Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette

Jan 16, 2014

Where is the outrage?

Superintendent Collins of RSU 13 wants to quit his job. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Hang out the flags and don’t let the door hit him from behind!

After having alienated himself from most of the staff and school board with his "doom and gloom" prediction and draconian slashing of staff positions, he no longer feels the love of his underlings. Well, tough. Suck it up! And finish what you started, if that is really all that good for our schools and budget. But QUIT! Only losers quit. But, the real kicker here is not his quitting, but the audacity that he is going to receive $100,000, plus his earned vacation time, and health insurance! Are you kidding me??!! He QUIT. He didn’t get fired and thrown out the door. He quit.

Can you just imagine any one of us not getting along with our co-workers, quitting our jobs and asking our bosses for $100,000!

I am by no means saying that what he started is not a good thing. Our school budgets are way out of whack and spending is way out of control. Government and state mandates remain unfunded, consolidation has only seen our taxes go up and the bottom of the bottomless pit is in sight.

With ever-decreasing property values and decreasing salaries/pensions and ever-increasing property taxes, there just has to be a better and fairer way to pay for our schools, other than property taxes.

It is a no-brainer to figure out that the cost of schooling will continue to go up. Salaries, insurance, transportation, heating, supplies are all going to continue to be more expensive. But, the district could spend $100,000-plus a whole lot wiser than handing it over to the towel thrower.

If the board does decide that they should be handing over this money, let them pay for it. This type of wasteful spending is exactly why there is a growing frustration by the taxpayers. Enough is enough!

Adrian Hooydonk

Spruce Head

2014 goals

The holiday season is over, now we are facing a new year, 2014. The question is: what is it going to be like?

Better for the unemployed, better relations with foreign countries, less deaths by shootings at schools, factories and sporting events, less bullying at some of our public schools across our nation.

America is a friendly country, let's carry this through 2014 and beyond.

Gordon Wotton


Destruction of character of place

In 2005, circumstances found me living in Sarasota, Fla., in a rented house built in 1921, that was immediately off major Route 41, and one of the last remaining homes in that section. The design was unique, featuring a kind of tower-like structure, and one sunken room. The front yard had become a popular spot for homeless people to sleep. The lot was filled with broken glass from previous paying tenants.

The house was owned by a couple of school teachers from Massachusetts, who had purchased the house for $30,000 or so, only several years previously. At the end of 2005, the house was purchased for $700,000. It sold last year for $100,000, a foreclosure, I think, but not before the property again suffered terribly from neglect.

Within three months of moving in, I had put 1,000 hours of work into clearing the property myself, constructing a fine garden, often rescuing plantings from properties under development where the plants would be destroyed, painting the walkways, windows, and doors. Gently asked the homeless "residents" if they might find another "bed," a request that was completely respected. Despite placing easily-removed or destroyed planters and other embellishments, nothing was ever taken. It seemed that everyone respected the work and love that was put into the property. True sweat equity. And there was the most beautiful mimosa in the back that I learned was one of the oldest in Sarasota. One evening, the night-blooming cereus astounded with its fleeting beauty.

People long in the neighborhood swore they had not known the house was there, so overgrown and abandoned it had become as to vanish. But the transformation was significant, brought attention to the house, and word came at Christmas that the house was to be sold for development and that it would be razed. A move was unavoidable. Devastating news. And then, the property sat there. The bubble had burst. Images of the house as seen on Google are heartbreaking.

Google also shows that around town, there are very fine sidewalks. There are very fine sidewalks all over Sarasota. But the hardware store on Main Street is gone now. After 78 years it closed in 2012. That hardware store had wood floors that smelled of oil. I would walk to it and scrounge around hardware that sat off the main floor, finding exactly what I needed to fix something in the house.

Traveling with Google along other streets, tree-lined streets with native flora where there had been interesting shops, have shops no longer. And no trees. They were removed on spec. A treeless lot is more attractive to developers. Out with the bamboo stands. Out with the mimosas. There are empty buildings in areas that should be considered part of downtown. But they aren't "Main Street."

