Letters to the Editor

05/20/2010 12:00 AM |


We work together

I would like to offer a few comments regarding last week’s front-page article, “Food, wine and a vintage fight.”

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Supervisor Russell to clarify the town code as it pertains to winery activities, and hopefully to bring the rules into line with what is currently allowed throughout the state under both Agriculture and Markets and Alcohol and Beverage Control laws.

In the meantime, I would simply like to point out that the Agriculture and Markets law does permit wineries, and other farm operations, to hold special events on their premises to help sell their products, and that such events may involve food to demonstrate wine-pairing attributes. Even under normal operations, the State Liquor Authority allows wineries to serve limited “food items for the purpose of complementing wine tastings.”

Despite the fact that the ABC law allows restaurants in wineries, in many cases, and certainly in our region due to zoning restrictions, the food products accompanying wine at such events is usually provided by local caterers or vendors. Indeed, our wineries continue to work very closely with local restaurants and producers to highlight the food-pairing possibilities and cross-promote to visitors.

As a region, the Long Island Wine Council continues to explore new opportunities to generate tourism, particularly during the off-season, and to help drive traffic to affiliated businesses.

Finally, and just to correct the record, prohibiting individuals from bringing outside alcohol onto licensed premises is not a new policy at Peconic Bay Winery or any other winery. It is the law.

Ron Goerler Jr.

president, Long Island Wine Council


Not that big a deal

Let’s not get carried away here.

A couple of wineries apparently misunderstood the Southold Town code and offered brunches on Mother’s Day as a marketing device to sell more wine. That was a legal no-no, but don’t tell me the sky is falling. At the same time that these illegal brunches were apparently being served, dozens of other East End wineries were attracting thousands of customers to our area, visitors who in many cases also dined in Southold Town restaurants and spent money in Southold Town shops.

Making money while making wine is not easy. It requires big-time capital investments for years before you have a product to sell — for land, plantings, equipment and locally hired employee salaries. And since the vast majority of the land dedicated to grapes is as yet not preserved, we Southolders had better hope that the vineyards see a profitable return on their investment. It would be all too easy for the land now lined with grapevines to be filled with tract houses or Bridgehampton-style mansions.

Last year, some 1.2 million people visited East End wineries, and most of them went home elsewhere after spending lots of their money in Southold Town. Rather than being distracted by the complaints of one or two restaurateurs who certainly benefit far more every year from vineyard customer traffic than they may have lost to two Mother’s Day brunches, the supervisor and Town Board should work to refine the town code in such a way that everyone knows the ground rules and that it enhances the vineyards’ profitability by recognizing the tasting rooms as the agricultural marketing vehicles they truly are: farm stands for wine.

Bill Edwards

Mr. Edwards is a former town councilman.


We enforce the rules

In the recent article “Food, Wine and a vintage fight,” Mr. Kelly relates the concerns of a couple of the restaurants in the area with the “siphoning off” of customers due to occasions where food may be served during special events at the wineries. I’d like to remind all of our friends in the restaurant community that we make hundreds of restaurant recommendations every weekend.

Our customers come here to enjoy this and other wineries, and a very common question is where they should have dinner before they return home. We are so happy to make these recommendations to them since the quality of food and the restaurant experiences here on the North Fork have never been better. In fact, since most wineries close around 5 p.m., I can imagine just how many customers would be anxious to dine out before heading west. We gladly and confidently recommend the many excellent restaurants in our area all year long.

Unfortunately, and I’d like to believe this was an accident of editing, the last two paragraphs seem to imply that unwelcome alcohol from sources outside of the wineries seem to be showing up during our business hours, and that somehow Peconic Bay Winery might be guilty of allowing this illegal behavior. Further, the article states that our winery has “Just this week … posted a new safety policy.” This policy is not new.

Peconic Bay Winery has had a zero-tolerance for outside alcoholic beverages entering our property and that has been posted in plain sight on our door, on every table top and hanging on our wall for six years. Further, we have employed since early last year, the services of Platinum Executive Security, a local security firm, at great expense to discreetly and professionally prevent violations.

That anyone should be confused by the misleading statements made in the last two paragraphs of the article would be a shame, since I believe our winery leads the local industry in providing our many visitors with a comfortable, fun, family-oriented, and above all, safe environment. I am happy to invite anyone with any doubt to come and visit us. See for yourself and enjoy our hospitality.

Jim Silver

general manager,

Peconic Bay Winery


Why the difference?

By the time you read this we will have voted on school budgets.

A rather amazing fact presented without comment was contained in your comparison of school budgets and enrollments. This fact contradicts the “common knowledge” that consolidation might save money.

