Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blog Action Day

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

Blog Action Day is about MASS participation. That means we need you! Here are 2 ways to participate:

1. Post on your blog relating to the environment on Blog Action Day

The best way to participate is to post on your blog something that relates to the environment. Your post can be about anything to do with the environment. So you could write a post which is offtopic for your blog OR relate the environment back to your topic in some way. For example, if you had a blog about programming and technology, you could write about applications used for the environment, how to make your office more sustainable, how to stop wasting paper, why technology will save the environment, or just write about an environmental issue which has nothing to do with programming!

As another example, if you wrote about restaurants, you could write about kitchen practices that make for a more environmentally friendly workplace, food packaging, produce made from sustainable farming or any of a multitude of topics.

What works best is to keep writing as you normally would. Your audience reads your blog for a reason, you don't need to suddenly change your voice, style or emphasis. Simply find an angle on your regular postings which relates to the environment.

Our aim is to get people thinking, discussing, questioning and talking about the environment, from every angle, niche, viewpoint and personality.

2. Promote Blog Action Day around the web

The more people who hear about Blog Action Day, the better. Help promote the day with a banner or post on your blog.

Don't forget to register your blog.

Video: Rudy skips minority debate to fundraise with Bo Derek

Video: Rudy skips minority debate to fundraise with Bo Derek

The Real Rudy...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Announcement made on 'No child Left Behind' Act Education News from WABC-TV

Watch video report with Art McFarland...

Announcement made on 'No child Left Behind' Act

WABC By Phil Lipof

- From the U.N. to school. President Bush is touting new national test scores today. He says the results prove his signature education law, the "No Child Left Behind" act, is working and deserves renewal by Congress.

The president made the push in New York City this morning, because it just won the nation's top prize for reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.

Education reporter Art Mcfarland is live in Midtown with that story.

The Brode prize, handed out last week makes it no coincidence that the president used a New York City appearance to talk about changes that he'd like to see changes in the law called "No Child Left Behind".

As he did so, he gave a lot of credit to New York for academic achievement.

The president was joined by Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Also, students from the high achieving P.S. 76 in the Bronx were also in attendance.

Mr. Bush made a strong call for Congress to reauthorize no child left behind and he also recommended strengthening the law with measures that include:

  • More federally funding for struggling schools.
  • Bonuses for teachers who volunteer to teach at such schools.
  • More opportunity for parents to transfer their kids out of failing schools.

    As he made those proposal, the president said other urban school districts have something to learn from New York.

    "The city tackled a challenges of underperforming schools, in such a way that has become a model for urban schools. This achievement is a hopeful sign for other school districts in across America. If New York City can do it, you can do it," said Bush.

    Later on today on Eyewitness News at 5:00 p.m. we will have reaction to the president's visit from the mayor and the chancellor, as well as the kids from P.S. 76. in the Bronx.

  • [where: 52 chambers street, new york ny 10007]

    Bush, Klein Meet On School Peformance - Videos - WNBC

    Bush, Klein Meet On School Peformance - Videos - WNBC (Click for Video)

    Bush, Klein Meet On School Peformance
    Education Policy

    A day after addressing the U.N. General Assembly, President Bush meets with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
    [where: 52 chambers street, new york ny 10007]

    Bush Singles Out City for Praise on Education Gains by Sarah Garland...

    Read original - September 26, 2007 - The New York Sun

    President Bush met with Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein in New York this morning to congratulate them on progress in the city's schools.

    It was the second time in six months that Mr. Bush, who is in town to address the U.N. General Assembly, called on Messrs. Bloomberg and Klein to praise them for their efforts to reorganize the city's education system.

    He praised Mr. Bloomberg for "moving aside bureaucracy."

    "The city tackled the challenges of underperforming schools in such a way that it's become a model for urban schools. This achievement is a hopeful sign for other school districts across America," Mr. Bush said during a news conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. "New York City can do it, you can do it," he said.

    Earlier, the president met with the principal and a group of fourth and fifth graders from P.S. 76 in the Bronx.

    The president's visit comes a week after the city's school district won a prestigious national education award, the Broad Prize, and a day after state scores on national reading and English tests were released. New York State showed some declines and some improvements, including a narrowing of the gap in performance between minority and white students.

    The city's recent progress in closing that gap was part of the reason it was awarded the Broad Prize. Mr. Bush suggested that other school districts "e-mail" the New York City Department of Education to find out how it was done.

    The last time Mr. Bush met with the mayor and the chancellor, in April, he spoke at a charter school in Harlem.

    The president today reiterated his call for the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act as Congress considers reauthorizing the law this year. He voiced support for several major changes to the law, including more flexibility for school districts and incentive payments for teachers who raise achievement in low-performing schools.

    [where: 52 chambers street, new york ny 10007]

    NY1: Chancellor Klein Meets with President Bush - Michael Meehan...

    NY1: Education News

    Klein To Meet With President About No Child Left Behind
    September 25, 2007

    Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is scheduled to meet with President George W. Bush on Wednesday, right before the president delivers a speech about how Congress needs to renew his education law, No Child Left Behind.

    NY1 Education reporter Michael Meenan got some strong opinions around town on what Klein should say to the president about a law with so much impact on city classrooms.

    "We need to take another look at how standardized tests are run," said parent Mike Piazza.

    That is just one issue that parents say Joel Klein should tell the president on Wednesday about how to change the nation's education law, No Child Left Behind. It's about to expire this year and Congress is again debating how to achieve its big mission: make sure every American school kid is on equal par by 2014.

    In order to accomplish that goal, African American and Latino kids need to be doing as well as white and Asian kids. The way Congress first thought it was fair to measure how that was happening, math and reading tests in third to eighth grade, is under fire.

    "It's been a failure here in New York City," said Robert Jackson, chairman of the City Council’s education committee.

    Jackson says Klein should tell Bush that No Child Left Behind has been a letdown. Jackson said standardized tests get way too much emphasis and the new law needs to allow for other assessments.

    "We need flexibility so that children are evaluated on a more holistic basis and not just English, language arts, and math tests," said Jackson.

    Klein declined an interview, but the Department of Education said the chancellor supports testing, but is open to other concrete ways to prove how students are doing, like grades and attendance. It's unclear if Bush would sign a law that allows for more than math and reading tests to show how children are doing in school.

    There is also the issue as to how the law will paid for. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said Washington undercuts the city on school funding. A spokesman for Congressman George Miller, chair of the House education committee, said that right now No Child is, "not fair enough, not flexible enough, not funded enough."

    The spokesman said the law has been under-funded by $50 billion since 2002. Miller is said to be open to other options beyond math and reading tests.

