January 15, 2009 | 156 views
From L.I. to the White House
Friends of Schiliro say he maintained that same passion for doing the right thing through the next two-and-a-half decades of his accomplished career in U.S. government culminating in his appointment as White House liaison to Congress in President-elect Barack Obamas administration.
Schiliro, who grew up on Wood Park Drive in Baldwin, will begin his new position officially titled Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs when President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January. Schiliro will have the tough task of gathering support amongst both the House and Senate for Obamas vision for the future of America.
A 25-year veteran of U.S. government who once ran unsuccessfully for the 4th Congressional District seat in 1992 and 1994, Schiliro is no stranger to politics, as proven in his record of being involved in some of the most ground-breaking legislation of the past 20 years. Schiliro had an integral role in getting the Clean Air Act passed in 1990; he helped pass legislation that changed the way tobacco companies market their products; and was a strong voice advocate of the federal investigation into steroid use in professional baseball, focusing largely on the negative influence it had on young athletes.
One such bill, however, stands out the most among some Long Islanders. In 2006, Rock and Wrap It Up, an anti-poverty think tank based out of the Five Towns, had conducted a nationwide survey of soup kitchens and shelters ultimately discovering that much of the food was not reaching those who really needed it. One member, Syd Mandelbaum, a resident of Cedarhurst, felt that a federal bill was needed to encourage federal buildings to donate their surplus food to those agencies that assist the hungry. Mandelbaum reached out to fellow member Pete Sobol, of Inwood, to contact Schiliro, Sobols lifelong friend, who was then working as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).
According to Mandelbaum and Sobol, Schiliro singlehandedly took the bill, named the Federal Food Donation Act, to Washington, where it passed unanimously in both houses and was signed by President George W. Bush on June 19, 2007.