Let’s compare them, smallest enrollment first:

New Suffolk: Cost per student, 31,548. Tax rate, $26.54 per $100.

Oysterponds: Cost per student, $30,555. Tax rate $36.30 per $100.

Greenport: Cost per student, $22,843. Tax rate, $62.28 per $100.

Southold: Cost per student, $28,522. Tax rate, $73.45 per $100

Mattituck-Cutchogue: Cost per student, $24,491, Tax rate, $78.73 per $100

As “common sense” would have it, the smallest districts spend the most per student. Perhaps the large cost of administration is spread over fewer students. But, given that all districts are in the same town and thus assessed in the same way, the two smallest districts are charged the least per $100 of assessed value. No wonder those residents will oppose consolidation.

The two smallest districts send their students to high school in Greenport or Southold. Is it possible they are not charged enough for the services provided? Do they have another secret that explains their tax rate? For example, McMansions only occupied in summer, a large population of wealthy elderly, large tax contributions from businesses? The secret can’t be about pay and benefits since they spend the most per student.

The table shows an unreasonable distortion in school taxation. Is there another interpretation?

Gunther Geiss


History isn’t frozen

Regarding Mr. Fleming’s letter of May 13, I was indeed president of the Oysterponds Historical Society for many years. And I was responsible for the republication of “Historic Orient Village,” in which the description of the much-altered house in question indicates that only a few remnants of its 19th Century existence remain, and that there’s no knowledge of its builder or inhabitants.

Certainly I believe that any significant elements should be preserved if possible, and, if not, at least fully recorded and photographed before renovation.

My feelings about Village Lane are very personal. Growing up in New York City in the 1940s, I was aware from movies and books that there was a common American small town experience from which we cave dwellers were excluded. When I first saw Village Lane, I thought that Orient would be, for me, the small town I never came from.

I have visited many historic districts, strolled with the tourists and glanced at the candle shops and admired the handsomely restored facades of often empty houses, or houses displayed as museums. Village Lane is not that. It is a living street with a vivid history, not so much preserved as continuous, both historic and timeless. The street needs people in it, families, kids with bicycles, to maintain that unique existence and historical resonance.

If it were a matter of another house on the street, complete with its preserved bones and documented history, I would no doubt have held another point of view. But I believe that balance is always needed, to be careful not to sacrifice living history in the quest to preserve the past.

Freddie Wachsberger


Why silent now?

Don’t you find it at least a little ironic that the defenders of Orient’s pristine beauty have no problem with the recent appearance of bright yellow signs along the highway? Even in front of (gasp) Dam Pond?

Not a peep from the Orient Association. Hypothetical situations aren’t worth much, but what if the homes crowded together around lower Village Lane were contaminated by saltwater intrusion? Would a public water line to those homes create the hue and cry that the Main Road water line has? Or, would that be “different?”

Just wondering.

David Moore


Completely ignorant

Two weeks ago a letter writer insinuated that Jewish people who support President Obama are naive and have not learned the lessons of socialist and communist rule of 1930s Europe. I have never read a more ignorant, condescending and anti-Semitic letter in this newspaper.

To compare the Obama administration to those regimes is not only baseless but so misguided and irrational that it smacks of racism. It makes light of what occurred during World War II, and is an affront to my dozens of relatives who were persecuted and murdered simply because of their religious beliefs.

If the letter was not so cruel it would be hilarious. The writer obviously does not understand what it is like to have most of one’s extended family ethnically cleansed. If he did he certainly would know better and have more compassion for the surviving family members.

His false concerns about President Obama are transparent, and it is easy to see the real motives. Jewish citizens who read this newspaper do not need any history lessons. We do not patronize other ethnic groups for cheap political gain.

How ironic is it that the writer’s relatives are from the country that was Hilter’s closest ally. He should know better. But I’m afraid he has not learned a thing from their terrible mistakes.

Seth Bank


No comparison

The Suffolk Times recently published a letter headlined “Socialist nightmare” from a reader who was very angry with President Obama. The president criticized some figures in the financial community for making a lot of money while he had an income of several million dollars himself. The reader felt that this shows that President Obama is typical of the elitists (not my phrase) who want to turn the United States into a new edition of Soviet Russia or Communist East Germany.

However, the complaint ignores two very basic elements: How the money was made and what was done with it.

President Obama made his money from being president, writing books and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Being president is a demanding full-time job, so it pays pretty well. Writing books is difficult and you don’t make much money unless someone buys them. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is based on actions that promote world peace. What’s wrong with any of that?