The hardware store isn't the only thing that is missing from Sarasota these days; it seems to have lost its soul. The 2012 Sarasota Herald-Tribune story about the hardware store, and other long-term Main Street store closures, quoted the chairman of the downtown alliance, (who is also the president of a commercial real estate brokerage firm), saying, in essence — things change. "It's the natural course of things." The story ends with his quote: "The master plan for downtown is to make it as pedestrian friendly as possible...The city is working to make it a pleasurable place to shop and dine." It was exactly that in 2005. Now? Nobody's walking. What would be the point?

One thing about having lived year-round in various places is that you witness the protection or the overnight destruction of the character of a place. It is usually that latter. There are many people who don't mind — who don't even seem to notice — who want anything anyone offers in the way or name of economic development. And roundabouts. They love roundabouts. I envy them their ability not to grieve what has been lost.

Maggie Trout



Comments (2)
Posted by: Janet Ruth Dearborn | Jan 18, 2014 14:47

After watching the last broadcast of the RSU 13 School Board meeting, it did not fail to raise more question than answers. While Lew Collins was very adept at covering additional compensation for the personnel in the business office to cover Mr. Vaitones responsibilities during his "leave". I wondered when several board members said that paying two superintendent salaries was an impossibility and existing staff would have to absorb his job.

How can this occur without additional compensation for the administrative staff who would take over Mr. Collins position? I believe indentured servitude is not in vogue. If additional compensation is appropriate for the business office, then it follows anyone asked to take on more, should also be compensated.

As we all witnessed there were some tyrannical rants regarding existing personnel just having to suck it up and take over. The chair then said she had made initial inquiries for a replacement for Mr. Collins which is a sensible solution.

It is naive to believe that the only financial hit RSU13 will take will be Mr. Collins severance package. I would like to know the facilitator's fees. Legal costs to date? Proposed cost of an "interim superintendent".

The most disturbing aspect to date for me has been the need for a facilitator to essentially run the School Board meeting in order for decisions to be made. This indicates a complete distrust among the board members which has been openly discussed at their meetings. We have a "leaky" board. Paying for a referee for the sandbox is incredible. These members the hold important historical perspective of how everything has come to be, it would be difficult to not have them on board. But, is it too much ask the board if they feel they will ever be able to work together again?


I am sick of the drama. Why did each board member have to explain their feelings about Lew Collins? I believe the decision was made if he was that wonderful why wasn't there more of a fight to retain him or allow him to work through June. The decision had been made, own it and move forward.

There is an appropriate level of information released in the press regarding closed door meetings, but at public meetings  when tempers flare there is an inability to keep matters confidential. This leaves you pondering many things regarding transparency or as I like to call it "financial information for taxpayers". It's like watching sausage being made....





Posted by: Kathleen D Daley | Jan 17, 2014 11:15

Its possible we, the people of RSU 13, will never know the full truth behind this horrible mess.  Certainly not in the near future, as too many folks are trying to cover their behinds. Perhaps Mr Vaitones is an inept business manager. I don't know, but I do know if its so then both Mr Collins and the school board should have been on top of it. The buck stops with them and only them! Or perhaps Mr Vaitones is only a scapegoat for an inept superintendent and school board. I find it strange that Collins felt justified in putting the screws to the parents, children and tax payers of RSU 13, for those are the people he is victimizing not the board. He's a little old to be having a temper tantrum. Perhaps Collins actually isn't, but he certainly is painting himself as a spoiled child use to having his own way. Then there is the board. How can supposedly intelligent folks claiming to have the best interest of our schools at heart, agree to such an outrageous settlement?!! There is a great deal more than meets the eye here - a great deal more!!! Surely there is a legal way not to pay Collins his full settlement. If we have to spend that much money, I would prefer doing by a court fight. Its only justice and the principle of all this!  We, the folks of RSU 13, don't like being held hostage by a man who can't control his temper and by a board that seems to have something to hide!

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