Letters to the Editor

06/17/2010 12:00 AM |


Not permitted on preserved acreage

A couple of letters in last week’s newspaper indicate to me that there is a fundamental lack of understanding of the facts with regard to special events held at wineries.

First, there is no effort, no discussion and no plan to stop weddings from being held at wineries. The discussion of what is and isn’t permissible as a “special event” is a discussion that the town is having with agricultural operators. No decisions have been made.

Secondly, issues regarding events being held on taxpayer-protected farmland at the Shinn-Page winery have absolutely nothing to do with the discussion of special events. In fact, the issue of events being held on the preserved farmland at that particular winery is not new. It has been ongoing for a few years now, with Mr. Page being very much a part of the discussion.

Deliberations by Southold’s land preservation committee focused on past events held at that winery on land the owners sold development rights to, and made a firm commitment to use only for agricultural production.

I am astounded that the owners would take the signed contracts, and presumably the money, of these four couples planning on getting married there, knowing full well the possibility that the land preservation committee could ultimately rule the uses as prohibited and the events would have to be cancelled.

Ultimately, after considering opinions from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, special counsel, town legal staff, etc., it became clear that special events of any kind are simply not permitted on land that has been protected for agricultural use by taxpayers.

The owners of the Shinn-Page winery willingly and voluntarily deeded certain rights and uses to Southold Town. They signed a deed and took the money. The town land preservation committee’s only intent here was to ensure that deeds and commitments are being honored. The Town Board is intent on supporting the findings of that committee. However, our concerns for the four couples who have weddings already planned at the winery led us to grant a unique and special right to allow the winery to host those weddings.

We certainly have no intent of stopping weddings from being hosted by wineries. In the future, however, they need to be held at wineries where the owners didn’t sell the right to have them in the first place.

Supervisor Scott Russell


It saves money

In response to George Schneider’s June 10 letter “Other folks’ money,” the state has made aging in place grants available to more than 15 diverse communities from the Town of North Hempstead’s Department of Services for the Aging to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County.

The aim of these grants is to research and plan aging in place communities, which allow older people to enjoy a good quality of life and safely stay in their homes.

The reason the state is looking into these age-friendly communities is to reduce the enormous cost to the government.

I am aware, as a clinical social worker, that nursing homes cost the government, through Medicare and Medicaid, over $300 per day per person. In just 84 days one person will cost us, the taxpayers, more than $25,000. If the cost for one person is $25,000, that means every 1,000 people cost the government $25 million for just under three months of nursing home care. That is $25 million of “other folks’ money.”

North Fork Women for Women Fund, with its partner Southold Town Human Resources Department, plans to share the overall findings with the other townships in the hopes of creating an age-friendly network of communities here on the East End.

Nanette Yavel, LCSW


A cult, not a church

My sorrow at the heroic death of Lt. Joseph Theinert was, for a time, accompanied by horror at the thought that his funeral might become the target of a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church. Thankfully this did not take place, and the brave young man was laid to rest with all the appropriate dignity and reverence.

As the pastor of a Baptist church, I deeply regret the fact that this obnoxious cult identifies itself as a church, and as a Baptist one in particular. It sickens me to think that as a result of this name anyone might possibly associate me or my brethren with this fanatical hate group.

The Westboro cult does not belong to any Baptist association, and genuine Baptists, along with all other Christians, reject and denounce both their message and their methods.

In our congregation there are a number of veterans, myself among them, and together with our neighbors we wholeheartedly support our troops and, with pride and sorrow, salute the fallen.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

The Rev. Thomas LaMothe

pastor, First Baptist Church of Greenport


Who’s in my wallet?

Recently I have seen signs suggesting Congressman Tim Bishop is into the wallets of voters. In response, I would like to make the following points.

For one, my house insurer recently sent me a notice that it was canceling my policy. I have had this policy for over 35 years, and have had one small ($235) claim over 30 years ago. The company has now determined that I live in a “dangerous zone” and so, without warning, it canceled my policy. I have had to spend time and extra money looking for a new insurer. In this case, my wallet has been invaded by an insurance corporation.

For over five years I have taken a medication for high cholesterol, which has been very effective with no side effects. But now my insurance company tells me I must take something else, which makes me itch and ache, or pay for the one “I choose.” Of course that makes the medication too expensive, so who knows where my cholesterol levels will go. The corporate world is not only in my wallet, but in my health plan.

As with many, many people, my retirement investments have been pilfered by Wall Street’s greedy crooks. Now my decision to retire has had to be postponed and I fear that I might have to work “forever.” My wallet’s present as well as future content has been deflated by corporate thieves.

Discussing corporations, there’s the oil industry, whose profits have never been higher, not even giving consideration to the recent oil spill. My wallet makes a weekly contribution to this success since I must commute almost 40 miles to work. This is only one of a few corporations that control the American economy and steal from our wallets.

The Boston Tea Party (and I am an historian of American history) was a protest against corporate control of the British government. The present Tea Party group is supporting these corporations in some misguided idea that they protect the independence of the American consumer. Government has had to step in because the corporations are making their profit off the hard work of American citizens.

The only place I find Tim Bishop in these situations is in supporting legislation to help the basic American consumer against the oligarchy of business, which IS in my wallet.

Barbara Ripel, Ph.D.


Wither security?

Last week’s article “Ready to Ride” only raises questions.

How was it possible to take apart a complete auto and assemble it in the school library without anyone seeing them? There are night custodians working. What happened to the school security system? Are all school doors left unlocked?

