2000-07-26 / Editorials



To The Editor:

Poor Richard’s Almanac a.k.a. Benjamin Franklin once said, "There is nothing surer than death or taxes" but it is probably safe to say that none of the founders ever envisioned a tax as noxious as the death tax.

Perhaps that is why the death tax [the federal tax on estates] has remained as popular as the British tax on tea in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1773.

Another highly inequitable tax is the marriage penalty tax, which causes many married couples to pay more than if they remain single. Not only is this one discriminatory and unfair, it goes against common sense.

Despite the fact that these taxes are so patently unfair, to my knowledge none of my colleagues in the State Committee have dressed up in war paint and dumped tea in the harbor. We have however petitioned our Congressional representatives year in and year out for middle class tax relief, and pushed for doing away with these two onerous taxes.

With the budget surplus in hand and with the elections around the corner I believe we finally have an opportunity to abolish these two taxes. It looks like the Republican Majority in Congress in concert with a significant number of moderate Democrats of good will is set to push through legislation to repeal these two taxes. It is estimated that repeal of the marriage penalty tax alone would provide relief to over 24 million hardworking American families.

I would ask the readership of this fine paper to help us keep the pressure up. Write or call your Congressional representative and let them know that you support tax relief for the middle class. Ask them how they will vote on these measures.


Vince Tabone Esq.

Republican State Committeeman

Your representatives in the Queens Delegation of Congress are:

Hon. Carolyn Maloney (212) 832-6531

Hon. Joseph Crowley (718) 706-1400

Hon. Gary Ackerman (718) 423-2154

Hon Nita Lowey (718) 897-3602

Hon. Gregory Meeks (718) 327-9791

Re SB 30

To The Editor:

Had your reporter, Richard Gentilviso, called the office of Community School Board 30 the morning after writing his article "By-Law Dispute Leads to Walkout By 3 SB 30 members" he would have been given a copy of the letter faxed to Board President Donald Stewart by Doreen De Martini, Director of the Office of Community School District Affairs, which puts an entirely different perspective on what occurred on the night of July 11 at the Annual Meeting of the school board from what Mr. Gentilviso reported.

State law, as well as District 30’s by-laws, requires a vote of five members for any action to be taken at a public meeting. As a board member for the past four years, Mr. Ciafone must surely have known this. Yet, when he received four votes, he stridently insisted that he was now the new president, and ordered Mr. Stewart to vacate his seat. when Mr. Stewart informed him that the vote was invalid, Mr. Ciafone persisted in declaring that he was the president and that he would summon security to oust Mr. Stewart if Mr. Stewart did not accept his decision. Mr. Stewart rightly insisted that Mr. Ciafone’s "election" was invalid and that he would not cede his seat to Mr. Ciafone. After more than five minutes of this unseemly haranguing, with no end in sight, I suggested to Mr. Stewart and Mrs. Raffaele that we leave the dais. This would mean that the remaining four members would be shy of a quorum, and no further business could legally proceed. Did that stop Mr. Ciafone, who is a lawyer, and should know that a meeting cannot continue without a quorum? Not a bit! He proceeded to conduct an "election" for the three remaining offices, which of course was declared null and void by Mrs. De Martini when she was called on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Ciafone’s misinterpretation of our by-laws may be compared to a misinterpretation of the first sentence of Mr. Gentilviso’s article:" After John J. Ciafone was elected president of Community School Board 30 for the second time in the last three years by a four to three margin at the July meeting..." Did you think that Mr. Ciafone was elected twice by a four to three margin? Of course he wasn’t. A comma after the word "years" would have made that clear. That is what Mr. Ciafone seemingly was counting on when he noticed a comma was missing in the sentence of our by-laws, as Mrs. De Martini points out in her letter. And Mrs. Basini, Dr. Chang, and Mr. Glassberg went right along with this sophistry. Indeed, an embarrassment to us all!

One final word about several inaccuracies in the Gazette article: Mr. Gentilviso writes, "Mr. Ciafone chided the absconding members." The dictionary defines abscond as "to depart in a sudden and secret manner, to avoid detection or capture, as: The cashier absconded with the bonds." I thought our departure was quite open and deliberate! The President of Presidents Council is Laura Alqaisi, not Laura Casey. Dr. Chang did not retain "an office from the previous year." She has held no office on the board. And the representative of the Office of Community School District Affairs who was present at the meeting was Jonathan Levine, not the Chancellor’s deputy Jonathan Levi. Otherwise, the article was quite accurate, if incomplete.

I hope you will include Mrs. De Martini’s letter, which should set the record straight.


Dorothy Wilner


Community School Board 30

Editor’s Note: De Martini’s letter to Stewart follows.

Donald P. Stewart, President

Community School Board 30

49-05 20th Avenue

Jackson Heights, New York 11370

Dear Mr. Stewart:

I am writing in regard to a vote taken last evening to elect officers of your community school board. It is my understanding that there were seven board members present, and that in voting for president member John Ciafone received four votes. I am told that based on his interpretation of the bylaws he declared that he had been elected president.

Although the relevant language in your bylaws has never been interpreted this way before, it is in need of either punctuation or syntax. It states that, "Officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the whole number of the Board at the annual meeting, etc." There should either be a comma after "...whole number of the Board," or rewritten to state that, "Officers shall be elected at the annual meeting, by a majority vote, etc." It does not state that, "Officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the whole number of the members of the Board present and voting at the annual meeting,...", and certainly has never been interpreted that way before.

Notwithstanding the current language, I believe your board members will acknowledge that in any case, the law supersedes a board’s bylaws. The General Construction law is clear in setting both a quorum and a majority for public bodies as being the majority of the whole number of the board. Since the whole number of the board is nine, the quorum and the majority are always fixed at five, regardless of the number of seats filled, or the number of members present.

Until another vote is taken and someone receives at least five votes in favor, you remain president of the board pursuant to language in your bylaws, which states that officers shall continue in office until their successors have been duly elected. If you have any questions, please feel free to call.


Doreen De Martini


Office of Community School

District Affairs

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