Official Newspaper the miss-Leader
In a continuing effort to maintain income from legal notices, the Freeport
Leader, the official Newspaper of the Village Fathers, continues to act
more like the old Russian Pravda than the dispenser of real news. Not
disguising their real audience, the Village and School Board Fathers, the
Leader distorts, misleads, deletes, fabricates and just plain lies about
many of the things that really are important to the residents of Freeport.
Many times, press releases substitute as news from competent reporters of this local paper.
The latest addition to their reporting
staff, twenty two year old Jason Gers, appears to be another, "I’ll
do what I’m told" Leader reporter. In discussing his qualifications
for the job, Gers told FNYN, "I was a philosophy major in college and
I have no experience in journalism. This is my first job."
Gers boss, Leader editor Paul Laursen,
said about Gers connections, "He used to skateboard at Baldwin High
School and went to a pediatrician in Baldwin.
Former long time Leader reporter, Laura
Shoafer, was forced to resign when her conscience wouldn’t allow her to
work for the Leader. The Leader’s long time Village Hall reporter, Jim Golding, a professional journalist, tries not to tow the company line, but
his resignation to his bosses is written all over his face.
Freeport is a community of sixty five
thousand people with a population more than many small cities. Its
residents deserve better from the "official" paper.
September 7, 2001
race for the democratic nomination for Nassau County Executive,
the September 11th choice for democrats is a tough one. The
"Two Toms" are both highly qualified and have
distinguished public careers. Tom DiNappoli knows the halls of
Albany well and is best suited to continue to serve the residents
of Nassau there. A walk down Glen Cove’s Main Street is a living
picture of the accomplishment of Tom Suozzi’s hands on style and
is what Nassau needs, now. FNYN endorses Tom Suozzi.
July 11, 2001
"You can fool some of
the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but
you can’t fool all of the people all of the time." [P.T. Barnum]
On Monday afternoon, July 2, 2001, I
called Newsday and asked to speak to Indrani Sen, the reporter who,
subsequent to an e-mail from FreeportNYNews, originally broke the story in
Newsday regarding the Village Board’s decision to
demolish Freeport’s free neighborhood swimming pools. I wanted to advise
her that a preliminary count of signatures on the petitions, circulating throughout the neighborhoods to save
Freeport’s swimming pools, was
at least five hundred and that the expected turnout at that evening's
village hall meeting was expected to be overwhelming. Newsday’s operator
told me that Sen was off and that their Freeport beat reporter, Sid
Cassese, "is on vacation."
It appeared that Long Island’s only
major newspaper was committed to this story, as it was receiving coverage
by News 12, the NY Times, and eventually Channel 4’s News for New York
and Channel 7’s Eye Witness news.
By all standards, the story was a good
story. A conservative republican village mayor and board of trustees
secretly deciding to demolish the community’s free public swimming
pools. A mayor, who up until the very end, would only speak to the press
by press release and a board of trustees, who wouldn’t speak to anybody.
The story was a good tale, with a good
narrative. It was compelling. It was a breaking news event. It was a real
story, being driven by everyday people, who had, had enough and weren’t
going to take this insensitive, high handed governmental action, sitting
At 07:30 p.m., July 2, 2001, Newsday’s
Sid Cassese wasn’t in Freeport’s village hall. Nobody saw him there.
None of Freeport’s three county legislators, who appeared in support of
the people, saw him. Bernie Smith, who gave Cassese a phone interview the
following day, didn’t see him. George Coward, who was also interviewed
by phone, didn’t see him, either. Indeed, if Cassese was there, he would
have heard a gracious Mr. Coward say, "This is only the second
meeting I have been to in thirty five years."
Cassese’s claim that "about 100
residents" were at the meeting was ridiculous. If he was at the
meeting, he would have known that there were almost two hundred people
there, and for a time there was standing room only. Is this news by press
release from Cassese’s friends in Village Hall?
If Cassese had followed the story, he
would have known that County Legis. Patrick Williams had met earlier in
the week with Glacken and then with the community, not the other way
around, as Cassese had reported.
Newsday’s Cassese reported, "The
Mayor said he reconsidered the issue following Monday night’s meeting.
After consulting with the four trustees, he made another executive
If Cassese was at Monday night’s
meeting, he would have heard the Mayor approve the expenditures of over
$2,000,000 on parking lots and road construction and then defend his
position to demolish the pools, to the end. He would have known that at
11:30 p.m., the Mayor and Trustees vanished into an executive session,
without one word about the evening’s events, only to reappear at one in
the morning, still without a word.
If Cassese was on the ball, it would have
only taken a little digging to discover that by Tuesday morning, the Mayor
had discovered that the community was not going to take the demolition of
their pools sitting down. Indeed, demonstrations were being planned in
Martin Luther King Park and some of Freeport’s mothers had vowed not to
allow the wrecker’s ball to destroy what they knew they could never get
back. Sometime before the Mayor’s press release On July 3d, Channel 4
knew, and so did the Mayor. How could Newsday not know? What really caused
Freeport’s Mayor to suddenly have a change of heart? And when did
Newsday decide to cover Monday night's meeting -- after they received Glacken’s
press release that he had caved to the will of the people?
