Letters to the Editor - 05.05.11

This Year’s Cleanup
    May 2, 2011
To the Editor,
    I would like to extend thanks to the many, many volunteers who turned out at the Montauk Movie Theater on Sunday to collect trash throughout the hamlet. We were able to put more than 70 bags of trash into the Dumpster, along with wheels, tires, life jackets, car seats, and other unidentifiable objects from the beaches, roads, and parking lots of Montauk. The cleanup was followed by an informative presentation inside the theater focusing on the importance of burns as a management tool for environmental stewardship in the county parks.
    Special thanks go to the Surfrider Foundation members who combed the beaches and loaded almost 30 of the bags that were collected, to the Rutkowski family for the use of their movie theater, and to Mickey’s Carting for his continuing support, including the sparkling-clean Dumpster, which we managed to soil quite a bit with our debris.
    Many thanks to all the people who gave their time and effort. This year’s cleanup was dedicated to the memory of Carol Morrison, one of our founders, who would have been right there picking up trash, or at the least, telling someone else what needed to be picked up. We miss her.
    Concerned Citizens of Montauk

Call the Police
    East Hampton
    May 2, 2011
To the Editor,
    As of Sunday, May 8, it will be illegal to have a dog on the village beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Police are asking for your help apprehending violators. If  you see a dog 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 dog any time of day or night, call police.
    There is still no intention to address the problem of urine and feces on our beaches but we can all help police fulfill their promise of strict enforcement of dog control by reporting violators.

    East Hampton    
    April 30, 2011
To the Editor,
    It is Saturday, 2 p.m., sunny and warm. I pull up a chair on my porch and pick up my East Hampton Star crossword puzzle. All I hear and can focus on is the incessant drone of leafblowers!
    Please, let’s rake, pick up, and dispose of our leaves (I do). It is such good excercise, not to mention better for the life of our hearing. Please, let’s enact respectable guidelines for the use of leafblowers.

Elegantly Done
    May 2, 2011
To the Editor,
    On behalf of the senior citizens and myself I would like to thank Michelle and the staff at the senior citizens center for the pre-wedding portrayed by the many volunteers in a successful attendance for the royal wedding.
    The queen, king, and her subjects made an entry so elegantly done, to welcome and thank us for coming and to attend the wedding of her grandson and Kate. We felt we were actually in London. She was an elegant queen!
    To begin with, we were served tea and tiny cucumber sandwiches, followed by a wonderful lunch and wedding cake. We had a delightful time.
    The ladies attended the affair in their decorated hats, both colorful and beautiful.
    The room was decorated very festively with a flower for each of us at our place settings.
    The waiters were dressed in their black attire and always attentive.
    It was wonderful to have the many hard and efficient workers at the center. They treated us like royalty and make us feel ever so wanted.
    Michelle, you gave us such a beautiful day. We will treasure our memories of the wedding of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, held in East Hampton.
    Many thanks to you and your staff. We love you all.
    Thanks again,

Sweets and Carbs
    April 29, 2011
Dear David
    No doubt your readers have observed the changes in the  aisles at CVS, in particular the stocking of more shelves with sweets and carbs. What an ironic turn for an organization still associated with health by way of providing pharmacy service and health care products just as  the country is reeling from continuing reports about a staggering increase in obesity among schoolchildren, especially in poorer regions of the country. The  new policy is thus patronizing, as well as medically unsound.
    CVS executives, of course, know what they’re doing. A friendly store clerk assured me that the junk food is selling. But CVS customers — I, a card-carrying member among them, pleased to take advantage of promos — should protest. As taxpayers we all foot the medical bill for those whose overweight problems make them vulnerable to obesity-related diseases, thus straining medical services even  further and fueling increases in health insurance premiums. No  doubt, some of  the vaunted “100,000 dedicated people” who work in CVS stores, regional offices, distribution centers, and headquarters are among these potential medical victims.
    Well over two months ago, I wrote a protest letter to the national director of marketing for CVS at the corporation’s headquarters in Rhode Island. I also noted that the introduction of checkout machines at a time of continuing high unemployment did not sit too well with me, either. Did I have the courtesy of a  reply? Needs an answer?

