Legislator says Molinaro is ‘spitting in our face’ by holding virtual town hall

POUGHKEEPSIE – A recently announced virtual town hall-style meeting announced by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has drawn criticism from County Legislator Giancarlo Llaverias.

A Listening Town Hall: People of Color Sharing their Experiences in Dutchess County” is scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The event is being co-hosted by US Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights, and the Northern Dutchess NAACP.

According to Molinaro, the event “Is a bipartisan effort to hear what the community has to say.  I appreciate Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and other leaders joining to host. The forum also will feature former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who was recently named to lead an independent review of the New York State Court System’s efforts to combat institutional racism.”

Llaverias, an Afro-Latino lawmaker who represents District 1, says that Molinaro is hosting the event because of national events taking place as opposed to a true sense of caring.  “I am not upset that the forum is happening, I am upset because of the intent,” said Llaverias.  “The only reason it is happening is because of the tension in our nation, not because he cares. Molinaro has had the chance to be a leader; he is well aware of all the issues that are a cancer to the county in relation to black and brown issues and all he has done is perpetuate it,” the lawmaker said.

Llaverias claims that Molinaro is perpetuating racial tension in Dutchess County by failing to address police brutality and focusing on providing services to those in need only when they are in the county jail.  “Why must we be felonized, demonized, and ostracized for us to get the help we desperately need? These concerns are nothing new to the county executive or the Human Rights Commission. This forum does not save his seat nor does it have us forgetting all the damage he is doing and already has done. He has had since 2011 to do right and create legislation, but all he is doing is saving his face so that the community can’t say that he wasn’t ‘proactive.’ He is spitting in our face with this ignorance; he’s always been aware of our problems.”

Molinaro said the town hall meetings are one of the steps needed for change in policies.  “We have hosted hundreds of town halls and forums over the years and those conversations have brought real and substantial change in Dutchess County – initiatives like our mental health and de-escalation training for law enforcement, our 24/7 Stabilization Center, Narcan training, community development programs and our Path to Promise initiative to name a few.”

Molinaro also cited plans in response to a new police policy put in place by the governor.  “Governor Cuomo signed an executive order requiring local police agencies to develop a plan to rethink police strategies and programs.   Here in Dutchess County, a collaborative effort is already underway bringing together all of our municipalities and law enforcement agencies to develop a plan based on community input. We are assembling leadership from every town, village and city. We have brought our law enforcement agencies together.  This is precisely the time to listen to and learn from one another.”

Molinaro is looking forward to the next town hall and “continuing the important conversation to strengthen our community – encourage the legislator to participate. That’s how we make change.

For those wanting to speak, registration is required and individuals can sign up here at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OlYYYBJlRGOY4KuSCz1mUg.

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