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Child Victims Act puts spotlight on old fashioned advocacy

The success of the Child Victims Act, set to pass today in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, is an example of how old-fashioned advocacy still works, even in a place like the New York State Capitol.

Advocates met one-on-one with state lawmakers to press them to support the bill. They contacted newspaper editorial boards to enlist support. They endorsed candidates who were sympathetic to the legislation, extracting promises from them to get the bill approved.

The bill was a perennial one-house measure that would never have gained much attention without a relentless pavement-pounding effort from supporters of the legislation and a cascade of newspaper headlines, including The Daily News. The New York City tabloid hammered lawmakers to get a vote on the bill, accusing legislative leaders of protecting sexual predators.

Behind the scenes, Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal worked out the details with advocates to neutralize concerns raised by the Catholic church as well as public institutions, which will be included in the bill.

It’s a textbook, showcase illustration of advocacy to media attention to campaign issue to bill language and agreement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference on Monday morning specifically signaled out the advocacy of The Daily News as a factor in getting the legislation to the floor today.

“I want to thank The Daily News, which I think has done the public an extraordinary service the way they covered this and the way they stayed on it,” he said.

And he specifically pointed to the advocates at the table who met with him this morning.

“Do justice. Acknowledge this. Acknowledge the harm,” Cuomo said. “It has taken a number of years to get here, but we got here because of you and your tenacity.”

Albany can feel like a remote place and, perhaps, not connected to the reality a lot of New Yorkers face everyday. But every now and then a critical mass can be built up.

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