There is an old saying that you cannot always believe what you read in the papers and nothing could be more true when reviewing the local newspaper stories concerning the Creek Project recently. Over the last few months I have been questioned by, and I discussed with many residents, the supposed grant by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for $6.5 million to the City of Glen Cove for the Creek Project. From reading stories in Newsday, many residents were of the opinion that we had received $6.5 million in cash for the project. But, regrettably that is not true. This past Sunday, Newsday accurately reported in an article that most of this grant was not cash, but instead permission for the Glen Cove CDA to borrow funds for the project.
In recent weeks interestingly, the official newspaper of the City failed to even cover the last Council meeting where the City Council voted on a portion of the Creek Project estimated at over $9 million and regrettably the Record-Pilot, which did cover the meeting, didn't accurately report my vote on the resolutions. The story described the first resolution concerning the Mill Pond Connector as authorizing the mayor to accept grant funds of approximately $9 million, with an additional cost to the city of only $446,000. This is only half true as the resolution did authorize the mayor to accept the grant funds if offered but went on to state that should the grant funds not be available, the mayor was authorized to have the city borrow up to the $9 million to complete the project. I, in good conscience could not vote at this time to authorize the mayor to borrow the money for the project and that is why I voted no.
Unfortunately the article did not mention that the resolution included the new authorization to borrow the funds and went on to report that I voted against both resolutions which just wasn't true. The second resolution authorized the mayor to go out for bids to start the process to see what the actual cost of the project would be, and to this resolution I voted yes.
From reading the story one would assume that I voted against both resolutions and the project as a whole, but I am not against the project involving the Mill Pond Connector but I am against giving the mayor authority to borrow over $9 million at this time. Let's first see what the project will cost and what grant monies the city can obtain, before we give Mayor Suozzi the authority to spend almost $10 million.
Clearly the two stories did not accurately reflect what is actually occurring at the City Council meetings and I invite all of the residents to come to the meetings and see firsthand what is occurring in our city. I respect all of the reporters who cover our meetings and I have always had an excellent relationship with them and hope that it will continue, but hopefully in the future all sides of the debate at our meetings will be accurately portrayed.
Glen Cove City Council
If anyone needs a better example of the depths to which our school system has sunk, one need look no further than the recent distribution via our children's backpacks, including that of my Deasy kindergartener's of an obvious attempt to intimidate parents into voting yes for a school budget which hasn't yet been proposed. A small section at the top of the distribution flier presents a reasonable appeal to register and vote. The major portion, however, is a blatant attempt at intimidation in three languages, extolling the wonders of a successful budget and the horrors of a failed budget.
Since this was reminiscent of the tactics used in 1997, which gave rise to our present anger at the school system, I decided to find out who was responsible. The author of the flier is not indicated, but a phone number is listed on the bottom offering more information. The phone number is that of the school administration switchboard, and the person answering the phone knew nothing about the flier. After being shunted to several people, I was finally told by someone in the business office that the flier was generated by the PTA. When I contacted the Deasy PTA, however, I was informed that the PTA had noting to do with the flier. Once again, I contacted the school administration and ultimately spoke to Frank DeLuca, the superintendent. He informed me that the flier was generated by the PTA Budget Committee which, conveniently, was formed only last fall, and that he attended the meetings as an advisor only. He assured me that he had nothing to do with the flier before it went out and that, incredibly, he did not feel it advocated a particular vote one way or the other. In fact, he said that it would be very inappropriate to advocate a position on the budget before it passed by the school board.
In seeking a member of the budget committee, I finally reached Sue Goldberg, a co-president. She informed me that the flier was generated by the public relations firm retained by the school system, that the flier would never have gone out if it wasn't approved by DeLuca and his lawyer, that the budget committee merely carried out DeLuca's instructions in sending out the flier, and that it would indeed be highly inappropriate for the PTA to advocate a position on the budget before it was submitted to the school board.
When I asked Goldberg about the intimidating tone of the flier and the obvious attempt to elicit a yes vote on the budget, she told me that the flier merely suggests that the dire consequences listed may occur if the budget fails, and does not indicate that they would occur. She called my attention to the little question marks after each sentence. She also felt that the heading used, "A Failed Budget Means Big Losses," only suggests losses would occur. She further told me that she, too, did not feel the flier advocated a particular position on the budget, but merely stated facts regarding the consequences of a failed budget. When I asked her how she knew those "facts" listed on the flier may happen, especially since she admitted to not having seen the proposed budget, she told me that DeLuca told her they might happen.
This incident betrays egregious examples of cowardice, deception, and manipulation. The appearance of the PTA Budget Committee as a newly formed "Friends of Frank DeLuca" political action committee, crafted to provide anonymity while evading legal and ethical issues involved in the use of school money, resources, a contractor, and our children to advance a personal agenda is too great to be ignored. Characteristically, the school board was inactive as this incident was unfolding. We residents, taxpayers, and school families deserve much better. If laws were not broken, certainly the public trust has been violated! I have asked the school board to investigate this travesty and call those responsible to account. Their response will clearly show how seriously they take their role as guardians of the public trust.
Dr. Rodger Silletti
Parent of a Deasy Kindergarten Student
And a Candidate for the School Board