It’s school budget time, and wrath is in the air. Politicians are raging, taxpayers fuming, students protesting. The frustration is easy to understand. School budget votes in our region are a lose-lose proposition. Vote against the budget, and the ones we hurt are the children. Vote in favor, and we perpetuate the ruinous tax spiral that is devastating families and crippling our economy.
People are certain that “there must be places we can cut.” But individual local school budgets are the wrong places to look. For the most part, when you cut a district budget, you curtail some service.
It was Halloween. The year was 1953.
I was studying calculus in my apartment in the East Bronx on the high ground floor. It was above Sid’s Candy Store. Sid’s was a noisy neighborhood hangout for the unemployed and the indigent.
The streets were gripped in Halloween fever. Kids ran back and forth decorating each other with multicolored shades of chalk. I was trying to study, but the street sounds captured my weak attention span. My sister Sandy, (8 years my junior) was the most flagrant offender and her voice and screams carried above all the others. She was the loudest.
The volcanic explosion in Iceland affected me in two distinct ways. One, it reminded me of my visit to this North Atlantic Island about 10 years ago. We chose Iceland, just to say we had been there.
The drive from the airport to Reykjavik, the capital, looked like we had landed on the lunar surface. The ground was rutted and barren and there was a sense of desolation. Soon we arrived at our luxurious hotel and the 20th century was more evident. The town was modern and it looked like a small town in the Wisconsin, Minnesota area.
As someone who was a blogger before entering the world of newspapers, I am perhaps in a unique position to see the irony in many of the popular criticisms of blogging, as well as social media services such as Twitter, that emerge from the world of print. While critics of new media often bemoan the paltry research and lack of accountability to be found in the world of blogging, criticisms of blogging are often based on nebulous fears for the future of publishing as opposed to actual facts, and the critics themselves don’t think they should be held accountable for the fact that they don’t know the culture of the blogosphere very well, or even know anyone who does. Many criticize Twitter for encouraging the oversimplification of concepts through the enforced character limit, however ignoring the many possible uses of Twitter that do not have such limitations- to instead judge the phenomenon only by its weakest applications- is itself a gross oversimplification. In short, while there are undoubtedly legitimate concerns about the veracity of information to be found online in general, many media traditionalists have been presenting these concerns either dishonestly, or through a veil of genuine fear and culture shock.
• It was a definite obligation!
• How could I not see this movie?
• Every person who saw it, hated it!
• My family name was involved!
• Lorraine, my beautiful wife, refused to see it!
• You must have guessed the title by now.
• It got three stars in Newsday.
I went to see it on a beautiful sunlit day and there were only four people, besides myself, in the theater. The movie was entitled Greenberg, just one word. I sat in the movie house and I waited, and I waited for something to happen. It never happened!
When you vote on your school district budget next month, thank Albany if there’s an increase in your property tax levy. Albany gave us an MTA tax that takes valuable dollars away from students and gives it to the Transit Workers Union’s 11.5 percent pay increase over the next three years. Albany gave us defined-benefit public pension plans that cost more than defined-contribution plans [e.g., 401(k)] without benefiting education. Albany gave us expensive public construction mandates (e.g., “prevailing union wages” and the “Wicks Law”) that can double the cost of school capital improvement projects. Albany gave us these costly mandates that take tax dollars away from a child’s education. Let’s help our students this November by sending pink slips to Albany!
Editing this paper is a daunting proposition- especially when the previous editor, Denise Nash, made the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald her home-away-from-home for nothing less than a decade. As someone who’s lived in the general area for over 20 years, I certainly feel at home, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a little intimidated- after all, there’s a lot going on here. I want to make sure I don’t miss something important...oh, and did I mention that Denise did this for ten years?
The big weekend arrived. Packing the suitcases began on Thursday night. Packing was a huge question. Would there be beautiful weather or rainy, inclement weather? We can’t overpack.
On to the LIE - our final destination Le Parker Meridien Hotel on 56th Street. At 2 p.m. going west on the LIE, it was uncharacteristically easy to travel. Less than an hour later, we checked into the hotel. Our first room reeked of tobacco. It was hard to breathe; after a brief discussion with the front desk, we were awarded a room on the 28th floor overlooking Central Park.
I had just started as the editor of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald and my first assignment was to write an editorial introducing myself to the community. Now, I sit here not knowing how to say goodbye to a community that I have spent the last 10 years getting to know.
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