May 6, 2011
To the Editor,
I thank you for publishing my comments about leaf blowing in this week’s paper. This note today is not being written for publication unless you think it might be worthwhile. It is simply polite observation.
I notice that you have published some letters containing rather inflammatory language, some of which I think, and hope others would as well, borders on an affront and insult to others. For instance, the letter regarding “Citiots” last week to which I responded and which you chose not to publish (I realize that being published twice the same week is too much to ask) and one where Donald Trump is referred to as a “son of a bitch,” amongst other things.
I am neither a prude nor am I against free speech but I question the purpose of lowering the newspaper to such a level. After all, would it not be better to promote a culture of civility in spite of our differences than to encourage such behavior? Wouldn’t the public and the newspaper be better served if this were fostered?
May 8, 2011
I was present for the League of Women Voters’ presentation to the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee regarding a proposed change in the structure of East Hampton Town government. Simply stated, the suggested town manager form of government separates the responsibility to govern from the day-to-day management of town operations. This is a common-sense approach to government that is in use throughout the country. It creates stability in the operation of the town while
allowing greater transparency and accountability.
I realize this idea has been discussed before, but in light of the overspending and mismanagement that occurred during the previous town administration I believe the time is right to revisit the discussion.
There are many details to explore, research, and discuss, but public discussion of these seems very worthwhile.
Tons of Debris
May 6, 2011
Old Fireplace Road and Gerard Drive is my beat. I live on the former and exercise on the whole of it. I have lived here and monitored its development since the early 1930s in the summer and as a retiree, full time since ’96. I truly care about its condition and how it looks to the many, many folk from all over town and well beyond who come to experience the beauty of this peninsula.
The day-after-Christmas storm left the drive with literally tons of debris. Finally, after looking at this with disgust for several months, I decided to seek help in cleaning it up. I addressed the issue at the recent Springs Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, which accepted the challenge and immediately wrote a letter to Scott King. The next day I called the Highway Department and left a message on its answering machine. Two days later, I had a return call with an acknowledgment that the matter would be scoped out on Friday and looked after the following rainy day.
Yesterday, Wednesday, a rainy day and a week after I made my first call, I found a sign in the middle of the beginning of Old Fireplace Road stating “Caution, Men at Work.” When I returned that afternoon, I drove to the end to discover to my delight that all of the many piles of debris had been completely picked up. A call to Scott King informed me that it took six truckloads to complete the job.
I want to offer my congratulations to Scott King and the Highway Department for bringing the walk down Gerard Drive back to its pleasurable experience of enjoying the vast beauty of the area and eliminating the distraction of piles of lumber, logs, and other offerings left by one of the worse storms that has hit the area in years. It is my opinion that Scott and his team are the most responsive the Highway Department has had in years. Thank you, Scott, for doing an outstanding job.
RAYMOND H. HARTJEN
May 5, 2011
As of Sunday, it is illegal to have crazy, dog-fearing jerks on the village beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Police are asking for your help apprehending violators. If you see a crazy, dog-fearing jerk on the beach, call dispatch at 324-0777. Calls can be made anonymously. It may be helpful to give a description or license plate number.
If you are confronted, threatened, attacked, or urinated on (yes, it happens) by a crazy jerk any time of day or night, call police.
There is still no intention to address the problem of crazy, dog-fearing-jerk urine and feces on our beaches, but we can all help police fulfill their promise of strict enforcement of crazy, anti-animal jerk control by reporting violators.
May 9, 2011
At last Tuesday’s town board work session Pete Hammerle introduced an interesting idea designed to encourage residents and visitors to keep our beaches cleaner. He called it the “carry in, carry out” program, and according to Councilman Hammerle, it’s being used in other beach communities with great success. Rather than having trash receptacles at or near beaches, the public is asked to carry their garbage home and dispose of it there.
During the summer we frequently see overflowing garbage cans because beaches are heavily used and trash pick-up does not occur with sufficient frequency. This leads to trash being left on the beach, which is an eyesore and a health hazard.
The proposed new program would target 28 small bay beaches, where signs would be placed explaining that users must remove their own trash. (A more appropriate name for the program might be Carry In, Carry Home.) This would allow town resources to focus on ocean beaches, which require more time and energy.
Mr. Hammerle proposed this as a pilot program that could be abandoned if it doesn’t work. I think it is well worth trying if it encourages people to show greater respect for our extraordinary landscape.
Mr. Hammerle, who has decided not to run for office again, has always supported environmental efforts. If this program achieves its goal of cleaner, more pristine beaches, it will serve as a legacy to his many years of public service to East Hampton.
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
A new edict for East Hamptoners has been issued as a pilot program from on high — Commandment Number 3.
In their dedicated zeal to slash town expenses, our elected leaders have decided to eliminate trash pickup at 28 or so town locations (beaches, parks, etc.) throughout East Hampton. Residents and visitors alike will be asked — and expected — to personally carry out whatever trash they brought in, without exception. Whatever was part of town amenities, in this case sanitation control, is no longer being offered to one and all.
The previous two commandments were abolishing the fall leaf pickup and lopping off one day of dump availability. On this latter concern, The New York Times recently lamented the loss of a chance to troll the dump for discards on Shelter Island. Well, we were there first, it seems, though we’re happy to cede credit to another community for this.
Such niggardly cuts to our quality of life hurt the little people most of all. The better-off residents of our fair town, whom we will dub the Barons of Business and the Arts, joyfully ensconced in their lofty McMegamansions, will scarcely give it a thought.
What next, outhouses lining our backyards?
Yours in distress,
Can Kill People
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
A recent visitor to eastern Long Island waters is out of control. A marine dinoflagellate in the genus Alexandrium that produces a neurotoxin that can kill people has been detected in the western Shinnecock Bay.
The identification of paralytic shellfish poison has caused all points west of the Ponquogue Bridge in Shinnecock Bay to be closed to shellfishing. The toxins accumulate in filter-feeding shellfish, but can move through the food web and affect zooplankton, fish larvae, adult fish, birds, marine mammals, and even humans.
Alexandrium was first identified in Shinnecock Bay two years ago and is now at the highest levels ever detected. This is the first known shellfish closure in the Shinnecock Bay due to a marine biotoxin. Shinnecock Bay is only 20 or so miles from East Hampton waters. Is East Hampton testing its waters for this harmful algae? If not, I think we should.
Let me repeat: This neurotoxin can kill people. It is a threat to public health. This alga is unlike the “brown tide” that has caused problems since the mid 1980s. Brown tide has not harmed humans, even though it has wreaked havoc on ecosystems and the organisms that dwell in them.
This is just another example of the downward spiral our coastal ecosystems are taking. We must become proactive in order to protect our environment to save what is left for the future.
Have Been Bought
May 2, 2011
To the Editor:
So it seems that the three Republicans on the East Hampton Town Board have been bought by Kenneth Silverman for a few thousand dollars in campaign contributions. Apparently, that’s all it takes to make them sit back while his suit to eliminate public access to East Hampton beaches moves through the courts. Why aren’t they fighting back? Where is their outrage over this shocking attempt to steal our historical right to use and enjoy our beaches? Where is their determination to vigorously pursue a legal strategy that will crush Mr. Silverman’s shameless suit and others like it?
Some claim the three Republicans are absolutely on the case, acting in secrecy, as they must. Bullkaka!
But their malfeasance in this instance has a silver lining. When you add to it the string of anti-East Hampton blunders that the Gang of Three has committed over the past 16 months — make your own list — it’s clear that Bill Wilkinson will be looking for a new job in November and that Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley will be joined on the town board by three non-Republicans.
People are smarter than these bozos think they are.
MICHAEL Di CAPUA
May 1, 2011
The truck beach lawsuit, wherein certain beachfront property owners don’t want trucks parked within their sightlines, smacks of elitism.
But then there are rules of civilized behavior that an awful lot of beachgoers transgress. Dogs and people relieve themselves where they should not, oblivious beachgoers assume that someone else will pick up the trash, and that their caterwauling children are adorable.
“Good manners is being considerate of others,” Eleanor Roosevelt said to her granddaughter, Nina, as she and I were dragged screaming from Mrs. Roosevelt’s magical elevator in her New York City townhouse.
May the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt haunt the miscreants who practice inconsiderate beach behavior on our shores.
Very rich, just rich, not so rich, whoever. Manners up, please!
All good things,
May 9, 2011
When I was 6 years old, I got really mad at my mother for disagreeing with me one evening and shouted, “You are just like Adolf Hitler!” I was sent away from the table in disgrace. Psychologists might differ as to whether this was the right or wrong approach to a child’s angry dissent.
