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,