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Letters to the Editor – December 16, 2010

Posted on 17 December 2010

Active Community House

Dear Bryan,
As many in our community are aware, the Old Whalers’ Church provides a home for the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, the Conservative Synagogue, six Alcoholic Anonymous groups, the Sag Harbor Youth Center, Ladies Village Improvement Society, Weight Watchers and other groups. Several hundred constituents of these groups pass through our doors every week. All of this activity produces a lot of wear and tear on a 166-year-old building, and it’s a challenge to maintain and improve the facilities used by these groups so they can continue to provide such vital community services.
Last spring, under the guidance of the late Jim Stewart, the church created the “Old Whalers’ Community House Fund.” The fund is a restricted account under the auspices of the church, all donations to which are used to maintain the particular areas of the building used by community groups.
On behalf of the officers and congregation of Old Whaler’s Church, I would like to thank the following persons who have been instrumental in raising money for Community House Fund though program ad concerts: Lillian and John Woudsma and all the chefs who have been part of the “Great Chefs” cooking series, Judy Carmichael, John Canemaker, Lester Ware and the Breakwater Group, Lindsey and John Landes, Hahn-Bin, Bryan Downey and Bulldog Productions, Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks, Caroline Doctorow & the Steamrollers, Jim Turner, Nancy Atlas & Telly, Shanna Polley, Incircles, Robert Bruey, Bay Burger Jazz Band, Mambo Loco, Big Band East, Christopher Morrongiello, Marcia Young, and the many volunteers from Old Whalers’ Church, as well as the church staff.
In addition to the above, we would like to thank the countless people who have supported our programs and concerts or who have generously donated to the Community House Fund. We are already planning concerts and other programs for 2011 that we look forward to sharing with our community, but donations to the Community House Fund are gratefully received at any time.
Once again, our deepest thanks.
Very sincerely yours,
Rev. Mark F. Phillips, Minister
First Presbyterian “Old Whalers’” Church

Support Budget, Oppose Contract

Dear Editor,

For personal reasons I was unable to attend the Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting on December 6. I am taking this opportunity to present my views on the 2010 budget and the contract negotiations.
My reasons for supporting the budget 2010:
To avoid contingency in the best interest of the kids and the community. To avoid the unfair staff reduction process, “last-in-first-out” situation that would have taken place if the budget failed and contingency followed.
Reasons for rejecting the current contracts:
I would have voted against the contract for the same reasons that I voted for the budget. This contract drives the budget rejection factors for years to come. It further increases the probability of budget rejection, leading to staff downsizing, that terminates the new teachers beginning their careers and threatens the most valuable resource in the education process, by not providing the kids with the best available teaching staff through the objective selection of teachers.

WHY???
This contract not only is inconsistent with the present severe recession that the community and the country are suffering, it also is in contradiction to the scarifies being made by almost all other districts at both local and state levels.

HOW???
Duration. Six years in these trying and unpredictable times is unreasonable, unprecedented and insensitive to the needs of both the kids and the community. This contract is not an equaling agreement due to two years of negotiating. It is an add-on to the average salary in Sag Harbor of around 90K annually. In addition the new contract increases + step (2.7% for 27 years) increases the six year contract to an average salary of around $122,600, or an increase of more than 36%. How will this track with the Consumer Price Index over the same period of time?

I recognize that both the school board and the union have made efforts in the area of further concessions in the percent participation in health plans and percent increases in salary and the community should appreciate that effort. However, in order to dispel rumors and restore confidence in the system the district should inform the public in real cost as well as percentages. In addition, total cost should be represented wherever applicable. For example, rather than totally segmenting the report to the public on the contract negotiation results leading to the annual raise, the inclusion of the step increases is necessary and fair. Any packaging of this information that excludes major cost factors, distorts the real transparency that the public deserves.

It was unfortunate that I could not attend last Monday night’s meeting. I have personal reasons for my absence. I understand that a request was made to examine the reasons for the mistakes that were made in this prolonged two-plus year contract negotiation, in order to avoid this happening in the future. I agree with this suggestion.

The board, the union and the community should be very sensitive to the 2 percent property tax cap being considered by the governor. The 5.5 percent salary agreement will present a very difficult situation, if the 2 percent tax cap should pass.

I would ask the board and the union to join forces with the community to encourage and support governor Cuomo in repealing the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. This amendment allows a public employees union involved in collective bargaining to continue to receive step increases after the expiration of a contract and until a new contract is reached. In the case of the Sag Harbor negotiations it guaranteed TASH “a half a loaf all during the negotiations.” The amendment has a dramatic influence on collective bargaining creating a negotiation process discouraging compromise and encouraging hold out. The amendment should be repealed allowing employer and employee to achieve labor contracts that are fair and affordable. This may be a primary root cause to the long and difficult negotiations.

WHAT LIES AHEAD?
In the coming year the board needs to work hard with all participating parties to address all the costs and revisions to the educational enterprise. Pre-K should be integrated into the system without tuition charges. The IB program needs to be studied and addressed. The board needs continued community understanding and support.

Board of Education Diversity – Six of the seven board members including the president are either present PTA members, or have a past affiliation with the school system as a student or a parent or both. I do not have that luxury in my background.

Similarity- We are all parents and taxpayers in the community. I am a 30-year resident and a full time resident for the past three years. I am the father of four children and, with my wife, have made every effort to raise my children in the best education and home environment possible. I think the entire board shares these common goals.

I have developed a real admiration for the concept of character development being emphasized in the school district. I believe this is truly an extension of the family unit in the school. I also fully support the special education program. Any community should be proud to give full support to this cause. In addition, in the two years I have served on committees and attended BOE meetings, I have respected the opinion of every teacher and administrator to address these meetings.

I do have strong differences with this contract. I believe the passing of this contract is a serious impediment to budget ratification, in the near term future.

However, I do respect the vote of the other board members. I realize that diverse opinions in matters of this kind are all intended for the greater good and I am following my conscience in the best interest of the school district and the community. I will continue to support what I believe to be in the best interest of the entire community in the future.
Ed Drohan, member
Sag Harbor BOE

‘Tis the Season to Pray

Dear Bryan,
Christmas celebrates the Good News of God sending Jesus into our world. God sent Jesus because He wanted to have a personal relationship with each of us. So, Jesus became our advocate before God. All God wants is for us to have a regular conversation with Him and we do that through prayer. Not through the recitation of “prayers,” but an ongoing conversation that requires a small, daily commitment of our time, with emphasis on the word, “daily.”

We can ask God for anything. We can, for example, ask Him to continue to guide our wonderful country. We can tell Him that we know how much our country needs Him because we are incapable of sustaining life and freedom by ourselves. Then, we can live by a faith that demonstrates our knowledge that with Him we can surmount our insurmountable problems.
These are the reasons that I have been encouraging everyone to pray for our country. ‘Tis the season to pray, fair reader, and for sure, the season to be jolly will follow forever and ever.

Merry Christmas.
Bill Jones
Hampton Bays

Glad Tidings in Noyac

Dear Editor,
The spirit of the season is alive in Noyac. The generosity and efforts of many set the stage for the Noyac Civic Council’s joyous events. First and foremost, I would like to thank WLNG for playing the announcement advertising these events. The Bucking family of the Sag Harbor Garden Center donated the perfect Christmas tree that Chuck Neuman and Cecil Bill decorated at the Long Beach/ Noyac Road circle. Thank you for your generous gift.

On Saturday, December 11, the NCC held its annual Christmas parties. The NCC Executive Council wishes to thank many who made these festive events possible. Mike and Betty Dowling generously hosted the children’s party at Dowlings’ Restaurant. What a spread they put out for both the children and their parents. Santa showed up and distributed gifts to 36 children. Thank you, Mike and Betty.

The wonderful staff of Whalebone also deserves a thank you for selling the NCC’s tickets for the dinner dance held at the beautiful Oasis Restaurant. The sold out crowd danced until 12:30 to the tunes provided by D.J. Biggie. Among the 122 attendees were our Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, and Town Council members Nancy Graboski, Bridget Fleming, and Chris Nuzzi. The appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, dinners and desserts were fresh and delicious.

There are many individuals and businesses who donated gifts or gift certificates and deserve a heart-felt thank you: Marilyn and Dennis Downes, Linda and George Heine of the Whalebone General Store, Judge Ed Burke and his wife Carol, George Heine Real Estate, Dowling’s Tavern and Restaurant, One Ocean Restaurant, Robin and Luigi Tagliasacchi of Capellitti Italian Grill, the Oasis Restaurant, Tony Lawless of Cromer’s Country Market, the Bridge Golf Course, Noyac Liquor Store, the Clamman, and King Kullen. Kris Nielsen, a Pierson alumnae and artist, donated a beautiful decorative wooden sign “Welcome to a Noyac Christmas.” We raised $350 for our scholarship fund by selling raffle tickets for Kris’ sign at the dinner dance. Thank you, Kris. Randy Ackerman, Gary Ackerman, Ralph DiSpigna, JoAnneStaffa, Marilyn Downes, Chuck Neuman, Judy O’Connell, Vince Starace, Elfie Neuman, Diane Bill, Linda Heine, and George Heine pitched in at either the children’s party and/or the dinner dance. Thank you. Hopefully I did not forget to mention anyone who helped out.
The Noyac Civic Council wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year.

Yours,
Elena Loreto, President,
Noyac Civic Council

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