Strong East Ramapo
25 Days Left: Powerful Speeches Wednesday + Door-Knocking Saturday
The election countdown continues with 25 days left! Can you feel the momentum? Group door-knocking continues this Saturday morning (10:30 a.m.) and this Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m.). Join us in the back parking lot of the Hillcrest Fire House (across from Bravo, on N. Main and Eckerson) for supplies and instructions.
Below you’ll see a report from the NAACP’s Oscar Cohen about the Wednesday forum with Monitor Szuberla, which underscores the importance of our ongoing work. This week’s board meeting included a review of the budget — which I will write about in an upcoming message to you all — but also speeches from folks like Mimi Calhoun, who asked why a Pomona parent, volunteering 2-3 hours a day, three days a week, is the only reason why the school has any type of librarian, and implored the district to hire enough substitute teachers such that specialists for English language learners would not be pulled from their duties to cover for absences. Steve White and Naftuli Moster also spoke powerfully about the need for the district to ensure the secular education of Hasidic boys, who only receive religious instruction past the age of 13.
You also don’t want to miss listening to our candidate, Chevon Dos Reis, relating the unacceptable situation facing her daughter; when students in the high school do not have a teacher or substitute, they check in with a security guard and sit in the cafeteria. She also spoke about the proposed multi-million dollar contract with the Brega Transportation company, with which the county stopped working after its owner was indicted under federal bribery charges. “I would not take lightly if something were to happen to one of my children while under your care,” she concluded.
We MUST get Chevon and her running mates on this school board.
More than fifty community members attended a forum with State Monitor Chuck Szuberla and District Clerk Cathy Russell Wednesday evening (4/19/17) prior to the ER board meeting.
The board’s approval for five year $27 million transportation contract to Brega Transport subject to May’s budget approval bewildered attendees. Why would the board approve a company whose owner has been indicted over allegations of fraud against BOCES and where, as a result, County Executive Day severed ties with the Brega Transport? Community members were agitated over how a principal of a company could be indicted for fraud in January and the company awarded a multi-million dollar contract in March to transport children. Mr. Szuberla indicated he would look into the matter. He was asked that the decision be retracted until further governmental and board scrutiny and investigation take place. [Candidate Chevon Dos Reis raised this same question to the board hours later.]
Asked about the status of the ER bus depot property, Mr. Szuberla was unclear whether it is or may be put up for lease or sale. He was reminded that East Ramapo’s history shows leased property has always been put up for sale. Community members asked that a moratorium be placed on lease or sale of all district property. Mr. Szuberla asked whether they would prefer doing nothing with the bus depot property at this time, they said, yes.
Allegations of election fraud occurring during past ER elections and fears over the forthcoming May elections were discussed. Dennis Walcott’s concerns over community suspicions of election fraud were cited. Members of the audience cited repeated incident regularly occurring at polls involving voter fraud.
Mr. Szuberla indicated independent inspectors appointed by the commissioner would once again be present. It appears the inspectors appointed last year may not have been prepped regarding specific issues raised by Walcott. Mr. Szuberla agreed to set up a meeting between the independent inspectors and 2-3 community members knowledgeable with past irregularities. Oscar and Steve will follow up.
We recommended that prominent signs, in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Yiddish, be posted at all polls noting lawful and unlawful voting procedures making clear the implications and consequences of voter fraud.
Community members need to be educated regarding election procedures understanding it is their right and obligation: “If you see something, say something” and to know to whom to report improprieties. A “real time” communication system was recommended for individuals to report voting problems.
Audience members raised the concern that notice of or background on non-public school candidates for board seats is made public giving off their stealth appearances at board meetings should they be elected. This pattern does little to help heal the wounds that Greenberg and Walcott indicate drive the community apart. Mr. Szuberla was informed of the May 4 NAACP Candidates’ Night at the Kurtz Center to which all candidates are invited. He indicated he would attempt to promote their participation. Mr. Szuberla and Ms. Russell were asked to clarify criteria re: how the district verified eligibility of candidates. Follow up is needed.