Every year a handful of Long Islanders seem to be repeatedly in the news. Whether spearheading legislation, lending a hand to improve their community or leading the charge in our education system, these individuals made their presence felt in the year 2013. Now, as we head into the final days of this year, we look back on the five people who were top of mind in 2013.
Dr. Joseph Rella, Comsewogue School District Superintendent
In the world of education, and more specifically, the controversy surrounding the Common Core Curriculum standards now imposed across New York State, few names are as recognizable as Dr. Joseph Rella, the superintendent of the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson. Rella is one of the few top administrators to publicly speak out against the Common Core, and he has turned into somewhat of an educational folk hero. His 2013 comes replete with a challenge to state officials to remove him from his post. Here’s a look at some of the headlines.
His open letter to state officials caught a lot of attention.
The letter went viral across social media and more traditional platforms.
He has become a conduit for other critics of the new teacher evaluation process (APPR) to share their displeasure.
He has led anti-Common Core rallies on the grounds of Comsewogue Schools.
New York State Assemblyman Al Graf (R) Holbrook
At the state level, no elected official has been more vocal in 2013 about Common Core, standardized tests, and the educational system than Assemb. Al Graf of Holbrook, who actually introduced a bill that would withdraw the state from participation in the national Common Core standards.
He made headlines when he reacted to standardized test scores that proved troubling for the Sachem School District, which is in his district.
In the midsts of his campaign to “Fix NY Schools,” Graf moved his headquarters to Main Street in Holbrook.
He also attended rallies criticizing state education initiatives and to push for more state aid.
But the biggest news out of his camp was his decision to draft a bill that calls for New York’s withdrawal from Common Core.
The native Long Beach actor/comedian, Mr. Saturday Night himself, was around Long Beach a lot in 2013, mostly centering on the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy. It was a busy year for Crystal, who also launched a new book and a play based on his Long Beach days.
Crystal made regular visits to the community this past year.
He also took time to procure new books for a school library in Long Beach.
His new book draws from his days living on Long Island.
HBO picked up his play “700 Sundays.”
Despite a busy year in entertainment, he popped into Long Beach to help dedicate a new basketball court in the city.
A somewhat enigmatic and polarizing figure, East Hampton resident Alec Baldwin made a lot of headlines this year. From donating to the East Hampton Library to his frightening ordeal with a convicted stalker, Baldwin stayed busy throughout 2013 and Patch covered many of the highlights. The comments section in some of these Baldwin stories alone could qualify for another list category, proving just how hot and cold people’s opinions of him run.
His stalker won’t see pavement for a little while.
The blogs even weighed in on the public’s reaction to Baldwin.
In 2013 he was appointed to president of the board of trustees for Guild Hall in East Hampton.
Baldwin’s generous donations to the East Hampton Library is making it possible for the public institution to complete its renovation project without raising local taxes.
A well-established fact is Baldwin’s political affiliation as a liberal supporter of the Democratic Party. This year, his political action committee faced accusations from the East Hampton Republican Party that it broke the rules governing campaign finances.
Carole Hankin, Syosset School District Superintendent
To paraphrase Richard Nixon, you won’t have Carole Hankin to kick around anymore. This year the Syosset School District Superintendent of 23 years decided to hang it up, leaving a post that has drawn the attention (and sometimes ire) of many folks not living in Syosset. Namely, Hankin’s reported salary of more than $500,000, a number that made her one of the highest paid superintendents in the country. Her retirement and her final budget year made headlines in 2013.
Hankin oversaw a 2013-14 budget that stayed under the tax cap this year.
News of her retirement came as a shock to many, including the Board of Education
With Hankin on the way out, Rockville Centre’s Superintendent William Johnson took over as the highest paid super in the US, with a 2011-12 salary of $567,000.
As Hankin waved goodbye, the Syosset School District installed her temporary replacement, Dr. Ronald Friedman.
Now, whose name will splash the headlines in 2014? Time will have to tell. Did we miss anyone? Let us know of a newsmaker you think should have made the list.