Letters to the Editor

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |


This is public safety?

After reading the article containing the police chief’s request for additional manpower, I would suggest that the town supervisor, the town council members and the police advisory committee obtain scanners and listen to how much police activity occurs in Southold Town in any given 24 hours. Then decide if any hiring should take place.

The statement by Councilman Talbot that the highway patrol is “a waste of time” would leave one to believe that curtailing speeding and other dangerous driving activities is not important to public safety.

Neal Raymond


Start planning today for tomorrow

Your March 18 issue made a clear connection between Scott Russell’s desire for a building moratorium from the Laurel bridge to Love Lane and Jack McGreevy’s letter about the need for public transit to enhance tourism.

Do you see the link? It is Southold’s urgent need for the master plan.

Tourism is the economic engine that drives us. Tourism is enhanced by our beautiful and productive agricultural business, with the farm stands, the wineries and the accompanying open spaces. Tourism is enhanced by our pretty and quaint hamlets and our beaches and boating and low-pressure lifestyle.

We can support tourism and the economic benefits that it brings with proper planning to keep our streetscapes nice and in scale, with added public transit to keep the roads open and hold traffic in check, and with the maintenance of open spaces that show off our agriculture and our bays, creeks and the Sound. Simultaneously we’ll hold taxes down and maintain the rural lifestyle that we who live here full time have grown to love.

To achieve what we need and not lose what we have, we need a well-thought-out and strong master plan. The point is, plan before the losses start, not after.

Howard Meinke


It’s copter season, too

Two weeks ago, I reported on the return of the ospreys. Sadly, this week I can report on the return of the helicopters.

Jack Barthel


Dogs running wild

In the late afternoon of March 3 I answered a knock at our Bayview area home. A man stood there with a look of horror on his face and breathlessly told me that he was sorry, but two dogs had just killed our family’s chickens. He had tried to stop them, but they would not drop the birds or leave the yard without his use of a stick to chase them away. When I looked outside all I could see was feathers and blood.

I did not understand right away how this could have happened as all but two of the birds were kept in a fenced run. It appears the dogs jumped into the run, tearing the top netting to shreds and had at the birds. I found Wilma and Betty stacked together, dead in the brush, Pom Pom and Flower dead on the hill and Goldie by the coop. It seems the dogs had been at it for a while, removing their prey from the run, tearing them apart and going back in for more.

Worse yet was the terrible mauling of Henny Penny, the one who survived. Her wing is broken. I put 14 stitches into her back, paid for antibiotics and flushed her wounds daily.

As horrible as this sounds, an attack on chickens is not a surprise. Mother Nature supplies raccoons, fox and hawks for this deed. Every evening for five years we have taken precautions to keep the predators out and the chickens in. But dogs? In broad daylight? This I would never have expected.

Jim, our hero, said that one dog was a black lab with a red collar. The other dog was larger than the lab, no collar, black and brown and appeared young.

My daughter is a special-needs young lady and these birds were her hobby and joy. We raised them from chicks, choosing names and taking pride as they began to lay their eggs. I cannot blame the dogs, but would point a finger at the owners who failed to respect the leash laws we have in Southold Town.

No amount of money can replace the love and laughter that these little birds brought to our family and friends. But if you know who you are, I invite you to try.

Susan Lawlor


Invaluable help

I have fond memories of attending AA meetings in Brooklyn when I was a child. My father, bless his memory, finally became a member and that organization turned his final 10 years of life into loving experiences for my mother and me.

Dad wasn’t a drinker. Nobody in the family drank. After being diagnosed with a serious heart condition, his doctor advised him to take a drink before lunch and a drink before dinner. I guess it did stimulate his appetite, but it also led to a bottle hidden in the desk drawer at work, another in the bathroom at home and there were probably others.

One afternoon he was driving us to a vacation and was under the old Third Avenue El when a “Bowery bum” came over with a dirty rag to wipe the windshield for spare change. Dad reached under his driver’s seat, pulled out a whiskey bottle two-thirds full and gave it to the man.

Drinking and driving, almost hitting a girl crossing the street, later brought Dad to AA.

Please, if alcohol has taken over your life, I urge you to investigate an AA meeting. Help those in your life to have sweet memories of your time together.

Sylvia Eisenstadt Pafenyk


Bottled up by law

In response to my “Oenofile” column in which I reported on an innovative, ecofriendly way for restaurants to buy local wine in 20-liter containers for “on tap” service, Steve Curry wrote a letter advocating similar bulk sales of wine directly to consumers. He cited his experiences in Italy, where wine is “a normal part of a meal,” and consumers can easily have their own containers filled at local wineries or wine shops.