    "It's become a data-driven testing machine as opposed to, how do we get the resources for kids to learn?" said United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

    So, when Klein and Bush meet on Wednesday there will be a lot to talk about. The DOE says that testing and how much money the city gets from the federal government to help run the schools are two topics that will definitely be on the table.

    - Michael Meenan

    Schools Chancellor To Meet With President Bush
    September 25, 2007

    While in town for the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush is planning on meeting with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

    Tomorrow's meeting will give President Bush an opportunity to congratulate Klein following the news that the city school system won the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education, which is given to the country's most improved urban school system.

    It will also give the president the chance to push his No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for reauthorization this year.

    President Praises No Child Left Behind During City Visit

    September 26, 2007

    President Bush called for Congress to renew his No Child Left Behind act Monday, as he wrapped up his trip to the city.

    After meeting with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the president praised the mayor and chancellor's reforms of the city school system.

    He said the No Child Left Behind reforms have led to improved test scores nationwide as well as helped to close achievement gaps across racial lines. And he said new national test scores are evidence his education initiative should be renewed.

    "My call to the Congress is, ‘Don't water down this good law,’” said the president. “Don't go backwards when it comes to educational excellence. Don't roll back accountability. We've come too far to turn back.”

    No Child Left Behind was first introduced in 2002, as a way to improve students' performances at primary and secondary schools. It is set to expire next year unless lawmakers reauthorize it. Critics say the act puts too much emphasis on math and reading test scores.

    [where: 52 chambers street, new york ny 10007]

    Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name -

    Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name -


    Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name

    Monday, September 24, 2007; Page B02

    The days of President Bush's signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind, might be numbered -- not the program, but the name.

    Lawmakers working on legislation to reform the program say they are considering a new moniker. One reason, said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a key sponsor of the original bill that transformed K-12 education in the country by ushering in an era of high-stakes standardized testing, is that "No Child" is inextricably linked to Bush. And Bush, he said, has become unpopular.

    Furthermore, he said, people simply don't like the name.

    "People find it an incredible insult [to suggest] that we are deliberately leaving children behind," he said.

    Marian Wright Edelman, president of the nonprofit Children's Defense Fund, is all for a name change, partly because she said Bush's law was actually "a usurpation" of the fund's federally registered Leave No Child Behind service mark and trademark.

    Her preference: "Quality Education for All Children Act" or simply amending Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

    Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami, offered: "Children First!"

    Andrew Friedson, president of the Student Government Association at the University of Maryland at College Park, had a few suggestions that show his dislike of the current law: "No Child Left a Brain Act" and "All the Money Left Behind Act."

    Envisioning a new program was Dorothy Rich, founder and director of the nonprofit Home and School Institute, with these possible names: "New Partnerships for Student Achievement" or "Educating Americans for Today's World."

    Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, suggested that a good "outcomes-focused title" could be "The Lifelong Economic Security Act," which she said would speak to individuals as well as corporate executives calling for a better-educated workforce.

    An "aspirational" title, she said, could be "Give Children a Fair Chance Act."

    "But I'm not sure the actual legislation would live up to the name," McGuire said.

    -- Valerie Strauss

    Daily News -Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to meet with President Bush by Erin Einhorn...

    Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to meet with President Bush

    In between greeting world leaders in town for the UN General Assembly this week, President Bush will set a few minutes aside tomorrow for Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

    The nation's largest school system has a budget on par with some small countries, but that's not what landed Klein on the President's agenda in a week of international diplomacy.

    It was a prestigious award bestowed on the city schools last week - and a chance for the President to push his No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for reauthorization.

    "The President looks forward to meeting and talking about why reauthorizing No Child Left Behind is important to continue building on its success," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. "He'll be there for the UN General Assembly, but education and No Child Left Behind are important initiatives for the President."

    Stanzel said the President and First Lady will also congratulate Klein for helping the city win the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which goes every year to the urban school system that's shown the most improvement.

    [where: 52 chambers street, new york ny 10007]

    DOE Press Release:Chancellor Klein Announces Measures to Help Parents Engage in Their Children's Education NYC Dept. of Ed. 20070919_parent_engagement

    A new press release (spin) from Tweed, it all sounds good on paper, let's see how DOE implements it...

    NYC Dept. of Ed. 20070919_parent_engagement

    Chancellor Klein Announces Measures to Help Parents Engage in Their Children's Education

    Department of Education Enhances Outreach to Parents, Responsiveness to Parent Concerns

    Support for School Leadership Teams and Community Education Councils

    Date: 09/19/2007 Last Modified: 9/19/2007 1:27:41 PM
    Press ID:
    N-11, 2007-2008

    Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott, and Chief Family Engagement Officer Martine Guerrier today announced measures implemented by the Department of Education (DOE) this year to help public school parents become better informed about, and have greater influence over, their children’s education. The announcement took place at PS 11, an elementary school in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn that enjoys active parent and community support. The Chancellor, Deputy Mayor, and Chief Parent Engagement Officer were joined by Borough President Marty Markowitz, Principal Alonta Wrighton, and community and family advocates.

    Building on earlier improvements, including creating 1,400 parent coordinator positions in schools, the DOE restructured its outreach to parents during the past six months to provide more responsive and far-reaching support. Examples of enhanced services for parents in the 2007-08 school year include:

    • Access to dedicated Family Advocates in each of the City’s 32 community school districts. These professionals are trained to address issues involving enrollment, special education, English language education, safety, and other matters of concern to parents.
    • The Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy’s (OFEA) year-long, citywide public information campaign, with town halls, presentations, and public forums in each borough—including forums for immigrant families in their native languages. Additionally, beginning this past summer OFEA is mobilizing “subway and bus teams” to distribute key materials to parents as they commute to and from work. OFEA will also host district-wide family events to facilitate information sharing.
    • Referral information for interpretation services that all Parent Coordinators and District Family Advocates will carry in their cell phones and Blackberry devices to further ensure that families who do not speak English receive all available interpretation services.

    In conjunction with new accountability measurements that provide parents with detailed information about schools and student performance, and along with better support for parent-led Community Education Councils, the new measures insure that every parent and guardian has access to the information they need and is promptly and effectively served if a problem arises.

    “Parents and families play a crucial role in ensuring children’s success in school,” Chancellor Klein said. “They should always have resources and information that allow them to be deeply involved in their children’s education. We’ve made a lot of progress and now we’re building on that progress, creating a more far-reaching and responsive parent engagement structure. We are also giving parents an unprecedented amount of information about their children’s schools and performance in school so that they can make informed decisions that will help their children learn.”

