Get Real, Get Reasonable
My first reaction to your October 7 headline, “School Board to Adopt $19-Plus Million Bond: Future Tax Increase 5.75-7.5%”, is: are these people out of their minds?
I, for one, am quite tired of the Rye City Board of Education thinking they are somehow exempt from the reality of the current economic crisis. Show me the cuts – what staffing positions can be reduced or cut? Cut back on administration; share positions with other districts. How many kids are in each class? How many Advanced Placement classes are offered below the minimum class size? (We all know many of these courses are offered just to boost district rankings.) It appears the Science & Technology sections are doing quite well – ranked 38.
I, for one, have had to make serious cuts to my personal budget and can no longer afford many things. Why is the school district exempt from making hard choices too? Not on my dime. I vote with a BIG FAT NO and will do whatever I can to get others to do the same.
Get real, get reasonable!
My Neighbor, the Councilman
I have been a resident of Rye for more than 40 years and have raised my children here. As a result of my husband’s active involvement as District Leader in the local Democratic Party, I have had the opportunity to see many politicians come and go – some of whom did not have any real enthusiasm for the job they were doing.
As such, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize my neighbor, Joe Sack, as a politician who is a tremendous asset to this community. First, Joe’s conviction and determination to do what he believes is right is clearly demonstrated by his conduct at Rye City Council meetings, which I often observe on TV. Joe is the one who is always engaged, asks the right questions, and consistently stands up for the right thing, even when the majority of others disagree.
On a personal note, Joe consistently goes out of his way to help me in times of need. More specifically, countless times I have looked out the window after a snowstorm to see that Joe had already taken it upon himself to shovel my driveway. Also, while my husband was in declining health, Joe would often call or stop by to ask if I needed groceries or other supplies, a ride someplace, or simply to check in. His assistance was greatly appreciated during these very difficult times.
Joe is just the type of person this community needs. I am proud to have him as my councilman, neighbor, and friend.
We Can’t Wait on Flooding Solutions
My husband and I attended the last few Council meetings and listened with great interest when the subject of flooding was under discussion. It felt, at times, like sitting in a room facing a brick wall where the urgency does not penetrate. At other times, it felt like being in a classroom where the teacher asks the children to hold up their hands and answer, “How many of you wrote to your Representative?”
A solution to this problem has to be implemented now. We all know the grim consequences if we do not act. Flooding has worsened, affecting areas it never reached before. It’s destroying our downtown, which should be our jewelry box. The little old house on Locust Avenue next to the parking lot is crumbling into the brook. Hundreds of people have suffered terrible losses. The worst fear is that the weather pattern is dramatically changing, and storms like Irene will be much more frequent.
Dear Rye residents: The roof of our community has caved in. We have to fix it. Without it, residents who live on or near Central Avenue will need a boat to reach the high, flood-proof bridge. Money to rebuild that bridge would be better spent resizing the upper pond portion of the Bowman Avenue Dam.
I think re-insulating City Hall can wait; as can the installation of new, pricy technology for our police, which will enable them to crack down on parking violators and issue the penalty directly from the station. Action like that will only alienate in-town and out-of-town shoppers. We want to welcome all shoppers with a big, friendly smile, and make their visit pleasant and convenient. That will contribute much more to our treasury.
As for the School Board’s desire to go for a $20 million bond at a time when the economy is crippling so many of us and the town is drowning, that spending chapter must wait, too.
Four and a half years ago, one of the Councilmembers said, “This flood should be a wake-up call.”
We need strong responsible leadership to take up this challenge, to find the way to the solution. There will be no community left if we wait for a handout.
Remember, flooding affects our houses, businesses, parks, village, children, and schools. If and when we can, we will build a new school together, but first we have to repair the plumbing, so the flood will not wash the school away.
Keith Is the Reformer Westchester Needs
The 2011 election finds Westchester County at one of history’s rare crossroads. There is a large gap between the demanding world in which the County finds itself and the Board of Legislators’ outmoded policy framework that remains stuck in a receding past.
Big challenges abound. The County is suffering from the fourth consecutive year of having the nation’s highest median property taxes. Its unfunded health care liability continues to grow. The difficult long-term fiscal outlooks for the Nation and State portend an inevitable decline in federal and state funding that currently accounts for a quarter of Westchester’s budget.
Westchester County finds itself in this predicament, because a Democratic supermajority on the Board of Legislators grew detached from the public and has increasingly put power preservation ahead of the County’s interests. It has acted in lockstep to form an impenetrable firewall against reform.
The supermajority has repeatedly evaded tough fiscal choices by regularly draining the County’s reserves. The supermajority tried to fund 38 Section 8 positions that no longer existed. The supermajority refused to back the County Executive in fighting to protect the County’s taxpayers and municipalities when HUD introduced demands related to the 2009 affordable housing settlement (voted in place by the supermajority) that threatened to double the County’s costs and undermine local zoning authority. The supermajority overrode 247 of the County Executive’s line item vetoes aimed at making a down payment on taxpayer savings and reform.
The supermajority’s evasion of tough choices has laid the groundwork for a fiscal crisis. The nation’s top-ranked property tax burden, Westchester’s declining General Fund balance, and the negative outlook assigned by Moody’s are the early symptoms of a future fiscal crisis that would harm all of Westchester’s businesses and residents.
That crisis is still avoidable, but only with new leadership on the Board of Legislators. New leadership can transform the Board into a partner for reform that would benefit the County’s residents, businesses, and stakeholders. In District 7, Suzanna Keith is exactly the reformer the Board needs. In Rye City, she has worked with Mayor French, her colleagues on the City Council, Rye Board of Education, civic leaders, and people from all across the community to tackle the kind of problems that confront the County. Her record shows that spending reform and tax relief can be achieved without sacrificing essential services, the quality of life, or environmental sustainability. Her abundance of vision, energy, and persistence allows her to get things done.
Throughout her public life, she has been an example of someone who truly cares about the community and its people, not through words, but through concrete actions. Those are the hallmarks of an outstanding candidate and person. Suzanna Keith will make an exceptional County Legislator. On November 8, each of us has the ability to shape a better tomorrow.
A vote for Suzanna Keith would be a sound investment in reform. The return on that investment will be a healthier Westchester and a brighter future.
Frank J. Adimari