GA received a long, thoughtful reader email on August 5 in response to Postscript, a piece blaming local B&G administrators for undermining the quality and services for the children of the Boys & Girls Club.
It came right before I left for the week, when my head had too many other occupants to focus on it.
I did this morning.
In the letter, the reader gently took me to task for my rather one-sided viewpoint with series of compelling (rhetorical) questions. Call it another POV. GA thinks this one merits consideration.
So, I'll publish it although this subject makes some on my team very nervous.
To them I say, what's happened over at the B&G Club- or as I put it 'how the sausage got made'- has the fingerprints of those who undermine reform in Hoboken all over it. According to this reader, and GA concurs.
I too am inclined to give Hola a pass.
Sort of. Maybe.
Did "Hola" know what was going on? Did "Hola" instigate, encourage or perpetuate this situation where the space and services were increased for them and reduced for the needier children in the Boys and Girls Club?
All of "Hola"? No. Most of the Hola parents simply filled out an application for a new program they were interested in. The parents are not to blame.
Did the Hola "girls" (as Frank Raia dubbed them) know? Maybe. They are intelligent, educated women. They know that space is limited in Hoboken. Even for public schools, where some classes are held in trailers. Did they think they were just the luckiest women in the world to have landed an entire building at an incredible rate just at the exact moment they received their charter?
The original deal between Hola and the Boys and Girls Club, as reported, was for them to share the building. Hola in the school day and Boys and Girls Club keeping their after school functions. At some point Hola expanded into a full after school schedule.
Did they wonder how they came to receive so much additional time and space (at presumably no additional cost)?
Again, such incredible luck?
So what were their roles in this?
They could not believe their continued great luck as (for some unknown reason) kids from the Boys and Girls Club kept disappearing allowing them to expand their programs for Hola?
So who did instigate, encourage and perpetuate this situation?
The Hola "boys"? Frank Raia, Carmelo Garcia, Anthony Petrosino, Ruben Ramos and Anthony Oland? A collection of powerful and politically connected man, all involved in Hola from the very beginning. All wanting Hola to thrive and succeed for a variety of reasons including professional reputation, jobs/contracts and to benefit their own children. But would that drive them to call up their connections at the Boys and Girls Club (Scott Delea and Timothy Occipinti) and request use of the building? Could the success of Hola really be more important to them than the neediest children of Hoboken?
What else could explain the Boys and Girls Club making an agreement against their own best financial interests and against the best interests of their main clients, the disadvantaged children of Hoboken?
What could have possibly persuaded them to agree to this?
If what we are hearing is true, I find it hard to believe that the Hola "girls" had no idea what was going on and who was behind their incredible run of good luck. I find it absolutely unconscionable that a school that was originally purported to bring together two cultures and two communities did exactly opposite. The irony of refusing dinner to some of the neediest children in Hoboken (many who actually speak Spanish) so Spanish Dual Language students can attend cooking class is mind-blowing to say the least.
If what we are hearing is true, I believe the Hola "boys" had to know. They had the most to gain or lose (including financially).
The Boys and Girls Club did give away the space because they were asked to! Why? That is something I think everyone is anxious to find out. Especially the children and parents of those no longer able to use the Boys and Girls Club. The silence from all those normally loudly advocating for these children is deafening.
Thanks, reader. This story isn't going away. Not until the neediest kids in our City (and some 'overflow' from Hudson County) are able to use their space without restrictions again.
Curious note: GA sees The New York Times (ISP) has been hitting this story.