    “The investment of families in their children’s educational experience and in the life of schools is critical, and every child deserves a quality education,” Deputy Mayor Walcott said. “We are committed to reaching all families with important and comprehensive school information that will help them make the best decisions for their children’s education, and will continue providing strong support to parent leadership at the school and district levels.”

    These initiatives are part of a comprehensive effort led by Martine Guerrier, the district’s first Chief Family Engagement officer, since her appointment by Mayor Bloomberg last February. Since that time, she has met personally with more than 1,500 parents and community organizations, conferred extensively with parent advocates and elected officials, convened a Mayoral Task force on Parent Engagement, and organized numerous community meetings at which parents could share their views and concerns. On the basis of ideas and recommendations generated through this engagement process, Ms. Guerrier recommended, and the Chancellor approved, a number of significant structural and policy changes.

    Most notably, the DOE has now consolidated under her leadership all of the parent support and engagement functions that previously had been distributed throughout the organization, including: 1) training and oversight of the 1,300 parent coordinators serving New York City public schools; 2) coordination of engagement efforts with the 32 Community Education Councils; 3) management of the translation unit; 4) leadership of a major initiative to ensure that every school has a well functioning Senior Leadership Team, 5) coordination with other city agencies to improve responsiveness to parent inquiries; and 6) replacing the regional parent support structure with a Community School District based organization to ensure greater access and responsiveness to parent concerns.

    The DOE has also implemented new measures to enhance parent leadership. Principals will be evaluated in part based on the effectiveness of their School Leadership Teams, half of which is comprised of parents. The Chancellor’s regulation governing School Leadership Teams is being revised to articulate more extensively the roles and authority of parent members.

    At a district level, the Community Education Councils, nine of whose eleven members are parents, will be asked to serve a more consultative role regarding the siting of new charter schools. Council members will also be asked to consult with internal Department of Education workgroups on issues like student achievement, school budgeting, facilities, and English Language Learner and Special Education services.

    “The voices of parent leaders in New York City public schools are vital and irreplaceable,” Chief Family Engagement Officer Guerrier said. “We cannot have great schools without the participation of parents who are deeply committed to the success of schools. We are fortunate to have many diverse and passionate parent-advocates in every part of the City.”

    Families will also have access to a rich vein of school and student performance data through accountability measurements first announced by the Mayor last fall and implemented across the system beginning this school year. These will all be available publicly and include:

    • Progress Reports that give each school a grade of A, B, C, D, or F based on student achievement and progress and assessments of the school’s learning environment. Parents will have a direct impact on a school’s grade based on their responses to a survey about the school’s performance. Teachers and students will also complete surveys.
    • More frequent and highly detailed assessments of each student’s progress in literacy and math.
    • Quality Reviews performed by experienced educators that ascertain how well a school is designed to raise student achievement.


    Contact: David Cantor / Dina Paul Parks (212) 374-5141

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Jamaica Bay Bio-Blitz on September 7th & 8th...

    I attended this event at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Center from about 2 pm on September 7th until roughly 2am on September 8th, 2007...

    I tried my best to help at the Registration Desk with some other volunteers from the NY Biology Teachers got really hairy there in the beginning of the day...

    It was well attended, when I left that evening (early morning) there were over 100 participants...

    Some 665 species were identified in the 24 hour period, a few of the highlights found was an adult Katy-did, a Praying Mantis, some big grasshoppers and two tree frogs...

    I'd like to thank Prof. Gillian Stewart and Prof. John Waldman from CUNY Queens College and Jill Tripp and Nancy Khan from the National Parks Service, Jamaica Bay Institute and Suzi from National Geographic...for organizing this important community event...

    I think it's important to recognize the hard legislative work being done on both the City level by City Councilman James Gennaro (Chairman - Environmental Committee) and in Washington, DC from Representative Anthony Weiner (NY 9th)...I'm proud of his 100% rating by the League of Conservation Voters on their
    2006 National Environmental Scorecard...He deserves our thanks...

    Look up your delegation's scores Send a letter to your Members of Congress -- let them know you're watching!

    I feel this will provide a comprehensive base-line of species which currently exist in Jamaica Bay...

    It was a pleasure to help out these fine folks who are doing a great job towards for protection of the environment of Jamaica Bay...

    The more information we possess of this unique ecological environment in the City of New York, the better we will be able to protect it for future generations of New Yorkers and Americans...

    NYBTA Activities: NYBTA @ Jamaica Bay BioBlitz

    NYBTA Activities: NYBTA @ Jamaica Bay BioBlitz

    Jamaica Bay BioBlitz
    September 7-8, 2007

    Times Ledger - BioBlitz of Jamaica Bay wetlands teaches lessons

    Times Ledger - BioBlitz of Jamaica Bay wetlands teaches lessons

    Ready, set, blitz! Science and nature lovers gathered at Jamaica Bay last weekend to take part in a scavenger hunt that explored the ecosystem's biodiversity.

    The BioBlitz competition was the first ever event at the blighted bay where science experts led teams of volunteers on a 24-hour trek into the marshes, woods and trails in search of its exotic fauna and flora. The blitz has been held at dozens of other national parks, wilderness areas and marshlands across the country attracting hundreds from all over the world.

    In Jamaica bay teams had a lot of organisms to find in a large amount of space including From red foxes, horseshoe crabs, and even non-indigenous species like Western jackrabbits.

    "It's a bit overwhelming for your average person to learn about different plants that live here, so this will give them a chance to do it in an organized way," said Dr. David Franz, a biology professor from Brooklyn College who led the invertebrates team.

    The event, which was created by the National Parks Service and Queens College, was held to increase awareness of the bay for the people who never take notice of the body of water despite its proximity to the city and escalating warnings about its vanishing marshlands.

    "Anything we can do to draw attention to the plight of this natural a great step forward," said Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, at Friday's opening ceremonies.

    A report issued last month by the National Park Service and Jamaica Protection Plan Advisory Committee found that the bay has lost 70 percent of its marshlands in the last 50 years and could lose them completely in five years if nothing is done to stop their disappearance.

    More than 100 volunteers took part in the scavenger hunt, and many stayed for the full marathon at the bay's national wild refuge's camp area. At the end of the event teams put their findings into a massive database that will be logged and studied by scientists, according to Gillian Stewart, a Queens College assistant science professor who co-ordinated the event.

    "It's particularly good for students to interact with scientists and learn the in's and out's of identification," she said.

    Participants came from all parts of the borough and some even arrived from out of state to take part in the adventure.

    "It was interesting to see what types of birds there were. It's great that you have this large undeveloped area near a large city," said Doug Wood of Pennsylvania, who came to look for the bay's birds.

