2017-03-08 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

THHS Interim Principal

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 1, 2017
Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor
City Hall
New York, New York 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

We are writing to share our dismay over the ongoing problems at Townsend Harris High School at Queens College (“Townsend Harris”). While many members of the public and elected officials have already weighed in and brought this to the attention of Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña, the alarming rate of issues requires your prompt attention and resolution.

As recently as last week, students, parents, alumni, teachers, administrators and concerned supporters rallied at City Hall in an effort to demonstrate to your administration the severity of the situation. Here in Queens, we believe that the school community deserves to have its voice heard and needs met.

In supporting our beloved public education system, it is our belief that the Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda (“Ms. Jahoda”) lacks essential skills to lead Townsend Harris. She should not be considered in the C-30 process, set to occur shortly. In her several months as interim acting principal, Ms. Jahoda has clearly demonstrated that she is not the right fit for the school.

From the beginning, little input was considered from the school community in the selection of Ms. Jahoda as Interim Acting Principal. This is a dangerous precedent, and one that we hope will not continue in the current C -30 process.

In the following points, we enumerate the reasons we believe – and others have noted – Ms. Jahoda should be removed from consideration. In addition to the grievances below, thousands of community members from across Queens have signed a petition asking for Ms. Jahoda’s removal. As additional concerns are raised, we will continue to supplement this letter.

 According to many reports, Ms. Jahoda is particularly unwilling to work with the school’s special education department and students with IEPs. One such family is considering legal action against Ms. Jahoda due to denied services.

 Through gross inaction, Ms. Jahoda delayed senior transcripts from being sent to colleges and universities, affecting students’ acceptance status in an already stressful process. Further, her delay caused a student to miss the first day of a prestigious Harvard University internship and kept the parent of this student waiting in her office for five hours when said parent sought out help. This parent had reached out to the Department of Education in regards to Ms. Jahoda during the December PEP meeting, but was unaided. Another student and her parents claim that they waited four days for Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda to sign off on changing a grade on her midyear transcript after a grade error was reported.

 Ms. Jahoda has not observed teachers in the classroom, does not know the names of a number of her teachers and has filed four written observations thus far, far below the 54 that the former principal filed last year.

 Students are delayed and dismissed by the IA principal when they request a meeting. One student who wished to discuss the transcript issue, was told she could see her in a “a few days.” The school newspaper has requested to meet with her multiple times since December 13th and has been continually denied, most recently being told that she will be unavailable to meet with them indefinitely. In today’s current media environment, we are sure you recognize the value of a free and open press.

 Ms. Jahoda is delayed in her communications, not only with students and parents, but also with teachers, faculty and administration. For example, the Dean requested an updated cell phone policy be finalized prior to the spring term beginning. This has yet to happen.

 Unresponsiveness has turned to hostility, as may community members report. Ms. Jahoda refused to support the head of the Muslim Student Association when the student felt as if they had experienced discrimination, was overheard cursing at a member of her staff and insulted a number of teachers and administrators seeking to find better ways for the school community to come together.

 As detailed by The New York Times and others, many of these actions fit a pattern of retaliatory behavior that began when Ms. Jahoda was an Assistant Principal at Bronx Science, where the community pushed back on her there as well.

We look forward to hearing from you and working to ensure the search for the next principal reflects Townsend Harris’ long-standing history of providing quality education for the next generation of leaders. We hope that you will join us in rejecting Ms. Jahoda’s candidacy. As you know, principals are important role models in our city, and students deserve a leader ready and willing to work with them and advocate for their best interests. Sincerely,

Nily Rozic 25th District, Catherine Nolan 37th

District, Jeffrion Aubry 35th District, Brian Barnwell
30th District, Edward Braunstein 26th District, Vivian
Cook 32nd District, Michael DenDekker 34th
District, Andrew Hevesi 28th District, Alicia
Hyndman 29th District, Ron Kim 40th District,
Michael Miller 38th District, Francisco Moya 39th
District, Stacey Pheffer Amato 23rd District, Michael
Simanowitz 27th District, Aravella Simotas 36th
District, Michele Titus 31st District, Clyde Vanel 33rd
District, David Weprin 24th District
New York State Assembly

I Scream, You Scream

To The Editor:

Is spring cleaning taking place in my local supermarket? It seems the aisles are often clogged with workers moving products and crowding the aisles with shopping carts, milk crates, and shelving, making shopping akin to running a gauntlet. My favorite aisle, ice cream, was not spared this confounded treatment the other day. There were two busy guys unloading ice cream from the freezer cases and loading the products in shopping carts, making navigating through this aisle a shopping obstacle course. Why are they doing this? Termites? Freezers not working again? This was a reset going on, which is basically just changing the order of the products. I counted 30 doors of ice cream. One poor soul seemed to be resetting 13 doors of novelty items himself with wagons and milk crates filled with products on both sides of the aisle. What a frozen fiasco!

I saw gazillions of cones and pops and fruity treats that would make for some Good Humor but this scene was anything but funny. Why aren’t more people helping I wondered. I found out there were other members from this team of merchandisers, but they were resetting a huge section of yogurt in another aisle at the same time the ice cream was being reset. Uh-oh – it looks like Chobani Flips over Dannon Greek Yogurts. It seemed to me that more people should be working on this ice cream reset, so that the ice cream is not sitting out and melting all day – which is what I observed – or at least be put in an empty freezer or end cap to load the product before it melted. Couldn’t the yogurt be reset another day so the ice cream can be moved more quickly and efficiently? Somebody had decided these resets had to be done on the same day. Their philosophy must be, “what’s the big deal if the ice cream melts, and customers can barely move in the aisle?”

