Thursday, August 25, 2005

So much to think about

Welcome. Thank you for coming to check out my blog.

My goal is to develop this blog into a provocative discussion of things going on in and around Riverhead Town. Like The News-Review, this blog is dedicated to Riverhead. If it doesn't have a "local hook," it doesn't belong.

This is different from anything I've ever done, and while I'm looking forward to watching this blog evolve, it's not without some trepidation. Will I have anything worth blogging about on a regular basis? Will it be interesting enough for people to come back to? Will it engage readers enough to spark discussion, both here and elsewhere? I'm hoping the answer to these questions is "yes."

To achieve these things, there have to be some ground rules for comments. No foul language. No nasty name calling and carping back and forth between readers. And no advertisements for businesses or politicians. I reserve the right to delete comments that violate these rules.

And away we go.

There are so many things going on, it's hard to decide what to begin with.

There's the wide-as-the-Grand-Canyon split in the local Republican party, something that's been festering for years on the Town Board, going back to the days of "the boys against the girls" Kozakiewicz administration. Now, one of the Republican councilwomen is off the ticket and the other one is being frozen out, with the local party blatantly supporting one of the candidates in the three-way council primary race.

There's the alliance of our former deputy supervisor and a sand-mine/solid waste guy with a very interesting past and her brazen appearances with him, as his business associate, at Town Hall concerning a matter — the EPCAL rail spur — she was involved in as deputy supervisor. This seems to flout the town's recently adopted ethics code and nobody in Town Hall seems to be showing any interest in doing anything about it. The supervisor even seems to be interested in defending his former deputy's behavior. Why?

Then there's the Wilpon deal, a deal this administration has been pushing since the beginning. Does it make sense for EPCAL? For Riverhead? Will the administration push this through before Election Day? RIverhead has had bad experience with deals inked in the shadow of a looming local election — the Burman deal in 1999, the Suffolk Theatre deal in 2003. Ed's thrown down the gauntlet this week, telling voters that a vote for Phil is like a vote for housing at EPCAL, while a vote for him is like a vote for jobs and tax base there. He challenged Phil to postpone any decision on Wilpon until after the election — to, in essence, make the election a referendum on the Wilpon deal. A very interesting move on Ed's part.

EPCAL, oh EPCAL. That could be a blog unto itself. Maybe it should be.

Then, as if town politics weren't enough to give us all a headache, there's the wonderful world of school politics. The school stuff is actually more intriguing. I'm still sort of dumbstruck that the school board gave our new superintendent a four-year contract extension and a hefty raise in pay before the first year of his original two-year contract was up. What is THAT about? And they also rewarded our $700-a-day interim assistant superintendent with a $50-a-day increase. (I heard they were matching an offer he got from another district.) And gave 4% pay hikes to two other assistant superintendents already making six-figure salaries.

Since these increases weren't part of any public budget discussion as far as we can tell, where'd all this extra dough — tens of thousands of dollars — come from? Ours was a "bare bones" budget, we were told before the budget vote in May. Sounds like there was significant funds squirreled away for post-budget-vote maneuvers, and that's disturbing. Especially when the school board plans to ask the taxpayers to approve borrowing tens of millions — probably well over $100 million — for a major capital expansion project in the coming year. What they've pulled with these administrators' salary increases doesn't build trust among the tax-paying, voting public, that's for sure.

So much to think about, so little time.


Jan McKenna said...

Hi Denise - You inspired me, as I had never heard of this either and do so like to keep up with what the teens are doing. My blogspot is janmckenna. Jan

galegal said...

Thanks Denise and good luck on this new adventure. Inspiration abounds especially during 'silly season' so you should have no shortage of topics.
With regard to the school budget, I wonder where these folks get the money AND the audacity to raise top school administrators' pay after threatening the taxpayers with drastic consequences for the children if the budget didn't pass.
I find this excess shameful and disgusting! Enough is way more than enough. Perhaps it is time to start looking at ways to combine school districts and trim the fat at the top.