Saturday, January 19, 2013
Thursday, June 14, 2012
MARK C. DILLON, J.P.
THOMAS A. DICKERSON
L. PRISCILLA HALL
SANDRA L. SGROI, JJ.
(Index No. 7804/10)
City of Middletown, et al., appellants.
Richard Guertin, Corporation Counsel, Middletown, N.Y. (Alex
Smith and Robert N. Isseks of counsel), for appellants.
Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Rochester, N.Y. (Edward P.
Hourihan, Jr., and Joseph S. Nacca of
counsel), for respondent.
John A. Mancini, Albany, N.Y., for amicus curiae New York
State Conference of Mayors and
Municipal Officials and Michael E.
Kenneally, Albany, N.Y., for amicus curiae
Association of Towns of the State of
New York (one brief filed).
Jay Worona and Kimberly A. Fanniff, Latham, N.Y., for amicus
curiae New York State School Boards
Association, Inc. (one brief filed).
DECISION & ORDER
DILLON, J.P., DICKERSON, HALL and SGROI, JJ., concur.
This situation is more disturbing given Mr. Estrada's announcement that the High School administration has moved away from its security model. Why would the district move away from its priority on security in light of its problem with gangs? Dr. Eastwood appears to have ignored this fact in his development of the his reorganization plan. He previously admitted that he was aware that Mr. Gonzalezr and other house principals were looking for other positions.
The degree to which this information was taken into consideration by Dr. Eastwood in his reorganization of the High School administration can not be ascertained. One would hope that his desire to change the High School's administration did not take priority over school security.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Buried within the Middletown School District's 20012-2013 budget is a restructuring of the Middletown High School administration. Mr. Gonzalez, executive principal, and all house principal positions have been eliminated. It is common knowledge that the high school has been plagued by student discipline and behavior problems. Televised student award ceremonies, athletic events, student recognition ceremonies, and student performances have helped hide these student behavior and control problems from the public. Student behavior problems at the high school are not new, and have been exacerbated by the elimination of the SRO positions and the down sizing of our security personnel. Last year, some board of education members warned that the loss of SROs and reduced security would have an adverse effect on the ability of personnel to control the behavior of students within the building. These concerns were ignored.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Neither Dr. Eastwood nor his board have given little more than lip service to the financial problems of district taxpayers. Even the fact that approximately 450 house in Middletown are in danger of foreclosure for non payment of taxes has had any effect on them from increasing your taxes again this year. After playing the blame game, Dr. Eastwood and his supporters refuse to accept the fact that our local tax payers can no longer afford to make up for cuts in state aid. They appear to be out of touch with tax payers, and to be living in an ivory tower or dream world. For example, they appear to believe that paying over a half a million dollars more for "better bricks" or more expensive granite rather than concrete curbing constitute a prudent use of limited public funds. The fact that we are even building a new school in these hard times brings into question Dr. Eastwood's and the board's ability to understand the needs and problems of local taxpayers.
Given the fact that Dr. Eastwood has a salary with benefits between $250,000-$300,000, might make his lack of understanding of the financial problems of district tax payers more understandable. The board's attitude and support for higher taxes is more difficult to explain. As the elect representatives of the public, they should be aware of the financial problems of tax payers as well as the financial needs of the school district. While cutting teaching positions, they even saw fit this year to set aside $13,000 for Dr. Eastwood's raise. Where are their priorities ?
Sunday, January 15, 2012
4 Q. Now, is it your testimony that you had no physical contact with the student?
6 A. No, it's not my testimony.
7 Q. So to your knowledge you did have physical contact with the student; is that correct?
10 A. Correct
11 Q. Was it a female student you had contact with?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Was it in a hallway?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Did you initiate the physical contact?
17 A. Yes.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
We at Inside Middletown Schools predict that the Middletown School District will attempt to override the tax cap, and significantly raise taxes for the third year in a row. In the past two school years, in some parts of the district, the school district has raised taxes by over 20%. This may be the year in which school taxes may increase by over 30% in three years. Can you afford to pay this increase?
For the past two years, Dr. Eastwood has asked the tax payers to compensate for the State's cuts in our district's school aid, and blamed Governor Como. The district tax payers have picked up the tab for the State's reduction in school aid for the past two years in a row. At the same time, even though the school district's budget has not increased, it has never fully decreased its spending enough to adapt to its reduction in State aid. In order to prevent a yearly request of taxpayers for more money, much larger cuts in the district's budget need to be made. Dr. Eastwood should stop blaming Governor Como for the district's current financial situation, and make the necessary spending cuts to prevent this reoccurring problem. Regardless of the value of its programs, the district must keep within the ability of its taxpayers to pay more taxes. It appears that the Governor's tax cap was designed just for districts like Middletown.
