Letters to the Editor

04/22/2010 12:00 AM |


Corporate culture

When I think of Southold, a few words come to mind; pastoral, bucolic and rural, all of which relate to the countryside. These basically describe Southold.

These definitions of Southold are becoming threatened by 7-Eleven and now Sears. After seeing the ad on page 24A of the April 8 edition of The Suffolk Times I was shocked and appalled, not to mention angry. How can local members of this community make a living when corporate America keeps threatening our very existence? How can a mom-and-pop shop thrive when corporate America is breathing down our necks? Sears is offering a franchise to be built in Mattituck. The store requirements range from 6,500 to 9,000 square feet with approximately 70 percent of the space devoted to “selling” square footage. The actual square footage of the store will be determined by the size of the market that is awarded to interested parties. The front of the building must be at least 50 feet with windows; ceiling height must be between 10 and 14 feet. Does this sound pastoral, bucolic or rural?

Tourism in Southold thrives because we are the last frontier and because we have a uniqueness not offered by other towns. We are Mayberry to most visitors and people come here because of our uniqueness, which is what makes Southold so special. Corporate America is targeting markets based on demographics and profitability, not about keeping Southold pastoral, bucolic and rural.

Sears coming to Mattituck is a clear example that we need a moratorium. Currently, there are five major corporations conducting business in Mattituck, not counting cell towers being used by the various cell companies. How many more corporations will it take to make this town look like everyone else’s town and ruin business for all who live and work in Southold?

When is enough, enough? Where is the master plan? What will it take to implement? What are we waiting for? Wait, I think I hear Costco calling.

Marie Domenici



It’s about the kids

I wish that I had written this letter amonth ago. The way things are going right now, it looks as though things aren’t going to get any better for the Oysterponds School.

My hope is that whoever is elected to the board of education keeps in mind what is most important and what should be everybody’s top priority. The real issue here is giving our children the best elementary education that they can get so that they can grow up and be successful in a world that is becoming more competitive by the minute.

It’s not all black and white and bank statements. Greenport High School is tossing around the possibility of laying off two teachers who really make a difference to the kids. School is tough enough without cutting teachers who have a real connection with the kids and who respect them and are respected in return. I know times are tough for everyone, but our kids are this country’s future and their needs should be foremost in everyone’s minds.

I also want to express my appreciation to everyone who encouraged me to run for the Oysterponds BOE. It’s very flattering, and if I didn’t have three teenagers and a 24/7 job I just might have considered it. We need a parent in there.

Janet Hands



Don’t let up now

On Tuesday night the Southold Town Board voted against amending the town’s water map to extend the main to Browns Hills in Orient. Supervisor Russell made it clear that the board had heard an overwhelming number of voices against SCWA bringing in their pipeline at this time.

Mr. Russell had asked SCWA to canvass Orient residents to see if a sufficient number wanted public water. SCWA did not do this. They canvassed only 130-plus residents along the Main Road, and only about 17 want to connect now. Hardly the 40 to 50 percent the SCWA is supposed to get before it enters an area.

At its open house meetings held last Friday and this Monday, SCWA employees outnumbered visitors seeking information. They tried to tell us that Orient water is the worst in Southold. But we have the same data and what it actually shows is that there are a few bad wells in Orient, some with genuine issues with nitrates, if you are a nursing mother or baby, easily corrected by reverse osmosis filters.

The Suffolk Times has covered this issue fairly and has published letters on both sides of the debate. Thank you.

It is my (probably naive and foolish) hope that SCWA’s board of directors will reconsider their decision to move into Orient despite the clear objections of Southold Town and the residents of Orient.

Anyone interested in getting in touch or finding out more can do so at www.orientwater.info. Speaking up and letting the town know what your thoughts are does make a difference. There are going to be many more opportunities and the need to do so before this is over.

Venetia Hands



Help to keep it green

April 22 is the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, when millions of people took to the streets of thousands of cities throughout the USA to protest pollution of our environment and ask for environmental laws. Out of that first day came the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and some very important legislation, including the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The greatest peril to our environment now is climate change and we can all do our part to protect the earth. Walk more, drive less, recycle, use less, plant a garden and learn to sail. Also, eat local organically grown food, plant native vegetation along waterways, protect our local endangered species by keeping dogs off beaches where piping plovers and terns nest, put up osprey nests and protect our freshwater wetlands that are home to frogs, turtles and salamanders.

