Anti-bullying advocate John Halligan, who lost a son to suicide in 2003, was invited to speak to parents and Religious Education students separately at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset Jan. 8 and 23. Halligan, a retired IBM technician who lives in Farmingdale, has spoken at more than 500 schools and made more than 1,000 presentations in the U.S. and Canada since his son’s death.
Halligan urged parents to monitor their children’s use of the Internet and e-mail because he feels cyber bullying is more prevalent and damaging than physical intimidation. His advocacy led to the passage of anti-bullying legislation in Vermont in 2004 that requires schools to develop a plan for dealing with bullying. Halligan’s son Ryan, 13, an eight-grader at an Essex Falls, Vt. middle school, hung himself after being humiliated publically by a girl who had pretended online, at the request of a bully, to be interested in him. Halligan had not monitored his son’s computer use and did not realize the severity of his depression.
As a frequent traveler of Stonytown Road, I am on the lookout for pedestrians as I know many people walk to the Plandome LIRR Station along this route. Today, [Jan. 15] however, even during ideal lighting conditions (noontime, sunshine), I encountered several people walking in the road, against traffic, around blind curves. It’s fortunate that no cars were approaching from the other direction, because my avoidance of the walkers would have possibly led to a head-on collision. I realize that the piles of snow are forcing walkers off of the shoulder and into the road, but this begs the question: unless absolutely necessary, why walk along a narrow, twisting, road with no sidewalks and heavy traffic. There are plenty of safer places to walk—side streets in Plandome, the high school track, etc.
Please let’s do what’s safest for each other.
In a Letter to the Editor dated Dec. 9, 2010, I repeated the report that between one and three million persons have access to those “secret” government files. If so then they are by no means secret. At least one of those millions was just a lowly Army Private who during his training was reprimanded for downloading some files. One would think that that alone would disqualify him for this sensitive position, but no. Does anyone believe that governments around the world do not have access to these files. And they no doubt have access to this data on an ongoing basis. Codes are routinely cracked.
As the economy falters and the Federal deficit grows, more and more people are searching for answers; and, as the media focuses on the subject, more and more misstatements spread. Social Security, many claim, is bankrupt; more people receive benefits and fewer people are contributing, benefits will be cut, and the age for retirement will keep rising. Those familiar with the successful 75-year-old program, recognize immediately the dangers of such hasty conclusions.
I am writing in defense of our four legged neighbors here in Manhasset. Recently, my dog was attacked by two dogs on the corner of Boulder Road and Walnut Lane in Flower Hill. My dog was being walked on lead on the opposite side of the street and the owner of these two dogs was just taking hers out the door. The dogs went straight for my dog and the owner could not hold them back. In the end, my guy had five puncture wounds all to the neck and head and since has been very sick- the cause not yet identified. After the incident, it was discovered that these same two dogs almost killed yet another dog in Flower Hill. The owners have yet to take any responsibility for the vet bills in both cases and will definitely see themselves in court in my case if they fail to do so. I have also seen these two dogs outside in the driveway tethered to a pickup truck on two separate occasions. The owners response to this attack was “sorry I couldn’t hold them” and then proceeded to blame us for walking the dog over there. Last I checked it’s a public street and we weren’t even on their side of it.
In recent days there has been much speculation that the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), a so-called watchdog agency, which sat idle for much of the past decade, will attempt to take control over Nassau’s finances. Yet this watchdog, appointed by Albany politicians, slept silent for the past eight years as the former County Executive mismanaged finances, spent recklessly and gave away indefensible union contracts, which run until 2016 that taxpayers simply cannot afford.
Miraculously NIFA awoke when I, a Republican, became County Executive. I inherited a $286 million deficit – the equivalent of a 43 percent property tax hike - worsened by these labor contracts that promise wage increases which exceed the cost of living standards by hundreds of millions of dollars, guarantee no layoffs, and ensure that employees continue to make no contribution toward health insurance.
Recently an airline pilot using his cell phone camera took pictures in an airport showing how passengers, pilots and flight attendants get checked for weapons and explosives. Then he showed a doorway through which maintenance mechanics, baggage handlers, cleaning crews and fueling personnel just walk right in. No checking on them whatsoever.
He then had these pictures posted somewhere on the Internet. A few days later six government agents showed up at the airline captain’s home and demanded that he surrender his pistol. (This pilot was registered by the government to carry a pistol). He is being charged with revealing critical government secrets. How idiotic is that. Who would believe that potential terrorists don’t know that none of those persons working on airplanes ever get checked.
My friend, Ralph Kolodny, professor emeritus at Boston University School of Social Work, commented on the brutality of the schoolyard in children’s lives. He said, “We tend to forget the pain that normally characterizes interaction among children. Oddly enough,” he added, “the work of the imaginative journalist or novelist often provides a more accurate picture.”
For example, in Ray Bradbury‘s short story “The Playground,” Charles Underhill, a widower, tried to protect his son from the terror of the schoolyard. Underhill wondered how childhood could be considered the best time of life, when it was the “most terrible, most merciless era, the barbaric time when there were no police to protect you, only parents preoccupied with themselves and their taller world.”
Closer to home, four Long Island students - Gavin, Maria, Jake and Sam – had the guts to stand up by giving voice to their pain in a recent Newsday exposé entitled, “In their own words: Battling the bullies” (November 14, 2010).
(Editors Note: This letter was sent to Town of North Hempstead Councilmen and women and to the Manhasset Press for publication.)
I ask that you not vote for the proposed height increase for fencing around private property from 4 feet to 5 or 6 feet. This change would change the texture of our communities to unsightly “Queens like” neighborhoods. Also, unless there is an ordinance requiring that fencing be standarized, the higher the fences, the more hodge-podge the look.
Recently, Nassau County superintendents of schools received literature from County Executive Ed Mangano regarding his 2011 “No Property Tax Increase Budget.” As part of this proposed budget, Nassau County Legislators voted, strictly along party lines, to shift the financial expense of paying county assessment errors from Nassau County to the local school districts. We certainly agree that the assessment system is broken, however, shifting the responsibility to the school districts will not help fix it.
Mr. Mangano’s assertion that this change in practice is not going to cost the school districts any money until 2013-2014 is inaccurate. Superintendents and their Boards of Education must begin now, wherever possible, to set aside money in their reserves in anticipation of paying out refunds in 2013-2014. For the past four months, we have repeatedly asked the County Executive for each district’s cost so that we can appropriately plan for this new liability, yet we have received no response. School districts cannot wait until the 2013-2014 school year to first worry about where they are getting the money to refund taxpayers for Nassau County assessment errors.
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