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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Disgusting Show Of Bias

I have to admit, I thought I was done with blogging the District 15 elections. But this is a story that seems to never go away. I saw a piece in today's edition of the local paper, the Nassau Herald that really made my blood boil. If this not the most biased piece of garbage to ever pass as news, then I don't know what is. This stuff makes even Gary Rosenblatt look like he's "fair and balanced". And that, my friends, is quite the stretch. Here is the piece in full, with my commentary interspersed:
The month-long battle for the Lawrence school board was tame compared to recent years, but despite the toned down rhetoric from the four candidates, the campaign was not without controversy.
Fair start.
From stealing pro-budget leaflets, submitting fliers giving the wrong date of the election, selectively sent e-mails and accusations of subliminal language, the 2006 Lawrence school board races appeared to be as divisive as in the past, according to many observers.
This could have been a reasonable paragraph, except for some minor quibbles. The first point, regarding the "stealing of pro-budget leaflets"? It's never borne out in the article. Not that the rest of the points are proven in any substantial way, as I will enumerate below, but the point as it stands, claiming the stealing of pamphlets is just gratuitous bashing of the private school (i.e.: anti-budget) community. To throw out such an accusation without even a lousy attempt at proving it? Not so much as a measly anonymous comment "alleging" that the stealing went on? Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Moving right along.
One controversy stemmed from campaign signs for candidates Michael Hatten and Uri Kaufman that had the words "Lag B'Omer" on the bottom, indicating that the election day fell on a holiday observed by many Orthodox Jews. Many residents felt the words were designed to be a code to let the large Orthodox Jewish population in the district know that Hatten and Kaufman would serve the community if elected.

"Too many people don't know what this is" said Alison Biller of Woodmere, a 1998 Lawrence High School graduate at the May 9 school board meeting when she addressed her concern over the language on the signs.
Um...a "code"? Are these the subliminal messages that the first paragraph is referring to? Seems pretty cut-and-dried to me. The election fell on a Jewish holiday. The signs were put up in neighborhoods with large Orthodox population. What a genius of subliminal messaging it must have taken to encourage a population to vote by reminding them that the election fell on their holiday, and that even though many Orthodox Jews traditionally plan outings and trips on that day, they should plan their day to include time to vote. Does anyone really think that this would have been done any differently in any campaign, mayoral, senatorial, whatever? That's the name of political campaigning. Anyone see Michael Bloomberg's campaign signs written in Mandarin all over Chinatown in the recent NYC mayoral election? Or Freddy Ferrer's Spanish commercials? I didn't hear anyone complaining then that "too many people don't read Mandarin". Or speak Spanish. Thats what we call targeted campaign materials. Subliminal messages? Code? Don't make me laugh. And we continue:
Some people from the private school community also expressed displeasure at the campaign signs posted on numerous lawns for Brooks and Rizzo since they were identified as the "public school candidates"and interpreted the words to mean that they would only represent one segment of the community.
"Some" people from the private school community? Try "most" people from the private school community. Uh, this is not exactly an attempt at any sort of coded message here. This isn't a matter of "interpretation" either. Someone proclaims themselves, in signs all over the community, as "the" candidate representing a certain group, and it's kind of hard to look at it as anything but an exclusive representation. This is hardly comparable to writing "Lag B'Omer" on the signage. Hatten and Kaufman certainly did not proclaim themselves to be the "private school candidates" . To compare the first debatably "subliminal" message from Hatten/Kaufman's signage to the out-and-out message of exclusion in Brooks/Rizzo's signage is clear a sign of bias. Next paragraph:
Another controversy that occured during the campaign included a letter circulated throughout the yeshiva community saying how important the election was to their interests which was signed by numerous Orthodox Rabbis in the area.
Why exactly was the letter controversial? I read the letter. It made no indication of which way to vote, it simply stressed the importance of the election, and urged the community to vote. Is voting not important? Did the public school not send out a mailing (paid for by taxpayers, I might add), expressly encouraging public school parents to vote? Yet somehow, the second example is less controversial than the first - so much so that it didn't even make the cut to be included in this sorry excuse for reporting??? The mind boggles.
There were also many e-mails selectively forwarded throughout certain members of the community urging support for Hatten and Kaufman...
Oooh. Now that is sinister. Sending e-mails around to selective people encouraging them to vote for specific candidates. I have an even better one: There were rumors that people were encouraging others in their family and social circles to vote for Hatten and Kaufman by the use of a telephonic device that enables people to communicate by typing in a special 7-digit code. Shocking!
...accusations that leaflets were issued in certain areas giving the wrong date of the election, as well as reports of campaign signs being stolen.
"Accusations"? "Reports"? Care to elaborate? Short of any direct quotes or information referring to these allegations, they are totally meaningless. Can this article be any more shoddily researched?? Truly, though, the piece de resistance of this whole stinking piece of garbage is the last paragraph:
Despite the outcome of the elections, Janice Goorland, who formed the activist group "Lawrence Pride and Spirit" which supported the cadidacies of Rizzo and Brooks as well as the budget, was happy with how they conducted their campaign. "We truly ran an honest campaign" said Goorland. "We can hold our heads up high".
"We can hold our heads up high?" As opposed to...who exactly? The "other side"? From whom the reporter apparently neglected to get a quote? The Orthodox Jews, who had the audacity to send out (gasp) e-mails? And refer to a Jewish holiday on their signage?

