Good Friday morning. Here’s a glance at opinion content published today in The Journal News:
Colton Elementary School: Editorial
We cheer new state Education Commissioner John King’s decision to probe the East Ramapo Central School District’s decision to sell its Colton Elementary School property. King’s office issued a stay on the sale of the school. We write:
The state’s new education commissioner is wise to take a closer look at the East Ramapo school board’s sale of Colton Elementary School. It would be foolish not to, in light of the sundry problems identified by his predecessor in the sale of another district school, Hillcrest Elementary. The East Ramapo board has made plain that it requires a tutorial in the disposition of school property — public property — and the fair treatment of taxpayers.
Hillcrest’s sale was undone last month by then-state Education Commissioner David Steiner, who said the school board had “abused its discretion by hastily approving the sale” of the 12-acre property to Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov of New Square at a bargain-basement price of $3.1 million. In a stinging, 10-page report, Steiner found that the school board failed to market the property in even rudimentary ways, reconcile conflicting appraisals for Hillcrest, or “take reasonable steps … to secure the best price obtainable for Hillcrest.”
A similar lack of due diligence already is apparent in the school board’s disposition of Colton, which the board voted to close in 2009 because of shrinking enrollment. On May 25, the board voted to sell Colton to another yeshiva, current leaseholder Congregation Bais Malka/Hebrew Academy for Special Children, for $6.6 million, and at once solicit bids for the property. That’s correct: The board approved the sale without investigating what others might offer. While the sale has not yet closed, and board members have stated that a higher offer could alter their course, the truncated process looks more like the Hillcrest deal than a good-faith effort to secure the best price for taxpayers.
Casey Anthony and Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Commentary
Randolph M. McLaughlin, a professor at Pace University Law School and a regular contributor on justice issues, comments on the media’s coverage of the Casey Anthony and Dominique Strauss-Kahn cases. McLaughlin writes:
… These two cases stand in stark contrast. While in the case of Anthony the legal system worked as it was intended: A jury of her peers heard the evidence and decided the case based on the law and the constitution. In the case of Strauss-Kahn, it appears that the justice system will be high-jacked because a prosecutor is afraid to put his proof to the test of the jury and will allow an alleged victim’s complaint to go unanswered.
Here’s a digest of what our colleagues are saying:
Exploring space still a must: Editorial, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Hopeful sign on debt crisis: Editorial, The Buffalo News
Holding government debt hostage is irresponsible: Editorial, Syracuse Post-Standard
Get all the facts on fracking: Editorial, Newsday
No reform here: Editorial, New York Post