December 2008

The Whistleblower’s Dilemma: Hero or Snitch? Answer: Ask the Victims

December 19, 2008 - 13:27

LOUISE CHU from the Associated Press writes about Mark Felt (a.k.a. Deep Throat) a former number two man at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) turned secret informant in a case that toppled President Nixon Administration in the 1970s has passed away at the age of 95. She reports about Felt:

Critics, including those who went to prison for the Watergate scandal, called him a traitor for betraying the commander in chief. Supporters hailed him as a hero for blowing the whistle on a corrupt administration trying to cover up attempts to sabotage opponents.

Felt grappled with his place in history, arguing with his children over whether to reveal his identity or to take his secret to the grave, O'Connor said. He agonized about what revealing his identity would do to his reputation. Would he be seen as a turncoat or a man of honor?

"People will debate for a long time whether I did the right thing by helping Woodward," Felt wrote in his 2006 memoir, "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, `Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington." "The bottom line is that we did get the whole truth out, and isn't that what the FBI is supposed to do?"

New York State Inspector General Says: "It's Not My Job"

December 18, 2008 - 23:26

The following e-mail was sent to New York State Inspector General asking for some advice on how to proceed on asking questions about the relationship between the City School District of New Rochelle and MacMenamin's .

11/28/2008 8:09 AM >>>
Dear Inspector General,

Does the official endorsement of a failing business via Board of
Education resolution by a Superintendent of Schools seem suspect?
Is there any way the average person could look further into this?
What should we be attempting to FOIL?

Link below provides context for the concern:

Best regards,

New Rochelle Parent/Resident

This was the response we received:

From: [email protected]
Subject: Re: New Rochelle Schools
Date: December 18, 2008 12:44:10 PM EST

The Office of the State Inspector General is in receipt of your email regarding New Rochelle schools.
Please note, the New York State Inspector General has responsibility, pursuant to New York State Executive Law, Article 4-A to investigate allegations of criminal activity, corruption, fraud, abuse, and conflicts of interest committed by State employees of agencies in which the Heads are appointed by the Governor.

No More STAR Rebate Attacks on STAR

Submitted by Bill Mullen on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 19:45

Submitted by Bill Mullen on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 14:33.
No More STAR Rebate; Upstate Attacks on STAR; STAR Deadline

The new budget 2009 proposal from Gov. David Patterson will eliminate the STAR rebate.
There are three separate components of STAR:

The Enhanced STAR (for senior citizens)
The Basic STAR exemption
The STAR rebate (soon to be gone)

Because the upstate New York residents have a low cost of living, they are not receiving large STAR payments, and have opposed STAR. However, these exemptions and rebates have done much to ease the tax burden of downstate homeowners, as our taxes are much higher.

The NYS education funding program is weighted to pay much more to districts with low property values, and lower reported incomes. Since living in much of upstate NY costs only 55% to 60% of the cost of living downstate; New York State payouts are much higher to upstate school districts. This is an inequity against downstate, since the state education formula is not adjusted for a Regional Cost Of Living Adjustment (RCOLA.)

The schools in Westchester, and the north shore of Long Island traditionally receive the smallest increases in aid from NYS.

Upstaters oppose a RCOLA, and also the STAR program; as this greatly increases the money available for their districts; and lowers their school taxes at downstate expense.

Anticipated Westchester County Real Tax Increase, One Component of Total Tax Bill

December 18, 2008 - 17:17

Homes in the City of New Rochelle; with an average  assessment of $17,616 will see an average county real tax increase of  $54 this year; based on a 1.77% 1.77 percent increase in the county property tax levy. The average estimated market value of a New Rochelle home is $719,028. In contrast, the average home in Scarsdale is valued at $1,614,526; City of White Plains at $714,646; Town of Pelham at $899,125, and Westchester's bargain basement of City of Peekskill at $346,953.)

There will also soon be a huge ($700 to $900) sewer district increase to meet Bush administration federal mandates to reduce nitrogen in the western Long Island Sound.

In addition to these taxes are the following:

* City of New Rochelle increase, just voted of  5.56% percent tax hike.

* Library Tax, and most of all,

* New Rochelle SCHOOL TAX. (We will see a major cut in funding from NYS.)

These taxes are only paid by property owners.

Is the LeCount Square Project Overreaching?

December 18, 2008 - 16:58

From Westchester Times Tribune before the City Council approved this

My mother used to say, "Don't rob Peter to pay Paul," but are the recommendations in the LeCount Square Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) doing just that? The New Roc garage will be used to supply some of the parking spaces for this LeCount Square project which will consist of mixed uses of retail, restaurants, residential, hotel and parking facilities. But the FEIS on page I-23 under the parking spaces section projects a deficit of 95 spaces in the New Roc garage during the day. The developer's solution is to reduce the number of the New Roc hotel (Marriott Residence Inn) parking spaces on the top level of the garage.

