by Claire Walla
Until last week, you might not have known there was any opposition to Proposition #2.
This bond measure, which will be on the Sag Harbor School District ballot this Tuesday, May 15, would allow the district to spend $575,000 to purchase six new buses, a move the district argues would save up to $1 million over the next 10 years.
“I have not heard one single iota of complaint about this,” said District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto. Members of the Sag Harbor School Board and the Parent Teacher Association echoed this sentiment.
But last week and again this week, an ad in The Sag Harbor Express urges voters to vote “no.”
The ad was initially reserved amid some secrecy, financed by a man named Arthur Pease from East Moriches who said he took the ad out on behalf of a group of parents whom he would not name.
Though Pease says he runs a small medical business (which he also would not name), the recording on Pease’s answering machine identifies him at Artie Pease of North Fork Express — a bus company owned by Montauk Bus Service, which currently has a contract with the school district. However, Pease insisted he worked for the company as a bus dispatcher “for a very short time,” and left a year ago.
“I probably forgot to change my answering machine,” he said.
An employee of North Fork Express later corroborated Pease’s employment history.
While Greg Mensch, manager of North Fork Express, did not respond to numerous requests for comment, his sister Linda Mensch, who manages Montauk Bus Service, issued a statement Wednesday morning.
“Yes, Montauk Bus is very disappointed that the district is looking into their own buses,” she stated. “We wish the district would have come to us in an effort to work together on cost-saving measures in transportation and instead the district went out on their own and put this proposition on the ballot.”
Dr. Gratto confirmed the district did not make an attempt to renegotiate its contract with Montauk Bus Service.