One of these merchandisers told me that often sections being reset get packed out by a night crew the night before or even earlier the same day of the reset. Now doesn’t that sound ingenious? Everything just packed out on the shelves has to come off the shelves. The store personnel is informed two weeks prior to the reset, but often the store managers had no clue this reset team was going to be there. That seems kind of far-fetched that the store manager is not aware a team of merchandisers will be moving products in several aisles of the store. There seems to be a lack of communication, to put it mildly.

Wait! What’s all the excitement in the health and beauty aid aisle? A male stripper? Is the store giving away free samples of K-Y Jelly? No, it’s the nightmarish deodorant reset. Holy Right Guard. The Secret is out. Don’t even Axe what a horror it is to do this reset. I’m sure the workers would Ban it if they could. But why the same day as ice cream and yogurt with what appears to be a skeleton crew? But getting back to my ice cream: what would you do for a Klondike Bar? Well, I’d beat a Nestle Nuts Over Caramel Cone Drumstick to death for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Klondike Bar. I noticed that the Fudgsicle and Popsicle’s arch nemesis, the Italian ices, had changed shelf heights and zip code locations.

How do I know so much about these resets? I have a confession. I’m a member of one of these merchandising teams who do this heinous work: an unappreciated, thankless, underpaid, redundant and usually unnecessary job. Adding a few new items and taking out some discontinued items is fine, but does every item need to be moved and every shelf need to be adjusted about every 12 weeks? I don’t think so, but whoever makes the plans we follow wants to make sure that customers get inconvenienced as much as possible. Now I eventually helped out in this ice cream quagmire several hours later. I was resetting some dairy creamers and then making room for new products in the baking and pet aisles. Of course, somebody decided it had to be done the same day the ice cream sat out of the freezers for hours melting. There’s just not enough help in the aisle to get the job done faster. If you like to purchase your ice cream that has melted and then refrozen, that’s fine. Personally, I think it is insane to subject workers and shoppers to such lunacy. Have you ever had frozen pizza that had melted and then refrozen? Yep. Same nonsense goes on in all the frozen sections.

But who am I to complain? My sincere sympathies to Breyer’s, Edy’s, Friendly’s, HaagenDazs, Ben and Jerry’s, and my other favorites. The only Turkeys on this Hill of a melting cornucopia are us hardworking peons. But somebody has to do this work. Frozen yogurt pops, anybody? Mark Lane

Ferry Riders Need Parking

To The Editor:

Reading the Gazette (February 22), I noticed your article about considering taking the ferry. It is a great idea, however, you can only get to the ferry by car and once you get there, there is no free parking.

I know a lot of people who would like to take the ferry to go and come back from work, but it is virtually impossible.

I have sent an email to East River Ferry with the above concern, but I doubt that anything will be done about it.

Can you please contact the East River Ferry management team? Let them know that expanding the ferry program without providing free parking will not help.

Frank D.

Ferries Are Win-Win

To The Editor:

“Consider Taking The Ferry” (Editorial, February 22) makes sense. Our waterways are an underutilized natural asset which can offer significant transportation alternatives for thousands of New Yorkers. Most of our existing public transportation and roadways are already operating at or above capacity. New ferry services are being implemented far more quickly than construction of new subways, commuter rails or highways. These can take years or even decades until completion of environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements and actual construction before reaching beneficial use. Completing all of the above, along with finding funding for ferry boats, docks and parking with costs in the millions, have proved to be easier than finding the billions of dollars necessary for construction of new or extended subways, commuter rails or highways.

In April 1967, the old Jersey Central Rail Road ended ferry service between Liberty Street in Manhattan and Pavonia, New Jersey. Later that year, in November 1967, the old Erie Lackawana Rail Road suspended ferry service between Barclay Street in Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey. Fast forward to today. Thousands of daily commuters use ferries from Hoboken, New Jersey to the World Financial Center. There are also 66,000 daily patrons of the Staten Island Ferry System, which connects St. George, Staten Island with the Whitehall Street, Manhattan Ferry Terminal. Unlike the other four boroughs, 500,000 Richmond County residents have no direct subway or commuter rail system linking them with the rest of NYC.

Thousands of ferry riders for several years have utilized the East River Ferry connecting various waterfront neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, with stops in Manhattan, including Long Island City, East 34th Street, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Wall Street and Governors Island, and will now be joined by Astorians.

NYC can also apply for capital grants from the New York State Department of Transportation and United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration to assist in funding ferry services. NYS also provides State Transportation Operating Assistance (STOA) for transportation systems. Ridership on any transit service generates yearly federal transportation formula capital assistance. Numerous past private ferry operators have come and gone. They could not financially survive based upon farebox revenue alone without government subsidy. MTA bus, subway and commuter rail along with NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry is subsidized by a combination of city, state and federal assistance for both capital and operating costs. All of these new ferry services will continue requiring similar subsidies if they are to survive.

Riders could purchase weekly or monthly passes for discounted fares. These could be supplemented by using Transit Checks, which will further reduce the cost per ride.

Who would not want to enjoy the fresh air and breeze that only waterborne transportation can provide? Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, LI

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