    Gennaro praised the event's coordinators and participants for bringing the bay into the limelight at a time when it faces enormous environmental hurdles.

    "This is a success by the virtue that we have young scientists and people who want to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and splendor of Jamaica Bay," he said.

    On a somber note, Franz issued a bleak outlook for the future of the bay in view of the eroding marshlands.

    "If the condition continues to deteriorate, then there won't be food for the fish, and that can totally disrupt the food chain here," Franz said.

    Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

    NPS Digest - Volunteers Gather 665 Species Around Gateway’s Jamaica Bay (NPS Digest)

    Volunteers Gather 665 Species Around Gateway’s Jamaica Bay (NPS Digest)

    At midday Friday, September 7, an eager crowd of scientists, amateur naturalists, students and volunteers gathered at Gateway National Recreation Area’s Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for the start of the first ever Jamaica Bay BioBlitz. Organized as a partnership between the National Park Service and Queens College (CUNY), the program was designed to collect and analyze as many species as possible over a 24 hour period. Field teams had specifically been instructed to explore less studied areas, such as Fort Tilden and Floyd Bennett Field, in order to expand the already extensive list of species known to exist in the park.

    As survey teams returned from the field they congregated in the Refuge’s conference room which had been transformed into a temporary research laboratory. There scientists and volunteers huddled over microscopes and scoured field guides as they worked to identify the more obscure specimens.

    Throughout the event ranger-led programs provided opportunities to learn about the natural history of species found in the Jamaica Bay area. At the Refuge base camp displays put together by the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the New York Aquarium, and the Queens Botanical Garden provided interactive activities with live animals and biofacts. A lunchtime workshop on nature sketching by a scientific book illustrator was a special treat for those wanting to create their own field notebook.

    This first ever BioBlitz for Jamaica Bay was envisioned by the Jamaica Bay Institute of Gateway National Recreation Area and co-organized in partnership with research faculty in the sciences at Queens College. One of these researchers, Dr. John Waldman, discovered that the numerically dominant fish in the east and west ponds at the Refuge, which had long been considered to be the Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia - the same as the dominant species in Jamaica Bay's marine waters – was M. beryllia, a very similar but different tidewater species.

    By the end of the 24 hour effort 273 volunteers had enthusiastically stepped into hip waders, wielded an insect or fish net, raised binoculars, or looked through a hand lens as part of the intensive effort to gather information about the extent of the park’s biological diversity. At the closing ceremonies a tired, but still very excited crowd cheered when the final tally of 665 species was announced.

    Name: Nancy Khan
    Phone Number: 718-338-3338 x 223

    Queens Chronicle -BioBlitz Participants Storm Jamaica Bay by Lucy Torres...

    Queens Chronicle - ‘BioBlitz’ Participants Storm Jamaica Bay

    Many Queens residents drive through Broad Channel on their way to Rockaway’s beaches without appreciating the ecological diversity in Jamaica Bay.

    At last week’s first annual BioBlitz, a 24-hour ecological festival based at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, located on Broad Channel, diversity was both catalogued and celebrated.

    More than 260 people, ranging in age from 2 to 81, worked over the 24-hour period to document the different species near the refuge, as well as in Fort Tilden, located in Rockaway, and in Floyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn. Over half of the participants were volunteers. While many left early on Saturday morning, some worked straight through.

    Beyond listing the different species in the area, participants sought to give scientists the opportunity to study their findings.

    “Our main goal is to get researchers out in the park doing basic science, doing research and then getting that translated,” said Nancy Khan, a refuge staff member.

    Khan added that the BioBlitz allowed scientists and average citizens to better understand the environment around them in a festive atmosphere.

    Participants were greeted with T-shirts, water bottles and an assortment of healthy snacks.

    Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, helped kick the event off late Friday afternoon.

    “It’s critical that we preservemarshland,” he said. “It plays a critical role in protecting the mainland of Queens and Brooklyn, from tidal action to wave action, and also the wetlands, which are incubators for marine life and a lot of terrestrial life as well.”

    Coordinated by Queens College Professors Gillian Stewart and John Waldman, the BioBlitz was sponsored in part by the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, Jamaica Bay Institute and the Gateway National Recreation Area.

    Among the many excursions BioBlitz offered was Friday evening’s sunset walk, where spectators watched the sun stretch across Jamaica Bay at dusk; Saturday morning’s butterfly search and Saturday’s nature sketching class.

    Many college students who were interested in learning more about the bay’s delicate ecological balance volunteered.

    “I just want to get involved, even if it’s around the area,” said a graduate student from Brooklyn. Both the student and her friend volunteered to study jellyfish, which involved extracting samples and later identifying species collected.

    Queens College biology graduate student Jonelle Orridge came out to study plants, but also to do her part to increase awareness about ecology.

    “If (we) reach out to the high schools and make principals aware (of ecological events) students could have a better grasp of what is going on around them.”

    Orridge, who is involved in community outreach, believes the best way to learn about the environment is to offer programs at parks and promote events in publications.

    By the end of the event, researchers found 665 species, including 166 species of terrestrial plants, 34 insects and 27 species of marine invertebrates.

    Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) helped close the event by saying: “BioBlitz, species by species, item by item, is making us aware just how diverse it (Jamaica Bay) is. We have to do everything to protect it.”

    Daily News - This scavenger hunt's truly a wild affair

    This scavenger hunt's truly a wild affair

    Volunteers raced against the clock to collect, identify and count as many living things as they could find in 24 hours at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge recently.

    The 250 nature enthusiasts — ages 2 to 81 — hiked the 9,000-acre grounds armed with butterfly nets and binoculars as part of the park's first BioBlitz, organized by Queens College and the Jamaica Bay Institute.

    The tally: 665 species, including birds, mammals, insects and fish.

    But the BioBlitz was about more than just numbers.

    "It's one thing to be able to read about science in a magazine or a textbook, but it's another thing to be able to go out and see how scientists conduct their work in the field," said John Waldman, 52, a Queens College biology professor and a BioBlitz organizer.

    During the marathon event Sept. 7-8, scientists and volunteers collected specimens and took them back to a makeshift lab in the visitors center. Scientists worked together at the center, peering through microscopes and cross-referencing textbooks, to categorize the findings.

    "Probably one the most inspirational moments was at about midnight," Waldman said. "There was a little boy here who was helping us count, and he didn't want to go home. His father was rubbing his eyes and wanted to get out of here. But they didn't leave until 2 o'clock. And they [came back the next day]. He couldn't get enough of it."

    That boy was John-Kaarli Rentof, 12, of Manhattan, who declared he wants to be a herpetologist — someone who studies amphibians and reptiles. The boy's favorite finds were a red-spotted newt and two tree frogs.

    "One of the frogs was a big guy, and he was gray, and the other was a small one and it was green. I put them in a bag to bring them back and I gave them a shower in the water fountain," he said.

    Inspiring the next generation of naturalists was a key goal of the event.

    Earlier this summer, the Jamaica Bay Watershed Advisory Committee released a report contending the refuge's salt marsh islands — which serve as a natural sewage-battling filtration system — were vanishing much faster than previously thought. They could be gone in as little as five years, the report said.

    At the event's closing ceremony, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens, Brooklyn) called on New Yorkers to help protect the park.

    "Would it be so bad to lose one mollusk? Would it be so bad to lose one bird? The answer is we have no idea what the impact would be if we lost one species or all of the others," Weiner said.

    Queens Tribune - Jamaica Bay Surprises:Need To Document Dwindling Species Spurred By Estuary’s Rapid Degradation

    Queens Tribune: Jamaica Bay Surprises:Need To Document Dwindling Species Spurred By Estuary’s Rapid Degradation:

    The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee, established by law in 2005, released a study last month showing that the Jamaica Bay wetlands are disappearing much more rapidly than was previously thought. After comparing 2003 maps to 2005 maps, the Advisory Committee projected that the wetlands would be gone by 2012.

    The causes behind the rapid loss of the wetlands are varied and include high toxin levels, rampant seaweed growth and grazing geese. However, concern is mounting over the role of nitrogen dumping.

    Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection, held a hearing Sept. 6 in order to discuss the nitrogen factor.

    Every day, four of the City’s wastewater treatment plants dumps into the bay 250 million gallons of treated wastewater, which contains 30 to 40 thousand tons of nitrogen.

    The Advisory Committee has declared that nitrogen levels must be reduced by 55 percent by 2015, a recommendation modeled after the Long Island Sound.

    According to City Council spokesman Anthony Hogrebe, the Department of Environmental Protection has committed to reducing nitrogen levels and must present a detailed plan by Oct. 1 of this year.

    Bring On The BioBlitz

    “How many people have actually been to this bay,” Gennaro asked a circle of scientists, students and volunteers who had gathered last Friday afternoon to take part in BioBlitz, a 24-hour expedition to tally the flora and fauna in the area. As Gennaro had suspected, the vast majority of participants — all wearing baby blue BioBlitz T-shirts — were first timers.

    Jamaica Bay is the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country, and the only accessible by train. The visitor center is immaculate, the white pebbled paths hardly disassembled by foot traffic; it is yet another Queens’ attraction regularly described as an undiscovered gem.

    Queens College professors Dr. Gillian Stewart and Dr. John Waldman organized BioBlitz to generate species lists and maps for park management. Their goal was to showcase the biodiversity that currently thrives in Jamaica Bay in order to highlight the need to protect the area wetlands.

    “This is the generation that is either going to save or lose Jamaica Bay,” Gennaro said at a press conference last Friday before everyone divided into teams to survey the 9,155-acre refuge, protected since 1972 as a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

    Waldman headed up the fish team. Net in hand, he addressed his group.

    “This isn’t Mars,” he said. “But there are always surprises if you look hard.”

    Waldman penned “Heartbeats in the Muck,” a book about the degradation of New York Harbor and its recent comeback. Having served with the Hudson River Foundation for 20 years, he is hardly a stranger to tracking wildlife. He explained how BioBlitz is unique.

    “Typically you chip away,” Waldman said. “This is an intense snapshot."

    Scientific Method

    Waldman, joined by a National Parks Service Superintendent Dave Taft, lead his team to the first pond and distributed waders. Holding onto opposite sides of a green net, the scientists waded into the shallow pool. Waldman immediately started to sink.

    “The lagoon used to be sturdy enough,” Taft acknowledged. “You could get some footing.”

    The men agreed that changing circulation patterns had caused the pond’s softest settlement to build up. With 21 hours remaining, they decided to relocate to another site.

    Upon arriving at the next pond, Waldman and Taft ventured in with their net. Drawing it back toward the shoreline, they discovered an abundance of tiny fish. The group crowded around and complaints from the college students that it smelled bad quickly subsided as hundreds mummichogs and silversides wiggled for air.

    “It’s one thing to look in a textbook,” Taft said. “It’s another thing to get there and see it for yourself.”

    The leaders asked if anyone wanted to drag the net and with no one volunteering they began the process again.

    Baruch College freshman Anastasia Vasilchuk stood at the water’s rim with her hands on her hips. Her ecology professor had recommended she sign up.

    “The air itself is healthy and fresh compared to the city,” Vasilchuk said. “All you see there is pigeons.”

    She watched the scientists intently as they made their way toward her with a net full of fish. Although she had never conducted a similar study, she knew her goal for the afternoon.

    “To find more than 10 [species],” she stated, adding, “It’s nice to know they all exist in this area,” she said.

    But Waldman’s findings were not encouraging.

    “More of the same,” he said looking down at the pile of fish. “What it lacks in diversity it makes up for in quantity.”

    By the time the group was finished assessing the evidence, many had died on the sand.

    “It’s the way of life,” Vasilchuk said before picking up her backpack and following the group to the East Pond.

    The group, unused to the scientific method, seemed to be losing energy and focus. Three students left for the A train before the group had even arrived at its next destination. But as Waldman and Taft drew back their net for the third time, they revealed two more species: white perch and grass shrimp. The team’s bucket was quickly filling with diverse specimen.

    Waldman, who grew up in the Bronx, described his childhood as a “Huck Finn environment within city limits.” He said that people mistakenly assume that crystal clear mountain springs boast the most wildlife.

    “These mucky places are where you have the real life,” he said.

    A New Discovery

    After dinner Waldman ventured to the Bay’s marine waters and gathered more silversides. Then, alone in his tent, he took out his microscope and noticed something unusual.

    He realized that the silversides from the bay differed considerably from those found in the pond water. It was midnight and the rest of his team was asleep, totally unaware of his discovery.

    The next day, at the end of the 24 hours, Waldman’s group had found 14 species of fish. The announcement of these new “tidewater silversides,” however, was his group’s most significant contribution to the expedition.

    “This is the heart of New York City,” Waldman said from his Queens College office Monday morning. “It has been walked on, netted and birded. You don’t expect dramatic surprises, but you also don’t know everything you think you know.”

    Knight News - BioBlitz Set to Tally Jamaica Bay's Flora and Fauna...