Now, as suggested in a not-atypical interchange last Thursday night, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson wants to send Arthur French away from the table for styling his town board, “Taliban.” On the wrongness of his approach there can be no debate.
Mr. Wilkinson is not a parent with a discipline problem. A supervisor who wants good government for the people should not personalize or put down even angry community dissent.
Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.
May 8, 2011
Remember the radio show about “the rest of the story?” I wish someone would do that with our current town board.
At two meetings last week, the town board work session on May 3 and the town board meeting last Thursday, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley lamented, engaged in hand wringing, nearly cried for the Snyders, who had been in the planning process for 20 years. Twenty years? But there is more to the story.
Evidently, there was a lawsuit that lasted nearly a decade. The town was engaged in a land swap and a change in an urban renewal parcel that would allow for the entrance to the property through an industrial area. The planning board agreed on the plan for the property about five years ago with the condition that the town complete the necessary arrangements for the ingress that does not include West Drive, a residential neighborhood.
Ms. Quigley, who is the board’s liaison to the Planning Department, is manipulating this sad story that involves real families and their major investment. She is using their homes and a situation that she doesn’t really understand as a reason to defame our highly thought of East Hampton Planning Department.
In this instance, the planning process had very little to do with the problem at hand and Ms. Quigley knows it. Her attempt to distort the facts and exploit neighborhoods and property owners is just plain wrong. Her inability to get at the facts before she impulsively speaks is also at fault. Her immediate reaction is to not listen to both sides of the story, but jump to conclusions and blame someone. She continually attempts to manipulate the public into thinking the Planning Department is at fault. This is extremely troubling.
May 7, 2011
Jeremiah Baker was born in Amagansett in the 1830s. He was a founding member of the Amagansett Presbyterian Church, was involved in the fishing business, and in 1849 went to California in the Gold Rush.
On April 1, 1859, Jeremiah Baker started running his stage line daily from Amagansett to Sag Harbor, and it ran for over 40 years. He carried the mail until shortly before the railroad came through in 1895.
The arrival of his stage when he entered East Hampton from the Sag Harbor Turnpike was announced by the blowing of a bugle, as he entered Main Street from what is now Buell Lane.
Jeremiah Baker did more than carry the mail. Previous to the railroad, his stage route was important to the everyday business of the town. A great deal of commerce was carried on between East Hampton and Sag Harbor and Baker’s stage played an important part in transferring goods and passengers between the two villages. He also moved large sums of money which he carried in his pockets without the benefit of firearms. So you can tell that the stage driver was a very important person. He brought the news from town to town as well as carrying the mail. The stage driver was for a long time the principal daily contact with the outside world.
Jeremiah Baker’s historic house in the Amagansett Historic District should not be tinkered with because of his history, which played a vital part in the history of Amagansett and the village of Sag Harbor and the Town of East Hampton. Since Mr. Baker ran a business out of his home, the town should only allow the present owners to operate a business venture which mirrors the history of Jeremiah Baker — a small museum reflecting on the life of Jeremiah Baker or the creation of a replica of Jeremiah Baker’s stage enabling riders to travel to Sag Harbor, Promised Land, and Springs, where Mr. Baker delivered mail, transported goods, or brought the news. Otherwise, leave a historic house in a historic district that was once owned by an important figure in the history of Amagansett, East Hampton, and Sag Harbor alone.
HUGH R. KING
Mr. King is the director of the Home, Sweet Home Museum in East Hampton Village. Ed.
May 9, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
For many years now, the Accabonac Protection Committee has been working hard to get the Barbara Hale Refuge restored to its traditional state, a meadow, to bring back the biological diversity of plants and animals that has been disappearing locally and nationwide with the loss of grasslands. We have had many conversations over the past 12 months with Larry Penny, director of natural resources, Scott Wilson of Land Acquisition and Management, Zach Cohen of the nature preserves committee, and every member of the town board, urging that the clearing be carried out as specified in a Department of Environmental Protection permit that was granted to Mr. Penny in 2010. Certainly, this is what should happen, and it is our fervent hope that the proper, permitted clearing will go forward, and soon!
Accabonac Protection Committee
May 5, 2011
To the Editor,
I have a neighbor who loves to look in my yard. Any little thing that does not meet with his approval, I get a phone call. The messages are never nice.
Well, after nearly 20 years of this aggressive behavior, I finally went to the police. The best they could do was call him. They told me that neighbor disputes are the worst. I believe it.
Nosy neighbors remind me of school bullies. Nice, they get away with their abusive attitude, it just perpetuates. The only reason my neighbor got away with it in the first place is that we felt like we had to keep the peace. No more. I am done with that. I will now call the police anytime this person calls me or should he approach me.
Fences make for good neighbors, only here in East Hampton a fence may only be four feet high from the front end of your house to the road. No good to me; our neighbor’s house sits just to the side of my front yard. Next stop the garden nursery!
Should I ever move I will make sure it is to upstate New York, preferably in the woods. Bears would make for more suitable neighbors. Your home should be your retreat, not a place you want to retreat from. I have kept my shades down for years on the side of my house that faces his for fear he is looking in.
So I say to all you neighbor bullies, live and let live and please keep your nose on your side of the fence.
By the way, I never look in my neighbor’s yard.
May 5, 2011
To the Editor:
I was delighted to learn that Steve Gaines is seeking the Republican nomination for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board. I have known Steve for a number of years and can positively attest to his knowledge of East Hampton affairs and to his superb research skills that he has developed over years as an outstanding journalist. To the charge that a journalist and a writer does not have the qualifications to be a member of the board, I take note that Ronald Reagan was an actor. Should the Republicans chose to nominate Steve, they would be doing themselves a lot of good.
The fact that Steve is running as a Republican is a good thing. There is no reason why all the writers in East Hampton should be Democrats.
It was silent, quiet, no sound at all except pencil marks on paper
It was long
It was short
I finished first
I finished last
I had to finish or not finish
I had to concentrate or get them all wrong
It was silent, no sound at all
Are Not Happy
May 9, 2011
Voting no on a school budget tells the school board that you are not happy with the way they are spending your tax dollars. It is not necessary for you to sign a blank check made out to the school board.
Voting no does not close the school. Voting no does not change the quality of education teachers are giving to your child — they are professionals.
Voting no tells the school board to stop spending your money on items that do not directly affect the quality of your child’s education.
When a school district budget is voted down, the school board has three options to choose from: Go to an austerity budget with only mandated expenses to keep the school operating, without the extracurricular activities, vote again on the very same budget, or make cuts to the frills, benefits, salaries, and extracurricular activities and present a realistic, reduced (estimated) budget for a new vote.
The budget presented for a vote is only an estimated budget, as there are a number of items that cannot be determined on May 17 — salary negotiations, assessed valuation, increased mandated expenses, just to name a few.
Tuesday, May 17, vote no on the Montauk School budget. You are paying too much.
An Excellent School
May 8, 2011
I am running for the Springs School Board because I believe that public education is the foundation of American democracy. We educate our young to carry on our traditions of citizenship, to become productive members of our community, to realize self-actualization, and to become lifelong learners. We need to provide a quality education, in a safe environment and as economically efficiently as possible.
There are also some very selfish reasons to maintain an excellent school. Besides that the fact that the children in the Springs School today will work to provide my Social Security and Medicare benefits, as I have longevity in my family, the quality of that school also maintains my house values.
If the school declines, so does the value of my house. This is what some people are unable to realize; their best protection for their largest investment is a great school. They complain that the price of the school continues to go up — name one thing that has not gone up. However, as a retired longtime teacher and school administrator living on a fixed small income, there are ways to curtail and even reduce the cost of education and these avenues must be pursued.
We have seen the efforts that began when David and Carol Buda led a movement that resulted in the code enforcement people being aroused and pushed into doing the job that they were quite complacent about previous to the Budas attending town board meetings with posters of pictures of houses with a slew of cars parked around each house. This process must continue. Springs has an increase of some 1,600 or so people in the last 10 years, according to the census figures. It’s for sure there have not been 800 houses built since then; not even 200, I dare say. So it seems there is still a great deal left to do in this area alone.
