Letters/Comment

 

 

Vote No on “Bond-anza” Proposal


The New York Bonds for School Technology Act, Proposal 3 is on the ballot this Election Day. The idea is to provide school districts with money to “purchase educational technology equipment and facilities, such as interactive whiteboards, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and high-speed broadband or wireless Internet.” Other items like “high-tech smart security features” and “pre-kindergarten classroom space” are also to be included.


If approved, NY State will issue $2 billion in bonds that will be repaid over twenty years out of statewide tax dollars. The bond proceeds are to be allocated to all districts that submit approved spending plans. Locally, Rye City is to receive $286,640; Rye Neck $174,995; Blind Brook $195,893; Port Chester $1,736,663; and Harrison $430,913. The real winner is New York City at $780+ million.


It sounds great. Free money for our schools that’s to be repaid with no impact on the property tax cap! Unfortunately, taxpayers will be repaying this “bond-anza” through income taxes for a long time after the equipment purchased is broken, lost, or simply obsolete. It would be simpler and cheaper if the State just added the proposed $2 billion (we can save the interest) to existing state aid over twenty years. Not as exciting or visible for this year’s re-election candidates perhaps, but certainly more consistent with fiscal prudence and long-term planning.


Most of us learn as children that just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should. Ballot Proposal 3 gives us the chance to apply that lesson. Most school districts could not get approval to borrow money to spend on items like laptops, tablet computers, servers, smartboards, etc. We shouldn’t let the State get away with this attempt at mortgaging our future for some short-term goodies. Please vote “No” on Proposal 3 on November 4.

 

Sincerely,

Bob Zahm

 

 

Reporting Errors, Omissions, and Mischaracterizations


We write to correct unfortunate errors, omissions, and mischaracterizations in The Rye Record’s front-page story [about the amendment to the City Charter] in the October 10, 2014 edition.


First, during our October 8 meeting, the City Council approved only an amendment to the City Charter to allow the Council to give its advice and consent as to the City Manager’s selection of the a police commissioner. This was clearly indicated at various times during the meeting, and represented the Council’s good faith effort to incorporate different perspectives. Unfortunately, your story incorrectly reported that the Council approved additional provisions, which actually had been withdrawn, to give the Council more oversight.


Second, the Council consistently allowed all speakers throughout the public hearing sessions to express their points of view, and Council members noted many times that they welcomed the input. However, your story indicated that one speaker’s remarks at the most recent hearing ”touched a nerve with the Mayor and other Council Members, who took exception to both the content and the tone” of what the person had to say. In actuality, the Council was receptive to the substantive comments of the speaker and only reacted negatively only when he threw papers at the Council dais in punctuating a point – which is not wholly visible to viewers on television – prompting us to correctly advise the person to comport himself with more respect.


Furthermore, your story – and at least a prior related story – often unfortunately adds a pointed editorial component while ostensibly presenting itself as straight news reporting.


For example, the very title of you story – “The Taking of Rye-Two-Three” – suggests that the Council perpetrated some sort of theft in a summary fashion. To the contrary, the Council considered and approved a distinct and necessary improvement in the Charter in a deliberative fashion over a full three-month period, purposely extending the public hearing well beyond what is normally required, in order to achieve the best outcome.


Also, your story gratuitously surmised that the Council “had discussed the proposed change among themselves beforehand.” It is true that we gave much serious advance thought to the matter, and then publically explained our views in detail. It is proper (and desirable) that the Mayor exercised here the traditional role of building consensus and connecting with individual Councilmembers. However, it is unfortunate that your story insinuated that we engaged in any conduct that was unlawful or inappropriate.


The truth is we have much respect for those that have previously served, and certainly weighed their opinions – along with the opinions and common sense of regular Rye residents – in our decision-making. However, what was most important to us – as the duly elected representatives and current stewards of our community, not without the ability to size up the situation, and closest to the situation at hand – was to simply codify what even opponents called good practice, and to unanimously ensure that corrective action be taken so that all Councilmembers have going forward the necessary tools to proved proper oversight.


We appreciate that the Publisher recognized some of the substantial and important errors in this article and contacted some Councilmembers (after the paper had been printed) to express regret, and addressed some of the mistakes in an online version of the story.

 

Mayor Joe Sack, Councilmembers Laura Brett, Julie Killian, Terry McCartney, Kirsten Bucci, Richard Mecca, Richard Slack


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