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LETTERS: Public deficits, young high-achievers

Public deficits are piling up everywhere

First it was New York State politicians who balanced their budget by passing legislation to allow the state to borrow from the state pension fund to fund the state pension fund. Now Peter Schmitt, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, has his own equally egregious backup plan to balance Nassau County's budget ["$60M Nassau budget shore-up," News, Oct. 22].

His plan? To take an upfront payment of $30 million in exchange for selling 30 years of rental income from the Mitchel Field leases. Excuse me, but isn't this just another fancy form of borrowing? Just one more example of passing structural deficit problems down to our kids (assuming they don't leave Long Island, that is).

Furthermore, I'll bet that some someone is going to make a very healthy return on the transaction and it won't be Nassau County taxpayers. When is anyone going to step up to the plate and deal head on with public deficits instead of kicking the can down the road?

Ray Xerri


Bright students need the challenges

I read the letter "Grasping for Prizes" [Oct. 27], and I have to totally disagree.

One of this country's real problems over the last few years has been attracting the best and the brightest to the fields of science and engineering, given the enormous financial rewards offered by Wall Street and the legal profession. The Siemens competition is only the tip of the iceberg of activities offered to gifted and talented students by Long Island school districts. Participation in the yearly science and math Olympics, as well as other activities such as mock trial and forensic competitions, are, in my opinion, invaluable offerings to our students.

Not the least of the benefits of these programs is that they provide challenges and stimulation to students who are acing their high school course work. Boredom has sidetracked many a gifted student who then lost focus and failed to live up to his or her potential.

Like Mr. Rand, I was an engineer. I had the good fortune to both work with and manage some brilliant men and women. I always joked that my relationship with these gifted people was like that of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the movie "Amadeus." I couldn't do what they could do, but I could sure appreciate it. I knew that their unique talents provided much of the company's competitive edge.

I urge Long Island schools to keep up the good work, including encouraging their Mozarts to participate in activities like the Siemens competition. There are plenty of people who can price out a stock or bond offering, but finding a cure for cancer is another matter entirely.

Alexander J. Kelly