Since I have lived full time in Springs I have bitterly complained at the waste that exists in the inefficiency of these small districts each with a superintendent and some with a principal as well. In my own district where I worked for 12 of my 27 years in education, Yonkers Public Schools, there are 39 schools, 5 of which are high schools, 25,000 students, and 3,000 teachers to maintain. Our superintendent’s yearly salary is $260,000. He served for five years without a raise and just received a $25,000 raise. Bernard Pierorazio was also recently named administrator of the year. So why does Ray Gualtieri in East Hampton make $4,000 more than him, with 1,926 students and two schools and only one high school? So, I am as mad as hell, and I don’t think we should take it anymore.
The key words are consolidation, consolidation, consolidation. In the words of Victor Hugo, “Greater than the tread of a mighty army is an idea whose time has come.” And the idea is the consolidation of these small districts. Imagine ordering duplicating paper used by all schools in abundance en masse? What a savings!
If elected, I will work to increase the quality of the Springs School while zealously addressing aggressive ways to cut all expenses. Of all the people who are running, I have the background, the tenacity, and the time to do the job.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
May 9, 2011
My name is Arthur Goldman, and I am running for the school board in Springs. The homeowners in Springs, more so than any other district in the surrounding area, bear the greatest burden of school taxes, because of the lack of commercial property and the housing density in Springs. This means that every dollar spent in Springs must be carefully analyzed. This means that the budget process must start early and be transparent. This means that all the voices in the community must be heard and considered.
When my wife, Eileen, and I moved to Springs 18 years ago we did so because the Springs School enjoyed a fine reputation. As our children moved through the school we came to understand the reason for that reputation. What the Springs School lacked in bells and whistles (a cafeteria, a dedicated gymnasium, and auditorium), it made up for with a staff from top to bottom that created an atmosphere connecting every child to the school. I want the Springs School to continue to be the reason families decide to move to Springs.
I am asking for your vote. Voting takes place on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Springs School library. Vote yes on the budget.
Support the Budget
May 8, 2011
I graduated from Springs and am a second-home owner here. I urge those like me who benefited from this wonderful gem of a school to support the budget.
I have built a successful career. As I reflect on the influences in my life, I can honestly point to those “un-mandated” subjects and those enrichment opportunities, as well as my exposure to the arts and sports at Springs, that changed my life. These are the programs that had the big impact and helped prepare me for my future.
No matter what we may think of the superintendent, the teachers are at the core of the spirit and heart of the school. The long-term prospects of the students would suffer with increased class size and reduced options.
I endorse Arthur Goldman and Tim Frazier, since they provide a temperate balance of knowledge and experience in the educational system, and I know them to be candidates of vision.
Send a Message
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
The Springs School Board election is fast approaching on Tuesday, 1 to 9 p.m. Please mark your calendars and go out to vote. I will be voting a resounding no on the budget to send a message to an unresponsive school board.
I will vote no to send a message to the board that in these terrible economic times giving an almost 12-percent raise to the school superintendent was unacceptable. I will vote no to a budget that provides unnecessary busing at our expense. I will vote no to a budget that includes a taxpayer-funded, nonmandated prekindergarten program. I will vote no to send a message to the Springs School Board that they cannot, and should not, ignore taxpayers’ pleas for responsive and responsible management of our district.
I will vote no to let the board know that some of us will not tolerate ever-increasing teacher salary and benefit contracts and that step raises have gotten out of control. Negotiating better teacher and administrator contracts is not “breaking the union,” as Arthur Goldman commented on the Springs Homeowners Alliance Web site. Negotiating is what happens when both sides work hard to represent the best interests of the people they represent. How can we possibly have fair negotiations when the board members are often literally in bed with the employees?
With teacher contract negotiations currently stalled, I cannot vote for a candidate who is part of the system — either working in, retired from, or married to an employee because of the obvious conflict of interest. Ms. Mallah publicly claimed that “Doctors and lawyers all make more money than any teacher with usually a lot less education.” This statement is false, bordering on ridiculous. I believe that leaves one candidate left. I truly hope that the next election brings better choices.
Please remember that we get the government we deserve. Remember to vote.
Without the Guns
May 9, 2011
If we didn’t know that $4 million could be cut from the Springs School budget, it might be possible to support this budget, but knowing that it was possible to make realistic cuts and then not make them, is unconscionable. Springs is stuck with an absolutely unfair burden to begin with, but for the board members to fail to reduce this budget to the extent that they can shows an incredible insensitivity to the situation most of us are in. And to add 20 grand to a superintendent’s salary that is already out the window puts the picture in sharper perspective. It’s highway robbery without the guns.
The backgrounds of the potential new members make it very unlikely we will see any relief from this situation in the future. Everybody running is in on the game.
They may think they’re doing it all “for the kids,” but what they’re doing is destroying the tax base of Springs.
May 9, 2011
I have known Phyllis Mallah since she first bought her house on our street in 2002. I know her as a woman devoted to her family and grandchildren, a woman of many interests from writing her cooking column, “Cooking Long Island’s Bounty,” in the Clearwater Beach newsletter to taking adult education classes at the high school and being a political activist. But first and foremost, she is a consummate educator.
Retirement from the job she loved as a school administrator came about only because she could no longer leave Springs, which she dearly loves. She has the energy, time, knowledge, and the perseverance to bring our school to new heights. I urge you to vote for her to join our school board in its quest to provide for the best school at the best price.
Degree of Clarity
May 9, 2011
To the Editor:
Arthur Goldman is an excellent candidate for the Springs School Board. He has been a resident of Springs for close to 20 years and is familiar with the local community. In addition, Mr. Goldman has sent two children to the Springs School. He offers a needed perspective and a degree of clarity and professionalism that the Springs School Board could use. Mr. Goldman understands the issues facing the Springs community and Springs School.
Those who declare that voting down the school budget will rein in supposedly “out of control” teachers’ salaries are very misinformed about the nature of teaching salaries and contracts. Voting down the budget will do nothing but hurt the children of Springs and the wider community. Mr. Goldman is running for school board to show support for the Springs School budget and the Springs community.
I urge all of you within the Springs community to get out and vote to pass the school budget and to vote for Mr. Goldman, the best choice for the Springs School Board, on Tuesday.
Facts Are That
May 5, 2011
While everyone has a right to freely express their opinion and vote their pocketbook, I’m concerned about all the misinformation that’s been circulating throughout the Springs community in regard to our school budget.
But before I continue, it should be noted that while I serve on the Springs School Board, I am expressing my views as a Springs resident.
The facts are that for the average homeowner in Springs ($600,000 assessed value), the proposed tax increase of 5.8 percent would result in an increase in property taxes of $289 for the year over what taxpayers are currently paying. Should the budget not pass after two attempts, a contingent budget would be implemented. The contingent budget calls for a 4.24-percent tax-rate increase, an increase of $211 for the year. (So regardless of which budget gets adopted, there will be a tax increase.)
For the average Springs property owner, the difference between a passed budget and a contingent budget is $78 for the year.
However, there would be a significant difference in staffing and program for students in prekindergarten through grade eight should a contingent budget be adopted, as more than $840,000 would need to be cut. Those cuts would involve some combination of the following measures: the layoff of several teachers and teaching assistants; a reduction of classroom sections for kindergarten, grade one, and grade three from four to three; elimination of the roof projects and the bus purchase, and the loss of pre-K, extracurricular activities such as band, chorus, interscholastic sports, and the fourth-grade opera.
The majority of the cuts would be from programs that directly affect the students, because in a contingent budget the district is still required to pay all contractual obligations including staff salaries, pensions, and health insurance, as well the tuition for Springs high school students. So if you were under the impression that voting down the budget will lower teachers’ salaries, you would be incorrect.
It should also be noted that there will be a proposition on the ballot for a new tuition agreement with East Hampton. If approved, this proposition will save Springs taxpayers $3.2 million from 2011 through 2015.
So when you go to the polls Tuesday, pull that lever armed with the facts. If you desire additional budget information, you can go to the Springs School Web site and scroll down to “frequently asked questions regarding the proposed 2011-12 budget.”
KATHEE BURKE GONZALEZ
Heart of Springs
May 8, 2011
I have been reading the letters from Lynne Scanlon, as the representative for the Springs Homeowners Alliance, and they have proven interesting to me. While there is so much to respond to, I will try to focus on the “three nonnegotiable goals” the homeowners alliance has for Springs School. These goals are: “an objective and balanced board of education, improved school ranking, and parity in salary, benefits, and pensions with other professions in East Hampton.”
Goal one: “An objective and balanced Board of Education.” The current board in Springs is comprised of members who work in customer service, law enforcement, construction, marketing, and legal counsel — a pretty broad gamut of occupations. They are also civic-minded, community-focused people who volunteer not only as board members, but in our community churches, civic organizations, and recreation programs.