Wineries here in New York would love to do the same. Unfortunately, the federal Treasury Department and the State Liquor Authority regulations do not permit the sale of wine (unlike beer) in unsealed, uncalibrated containers. The Feds collect a tax based on volume, and the state’s mission is to keep people from drinking alcohol. Distributors of alcoholic beverages do not want consumers to be able to purchase wine directly and continue to fight any efforts at direct sales.

It’s sad, but you will need many legal and cultural changes before you can pull up to the winery door and fill that jug.

Louisa Hargrave

(Editor’s Note: Ms. Hargrave writes Times/Review’s “Oenofile” column and was a founder of Hargrave Vineyard in Cutchogue.)


Good candidates

The doctrine of “checks and balances” has been a most important ingredient in making the U.S. an exceptionally successful country. Its application, vis Ã* vis the educational and fiscal health of the local school district, means that no one group gets in charge, be it the teachers, the superintendent, PTA or their representatives on the board.

The board should be a cross section of the community and the members should be capable and active participants. By capable I mean people whose interest exceeds looking out for their child. They should be people whose family is grown, ideally they should be retired so they may have adequate time to running a multimillion dollar enterprise and they should have some business experience and make intelligent financial decisions. Otherwise, they are in the land of the blind and the one-eyed man (someone else) is King.

It is a great opportunity for a retiree to have something that demands attention and makes the person a more active community member.

Board members who are also parents of children at the school are continually beset with conflict of interest situations whenever they are asked to make decisions concerning supervisors or teachers.

Board members are responsible for teachers’ and superintendents’ contracts. It is clear from looking at the costs involved, such as salaries, benefits and pension contributions, a much better job could have been done by the school board and other parties involved, especially New York State. As a matter of fact, these financial obligations on which the public does not vote far outweigh in importance the annual school budget.

With respect to the Oysterponds School District, the new members elected this year will have a major impact on future budgeted school costs as they will participate in making crucial decisions on the teachers’ contracts expiring June 30, 2011 and the superintendent’s contract expiring the following year.

Walter Strohmeyer

Mr. Strohmeyer is president of the Oysterponds School Board, but the opinions expressed are solely his own.


Enormous advances

Last week we saw tremendous advances for Americans, not only in health-care legislation, which will save the middle class from stress and strain and even from disaster, but also in new education legislation. Both will greatly benefit young adults, who are facing the worst job market in many years.

Now young people can be covered by their parents’ insurance policies until they are 26 years old. They will also be able to get federally financed student loans, which have much lower interest rates than those financed by banks and have reasonable and affordable repayment terms. In addition, the number of Pell grants available to students and the amount of the grants will be increased.

Just as health-care legislation will not only help American people personally but eventually will prove to be a real money-saver for the country, so too will this just-passed education legislation. A healthy, well-educated work force will make for a prosperous America. It will ensure that we maintain our place in the world in a country which values compassion, fairness and opportunity for all.

What this recent legislation has already achieved and will continue to achieve for people on the North Fork owes a lot to Representative Tim Bishop, who has worked carefully and tirelessly on health and education issues as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and in a number of House health-related caucuses. We owe him our gratitude.

Margaret Duggan


‘Reform’ is a fraud

Any politician who attempts to persuade with arguments based on “families” versus “insurance companies” is selling snake oil. It’s easy to regulate insurance companies and eliminate their worst practices without any significant expansion of government. It’s even easy to squeeze $50 billion to $100 billion, depending on whose estimate one believes, out of our current health-care costs. It’s called tort reform. The 10 richest lawyers in America are all tort lawyers and they own the Democratic party. Under the new law, doctors will be penalized for “over-testing” but remain unprotected from the tort lawyers. What a turkey shoot!

The “reform” just passed is a fraud. Doctors won’t work for what the government intends to pay them. People on Medicaid already can’t find doctors. Telling 30 million people you’re now “covered” is the ultimate Catch-22, given that there will be no doctors.

We now pay young residents $40,000 to $50,000 a year for 80-hour weeks during three to five years of residency, after they’ve already incurred huge debts to get through medical school. The average NYC transit worker makes $59,000 plus benefits. With the prospect of sharply reduced incomes, what doctor would do that? Unless we drastically reduce the standards, a severe shortage of doctors is imminent. Remember when those rocket scientists in Congress enacted gasoline price controls in the ’70s? Long lines and no supplies, but the price was cheap.

Bill Gross of Pimco, one of the country’s smartest investment managers, recently observed that anyone who thinks you can provide health care to 30 million people without cost is living in a fantasy world. In his words, the current reform has been accomplished “with the usual smoke and by now all-too-familiar mirrors.”

Health care reform is desperately needed, but this isn’t it.

As things now stand, by 2015 71 percent of the entire federal budget will be consumed by interest payments and entitlements. When we go over the financial cliff, guys like Mr. Bishop will start blaming the “bankers.”

