Letters to the Editor

06/03/2010 12:00 AM |


Collateral damage

In the context of a national civil rights crisis Bob Dylan prodded the American conscience with the lyric, “How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?” The question lingers in the midst of the grievous ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The doves hovering over the poisoned gulf and surrounding waters and marshes have a perilous flight before they find a safe haven.

Thomas Merton, the late Trappist monk and poet-theologian, grew alarmed by the growing violent assault on the planet’s resources accompanied by a political ideology viewing any restraints on corporations to be bad form, a violation of freedom and an affront to the benign providence of the “free market.”

Merton quipped that despite our moral failure to tend to creation, perhaps we will find some consolation that the end of the world will at least be “legal.”

As we watch the tormenting spectacle of sludge on the move in the Gulf, one hopes the grotesque imagery will help to put to rest thought-terminating slogans such as “too big to fail” and “drill, baby, drill,” mantras reminiscent of the chants of “jobs, not trees!” by the loggers on now barren Easter Island.

However, subtly overtly, we are assured this incident is merely a mishap. A new mantra is offered, “Technology saves,” an assurance and slogan insulting to the families of the 11 men who perished in the blast on the rig and the fishermen and their families whose lives have been turned upside down. Not to mention the marine life now listed as collateral damage to the “drill, baby, drill” strategy to solve the energy crisis.

As has been stated, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. And that is sufficient. From that flows the ethical school of comedian W.C. Fields: Never give a sucker an even break nor wise up a chump.

Tom Dunn


Harsh isn’t helpful

One of my favorite sections in your newspaper is the letters to the editor. In recent years, however, I’ve noticed the same correspondents week after week commenting on a very narrow range of subjects, namely their own personal political opinions.

Moreover, the tone of these letters has become increasingly pedantic, and by the time I’ve finished reading them I feel I’ve been lectured to or even worse, preached to.

Believe it or not, most people when given the facts are able to formulate their own opinions and draw their own conclusions. The average person — i.e. pretty much everybody — doesn’t need to be browbeaten by those who steadfastly maintain their interpretation of the “facts” is the only correct one and anyone disagreeing is either ignorant, immature or out of touch with reality.

Patrick Lohn


Get the kids moving

Last week I attended the supervisor’s meeting at Mattituck/Laurel Library, held to discuss the plans for Southold’s comprehensive plan, “Southold 2020,” and its implication for future development. When I introduced the subject of a skate park for our children, the supervisor injected his thoughts on the subject saying, “when I was a kid growing up in Mattituck …”

Not to belittle his comment, but I, too, grew up in an era of no computers, no Facebook, etc. We spent our after-school activities getting much needed exercise by riding our bikes, playing stickball and hide and seek, making scooters out of a 2-by-4, an orange crate and a pair of roller skates.

Growing up in a diverse neighborhood, I made many lifelong friends and was physically fit enough to pass the Army draft in 1952.

In an era when the First Lady is asking America’s parents to get their kids away from their TVs and computers and get more exercise to be physically fit and healthy, I would think the town would be willing to take on the challenge of providing our youth a place to safely engage in this national sport.

Not all of our children are engaged in organized sports. I think it’s time we heard from them. I urge interested parents to attend the next Mattituck Parks District board meeting at Veterans Park in June.

Let’s look to the future, not to the past. Isn’t that part of the comprehensive plan?

LeRoy Heyliger


Horrific and constant

Many thanks to Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Tim Bishop and Legislator Ed Romaine for working to change the helicopter regulations and flight patterns over the North Fork. The changes can’t come soon enough.

We live in Mattituck and on Friday, May 28, we recorded 25 flights between 9:25 a.m. and 7:18 p.m. As if that wasn’t bad enough, on Monday, May 31, we recorded 55 flights between 9:25 a.m. and 8:20 p.m. The noise was horrific and constant.

Please, implement the new regulations as soon as possible and bring peace and quiet back to the North Fork.

Sue and Sandy Hanauer


Will Wayne Newton be performing there?