Anyone who has attended board meetings in the past five years, such as myself, can attest to the board being approachable, open-minded, and deliberate in their decision-making. They don’t always agree with each other. They don’t agree with all the parents and community members, because they can’t. For every parent or community member that wants something, there is someone else who wants the contrary.
I have not always liked the board’s decisions, but I know I have always been given the opportunity to express my opinion. I have witnessed the board being chastised and criticized as well as thanked and complimented. Having attended board of education meetings in other school districts as well, I can attest that school boards don’t get much more “objective and balanced” than what we have had in Springs in recent years.
Perhaps when Ms. Scanlon states the board should be more objective and balanced, what she is really looking for is someone who will slash as many programs and staff members as she and the homeowners alliance believe should be cut, regardless of state mandates or best practices in education. That seems to be the message they are putting forward about how they feel about the school and the budget.
This somewhat humors me since the word objective, by definition, means “not influenced by personal feelings,” but it is their own personal feelings that make them think the board is currently not objective. I might even argue that it is Ms. Scanlon’s and the homeowners alliance’s personal feelings that are preventing them from being objective about this year’s budget and the current school board.
I would also like to note that as unhappy as the homeowners alliance is with the current board and how critical they are of the current candidates, I don’t see Ms. Scanlon or any of the other homeowners alliance members volunteering to sit on the Springs School Board. It seems that while they certainly have a lot of complaining to do about all that is “wrong” with Springs School, they apparently can’t be bothered to be part of the solution. Perhaps someone from their organization should have been willing to be hands-on in the problem-solving rather than just pointing their finger.
Goal two: “Improved school ranking.” Hmmm, let’s improve the school by voting no on the budget which would then require the school to cut staff and programs. Most school rankings are based on test scores alone. Springs school routinely performs well on state assessments, but those tests should not be the focus of a quality education program.
Outstanding schools provide students with opportunities in enrichment through diverse academics, the arts, and athletics. They provide students with hands-on learning. They teach character education because they understand the importance of emotional intelligence and the role it plays in the level of success of both children and adults.
Quality education includes busing because studies show busing improves attendance and consistent attendance improves performance. Quality education includes early education because studies have shown that investing in early education saves districts money in the long run. Early education reduces remediation in later years. Voting down the school budget will require loss of programs and staff which will only weaken a school, and in extension, its community.
Goal three: “Parity in salary, benefits, and pensions with other professions in East Hampton.” What professions would they be exactly? The professions and salaries in East Hampton range from minimum wage laborers to millionaire professionals. Teachers are required to hold a master’s degree. There are teachers in Springs who have earned as many as four master’s degrees and multiple certifications. After 20 years of service, teachers salaries reach $100,000. People seem to want to argue what a teacher is worth. What can’t be argued is that teachers fall under the skilled-professional career category. Teaching requires a professional degree and specific training. They are paid for their expertise.
Yes, our taxes are higher when compared to surrounding schools, but it is not because we are overstaffed or have an abundance of “extras.” We pay more in school tax because we have very little commercial business to offset the residential tax burden. Unlike Montauk, East Hampton, and Amagansett, we have no “main street.” I knew when I decided to build my house in Springs that the school budget burden fell on the homeowners. It always has. If you didn’t realize that when you decided to buy in Springs, well, caveat emptor. I bought here anyway because of the many benefits of living in Springs, but certainly at the top of the list was the true sense of community and un-Hampton-like environment it would provide for my future family. Springs School is very much the heart of Springs, and the tax burden falls on the Springs residents. It is not the fault of the board or the teachers — and certainly not the students.
I, personally, do not agree with every line item that is in the Springs School budget. However, as a whole, it is a financially responsible and educationally sound budget. It may look like I am just drinking the Springs School board of ed Kool-Aid, but I also diligently watched as they made it and know that it is safe for consumption.
So my message to Ms. Scanlon and the homeowners alliance is that your energy is misguided. Voting no to the Springs School budget is not going to help you reach any of your goals.
Unhappy with the board? Offer yourself as a candidate next year. Want to improve school rank? Get involved by attending board of education meetings, PTA meetings, and school functions. Volunteer your time and services. Want to lower your taxes? Take your concerns to your county and state legislators. Push for consolidation.
Ultimately, we all want what is best for the Springs community, and what is best for the community is a yes vote for the Springs School budget.
Not By Limiting
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
As we make the decision about whether to support the current Springs School budget, we think it is important to decide what our motivation is. The difference between the current budget proposal and austerity is only $78 per year. That $78 will help provide your children and your neighbors’ children a more complete education. For $78, isn’t that a good thing? If you do not have children, a school district that is on austerity will have a negative effect on your property values.
If you are unhappy with the decisions that have been made at the Springs School, please do make your opinions heard, but not by limiting the education that our children are receiving. Voting down the current budget does not provide solutions to our current financial problems; it only hurts our children and thus the community of Springs.
Let’s all make a positive difference by voting yes for the budget and then working together to consolidate East Hampton into one unified — and fair — school district.
May 9, 2011
Voting yes to Springs School budget costs me $74 in additional taxes this year. In contrast, the opposite vote immediately reduces my property value by $60,000 to $100,000 and it takes 5 to 10 years to recover from that substantial hit.
My house is my biggest financial asset; it will fund my retirement and my child’s college education. I know why I’m voting yes on May 17 at the Springs polls.
May 6, 2011
To the Editor,
We bought land in Clearwater Beach in 1972 and built our house the following year, 1973. In the past 38 years our taxes have ballooned slightly more than 24 times the original amount.
As everyone knows, too many houses are in foreclosure or “under water.” People everywhere are struggling to pay their mortgages. Incomes are not keeping pace with rising costs, especially of gas and food. These are not hard-luck stories; they are the sad realities of post-great-recession life. Many of us are retired on fixed incomes; some, like me, recently widowed.
We in Springs pay exorbitantly high property taxes, 70 percent of which are currently absorbed by the school budget. Is there an end in sight to this escalation? I believe there is, providing residents vote no on May 17.
May 9, 2011
All the caterwauling we are hearing from candidates for the board of education, PTA members, and teachers about how an across-the-ballot no vote on Tuesday is to condemn the children of Springs to an inferior education and an abysmal future in a Dickensian workhouse is a last-gasp attempt to deflect voters from the real issues. The need for salary caps, the need for teachers to pay more for their share of benefits, the need to end the automatic “steps” (salary increases) that are no longer necessary, and the need to terminate nonmandated programs and perks, etc., until the economy recovers and Springs homeowners have some financial breathing room are the real issues.
Vote no to numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the ballot and let the reorganization of how the Springs School does business begin.
Springs HomeOwnersAlliance.com is planning to meet and greet between 5 and 7 p.m. at a Springs restaurant the evening of the vote. Vote first, drinks second! Keep an eye on the Web site for more details.
LYNNE W. SCANLON
May 9, 2011
I am a retired senior citizen living in Springs on a fixed income. It is my understanding that if the current Springs School budget passes, it will increase my taxes by about $289. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to choose between a school budget and my taxes, but I do. That is why I am choosing to vote in favor of the Springs School budget.
I am an 11th-generation Bonacker and have lived in Springs for over 40 years. My four children attended the Springs School during the ’70s and ’80s. I remember what it was like for my kids the year the school was on austerity. It was all black and white. The kids went to school and came home with little joy or excitement about their day. The whole community felt it.
For all but one of the 15 years my children were in Springs, community members passed the budget and allowed my children to have a great education. Not only did they learn, they fell in love with learning. That great start in school led all four of my children to college. Now it is my turn to support the children of this community.
I understand the difference between a passed budget and an austerity budget would only save me about $78 for the year; that’s $1.50 per week. I know my kids’ education was worth that when they were in school, and so are the kids there today.
May 9, 2011
“The teachers union is a slavering, junkyard dog.” Note from Comment Moderator: “What an image! Should we ball up some steak tartare (this is The Hamptons after all), lace the meat with poison, and toss it over the fence?”
These comments appeared on a recent blog posted by a group in Springs and represent the sentiment and intent of individuals affiliated with that organization.
I coach Little League baseball and umpire games throughout East Hampton. I would remove any child from my team and escort any adult from the field for uttering such a comment. I might even call the police.
This divisive, incendiary, and grotesque commentary has no place in our Springs community and certainly should be kept far, far away from our school and our children. Vote no to the garbage being spewed by this offensive organization.
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
This is the final opportunity for me to offer thoughts on my candidacy for a seat on the East Hampton Board of Education, and at this point, I can keep it concise.