Procedure for Challenged Materials

The following procedures will be followed when a member of the City School District of New Rochelle community challenges the appropriateness of an item in the collection.

1. Complainant will be asked to complete a Request for Reconsideration of Materials form. This report will be forwarded to the appropriate Principal(s).

2. Complainant will be provided with a packet containing the District's instruction goals and objectives, the District's materials selection policy and the District's policy on the procedure for challenged materials.

3. A meeting will be scheduled at the building level soon after receipt of he request. This meeting will include the building Principal, or a designee, the school librarian and the Complainant. If the complainant concerns a textbook, it may be appropriate to include the teacher using the material in his or her classroom.

4. If the Complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the building level meeting, the Request will be forwarded to a library review committee, appointed by the Superintendent of Schools, which will include a district library media specialist, a representative of the district administrative staff, and five members of the district pedagogic staff.

5. A meeting of the library review committee will be scheduled soon after the receipt of the request.

New Rochelle Closes Book on "Girl, Interrupted" Censorship Crisis; "Time to Move On"

December 18, 2008 - 04:00

The crisis over the censorship of Susanna Kaysen's memoir "Girl, Interrupted" ended yesterday when the school board formally acknowledged the serious nature of the "lapse in judgement" which led to pages being torn from dozens of copies of the book. The books have all now been replaced with new, unexpurgated copies. At an unusually crowded school board meeting, a series of public speakers including students, teachers, parents, as well as, the president of the local teachers union, the president of the high school PTA, and a likely candidate for the upcoming school board elections all roundly condemned the decision to censor the book, expressed regret for the unfortunate incident with many declaring it was time to move on.

Superintendent Richard Organisciak read a series of three official statements from the board, his own office and the English department at New Rochelle High School. Video follows:

Citizens Be Concerned: Board of Education Meeting is no Place for Criticism of the New Rochelle School District

December 17, 2008 - 12:29

Self-regulation is to regulation, what self-interest is to interest.
Timothy Geithner (in the spirit of what he said)

Last Tuesday night, December 16th, 2008 the Board of Education for the City School District of New Rochelle summoned its army of district and building administrators. The only other time you wold see so many district employees at a Board of Education Meeting is for tenure appointments. The Board of education did an outstanding job at fending off any would-be critics. Whenever an issue arises that puts political pressure on the Board of Education, filling the room with board supporters is a common and effective tactic is crushing any dissent and sends a clear message to any who would dare to disagree. If you disagree with the Board of Education, be careful not to step into their ring.

More Frivolous Spending by New Rochelle City Officials

December 17, 2008 - 04:34

pickupsmash.jpg On the December 9th City Council Meeting, once again proves that our elected officials love to waist hard working tax payers money on useless purchases.

That evening City Council Members approved the unnecessary purchase of a $44,000 pickup truck for the Parks Department.

Question: Why in the world would anyone want to spend $44,000 on an unnecessary expenditure, such as a pickup truck during frightful economic times that we are experiencing today?

Answer: It’s easy to spend when it’s NOT THEIR MONEY!!!!

Mayor Bramson, along with all the Council members once again, did not hesitate to spend money that isn’t theirs.

If this is the kind of government the people elected and allow them to run it in this manner, then the people that elected these “idiots” deserve what they get. Unfortunately, everyone else must suffer as well.

Our elected and appointed officials are elected to watch out for its tax paying citizens. But once again, we are talking about New Rochelle. Common sense, during terrible economic times, is to cut spending, not spend more. You don’t need a degree in economics to realize this.

***** TALK OF THE SOUND EXCLUSIVE ***** New Rochelle Sex Censorship Linked to Suspension of Students in '04

December 16, 2008 - 22:27

Startling new details are beginning to emerge about events four years ago at New Rochelle High School that culminated in our exclusive story last week that pages were torn out of dozens of copies of Susanna Kaysen's memoir Girl, Interrupted.

In 2004, up to six students were reportedly suspended in an incident which was directly associated with the chapter in question, sources say. The complaint did not originate from the faculty, as the district has previously stated, but from other building staff with connections to local community-based organizations. Various constituencies within the City of New Rochelle were heard from on the issue and the decision to remove the chapter from the book appears to have been directly influenced by these same outside organizations.

If so, the decision may well constitute a violation of the First Amendment rights of students as defined by the Supreme Court in U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico.