Organisicak Comes Clean on Fast ForWord Program; Shows Quinn Lied to Journal News

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org-liar.jpgIn April, Ernie Garcia ran a story in the Journal News in which he found that the New Rochelle School Board was spending six times more money than the Yonkers School Board.

Garcia reported:

Members of New Rochelle's Board of Education racked up $28,312.24 in expenses in the period from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008, compared with Yonkers' Board of Education expenses of $4,804.71.

When asked to explain why the New Rochelle school board spends so much more than other districts, New Rochelle Assistant Superintendent John Quinn told Garcia the expenses were "predominantly related to travel and conference attendance" which Quinn claimed were "critical to school districts because board members receive training and bring back useful ideas".

Here is the money quote:

"It's very important to have an informed board and a cohesive board," Quinn said. "They've brought back substantive ideas, such as the fast-forward method of training students who have learning disabilities."

This is flat-out lie.

Getting Results: School Board Orders Organisciak to Publish Board Resolutions Online Prior to Board Meetings

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It only took a year, but after repeatedly raising the issue, most recently at the July 27 school board meeting, the New Rochelle school district will finally begin to publish school board resolutions on the school district web site prior to school board meetings, sources say. The publishing of board resolutions to the web is expected to begin in September.

This a major victory for Talk of the Sound and the people of New Rochelle who can now decide beforehand whether or not they wish to attend a school board meeting based on what resolutions will be voted upon at that board meeting. Still missing is any plan to allow the public to comment on board resolutions before they are voted upon rather than after as has been the case for many years.

Still, this news is a welcome change and one we celebrate. Having been critical of the school board for not publishing the resolutions it is only fair we now commend them for taking this long overdue step.

New Rochelle's Forgotten Trollies

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lost_trolley.jpg Today I was running in Neptune Park as I have done many many times and noticed something that I have never seen before - trolley tracks. A quick Internet search revealed an NY Times article from July 1912 describing the network of waterfront trolleys that closely followed the coast. The New Rochelle waterfront has some of the most underutilized park spaces in Westchester but it must have been quite a scene when trolleys were bringing the party.

Your Humble Editor with the Former Vice President of the United States

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I spoke at a conference at Middle Tennessee State University last year but only received this photo from the conference today due to some mixup. Yes, that is Al Gore in the middle. The fellow to his left is Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia and to this left is John Seigenthaler, the host of the event and founding editor of USA TODAY. To his left is Cass Sunstein, a law professor from my alma mater, University of Chicago. Sunstein is a good friend of President Obama and was named as one of his so-called "czars" as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Also pictured is Jonathon Landman of the New York Times, Karen Brown Dunlop, President of the Poynter Institute and Beverly Keel who runs the Siegenthaler Chair of Excellence at MTSU.

This really has nothing to do with New Rochelle except that I am from New Rochelle but it strikes me as useful, from time to time, to remind some of the various powers-that-be here in the Queen City that I did not just fall off a banana boat one day and start a blog about New Rochelle. For those who have comforted themselves with the notion that the Talk of the Sound would just dry up and blow away -- think again.

New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound Surpasses 100,000 in First Year

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It was a little less than a year ago that I spent a couple of days on my back porch setting up the web site that would become Talk of the Sound. At the time I made a conscious effort not to advertise or market the site. The plan was to simply write blog posts and encourage others to do the same in the hope that over time the site would grow organically.

Having surpassed 100,000 readers in our first year, I would say that we've exceeded expectations. Or as the BoE might put it, we've made "Adequate Yearly Progress", every contributor is "highly qualified", every blog post has been "exceptional" and the entire site a testimony to our "celebration of diversity".

To gain some awareness for the site, I employed the old P.T. Barnum adage, "if you want to draw a crowd, pick a fight". The worked pretty well with the school district and city officials providing useful foils.

Fender Bender on Huguenot Street and Centre Avenue

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As I was driving around town this morning at about 9:48 AM, right in front of my eyes, what I thought was two cars trying to beat the light. The result was not pretty.

One driver immediately exited her vehicle to assess the situation. Shortly after I got my bagel at Sammy's, I drove by later. The police had arrived and both drivers seemed OK.

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BREAKING NEWS: City Hall Employee Arrested by DEA; New Rochelle Computer Systems Compromised by Latin Kings Street Gang

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City employees have been advised to change their passwords following the arrest of an employee in the Information Technology department at City Hall by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The employee is allegedly a member of the notorious Latin Kings street gang, known to operate in New Rochelle.

Sources tell Talk of the Sound, the employee had administrative-level access to computers in City Hall, the New Rochelle Police Department and other City agencies. This would have, in turn, given the employee access to information on confidential informants, pending anti-Gang and anti-drg initiatives, on-going undercover and surveillance operations and much more.

The Latin Kings are considered the largest and most organized Hispanic street gang in the United States. Originally formed in Chicago in the 1940's. The Latin Kings expanded into the New York area in the 1980's.

UPDATE: the guy arrested is Jason Martinez. He allegedly tried to sell ecstasy to an undercover cop working for the D.A. According to the Journal News, Martinez was arrested two weeks ago.

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