I will bring:
• Knowledge and experience to budget-building and financial oversight
• Experience with and respect for stakeholders
• Dedication to student academic performance
• Careful preparation and research to school board tasks and issues
• Measured and thoughtful dialogue to school board considerations
• Common sense and transparency to school board decisions
I would also like to commend John Ryan and James Amaden, two sitting members who have decided not to run, for their long and faithful efforts on behalf of the district.
Please vote on Tuesday at the East Hampton High School between the hours of 1 and 8 p.m. to support both the budget and my candidacy.
Must Be Reformed
May 3, 2011
I want to thank the East Hampton Group for Good Government for hosting a forum for school board candidates on April 30 at the high school. It was a great opportunity for candidates to share our visions for East Hampton’s schools.
There is nothing more important than ensuring that all children in East Hampton receive an excellent education in a healthy and safe school environment. As a parent of two children who attend John M. Marshall Elementary School, I am running for school board because I believe parents need a voice on the board. Those who know my children from school may know me as Jackie Kuperschmid.
The district is fortunate to have many outstanding, committed teachers. I support them, and want to ensure that they get the resources they need to help our children achieve academic excellence.
Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely and directed toward programs that benefit students and learning. That is why I believe the budget process must be reformed. The current board took a great first step by appointing a budget advisory committee. In the future, we must insist that the budget be crafted cooperatively with much longer lead time for review and meaningful input.
Having worked in senior positions in the federal government for many years, including serving as deputy chief of staff at the United States Department of Transportation and deputy director of the National Park Service, I have experience managing big, complicated bureaucracies. I know how to work within organizations collegially yet independently, skills that will serve me well if I am elected to the school board.
I don’t have a personal agenda in seeking this office. I will approach the challenge with a strong voice and an open mind. I will fight for the interests of families in the district, who want and deserve the best for their children.
I would be honored if your readers would vote for me on Tuesday and welcome their thoughts and ideas about the East Hampton schools. Voters can reach me at TellJackieBOE@aol.com.
What I Would Do
May 8, 2011
The school board election is next Tuesday from 1 to 8 p.m. at the high school. For those who want to know my credentials and educational philosophy, go to the Star’s Web site and click on the May 5 candidate summary and look under the comments.
Some people have told me they understand the budget crunch that will come in 2012-13 when we can only spend $900,000 more than this year and have fixed costs exceeding that amount. They want to know what I would do to cut the budget. This is a fair question for all candidates. Here is what I would do:
First, we need to know which line items will bust the 2012-13 budget and by how much. I have asked Ray Gualtieri for this information on two occasions because I am not willing to guess. I will ask the board of education to pass a resolution requiring him to deliver this information. That will tell us how deep the hole is. Then, I would ask the other board members to endorse the following steps:
• Begin an open dialogue with the teachers and workers of the district in which any employee can make suggestions for saving money without fear of jeopardizing their position and without having to get permission to speak up.
• Require all central office, building-level, and department heads to prioritize all expenditures based upon what is required by law, in the interests of safety, to keep a program going, and to improve a program. Ask them to suggest specifically how the work of their department can be done more efficiently if their budgets were cut by specific amounts.
• Encourage the public and the parent associations to use board meetings to bring to the attention of the board programs they feel are too expensive or not working and ideas they have for cost effective improvements.
• Give the citizens budget committee all of the financial information it has been asking for from the administration such as the details of the $80 million building program.
• Identify nonacademic programs that could be managed or run outside of school using outside agencies including the operation of the school bus program, drivers education, etc.
• Settle the Sandpebble lawsuit to avoid further litigation costs, which total, to date, over $2.2 million.
• Require that any expenditure of more than $10,000 for any budget item be brought to the attention of the board before the check is cut. This red flag would have saved us from the $2.2 million litigation costs of the Sandpebble lawsuit because we would have known what we were getting ourselves in for when we got the first bill of $38,000 for the 18-page initial complaint!
• Examine where we can share recreation programs with outside groups and other school districts. This is effectively done with the Y.M.C.A. with our swimming program where the Y has greater expertise and runs the program at a fraction of what it would cost if the school district ran it.
• Wherever possible open up our part-time non-classroom positions to the East Hampton community where many people have greater expertise and need the work. End the practice of giving these positions exclusively to in-house staff already more than adequately compensated through their full-time salaries.
• Examine ways to use power-supply engineering techniques to reduce the costs of operating the heating and air-conditioning systems and thus the cost of electricity and fuel. This has been done effectively in other school districts using control systems from Anderson and Honeywell.
After this process is completed we will know where we stand financially for 2012-13. We can then address the two major worker contracts that have ended or will end and must be renewed.
What I was able to accomplish this year with suggestions to the board from the floor was a reduction in noninstructional expenses amounting to over $350,000. We have now built a consensus around cost reductions that do not have an impact on the quality of education. This consensus needs to be strengthened.
My candidacy is an appeal to reason, not to prejudice. With intelligent budget cutting we can avoid layoffs and save the taxpayers money. We must do this. You have a vote, cast it wisely.
May 2, 2011
To the Editor:
After attending the school board candidates discussion sponsored by the Group for Good Government at the high school on Saturday, I am compelled to state my disappointment in four out of the five candidates (Paul Fiondella being the fifth candidate), when it comes to their overall positions. This is hard for me to say, because I do not doubt that all five candidates share a sincere desire to provide the children with the best education possible. However, after two hours with the candidates, it is clear to me at least that four of the candidates (the “Group of Four” to differentiate them from Mr. Fiondella), present overly simplistic solutions and an amorphous approach to solving the very complicated financial and educational problems facing the East Hampton community. In fact, I am not sure they totally comprehend the problems they will be tackling if elected. Several of the Group of Four stated that they have never even attended school board meetings until their decision to run for a position.
Before writing to attack me, please remember that these are my impressions only. I do not have a relationship with any of the candidates. It is not my intention to denigrate anyone on a personal level. They all appear well meaning and earnest. However, that will not get the job done. We are too far down the road toward financial disaster to be redirected onto the right path by warm, fuzzy feelings. I urge you to go and listen to the candidates and then make up your own mind.
Saturday’s discussion forced me to focus on the current school dilemma. Our school budget is so large and so complicated — currently up into the stratosphere of what the town board has allocated to run the whole Town of East Hampton — that solid expertise and experience are required to deal with it. The job of spending other people’s money is not easy and should not be taken lightly.
Interestingly, not once did any one of the Group of Four speak in terms of representing all the taxpayers of the town. Unlike Paul Fiondella, they geared their total focus toward parents of the children in the schools. Maybe that is their concern because they have children currently in the schools and/or because they work in the schools, or because they are retired and receiving benefits from having worked many years in the schools. As a school board member representation must be of all taxpayers in the district, not just parents of children attending classes.
Unquestionably, there is a depth of knowledge required to deal with our current financial crisis and while it is good to have candidates who are sincere, honest, and hard-working, they must also be financially sophisticated, and able to comprehend complicated budgetary concepts. Our school board must be willing to make those necessary hard choices, like possibly having to fire friends or teachers or school staff. From what I heard on Saturday, Paul Fiondella will be able to do those things.
On the other hand, each candidate in the Group of Four described an intimate relationship with the East Hampton school system. While listening, little red lights began flashing in my brain — possible conflicts of interest. Maybe it is my own naiveté, but I don’t want my interests represented by people who are today working within or collecting benefits from the very system they will need to scrutinize for places to cull and pare down personnel, costs, and expenses.
For me, Mr. Fiondella, with his extensive business and computer background and teaching experience at the university level, spoke intelligently and knowledgeably about what needs to be done. I take comfort in the fact that he comes from outside the East Hampton school system. He is extremely current on computer literacy and outspoken on its importance to students of the 21st century.
While he spoke of computer programs that are available free to the school as teaching devices, the other candidates surprisingly seemed to downplay the role of computers in today’s world and instead were pushing the importance of “pen and paper.” They appeared to frame the issue in terms of one or the other (computers vs. pen and paper), but not both. They spoke as though children cannot be taught simultaneously how to use both means of communication. I think with their approach they underestimate and would ultimately shortchange the children to whom they want to provide the best education possible.
Additionally, Mr. Fiondella is the only candidate who dared to say the unmentionable: If elected he would vote not to renew Ray Gualtieri’s superintendent contract when it expires and would convene a search committee immediately for his replacement. Anyone who has followed the school board for the past five or more years knows that a great deal of blame for where we find ourselves today financially must fall on Mr. Gualtieri and the “yes” boards we the taxpayers have elected and kept in office by our uninterested, lazy actions (or nonactions) on voting day.
