Sometimes, writing a weekly column about state government is more challenging than others. There are complex issues not easily addressed in so few words yet are of vital importance to my constituents. This is unquestionably one of those subjects.
This past week, together with Governor Cuomo and the Assembly, the NY State Senate passed an historical and long-overdue tax cap. While New Yorkers will finally get the tax-relief we deserve, some very real problems have come along with it. Most pressing among these are public employee pensions.
Although our $130,861,023 school budget passed for the 2011-2012 school year some might not realize that several cuts and staff attritions are set to go into effect. Two and a half of our five elementary school librarians are being cut. Yes, cut! I was horrified to hear that something so detrimental to our children continues to happen in our community (upon the retirement of a school librarian in Weber our 2010-2011 school budget did not hire a new employee but rather transferred a Schreiber librarian to Weber. This left only one librarian in the high school to teach every student in the building skills necessary for performing successful research).
It was nine years ago that Rob Seiden decided to run for school board. He and his wife Gail asked me and some friends and neighbors if we would join his grassroots campaign. Endless days and nights of passing out fliers all over town led us to that Tuesday night in the all-purpose room at Weber at 10 p.m., when it was announced that Rob Seiden had won! He had won the first of three consecutive school board elections, nine years in total as his term ends June 30.
The parking lot at Main and Covert Streets opened with great fanfare quite a few months ago but as yet nothing has been done to improve the traffic flow through the intersection of Main and Shore Road. Depending on the time of day, traffic often backs up all the way to the Town Dock, and it will only get worse as the weather gets warmer.
(Editor’s note: this letter was sent to Port Washington Superintendent Dr. Gordon and Board of Education members).
Now that the budget passed and you are about to embark on another year of shepherding the school district thru seemingly unending turbulent economic times, I would like to share with you some observations.
First and foremost, I hope that none of you and that goes for the entire administration staff will take the “yes” vote on the budget as a mandate to conduct business as usual. To do so would be a tremendous abrogation of your fiduciary responsibility. Therefore, as education and fiscal “guardians” of Port’s tax paying community, I want to remind you of the steps you should be taking toward fiscal responsibility and prudence. The ultimate goal being for next year’s budget to reflect some truly significant savings. The following are the areas where this process should start with the ultimate goal being to achieve the foregoing objective.
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, recently announced that he has introduced legislation that would provide assistance and expand protections to victims of Bernard Madoff and all investors defrauded by Ponzi schemes.
My first Senate session in Albany will be ending on June 20 and looking back on it, I believe our state has made significant progress toward fiscal health. The most visible highlight of the past six months has been our passage of an on-time state budget that cut spending by $10 billion. Our goal was simple: to get spending in line with revenue. In years past, the state would routinely spend more than it brought in and then turn to taxpayers to make up the difference. This practice has proved disastrous for our economy and worse for our citizens. But I am proud to say that we have put an end to it.
I recently had the opportunity to gather with my colleagues from Long Island to urge the Assembly to pass a 2 percent tax cap, an initiative by Governor Cuomo that we passed in the Senate back in January with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
My message of last week regarding celebrating the demise of Bin Ladin has generated much discussion. I have gotten numerous responses from people on both sides of the issue.
The main objection was-why stoop down to the level of the bad guys. We celebrate life, not death, even death of the bad guy.
Since childhood we have been taught to be polite, treat others nicely, and play well in the sandbox. Basic rules of a civilized society, right? That’s why we were so shocked to read Mr. Hirsch’s attack on our friend and fellow volunteer, Karen Sloan, in last week’s edition of the Port News.
It is certainly Mr. Hirsch’s right to disagree with Karen Sloan and her fellow school board members. However, we found Mr. Hirsch’s letter inappropriately personal and distasteful, and we must object!
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