    BioBlitz Set to Tally Jamaica Bay's Flora and Fauna - News:

    Queens College researchers will stage the first BioBlitz Friday and will descend to the wildest reaches of New York City to conduct a round-the-clock tally of flora and fauna for the Jamaica Bay area.

    This event, co-sponsored by Queens College, the Jamaica Bay Institute, the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, the Gateway National Recreation Area of National Park Service and the North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, is set to last 24 hours and researchers will be equipped with nets and insect repellents, in addition to their notebooks.

    Professor John Waldman from the biology department and professor Gillian Stewart from the earth and environmental sciences department organized this event, which targets thousands of acres within the Gateway National Recreation Area, between the borders of New York and New Jersey.

    Although Jamaica Bay may be an urban location, it is rich in wildlife, consisting of red foxes, horseshoe crabs and invasive species such as Western jackrabbits. Jamaica Bay simultaneously serves as a major flyover area for hundreds of migrating visitors such as hawks, ospreys and monarch butterflies.

    According to professor Waldman, in an effort to document Jamaica Bay's biodiversity, the researchers are going with a team of different specialists in plants and animals to survey a plot of land. It may be a "quick and dirty look" of what is already there; however, it will enable the scientists to account for a future baseline.

    Planners of the event hope that this event will raise awareness of biodiversity. New York City Councilmember James Gennaro, who has played an important role in preserving New York City's water supply, is set to speak at the event. In addition to Gennaro, Barry Sullivan, the superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area, and Kim Tripp, the director of the Jamaica Bay Institute will address the participants.

    The schedule of activities on Friday evening and Saturday morning will include guided field walks, workshops on sketching plants and animals in the wild and even a junior BioBlitz for children. Professional naturalists will be staking out various parts of the park in four-hour shifts.

    Upon returning to the wildlife center, they will file their regular reports. Their findings, which will include a final species count, will be revealed at the closing ceremonies where Congressman Anthony Weiner will serve as a guest speaker. Weiner has made Gateway one of his top priorities and has secured $66 million for the park since his election in 1998.

    There are a limited number of positions available for volunteers, who are expected to bring their own water and snacks, and no bedding will be provided. Luckily, camping will be permitted at Floyd Bennett Field.

    "If you can attend the event, you should," said senior Alexandrea Bowman. "This event is especially important as the ecosystem of Jamaica Bay has been seriously disrupted. A lot of the marsh has been lost in the past 100 years. Surveys like this one are needed for remediation." - DIARY: Jamaica Bay's Teeming Wildlife by Merle English...

    DIARY: Jamaica Bay's teeming wildlife -- "

    There were bats, and owls, horseshoe crabs and ribbon snakes. And even a few lesser-known species: Teddy Bear caterpillars, and sphinx moths.

    In all, 665 species were collected in the first 24-hour survey of wildlife in and around Jamaica Bay.

    The creatures were finds of scientists, naturalists and members of the general public participating in what is being billed as BioBlitz, sponsored by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at Queens College in Flushing and the Jamaica Bay Institute at Gateway National Recreation Area.

    For two days, 250 people from the City University of New York, private and public high schools, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Audubon Society, the American Littoral Society, other organizations and neighborhood residents tallied terrestrial and aquatic species in the federal park.

    "This is all about getting people excited about nature," Gillian Stewart, assistant earth and environmental sciences professor at Queens College, said. "It's a combination of people doing this all their life and people who've never done this."

    John Kaarli, 12, of Manhattan, was among many young volunteers. He repeatedly dipped a small net into a fish tank until he brought up a live killifish. Shrimp and seaweed were also in the tank.

    "I love nature," John, an aspiring herpetologist, said. "I have hated all my life people polluting the planet, things dying in the rain forest, spider monkeys losing their habitat. A tree that took maybe 500 years to grow is cut down in five minutes, just wiped off the planet."

    He arrived for the BioBlitz at 6 p.m. Friday with his father, Peter, a retired math and science teacher. They stayed until 2 a.m. Saturday and were back later that day.

    One purpose of the BioBlitz was to "highlight the natural resources and get people to understand the rich biodiversity of Jamaica Bay," said Kim Tripp, director of the Jamaica Bay Institute.

    Two hundred BioBlitzes have been held internationally since Sam Droege, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, conducted one in Washington, D.C., 10 years ago. "It's awareness. It's education," said Suzi Zetkus, a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History who organizes such events.

    John Waldman, a Queens College biology professor, said BioBlitz is "a concept that's growing. It brings a lot of scientists together to get information it would take years to get. People see how scientists work in the field, and they're being exposed to high-level science also. We've opened a lot of eyes," he said.

    Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) told the scientists and volunteers, "People are having a dramatic impact on this park. We as neighbors have an obligation to protect it. We have no idea of the impact of losing a single species on the others."

    For Maria Acevedo of Flushing, it was all about knowledge. "It's always good to know what you have in the area," she said.

    Epoch Times - College Plans 'BioBlitz' for NYC's Jamaica Bay by By Evan Mantyk

    Epoch Times | College Plans 'BioBlitz' for NYC's Jamaica Bay

    NEW YORK—Just south of John F. Kennedy Airport, and with Manhattan's skyscrapers still visible in the distance, Jamaica Bay is a 9,000-acre wildlife refuge that remains a unique portion of the Big Apple. It's probably the only place in New York City where you will get a chance to see a red fox, a horseshoe crab and a jackrabbit in their natural habitat.

    Equipped with nets, notebooks, and insect repellent, Queens College researchers will descend on the refuge on Sept. 7, and they won't emerge for 24 hours. They're not filming an episode of "Survivor," they're staging the first BioBlitz—a round-the-clock tally of flower and animal species present in the bay. The event, open to the public, is meant to be fun and raise awareness about the great value of this natural treasure.

    Event co-organizer, Professor Gillian Stewart said Jamaica Bay "is comprised of incredibly diverse landscapes. There are wetlands, ponds, forests, estuaries, marshes, rivers, uplands, meadows, etc. This rich ecosystem is home to a huge number of marine, estuarine, and terrestrial species as well as thousands of coastal migratory organisms."

    While Jamaica Bay has been protected by the federal government since 1972, being in such close proximity to JFK airport and the commercial and industrial development of New York City has taken its toll. For example, about 49 of the 65 square kilometers of wetlands have been filled in or are disappearing, and sewage treatment plants have impacted the water quality.

    "The BioBlitz is not aimed to stop development or destruction, but instead to make the public aware of the amazing biodiversity in their 'backyard.' We hope people will realize how close and accessible this amazing resource is," said Stewart.

    The schedule of free activities on Friday Sept. 7 and the following Saturday morning will include guided field walks, a workshop on sketching plants and animals in the wild and a junior BioBlitz for children. Meanwhile, professional naturalists will be staking out parts of the park in four-hour shifts, returning to the wildlife center to file regular reports.

    "We're going to take a team of scientists with different specialties in plants and animals, and survey the hell out of a plot of land," said Queens College Professor John Waldman. "It's a quick and dirty look at what's there, giving us a baseline for the future."

    The final species count, and other interesting findings, will be announced at closing ceremonies on Sept. 8 at 3 p.m., when Congressman Anthony Weiner will speak.

    Whether for the BioBlitz or just to getaway from the city, Jamaica Bay is amazingly accessible via the A Train.

    "Anyone can go and visit Jamaica Bay at the Wildlife Refuge, Fort Tilden, and Floyd Bennett Field, and other sites," said Stewart. "This is the only unit of the National Park Service accessible by subway."

    SPECIAL-ED BUSING STILL A PROBLEM | By YOAV GONEN | New York News | New York City News | NY News

    Special-Ed Busing Still a Problem By Yoav Gonen

    "September 25, 2007 -- Action by the Education Department to solve busing delays for special-ed students has been, well, delayed, Comptroller William Thompson said yesterday.

    In a letter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Thompson referenced the busing woes of two families detailed in yesterday's Post in asking why the DOE failed to address concerns he had raised last year.

    'It was . . . with particular frustration that I read today's article in the New York Post noting DOE's continued failure to properly administer its resources and, in particular, its continued failure to transport children to their schools in a timely manner,' he wrote.

    Last October, Thompson told Klein that special-education students were enduring long rides or late buses. A month later, Klein said it would be fixed.

    DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the problems were due to students added to existing routes."

    Report: Drop in Class Sizes Is Small by Elizabeth Green...

    Report: Drop in Class Sizes Is Small

    Staff Reporter of the Sun
    September 25, 2007

    A report from the Independent Budget Office is heightening concerns that the city has kept public school classes large in spite of nearly $200 million in state and federal funds dedicated to making them smaller.

    Classes did become smaller on average last year, but the drop — to 25.71 students in a class from 25.92 in fourth through eighth grade, and to 21.06 from 21.12 in kindergarten through third grade — was small, the report said.

    Sixty-three percent of younger students were in classes with more than 20 pupils, the state-recommended target for those years.

    And rather than create more classes to alleviate pressure on students and teachers, as advocates have demanded, the number of classes offered in the public schools actually dropped by 158 students in lower grades and 303 in fourth through eighth grades, the report, which drew on final city registers, showed.

    An enrollment drop of nearly 15,000 students explains the change, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Debra Wexler, said.

    Even fewer classes would have been offered had it not been for the extra funding, which the city used to hire 1,006 new teachers and create 1,611 classes last year, Ms. Wexler said.

    The president of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, called the report "disturbing."

    An advocate of smaller classes, Leonie Haimson, said the report reiterated the conclusion of a 2006 audit by a state comptroller, Alan Hevesi, which found that the city's class size reductions were so small they violated state law.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Ideally, vision of education bests politics -- by Clarence Page...

    Original column...


    Ideally, vision of education bests politics

    Clarence Page

    September 19, 2007


    Yet, like overzealous soldiers in combat, they sometimes make you want to grab them by the collar and pull them out of the line of fire.

    Those thoughts came to mind this week as Jonathan Kozol, 71, the award-winning author and activist, entered his 75th day on a "partial hunger strike." He's protesting the six-year-old No Child Left Behind Act for education reform that Congress is gearing up to reauthorize.

    Even a partial hunger strike is impressive and alarming for those of us who care about Kozol's health. He's only drinking liquids, he said, but on doctor's orders he eats solid foods when the impact of hunger appears to be serious enough to cause permanent damage.

    "If I sound a little weak, I apologize," he said at a news conference in Washington. "I am dreaming of delicious dinners."

    Kozol is an iconic figure in education. He wrote a book titled "Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools." It was about his being fired from the Boston public schools for teaching about a poem written by Langston Hughes, a great African-American poet who was not on the school system's approved reading list.

    Forty years later, No Child Left Behind is, in Kozol's view, repeating the same errors that shortchanged kids in the past, especially those in poor, minority neighborhoods.

    Passed in 2001, the education-reform law seeks to get all students reading and doing math at grade level by 2014. Everyone agrees that's a great goal but disagrees on the best way to get there.

    The No Child Left Behind law tries to get there by mandating annual math and reading tests and sanctions schools that don't show improvement. Kozol lambasted that approach for "turning thousands of inner-city schools into Dickensian test-preparation factories." It has effectively "dumbed down" school for poor, urban kids and created "a parallel curriculum that would be rejected out-of-hand" in the suburbs.

    Yet, when I pressed him to disclose whether he found any benefit to No Child Left Behind, he observed, after thinking for a few moments, that while there was no dramatic benefit, he appreciated one thing. The program, backed by President Bush, had revived the notion that successful schools were in the national interest, not just state and local.

    With that in mind, Kozol has called for a truly radical reform that hints of ideas promoted by the political left and right. Under No Child Left Behind, parents may transfer their children from a low-performing school after two years to a better school in the same school district. Kozol would extend that. He would require states to authorize and finance a student's right to transfer from a failing district into a successful school in a suburban district.

    That radical idea would be permitted, he points out, under the Supreme Court's school segregation ruling in June, as long as it is carried out for reasons other than race.

    The idea elegantly borrows from ideals of both right and the left, but, unfortunately, smacks up against the political realities of the right and left too. After all, conservatives applaud the idea of parents having more choices and in ways that encourage competition between schools. And liberals applaud the desegregation of schools and reduction of isolation by race and income.

    But in the real world, I suspect most suburban parents moved to suburbs to get away from the problems they fear, rightly or wrongly, that urban students will bring with them to school. In many cases, black middle-class suburban parents are no less worried than their white counterparts.

    And teachers unions and politicians fear a flight of tax dollars and other resources if they allow parents to remove their children from poor-performing schools in their urban areas. The result is a political stalemate.

    Another Washington-based reform organization, The Education Trust, is calling for another remedy. It supports a draft House bill that would require state and local governments to include teachers' salaries in their calculation as they try to comply with federal requirements of equal funding to all schools. At present, "experienced teachers migrate as fast as they can away from high-poverty schools," said Amy Wilkins of The Education Trust. "And they take their big paychecks with them. So the kids are doubly shortchanged. They get less money and less-experienced teachers."

    Closing that loophole would improve funding for older, low-income neighborhood schools and, I hope, provide more incentives for experienced teachers to stick around.

