Thursday, August 14, 2008

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Readers Repsond.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In Our Opinion... The Time Is Right To Revamp New York’s Public School Financing Scheme

We believe now is the time for decisive action with respect to the financing of public education in New York State. The notion that the responsibility for educating our state’s children should fall principally on the shoulders of homeowners and other real property holders, much as we tax them for sewer and water districts, lighting, and police protection, was never right; and, has come, over the years, to a point where fairness, and sound financial principles, require a total revamp.

The responsibility for providing a fundamentally sound education to the youth of our state must be shared by every adult individual and corporation that calls New York home, irrespective of real property ownership. Under the present system, there are simply too many who escape contributing their fair share by way of one exemption or another.

For example, over the last 30 years or more, many towns and villages throughout the state have attempted to lure industrial and/or commercial development to their sites by way of tax abatements and deferrals, most for at least 10 years; some for 15 and 20 years or more. Corporations with such property tax breaks, under the present public education funding scheme, contribute nothing to the education of youngsters they will ultimately rely upon to fill the ranks of skilled workers in their enterprise.

Then there are religious organizations, houses of worship, certain not-for-profit organizations, and government property owners, who, under the present system, skip without contributing a dime. And, finally, there are the wealthy who lease their luxury apartments, though one might argue that they pay their share in their rent.

In Our view, all individuals and businesses have a stake in, and therefore, an obligation to support public education. The only equitable scheme involves a tax based upon income, and not ownership of real property. The State of New York must finally abandon its age-old, outmoded Equalization Patchquilt and expand state income tax to cover the cost of providing each school-aged child with a fundamentally sound primary, intermediate, and secondary public education.

No longer can we permit whole segments of our communities to avoid their responsibility to help finance our state’s, and our nation’s, future, so vitally dependent on the education of our children. We must get our priorities straight; and, We can think of no better time to reorganize and guarantee the most fundamental need of future generations than now to solidly underwrite public school education.

Many states already fund their public education program from individual and corporate income taxes, the state’s treasury. The time has come to lift our children’s future, and the future of New York State, to a more fair and more equitable system of financing. Governor Paterson must step up to the plate.

Our Readers Respond....

Reader Dismayed With Mike Spano

Dear Editor:

Kudos to Westchester County Chairman Doug Colety and Yonkers GOP Chairman John Jacono for their support of Jim Faulkner to “challenge” Assemblyman Mike Spano.

As a long time Republican I was quite dismayed when Mike Spano changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat. As a registered voter I want to know what candidates think about issues.

Has Mike Spano switched political parties to win an election? Have his principles changed because he changed from one party to another? What did he stand for before and what does he stand for now? Democrats have done too much flip-flopping with their viewpoints.

His opponent, Jim Faulkner, on the other hand, through his leadership of the Yonkers Third Ward Republicans has not wavered in his dedication to his party’s ideals. In the forthcoming campaign we anticipate that we will learn the “true” viewpoints of the two candidates.

While I don’t live in Faulkner’s district I applaud his dedication to Republican views which I support.

Ines Candrea, New Rochelle

Reader Promotes Tobacco-Free School Project

Dear Editor:

Several Westchester County schools are getting serious about preventing youth from using tobacco and creating healthier environments for thousands of students. These schools have joined a statewide effort of the New York State Department of Health administered locally
by Western Suffolk BOCES through the Tobacco-Free Schools project whose goals are:

• to reduce youth tobacco use
• to prevent initiation
• to reduce exposure to second hand smoke

What’s helping these schools is a strong and comprehensive tobacco policy.

By law, all schools teach about tobacco in their classrooms, and all schools prohibit tobacco to be used in school buildings, on school grounds and in school vehicles. But, studies have shown that a school with a formal written policy that is regularly and strongly enforced reports
lower rates of smoking among adolescents. According to the New York State Department of Health’s 2006 Youth Tobacco Survey over 32% of middle school students and over 70% of high school students report having seen other students smoking cigarettes on school property during the past 30 days, and over 32% of middle school students and over 41% of high school students who are current smokers report having smoked cigarettes on school property during the past 30 days.

