Anti-Semitism Becomes Issue in New Rochelle School Board Race

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Anti-Semitism Becomes Issue in New Rochelle School Board Race

May 13, 2016 - 16:36
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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Last night, police were on hand at Temple Israel in New Rochelle during a forum to discuss the proposed Library Budget and the proposed School Bond and Budget.

The police presence was requested by Temple Israel officials due to a spate of vile anti-Semitic comments posted on the school district's Facebook page by Evan Malfetano, a New Rochelle High School graduate and the son of Vincent Malfetano, a perennial candidate for school board who is on the ballot again this year. There was a subsequent exchange on the Facebook group "New Rochelle Moms" in which an account under the name of Supreme Malfetano, Vince Malfetano's current wife was used to defend both Evan and Vince. Some members of the group believe that Vince Malfetano was using an account in his wife's name to troll the group.

For years, Malfetano has attended school board meetings to complain bitterly about out-of-district busing of children who do not attend New Rochelle public schools.  Over the past several months, however, Malfetano has become increasingly hostile and accusatory, making reference to Jewish board members being part of a group that uses taxpayer money to help "friends" or "cronies". Similar but more explicitly anti-Semitic rants were posted to Facebook by his son Evan.

Evan Malfetano wrote:

"New Rochelle educaiton system is a currpt (sic) system. The currption (sic) is uniquitious across the board. A small percentage of people, mostly Jewish, control the votes in New Rochelle. They had $235 million dollars last year. Why are our schools falling apart? Because wealthy Jewish people that control our school system spend our tax money to bus their kids out of new rochelle to private schools upstate. It is an oligarchy.

"A small percent of people in the education department contro the schools. They don't care about anyone but they're friends. They are an oligarchy. I believe in the community controlling the schools. Not rich Jewish people that don't care about kids. They had 235 million dollars last year and they want to say are schools are falling apart. Why? Do your job and they won't fall apart. Where did that money go? Do your research and your homework.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: No one has done more to expose the corruption in the City School DIstrict of New Rochelle than Robert Cox, the author of this article. The cost of out-of-district busing represents a tiny fraction of the overall cost of running the district and is done openly, in the budget, not secretly as part of some corruption. It's worth noting that the main actors in school district corruption have been named Quinn, Gallagher, Zonzini, Rosetti, Bonanno, among others. Readers can draw their own conclusion from these facts.]

By way of context, a little history is in order. The out-of-district busing issue first came up in 2010, when then-Superintendent Richard Organisciak proposed eliminating district-funded out-of-district busing for all but elementary school students. The board voted unanimously to support the change, including long-time board member David Lacher. The following year, in 2011, Organisciak came for the rest - proposing the elimination of all out-of-district busing. Robert Cox, the author of this article, played a critical role in exposing and opposing Organisciak's efforts to eliminate out-of-district busing from the very beginning in 2010, reaching out to members of the Orthodox Jewish community and Catholic community who would be the most impacted by the change. Leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community met with Organiscisk in 2010 and told Cox they believed they had assurances that there would be no further cuts. Cox warned that Organisciak could not be trusted. When Organisciak reneged on his prior commitment the following year, leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community asked Cox to run for school board and supported his campaign. At the time of an early school board candidate forum hosted by the East End Civic Association at Holy Name Church, Robert Cox and Rachel Relkin were the only two candidates to explicitly support out-of-district busing. Naomi Brickel opposed out-of-district busing. Brickel later reversed her earlier position after large crowds of residents supporting out-of-district busing began turning out for school board meetings. In the current school board race, James O'Toole is the only candidate to expressly articulate a pro-busing position as part of his campaign. O'Toole has proposed eliminating the divisive issue entirely by expanding busing to include all elementary school students who attend public schools in New Rochelle. Under O'Toole's proposed Universal Busing Program, the district would eliminate arbitrary mileage restrictions within the district so that any youngster, pre-K through 5 would be eligible for busing with the added benefits of less cars on the road around school hours, lowering traffic especially around schools and reducing carbon emissions, while lessening the stress on already busy parents. That is the context for this article.

In a letter circulated among leaders of the Jewish community yesterday, Rabbi Scott Weiner of Temple Israel related how "over the last few days, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head here in our City of New Rochelle" pertaining to the upcoming school election. Weiner recently made a rare appearance before the school board to advocate on behalf of the proposed school bond, as reported exclusively by Talk of the Sound (we have extended an offer to publish those remarks).

"There have been both veiled and outright anti-Semitic comments made," said Weiner.

"In our weekly address to the congregation last week, I shared with our congregation that at the last BOE meeting, after I left (I attended to speak in favor of the bond) comments were made about me directly as a rabbi, and about “those people” who lacked morals about the budget. This was a veiled reference to the budgetary item of District for those who attend religious schools out of district – Jews who go to day schools and yeshivas...He has often made reference to the Jewish members of the BOE, as I have been told, and one BOE member who is a Temple Israel member, has complained to me about him in the past about how he accuses her incessantly about “her people” and how she is beholden to them.  This person is currently a candidate for election to the BOE."

Rabbi Weiner is referring to Vincent Malfetano.

"Today, on the City School District of NR Facebook page, a spate of anti-Jewish comments were made, mostly by the son of this “candidate” thought the district had them removed," Weiner continued.

He noted that he had received copies of the comments (see above), since deleted and noted that on the "Moms of New Rochelle", there were a series of comments in which Mayor Noam Bramson "is called out in particular for being the head of a corrupt big-money oligarchy."

Weiner said the comments "drip with accusation of a Jewish cabal who control NR politics."

As a result, Temple Israel, which hosted a presentation by school and library officials requested police be on hand to provide security at what was a public event.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The sort of hateful, divisive rhetoric described by Rabbi Weiner has no place in our community let alone on a school board. We will not tolerate it on Talk of the Sound. While we have always believed that Vince Malfetano has a First Amendment right to express himself as he sees fit and, and that he has on occasion made some valid points about problems with the school district, he has more recently moved into a realm of hate speech that we cannot and will not countenance. Having shown what we now believe are his true colors, we want nothing to do with Malfetano or anyone who wishes to act as his apologist. Accordingly, as Talk of the Sound is a privately-owned media outlet and not a public venue, our media platform will be closed to Malfetano, his family and those who advocate on his behalf. In our view, Malfetano should be shunned.