Who’s in Fiscal Distress?
I recently read a letter to the editor from Bill Jones in regard to Martin Schienman, the appointed Super-Conciliator for contract negotiations between TASH and the Sag Harbor School Board. Mr Jones alleges that Mr Schienman.. “… Is almost singlehandedly responsible for the fiscal distress of municipalities throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties because of his extreme contract awards to Patrolman’s Benevolent Associations since the late 1980’s.”
I can’t speak to anyone’s “fiscal distress” or that of any municipalities, but his comments compelled me to dig up my Southampton Town property tax bill to see what it was that I was paying to the town for police services. I can say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am paying $407.97 per year, which comes out to $33.99 per month, $7.85 per week or $1.12 per day. I thought this figure seemed too low and I had a hard time believing that such a low figure could cause anyone to be feeling any “fiscal distress”, so I decided to compare what I pay against that of a family member who also lives in an area covered by the Southampton Town Police. I can say that I was again pleasantly surprised to find that the police portion of their tax bill is a whopping $212.04 per year, $17.67 per month, $4.08 per week, or a paltry 58 cents per day.
Exactly which communities are “less livable” as a result of Mr. Schienman’s arbitration decisions I don’t know, however I am happy to point out that the Town of Southampton is not one of them. I would expect that the majority of residents of Southampton Town would be happy to part with 58 cents per day or even $1.12 per day for a service that could save their life. I suspect Mr. Jones feels different.
Patrick Milazzo, President
Sag Harbor Village Police Benevolent Association
Memorialize All of Them
Referring to Barbara Roffi and Lisa Chapman’s letters (Sag Harbor Express, October 14, 2010) I am totally in agreement. Not being a born Sag Harborite, when I viewed the beautiful tribute on the walls of the American Legion including nurses who served in the military, I was awed. The pictures of military men and women from Sag Harbor was quite a tribute indeed. Two of my sons also served, the youngest in the Persian Gulf.
To all the brave men and women, let’s not forget them. Let’s memorialize all of them.
Déjà vu All Over Again
“With efforts that could not go unnoticed, all speakers on Tuesday praised the Southampton students who, through grass-roots efforts of their own, pressed charges against Stony Brook University on May 25. Their actions successfully resulted in the State Supreme Court’s ruling to annul Stanley’s decision.” (A Challenge at the College – Sag Harbor Express, Oct 14, 2010)
These students are fighting for their unique, cutting-edge sustainability college and its environmentalist mission that are such a perfect fit for the East End. When they have saved this school and hundreds return to campus, the local community will be the beneficiary of their presence. We owe it to them to rise up and stand beside them in this fight.
After LIU’s abandonment, the extensive efforts, and the monumental investment of public funds that went into saving the campus for affordable higher education, it is reprehensible that Stony Brook University would cause déjà vu to happen all over again. It is astounding and unacceptable that its administration continues to ignore the 6-month outcry of so many who condemn its action.
The Southampton College was intended to benefit the East End community — not just Stony Brook University. It is up to the community to hold SUNY and Stony Brook to that commitment.
Community members, business owners, environmentalists, and every local elected leader, from town council to mayor, should be making themselves seen and heard loud and clear in demanding the re-opening of the sustainability college and bringing these students back to Southampton.
We all should be standing with these students, as the state legislators have been from day one. We all should be as vocal and visible as these students in this fight to save the area’s only four-year public college. Their dedication and perseverance are an inspiration to us all. They deserve our support.
The SUNY Board of Trustees can be contacted at:
SUNY Board of Trustees
State University of New York
State University Plaza
Albany, New York 12246
Rose Colored Glasses
Periodically, I read the hype about bringing the International Baccalaureate program to Pierson High School, most recently in your editorial Going Global. As most people don’t know anything about the IB, they buy into this idea, thinking it will be another magic wand for their children’s future success. The International Baccalaureate Organization’s office in New York is marketing this aggressively.
I lived 10 years abroad and my children grew up in your “Global” community. There the IB was used in International and European schools as a standard for entrance to European universities. Even the British have traditionally not used the Baccalaureate system.
Here in the U.S., it’s not a secret that the elite come out of top boarding and day schools across this country. THEY haven’t bought into the Baccalaureate Program either, NOT Groton, Choate, Andover, Exeter, Lawrenceville, Woodberry Forest or Trinity. NOT Horace Mann, Brearley, Roxbury Latin, St. Paul’s, St. Marks, Episcopal High School, Harvard Westlake, Chapin, or Deerfield. NOT Holderness, Collegiate, Berkshire, Middlesex, Miss Porter’s, Thatcher or Taft. That list goes on and on. Now, the schools which ARE the most demanding, most competitive, most sought after, have not embraced an IB program. Don’t believe me, go to the IB website: www.ibo.org. If this were something so valuable and important, why would not schools, with resources much much greater than our own school district’s budget, be rushing to implement the IB program? They aren’t. Then why do we think we have to do this?
Now, for students reading this, an IB means that you will be completing a full length individual thesis during your Senior year. That’s the fine print. That’s what an IB is by definition. This is not easy. You can work all year and not even receive the IB. Remember that.
I think it’s time to wake up and end any fantasies about paying to copy Switzerland. If you plan to send your children to a university in Canada, France, Switzerland or elsewhere on the continent, the IB is relevant. Otherwise, this is a frivolous use of finite resources with very limited returns. We live in a community which can hardly pass our budgets each year, where funding school lunches is a stretch, where we can’t resolve teacher contracts. So why are we blindly buying European champagne on a Budweiser pocket book? We should be focused on lifting weak test scores and resolving the serious problems that are directly in front of us.
I’m a Progressive, but not deluded. Take off the rose colored glasses and stop the pretenses.
We Need Bishop
Like some of my friends, I watch Fox News from time to time and find it interesting. But I recently saw this quote from Eric Alterman of the Center for American Progress. “Fox is something new…something for which we do not yet have a word. It provides no actual journalism. Instead it gives ideological guidance to the Republican Party and to millions of its supporters, attacking its opponents and keeping its supporters in line.” So I’ve resolved to be more careful about who I believe in the election races going on.
I also found out that relative newcomer Randy Altschuler is spending millions of dollars to take the Congressional seat away from Tim Bishop who has lived and worked on Long Island all his life. Let the Teabaggers scream and stamp in tantrums, but more jobs were created in the first 18 months of Obama than in the previous 8 years under Bush Cheney, according to the non-partisan OMB. Faux News hasn’t mentioned that, of course. I think Bishop has been a good advocate for Long Island, for its seniors, its veterans and its schools. And no matter what right wing conservatives and Tea Party people say about him, I think we need to keep him in Washington.
Bad News for Bats
I enjoyed my friend Jim Marquardt’s “The Bats of Noyac” in his Our Town column in the Oct. 21 issue. He did a great job covering the good news about bats. There is some bad news — very bad. A catastrophic die-off of little brown bats has swept the Northeast and beyond over the last few years, nearly wiping out their populations in upstate New York and New England. I’m not sure if it’s happened here, too, but I suspect so. The Day of New London (not too far away) reported it in April of this year. It has been reported, in fact, all over the region down into the South and up into Canada. A fungus called white nose syndrome seems to interfere with the bats’ ability to hibernate and they starve to death.
We have an old farmhouse in Vermont that, soon after we bought it in 1994, we came to realize house not only us but a bat colony. They did not interfere with our lives, except when a rare stray got into the house (not something my wife enjoyed). I found if I opened a door it would fly right out after a few frantic circles or, if it exhausted itself searching for an escape route, it eventually would land on a curtain. I’d put on a fireplace glove for fear of a bite (but they never bit or did anything except squirm a little), pick it up and take it outside. I do not understand people whose solution to is death by broom or tennis racquet.
Since the die off, our bats are gone. For a while this past summer, we seemed to have a few survivors, judging by the scattered droppings under the kitchen porch. The last time I swept the droppings away, there were no more.
Jim’s column makes clear that bats are not dangerous. They are, in fact, an important element in the balance of nature. It seemed buggier than ever before at our place in Vermont this year. And sitting out on the lawn at dusk there, waiting to see my housemates drop from under the kitchen porch and take to the sky — and then put on a magnificent airshow as they conducted their evening feeding patrols — I was always disappointed. I used to see dozens. All summer, I saw one bat, which I think was a big brown. Then even it was gone.
Here in North Haven, every summer I spotted in the gloaming a bat or two patrolling the alley formed against the luminous sky by the trees on each side of our street. Not this year. If Jim had a healthy colony in his eaves, I’m glad, and relieved, to learn of it.