As we enter the board's development of next year's school budget, this scenario is how Inside Middletown Schools predicts the district will request an override of the tax cap and a large increase in school taxes. Initially, Dr. Eastwood will present a budget within the governor's tax cap, and complain about the Governor's cut in State aid. This budget will have cuts to programs such as ROTC. Dr. Eastwood already knows that these programs are highly supported by the public. He also will claim that the progress made by the district in addressing its identified status will be jeopardized. Subsequently, his supporters on the board will do the dirty work and ask to override the tax cap and approve a higher tax levy.
What is the basis for our prediction? First of all, this scenario is exactly what has happened for the previous two years. Secondly, regardless of the fact the the district's reserves are higher than allowed by State Law, and are one the highest of any district within the State, the district has stubbornly refused to use any of these funds to decrease the tax rate. One should remember that these funds accumulate as the result of monies unused in a given year's budget; thus, may be considered over taxation. Thirdly, the resent comments by Dr. Eastwood, and many board members predicting the academic consequences for not increasing the budget, and their comments about the tax cap. They have all disregarded the fact that by overriding the tax cap they are really saying that YOU can afford to pay more taxes.
There is one addition point that the voter need to consider about the new developing budget. Namely, that the administration and many board members are counting on the fact that only those with a vested interest in overriding a tax cap and approving a large tax increase will vote. If you do not approve of higher school taxes, you must oppose and vote against any budget that attempts to override the tax cap.
Friday, November 11, 2011
In response to our earlier posting of Dr. Mauro's email to Mr. Estrada (see copy of email below), Inside Middletown Schools was contacted by a school employee and given an update about this matter. According to the employee, the district did attempt to offer a special math course to four graduated student athletes. The district only suspended these efforts after being informed that the NCAA would not accept this special course. At the same time, our posting of Dr. Mauro's email has kicked up a firestorm and an investigation by the district's labor attorneys about special treatment for athletes in summer school. To our knowledge, both district employees and board members have been questioned. Inside Middletown Schools questions the need for this investigation. One would think Dr.Eastwood should be aware of all the facts surrounding this matter. Could the true purpose of this investigation be to uncover the source(s) for these information leaks and/or to intimidate employees about releasing future information ? To date, the administration has neither commented nor clarified this matter. We await their response.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The following is a transcript of an email sent to Mr. Estrada on September 26, 2011 at 11:09. The Board of Education, Teacher Union President, Ms. Esposito, and High School Principal, Mr. Gonzalez were copied.
Subject: Summer Hiring
From this email and Ken's earlier email, I gather that there may be some dissension in the ranks. What is this all about? I did hear an unconfirmed rumor that Ken hired a teacher for summer school to teach a non remedial math course to only four athletes. This type of course offering would be contrary to past practices. I gather that these graduated students needed this course in order to accept their athletic scholarships, and the students were given credit for this course even without completing the required weeks for summer school. Special treatment? Visions of Newburgh? Please confirm or deny this rumor.
To date, no reply has been given, and none is anticipated. As a point of fact, summer school is suppose to be only for remedial work,and class size is usually about 25 students. The public has the right to have the substance of this rumor confirmed or denied, and the right to know if special treatment was arranged for some students.
Dr. Nicholas A. Mauro
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Let's illustrate how this process works. According to the district's June 30,2010 auditor report, for the 2010-2011 school year, the district had approximately 16.8 million dollars in its unreserved fund balance. Approximately 4.8 million form the reserve fund was applied to the 2010-2011 school year budget. This left about 12 million dollars in fund balance. As of March 2011, according to Sate Comptroller, this reserve fund had been replenished by 4 million dollars, and contained about 16 million dollars. This amount is sixth largest fund balance in the state.
During the same time period, using the excuse of a $400,000 shortfall in state aid, the district eliminated 26 position, and raised taxes by about 12% in some parts of the district. Clearly, the first priority of the district is the preservation of its fund balance and not employee retention nor lower taxes.
Currently, in the proposed 2011-2012 year budget, the district has proposed to apply approximately 5.0 million dollars from the reserve fund balance, cut 97 positions, and have a 7.99% tax levy increase. If the same priorities hold, we can expect a replenishment of reserve funds at the expense of both employees and taxpayers.
The administration has justified its position for maintaining a large fund balance in order to keep its high bond rating, and as a reserve for paying tax certiorari. According to their records, although they claim that the district has 25 million dollars in potential tax certiorai, they paid out only about 1.27 million dollars in the 09/10 school year, and a similar proportional amount this year to date. We must ask: If the district is so concerned about its 25 million dollars in potential tax certiorari, why did they start construction on a new 67 million dollar elementary school? The administration can not have it both ways.
In the May vote, the voter needs to decide whether or not they will support a large increase in taxes, and massive employee cuts. The district needs to do more than make a show of its use of its fund balance, and should use part of its reserves to maintain its workforce and lower taxes.
Vote No On The Proposed Budget!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
After voter approval and the application of tax equalization, the Middletown school tax rate will be increase by over 25% in two years for some areas within the district. Recently, in response to Governor Cuomo's comments that the State's financial contribution to public school will not increase significantly next year, Dr. Eastwood predicted a further large increase in school taxes for next year. These facts paint a grim picture for Middletown School District's taxpayers. Based on assessed valuation, the taxpayers within the Middleton school district already pay more proportionally in real estate taxes than people in New York City or more prosperous areas.
During Dr. Eastwood superintendency, the district has improved with the addition of many new programs and improved facilities. The question becomes - Can the tax payers within our district afford all these new programs, the added expenses of a new elementary school, and maintain the school district in its current expanded form? I must answer NO! It is like a person who owns a big expensive car when he can only afford a used car. Something must be done. Admittedly, some of the current programs are financed by grants. However, grants run out, and previously funded programs eventually are financed often by the district budget.
For two years in a row, Dr. Eastwood and the board have refused to develop a long term plan to fully deal with the problem of decreased State funding. Although cuts in spending and personnel have been made, no long term plan to scale back and retrench the district to an affordable level have been developed. Dr. Eastwood and the board majority have merely complained about the Governor's cuts, taken a band-aid approach to the budget, refused to use any of its sixth largest reserve fund in the state to lower taxes, fought to maintain the district in its current form, and asked the taxpayer to pay through the nose to maintain the status quo. This approach is unacceptable.
In the upcoming school elections, the voters will have the opportunity to stop the current madness and say no to a proposed school budget tax increase. They also should refuses to elect board members who support higher school taxes. If you do not come out now to vote to oppose paying more tax money than you can afford, when will you come out to vote. The choice is yours. Vote No!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
At the February 17 meeting of the Board of Education, Dr. Eastwood informed the public that black mold spores were not detected in Chorley elementary school. However, his announcement glossed over the fact that mold spores from many different species can induce allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Some of the symptoms of mold spore allergies are running nose, nasal congestion, and irritation to the nose, throat, or lungs. More information about mold spore allergies may be obtained from your physician or the Department of Public Health.
Historical, the persistent and periodic water leaks in this building are well known. It is the moisture from these leaks that creates the perfect environment for mold growth. Since mold spores are always found upon examination, according to the State Health Department, the existence of persistent water leaks in a building may be sufficient grounds for initiating legal action for mold spore exposure. Recently, after an employee in Chorley reported that both he and his daughter were suffering from allergies that they attributed to mold spores in Chorley, he was dismissed. Please refer to an earlier blog. We also have received unconfirmed reports that other Chorley employees may be suffering from allergies that they attribute to mold spore exposure. These individuals are afraid to come forward out of fear of administrative reprisals. We will inform the public of further developments.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
By a one vote margin of five to four, The Middletown Board of Education upheld Dr. Eastwood's recommendation to dismiss a non instructional employee who had complained of an adverse reaction to mold spores in Chorley. After complaining that both he and his daughter suffered from respiratory problems they associated with exposure to mold spores in Chorley's air, he was informed by his superior in the school administration that, " He was not a team player ", and would be dismissed.
As is typical in these situations, his dismissal was attributed to his work performance, and signed letters attesting to the quality of his work were ignored. Despite claims by the administration that there is no mold problem in Chorley, and that all water leaks in the roof have been corrected, we at Inside Midddletown Schools have been informed that Chorley's roof still periodically leaks. According to the State Health department, the existence of a leaking roof is sufficient grounds for potential litigation for mold. At this time, it is uncertain whether or not this former employee will sue on behalf of his daughter and himself for alleged exposure to mold spores and/or will sue the district over his dismissal claiming he was a "whistle blower".
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
According to Mayor DeStefano, in response to the formation of the Community Access Committee, Dr. Eastwood has indicated that the school district may end its participation in Ch 20. This position was presented to the Mayor without consulting the board. Although Mayor DeStefano has informed Dr. Eastwood that the committee will have no or little effect on the school district's current programing, Dr Eastwood has rejected all attempts by the Mayor to work together in the operation of the TV station. It would appear that Dr. Eastwood is incapable working with other individuals unless he is totally in charge, and in total control.
Unfortunately, with his unquestioning support from the board majority, the district may be pulling the plug on their use of Ch 20 in the near future. It is regrettable that the students may lose their ability to participate in Ch 20 because Dr. Eastwood is incapable of working with this new committee, and the Mayor.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
In this matter, the city is requesting funds for the improvement of the sewer line which will service the new school. The district asserts that the State Education Department prohibits this type of off site expenditure. The city contends that the Middletown school district and other school districts in the state have contributed to off site projects in the past. It needs to be pointed out that the public will pay regardless of which side wins in court. Since the district comprises more than the city of Middletown, either only the people of Middletown will pay in their city taxes, or all the people in the school district will pay in their school taxes. After deciding this issue on principle, any actual cost to the district will be determined.
In order to facilitate the building of the school, the city has already made a generous settlement offer to the district. If the school district will abide by the court's decision, the city immediately will grant a building permit. Dr. Eastwood has refused to accept this offer, has refused negotiations with the city, and has threatened not to build the new school. As in other matters, even when the needs of our students are at stake, Dr Eastwood appears to be inflexible. Rather, he has chosen to insult the Mayor and city government, and accused them of holding to district hostage. Our concern here at inside Middletown schools is the extent to which Dr. Eastwood will go in order to get his way, and whether or not the needs of our students will be be more important to him than his ego.
