March 2009

Should Dr. Yigal Joseph Remain as Principal of New Rochelle's Columbus School?

March 16, 2009 - 23:45

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Joseph issued a public statement on his personal web site stating that the Journal News article inaccurately reported on his testimony in the case and that concerns expressed by Talk of the Sound were unfounded. Readers may also wish to read: Farewell, Dr. Joseph -- New Rochelle Says Goodbye to a Principal Who Made a Difference in Many Lives

There is apparently some notion out there within the school district that because Dr. Yigal Joseph testified as a prosecution witness in last week's federal corruption trial that this somehow an indication that he did not do anything wrong. As far as we know, Dr. Joseph continues to be employed by the District and is responsible for hundreds of students and staff - and large sums of money. I would ask that readers review this post and weigh in on whether that makes any sense to them in light of the documents below.

Something Fishy at MacMenamin's Grill - and it isn't the Brook Trout

March 16, 2009 - 21:51

62AC4387-68D9-42AE-A464-168C8080CB02.jpgLast November we began raising questions about the rather odd relationship between the City School District of New Rochelle and one of our favorite restaurants, MacMenamin's Grill:

New Rochelle Superintendent Richard Organisciak Urges School Board, District Employees to "Support" Bankrupt Restaurant. Back then we wrote:

It was not clear what exactly Superintendent Organisciak was proposing the board do about MacMenamin's Grill or why it is a matter of public concern that MacMenamin's Grill stay in business. The proposal did, however, generate something rarely seen at board meetings - actual discussion of an agenda item. In fact, board members spent more time discussing the proposed MacMenamin's Grill "resolution of support" then was spent discussing the previous agenda item - the budgetary impact of the financial crisis and the proposed cuts in New York State funding to the City School District of New Rochelle.

Three New Rochelle High School Students Arrested near New Rochelle Public Library - UPDATED

March 16, 2009 - 21:14

This story was updated several times from the original as more information became available.

March 11, 2009: We are just getting word of an incident at the New Rochelle Public Library involving a group of high school students from several schools in the New Rochelle area. Three students from New Rochelle High School were arrested. Initial reports indicated that the incident may have involved up to 16 students.

UPDATE: I just got off the telephone with Tom Geoffino, the Director of the New Rochelle Public Library and got some details.

As Sunshine Week Dawns, Clouds Gather over New Rochelle

March 16, 2009 - 21:00

B632B7C6-073A-4946-B5B5-B2E822C33B9E.jpgThis week is Sunshine Week!

Sunshine Week, March 15-21, 2009, is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

A recent survey by the organizers of Sunshine Feed ranked New York State fourth best.

Governor Paterson signed an amendment to the New York State Freedom of Information Law last summer which gave New York one of the best FOIL laws in the United States.

School budget

March 16, 2009 - 14:38

Several thoughts on your budget comments:

Full day kindergarten:

The school district will have to double the # of teachers. Now there are AM and PM classes. Also, we hear that the schools are bursting. How will that small amt. of construction costs add all the needed space for full time K.

Did you know that when a grant is obtained for a program, the grant funding has a limited life, say 1 or 2 years. When the grant runs out, does the program go away? No, it becomes a permanent part of the budget, which we now have to fund forever. And it also becomes part of the contingency budget. Why when the dollars run out is the program not cut? And why does it become part of the contingency budget? When I asked the superintendent about this, he said that the grants are "seed money". What's the point of bragging about all the grants the district gets when it's only a way to build in future expenditures that we cannot vote on.

My Birthday Lunch at Rangoli

March 14, 2009 - 20:48

image1298902703.jpgI normally go to Cormondel for Indian food but today decided to give Rangoli a try. I love Indian food and am happy to report that New Rochelle has two first rate Indian restaurants downtown. We parked a half block away so getting here was no problem. The lunch buffet is well stocked with lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, vegetable curry, aloosag, a spicy tomato soup. Cool. As i was writing this they brought a sizzling plate of chicken tandoori.

Service was excellent.

Our waiter Joe tells me that the lunch buffets is weekends only -- during the week they have a lunch menu and, of course, in the evenings they have a full menu. The lunch buffet is a prix fixe of $12.95. Kids age 5 - 9 are half-price which means parents looking for an upscale dining experience can get a great lunch for about 2 bucks more than a McDonald's Happy Meal. Given the quality of the food, that makes Ragnoli's weekend lunch buffet a hidden gem for budget conscious parents.

Referendum of School Leadership is Not Equal to Disdain for Public Schools and Teachers

March 14, 2009 - 14:04

Hema Easley from the Journal News Reported on March 11, 2009: Clarkstown voters reject $187M bond.

The first sentence of the article states:

Clarkstown voters overwhelmingly rejected the $187 million school bond to repair the district's aging facilities over fears that it would raise taxes too much in a time of economic stress.

What is interesting to note is that at the time of this post was written, there were 94 comments posted in response to the Journal News article on the failure of the bond.

Although the voter turnout against the 187 million bond was more than double of the one in favor, the superintendent's response was:

"Not by a minute are we discouraged by this outcome, Superintendent Margaret Keller-Cogan told the assembled school officials and supporters. "We still have our responsibility to our students. We'll quickly come up with a plan B," she said.

This vote was considered to have an unusually high turnout to begin with. It was obvious that people felt pretty strong about the bond and had their voices heard via the vote.

Tim Geithner's House in Larchmont (Get in the Loop)

March 13, 2009 - 23:01

Tim Geithner's House (and more) - this is a shout out to our friends over at The Loop which is a terrific hyper-local news/community site that covers Larchmont, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle. They did a very smart piece on the recently listed home of Obama Administration's embattled Treasury Secretary.

The story has been widely covered both locally and nationally. The story is a great example of what hyper-local blogging is all about. There are stories all around us just waiting for a smart, insightful local resident to come along and write them up.

Congratulations to Polly and her team at The Loop!

And for our readers, let their experience serve as a model going forward.


Another "Isolated Incident" at Isaac Young; Burglary, Criminal Mischief, Vandalism

March 13, 2009 - 13:44

CBDA7041-3397-426B-89C5-C03021F0A952.jpgNew Rochelle Police were back over at Isaac E. Young Middle School recently, this time to investigate a burglary. As this is an ongoing investigation, police have asked that we not release details of the crime or crime scenes beyond saying that there was an unauthorized entry for purposes of criminal mischief including marking school property with graffiti. Police described the case as having a "high solvability" factor.

Sounds like someone or some people would be wise to consider turning themselves into police. Everyone knows its better to have come forward, come clean and cooperated with police when you are standing in front of a judge.

New Rochelle's Mayor Moonlight #1 Individual Recipient of Lowey Largess

March 13, 2009 - 11:04

We previously reported on Mayor Noam Bramson's six figure sideline, working as a political consultant for Nita Lowey, but we were curious just how much $90,000 is for a sitting U.S. Congresswoman to dole out to a single individual? For some context, we took a look at all of the expenditures by Rep. Nita Lowey during the more recent election cycle to see how payments to Bramson compared to other campaign expenditures.

Mayor "Moonlight" Bramson