Studies show compliance with policies is increased when the ban applies to everyone, not just students. The New York State Department
of Health’s 2006 Youth Tobacco Survey also documents that over 41% of middle school students and 42% of high school students report having seen adults smoking cigarettes on school property during the past 30 days.

An effectively enforced school tobacco policy reduces youth use and exposure to second hand smoke. Second hand smoke exposure leads
to increased student absenteeism due to lower respiratory tract infection, the number and severity of asthma attacks and middle ear infections. It also results in lower reading scores and some reasoning skills. (Youlton, Kimberly et al Environmental Health Perspectives
Jan. 05). Youth who use tobacco show reduced performance on memory and comprehension tests (Jacobsen, Leslie et al).

Westchester’s Tobacco-Free Schools participants receive free trainings, materials and technical assistance. Secondary schools in the
project are reviewing their tobacco policies and are working to make them more comprehensive, implement and enforce them.

For more information about the Tobacco-Free Schools Project, contact:

Kelly Brown
Westchester County
School Tobacco Policy Specialist

Good News About Greenburgh After-School Program

Dear Editor:

I am very pleased to announce that the town of Greenburgh has received a $167,500 grant from the Lanza Family Foundation for a state
of the art a er school program to be run out of the eodore Young Community Center. George Gumina, our philanthropy coordinator, worked
very hard on securing the grant. The after school program will be run by the Xposure Foundation.

The grant has very strict guidelines and mandatory compliance. In the coming weeks Raymond Thomas, Founder/ Executive Director of the
Xposure Foundation, Inc. will do a presentation to the Town Board that will highlight the benefits of the Xposure Greenburgh Program - a state of the art program that will expand the existing Theodore D. Young Community Center After School Program.

The program’s successes have been summarized in a news clip that can be viewed on the Xposurefoundation website:

Students learn the basics about savings and investments, deposits and withdrawals, checks and interest and lending as they deposit earnings
into savings accounts on a regular basis. Students also learn fundamentals about the stock market, including ownership, stocks, research and
investing. Parents are encouraged to open their own savings accounts, as well as to open online custodial investment accounts for their children.

Here students can invest money they have earned through Xposure in stocks they have researched and chosen. Carver Federal Savings Bank
has allowed the children to transfer money from their savings accounts into their online account to purchase stocks.

This program will take the community center (Valerie Whitehead is interim commissioner) to the next level. It’s a very exciting initiative.
The program will start in September. The Town of Greenburgh is very fortunate to be able to take advantage of such an exciting program. We are very grateful to the Lanza Family Foundation for this enormous donation.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Reader Objects To CSEA Proposal

Dear Editor:

Just read your article about the benefits of a 4-day work week for County employees. Leave it to a New York civil service union to steal another workday from the taxpayers of Westchester. Why would County employees, as opposed to private sector workers, be entitled to this? To save gas? Nice try. Its just another attempt to siphon more dollars off-one of the most heavily taxed Counties in the country. I pay $14,000 a year in property tax alone and you guys want to give them a weekly day off?

They should lay off a third of them and they’d be happy to have any job. Tell them to grow up. The work week is Monday through Friday. Give me a frigging break.

Marty Grossman

Reader Airs Out Numerous Complaints With County Government

Dear Editor:

To: Dumb And Dumber:

County Supervisor Spano and
Deputy Supervisor Schwartz.

Fact: Our local Westchester taxes are the highest in the United States; not the second highest or third highest, but of all the many thousands of local government taxes throughout our vast country, Westchester taxes are the highest!

Who is to blame? Our local political representatives and their constituents who elect them, us. The Nation is in the throes of a deep recession. By all previous comparative economic standards, our state, county, town and local governments are in the midst of facing budgetary dilemmas. As per Jay Gallagher, “Property taxes for most communities aren’t elastic. The tax base, or amount of property value the tax is levied on, isn’t growing. The only way to raise more money from taxes is to raise the rate. The real trick is to slow the rate of
spending that drives the higher taxes.”

There have been housing market failures accompanied by steep value declines in both residential and commercial property; coupled with outrageous gasoline and heating fuel price increases. Our sister state, New Jersey’s, gasoline prices are fifty-cents a gallon less than what we are now paying because of outlandish local taxes. And, in New Jersey, it is pumped by an attendant.

With all of these factors, growing unemployment, our huge auto industry, stagnated financial and banking institutions depressed and shaky;
I question the mindset of our local Westchester legislative representatives who recently approved huge expenditures while other local town, county and state governments are taking drastic steps to meet this challenge; freezing all new or replacement positions.

Carpool expenditures have been cut back, tighter controls on usage have greatly reduced the number of vehicles involved. Requesting budgetary forecasts in order to reduce expenditures to the level of the previous fiscal year’s increase; in our own case, town, school and
county increases for the 2008 budgetary period, borders on 25-to-30 percent increases. Our political administrators, as good elected officials, should not be thinking in terms of expansion, but in terms of contraction.

The following “big ticket” items as recently proposed and approved, can hardly be considered, in my book, being in the appropriate mindset to reduce overall spending:

• Salary increases for Westchester County Chairman and other part-time legislators, estimated at $250,000;

• Playland; an $8 million capital expenditure to replace decrepit lockers not in use for the previous 30 years, and to house a children’s museum.

In my book this is hardly the time for such an expenditure. Has any of the Westchester County legislators made inquiry as to why they
were never offered replaced? Were there so many liability claims or incidents they had to be monitored by an armed trooper? Will this new facility take into consideration accommodations for lesbian, homosexual males, and transgender practitioners? At the urgings of the County Supervisor and his assistants, the seven dwarfs times two, have already approved this project;

• Storage Bins and Office Space, 450 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley: Cost $13,600,000. At the urgings of County Supervisor and Deputy, No Brains Shorts Schwartz, has urged the “seven dwarfs times two” legislature to vote yes on the project.

The Journal News, The Westchester Guardian, Messrs. Reisman, Blassberg, Gallagher and Legislator Abinanti, have furnished numerous
articles and statistics in outright opposition to the said proposition. Facts to be reviewed:

a. Ten million dollar bond cap which requires a voter referendum;

b. To get around a referendum, the County Supervisor’s Office and County Legislature bifurcated the package as the purchase price for $5.6
Readers Respond, continued from the previous page million, and repairs for $7.5 million;

c. The sale of said property will increase Ardsley school taxes by approximately $190,000 annually;

d. The building in question was so valuable a piece of real estate it laid vacant for three to five years;

e. They anticipated a high cost to remove the plentiful amount of asbestos;

f. The building leaks heavily which resulted in leaky, moldy conditions throughout;

g. Halpern, the owner and seller, has reputed to have given some $30,000 to re-elect the County ticket, dwarfs and all;

h. Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor, told the County legislators, “We’re overpaying and this is not the time to spend the People’s money. The owner is seeking a 90 percent reduction in tax assessment. The County shouldn’t spend more than $1.2 million. It smells like a gift!”

i. The New York State Attorney General’s Office to determine whether a referendum is mandated for voters (residents) to decide $13,600,000 is required by law because amount exceeds bond cap.

If it is such a remarkable project for Westchester County residents, by all means place it before the resident taxpayers in a referendum to vote yes or no on the proposition. Should the resident voter agree with the above, so indicate your feelings to the New York State Attorney
General’s Office with a copy to The Westchester Guardian.

W. Bradshaw,
White Plains

Nobody’s Perfect

Dear Editor:

While waiting for my wife’s train to arrive from the city and enjoying the comfort of one of those handsome, sticks-to-the-floor chairs in the Pleasantville station this evening, I picked up a copy of The Guardian from the chair next to mine, and ran across the enclosed article of yours.

In it you said, “ well as lying to the police regarding her’s and Travato’s whereabouts.” Back about 1932, when I was 10, we were taught that hers was the correct spelling of the possessive. Her’s would seem to be an abbreviation, as in the Union leader’s song in the Pajama Game, which goes something like: “Her is the sweetest gal I ever seen; her is the...”

Even spell check objected when I typed in her’s above, and against just now.

Dawes Potter,
Briarcliff Manor

Editor’s Note: Mr. Potter was absolutely correct. You would think an editor who played Hinesie in a high school production of Pajama
Game would’ve known better.

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