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Now is the Time for All Good People to Come to the Aid of Our School District - April 2021Grand Island’s schools depend upon a fraction of the people in our small community to deliver and sustain the District’s important mission. Most GICSD employees are underpaid, the School Board members receive not a dime. Yet our schools (roughly 2800 students across Sidway, Huth Road, Kaegebein, Connors Middle School and GIHS) are rated top-notch, with a strong statewide report card and a 95% graduation rate. Students are top-ranked on a 4-point scale for college, career and civic readiness, a remarkable achievement truly enviable in districts across the country. It is a well-supported assertion, then, that prior to disruption by a global, lethal virus, GICSD teachers and staff, Superintendent Graham and the School Board were doing an excellent job.
Suing the GICSD now reflects very, very badly on the band of angry people, not the District. It is widely seen as kicking District employees and School Board members, who’ve already taken a beating for an entire year, just when those folks need the community to rally for the last leg of this very tough journey all have endured. Instead of a lawsuit, how about setting an example for those 2800 students of something that looks a lot more like collaborative civic leadership? You can be sure Superintendent Graham and School Board members never lost faith in GICSD teachers given their history of excellence. You can be certain teachers have been doing their level best to invent solutions for the past year, straining under an incomprehensible burden. Mutual concern for our students’ learning across the community is unequivocal. So, what, then, is this lawsuit all about?
A commitment to returning the children to their classrooms as soon as we are able is the middle ground on which we all stand. Bringing a lawsuit against people already extraordinarily stressed and doing the best they can is disingenuous and worse, unproductive. Harming the District financially clearly is also a bad idea. On its face this lawsuit is a politicization of something not a single person could have hastened or changed. Litigation distracts us from our urgent need to act collaboratively and responsibly.
Ask someone who has lost a family member to COVID-19. This is in no way a partisan issue, despite what some have written about in the Dispatch or cried from the podium. This is a global killer, something we’re unlikely to see again in our lifetimes. Consider the new and unknown variants and the infection rates spikes among college student partiers. Read the descriptions of folks dying alone in agony and review the statistics on infection rate fluctuations directly concomitant with proximity, then wonder aloud, along with most of your neighbors, why anyone would want to legally force teachers and children into a situation that could expose them unnecessarily, and with summer just around the corner! Consider, too, that District employees are not yet 100% vaccinated! This lawsuit comes just when things are finally beginning to look hopeful. Suing the District now is uncivil, unkind, unhelpful, and unfair to those who have worked extraordinarily hard. Counter-productive and costly, it will not achieve the objective we all agree upon most fervently.
To Impeach, or not to Impeach; is that really the question? - March 2021After having been subjected to his preening for the past year, New Yorkers now have to watch as Andrew Cuomo is being accused by eight, at last count, women, of loutish behavior. He has been, uncharacteristically, keeping a low profile. Given that he has the legislature contemplating (I am engaging in hyperbole) impeaching him for these acts, the AG looking into his actions with respect to the nursing home debacle, along with the Eastern District of NY US Attorney’s office and the US Dept. of Justice, this is understandable.
What should we make of all of this? We can dismiss the legislature’s actions as pure theater. They will impeach no one. This is their version of the four-corner stall. They are counting on the AG, the Dept. of Justice, or the US Attorney to get their first. This shouldn’t be too hard since Methuselah could out wait these politicians.
Without wanting to diminish his behavior towards these women, the nursing homes and homes for the disabled’ actions are the important issues. People died because of his policies. There should be real accounting and consequences for these actions. As citizens of NY, though, we shouldn’t have to wait until the end of 2022, the end of his term, to be rid of him. Any legal actions will take at least that long to get rolling through the court system. We should be able to oust him now. Unfortunately, we can’t. There isn’t the ability for citizens to mount a recall campaign similar to that occurring in California. Everything has to come from the legislature. They won’t allow it because, horrors of horrors, it could be turned on them. They might actually have to get a real job. Those of us on Grand Island are fully cognizant of the utility of the recall process. We could have canned McMurray within two years of his reign of error. Why should the citizenry be compelled to suffer through an official’s full term when it is clear that he/she lost their trust? They shouldn’t.
Given Cuomo’s problems this is the best opportunity we will have to get a citizen-initiated recall law on the books. Any politician who opposes it, by that very act, shows that they shouldn’t be in office. On Grand Island there is a grassroots group, 5Days4GI, which is standing up to the educational bureaucracy, demanding a return to full-time in-class education. Having been a lone voice in the past confronting the school board, I find this to be a most welcome initiative. We need to do this at the State level with respect to recall laws. Call/email your elected official. Get them to commit to doing it. If they won’t, tell them to update their resumes.
A Message from the Supervisor - January 2021January 6, 2021
As your Town Supervisor, I just want to tell you how saddened I am by the events that took place today in Washington, DC.
The attempted insurrection at our Capital disgusts me. The chambers of Congress are sacred, hallowed grounds. To see people attempting to stop the electoral process by storming Congress is an attempt to overthrow our government. The course of action would be through the Courts, not through violence and insurrection and cannot be tolerated.
I support the right to protest, but this action crossed the line while doing absolutely nothing but causing damage, injury, and death. Our prayers are with the family of today’s victim and we pray for peace and unity within our country.
John C. Whitney, P.E.
Will Not Run for Re-Election - January 2021Grand Island Residents,
It is with both a fair amount of sadness and resolve that I want to share with you my decision to not run for re-election to the Grand Island Town Board. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read my statement about the decision. With the election reforms that have taken place across New York State, it is essential that candidates declare their intentions many months in advance. Primaries happen earlier than ever before, which means petitions must be circulated earlier, extending the length of the campaign season to upwards of an entire year. So while this announcement may seem early, it is very much in line with the election calendar.
Serving Grand Island, though stressful and demanding at times, has been an incredible honor. However, I can assure you that I am fully committed to a strong finish in this final year of my term. I am thankful that with this decision I can solely focus during 2021 on my role as your Town Councilwoman, without the campaign element. I will remain committed to the tasks of the job through the entirety of the year, with ample time spent at the end of my term to transition the new councilperson into the position, all with a focus on you, the resident and taxpayer.
Though my decision to not run for re-election was incredibly difficult, it was made slightly easier knowing that Grand Island is well served and represented with Supervisor Whitney at the helm. It is essential for men and women with integrity, professionalism, a strong work ethic, relevant collaborative work experience, and a dedication to the community to engage in our town politics. Please continue to volunteer for our committees and advisory boards. And also, if you have the character and capacity to serve, not only will I look for your name on the ballot, you will have my full support.
With Gratitude and Continued Service,
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney