I'm going to start blogging again. I know that sounds strange since this is, after all, my blog and I've been posting to it since last year. But for several months now, I've only been posting my weekly columns that are published in the print editions of Times/Review papers. That's not blogging.
A blog is supposed to me more spontaneous, more "real time," and more interactive than what this has been.
It certainly was all of those things last fall. But in the heat of the election season, it turned into a forum where people posting things without regard for the truth to further their own agendas. No matter what I blogged about, the comments posted were always all about the election. Some were really mean and nasty, besides being untrue. I felt like my blog got hijacked and I grew disgusted, eventually shutting it down altogether until after the election. Once that insanity was behind us, I started posting my weekly columns here. And never got back to what this type of publishing is supposed to be all about.
I want to pursue this because this type of interactive online publishing is part of the future of journalism. I'm looking toward a day in the not-too-distant future when Times/Review has a website that hosts a number of blogs by citizen journalists.
Anyway... The thing on my mind this morning is our school budget crisis. Districts on the North Fork all passed their budgets. Riverhead and a number of districts in Southampton town failed theirs. Something like 6 of the 11 budgets that failed Tuesday were within Southampton, which just completed a town-wide tax reval that has a lot of taxpayers angry. That may have factored in the defeat of Riverhead's budget -- by a mere 91 votes. We can't tell for sure because school votes are not taken by election district, so we don't know if "no" votes are concentrated in any one location.
It's disgraceful that we couldn't pass a budget calling for a 2% tax rate increase. The contingency (aka austerity) budget tax rate increase is 1.5%. The voters of our district wouldn't go for a half-percent more?! Shame on us! How are we ever going to approve a bond to build the new classroom space we so desperately need if we can't even get approval of a bare bones budget like this one?
The real issue is, we're doing this all wrong. School budgets shouldn't be funded by property taxes to the extent that they are on Long Island. We are getting screwed by the state. And that's the point I tried to make in my column this week. (See last post, below.) Fundamental change is needed. We can't rely on our state representatives to bring that kind of change about. (Obviously.) So what can we do? We can vote them out of office. But that's a real long-shot. Incumbents get reelected. They are too damned entrenched. I plan to research whether there's any other recourse, perhaps even a movement to amend the state constitution.
Anybody got any ideas?