Currently, the construction bid have been extended until the end of January. With Dr. Eastwood's support from the majority of the board, the fear is whether or not he will abide by, or appeal the court's decision. His decision to appeal could put the building of the new school in jeopardy. By his refusal not to accept the city's settlement offer, it appears that Dr. Eastwood has already decided to appeal. There are also rumors that Dr Eastwood's fight with the city is a smoke screen for not building the school and for blaming the Mayor and the city. This rumor is based on the suspicion that the district may not have the funds necessary to build the new school. We hope these rumors are false.
Monday, November 8, 2010
At the November 4th meeting of the Board of Education, the behavior of Mr. Geiger and and Dr. Eastwood was shocking, disturbing, and indicative of a general pattern of behavior. On several occasions he prohibited Mrs. Isseks and Mr. Paul from asking questions. In the process, he both insulted and denigrated them for the nature, and appropriateness of their questions. His response to their asking of probing questions is nothing new, and has been the subject of previous blogs. Mr. Geiger, Dr.Eastwood, and the board majority react aggressively, reflexively, and with hostility to all individuals who question or challenge the image and propaganda promulgated by the district.
The public may remember when Mr. Geiger prevented the Mayor from speaking at a board meeting, and he prohibited a board member from another district form speaking. At that time, Mr. Geiger and Dr. Eastwood had this individual arrested for trespassing, and they both currently are being sued in Federal Court over this incident On several occasions, in the name of maintaining order, Mr. Geiger has prohibited Mrs. Isseks, Dr. Mauro, and Mr. Paul from asking pertinent and relevant questions. At the same time, he does not inhibit his fellow members of the board majority from interjecting statements and asking questions. In sum, all these observations brings us to only one conclusion i.e. Mr. Geiger, Dr. Eastwood, and the board majority are suppressing dissent, and unwanted probing questions.
As part of its definition of Fascism, Webster includes these statements in its definition -
... a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control...
... social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition...
Using this description of fascism, and from the information the public already has about the district, we will leave it to our readers to determine whether or not the term fascist is appropriately applied to the district.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Board President Will Geiger - If anyone has followed the history of this school board, you would know that Mr Geiger has not always been a staunch supporter of Dr. Eastwood. In fact, the two of them would have knock out, drag out fights in public, with Geiger screaming across the room with insults towards Eastwood. Now that has seemed to cease and the two are best of friends. Possible motivation: Geiger's wife recently got a cushy promotion with more money and clout.
Board Vice-President Linda Knapp - If anyone has followed the history of this school board, you would know that Linda Knapp doesn't often seem to know what she's talking about. That is...until one of her colleagues speaks first, then she follows suite. No one really knows what her true motivation is, but we know that she recently got the food court stand named after her! That should make her proud.
Edwin Estrada - First off, what a nut! If you want to know what the superintendent is thinking, just ask Estrada. Where you see one, you see the other. But on a more serious note, Mr. Estrada seriously could use psychological help. He rants, raves, shouts, yells, screams, kicks, rattles -- all in an effort to get his way. He can only get along with people who agree with him. Possible motivation: (1) Extra district attention for his children (2) Stature in the community and (3)increased name recognition for his employer, Orange County Trust Bank.
If you have any suggestions of your own and wish to submit them to "Inside Middletown Schools" please do so by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your comments past muster they will be posted to the site.
Friday, October 29, 2010
WE ARE HERE TODAY BECAUSE DR. EASTWOOD AND THE MIDDLETOWN SCHOOL BOARD FILED AN ARTICLE 78 COURT CASE AGAINST THE CITY INVOLVING THE SEWER LINE SERVING THE NEW CHORLEY SCHOOL.
THEY CHOSE THE ROUTE OF LITIGATION WHILE WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF NEGOTIATIONS. I FELT WE WERE MAKING TREMENDOUS PROGRESS WITH THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF ASSEMBLYWOMAN GUNTHER. IT WAS QUITE OBVIOUS TO ME THAT IF WE CONTINUED TO TALK TO EACH OTHER, THIS ISSUE WOULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED BY NOW.
IN FACT, THE CITY MADE SEVERAL OFFERS THROUGHOUT THE EARLY TALKS. ONE OF THOSE OFFERS WAS TO JOINTLY PURSUE STATE FUNDING. IF SUCCESSFUL, THE CITY, RECOGNIZING THE LONG TERM BENEFIT TO OUR CITY RESIDENTS, WOULD PAY THE SCHOOL’S LOCAL SHARE OF ANY STATE FUNDING. YOU CANNOT BE ANY MORE REASONABLE THEN THAT.
