To the Editor,
Millions of words have been exchanged trying to fix the bailout. Meanwhile golden parachutes litter the sky and bonuses still survive. Slap me five, five million or five billion, in the language of Wall Street. An addiction hard to break, now it’s too late.
Confusion, fear and doubt are the signs of our time. Brother can you spare me a dime? Money is our bottom line, we haven’t reached it yet. No one has the answer, no one has the answer. Maybe we need to identify the problem —Â class warfare.
Politicians, the wealthy and the elite keep their money by insulating themselves from the poor. The minimum wage of five dollars and fifteen cents remained the same for ten years. An insult to human dignity. For the average workers, salaries have gone down for the last thirty years or more, slaves of Capitalism. Welfare for the poor is scrutinized, corporate welfare is subsidized. Tax cuts, tax cuts, why are we surprised?
Ironically, Congress actually got rid of the usury law in 1980, which was supposed to protect the poor from the power of the wealthy. I asked a former congressman, “Why are we so afraid of the poor?” He shot back “Because there are so many of them.”
Class warfare has been with us for a long time. Have you ever heard the term class warfare mentioned in Congress or our government? How many times have you heard reference to the American Dream?
Â Jim and I and the girls would like to thank our wonderful community for all they have done for us, in our time of sorrow. It will be two years since our son Alex died and we have spent each day trying to grasp and understand why he died.
We have been through many trials in the past two years no family should endure. We would have not gotten throughÂ without the love and support from this community. You have all been there when we organized fundraisers, to contribute and your money has helped many.
We gave to the YARD program, and also to the Cassidy Hagerman Scholarship, the Jordan Haerter Fund, and finally we were able to present St. Judes Childrens hospital a large check of $10,000 to help in their research of brain cancer. Jim and I traveled to Memphis, and were given a tour of this wonderful place. It was humbling. Maybe one day they will find a way to detect this cancer, and to treat it.
We are also able to present our scholarship at this year’s graduation. All these things are what keep us going. Alex so loved life and all it had to offer; to remember him and live life to the fullest is what he would have wanted. March 29th we will be rememberingÂ Alex on his second anniversary in Heaven,Â at the 5:30 teen Mass at St. Andrews. I invite you all to this Mass, and share in his love of God. May you all be blessed with the love you give when you need it.
Thank you again
Lisa and Jim Koehne
I am a 30-year resident and property taxpayer.
I attended the informational presentation given by our local Teachers Association, hoping to inform myself about the issues concerning the salary and benefit negotiations. I was surprised that only very few people attended. I would say less than half a dozen were from the general public. That may be a result of the original meeting date being canceled on short notice. I found this out when I showed up, only to see the cancellation notice on the door.
The arguments for the top range of increase were not persuasive. The speakers exhibited a disconnect to what the rest of the community is going through. I guess nobody on this panel listens to Public Radio, where we learn of layoffs and pay cuts in N.Y. and across the nation.
I thought they might have noticed the disappearance of the trade parade or felt the rapid weight loss of our local papers. The East Hampton Star has instituted a 20% work hour reduction for their entire staff. Lumber yards are cutting staff. All the local governments are scrambling to close budget shortfalls. Politicians are voting their own pay cuts.
No accommodations to reflect these hard facts were offered. I would have thought that job security alone would suggest to the Teachers Association that they might entertain taking a step back. If budgets are not brought under control, what is left at the end is, you guessed it, job cuts.
The Teachers Association talks of real estate value to budget ratio, as though that should make us feel better. They then propose that their demands should be met as an appropriate gesture of appreciation for their effort to educate our children.
Might I suggest that this important job also includes teaching our children about community responsibility? If we don’t all make sacrifices when faced with this unprecedented financial meltdown, our children will not appreciate their teacher’s sincerity if in fact the school administration insists on being the last man left standing.
I would like to close with the obligatory thanks to everybody who is doing a wonderful job for doing what they were hired for.
Attack on Capital Budget
In response to your editorial of February 26 (“Ease the Confusion”), I would like to explain our two track attack on reconciling the Capital Budget.Â Because the Board said, and rightly so, that it would not approve any Capital funding for 2009 until it knew the status of each capital project, we initiated these weekly briefings as track one.Â The status of each capital project is the only objective of the weekly briefings.Â Some are bored or frustrated with this lengthy process, yet I know of no other valid way of achieving consensus on future funding for important and time sensitive projects such asÂ road paving and drainage improvements.
Track number two involves “reconciling” the revenue and expenses of the entire capital budget going back several years.Â While the “checkbook” analogy works for the operating budget, it is not that cut and dry for the capital budget.Â Is better bookkeeping needed in the future?Â You bet and that is our goal for the future.Â In fact, several changes have already taken place.
I’m trying to avoid the appearance of making excuses because, clearly,Â changes are necessary to assure the public thatÂ the capital budget isÂ a reliable document.Â Â In the meantime,Â I know of no “bombshells” thatÂ are being hidden exceptÂ that we all wishÂ we couldÂ get to the answerÂ faster.Â I hope, however, that we will not give an answer until we know the answer is correct.Â To make any declarations until we have fully vetted all 180 capital accounts could be aÂ disaster.Â It is the comprehensive review and analysis that is time consuming.
Â Unfortunately, while this controversy is about the Capital Budget, residents can get the impression that all of the town’s finances are in disarray.Â That is simply not true.Â The 2009 operating budget is balanced and as long as anticipated revenues like permit fees and mortgage tax proceeds come in as expected, we will end the year balanced.Â By the way, the town’s 2009 operating budget is the most readable and understandable operating budget I have ever seen.Â Any town resident can look at it on-line and judge for themselves.Â From our side of the table, it can be frustrating that there is so much emphasis on what is wrong without a note or two about what is right.Â
The naysayer will mock that statement.Â Naysayers do not concern me, for I have written this to those readers who are willing to listen to both sides of the story.Â Let the results of the soon to be released audit of the town’s Community Preservation Fund (CPF) by the New York State Comptroller’s Office be a test case.Â The town has been a good steward with this multi-million dollar program and we know the state audit will show that to be true.Â So, while we have work to do on managing the capital budget all of the town’s finances are not in disarray.Â Â
Bill Jones, Deputy SupervisorÂ
Town of Southampton Â