Ugh. This was very disappointing to see in what is ostensibly a "community" paper. But then again, what to expect from a paper whose editor proclaimed in a pre-election editorial endorsing Rizzo and Brooks that private school parents are not entitled to hold office on the school board at all?


Blogger DAG said...

What is their definition of the "Yeshiva Community?" Those with children in Orthodox schools?

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well dissected.

I have been party to these elections for a few years now. It is mind boggling how they see their side and cannot see anything past that. Have you ever been to some of the school board meetings? what a joke. I have witnbessed representatives from the public schools literally heckling when decisions were (rarely) made that did not overly favor the public schools. A serious travesty.
BH Hatten and Kaufman won, but now starts the real test, can we keep the public school parents happy while serving our needs (for once) as well?

11:02 PM  
Blogger talmid said...

You should send this article as a 'letters to the editor' of the Nassau Herald.

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is mind boggling how they see their side and cannot see anything past that."

Be careful. "They"? I am one of "them", and I agree with OM's comments wholeheartedly. As a "them", I am also hoping that Orthodox control of the board will bring some needed stability to the community. "We" are not a single minded group of "those people", just as the Orthodox are not.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a public school parent, and I find this article deplorable. Om, your comments on the article are spot on. Just keep in mind that just because the editor shows bias towards the public school side does not mean he is my spokesman. I for one, would like to put this whole time of divisiveness behind us. I don't know what the Herald is trying to accomplish with this obviously one-sided piece. I would just like to se for everyone to get along. I don't see that we have a choice.

7:35 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

It doesn't really matter what sour grapes the herald reveals in its coverage. what does matter is what they are saying in two years from now.

Lets push some real positive change that benefits everyone and the herald will have to grudgingly eat its words. But in this situation, fair, positive results will make the difference.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it amazes me that a mother of four has so much time to write blogs. i hope you are not neglecting your family.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the few non Jews who knew what "Lag B'Omer" meant I can tell you that of course people thought it was some code or whatever. How the heck would anyone who isn't an Orthodox Jew know that "Lag B'Omer" is simply the name of a holiday? Not that it really matters since people who worry about that stuff are boneheads anyway.

The Rizzo/Brooks team had literature distributed in spanish and I'm sure that people who supported them (or not) and don't read spanish didn't think that it said something like "help us screw over the Jews"

But just because they're boneheads doesn't mean they might not vote for you, so I DO think the "Lag B'Omer" on the signs was politically unwise if you want the non-Orthodox vote since while the spanish literature was clearly what it was, a brief phrase on a sign could be seen by some potential voters as a "code" (maybe it's the key to the Davinci Code) Many public school parents and other members of the non-Orthodox community voted for Michael Hatten and Uri Kaufman and if they or some other Orthodox candidate are running in the future they would be best advised to put up signs in english only.

