Monday Briefing: On school board secrecy and Wading River Creek concerns

07/25/2011 9:50 AM |

As we reported Friday, Riverhead Board of Education members are refusing to make public the names of people seeking to fill a vacant seat on the board — despite the opinion of the state’s open government laws’ co-author that such information must be released.

These people are seeking public office, wouldn’t it make sense their names be made public? Not in Riverhead, I guess.

While the new board member’s opinion won’t affect the already-scheduled infrastructure bond vote, it could affect upcoming labor negotiations. The current teacher contract is set to expire June 30, 2012. Board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse, herself a former Riverhead teacher’s union boss, said the school’s legal counsel has advised that the board could decline to divulge the names of those who submitted applications for the vacant seat.

The counsel said the district could keep the names secret. But, as a commenter on our story said, does that mean they should?

• I was glad to see Newsday picked up on Riverhead Town’s — and now Senator Charles Schumer’s — calls for summer dredging and to find a permanent solution to shoaling problem at Wading River Creek. Local, state and federal governments need to get on board and craft a plan that permanently solves this problem, which interferes with the ability of emergency responders to launch rescue boats into the Sound.

That could even mean closing the mouth of the creek and redirecting the waterway to the power plant property, then rehabilitating the boat ramp there. Everything should be on the table because the current system of paying tens of thousands of dollars each December, only to have winter storms reverse the work, is a waste of time and a huge waste of money.

I understand the need to protect nesting piping plover and winter flounder. But at what expense?

• Riverhead Town this morning accepted its first same-sex marriage application this morning. The first ceremonies will have to wait until Thursday, though. I hope whichever couple gets married in Town Hall first likes publicity, because I’m sure there will be plenty of media there.