Don’t get sucked in by this populist nonsense. Congress is the problem.

Incumbents out in 2010.

Kenneth Stein


Better insurance now

Insurance companies aren’t bad. In fact, more than ever they will be the solution under the health care reform bill.

We’re all against companies excluding people because of pre-existing conditions. But most of us will continue to get coverage from private companies because the new law keeps insurance in the hands of private insurers.

So why will private insurance companies be able to provide insurance to those with pre-existing conditions now when they couldn’t or wouldn’t before? The reform bill will require that virtually all Americans be in the health care system. That’s the big difference. It’s big because now the risk of covering all Americans, even those with pre-existing conditions, is spread among the healthy, the not-so-healthy and the unhealthy. When America truly spreads the risk, premiums come down. “Risk-spreading” is the key principle of insurance. When universally applied, it makes covering all of us less expensive.

This law maintains the system of private health insurance and expands it to 31 million more people. That’s a 17% increase as per a recent Time Magazine cover article on health care. Private insurance will be strengthened. Insurance companies are neither bad nor good. They just respond to the business situation in which they find themselves. Now it will be to the advantage of all Americans and the insurance companies to eliminate pre-existing condition limits, yearly and lifetime caps and to add coverage for kids up to 26.

Gale and Julie Alexander


No thanks, Bishop

Wow! A Jamesport letter writer seemed almost giddy last week when she wrote of Rep. Tim Bishop and how he gallantly did not “cave in to the negativity of people’s anger and frustration by playing the fear card as so many other politicians did, especially all of the Republicans.”

Really? The ink wasn’t dry on Scott Brown’s acceptance speech when I received an e-mail from “Fearless Tim’s” office with an attachment of a letter he had sent to Nancy Pelosi stating all of the reasons why he suddenly could not vote for the health care bill as he had originally promised. What did that letter smell like? The stink of fear was all over it.

I’m sure that it wasn’t anything compared to the fear of God that Speaker Pelosi put into him when the deal-making and arm-twisting began.

I am not a Republican. I am, however, a registered Independent voter and a union member who can think and vote for myself.

The letter writer last week further stated that, “He refused to take the path of other self-serving politicians by distorting the facts to fit ideology just to assure re-election.”

Good for him. I can assure you he’ll get his wish, and won’t be re-elected.

Finally, I’d have to state that yes, Tim Bishop “didn’t cave” to the wishes of the majority of voters in his district — he did cave to the strong-arm tactics of his party leadership.

So much for staying strong.

Melanie Plunkett Connelly


Promises kept

We now have health-care insurance reform. Thank you, Tim Bishop, and all of the other Democrats in the Senate and House of Representative who stood up to the insurance industry and voted for reform.

There are several issues that are not being discussed. The first is that the Democratic ticket in 2008 said that they would pass legislation like this and they won the election by a large margin. President Obama made this commitment and Nancy Pelosi helped him deliver. Had they not brought this home, they would not have kept a campaign promise of great significance. Congresspeople and senators are elected because they say that they will support certain kinds of legislation. They are not elected to read polls of questionable validity. They are not elected to blow with every breeze in every direction.

Secondly, the current legislation leaves the profits of health insurers untouched and, in fact, gives them 30 million new customers. Why are the insurers complaining?

Finally, this legislation does not give the government control over health care because there is no public option. Insurance companies still control far too much of the decision-making on an individual’s health care. Why does anybody think insurance companies should govern whether someone gets medical care or not? Their primary concern has been profits, not good health care at a reasonable price, and they have done next to nothing to contain health-care costs. The Democrats have made a brave attempt to turn this around for the benefit of every American.

Steve Curry


Living in glass houses

Talk about being “marginally informed.” Is there no end to the misinformation opponents will spread about the new health care reform law? In his letter to the editor (“Against our will,” April 1), Daniel De Mato says that the provision preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions “was not in the bill …, forcing the Democrats to scramble to add an amendment.”

What actually happened was that after passage of the law, some insurance executives made a self-serving misinterpretation that this provision, which was indeed in the bill, had a loophole. Several members of Congress said that this “interpretation” was contrary to the clear intent of the provision. Health Secretary Sebelius indicated that her department would issue regulations to that effect, whereupon the insurance companies beat a hasty retreat. No amendment was needed.

On the basis of his own incorrect statements, Mr. De Mato says that Congressman Tim Bishop “either did not read this bill or is flat out lying.” It seems to me that Mr. De Mato should remember the saying about throwing stones when in glass houses and check his facts before making such accusations.

Margaret Brown


No reason to lie

I was dismayed to find that when one writes a letter to the editor supporting the health care bill, the response is a Tea Party tag team in the form of two letters filled with invective and inaccuracies. The first paragraph of a letter published last week entitled “No reason to trust gov’t on health” states that the bill will never have to be utilized by the “freebie-ridden oafs who passed this economic abortion who have health policies that make the best private insurance pale by comparison,” and reads that I’m “at best delusional, at worst ignorant” for supporting the legislation that won’t even apply to our congressman.