    That's a vision of how things might be if our lawmakers truly lived up to our dreams. Hunger strikes can call attention to that vision, but it's going to take political leadership to make that dream come true.



    I love idealists. They offer us a vision of how things might be if our lawmakers truly lived up to our dreams.

    South Queens Democratic Club Meeting - September 26, 2007 - 7:30 pm

    (click on image to enlarge)

    John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview : Rolling Stone

    John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview : Rolling Stone

    Jann S. Wenner's historic interview with John Lennon, conducted in December of 1970

    Jann S. Wenner

    The Rolling Stone Interview: John Lennon
    Part I

    The Rolling Stone Interview: John Lennon
    Part II

    The Rolling Stone Interview: John Lennon
    Part III

    The Rolling Stone Interview: John Lennon
    Part IV

    The Rolling Stone Interview: John Lennon
    Part V

    NEWTOWN CREEK ALLIANCE - Newtown Creek Nature Walk - Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 11am - 4pm...


    "Saturday, SEPTEMBER 29, 2007 Opening Celebration and Festivities for “Newtown Creek Nature Walk” 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM NEWTOWN CREEK WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PAIDGE AVENUE & PROVOST STREET BROOKLYN, NY 11222 Shuttle buses are available from the intersection of Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues (Greenpoint Ave G Stop) from 11am to 3 pm. Children activities and light refreshments will be served Christine Holowacz, Community Liaison, 718 349-0150, 917 670-9044"

    Queens Chronicle - Deacy, Ulrich Early Leaders by Joesph Wendelken...

    Queens Chronicle - Deacy, Ulrich Early Leaders

    Early returns from polling stations in South Queens at the end of Primary Day reveal that Republicans want the local party to head in a new direction.

    According to unofficial Board of Elections figures, Jane Deacy and Eric Ulrich hold a comfortable lead over Denise Walsh and John Calcagnile for the positions of Republican State Committee members in the 23rd Assembly District. The male and female State Committee members, more commonly known as district leaders, work to organize the party locally and push its candidates in city and state elections.

    Current Republican District Leaders Terry Ariola and Ed O’Hare endorsed Walsh and Calcagnile. Both Walsh and Calcagnile volunteered several times for the Ariola/O’Hare campaign.

    When polls closed on Tuesday, Deacy had 614 votes to Walsh’s 376. Ulrich had 611 votes to Calcagnile’s 410.

    Affidavit ballots, absentee ballots and special ballots still need counting and the machines’ counts will be reviewed a second time.
    the results will not be certified for at least a week and a half.

    Ulrich, a 22-year-old graduate student at St. John’s University, lost in a bid for a district leader position in 2005.

    He credited his running mate and the support of Ozone Park, his neighborhood, with pushing his ticket ahead this year.

    “It’s reassuring that people appreciate my hard work,” Ulrich said. “I’m humbled.”

    Deacy, a former teacher and police officer who resides in Rockaway, said: “I want to commend the Republicans in the 23rd Assembly District for their response.”

    —Joseph Wendelken

    [where: Ozone Park, NY 11417]

    Queens Ledger - Letter to the Editor - Why Aren't You In Iraq?..

    Queens Ledger:

    Dear Editor:

    I am writing to share an experience I recently witnessed at a local civic association meeting.

    On August 29, I attended “Candidate’s Night” at the Ozone Park Residents Block Association held at Nativity BVM church.

    In past years I have had the opportunity to meet, greet and question many of our local politicians at this event.

    With this being an off-year politically with no major elections being held, only two candidates attended and participated. They were Jane Deacy and Eric Ulrich, the male and female candidates for Republican District 23 AD Leader.

    Since District Leader is a local political position, I expected to hear their vision on how they would register new voters, man the polls during elections and how they planned to reinvigorate their party locally - amid an ever widening demographical shift, detrimental to the Republican party - in their district.

    During their stump speeches, Ms. Deacy and Mr. Ulrich both spent the majority of their time lauding the Bush Administration, highlighting the great job that the national Republican party is doing and robotically voicing their unwavering and support for President George W. Bush and his war in Iraq.

    Mr. Ulrich also shared that he tries to model his life after his two role models, Ronald W. Reagan and Pope John Paul II.

    I found their unceasing blind loyalty to President Bush and his failed policies to be delusional, quixotical and somewhat psychotic.

    During the question and answer period, I was fortunate enough to be able to ask both candidates a few questions.

    I confirmed that both candidates are completely and utterly committed to the present situation in Iraq and feel it’s in our country’s best interest.

    I asked Mr. Ulrich his age, to which he responded with a glowing smile, “22.”

    I then asked Mr. Ulrich that since he looked physically fit, why he hasn’t enlisted to serve in Iraq, especially since it is evident that he is so fanatically supportive of President Bush’s preemptive, illegal, immoral and criminal war.

    I informed him that there was a military recruiting office in downtown Jamaica, I also offered to get an application for him.

    Additionally, I informed him that our military recruiters have been hard-pressed to meet their quotas and that it would be a patriotic thing to do.

    Mr. Ulrich responded in a Romney-esque manner, informing me that he was very happy that America has a volunteer military and that he didn’t feel the need to volunteer to fight in this war right now.

    For the record, Mitt Romney recently explained that his five military aged sons were serving their country by working on his presidential campaign, as if their service was commensurate with serving our nation in Iraq.

    I think it would be accurate to say Mr. Ulrich felt that his services and talents could be put to better and safer use here in the neighborhood, rather than serving with our brave troops in Iraq. To his credit, this at least confirms Mr. Ulrich’s sanity.

    When I went home that evening, I got to thinking about Mr. Ulrich’s response and attitude. I actually found it to be very consistent with the ethos exhibited by his party’s present standard bearers, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    Remembering, that when it was their turn to serve their nation in the Viet-Nam war they chose to either through political connections hide out in the Texas Air National Guard or sought numerous exemptions to the draft because they had “other priorities”.

    Anyone who knows me knows that I voiced my adamant opposition to this war prior to Mr. Bush committing troops in March 2003, including writing against the war in these very pages.

    Being a registered Democrat, I have no horse in this local Republican race, but I felt it was important to bring this to the attention of the public.

    I find it to be so illustrative of a wider prevailing attitude of the Republican party, particularly it’s radical right-wing and how it is adversely affecting the morals and morale of our country. It’s a — Do as I say, Not as I do — logic .

    I long for the day when we again have people seeking public office who not only talk the talk but walk the walk. True leaders don’t let others fight their countries battles for them.

    Bring the Troops Home..!

    David M. Quintana
    Ozone Park

    [where: Ozone Park, NY 11417]