The central theme of the candidates was: The community wants the best education for our children, the children represent our future. I can’t disagree but this must be viewed in context. We pay for the best now, but apparently are not getting a return on our money where it counts. Our children score below many other communities that spend less. When a school is run on a budget equal to that which it takes to run the whole Town of East Hampton and our children score in the mediocre range, it is clear that a good education does not necessarily equate to a costly education.
How our hard-earned dollars are spent must be critically examined. Many people in this town are drowning in debt. A balance must be struck and a hard look taken.
With the town facing a $27 million deficit, the town board through hard work and zero-based budgeting was able to reduce the current budget by 17 percent, despite increased costs for health care and interest on borrowed money. There are parallels here, and the new school board must be equipped with the knowledge of the tools available to do the same for the school budget. We can no longer afford the luxury of a lengthy education process so board members can do on-the-job learning. The newly elected board members will be required to possess the experience necessary to enable them to hit the ground running. This process must be taken out of the hands of the superintendent, placed where it rightfully belongs, in the laps of qualified school board members and shared with the public. Learn all you can about the candidates and then go out on Tuesday and vote.
May 8, 2011
To the Editor,
As a member of the East Hampton Board of Education for the past year, it has become very clear that in order to be effective all seven members must work together without distrust or animosity. One will not always agree with someone else's opinion but it is crucial to respect that opinion and to honestly listen to that person's reasons for holding that opinion.
This year we will be electing two new people to replace two incumbents who have decided not to run again for another term. The three of us who were elected one year ago are still "learning the ropes" while the two soon-to-be-elected members will be total rookies, making cooperation even more vital than usual.
Having listen to the five candidates present at the recent Group for Good Government program and having read their resumes, I would be comfortable with any two of them on the new board. One, however, has particularly impressed me with his passion and knowledge, namely Paul Fiondella. I am aware that some in the community may feel that Paul is too passionate or too outspoken about his perceptions.
As one who may be working with Paul this year as one of seven board members, I am very confident that he would work well as a team player. I do not believe that he would try to dominate discussions and would listen openly to the viewpoints of the other six members. He realizes that no individual board member can act by himself or herself. Nothing moves forward unless a majority of the board supports a decision.
In summary, I look forward to working with Paul if he is elected to the East Hampton Board of Education. I also encourage every eligible voter to vote on Tuesday. It is both a right and a responsibility.
GEORGE AMAN, PH.D.
East Hampton Board of Education
May 6, 2011
In the 40-odd years that I have written to The Star, I’ve been grateful for the privilege you have afforded me to use my Constitutional right of free communication. The letters have dealt with my peeves, plaudits, and a wide range of suggestions to improve our community. I had only one personal restriction, which was not to endorse anyone for public office. As of late I have become increasingly concerned and involved with the obvious failure locally and nationally of our educational systems as demonstrated by our rating in comparison to competing nations. So I am going to break my rule and enthusiastically endorse Paul Fiondella as a candidate for East Hampton School Board.
Paul is what I would call a spectacular systems guy. Within that designation is amazing ability to analyze, alter, and construct budgets that get the job done without waste but forward programs vital to increasing educational standards. This systems ability allows him to deal with the myriad vagaries of school board law, and just about no one I know in this town has his command of the technology and science of computers.
He and his wife, Charla, are passionate advocates of an educational system that is filled with vitality and marked by competence and energy that move our students forward and upward. In the last few years Paul has been a fearless clarion and cautionary voice at school board meetings pointing out the quixotic course that the administration was taking that has frittered away millions of dollars.
The Star has always tried to be a beacon for the right path for our community. If you examine the tools, knowledge, and absolute dedication Paul Fiondella brings to the table, I hope you will join me in endorsing him for the East Hampton School Board.
HOWARD JOHN LEBWITH
May 9, 2011
The health and wellness fair sponsored by Bionic on Board at the middle school was a huge success. Over 40 sponsors and participating organizations gave demonstrations, displayed exhibits, and gave health screenings to eager middle school students and community members.
The wellness programs message was “living the green dream,” a lesson that will continue to affect these students for the rest of their lives. Thank you to those members of the community who took time from their busy schedules to share their knowledge and spirit with our school and community. Students can look up to your passion and dedication to your profession. What role models you were to our students!
In reference to the concerns of mold and asbestos, on April 25 we received a clean bill of health from J.C. Broderick and Associates with its air quality report. We are thankful for the concern of the community for the students’ and staff’s safety.
East Hampton Middle School is a very special place in the community. A feeling of warmth, safety, concern, and nurturing is felt when students are dropped off in the morning. We are a family at this school, kind of the middle child, in between the elementary school and the high school. We share the joys of our successes and the pains of our sorrows in our everyday lives.
I bring the point of this to the attention of the community as the East Hampton School District budget vote and board of education elections will occur on Tuesday.
When the question of the future of the middle school was presented to the board of education candidates, all of them expressed support for keeping the school open except for Paul Fiondella. We had heard rumors and reports from the citizens advisory committee that they the thought the building was under-utilized, but were assured by the board of education that there was no intention of closing the school.
There is something about Mr. Fiondella that reminds me of a quote by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
At board meetings Mr. Fiondella would mention double-digit budget increases and close budget votes of the past in East Hampton. I can’t remember any of these double-digit increases, and last year’s budget vote was 496-359 (58 percent) ruling in favor of the budget. He also stated that a few years ago not one high school student could create a database spreadsheet. You know, some misstatements repeated long and loud do not become the truth.
Through my years of teaching in East Hampton, I haven’t always agreed with all board members, but they have been respectable members of the community. They have acted with civility and respect for each other in public settings as they discussed sensitive issues.
Since Mr. Fiondella has been running for a board of education position, he has challenged people to meet him at the high school track, been vicious to those who oppose him, been rude and condescending to folks disagreeing with him on East Hampton Patch, and even gone as far as to swear while posting on the Patch blog that he is about substance, not superficialities. No wonder the comments were removed from the blog.
There are some fine choices for voters in this year’s East Hampton School Board election; however, Mr. Fiondella is not one of them. He should not represent our school district or community and in an age where we take great pride in teaching our students about character; he is hardly a role model for a public servant.
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
I have lived here all of my life, and have never felt compelled to write a letter to the local papers. However, I feel so strongly about the East Hampton School Board race this year and certain recent events that I just had to speak out.
My two boys are the fourth generation of DeSantises to attend our school district, and I myself graduated from Pierson. I want this generation to receive as good of an education in our local schools as my husband and I had.
I had been following the reports of the school board meetings in the local papers and had read about the comments Paul Fiondella made at various meetings. From the accounts in the newspapers, which generally reported one or two of the statements he made but left out the context in which they were said, it appeared Mr. Fiondella was a constant critic of the board of education, but it seemed his comments were clear, concise, and fairly reasonable, even if I did not necessarily agree with some of them. I was totally unprepared for the spectacle he presents in person when I began attending meetings.
It was obvious to me that the limited reporting by the papers presented a skewed picture in favor of Mr. Fiondella. I was absolutely shocked when several times he stormed one of the podiums while an audience member was speaking and shouted them down! Speaker after speaker was unable to voice their opinion, as he apparently felt his opinion was the only one worthy of being heard. The audience was chanting “remove him, get security,” which was not reported in any of the local papers.
I was appalled to learn that he is running for our school board. East Hampton Patch posted interviews with each candidate online last week. Members of the community began to post comments on this site which Mr. Fiondella responded to. I would encourage anyone who is planning to vote for him to please visit easthampton.patch.com and read this commentary, as it shows the true colors of this candidate. I personally believe there is not one person in this town who could possibly vote for him after they read his rude, condescending, and at times fairly ridiculous, comments to his potential constituents.
His responses to several people who commented about his behavior at the board meetings (myself included) were so appallingly unprofessional that even he eventually realized it, and deleted every one of the comments that he made! That is just sheer cowardice, and certainly reveals the leadership abilities this man will bring to our board, if elected!
If you say it, own it, Mr. Fiondella. Stand by your words, and if you should apologize for them, have the courage to do so instead of deleting them. You have a lot to say about teaching our children to be computer literate — you represent yourself as an expert in this field — yet apparently you do not know that anything you write in cyberspace stays there! Thankfully, I had printed out the comments so that I could respond to them, and I reposted them word for word on the blog. You can read the complete transcript online, but a sampling follows:
In response to some well-thought-out and very civil questions, he responded with comments like, “attend more board meetings and try to comprehend what I have been saying” and “where does your hostility come from? Does your brain hurt every time I make you think?” Mr. Fiondella apparently feels, as evidenced by many of his responses, that he is the intellectual superior to our local citizens, and is not afraid to say so or to blatantly insult them.