I Believe
    East Hampton
    May 2, 2011
To the Editor,
    Regarding my candidacy for a seat on the East Hampton School Board, here are some of my beliefs.
    I believe in board transparency, not just in pronouncing to the public the items on the meeting agenda, but in an open process of decision-making and disclosure of the facts behind the decisions.
    I believe that fairness with regard to taxpayers and other school districts can go a long way toward promotion of trust. I believe in thinking through all possible ramifications of a decision before taking action.
    I believe that tax dollars should be spent on the students, and that every cent that does not go directly toward education of the students must be carefully and openly discussed.
    I believe that the tasks and issues before the board should be shared among its members and not balkanized or assigned to one “expert” board member.
    I believe that a former teacher can bring valuable insight to board deliberations. I believe that a board of education meeting is not merely a spectator sport, where the taxpaying onlooker gets to watch the gavel being brought down on previously determined decisions, but rather that the bill payer is invited to present suggestions and opinions. I believe in full and fair disclosure.
    I believe that differences of opinion can be negotiated in a civil and polite manner. I believe that all administrators should get to know the student body up close and personal. I believe that the school facilities should be promoted to be of the greatest possible use by the community that paid for them.
    I believe in clarity.

Educational Goal
    East Hampton
    May 1, 2011
Dear David,
    On Saturday at the Group for Good Government school board candidates forum I outlined my proposal to make computer literacy by ninth grade an educational goal for every student in the East Hampton School District. The vehicle for achieving this goal is a program called Google Apps.
    Last October, the State of New York and Google signed a contract that gives every school free use of the Internet-based software that forms the core of this program. The program gives students, parents, and teachers free use of word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, collaboration, database, presentation, and web applications which they can use at home or at school. There are lesson plans for kindergarten through eighth grade, which can be used to complement the curriculum (not replace it!).
    The purpose of adopting this program is to give students the basic computer literacy they need by the time they enter high school to approach the subject matter areas they are interested in with 21st-century tools. This will also help them with employment because it gives students actual skills that employers need.
    Several parents came up to me after the meeting. One wanted to know where they could find out more about this program. The East Hampton Library has a book “Retool Your School” put out by the International Society for Technology in Education. You can find out more about this organization at www.iste.org.
    Another parent offered to pay for a teacher to teach software programming at the high school. His company needs engineers. That is the type of enthusiasm for results-oriented education that I hope to stimulate if I get elected to the school board.
    To get such a program off the ground you must also have enthusiastic faculty members and administrators involved; I’ve spoken to several. If the school board made this a priority we could get a pilot project off the ground by this fall.
    The beauty of the program is that not only is it free but it can replace our use of license-based software that costs the district tens of thousands of dollars and cannot be used outside of the classroom. We can do what we are already doing better and with less cost.
    When I first encountered a computer it was 1967. I was making documentary films, and I was interested in animation. Stan VanDerBeek told me that he had used a computer to make a film at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I went up there and discovered computer programming.
    Today our students routinely use computers to make and edit movies. Tomorrow we want our students to be able to use computers as a tool in every area of the arts and sciences to improve the quality of life on our planet. It is not beyond their capabilities.
    I’m running for East Hampton School Board. The election is May 17. I need your vote.

Excellent Candidate
    East Hampton
    May 2, 2011
Dear David,
    The election for East Hampton School Board is fast approaching! As a parent of children in the district and as a committed member of the community, I am so glad to note that Jackie Lowey is running for school board and so glad to write this letter in support of her.
    Jackie Lowey is a strong, articulate voice for parents and kids in the community. With two children in the district, she has a commitment to public education and believes that we can and absolutely should strive for excellence in our schools.
    Intelligent, committed, and aware of the bigger picture, Jackie is an excellent candidate for our school board. She will work to ensure money is spent to benefit our students, she will keep the goal of excellence in education in mind, and she will represent us. I hope fellow parents and concerned East Hampton residents will join me in supporting Jackie Lowey for East Hampton School Board.
    Yours sincerely,

Out of Line
    May 1, 2011
Dear Editor,
    The Montauk School District is very unique in the fact that a very large number of homeowners, taxpayers, do not have the right to vote on the school budget. Second-home owners are second-class citizens who just pay your school taxes. Ironically, people who rent and have a driver’s license with a Montauk address and pay no school taxes are allowed to vote on the school budget. This is New York State law.
    The second-home owner has carried a large part of the school tax burden over the years. This has allowed the Montauk School District to provide teacher salaries and benefits that are among the highest on Long Island. The cost to educate a student in the Montauk School exceeds $30,000 per child. This figure is way beyond the state average of $10,250. The student-teacher ratios are also way out of line from the norm in most every school within New York State.
    The Montauk School District budget increased 10 percent for the 2010-11 school year. The projected budget for the next school year, 2011-12, is estimated to increase 2.5 percent. That amounts to an average of 6.25 percent over two years. Inflation has average 2.3 percent for the last two years. Something is wrong.
    Look at teacher salaries and benefits: 29 teachers earning over $100,000, 10 teachers earning over $90,000, plus 95 percent of medical and dental insurance paid for by you, the taxpayer. You keep on paying the same percentage for insurance when a teacher retires.
    Send a message to the Montauk School Board. Vote no on this year’s budget.

