School Board’s Ill-Timed Entry Into Political Process
I have lived in Rye for over 41 years. At least for that entire period, our political parties and our school boards have demonstrated both the good sense and civic discipline not to involve their respective organizations in the other’s election process. There are very good reasons for this long practice. Rye is not the kind of community that wants partisan politics to interfere, and inevitably conflict, with its universal commitment to the achievement of educational excellence; a commitment all of us share without regard to our respective political registrations or beliefs.
We have seen the sad results of the politicization of our public schools in too many communities across the country and, many years ago, decided that we did not want to risk taking Rye in that direction.
That is why I find this current Board of Education’s blatant attempt to inject itself into this November’s New York State Senate election, by presenting an award to one of the two major party candidates within some 35 days of Election Day, to be disturbing and dismaying.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am, after an 18-year hiatus on the bench, once again an active local Republican. I am, however, also friendly with Assemblyman George Latimer (and like and respect his opponent, Bob Cohen). I would find it equally appalling if Bob were the recipient of an award from a local school board during this election cycle.
My distress is not because the Board has seen fit to tacitly endorse another party’s candidate, but because its clumsy and ill-timed entry into our electoral process has clearly crossed one of our community’s longstanding, carefully drawn lines.
This Board may or may not have assisted Mr. Latimer in his election bid, but they have recklessly disregarded a tradition that has long served Rye well and, in the process, may have also set a dangerous new precedent.
Has Political Campaigning Hit a New Low?
I thought it was impossible, but Bob Cohen may have plunged political campaigning to a new low. It began when State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-37) announced her retirement. Anonymous attackers peppered Rye residents with nasty Robocalls and Facebook ads smearing our neighbor George Latimer before he even announced his candidacy.
Cohen’s attempt to scare a good candidate away from the race failed.
Latimer, who is currently our NY State Assemblyman (D-Rye), is running, and Cohen has amped up the nastiness by mailing a series of scurrilous ads with misleading copy and horror-movie graphics. One says Latimer has missed 70 votes in the Assembly. What it doesn’t say is that this represents 2% of all votes — so he’s actually been present for 98% of all votes, which may be a record! Another says Latimer voted to raise taxes by 46%. In fact, George actually cut taxes by 8% when he was the Chairman of the County Legislature, and throughout his legislative career he has often voted to cut, freeze or eliminate taxes. Even Ed Koch, who has broken with his party to endorse candidates in the past, and has endorsed Latimer in this election, went as far as saying in a press release, “I believe when [Latimer] says that he has and will continue to lower taxes for Westchester families, he will do just that.”
Why is Cohen confounding the issues like this? I guess because the plain facts would persuade folks to vote for George Latimer.
Stop the Junk Mail
Rye should join other cities across the U.S. to enable us to escape the avalanche of junk mail.
The New York Times last week reported that the Postal Service was promoting an even greater volume of garbage that our poor deliveryman has to carry to our door every day.
But, the article pointed out, cities all over the country, from Brookline, Massachusetts to Austin, Texas, have contracted with a company called Catalog Choice to allow residents to block unwanted mail and to avoid the expense of having to recycle tons of rejected mail.
Both the people of Rye and the City budget would be winners if we did the same.
John A. Friede