I BELIEVE WHAT IS REALLY AT STAKE HERE IS THE RIGHT TO ASK QUESTIONS, TO QUESTION OUR BOARD OF EDUCATION AND SUPERINTENDENT AND RECEIVE HONEST ANSWERS.
WE CAN DISAGREE WITH THE BOARD, BUT THAT DISAGREEMENT BY AN INDIVIDUAL OR A MUNICIPALITY SHOULD NOT BE MET WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT TRYING TO DESTROY THE PERSON WHO DISAGREES WITH THEM, USING SCHOOL RESOURCES, TAXPAYER FUNDS, MAILINGS ETC.
THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WHEN THE MAYOR AND SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT DISAGREE, THAT THIS DISCUSSION EVOLVES INTO NAME CALLING, FALSE, MISLEADING MAILINGS, CRIES FROM DR. EASTWOOD THAT WE ARE “HOLDING THE CHILDREN HOSTAGE” AND OTHER RHETORIC THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE ON THIS ISSUE.
AS YOU READ OUR RESPONSE PAPERS, YOU WILL FIND THAT THE DISTRICT’S SUPPORTING PAPERS ARE RIFE WITH FALSE OR MISLEADING FACTUAL ASSERTIONS AND THEIR LEGAL ARGUMENTS ARE MERITLESS, IN SOME PARTS ACTUALLY FRIVOLOUS.
AGAIN, OUR RESIDENTS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO QUESTION ACTIONS BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY OR THROUGH THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS.
WE HAVE A HISTORY IN THIS COMMUNITY OF BOARDS OF ED TELLING US THAT BUILDINGS ARE NO LONGER SUITABLE FOR SCHOOLS AFTER SPENDING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO RENOVATE THEM. FOR EXAMPLE, LIBERTY ST., ALBERT ST., ACADEMY AVENUE, ALL SCHOOL DISTRICT BUILDINGS THAT THE PUBLIC WAS TOLD NEEDED TO BE REPLACED, YET TO THIS DAY AND AFTER SPENDING MILLIONS, THEY CONTINUE TO OPERATE AS SCHOOLS.
IN THIS CASE, IN A DISTRICT THAT HAS IN EXCESS OF 40,000 RESIDENTS AND MORE THEN 15,000 VOTERS, AROUND 700 VOTED ON THE REFERENDUM. WHY? IT WAS HELD A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN 2008! THIS TOO IS WRONG.
WE NEED TRANSPARENCY AND TRUTH IN THIS PROCESS AND WE ARE NOT GETTING IT HERE FROM DR. EASTWOOD OR THE BOARD.
OUR PAPERS CLEARLY SHOW THAT DR. EASTWOOD IS NOT BEING TRUTHFUL TO THE DISTRICT AND HIS VERY OWN BOARD IN MANY AREAS.
WE SHOW EVIDENCE THAT WHILE DENYING TRUMAN MOON IS CLOSING AS AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, DR. EASTWOOD SUBMITTED DOCUMENTATION TO THE COURT AND THE STATE INDICATING IN HIS OWN WORDS THAT THE SIZE OF THE NEW SCHOOL IS NECESSARY BECAUSE THE NEW SCHOOL WILL COMBINE THE OLD CHORLEY AND THE TRUMAN MOON POPULATIONS.
ALSO, WHILE THE CITY TAKES NO POSITION ON THE DEMOLITION OF CHORLEY, WE POINT OUT THAT THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT IS NOT THE ONLY STATE AGENCY TO WHOM EASTWOOD HAS TOLD ONE THING AND THEN TOLD THE PUBLIC AND HIS BOARD JUST THE OPPOSITE. WE SUPPLY DOCUMENTATION OF CORRESPONDENCE WITH NYS OFFICE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND VIDEO RECORDINGS OF PUBLIC BOARD MEETINGS FOR THE PUBLIC AND BOARD TO COMPARE.
WE HAVE VIDEO OF DR. EASTWOOD STATING VERY LOUDLY TO THE BOARD THAT THE FIRST TIME HE HEARD ABOUT THE SEWER ISSUE IS WHEN I CAME TO THE BOARD MEETING IN APRIL OF 2010. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
WE SUPPLY A VIDEO OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S ARCHITECT STATING THAT MR. TAWIL, DPW COMMISSIONER, NOTIFIED THE DISTRICT IN OCTOBER, 2008 OF THE SEWER PROBLEM. WE PROVIDE E MAILS INTO MARCH OF 2010 ADVISING THE DISTRICT THAT THE DESIGN ENGINEER HAS YET TO MEET WITH THE CITY ENGINEER TO REVIEW PLANS.
WE DOCUMENT CLEARLY THAT IN OCTOBER OF 2008, THE CITY REQUESTED PROJECTED WATER USAGE FOR THE PROJECT. THIS WOULD BE USED TO EVALUATE SEWER REQUIRMENTS. THIS WAS NEVER PROVIDED TO THE CITY UNTIL DECEMBER OF 2009. THE DISTRICT HAS NEVER GIVEN AN EXPLANATION WHY THEY WAITED SO LONG. YET, DR. EASTWOOD CLAIMS PUBLICLY THAT THE CITY IS DELAYING THE NEW SCHOOL.
