From (l. to r.) Michael J. Pollack, Peggy Maslow, John O'Connell and Everett H. Brenner.
On a blustery night of snow and rain, four candidates met with the community in the Port library Wednesday evening, March 23 to offer their qualifications and plans should they be elected to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees of the Port library. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Manhasset and Port Washington and was moderated by LWV co-President Edna Vincenti. About three dozen hearty souls braved the inclement weather to engage in a question and answer session with the candidates.
The candidates were introduced by the moderator who offered the following biographical information:
Everett H. Brenner of Sandy Hollow Rd. Brenner has a B.A. degree from Bates College and an M.A from the University of Michigan. His background includes a position of associate professor at the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Library and Informational Services, which offers a unique background for the trustee position.
Peggy Maslow of Hilltop Rd. who has a B.A. from Queens College and a M.A. from Teacher's College of Columbia University. Maslow has resided in Port for over 30 years and expressed an interest in keeping taxes down.
John O'Connell of North Washington St. has a B.A. from Fordham University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. O'Connell is a 10 year Port resident and described himself as being budget-oriented and expressed concern about living within the library's budget.
Michael J. Pollack of Morewood Oaks holds a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Pollack has resided in Port for 32 years. Pollack served as president of the Morewood Estates Homeowners' Association and described himself as a good listener.
All questions were directed to the full panel and the order of response was rotated.
Question: What would you do to control the library's personnel expenditures?
Brenner: I'd work with Director Curtin but be careful of cutting good employees, which would in turn, cut quality of service. Maslow: I'd offer suggestions for improvements and the personnel costs are a minor increase. O'Connell: I'd review the union contract, monitor labor negotiations. Pollack: I'd review other jurisdictions' budgets and not punish employees, which would adversely affect Port's "jewel of a library."
Question: Describe your concerns for the library's next five to 10 years. Brenner: Be more active with New York State officials. Maslow: Reduce costs. O'Connell: I'd develop comprehensive five and 10-year plans. Pollack: Try to control New York State mandates that are imposed without state funding.
Question: What suggestions do you have to convince voters to approve the upcoming budget?
General response: An outreach and educational program
Question: Given the technical expansion of the Internet, what do you see as the role of books in the library? Brenner: Our youngsters are very interested in computers and we should study their needs and uses for books. Maslow: Books are a necessary part of the library. O'Connell: Books are expected and he applauds the $10,000 increase in book purchases for FY-06. Pollack: Books are necessary and will not successfully evolve to e-books; he applauds the $10,000 increase in book purchases
Question: What would you say to a 60 or 70-year-old Port resident who told you they had to move because of tax increases? Brenner: I'd try to cut costs and increase the use of private funding. Maslow: The library tax is not that high. O'Connell: I'd examine all costs and an increased use of volunteers. Pollack: I'd try attrition and an increased use of volunteers.
Question: What changes would you make? Brenner: Increase technology. Maslow: Open meeting room doors earlier. O'Connell: Devise a five-year long-term plan. Pollack: Encourage teen library usage by increased availability of music.
Question: Closing comments. Brenner: Increase technology. Maslow: Meeting was a good exchange of ideas. O'Connell: Vote yes on the budget. Pollack: Port community is the big winner with four good candidates vying for trustee position.
As the meeting concluded Edna Vincenti thanked the audience and candidates for participating in the forum. The election for the candidate to serve a five-year term on the library's board of trustees will be held on Tuesday, April 12, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the lobby of the library. Anyone may vote who is at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the school district for at least 30 days.