Studies show that water quality in the Peconic Bay is at risk because property owners are clearing native vegetation and replacing it with landscaping and lawns that are fertilized. The main components of commercial fertilizer are nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that can get into our bays and creeks and harm fish and shellfish. Suffolk County has identified 63 pesticide-related chemicals in our groundwater. The alternatives are organic composts that can give you beautiful gardens.

The earth is giving us a beautiful spring. Thank the earth on Earth Day and do your part to keep it green.

Heather Cusack



Thank you, Liza

As immediate past president of CAST, I want to thank Liza Coppola for her years of care and service for our needy neighbors in Southold Town.

Liza, as executive director, was the only full-time employee and as such she was responsible for everything crucial to carrying out the mission of CAST. She saw to it that food bags were ready for clients to pick up, and during school holidays, including the long summer vacation, that the bags were supplemented with milk, eggs and meat for the children. She arranged for heat in the winter months when needed, registered new clients, filled out forms, made connections with social service agencies and responded to emergencies.

Liza organized the Christmas holiday gift days, Thanksgiving family baskets, back-to-school supplies for kids, instituted the Cornell Program on nutrition and was trained and involved in the new program to mentor young students.

She also did the administrative work attendant to the office, including overseeing two part-time clerical workers and one pantry worker. Liza made sure that mailings were organized and sent out on time, provided news of fundraising events through the newspapers, fliers and radio, and worked at those events. She represented CAST at community and town meetings. Liza cared deeply about the needs of young people in our community and serves on the Southold Town Youth Board.

Thank you, Liza, for carrying out the mission of CAST, which is seeing that no one in Southold Town goes hungry, and making life better for so many people, young and old.

CAST is the bulwark against hunger and need in Southold Town. I hope and pray that it will continue to faithfully fulfill its crucial mission.

Merle Levine



The best of Times

It seems to me that people write letters to editors to express their dislike for something written in that publication. That’s what usually brings my pen to paper, but not this time.

Three cheers to The Suffolk Times for an excellent April 15 issue. The cover photo starts it all with the USA flag and it just keeps on coming. You bring the world to bear in the story from the Far East and touch all with the tragedy in Poland.

Lots of good local news, including the Mattituck explosion, Orient water, the CAST director and Max Moran.

Good job. Keep up the good work.

Joel Reitman



Jedediah Hawkins will be a source of pride

I write this letter as a native son with a deep love for the region. I recently returned to Jamesport after years of work and travel, honing my craft and preparing for the moment I may return home and share my experiences. I am fortunate to have the privilege of pursuing my dream in a venue that may only be described as a local treasure, the restored Jedediah Hawkins Inn.

It saddens me to learn that some of the inn’s neighbors have come to view the business as a burden, rather than the community asset it should be perceived as. While I am unable to speak to any of the instances related to past operations, I am happy to speak of my plans for the future.

My intentions as the new proprietor, are to forge forward and build a sustainable model of hospitality that will serve as a source of community pride for years to come. My vision is that of a country inn and restaurant that creates job opportunities, supports local agriculture and viticulture, and provides a mentoring spirit to local youth.

I humbly ask the community’s support in this endeavor.

Keith Luce

chef/proprietor, Jedediah Hawkins Inn



Totally out of step

Last week’s letter, “A new manifesto” gets off to a bad start from the second word. There is no “new” manifesto for the points or “steps” that Mr. Copertino asks us to take notice of.

The graduated income tax (step 2) remains as President Bush left it, lower than the rate during the Reagan era. President Obama did not originate our system of regulating modern modes of transportation or communication, nor has he changed them (step 6). It’s true, communicating via Pony Express or traveling by horse and buggy can function without government regulation, but TV, radio, telephone, Internet and cell phones cannot. Commercial airplanes can’t find their own way into LaGuardia on their own.

Regarding labor (step 8), the divide between rich and poor has grown for a generation, with wages stagnant, except for the Clinton years. Tradespeople find it increasingly difficult to raise a family. After 16 months of the Obama administration, unfortunately no change has been effected here either.

Mr. Copertino goes on to charge that the institution of free public education and the abolition of child labor are part of President Obama’s communist conspiracy (step 10). While I’m sure President Obama would like to take credit for these marvels of our democracy, they were implemented a long time ago. Alas, all he can do is continue the scourge of free public education and the shame of prohibiting child labor.

As to the reference to “cultivation of wastelands and improvement of soil,” that is just too absurd to comment on (step 7).

Step 5, guilty as charged. President Obama has always said he would seek to reform the reckless speculation on Wall Street that sent our economy into the ditch, froze our credit markets and put nearly 10 percent of us on the unemployment lines. I guess there are some who feel it is okay for Wall Street to again hold us up for ransom and for Goldman Sachs to operate as usual. If this is centralization of credit, so be it.

