Brentwood schools are a community

As a retired high school English teacher from the Brentwood schools, I read with joy the wonderful article about this multicultural district that I was privileged to work in [“ ‘We are a family,’ ” News, June 26].

It was a look at the hardworking students, as well as the teachers and administrators who labor tirelessly to help young people climb the ladder to a future of good outcomes.

An organization of Brentwood’s retired teachers is also involved, raising money and awarding scholarships to deserving seniors. Students and staff, present and former, are truly a family.

We all weep when tragedy hits the community. We try to help in different ways. We all need to read about the good things that happen in this beleaguered community.

Christin M. Veech, Commack

Reluctance to raise tax levy hurts Suffolk

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Many taxpayers don’t realize that the recent bond rating reductions for general fund borrowings by Suffolk County are a direct result of our elected officials’ unwillingness to raise the property tax levy [“Suffolk’s bond rating drops,” News, June 15].

Officials have used “one-shot” sales of county property, for example, and other budget gimmicks to offset normal, incremental increases in costs. According to the proposed executive budget for 2017, the cost of the general fund to the average property taxpayer is just under $90.

The cost of the downgrades in the county’s bond rating far exceeds the costs that would have occurred had our elected officials raised the tax levy to the necessary level. The reasons for not dealing with the budget in a rational way may be directly attributed to elected officials’ fear of the electorate’s response to anyone raising property taxes.

Suffolk needs elected officials with a vision for the future and the courage to support programs and resources that appear unpopular but are needed to accomplish those visions. The unwillingness to deal with the fiscal situation over the last eight years will cost the taxpayer more!

Edward Boughal Sayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired chief executive of Suffolk Federal Credit Union and worked for Suffolk County as a budget officer for 32 years.

New York lags in transgender rights

While thousands of lesbians and gays partied and celebrated at pride events around Long Island, the transgender community mourned another year without basic civil rights in New York State [“City glows with pride,” News, June 26].

In 19 states and the District of Columbia, there are explicit anti-discrimination laws to protect transgender and gender nonconforming citizens. Unfortunately, New York State is not one of them.

The bill that would explicitly protect our community is known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, better known as GENDA. It would protect the transgender community from discrimination in housing, employment and public services.

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GENDA has passed the New York State Assembly 10 years in a row, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has expressed his support for the bill. However, as the 2017 legislative session ended, the Republican-controlled New York State Senate refused to bring GENDA to the floor for a vote. Year after year, the Senate refuses to vote on a civil rights bill that would protect some of New York’s most vulnerable citizens.

Juli Grey-Owens, Huntington Station

Editor’s note: The writer is the executive director of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition.

The holiday is Independence Day

Mike Vogel’s op-ed “The Fourth is profoundly worth celebrating” [Opinion, July 1] was full of good points. But “the Fourth” is only the date.

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Almost nobody mentions the name of the holiday, and I would not be surprised if many Americans are unfamiliar with the name Independence Day.

It’s an important holiday, and we should call it by name, not just by date!

Alleyne Toppin, Kew Gardens