Someone else also commented on his demeanor at board meetings, and he responded with “you were witnessing a setup to try to provoke engineered by the union. Give yourself credit for getting to the heart of the matter without my having to state it. As to condescending tones, etc., I couldn’t care less and frankly I’m not interested in becoming a member of the school board for political reasons. I have zero interest in politics, appearances, etc. I’m about substance not superficial bull@&$*.”
This is just what East Hampton has been missing — a paranoid conspiracy theorist who wants to run our school board! I myself objected to his behavior at meetings, and his responses to me included, “I’m sorry you don’t like my behavior but could it be that you are a touch too defensive? As to substance, your perception of what is correct behavior seems to be in conflict with your ability to appreciate the substance of what is being said. Apparently you think your manners are better than mine and for you that apparently is what counts. Well good for you and good luck when your children are teenagers!” and “you have a lot to learn in life, Mrs. DeSanti.” Wow, and here I thought this man wanted my vote.
His comments speak for themselves as to the type of person who feels so intellectually superior to someone he has never met as to think he has the right to “educate” me. He accused me of being “defensive.” I am in no way affiliated with the school district except as a concerned parent. I have never worked there, nor do any of my family members.
While I have not exhaustively researched the budget line by line, as he has, I closely follow the issues, and I think most people who know me would consider me fairly intelligent. I do not need to be talked down to by this arrogant man. And yes, Mr. Fiondella, I do believe it is important to teach my children manners and civility, which will serve them as well in their lifetimes as their intelligence will.
I do not doubt Mr. Fiondella’s intelligence, or his grasp on the issues.
I will not vote for him because he has displayed an incredible lack of leadership skills and an incredible amount of misplaced anger. He is incapable of taking criticism. Most of the people in this town are well aware of the impact the 2-percent tax cap is going to have, and I have yet to hear Paul tell us where he would make cuts. He spends his time telling us the sky is falling, but gives no specifics as to what positive solutions he will come up with. All I have heard from him is his disingenuous statement that he will ask for Ray Gaultieri’s resignation, while he is well aware that Dr. Gaultieri will be retiring within a year. His time would be better served in beginning a search for his replacement than in grandstanding to get the votes of those in the district who are not happy with the current administration.
He seems to believe that if he is elected he will be the board, apparently not grasping the fact that he will be one of seven board members who will all have to come to a consensus as to how to deal with the many difficult decisions that will have to be made if this 2-percent tax cap passes. I encourage those who feel that voting for Fiondella is a vote against our current administration not to punish our children in this way. A vote for this man will be disastrous to our school and community.
We have several good candidates running this year, and I encourage you to take a second look at them. Jackie Lowey has a résumé to rival if not exceed Mr. Fiondella’s, I know her personally, and she is a terrific candidate. Liz Pucci I also know personally, and she is a wonderful, intelligent woman who is very involved in our schools and community and would bring her common sense to the board. Marie Klarman is very intelligent and also cares deeply about this community. I do not know Pat Hope personally but have heard good things about and from her.
I am sorry to take up so much space; I hope it is another 40 years before I feel compelled to write to you again! Please vote on Tuesday.
May 7, 2011
I am so pleased that Jackie Lowey is running for East Hampton School Board in the upcoming election on Tuesday. I have known Jackie as a fellow parent in the John M. Marshall Elementary School community for the last five years and have always found her to be a thoughtful, concerned parent who is a champion of the interests of all children in the school, not just her own.
Jackie is also a smart, articulate, and very accomplished business woman. She is sensible and has great interpersonal skills and qualities that will serve her well as a member of the school board. I know she strongly believes in our school system and is dedicated to helping it be the best it can be.
I believe that it is vital that there is a parent voice on the board, and I know that Jackie will be a valuable member.
I wanted to share the reasons for my endorsement of Jackie with your readers so that they can feel as fortunate as I do that we have such a strong candidate for school board this term. I urge everyone to express their support for the education of children in our community by voting for Jackie.
May 6, 2011
When something is so clear, no amount of muddiness can cloud its clarity. One sees the truth and embraces it. I speak of Pat Hope, an East Hampton School Board candidate. Here is what I know to be true: Pat Hope shoots straight. Not out of control, willy-nilly, or without thought first. Be it school building maintenance, educational matters, district politics, this is your candidate. She does not belong to anyone in this race. No one owns her decisions. She will be there for us, the people who pay taxes for the running of community schools. Period. No games, just service.
Pat Hope has been a lifetime educator. That is a strength, not a weakness or a conflict of interest, despite what the mudslingers have implied or blatantly spewed. Their blabber is hogwash. They are nonsensical at best. Unknowledgeable would be kind of me to say in their defense. But the dirty pool players get no defense from me. True colors show on their own. Ugly is ugly. The inept always resort to stone-throwing. Enough about them.
Pat Hope wants to do a job for the school and community. She is more than capable, experienced in the ins and outs of school law, policy, testing, curriculum. Fiscally, she is your candidate as well. I have known this woman for almost 20 years. She doesn’t waste money; she won’t waste yours.
She is intelligent, calm, diplomatic, well-liked by parents, students, and respected in the community for her 30 years of teaching and chairing a department (science).
Pat was no ordinary teacher. Ms. Hope, as she was known to her students, commanded respect and gave it back when it was deserved. But you had to earn it. She taught her students through the years how to treat each other with respect, to use their skills to think, read, debate, and most of all to recycle. If they could care about the planet a little bit, they could care about themselves and each other a little more. Don’t waste and don’t waste your lives. I think Pat Hope would agree with that mantra. And this one: Don’t waste my time; she won’t waste yours.
In any candidate up for any office, we want someone who can do the job before them and do it well and righteously, not self-righteously, or politically motivated, or half-assed. Pat Hope will deliver. Bottom line. Every time. Dependable, is her middle name. No bull, ever. You may not like the truth, but the truth is what you will get. Pat Hope is your candidate for school board, unequivocally, the best choice you can make on Tuesday.
It has been said that a teacher should not be on the school board. First of all, Pat Hope is retired. Second of all, who better to elect than a knowledgeable person who cares deeply about the school community and the community at large? The thought process of the naysayers is mind-boggling. There have been many former teachers who have served well on the East Hampton School Board. Their expertise served us all very well, besides the fact that we are voting on the individual and their strengths. We are not saying, “businessmen in; teachers out.” That mind-set is about as lame as one could get.
Pat Hope is your candidate. No doubt the best decision you can make on Tueday. I don’t endorse anyone I don’t have firsthand knowledge about or have not done my homework about before I speak. I don’t lend my support lightly. I decide for myself. I speak up for someone or say nothing if there is nothing to be said. Wise, experienced, sensible, a thinker, not a reactor; money-wise, not wasteful; plays well with others, smart, very smart, community-minded, uses good old-fashioned common sense, no spin, in no one’s pocket. Pat Hope is all of these things and more. Don’t hesitate. Don’t be swayed. You won’t be disappointed.
I have three words for you in closing: Vote Pat Hope.
NANCI E. LaGARENNE
May 9, 2011
The problems facing the East Hampton School District will require various skills to solve. The new board must be made up of consensus builders with an understanding of the nexus of both financial constraints and educational needs. In a perfect world, four seats would be open and all of the serious candidates would be swept into office. Pat Hope, Marie Klarman, Jackie Lowey, and Liz Pucci all bring great qualities to the race. However, forced to make a decision, I believe the voters should select Ms. Hope and Ms. Lowey to help guide the district.
I believe these two people can forge a new consensus on this board that will bring financial stability and assure that East Hampton continues to provide the high caliber of education our community demands. I also believe these two people will begin to restore faith in the financial credibility of the district.
It is my hope that both Ms. Pucci and Ms. Klarman will present themselves to the voters next year when two more seats on the board will open up.
I have avoided mentioning Mr. Fiondella. Mr. Fiondella is a bright, articulate man. He has pushed the present board to make the budget process more open and thoughtful. For all that he must be commended. However, his tendency to distort and inflame make him a poor choice for a seat on the board. His claim that he will be able to work within the board structure is not supported by the way in which he has presented himself to the public over the past years.
