Editorial: Legislators were wrong to reject Riverhead meetings

Nine Suffolk County legislators recently rejected a proposal to move a series of committee meetings from Hauppauge to Riverhead. Ask them why and you’re likely to get nine different answers. One thing none of these lawmakers would tell you, however, is what appears to be the truth: They don’t want to drive out here.

The sharply divided map that accompanies this week’s coverage of the deadlocked 9-9 vote on Legislator Al Krupksi’s bill (see story here) makes that abundantly clear. The lawmakers even defeated the bill in a bipartisan manner, with three western Democrats joining the six Republicans, also all from western Suffolk, who opposed it. The idea for the county Legislature to hold a single round of committee meetings in Riverhead was designed to boost participation in local government among East Enders.

It’s a shame half the legislators felt their personal convenience is more important.

Mr. Krupski and his South Fork counterpart, Legislator Eric Schneiderman (I-Montauk) — who for 12 years now has been traveling to Hauppauge from his home in East Hampton Town, good for two hours each way, without complaint — said they were encouraged by the closeness of the vote and hope to push for more East End meetings in the future.

Republican minority leader Kevin McCaffrey of Lindenhurst spoke with Mr. Krupski after the vote and said they would try to come to a “workable solution,” such as holding select meetings on the East End that would be of particular interest to residents there. But many of these committee meetings often address multiple issues affecting individual communities from Amityville to Orient, as well as issues that affect all Suffolk residents. Trying to ascertain which would be more important to East Enders seems like it would be an unworkable endeavor. (And maybe that’s by design.)

But since everyone seems to be talking about the issue, perhaps committee meetings should rotate through a handful of locations in Suffolk, from its southern to northern shores, east and west.

This way, too, lawmakers will get to see the entirety of the land they’re trying to govern.

At the very least, the idea should be kicked around in a committee.

Now, where to hold that meeting?