THROUGHOUT OUR LEGAL RESPONSE PAPERS, YOU WILL FIND MANY MORE EXAMPLES OF DR. EASTWOOD SAYING ONE THING TO THE STATE AND ANOTHER TO THE BOARD OR PUBLIC.
DESPITE ALL OF THIS, I CONTINUED TO REQUEST MEETINGS WITH THE DR. EASTWOOD AND THE BOARD IN HOPES OF RESOLVING THIS ISSUE. THE RESPONSE WAS CLEARLY NO!
I ATTENDED BOARD MEETINGS, ONLY TO HAVE MY MICROPHONE SHUT OFF.
WE HAD ONE VERY BRIEF MEETING WHEN WE EXCHANGED DOCUMENTS ON THE CASE. THE OTHER MEETING WAS HELD JUNE 30, IN ALBANY WITH ASSEMBLYWOMAN GUNTHER AND THE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION FACILITIES, MR. CHARLES SZUBERLA.
I FOUND THE MEETING TO BE VERY PRODUCTIVE AND HOPEFUL. THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN, ATTENDED BRIEFLY AND OFFERED HER SUPPORT TO FINDING A RESOLUTION.
WE, THE CITY AND DISTRICT, HAD AN OPPORTUNITY FOR STATE FUNDING ON THIS PROJECT. GUNTHER AND SZUBERLA REQUESTED MORE DETAILED COST ESTIMATES TO MOVE THE PROCESS ALONG IN A POSITIVE MANNER.
THAT NIGHT, THE CITY COMMON COUNCIL PASSED A UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION OFFERING TO SHARE THE COST OF THE EVALUATION WITH THE DISTRICT IN HOPES OF EXPEDITING THE STATE AID. DR. EASTWOOD AND THE DISTRICT SAID NO.
WE OFFERED TO BOND THE PROJECT FOR THEM TO AVOID DELAYS, THEY SAID NO.
WE OFFERED TO SHARE THE COST WITH THEM ON A 50 / 50 BASIS, AGAIN THE DISTRICT SAID NO.
WE MADE OTHER OFFERS OF SETTLEMENT THAT INCLUDED PAYING THE DISTRICT’S ENTIRE LOCAL SHARE OF THE PROJECT, THEY SAID NO.
RATHER THEN NEGOTIATE; THE DISTRICT WENT ON A PUBLIC RELATIONS SMEAR CAMPAIGN, USING TAXPAYER DOLLARS.
AS WE SHOW IN OUR PAPERS, THESE ACTIONS ARE MORE THEN A DISAGREEMENT AMONG ELECTED OFFICIALS.
FIRST OF ALL, THE COST PRODUCING AND MAILING THESE MUDSLINGING, MISLEADING DOCUMENTS PROBABLY EXCEEDED THE COST OF THE DISTRICT’S SHARE OF THE SEWER EVALUATION.
IT IS CLEAR THAT THE INTENT OF THE DISTRICT UTILIZING OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTATIONS IN THE TAXPAYER FUNDED MAILINGS WAS TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC.
ONE MAILED DOCUMENT CONTAINED THE NAMES OF 8 BOARD MEMBERS PRINTED ON THE BACK.
I WOULD HOPE THAT AFTER WATCHING THE VIDEO TAPE AND COMPARING THE MAILING TO THE TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED, DR. EASTWOOD AND THE BOARD WOULD CLARIFY THAT THESE COMMENTS IN THE MAILING WERE INAPPROPIATE.
WHOEVER CHOSE TO QUOTE ME OR MISLEAD OUR PUBLIC AND USE TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO SEND IT OUT IS WRONG.
WITHOUT RETRACTION BY DR. EASTWOOD, THE BOARD AS A GROUP OR INDIVDUALLY,
THEIR FAILURE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR WOULD CONSTITUTE PROTECTING A “LIAR OUT OF CONTROL.”
THAT PERSON SHOULD BE IDENTIFIED AND REPRIMANDED FOR ABUSING TAXPAYER DOLLARS.
WE HAVE PROVIDED A TRANSCRIPT AND VIDEOTAPE OF MY COMMENTS. YOU BE THE JUDGE AFTER REVIEWING THEM.
IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, THEY DID A SECOND MAILING WHICH CONTAINED SEVERAL FALSE STATEMENTS.
THEY CLAIM THE CITY DOESN’T HAVE ENGINEERING REPORTS. WE PROVIDED THE REPORTS TO THE DISTRICT LONG BEFORE THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED.
THEY CLAIM THAT CITY NEVER USED ITS SEWER CAMERAS TO INSPECT THE LINE CONDITION. NOT TRUE. WE SUPPLIED THE PICTURE OF THIS LINE TO THE COURT.