May 9, 2011
To the Editor:
I strongly support Paul Fiondella for East Hampton School Board. I have been an educator for most of my adult life, and understand clearly the needs of our students and our taxpaying community. Mr. Fiondella has budgetary experience and was president of a software company. He will use these skills to help improve our schools. He supports results-oriented education, which should be used not only for our students, but for administrators and teachers as well. He is totally independent and will help change the culture that presently exists in our schools.
Please come to the polls on Tuesday from 1 to 8 p.m. and vote for Paul Fiondella.
Very truly yours,
Moment of Truth
May 7, 2011
The moment of truth nears with respect to the East Hampton School District budget vote and election of new members to serve on the board of education. The Group for Good Government gave district residents an opportunity to hear from all the candidates. I am endorsing Paul Fiondella for one of the positions on the board. Of the five candidates, he is the only one without ties to the school district. He has never been employed by the district and has no children in the district, yet he cares deeply about maintaining the quality of education. He has regularly attended board meetings over the years and has a keen sense of financial matters and has never hesitated to voice his opinions or objections to issues that concern students or affect taxpayers.
Paul has been involved in many community activities. He is active in the Old Montauk Athletic Club and promotes fitness programs for citizens of all ages. He helped start Bonac on Board 5K run for middle school students. He is an active member of the East Hampton Town Senior Citizens Advisory Committee and works well with the diverse membership of the group. I have worked with Paul for many years on many different issues. He has great ideas, and is willing to devote time to perform any task he is given and always follows through.
Remember, the vote is Tuesday between 1 and 8 p.m. in the high school auditorium on Long Lane.
Make your vote count. Elect someone who will work hard for every group in the community, elect Paul Fiondella.
MARY ELLA MOELLER
May 6, 2011
The same folks that were calling for criminal charges against our most recent president for the torture of terrorists that murdered 3,000 of our fellow Americans now chortle in approval for the current occupant of the White House for the order of putting a bullet in the eye of another terrorist. Not that I mind the bullet. No. Not at all.
May 9, 2011
To the Editor,
What sane person would like to ease up on the new regulation of financial institutions? For those with short-term memory loss, these are the same institutions which through gross negligence or greed or a mixture thereof, have driven us into the economic mess we are mired in. If anything, we need more money to hire tougher regulators. We also deserve criminal charges filed against more of these masters of disaster. My late father used to say, “There is room in this world for bulls and bears but not pigs” — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citibank et al. Oink.
May 5, 2011
To the Editor,
Former President Eisenhower was the first president to identify Middle Eastern unrest as a threat to the United States. He said the reason people in the Middle East hate us is that we suppress freedom there. We support dictatorships. We prevent democratic progress, which is opposite of what we say we’re doing.
We have trained militaries in over 150 nations and continue to sell 60 percent of all the world’s weapons. In wartime the few make huge profits at the expense of the many. Gen. Smedley Butler, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, said, “War is a racket. It always has been. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many.”
There has never been a war in history where the invaders openly said, “We’re going to war for the money,” Army Capt. Paul Chappell, who once supported our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Put on Trial
May 3, 2011
To The Star,
Dear Americans: As the streets became wild with glee of the killing of Osama bin Laden. I wondered, what does this all mean? I wondered when the troops will come home? I guess the 100,000-strong mission is accomplished in Afghanistan. Of course there is a sense of closure for the families and victims of this attack.
However, since Osama bin Laden was the mastermind of 9/11, he should have been captured and put on trial for the acts he supposedly committed. They killed the mastermind, who was the master of the information. Even if one is for the death penalty, why the rush to kill and bury Bin Laden at sea? Usually there is a trial before an execution, at least that is what one expects.
I highly doubt that since Bin Laden is gone the troops will come home and there will be fewer terror alerts. The weapons industry will continue to make massive profits, and soldiers will be saying good-bye to their love ones.
The mere act of the president of the U.S.A. to say Osama bin Laden has been killed is a sick idea of blood lust without justice. President Obama gave his speech, and people went wild in the streets. President Obama uses the word killed like he is at a lynching. It’s terrible. President Obama is radically right-wing and a fantastic actor when it comes to important issues. One would have to be gullible to believe pre-President Obama was progressive or liberal. He is a sly spokesman selling whatever he wants.
Instead of the masses celebrating the killing of Osama bin Laden we should be demanding due process for all and no presidential assassination teams. The drone attacks, the black sites, Gitmo, and pre-emptive strikes for humanitarian actions need to be seriously debated (I believe stopped). Bombs and killings don’t create a resolution.
This Team Obama stunt was a political move and taken at face value.
Yes, Bin Laden is gone (at what cost?) and Obama has the Nobel Peace Prize and is way more bloodthirsty than any Bush could ever be.
May 7, 2011
To the Editor,
There is a script, a scenario, when crisis overwhelms expectations and control, as it always was, disappears. This happened during the financial crisis, and for a few months we teetered on the edge of a rapidly sinking ship. When the situation stabilized with massive cash and credit infusions, our politicians and corporate leaders assessed the damage and came up with the following evaluation. The economy had plunged to a depression level and the structural damage would take years possibly decades to be repaired. Rebuilding the economy would take enormous sacrifices that would engender a sustained period of hard times. How those sacrifices would be apportioned and who would bear the brunt of pain is the central thesis off the new scenario entitled, the new normal.
When the script, or prescription, for our economic revival was written by a small number of participants representing an even smaller part of the economic systems it was invariably substantially biased. The obligatory sacrifices to save the country were designed to limit the exposure of the top 5 percent of the population and become increasingly weightier as it descended the economic scale. But, since the bottom third of the population has limited resources, their only real contribution was a loss of services. The middle class, as we once knew it, still had real value to contribute, and became of the object of the new normal plan for shared sacrifice.
The thinking behind the new normal is that at the current rate of job creation it will take a minimum of 10 years to bring employment back to Clinton-era levels. A nightmarish scenario for both political parties. So, rather than letting the American people in on the severity of the problem and having to design a script with genuinely shared sacrifices our political leaders chose to throw 300 million Americans under the bus. Unwilling to redistribute wealth or create jobs with decent wages more than half of America’s middle class (110 million) will by 2016 be considered as working poor.
The new normal will establish the minimum wage as a new living wage, limit drastically health care benefits, lower Social Security benefits, and redesign the university system for elites only. We will essentially reverse the process of the last 200 years, and our economy will resemble Guatemala’s more than China’s.
Because of the severity of the economic downturn and the country’s inability to create real jobs both our political parties will focus on deficit reduction as a palliative for real economic development. The mindless calculus of Paul Ryan’s and Barack Obama’s budget plans is simply testament to their willingness to sacrifice the middle-class. Their scam is so perfectly run that 68 percent of Americans think it’s imperative to balance the budget. Mr. Obama at least acknowledges the middle-class dilemma; Mr. Ryan is a useless miscreant.
So we bow our heads to the new normal, and sacrifice our children and theirs to corporate profits, accept their script without a whimper. We argue about Mr. Obama’s heritage, Bin Laden’s pictures, and Planned Parenthood instead of dealing with the reality that we are getting screwed by the guys with $1.8 trillion in the bank that they won’t spend until the rest of us get on our knees and genuflect to their brilliance.
May 3, 2011
Regarding the recent events leading to the death of Bin Laden, it seems that all those at Fox Noise, broadcasting the constant attempts to destroy our president, including the half-truths, out-of-context quotes, and total refusal to credit him with the incredible cool hand he has exercised in all things, has all now, finally, been brought to focus. The man is a wonderful, capable president,
To quote our national security adviser, John Brennan, the president’s options in the effort to get Bin Laden were limited. After years of clandestine intelligence work, he was advised that Bin Laden was hiding in a civilian compound in a residential neighborhood in a sovereign country, Pakistan.
Now, we need Pakistan for very many strategic reasons, not the least of which is a vital supply line to our troops in Afghanistan. If Mr. Obama ordered an air strike and Bin Laden were not in the compound, it would be a huge diplomatic problem. If Mr. Obama was right, obliterating the compound might make it nearly impossible to confirm Bin Laden’s death, and so, this much maligned, allegedly unfit, non-citizen with a funny name made one tough decision. He told the elite Navy Seals, “Go in there and get him,” thus risking his own re-election and further derision and criticism by small minds like those seeking the Republican nomination.
Said Mr. Brennan, “The president had to evaluate the strength of the information, and then he made what I believe was one of the gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.”
I know the conspiracy theorists and the single-minded Obama-haters will downplay this episode, but those expectations will lessen the effect.
So, on to 2012 with a second term.
RICHARD P. HIGER