Difficult Time
    May 2, 2011
Dear Editor,
    My name is Arthur Goldman, and I am running for the school board in Springs. This is a difficult time for taxpayers across the country. School taxes, the only tax we are able to vote up or down, often become the focus of taxpayer frustration. However, I urge all Springs voters to try to cut through the half-truths and distortions that are being told concerning the Springs School.
    Any reasonable person visiting the Springs School quickly realizes that this school does not throw money around without regard for the taxpayer. This is not a school with bloated, excessive teacher salaries or a plushy furnished building.
    This letter does not contain a barrage of crying, wheedling, demanding, temper tantrums, emotional blackmail, threats, promises, and excuses. This letter does contain some simple requests to each voter: Check out the facts for yourself before you vote, understand that the same lie repeated long and loud does not become truth, understand that those who want to de-fund the Springs School have no solution other than “Vote down the budget.” A no vote means an end to the programs in Springs that make kids feel competent, capable, and connected.
    Please turn out on May 17 and cast a yes vote for the budget and a vote for Arthur Goldman for school board.
    Thank you,

Should Be Passed
    May 1, 2011
Dear Editor,
    I am a senior citizen of Springs on a fixed income. Yet I feel strongly that the school budget should be passed on May 17. Voting no would have an insignificant impact on property taxes while causing a major adverse effect on the quality of education, reduction in advanced programs, larger class size, and loss of high quality teachers.
    The risk-to-reward quotient of the nega­tive action demanded by the Home­owners Alliance (whoever they are) is both shortsighted and narrow-minded. The statements they are distributing reflect lack of understanding of the complex process of education and the significant responsibility we have to prepare our children for the challenges of today’s world. Their rhetoric is reactionary and misleading.
    In addition, I endorse Arthur Goldman and Tim Frazier for the open positions on the board of education. We are fortunate to have two professional educators willing to commit their time to this school district. They have the insight and experience to know how to reduce costs responsibly. We need this kind of trained guidance.

Quality Education
    May 2, 2011
To the Editor,
    My name is Liz Mendelman. I am currently the president of the Springs School Parent Teacher Association. I am running for a seat on the Springs School Board because I am passionate about my school and community.
    I moved to Springs in 2003 with my husband, Peter, to raise our two children and serve our community. As the Springs School PTA President, I have had the privilege of working with our school board and administration, our parents and teachers, and our community and business leaders to create a sense of community and commitment to our school. Thousands of hours have been invested to foster an environment in our school community that encourages learning for every child no matter what their heritage, legal status, or economic background. I am proud of what the Springs School has accomplished, and our test scores show that our investment is paying off.
    I am fortunate to have had a successful career for 20 years and then have the opportunity to take leave to raise my children in the special community of Springs. I spent 12 years in General Electric human resources, primarily leading and facilitating teams comprised of management, union leaders, and employees to solve problems and improve results. Today, I continue to manage facility improvement projects for our local family business.
    During my career, I have had to deal with very difficult business situations, so I am not afraid to work through issues and take leadership. Our current school board has already worked through some of the sticky issues and has successfully reached an agreement with East Hampton High School on tuition and an agreement to study consolidation. Unless changes are made in Albany, school boards are limited to control costs and forced to be over-reliant on tax dollars as the source of funding for schools. Our community needs to take charge and advocate to Albany to change the outdated state funding formulas, remove costly mandates, and to address sharp increases in medical benefits and pension costs.
    Our budget facts speak for themselves. The numbers are the numbers. Albany has created a system that drives unnecessary cost and limits local control. We all know that a tax cap won’t accomplish a thing until we cap costs. If we do nothing we will be cutting critical programs, increasing class size, and reducing staff every year to meet our budgetary challenges.
    Locally, we have to vigorously pursue district consolidation, shared services, and collaboration on programs to be able to continue to deliver a quality education at the right cost for our district.
    We have community groups with specific agendas that we do need to address. I will work hard to find solutions to assure that our children receive a quality education that our taxpayers support and demand — make every tax dollar do more to meet the goals of our district.
I ask that you do vote yes on the Springs School Budget on May 17 and vote for Liz Mendelman on the school board ballot.