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Editorials
1999 - 2001

by Stewart S. Lilker
The Official Newspaper the miss-Leader December 29, 2001

FNYN Endorses Suozzi September 7, 2001

Newsday Reporter MIA July 11, 2001

FNYN Endorses Sunday Coward For School Board May 14, 2000

Budget 2000/2001 May 14, 2000

It Is A Foolish Plan Brought to You By People You Can’t Trust.
March 14, 2000

100 % Handicapped Accessibility, Now Dec 25, 1999

 

The Official Newspaper the miss-Leader
December 29, 2001
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.

FNYN Endorses Suozzi
September 7, 2001
In the 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.

Newsday Reporter MIA
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 down.

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 decision."

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.

 

FNYN 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.

 

Budget 2000/2001
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.

 

It Is A Foolish Plan Brought to You By People You Can’t Trust.
March 14, 2000


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 40,000,000 dollars.

Vote NO  

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 Accessible?

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 instead!

FreeportNYNews (FNYN) urges you to vote no.

100 % 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 administration building.
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