A recent editorial in your newspaper begs the question of what to do with a possibly toxic island that lies on our eastern shore. Here’s a possible scenario.

If word gets out that the land in question is a possible Superfund site it won’t be worth a plug nickel in a residential sale. Who would want to live there? So, the Feds in D.C. form a huddle to find a taker for their mess. Who would want to take on such a feat? Why, the Native Americans, of course.

We’ve been screwing them for centuries, why stop now? The powers in Washington could execute a land swap deal with the Shinnecocks, who have been seeking a place to build a new casino. This makes the beautiful people in the Hamptons very happy because they get to keep the tribe’s land over there forever wild. The tribe is very happy also because the island now becomes their sovereign land and, as such, they simply encase the waste areas within the thick cement foundations of their 14-story casino building, forever sealing same. The state DEC is happy because Albany doesn’t spend a dime on cleanup.

The Southold town supervisor will be relieved because the casino and new bridge to it across Plum Gut will generate about 8,000 jobs for the North Fork, just like the casinos did for Ledyard, Conn.

Unemployment out here will be a thing of the past. Families will be happy that their children will no longer have to move off-island in the “brain-drain” because they will be employed right here and be able to afford a home right here. Imagine that! The town and state will tax the slot machines so heavily that school taxes will be non-existent, the question of school consolidation will never come up again and we can keep our little fiefdoms of school districts intact.

The eatery owners will no longer battle the wineries over Sunday brunches. There will be plenty of hungry transient travelers to serve and business will be prosperous and they will be happy. The ferry company will finally get their new parking lot in the form of the 9.5-acre parcel they buy on this side that was left by the feds. The five-acre parcel they now own will be sold to the tribe for an enormous price to put the foundation for the new bridge to the island. They will be overjoyed about that.

The Suffolk Water Authority will be thrilled because now they will have a legitimate purpose for their new water main through Orient because it takes a lot of water to flush all those toilets in the casino. Of course, the helicopters from Manhattan will be directed by the FAA to fly down the center of the Sound before turning in to land on the casino roof. The Long Island Expressway will be extended along the DOT-proposed route to connect with County Road 48 to handle the traffic getting off at Exit 78, Orient, but that’s a small price to pay for all the affluence coming our way.

Sounds ridiculous? You can bury your head in the sand if you wish, but when it comes to money you can’t stop progress, maybe only hope to postpone it for a while. As for me, I’ll be hunting for a piece of land on the North Road to put up a burger joint with not one, but two drive-up windows. And the building department will approve it.

Mike Mehr


Playing by the rules

It seems the town and village officials take a hands-off approach to more than just the wineries. They take this approach with many tourist-based industries depending on which tack works best to fill coffers. Why the overregulation of garage sales? Could it be that it is too difficult to track receipts for their share of the sales tax dollar in a business known for not keeping books?

The industry I wish to address is the unregulated “for hire” transportation services business. The East End, with its booming tourism trade, has seen a growth in private, for-hire car operators, including limousines, town cars and taxis — all of which are required by state law to have a reseller’s permit from the NYS Department of Finance, collect sales tax and employ drivers who have a chauffer’s endorsement on their driver’s licenses. By way of insurance regulations, these operators are required to carry “for hire” insurance, a type of commercial insurance costing a good bit more than private auto insurance.

By allowing the for-hire industry to exist without local licensing, the town and village are turning a blind eye to operators, many of whom are not following state tax laws and are not properly insured.

These operators are not only working outside of the law by failing to collect sales tax on services and misrepresenting facts to insurance companies, they may also be unsafe. Commercial insurers providing for-hire car insurance inspect the car, perform background checks on the operators and mandate ongoing driver training and safety programs.

Local governments are condoning practices which are against state law and potentially dangerous to the uninformed public. They are also allowing unfair business practices to continue within their boundaries.