The letter goes on to charge President Obama with a list of “what ifs.” What if he does this? What if he does that? This allows Mr. Copertino to string together a list of wild charges that have no basis in fact.

The GOP, Tea Party and Fox have charged President Obama with being a socialist, Nazi, terrorist, non-citizen, Muslim and even a pedophile. Now our writer would like to add communist. The “prince,” or in this case, “princes of deception” that Mr. Copertino refers to are those who write and talk these absurdities and irrelevancies. It does nothing to encourage any productive dialogue.

Morton Cogen



The house is on fire

When my wife was hospitalized several years ago, the patient in the adjoining bed was a pleasant, young and very unhappy black woman who had just had a foot amputated as a complication of untreated diabetes. Diabetes is a serious illness, but it is largely a manageable condition for present-day medicine. This woman worked full time in the health-care field, was not overweight and did not smoke or drink. But her job did not include health insurance or pay enough for her to go out and get a policy herself. She was just one casualty of our dysfunctional health-care system and would not even be counted among the 20,000 to 40,000 Americans who die each year from a lack of basic medical treatment. Is this a situation we are willing to accept?

As the debate has played out over health-care legislation, I have been surprised at the virulence of people who oppose expanding coverage. Our president has been very polite so far, but I’d like to ask them a plain question: Are you OK with 20,000 dead Americans every year? Take away our new health-care law and their blood would be on your hands. Does that bother you? How about gangrene from untreated diabetes? Have you ever smelled it? How about emergency amputation? Have you ever seen one? And just how many Americans need to die before it’s too many for you? Let’s have your number.

I guess now is when the anti-health-care constituency starts yipping and yapping about how much it might cost them. It sounds to me like the house in on fire and Aunt Sarah wants to argue about the water bill before she’ll let you turn on the hose. First you put the fire out.

There are plenty of ways that health-care costs can be reduced. Every other modern country has figured it out, we can too. But the first order of business is to get people covered. It’s the only right thing and we’re way past due.

Are there costs involved? Sure. Is that a reason to keep holding off? I’ve already got coverage so it won’t help me. Is that what it comes down to? Are we that selfish? Are we that cheap? I think Americans are better than that.

Paul Pomerantz



Control our debt

Our national debt now exceeds $12 trillion, yet I don’t see anyone trying to reduce expenditures. China and Japan each own over $1 trillion of this debt. Do you want China and Japan to control our country?

All elected officials must stop all earmarks, pork-barrel projects and unnecessary entitlement programs. Excessive pension benefits for civil service employees at federal, state and local levels must be eliminated.

What will you do to reduce spending so that foreign financial markets don’t control our state and nation?

Donald Wagner



Former treasurer: I did my job well

Although Julie Lane writes that it was a not-altogether-surprising move for the Greenport Village Board to not reappoint me as village treasurer, it was a surprising move to me.

While it is no secret that the board consistently has its issues at times with all of the management staff, the trustees have not discussed any issues with me, nor have they given direction as to what they require from the treasurer. With the exception of one board member, at no time in the almost two years I served as treasurer did a board member spend more than five minutes total in my office.

The paragraph Julie wrote about the external auditors making reference last year to the fact that I lacked sufficient expertise to prepare financial statements and be up-to-date on accounting requirements is completely inaccurate and taken out of context.

The findings letter states: “The village continues to rely on its auditors for assistance in adjusting the records and drafting its external financial statements in accordance with the statutory basis of accounting, as prescribed by the New York State Office of the State Comptroller (OSC). The village has a part-time treasurer who performs the duties requested by the Village Board. However, the treasurer does not have sufficient expertise or resources to prepare such statements.”

Bill Freitag, partner with the Bollam, Sheedy and Torani financial management firm, said over 90 percent of government clients in the country do not have an in-house person that can prepare the year-end external financial statements. That is what the findings letter refers to — not that I lack expertise to prepare financial statements.

Additionally, at no time was a severance package discussed or offered to me. I was informed the day before the meeting that my benefits would be terminated that next morning although I did request that health benefits, already budgeted for, be paid for the remainder of the fiscal year since I was asked to stay on as a consultant.

As former Trustee Bill Swiskey pointed out, the village treasurer’s position should be full-time. I fulfilled the existing job description and initiated many other projects.

There is still much to be done and it is a disappointment to me personally that my individual goals for the village can no longer be accomplished.

Susan Pisano