The Pocketbook Argument for Protecting our Local Immigrants
A friend who owns a retail store serving the building trade told me that his business was down 75% on Immigrant Action Day, the day our local immigrants stayed home from work.
This may not surprise you. Economists have shown that undocumented immigrants pay $1.1 billion annually in state and local taxes in New York State alone. But we don’t need to rely on an economist to tell us this.
Consider the impact on suppliers like Riverhead Lumber, Speonk Lumber, Watermill Lumber and all the local tool and hardware outlets. When the framers, roofers, painters and sheet rock crews slow down and stop, who do we expect to take up the slack?
And what of the supermarkets and outlets like K Mart where we can see that a third of the shoppers are Latino? Documented or not these Latino families will not choose to remain in a hostile homeland.
Those of us who descend from earlier waves of immigrants will find ourselves in the midst of a local recession. By the time we realize it, we will be too late.
A Political Moment
I have to disagree with Ms. Elizabeth Jacob regarding her last week letter “Let Them be Kids” (Sag Harbor Express, March 9, 2017).
When you read every month in our community that a high school student has taken his or her life due to an overdose, bullying, sex discrimination or low self esteem, it is frightening. Our social media is very powerful these days and you can not ignore the political moment that is evolving in this country and to see young adults stepping in to fight for their beliefs and having the support of the school administration is a new era for these kids. Of course they will be kids, but with a better understanding of what we are here for and embracing a strong path for their future. The Sag Harbor community would not loose their tradition if we have FU club, cat hats or pussy hats; it will add an encouragement to their students to lead to a better future.
Urge a Merge
Later start times. Shared sports programs. The two seem to be on a collision course.
But there’s a larger elephant in the room here that’s being completely ignored, and I wonder if BOE candidates in this next election will step up to address it. It’s behind the reason we can’t offer all sports programs to our kids, and must share those, and other services, with other Districts. The elephant is school mergers.
We are a tiny school district. Our children pay dearly for that. So do the children of Bridgehampton and Shelter Island. Even if we merged, we would still be an abnormally small district. There is nothing natural about the size of our district. It is an unnatural state compared to other districts, yet by definition contains certain fixed costs equal to those larger districts, limiting the availability of variable costs for programs that other larger districts can offer by default.
So instead, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton embark on independent massive capital project programs (Stella Maris, Bridgehampton expansion), draining administration resources towards managing huge construction projects, when that energy could be spent on combining our Districts.
Regional pride? We are villages a few miles apart folks. Regional pride saps our children’s educational potential. Shelter Island is paying $50,000 per student (almost twice what Sag Harbor pays). Yet our schools are ranked the same on sites like greatschools.org.
There’s a propensity here to vilify anyone who doesn’t just sit back and talk about how proud they are of our districts, and how wonderful everything is, and how long they’ve lived here. Anyone who wants to step forward and think big is deemed a “bombthrower.” What could we achieve in a merger? A financial windfall. Delivering millions of excess operating capital that could be forwarded towards new programs in STEM areas, environmental studies, or a new advanced horticulture program preparing kids for the best landscape architecture schools in the USA, to come back and work in one of the largest white collar industries on the East End. And hosting our own sports with exponentially greater dollars for facilities and trainers. The list doesn’t end.
I saw parents get up in favor of Stella during the debate in the name of demanding better facilities for our kids. Well, here’s the problem, and here’s your chance. The solution wasn’t in a 50-year-old building that has two feet of water in its basement after every hard rain, which we hope to rent over half of, and won’t even entirely use for our kids anyways.
We can’t rely on administrators to lead the way here. Who would propose an outcome that could lead to their redundancy? Boards must lead the way. It’s not just about a financial windfall.
It’s about our moral obligation to our children.