October 15, 2010

Ike Leggett dialogues with Orthodox Jewish leadership

Orthodox Union facilitates meeting with powerful County Executive & synagogue, school & communal leadership; discusses education, energy & security issues. The powerful chief executive of Maryland's most populous county met this week with Orthodox synagogue rabbis, school executives and community leaders to discuss issues of concern. Facilitated by the Orthodox Union, the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, the meeting took place at the Kemp Mill Synagogue, an OU member congregation.

Chief among the topics discussed was education, as well as energy efficiency and public safety. Mr. Leggett detailed his support for all residents of the county, including those in nonpublic schools as well as synagogues or other nonprofits that provide critical services. Noting that if all nonpublic schools closed their doors and all those students became the charge of the county, they have neither the space nor finances for such an influx, Mr. Leggett pledged to work with the community on finding practical solutions. As well, citing the new utility tax increase, he also committed to working on finding solutions for nonprofits to better manage energy conservation, an area the Orthodox Union has successfully advocated for at the federal level. Finally, the County Executive forcefully condemned hate crimes, including a recent attack on a synagogue in Olney, and reiterated his commitment to keeping everyone in the County safe, and to having local law enforcement partner with communal institutions.

Howie Beigelman, OU Deputy Director of Public Policy stated:

"Government at the local level often has the most direct bearing on families, communities & institutions. We appreciate the County Executive's outreach to our leaders and his candid, direct conversation and his commitment to follow through towards workable solutions for the entire county."

PICTURE: (l-r) Maury Litwack, Deputy Director of OU IPA; Ike Leggett¸ Montgomery County Executive; Jennifer Zuckerman, Director of Development for MJBHA; and Daphna Raskas, President of MJBHA



Anonymous said...

What's with the Orthodox Union's over emphasis on "Powerful"? He's so"Powerful"? As opposed to "ineffective"? Impotent? It looks to this member of the Montgomery County Jewish community that the OU and this school are just involved in more political "brown-nosing". And Ike is involved in garnering support. Yeah, the utility tax will only take more money out of the pockets of private school parents who are struggling with tuition bills. This will further tax the scholarship allocation of schools such as this one that pride themselves on never turning a child away due to financial need. And as for Leggett's statement regarding lack of space and funds to accommodate private school students, that's an interesting statement. Well, given that these private schools are helping to preserve the quality of education in the County perhaps it's time for the County to provide tax relief/credits to families who are not only paying for MCPS in their taxes, but are also paying tens of thousands in private school tuition. Thanks Ike-you and MCPS owe us BIG TIME.

Anonymous said...

Ok, reality check here. Ike doesn't owe you anything. First, full disclosure. I'm one of those struggling with three tuitions. Really struggling. I have two FT jobs, my wife has one. Our home is underwater (not because we've used it like a credit card but becuase of two pre-recession personal financial crises.) We have a 50 year old kitchen, and we're driving two small ten year old cars that are on their last legs. Our heater broke last winter and we managed to fix it with bubble gum and scotch tape (not literally). If we had to replace it, we would have no choice but to either stop eating or pull our children out of yeshiva. We're that tight. And, btw, we were denied financial aid.

But don't hold your breath waiting for tax relief /credits for private school tuition. Two reasons. First, by your argument, should elderly/retired homeowners also be relieved of property taxes because they don't use the public schools? That's tantamount to saying public schools should only tax those who attend, which means you're not asking for private school vouchers, but the elimination of public education. That is really bad policy.

I've made a lifestyle choice to send my kids to yeshiva. So have you. I don't know about you, but I worry about retirement, even current expenses, and question whether it makes sense every day, but it's a lifestyle choice. The county doesn't own me relief from the consequences of my choices.

Second, the county doesn't have the money for vouchers. Neither do 99% of the local governments around the country. And don't hold your breath waiting for the federal government to step in. Social security is getting cut - two straight years with no increases, and more to come. Federal taxes are going up. And we're not about to start any new national entitlements.

It's time the Ortho community stopped looking to outsiders to save us from our financial mess. Vouchers won't (and shouldn't) happen. Big donors don't have the resources to save the Ortho yeshiva system. It's our mess, and we have to take ownership and solve it.

Anonymous said...

In no country other than the United States. We have our problems. But, boy, we should be proud.