Surely, Cassese should have been there
sometime, notebook in hand. How could he make the story real, if he wasn’t
there? Is being MIA typical of Newsday’s reporting? I would think not.
Is it acceptable in all communities, or does Freeport have special
qualities that makes it acceptable here? How can Newsday claim to report
honestly on a story, when they don’t send a reporter?
With Newsday being the only daily
"Long Island" newspaper, they have a special responsibility to
the communities they serve. If they want to be the brand name people
trust, then they have to be here. They have to do smart, well-reported
stories and assume that the readers are smart, because they are. When
people say about being quoted by a reporter, "I don’t know why he said that. I didn’t tell him
that," there is a problem.
Freeport’s residents deserve more that
news by press release. Let’s not have any more shadow journalism.
Remember, "The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth
estate of the realm." [Macaulay: Hallam’s Constitutional
History (1828)] Without an honest press, with journalism at its core,
we run the risk of loosing everything.
Endorses Sunday Coward For School Board
May 14, 2000
This year the district residents are given a real choice between the two
candidates. Joyce Lisi, the incumbent, has served for the past three
years. She claims the district has improved under her leadership. Sunday
Coward, the challenger, rightly disputes Lisi's claim, pointing out that
the district has fallen into the group performing at the bottom of
districts in Nassau County. Lisi claims to be fiscally responsible, yet
she supports the Board's thirty-five million dollar bond plan. Coward does
not support the district's Bond and has been critical of the removal of
health and safety issues from their plan. Lisi was supportive of the
recently defeated bond. She was silent when the Board removed many health
and safety issues from the revised bond, failing to explain why they were
necessary in the first place and now can be delayed. Coward had the
courage to contribute her expertise to a better plan that addresses the
space requirements of the district, includes the implementation of full
day kindergarten, includes all health and safety related items, now, and
saves the highly taxed district residents millions of dollars.
It is a fact that the Freeport School
District has seen a massive defection of both experienced teachers and
administrators, as well as the newly arrived. Lisi supports the Board's
position that the massive defections are a mirage, while Coward has been
critical of this for some time. The turmoil at Freeport High School, since
the hiring of principal Northover, is well known throughout the district.
Lisi has been in full support of freewheeling Northover, while Coward has
been justly critical of her.
The district Administration and the Board
are constantly violating the Freedom of Information Laws and Open Meeting
Laws. Lisi has been part of the system and has never been critical of
these violations. Coward has said that she will not tolerate violations of
these laws by the district or the Board and will report back to the People
when they are violated.
FNYN has been troubled by both Lisi's and
Sunday's silence on many issues at the Board's action meetings. Lisi's
silence is understandable, as the Board has collectively agreed on their
secret agendas well before the meeting dates. Coward's silence is
troubling. While she is to be commended for her newsletter, the
Sundaytimes, and her web site, both of which have been highly critical of
the Board and the Administration, she did not share most of these
justifiable criticisms openly and publicly with the Board. While Coward
has been particularly critical of the failures of Dr. Tony Ciaglia, the
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, on the night the Board opened the
floor for the discussion of the granting of tenure to Ciaglia, she was
unexplainably silent. Coward, an experienced educator, with many good
ideas, has also failed to challenge the Board with the failed policies of
Superintendent Moffett. FNYN does not understand Coward's reticence to
confront openly those she wishes to join and hopes that if elected that
reticence will disappear.
It is clearly time for a change. Lisi has
not tried to distance herself from the failed policies of the
Renken/Grover controlled Board. Instead, she has unfailingly supported
them. Coward is a fresh face with a different approach. In her private
newsletters and her web site, she has been justifiably critical of the
Renken/Grover Board and the district's top administrators. With the hope
that these criticisms will carry over into open discussions at Board
meetings, FNYN urges you to cast your vote for Sunday Coward.
May 14, 2000
Since 1995 the Freeport school district has spent three hundred and sixty
three million dollars. While the Board of Education and the Superintendent
claim that money has been well spent, for the most part, it hasn't. The
Board claims that they are fighting the influx of out-of-district
students. The record is clear, while the district makes these claims, they
haven't prosecuted one out of district student for theft of services for
at least the past three years. After spending hundreds of millions of
dollars, Freeport students are in the bottom of the barrel compared to
those in other districts in Nassau County. It is well and good for the
board to say that our students compare favorably to those students in
similar schools, but those schools are Roosevelt and Hempstead.
A few years ago, I met with Superintendent
Moffett and complained that our students must do better than those in the
similar schools if they were to have a bright future. Her response,
"Our students do good enough" is clearly, not good at all.
The 1.8 million dollars that the Board
included in the budget for the addition of eight classrooms at the high
school are needed and necessary. In fact, many more than eight classrooms
are needed. If the Board was responsible, they would have gone to the
public with a separate bond proposal for the necessary additional
classroom requirements at the high school. Instead they threatened the
public with high taxes, split sessions and trailer parks for the students
if they didn't get their way. When Board President Grover said at a recent
planning session, "It's not to put a gun to anybody's head ..."
and then threatened the district with punitive measures if they didn't go
along with their plan, that should have been a wake up call to the
residents that they would not stand for the tyranny of this board anymore.
