By the time this letter is published, the 2013- 2014 school year would have already begun in the Westbury Union FreeSchool District and the perennial discussion about overcrowding would have resumed. The likelihood of this happening is perhaps more certain since the district is unique among its peers as the only one that has been experiencing steady enrollment growth over the past 3 to 4 years, while other surrounding districts are seeing a decline. The total district population now stands at approximately 48,000; an enrollment growth of approximately 5 percent compared to the past 4 to 5 years. In some quarters it is a widely held view that there is a preponderance of youths from outside the school district overwhelming the system, creating overcrowded class rooms and a drain on the district’s resources.
As a long time Nassau County educator, I’ve seen a lack of interest at best, and some negligence to be sure, regarding fiscal management in some school districts in Nassau. The past County Executive administrations have done nothing to address these issues and have in fact exacerbated the situation by ignoring them.
If you receive a STAR rebate check for your property taxes, please, please, read this column! It’s vital news to Long Island homeowners.
New legislation requires that ALL homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption re-apply with the New York State Tax Department in order to continue receiving the exemption in 2014 and beyond. This is part of an enormous effort to root out fraud in the $1.9 billion system and it was enacted to protect honest New Yorkers against those who are falsely obtaining the exemption. In the end, they are stealing from you – the taxpayer.
I was recently speaking with one of my staff via cell phone as he walked his dog late in the evening. Unfortunately, we had to stop our conversation about a half dozen times as he waited for the noise from overhead aircraft to pass. So to those who ask me about airplane noise, yes, I do understand how aggravating it is. To be sure, I live with it every day, like most of you.
The selfishness we’re witnessing in Albany right now has to stop.
You know I’ve written in this column many times that New York State has made real progress these last three years. Things are far better than they used to be simply because Republicans and Democrats alike are finally working together. Despite the accompanying noise, there’s really no magic formula. Legislators with common sense have finally realized that you can’t always get everything you want and that most times, the reasonable middle ground also happens to advance the people’s agenda very nicely.
But I’m not “feeling the love” lately.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the City of Detroit filing for bankruptcy. It’s frightening to think that what was once one of the nation’s primary economic engines cannot pay its day-to-day bills. Despite sensationalist commentary from both sides of the political spectrum, I can assure you there’s really no single reason this happened. There are many causes and even more opinions, but one thing is for sure: Detroit borrowed and spent extravagantly for many years and dug itself right into a hole. Sadly, no one on the state level in Michigan intervened to get them back on track.
The Westbury community this week lost one of its most ardent and dedicated public servants in the passing of former Trustee Paul H. Echausse. Paul served seven terms as a member of the Village Board of Trustees, and for many years as Deputy Mayor. In that time, he was a vocal advocate for Westbury’s residents. Paul was a man of high integrity, and has left an indelible mark on the Westbury community as a result of his lifetime of service.
This is a copy of a letter sent to Village Clerk Dwight Kraemer and submitted to the Westbury Times for publication.
I write concerning a recurring problem in our Court with respect to Building Code cases. From the time that defendants are first charged until the disposition of their cases, hazardous conditions such as cellar occupancies continue to exist. This is a danger to the community on many levels which we have attempted to informally remedy by entering into stipulations or even verbal agreements with counsel and pro se litigants wherein evictions and re-inspections are promised on the record, with the Court mindful of Constitutional rights against self-incrimination, etc., suggesting that such matters will not be evidentiary in the event of a trial. I am suggesting that formal stipulations may be entered into at arraignment as a condition of bail. In addition, where hazardous conditions may exist, I am further suggesting that the Fire Marshall be notified.
Weeding Our Political Garden
Admittedly, I do not have a green thumb. If our home is verdant it’s entirely by my wife’s efforts but I do recall once reading some gardening advice that seemed useful: you can’t get rid of weeds by simply pulling them out. You must plant something in their place to prevent their return.
I think of that advice when I hear people complain about some politicians. I believe “disgusted” is their term of choice, and certainly the media has uncovered plenty of unsavory behavior for us to be disgusted about. Still, I’m bothered by that cynicism because I know firsthand that most elected officials are honest and good people who take their public service as a point of pride. Nonetheless, I certainly understand where that cynicism stems from, especially when you read the sordid affairs smeared on the pages of New York’s newspapers these days.
Many dog owners are completely unaware of the impact of not picking up after their pet. Some common misconceptions from pet owners are: It’s completely natural and leaving it on the ground to decompose is fine if it’s left where someone can’t step in it.
According to the EPA, pet waste is 57% more toxic than human waste, and, in 1991 it was placed in the same health category as oil and toxic chemicals. The EPA also estimates that in two or three days, 100 dogs can produce enough bacteria to close a small bay with a 20 square mile watershed to swimming and fishing. Dog feces contain high concentrations of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and pathogens (bacteria, viruses, worms and parasites) that can cause serious illness in humans and pets. Dog feces can take up to a year to break down in the environment. Some fecal bacteria can even become airborne. The deposit site can become toxic to both dogs and people. Some pathogens can survive for years; for instance, roundworms and Giardia survive up to four years, E. coli can live up to four months, and salmonella up to six months.
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