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Hempstead schools’ dysfunction, Vol. 2
One of the four appeals involving the Hempstead school district awaiting action by New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has been resolved.
Elia dismissed an application from trustee David Gates and five others seeking the removal of board members Maribel Toure and Gwendolyn Jackson as well as Melissa Figueroa, who lost her seat in May’s election and departed on June 30. Elia said she had no jurisdiction over state open meetings law, which Gates’ petition claimed the trio violated in April, and that a meeting that allegedly violated a temporary restraining order was never held. Elia concluded, “I cannot find that a proper basis for removal has been proven . . .”
This is part of the deep feud that has long plagued Hempstead. Toure, Jackson and Figueroa voted on June 30 to remove Gates’ ally, LaMont Johnson, from the board for disclosing what they said was confidential information — the names and address of district employees. Johnson allegedly gave them to the successful trustee campaign of ally Randy Stith. And they named a replacement, Mary Crosson.
The vote to remove Johnson is the subject of one of the remaining appeals. Underlying all of this is an ongoing effort to undo the recent hiring of Shimon Waronker as superintendent on, yes, a 3-2 vote, an appointment Gates and Johnson vociferously opposed.
One appeal down, three to go, and endless dysfunction ahead for Hempstead.
Machu Picchu, the Great Wall, Fire Island
Irving Like has been here before, staring up at a huge challenge, putting his head down and going to work.
His latest dream? Persuading UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to name the Fire Island National Seashore as a World Heritage Site.
There are 1,073 such sites, including the Statue of Liberty, national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Wall in China. Like, a Babylon attorney with a long history of environmental activism, acknowledges that the task seems monumental.
But this is a guy who was a key player in stopping master builder Robert Moses’ proposal for a road through Fire Island, which led to the creation of the national seashore, and in shutting down the Shoreham nuclear plant.
“It could take years, it could never happen,” Like told The Point. “There’s some feeling among others that it’s too daunting a project. But if it goes viral, it could happen much more quickly.”
Like, 92, says Fire Island already meets six of the 10 criteria for protection as a World Heritage Site, any one of which is sufficient for the designation. He is following a familiar game plan — building bipartisan grass-roots support. And he and some colleagues met with Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who helped Pope Francis write his famous environmental encyclical “Laudato Si,” and is the pope’s point man on climate change. “There is the possibility,” Like said, “of Vatican outreach in favor of designation.”
The application process is complex and takes 18 months. Competition among nominees is fierce. But Like likes to quote anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous axiom about the ability of “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” to change the world.
“I’m looking at this as someone who’s going to be 93 in November,” Like said. “I’m not going to live to see this happen. The millennials are going to make this happen.”
On the bookshelf
The new magazine American Affairs has been called an attempt to “intellectualize” President Donald Trump, explaining some of the ideological currents underpinning his political success. The third issue of the quarterly was on the verge of release this month when white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia.
That created problems for founding editor Julius Krein, who calls the moment “a clear tipping point.” He tells The Point he found Trump’s remarks on the event “not only incompetent but disgusting.” It led him to write a New York Times op-ed headlined “I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It.”
The magazine’s origin came during the 2016 presidential campaign as a blog defending Trump from those on the right who attacked him as not conservative. That’s why he was winning, Krein said of the period.
Krein, who studied political philosophy at Harvard University and went on to work in finance, says he wanted to show the electoral potential of a candidate who abandoned the “neoliberal consensus” on issues like trade and foreign interventionism. Then Trump won, but his administration has been marred by internal chaos and a special counsel’s investigation, even as comments like those after Charlottesville have cost him high-powered support.
So add Krein to the list, along with disgruntled business leaders like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who after Charlottesville questioned Trump’s “moral authority.” Meanwhile, the magazine’s “vision hasn’t changed at all,” Krein says. Its fall issue argues in various pieces that capitalism has hurt some people and needs more entrepreneurship; also that there has been a “decline” of the left, and other subjects (if not styles) that might speak to Trump supporters.
But it will do so while distancing itself from Trump.
Be back Tuesday
The Point is taking a long weekend and will be back in your inboxes Tuesday afternoon. Have a great Labor Day weekend.