THEY COMMENT THAT THE CITY PREVIOUSLY APPROVED THIS PROJECT. NOT TRUE. THE CITY APPROVED ONLY THE SUBDIVISION IN 2009 AND REQUESTED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM THE DISTRICT.
IT IS NOT PRODUCTIVE FOR THE CITY AND SCHOOL DISTRICT TO BE ENGAGED IN THIS SUIT. AS JOHN PERRINO STATED DURING ONE OF THE BOARD DISCUSSIONS, THE CITY NEEDS A GOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE DISTRICT NEEDS A VIABLE CITY. WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER.
WE CAN DISAGREE, BUT WE SHOULD DO SO RESPECTFULLY AND HONESTLY.
OUR POSITION IS THIS IS AN ISSUE OF FAIRNESS. THE MAKE UP OF THE DISTRICT IS THE CITY IS ONLY 50% OF THE DISTRICT. BY SHIFTING THE COST OF THIS SEWER LINE TO THE CITY, 50% OF THE DISTRICT WOULD BE PAYING FOR 100% OF THE COST.
WE PROVIDED SEVERAL CASES STATEWIDE WHERE THIS TYPE OF COOPERATION BETWEEN SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND MUNICIPALITIES HAVE TAKEN PLACE. IT IS CLEARLY LEGAL AND WE DEMONSTRATE THIS TO THE COURT.
WE STILL HAVE TIME TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE WITHOUT LITIGATION. AFTER VIEWING BOTH SIDES OF THE DISAGREEMENT, I CAN ASSURE THE BOARD OF EDUCATION THAT THE CITY WOULD LIKE TO SETTLE THIS MATTER SO WE CAN JOIN HANDS AND WORK TOGETHER TO BRING ABOUT A NEW SCHOOL AT CHORLEY.
NOW WE’RE UP TO DATE ON THE ARTICLE 78 AND THE CITY RESPONSE. WE WILL BE POSTING ON OUR WEBSITE THE DISTRICT’S CLAIM AND OUR RESPONSE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW.
ANY PERSON WHO WOULD LIKE IT E MAILED TO THEM, PLEASE SUBMIT A REQUEST TO MAYORDESTEFANO@YAHOO.COM. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO REVIEW A HARD COPY OF THE PAPERS AND WATCH THE VIDEO, YOU CAN DO SO IN MY OFFICE DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I am sure you viewed the end of last nigh'ts board meeting, and saw both Mr. Geiger and Dr. Eastwood prohibited my ability to ask about the changes in the student to teacher ratio in the high school. This figure is a good indicator of school crowding. Rather than answer my question, Mr. Geiger tried to silence me and give Dr Eastwood the last word on the topic. Even in his obfuscating reply to my question, Dr. Eastwood never gave the changes in the teacher to student ratio in the high school for the past few years. Instead, Mr. Geiger, Mr. Estrada and Dr. Eastwood tried to characterize me in the eyes of the public as merely a disruptive board member. These attempts at silencing freedom of speech are neither nothing new, nor confined only to me. I remember when they would not allow you to speak about the PLA issue at a board meeting, and you are aware of their federal lawsuit with Mr. Hoefer. By silencing us, Mr. Geiger and Dr. Eastwood are denying the the public their right to know, and are taking away our freedom of speech.
I like many people in the area are well aware of the propaganda campaign of misinformation Dr. Eastwood has waged against you and the city government over the sewer issue. From my own dealings with Dr. Eastwood, I neither believe nor trust him. With his majority of lackeys on the board, it is unlikely that the board will deviate from his position on the current sewer issue. Although I am well aware of how Dr. Eastwood and other board members have damaged my public reputation, for what it is worth, I would like to offer you my confidence and support as mayor.
Please have my comments circulated within the city government.
Dr. Nicholas A. Mauro
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It has been suggested that the district currently may not have enough money to build the new school in its planned form, and that Dr Eastwood may be trying to scapegoat and blame to Mayor for the district's inability to build the new school.
Let's also remember that Dr. Eastwood stated in September that the new school would not be built unless we break ground this month. Why the deadline? Why is he so quick to give up? We will investigate this rumor. Stay tuned.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Recently, we turned on Ch 20 and saw and heard the enlarged image of Dr. Eastwood presenting a monologue to the public and school district. We also are aware that this message had been broadcast into all the school rooms of the district. Dr Eastwood's image immediately invoked memories of the movie based on Orwell's novel "l984". How similar Dr. Eastwood's image was to that of Orwell's character "Big Brother". For those of you who do not remember the movie or book, "1984" is about the the operation of a totalitarian state in which all must conform and follow the dictates of "Big Brother".
The suppression of freedom of speech at meetings, the mindless approval of the board majority to Dr. Eastwood's dictates, and the dictatorial management of the district by Dr. Eastwood are all topics which have have been raised in past blogs, in the media, and at board meetings. There is no reason here for further elaboration. However, when these factors prevent the starting of construction on our new elementary school, something further must be said.