After the recent budget hearing one resident observed, "This isn't
the Board of Education, this is the Mafia."
If the budget fails, it reverts back to
that of the previous year. NYS law now provides that transportation and
sports are not cut. Until the time that the Board acts responsibly and
begins treating the residents like the adult taxpayers that they are,
taxpayers in a high need low wealth district, FNYN recommends a "NO"
vote on the budget.
Is A Foolish Plan Brought to You
By People You Can’t Trust.
March 15 is Election Day
LI Newsday Has The Facts & Refuses To Cover Story
It Is A Foolish Plan Brought to You
By People You Can’t Trust.
They saw nothing wrong with paying
for speeding tickets with your money. Now they want you to trust them with
Why Can’t You Vote Before You Go To Work?
The Board decided to open the polls at 12 PM. In every election, in
just about every community in the world, the people’s right to vote
before they go to work is honored and respected, except here, by the
Freeport Board of Education. If Superintendent Moffett, who lives in
Riverdale, were to live in Freeport and work in Riverdale, she wouldn’t
be able to vote before she left for work. It’s one thing for the Board
to try and encourage their supporters to vote for this ill-conceived Bond,
its another to make thinking people jump through hoops in order to vote. If
the Board was coming to the people on a record of strength and
accomplishment, with a sound and sure footed plan, surely they would have
made sure everybody could get to the polls to cast their vote.
The School Board Claims To Be Responsible, But They Are Not. Can You
Trust Them With Your Money?
After the Board decided that the Superintendent didn’t have to
relocate from Riverdale to Nassau County, they decided to give her $600
a month of your money for a car that could be leased for $129 a month.
Then, as the reading and math scores plummeted, the Board decided to give
Superintendent Moffett merit pay increases of your money amounting to a
minimum of $11,500 per year.
On their way to Albany for a conference, members of the staff were
nabbed by the police for speeding. The Asst. Supt. of Business,
Kishore Kuncham, the mastermind of the Bond Issue, saw nothing wrong with
using district funds, your money, to pay for the speeding tickets.
The two room extension at the Archer Street School was budgeted in prior
years at a cost of approximately $550,000. Now, Mr. Kuncham and the Board
propose to add an elevator and another two rooms on top of the existing
new construction for $1,451,000. At the recent bond open house, neither
Mr. Kuncham nor Board member Ellerbe could explain the reason two extra
rooms cost three times the original two, nor could they produce any plans.
It’s the little things that count. According to Mr. Kuncham, he is
hoping that 50% of the Bond is aidable. Those portions that are not will
cost us two dollars for every one we borrow. Why would any responsible
person take twenty years to pay for side walk repairs, sealing and lining
parking lots and the refurbishing of selected toilets? This is everyday
maintenance and just the tip of the iceberg. We need to be bonding
classroom space for the children of this district, not refurbishing toilet
seats with borrowed money.
The Board Wants Us Agree To Go In Debt For 40,000,000 Dollars. Why Won’t
They Make The Second Floor Of The Administration Building Handicapped
After over two years of planning and secret meetings with the Village
fathers, the Board has come up with a bad plan that doesn’t
intelligently address the needs of the Freeport School District.
• We need more classrooms, more teachers and a sensible plan
that is affordable and meets the needs of the district. Not this plan!
• We need to know why we are bonding millions for maintenance
and why the district hasn’t been maintained!
• With the new standards, we need to eliminate the only 5 &
6 grade school in the state and make all our grade schools 1 to 6,
adding classrooms where appropriate. This is cheaper that building new
schools and all classroom space is aidable at 72%!
• We need to look into a 9th grade learning center, which will
eliminate the need for an addition at the high school. A population
approaching three thousand at the high school is just too big!
• We need to stop the exodus of qualified teachers and
administrators from this district! We need to know why they are leaving
and why, when the Asst. Supt. of Business, Mr. Kuncham, had the chance
to move his children to this school district, he chose Merrick Bellmore
FreeportNYNews (FNYN) urges you to vote no.
% Handicapped Accessibility, Now
Dec 25, 1999
It is an outrage that the
school district is planning to float a 40 million dollar bond issue and at
the same time not see that all the district's buildings are 100 per cent
handicapped accessible. No one that FreeportNYNews has spoken to is
against making all the buildings in the district 100% handicapped
accessible, now, except the misdirected Board of Education and the
Superintendent of Schools. If the Board can sneak in 600 dollar a month
car payments for the Superintendent to lighten her commuting burden, and
can condone the Assistant Superintendent of Business's installation of an
automatic flusher in the toilet, because he can't remember to flush, then
they can make sure this district is 100% handicapped accessible. To not do
that will clearly show that they are burdened with a handicap that cannot
be cured by installing an elevator between floors in the District's
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