The difference in time between parts 1 and 2 and parts 2 and 3 should show you just how quickly this issue snowballed, as should the following sentence. On Monday night, October 22, the local curfew law was repealed. This comes about a month after the village board proposed the bill to repeal it. And what a month it has been.
Shortly after the bill was proposed, I was contacted by a reporter from The New York Times, who found out about the campaign through the New York Civil Liberties Union. I spoke to him for a while, and the article came out the following week. In print, it had a good picture of me and a few other members of the club that they didn’t put on the site. Oh, well. Picking up on the story in the Times, two radio stations covered the story and a local TV station interviewed me for a very good segment they ran that night. An article in a regional paper came out the following day, and a local paper followed a couple weeks later.
Following this publicity, I printed out piles of paper with petitions for people to sign and talking points for why the curfew should be repealed. A friend of mine made a nice informative flyer that we gave out as well. In the middle of all of this, I had a meeting with the deputy chief of police. I hoped to get the support of the police, since a major reason that the curfew was being kept was that the police liked it. The meeting wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, but it was worth a try.
Finally, the day of the bill’s public hearing arrived. On Monday, I gave out last-minute reminders to village residents who had said they would attend the meeting (and told them to bring parents, since unfortunately, elected officials listen more to the people who can remove them from office.) A little after 7, a friend and I drove over to the meeting. Butterflies in my stomach, I parked in the lot by the village hall, and noticed something I definitely didn’t expect. A news van was parked in the next row. As was another news van. Now even more nervous, we walked inside and were greeted by a crowd of high school students, at least three times as many people as I had expected. There were opponents there as well, of course, but they were outnumbered. (I found out later that a number of the students came from other towns as part of a government class assignment where they had to attend a village board meeting, and they decided that this was the most interesting local issue on Long Island.) It was really quite intimidating speaking at the meeting. As soon as you stood up, you were handed a microphone so the people who were overflowing into the next room and outside the building could hear, and three TV cameras and a number of microphones swiveled toward you (turns out several of my friends were quoted on local news channels and I was on the radio). One after the other, a former mayor, myself, and a cascade of students and worried residents made their cases. With a few exceptions, I was extremely impressed.
Then, finally, the board ended the discussion and voted, unanimously, in favor of the bill. The only regret any of us had was that it is effective after this year, and so the curfew is still on for this Tuesday and Wednesday, giving the village a year to consider what measures they can put in place (up to and including another curfew) for next year. I signed up to be on a committee to decide what should be put in place of the curfew, and I will, of course, argue against another curfew. However, there are a lot of people arguing very vocally for it to be put back on the books, and they may get their way. However, at least the status quo is now on our side, and if nothing else is pushed through before October 30th, 2008, there will be no curfew next year. This shows just how much any of us can do with a few dedicated people, some good, respectful, well-reasoned arguments and a slow news month.
To hopefully not be continued.