The problem with this logic is that the bill clearly states that all members of Congress and their staffs are mandated to participate in the same health insurance exchanges created by the new bill. Let me repeat: The law was specifically written to include members of Congress in the legislation. It’s sad that people would choose to clearly lie to their neighbors in an effort to rile them up and get them to become angry at their own government.

Jerry Silverstein


Finally got it right

I was a proud American as I watched President Obama sign the historic health care reform bill. Finally the right to health care is recognized in the United States.

And I am proud to live in a district where our representative, Congressman Timothy Bishop, voted for this important bill. He recognizes the many benefits of the bill to his constituents, such as the ban against discrimination for some 8,700 residents with pre-existing medical conditions and the full prescription drug coverage for 112,000 seniors on Medicare in his district.

On a personal level, for me this bill means that my brother can return from Australia now that he can obtain affordable care for his pre-existing health problems. Countless families will be spared the terrible financial and emotional costs of a so-called health care system that gave priority to the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies.

I am glad that America is moving in the right direction for its citizens.

Joan Ohlson


Wrong move, Mr. Levy

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy switched political parties to further his political career. So did Michael Forbes. Now he’s a political has-been and so, too, will Mr. Levy be.

David Anderson


Where’s the respect?

I have a vested interest in watching the HBO miniseries “The Pacific.” My dad served with the 1st Marines through three campaigns. So detail means much to this boomer. Messrs. Spielberg and Hanks should be commended for this undertaking, however a few small details were left out of the first episodes.

When the 1st Marines landed on Guadalcanal on Aug. 7, 1942, they landed with all WWI equipment, including the “doughboy” helmets. This is a small detail that has never surfaced in any movie on this subject. It would have been appreciated if this had been the first. The WWII helmets that most Americans are familiar with did not show up until the 7th Regiment of the 1st Marines arrived on “the Canal” under the command of Chesty Puller in late September.

While in Australia the division was taken 75 miles away from the encampment at the Cricket Grounds and walked 74 miles back. At the last mile they were met by the Marine Band and marched as the proudest Marines into Melbourne to cheering crowds. Even though they were dog-tired and full of blisters, that small detail was left out.

“Good Morning America” recently aired a segment about a funeral of a young Marine. This took place quite some time ago, and what happened sickens me very much. All human beings put on this earth should receive respect during the time that their closest family and friends say farewell. For this young Marine that did not happen. A result is a court case of epic proportions and disgust.

It appears that the Supreme Court will hear the lower court’s ruling in allowing a segment of our society to disrupt a funeral as some sort of right under our Constitution involving freedom of speech. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves. Freedom of speech does not allow for a disorderly disturbance at any funeral, much less that of a veteran. Where is the respect for life? Where is the respect for the end of life?

A Long Island boy will cover the parents’ court cost for this lack of respect. It seems to me that our country’s court system has gone awry. I cannot believe any judge would believe that our Constitution and its Bill of Rights would allow such behavior and rule that disorderly conduct and protest during a funeral is the law of the land. A funeral of any kind is no place for a lack of respect to be allowed. It is my hope that our Supreme Court will overturn this misguided judge and rule for respect.

Robert Bittner Sr.


This F.D. is the best

On behalf of the Tuthill family, I would like to acknowledge the superior service we received last Tuesday from the Orient Fire Department following the latest torrential rainstorm.

For the first time in at least 70 years, we suffered flooding in the basement of our Old Main Road house. As the rains came in, the water pump failed, followed by the gas water heater and the oil burner. We had no running water, no hot water and no heat.

We asked the OFD for help pumping the water out and, in true Oysterponds tradition, they responded quickly, courteously and professionally. We could not have hoped for better assistance in our time of need.

Thank you, Orient Fire Department.

Maynard Tuthill


IDA tax is a bad idea

Local Industrial Development Agencies (IDA’s) such as that in Riverhead help spur economic development and create jobs. The last thing we need now is another state tax.

The state is taxing revenues that the IDA uses to pay its bills and create jobs. What is even worse, the state is also taxing the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) that private companies make to the town, county, school district and fire district. The PILOT payments simply pass through the IDA to various taxing jurisdictions, but the state is now counting them as revenue.

For 2008, if you include interest income, the Riverhead IDA, for example, should be paying $408.69 in this new tax. Incredibly, however, the state sent the Riverhead IDA a tax bill of $51,223.

Truly, the power to tax is the power to destroy. Hopefully our state senators and assemblyman will repeal this job-killing tax.

County Legislator Edward Romaine