Unregulated operators undercut legitimate operators by failing to collect sales tax and pay the cost of proper insurance for their businesses. Local governments carry a duty to protect the public and create a just and fair environment for all businesses, no matter how small or how large.

Whether or not they fill the tax coffers more than others is immaterial. The public and business owners are entitled to equal protection and scrutiny under the law, no matter what the industry, a garage sale, a winery or a middling car service.

Sidney Cymbalsky

Editor’s Note: Mr. Cymbalsky operates Sid’s North Fork Livery Service.


Verify, make a call

It was wonderful to read the news that the FAA is setting new rules on choppers. I must say the paper did not provide the citizens of the East End enough information. Specifically, you did not provide the public with the important phone numbers so that complaints could continue to be logged accordingly.

This new regulation will not take effect for 30 days. I encourage all residents to call the Eastern Region Helicopter hotline at 1-800-319-7410 and East Hampton Airport at 537-1130. You will be asked to provide the date, time and direction the chopper is traveling from or to. It’s that simple.

I am also confident that the reason calls are down at the supervisor’s office is because Mr. Russell’s staff suggested calling the FAA. It certainly isn’t because the choppers are volunteering to fly at a higher altitude or taking the Sound path. No way, that would cost more in gas.

I welcome anyone over to my backyard on a Friday evening or all day Sunday to listen to the musical humming of helicopters overhead. Oh, wait, I gotta go. I need to make a phone call because here comes another one and it’s Tuesday at 6:40 a.m. the day after Memorial Day.

Theresa McCaskie


Safe for walkers

This is in regard to traffic control and public safety at the Route 25-Love Lane intersection.

A traffic circle may be appropriate to control vehicle movement, but the design and engineering of any such project must properly accommodate the safety of pedestrians crossing the Main Road and Love Lane and, if it’s not closed to vehicle traffic, Old Sound Avenue. Safety is paramount.

What the more comprehensive plan for the future of downtown Mattituck is to be should dictate what traffic control and public safety systems must be designed and constructed at this early planning stage.

Jack McGreevy


Very high-spirited

One evening last week I headed to King Kullen, my 16-year-old daughter proudly driving with her recent acquired driver’s permit. Six people jolted out of the winery on bicycles. Thank God my daughter reacted with precision to avoid the two young women, obviously drunk, who swerved in front of my Jeep in a split-second flash.

I’m sure they were on bikes to avoid a drunk driver charge had they been driving vehicles. If those drunken girls were struck dead, would my daughter be facing vehicular manslaughter charges right now?

The buses, the limos, the motorcycles and the bicycles are filled with drunken people and the numbers are growing. Concerns over catering infringement on restaurants is minimal compared with the proliferation of bars in the area. Some are called a winery, but isn’t that just a fancy word trying to dignify and upscale a bar?

The number of bars in operation in this town is alarming. It doesn’t matter if it’s beer, whiskey, scotch or wine, alcohol is alcohol, and the abundance of drunkenness is growing as fast as the grapevines.

Why are several wine-bars refusing buses? Aren’t the inside patrons and the outside public safer with a sober bus driver at the controls?

Through the years, the consistent sentiment over losing the farms of yesteryear has been voiced that at least the vineyards keep things rural. How did barrooms become part of the rural landscape?

In the sentiment of the interesting slogan to “Save What’s Left,” please tell me what is left? Look around without those rose-colored glasses. What do you really see? Nothing left to save.

I won’t even start about the helicopters.

I keep clicking my heels but, “Somehow this don’t feel like home anymore.” (Courtesy of the movie “Crazy Heart.”)

MaryAnn Fleischman


Building a good rep

Kudos for the town building department.

While in the process of selling our summer house in Cutchogue, we were presented with a request for Certificates of Occupancy for two structures on the property. This was two days prior to the closing. When we went to Town Hall in Southold for permits for the inspection, we explained our situation to Mr. Rallis and Mrs. Conklin. They were most helpful and professional.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the inspection and approval were done the morning of the closing. It facilitated a smooth closing.

A job well done.

Thomas Beck