The public has never been given a legal analysis of why the settlement offer of the city is illegal. No money is changing hands, and the the final outcome will be predicated on the courts decision. Where is the illegality? Rather , it appears that the district's decision is based more on Dr. Eastwood saving face, and his inability to compromise. As usual, it is Dr. Eastwood's way or the highway. Let's not forget, it was Dr. Eastwood who pushed the board into the Article 78, and if the district loses in court, it will be his responsibility.
It is up to the public now to demand that Dr. Eastwood present for examination all the legal reasons why the district can not accept the Mayor's settlement offer. The mere statement that he is acting on the advise of district's attorney is not enough. This building belongs to the district and is more important than the ego of any one man.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In recent remarks, Dr. Eastwood has spoken out against those who say that Truman Moon will be closing. He called the attacks unwarranted and unfounded. Then he called on the "attackers" to produce the documents supporting their accusations. Dr. Eastwood will soon learn that when you call on "Inside Middletown Schools" to produce evidence, that's exactly what you'll get.
In documents exclusively obtained by "Inside Middletown Schools," we are prepared to show you papers that were submitted to the state education department, which clarified in great detail, the reasoning for why the new elementary school needed to be built.
It states, "The new elementary school will be approximately 170,000 square feet and will hold approximately 1,200 students and appropriate faculty. The school will combine the population at the Truman Moon and Chorley Elementary Schools".
There's nothing ambiguous about that, folks!
Now if Dr. Eastwood is claiming that Truman Moon will not be closing, is he also willing to state that Truman Moon will remain an elementary school?
Once again, at the Sept 2nd board of education meeting, Dr Eastwood attempted to portray himself as the defender of the district's children, and the protector of the district from potential legal action. This self serving characterization of himself is ridiculous and a gross exaggeration of the situation. Currently, this issue is before the courts in an article 78, and they will decided the legal aspects of this dispute. Dr. Eastwood's meeting comments appear to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to bolster and defend his image in the eyes of the public. Let's look at the facts.
The cost for the improved sewer will be less than 2% of the total cost of the building, and will come from the same source. Namely, the local taxpayers. The cost will come from either Middletown's city taxes or district school taxes. This point has already been made by the press, and at September 2nd board meeting. If the district loses the case, the legal question of whether or not the district may pay for the sewer improvements will be answered. The district can be pay its fair share for these improvements, and the school can be built. Conversely, if the city loses , the cost can be paid from city taxes. There is no requirement that this issue be appealed by either side. Regardless, local taxpayer will pay for these improvements.
In Dr. Eastwood's resent tirades, the only thing he appears to be defending is his past evaluation of the sewer situation, and his past comments and behavior towards the Mayor. For him to use the construction of this new school as a pawn in this depute, is inappropriate.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I was outraged at Dr. Eastwood's unwarranted and vicious attacks upon the Mayor and myself during the September 2nd meeting of the Board of Education. After the Record's editorial, one would have thought that he would have tempered his remarks. Although he seemed to be able to control his temper earlier in the evening, his final remarks were an unwarranted angry attack upon the Mayor and myself. It appears to me that Ken has a problem with anyone who offers a difference of opinion, or introduces issues not on his personal agenda. Lets not forget, after the initiation of the article 78, it was Dr. Eastwood who started the verbal battle with the Mayor. He accused him of being opposed to the needs of our children. I would like to thank Ken for associating me with the Mayor rather than with himself. Unlike him, we are both life long residents of the city, and our families go back for generations in this area. Since Ken is a very new resident in Middletown, I find it perplexing and presumptuous that he would assume a greater commitment to the needs of our children than us. Moreover, unlike him, we both have been elected to represent the citizens of Middletown.
In Dr Eastwood's tirades, two issues need to be clarified. First, his accusation that I stated a rumor about mold in Chorley. My first email on the subject was a request for an examination of the building. I had heard conflicting comments, and wanted the issue investigated. A copy of this email was also sent to the mayor. Upon this request, I was immediately attack by Dr. Eastwood, and even threatened with legal action. Rather than dealing immediately with this issue, he only had an examination done for mold after the State Health Department was notified about the water leak problem, and information about this problem was placed on the blog. Questions about the potential for future water leaks in this building remain.
Another issue that needs to clarified is concerning the topic of the IEP diploma. I first brought this issue up as part of my discussion of a routine IEP motion; I was prohibited from discussing this issue, and ruled out of order. My response was to vote no on the motion. I will not vote yes on any motion which I am unable to discuss. It would not be correct for me to approve a motion without the necessary information or input. This information was only provided at the next meeting.
Overall I find Dr. Eastwood's behavior disturbing. He often verbally attacks board members at meetings, but hides behind his contract when board members do likewise. First of all, as an employee of the board, he is not in a position to verbally attack any board member, and he often forgets that he is not our boss. He has even gone so far as to use the district web site to attack board members. I am sure that he would not tolerate this behavior from any of his subordinates. I wish he would act accordingly.
Dr. Nicholas A. Mauro