A few hundred people from a cross-section of local organizations rallied in front of City Hall today to protest Gov. Pataki's proposed budget cuts.
Roughly 300 members of local labor unions, educational institutions and health-care organizations, along with other human services providers carried banners and placards demanding that proposed cuts in the governor's budget be rolled back.
"Gov. Pataki, we the people of New York State are not your enemy," said Debora M. Hayes, president of Nurses United Local 1168 and one of the organizers of the rally.
"We are the majority of the people of the state . . . and we are opposed to your tax cuts and your budget cuts," Ms. Hayes said, as the crowd cheered her on.
Dawn E. Sanders, regional director of Citizen Action New York and another rally organizer, said she expected the message will reach Albany.
"Even though he (Pataki) is not here, I think we can send him a message that there are some things in this budget that need to be saved, and we are going to keep on doing this until he looks to us for leadership," Ms. Saunders said.
Mayor Masiello joined several other local government and community leaders who addressed the rally.
"These cuts significantly impact on the ability of this state to deliver vital services in education, health care. . . . It also trickles down to cities and gives me less ability to provide vital city services," Masiello said.
Council Majority Leader James W. Pitts said several similar rallies across the state will have an effect in reshaping Pataki's spending plan.
"I think, ultimately, we're going to see a change in Pataki's budget," Pitts said.
Other rally speakers included Buffalo School Board member James Williams and Columbus Hospital President Andres Garcia.