, GRIFFO, HANNON, JOHNSON O, LANZA, LARKIN, LEIBELL, LIBOUS, LITTLE, MARCELLINO, MAZIARZ, NOZZOLIO, RANZENHOFER, SALAND, SEWARD, SKELOS, VOLKER, WINNER, YOUNG
Excused (1): MORAHAN
In addition to Senator Skelos, the following State Senators representing Long Island also voted NO to the pesticide ban: Kemp Hannon, Owen Johnson, and Carl Marcellino.
Wouldn't you like to know why? Aren't you entitled to know?
We e-mailed Senator Skelos' office last week, inquiring why the Minority Leader voted NO to a ban on pesticides on school grounds. As of this posting, there has been no response.
Of interest, Long Island based Citizens Campaign for the Environment didn't get a response either.
"He wouldn’t really say why he would not support it," Executive Director Adrienne Esposito told The Community Alliance. "I met with him three times!"
If your State Senator voted NO to the pesticide ban on school grounds, ask him why -- and don't take NO for an answer!