It appears that a tractor trailer can pull up to the school at night and take whatever they want. The school district’s administration is responsible for the lack of security.

If they know who the responsible students were, they should have them remove the car the same way they brought it in as the students did last year when they had to replant the grass they destroyed.

While most pranks are harmless, sometimes unfortunate consequences happen.

Bernard Heinisch


Talk facts, not fiction

As we enter the surreal, anything-goes season of politics, I suggest one key attitude we should all adopt.

Let us ask our opinionated friends and political ranters, from whatever side they inhabit, to explain their positions. The wide range of exhortations that we are bombarded with should be held at arms length until the speaker explains how to do it and what the results will be.

The Tea Party folk, for example, claim the answers to the current problems are very simple: cut taxes, cut spending, reduce the deficit and, finally, oppose stimulus spending and bailouts. This is a catchy agenda. How can you oppose it? But doesn’t it demand explanation?

Let’s note that while entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare are extremely large parts of current spending, they are enjoyed by many Tea Party shouters and other citizens and are unlikely to be tampered with. So ask for an explanation of where significant spending cuts are to come from?

The tax cuts so vehemently requested will just make the situation worse in this time of declining national receipts. As innately selfish individuals, we all would love to see our taxes lower. However, at this time of economic stress and teetering bankrupt state governments, this rant makes no sense at all. Can the ranters make a sensible argument?

As to the stimulus/bailout programs, I think that overwhelming evidence justifies our government’s past actions. Support from respected economists and from the evidence that similar programs were recently put into effect in Europe justifies the stimulus and bailout policies.

Can you get an intelligent story that contradicts this?

If you can get realistic, sensible answers, sort out intelligent argument from hyperbole and engage in real conversation, I am certain that this will be one large step toward a more functional government.

Howard Meinke


We must speak up over helicopter noise

Senator Schumer’s success in getting the Federal Aviation Administration to acknowledge its responsibility to regulate helicopters is a good first step, but it will not solve the problem, as anyone who has dealt with the federal agency can tell you. I have been trying to get the FAA to respond to my concerns regarding low-flying aircraft for almost a year and have had no success. In reality, there exists no supervision or regulation of privately owned aircraft.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter’s stance against transit point flights over land is a refreshing alternative to the present ambiguous voluntary agreement that allows pilots to come and go over the island at their discretion. This hasn’t worked because there are too many rogue pilots who ignore this by flying at low altitudes over residential neighborhoods.

Why are helicopters from New York City even flying over the Long Island Sound when both major airports used are on the South Shore? Flying north to south over the island to get to destinations so close to the ocean makes no sense. It wastes fuel and causes unnecessary disturbance to anyone below a flight path.

If mandated routes do materialize, they will be meaningless without supervision and enforcement. That’s where our elected officials come in. They must be strong advocates for the rights of their constituents to be unencumbered by excessive noise and potential danger.

If this dreadful situation continues unabated, our quality of life will be severely and permanently compromised.

We must also speak up for ourselves. There is still time to submit comments on the proposed ruling, Docket Number FAA-2010-0302, online at http://www.regulations.gov. Or, submit comments in writing to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The deadline is June 25.

Stephanie Bail


Slick thinking

As the oil spill heads toward the East Coast, we now hear that the government is going to fix the blame.

We will be led to believe that BP had criminal intent. All that will do is to make oil more expensive.

Hey, maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

Richard Brewster


Doesn’t anyone care?

I appreciated Troy Gustavson’s recent article. Sadly, few people care about Americans dying and being crippled for life in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for the soldiers and their families.

I recall Nixon’s bombing ‘surge’ in Vietnam and an additional 20,000 American casualties and, perhaps, half a million more Vietnamese casualties, before Nixon/Kissinger accepted the basic terms available in 1969.

I earned my spot on the Nixon White House Enemies List.

Keith Whitlock


The perfect choice

I opened last week’s issue of The Suffolk Times and with great pride and admiration read about my friend Linda Ortiz’ appointment as the new director at CAST.

I grew up in Greenport and currently work on the North Fork with an office in Greenport. I’m privileged to know Linda for a few years now, and have always enjoyed watching her in action. Her seemingly endless energy is always focused on doing something for someone else. She’s always on the go and truly seems never to stop.

Whether it’s tending to the village recreation program, or helping a family with housing or food issues, she always seems to be the “go to” person and always seems to get the problem solved.

Linda devotes 100% of her attention to the task at hand and believes in getting it done right, the first time.

Her focus always seems to be helping make this world a better place, helping one person at a time. The world truly is a better place with Linda in it. The Village of Greenport certainly is a better place having had Linda in it. And now CAST is a better place with Linda as their director.

I would encourage those who can give of their time to do so and assist her in her newest endeavor. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community.

My family and I feel fortunate to consider Linda a friend and we wish her all the best.

(Linda, if we can help with anything, just call.)

Jim Harrison


Community spirit

I am so very impressed by, and so very grateful to, the students and teachers at Greenport School who made the beautiful wooden planters that grace our village sidewalks.

They are so professionally and perfectly done that I’m sure they could have been sold for a profit. Not only have these planters added beauty to the village, but they show that the people who live, work and go to school here really care. It makes me happy just to walk about the village and I am so proud to live here.

I also would like to publicly praise the Greenport School students who conducted the car wash two weeks ago. This was not done for their own purpose, such as a class trip, but rather as a fundraiser for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

Once again, Greenport students and teachers have demonstrated real community spirit.

Thanks to all of you,

Fran Prato