Roosevelt schools transcend media's outdated stereotype
I take exception to the opinion expressed by Paul Vitello "State should save
Roslyn" [News, June 3]. Today's Roosevelt Union Free School District has
nothing in common with Roslyn School District with respect to fiscal
mismanagement and malfaescence.
It seems to me that anything deleterious about public schools in Nassau
County is associated with Roosevelt's school district by Newsday's writers and
columnists no matter how tenuous. While I cannot defend what our predecessors
did, some of the current team of administrators have demonstrated exemplary
leadership skills worthy of mentioning, but in a different forum.
Now Roosevelt UFSD is highly regulated. In addition to our annual external
audit by R.S. Abrams & Co., stringent monitoring and oversight is exercised by
the State Education Department and the Office of the State Comptroller. While
the concept of "auditing the auditor" is being discussed in most districts in
Nassau County, as a result of Roslyn's debacle, Roosevelt UFSD has implemented
that for the past three years.
The Roosevelt district that Vitello referred to is not known to me and I
have been in Roosevelt since July 5, 2000. This administration has cured 104
audit exceptions, maintained a reasonable fund balance, provided adequate
textbooks and supplies to students, and repaired and retrofitted a decaying
infrastructure to ensure that teaching and learning take place.
In the face of extraordinary challenges, I contend that Roosevelt UFSD is
better managed than some affluent districts in Nassau County. Therefore, we
reject the poster boy image created and marketed by Newsday to unsuspecting
readers based on information that is trivial, superficial and inane.
Editor's note: The writer is Roosevelt Union Free School District's assistant
superintendent for business & finance.
A death worth remembering
Apropos Paul Vitello's "Trying to see through fog" [News, June 10], it is
clear that no president in recent memory has tried harder to exploit the dead
for political purposes than George W. Bush. Bush has reached a ghoulish new low
when it comes to trampling on the graves of others to achieve his political
ends - from using the horror of 9/11 to wage an unnecessary war in Iraq (and to
add drama to his campaign commercials) to draping himself in the flag on D-Day
in the hope of deflecting attention from the grim costs of the Iraq war, to
attempting to compare himself favorably to the now-deceased President Ronald
Reagan on his campaign Web site.
The only dead Bush cannot exploit - and indeed chooses to forget - are the
American men and women and the thousands of Iraqis who have died because of his
tragically misguided intervention in Iraq.
Television coverage is saturated by ceremonies in honor of the passing of
former President Ronald Reagan. I watched as his flag-draped casket arrived in
Washington. I watched as his casket was drawn through the streets and
eventually carried up the steps of the Capitol - all in plain view.
This display is considered an honor. Yet the current administration has
banned the images of military and other U.S. personnel returning from the
Middle East in flag-draped caskets because, I read, it would be "disrespectful"
to the families of the deceased. These men and women gave the ultimate
sacrifice to carry out the orders they were given, but somehow the remarkably
similar image of a flag-draped casket is looked at differently by our
Why isn't the casket of every fallen soldier driven past the front of the
Capitol? Did these men and women give us any less than any former or current
commander in chief?
With the passing of Ronald Reagan, it is only fitting that the memory of
this great man be extolled in a dignified manner. Perhaps the Washington
Monument should be renamed the Savings and Loan Scandal Monument. Would it not
be fitting to name our current $6-trillion deficit the Ronald Reagan Memorial
Deficit? This great man mortgaged our future on the altar of trickle-down
economics. His legacy cannot be overestimated.
Distortion is entertaining in cartoons but not in political debate. Bruce
Tinsley's "Mallard Fillmore" cartoon ["If D-Day Were Today," Part II, June 6]
distorts not only human features but facts, when it compares the Iraq war to
World War II. Saddam Hussein may be as immoral as Hitler but Iraq did not have
the strongest army in the world, as did Germany in the late 1930s.
It's true that sentimental and pacifist Americans opposed the earlier war
as many do the present one. But the main opposition to our going to war with
Hitler came from his isolationist admirers on the right. Today, however, many
patriotic Americans of varied politics question our invasion of Iraq because of
dubious allegations about weapons of mass destruction and links with
Get back in the gas line
All this talk abut the dangers of dependence on foreign oil brings back
memories: memories of long lines of irate drivers waiting for an hour or more
to fill up with gasoline - of politicians vowing to make sure that it would
never happen again, of finger pointing, of editorials clamoring for change.
And here we are some 30 years later and still in the same rut. Change will
only come when every car buyer decides to stop purchasing gas-guzzling SUVs,
and start purchasing the best fuel-efficient vehichles on the market. I hope 30
years from now drivers won't be experiencing deja vu.
In response to "Kerry record inconsistent" [Letters, June 4]: Every day
there are examples of violations of civil liberties brought on by the so-called
"Patriot Act." Illegal searches have become commonplace. Holding people
without charge for months (or even years) is accepted procedure. There are
American citizens who are being held without the right to see an attorney,
without the right to know the evidence against them, without the basic rights
that we all expect in a free democracy.
Many politicians voted for the Patriot Act during a time of fear, right
after 9/11. But a safeguard was put in the bill. It was explicitly made
temporary. We must now move on from this climate of fear. If we do not, then
the terrorists have won.
Understand LIPA's plans
Newsday's editorial "The Kessel Plan" [Opinion, May 30], describing the Long
Island Power Authority's Energy Plan, correctly describes the major proposals
that LIPA recently announced to provide approximately 1,000 new megawatts of
Unfortunately, Newsday omitted several key points. For instance, the Neptune
Cable Project, which will link Long Island to the energy-rich states of New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, has been virtually permitted
already and thus will not likely face the kind of stringent opposition that the
Cross Sound Cable faced from some Connecticut politicians. In my view, it
would be a big mistake to ignore the need to continue to open up Long Island to
outside sources of electricity through
additional links to the nation's electric grid because a small group of
Connecticut politicians are playing parochial political games.
The main reason that we chose the Caithness Project was that, combined with the
Neptune Cable, it could provide savings of $1.2 billion over 20 years to Long
Island ratepayers. Since Newsday correctly wants to focus on costs, it is hard
to understand how you could omit these dramatic savings from the editorial.
Fortunately, these projects will be built and owned by private developers
without any construction or development risks to the ratepayers.
Richard M. Kessel
Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the Long Island Power Authority.
While the Suffolk County executive was trying to save as much open land as
possible, Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta sold land in Plainview to Charles
Wang, without opening the bid to others, and without trying to keep this
precious property as park land.
Wang proposes to build shops, apartments, houses, offices and a hotel ["The
Wang touch," News, June 1]. If we wanted to live in Forest Hills, we wouldn't
have moved to Long Island. Now Wang proposes to build Forest Hills right here
but call it "old Plainview." Old Plainview was potato fields until about 50
years ago. Too bad our progeny will think that every square foot of land here
was always commercial.
If Wang were dedicated to improving the quality of life for Long Island, the
property would have been reserved for open space. This is a manifestation of
avarice overtaking altruism.