The financial figures the president targeted in his remarks made their money from some very shady dealings. This takes a little explanation. The president singled out people whose firms packaged and sold sub-prime mortgage products while secretly investing in their failure. This has been represented as a very complicated situation with a lot of confusing language that we civilians aren’t smart enough to understand. Actually, it’s pretty simple.

A heart surgeon secretly takes out a life insurance policy on his patient with himself as the beneficiary. Then he does the surgery. When the patient dies on the table, in spite of the surgeon’s best efforts, or so we’re told, he collects on the insurance policy. Then he sends the family a bill for the surgery. Anyone want a second opinion?

Substitute Goldman Sachs et al for the surgeon, an investor for the patient, credit default swaps for the insurance policy and you get the drift. Legal? Maybe. Shady? I sure think so. Income to the companies involved? Billions, many hundreds of times more income than the president’s.

President Obama gave his entire Nobel Prize winnings, over $1 million, to charity. Wall Street figures buy private jets, expensive Manhattan co-ops and estates in the Hamptons.

World peace vs. shady dealings. Gifts to charity vs. private jets. That guy who wrote the angry letter, what was it the president said that he got so mad about anyway?

Paul Pomerantz


Addicts need help

The recent arrest of the group allegedly responsible for the East End heroin ring is good news, but unless the unfortunate users, most of whom are young, receive treatment, another group of pushers will fill the gap. It’s simply supply and demand.

As a community, we must address the problem of addiction and offer the users treatment if we really want to make a significant impact on this problem. Please print information on where treatment is available; help spread the word for those who desperately need it before other suppliers of heroin move in to fill the void. Coming together as a community now can really make a difference.

Ellen Stevenson


Thanks much, Nancy

I would like to thank Nancy Williams, who did not seek re-election on the Oysterponds school board, for her years of service. Nancy was an intelligent, calm and insightful member of the BOE. She quietly struggled to point the Oysterponds district into a direction that would primarily benefit its students and thereby benefit the taxpayers through cost benefit analyses.

When an independent committee studied alternatives for our 7-12 students, the recommendation was clear: Negotiate a tuition contract with schools other than Greenport. Indeed, another district’s willingness to provide lower costs and better educational opportunities was soon identified. Nancy supported the recommendation as others did. But sadly, the board’s majority did not.

In addition to her time on the BOE, Nancy and husband Glenn are tireless volunteers in extracurricular activities, notably in coaching soccer and baseball, in which their children both participate. What a shame that we continue to lose many of the best and the brightest, both students and parents, to other obvious opportunities on the North Fork.

Studies have documented that a student’s largest influence is his peer group in upper grades. How does this historical exodus of high achievers from our school district affect the rest? You guessed it, it effectively lowers the bar.

Perhaps it is time for our district to consider “school choice.” Each student’s tuition allotment could be spent as each family sees fit. If you simply could not tolerate a district farther away than Greenport, you’d be welcome to choose that your tuition dollars be spent there.

Should you seek a different education for your child and are willing to dedicate a few extra minutes to transport your child to and from another school’s activities, please help me promote the “school choice” concept for our 7-12 students by addressing the issue to the BOE. It’s been common practice for some districts in other states for years.

Deborah Kusa


A big hurray for Jay

The photograph “Topsy-turvy,” on page one of your May 6 edition, made me and my family smile with delight.

It is so artfully constructed, for a moment I thought the picture was a photograph of a painting.

Congratulations to the photographer, Jay Webster. We hope to see more of his work.

Marcia Pollak


That’s one option

Shouldn’t we furlough the many welfare recipients in New York State before our state employees?

Edward Boyd


We are blessed

On the evening of March 10, my husband, Howard, suffered a stroke while at home. The response of the East Marion Fire Department was phenomenal.

Our gratitude has no bounds. The quick response of Chief Keith Baker, Assistant Chief Frank Thorpe and EMT-in-charge Fritz Romer undoubtedly saved his life.

We are blessed to have men like these serving us.

Osina Reich


Malicious mischief

This message is to the parents of the three boys who damaged my wife’s month-old red 2010 Prius on the Saturday before Mother’s Day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Old Schoolhouse Park on Route 25 in East Marion.

The words and symbols scratched into five sections of the car will cost $2,000 to repair. The Southold police and the detective who took pictures have a description of the boys. I saw them enter the park as we were cycling away.

All parents, please read this to your children so they have an idea of the cost of this type of malicious mischief. You would certainly advise them against smoking, drinking and about being wary of men following them on foot or in a car to protect your children from harm. You should also tell them about respecting the property of others.

Richard Meyer