Since I work extensivly in the Orthodox community people always ask me about these things (I guess they somehow manage to live in the Five Towns and not know any Jews) and I can tell you that countless people asked me about the "Lag B'Omer" on the signs and what it really meant. Many were somewhat disappointed to find out that it was just the date. Everyone loves a conspiracy theory.

7:52 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

The Lag B'omer signs WERE a code. Why would anyone deny that? It was designed to identify for the Orthodox community who to vote for. Pretty simple.

What's wrong with that?

10:07 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Backlash has begun!

Got a call from my mom (a 40+ year Cedarhurst resident) yesterday. Apparently, as she was waking from the car to the front door, someone pulled over to the side of the road, rolled down his window and yelled, "F*** you, you Orthodox B****!!!! Go back to Brooklyn!"

Gotta love neighborhood harmony . . .

11:15 AM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

can you blame them

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is no question that the brooklyn refugees have destroyed the five towns.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no question that anonymous quotes on a blog are meaningless.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous 12:32,
Those "Brooklyn Refugees" are the same one that have made YOUR property values quadruple. Now your old little three bedroom ranch is worth $1 million, SO MOVE TO FLORIDA

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Aren't the Brooklyn Refugees that new minor league team affiliated with the Mets?

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"can we keep the public school parents happy while serving our needs (for once) as well?"

"For once"????? It is interesting that no mention was made on this blog of the letter to the editor of the Nassau Herald from an Orthodox parent who has been quite pleased with the wonderful services from the public schools. There are plenty of Orthodox parents who DO receive great services for their children. It is unfortunate that probably most of them do not see this blog or write letters to the editor or stand up to the people who erroneously think that the Orthodox members of our communtiy receive nothing.

6:51 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

It is interesting that no mention was made on this blog of the letter to the editor of the Nassau Herald from an Orthodox parent who has been quite pleased with the wonderful services from the public schools.

What does this have to do with the price of tea in China??? This post has nothing to do with what the readers of the Nassau Herald have to say in their letters to the editor. This post is pointing everyone's attention to the biased, loaded writings of an editor who is ostensibly supposed to be an unbiased source of news.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in the 5 Towns when the only kosher food store was Mazel and eating out meant Jacobs Bladder! echh. Even than there was anti-O sentiment on the part of the long time rich NON-O wealthy Jews here. WE (I) shop here, go to shul here, educated my kids here and I (we) are guilty of one thing. I have never invited any of my non observant neighbors in for a kiddush, lunch or even a summer sunday bar b q. I have never spoken the the family across the street from in the 17 years on this block. For crying out loud why can't we reach out to them and show them we like the good life jsut as they do

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't need to hear commenters talking about how orthodox parents get services for their kids. The criteria for orthodox and non orthodox kids is vastly different. I have experienced this first hand as therapists remain perplexed as to why my child hasn't gotten services. The simple answer is that we send our kids to yeshiva.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"WE (I) shop here, go to shul here, educated my kids here and I (we) are guilty of one thing. I have never invited any of my non observant neighbors in for a kiddush, lunch or even a summer sunday bar b q. I have never spoken the the family across the street from in the 17 years on this block. For crying out loud why can't we reach out to them and show them we like the good life jsut as they do"

Speak for yourself

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I think that last poster was true. If more of us actually took some time to reach out and get to "meet" our neighbors, there would be less for others to speculate about. But I've seen how some of my friends, and yes even myself, have been quiet to neighbors we've had for many years. I've seen how that "shyness" or "introvert" behavior has only added fuel to the sentiment that we look down on everyone else.

Time we took a long look in the mirror to see how some of this hatred falls on our own hands. It's a cop out to sit back and say "It's all THEIR fault." So let's be the bigger persons here and make that effort.

Go out this weekend and try to strike up a conversation with a neighbor you' ve never really spoken to, intentionally go over to that new family that moved in in the last year who may not know too many people.

Consider it your mitzvah for the week.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Board of Education has listed their contingent budget...so I guess there's no plan to put up a new vote (cowards!).

Did anyone look at it? They cut nothing! One retiring administrator they won't replace, $900k in cuts they knew were taking place (but conveniently forgot to tell the public) and a couple of brooms.

Amazing how they were able to save over $1 million without even trying. Shame on Fiztsimmons.

1:24 PM  
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