Letters to the Editor: Oct. 6

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10/06/2010 5:39 PM |

The ‘Sir Sean’ scam
No one likes to be made to feel like a fool. But the people of Greenport, and a good many others, sure had a fast one pulled on them during the Maritime Festival thanks to the “Sean Connery” scam.
All the fireworks in the world could not erase the blight this charade cast on an otherwise perfect weekend.
Emily Halligan

A no-win situation
As a businessman and taxpayer I certainly share Julie Lane’s feeling of injustice over the rising cost of health insurance for businesses and workers in the private sector (“Gouged on health insurance until 2014″).
Emblem, for example, a relatively small company and new player in New York’s health insurance scene, has requested a raise of between 67 percent and 72 percent from the State Insurance Commission.
Assemblyman Alessi has been responsive to the calls from businesspeople and private citizens to put pressure on the commission not to approve the rate hike. But ultimately this branch of state government, which has been none too friendly to small business, will, as they have done in the past, grant the increases.
For small businesses and private-sector employees this is a double whammy. Not only are their health insurance premiums skyrocketing, but so are their taxes, in part, because of their subsidization of the health insurance packages of public-sector employees. To say nothing of the skyrocketing costs of medical services.
It’s a no-win situation for those in the private sector, and reflects not only the greed of the big health insurance companies and some medical providers, it’s indicative of this state’s generally negative bias against the taxpayer and small-business owner.
New York state government, you might say, takes care of its own first and foremost.
Harry Katz

Regarding the Sean Connery impersonator, we did not move to Greenport to be duped.
This was not in good taste considering the reputation of Greenport’s maritime festival.
Linda Mugford

Control the hunt
To my regret, deer hunting in the Town of Southold seems inevitable, at least this year.
I would ask, however, that substantial penalties be imposed on persons who hunt on private property without permission. Last year, it was necessary for me to ask the assistance of the police to get hunters to leave my property.
There should be further recourse in the form of fines and/or jail time.
Maureen Sanders

Keep the wildlife
First the geese, now the deer. What next, the raccoons, foxes and rabbits?
The wildlife is what gives a last vestige of rural life to the North Fork. Why do people want to change it so that it becomes Nassau County east?
Carol Viteritti

It’s more than Lyme
I would like to comment in response to your article on the hazardous deer population meeting.
Lyme disease is mild compared to an already-present disease called babesiosis. Concentrate on what is already attacking residents of Southold Town and then worry about West Nile. Deer ticks are ever-present and so are the deer, in astounding numbers.
Babesiosis is very much like malaria. In fact, doctors are treating it with almost the same drug routine. If you want to know more about babesiosis, search online.
There is a very good article in the July 2007 issue of National Geographic on malaria. Babesiosis manifests itself the same way — it is parasitic and destroys the red blood cells, first in the liver and then goes on to other organs.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Cecilia Loucka

‘Exemplary?’ No way
In last week’s edition, State Senator Ken LaValle was quoted about Albany being a magnet for crooks. He stated that while suburban representatives have “exemplary” records the same cannot be said for the New York City delegations that dominate the Legislature.
He neglected to mention his friend Joe Bruno from upstate New York, whom he supported for leader of the State Senate for 13 years and who was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of two federal fraud counts.
Mr. Lavalle has become the poster boy for political dysfunction in Albany. He does one thing in Albany and tells us another when back home. He is supporting a Republican for Congress even though Mr. Altschuler moved to Suffolk County only recently. Mr. LaValle successfully bounced Regina Calcaterra from the ballot even though she has lived in Suffolk County 40 years longer than Mr. Altschuler.
The problem is that Sen. LaValle talks out of both sides of his mouth because he knows he can get away with it.
Larry Tuthill
Chairman, Southold Democratic Committee

He got the gift
Southold Free Library is moving in the right direction.
With the help from computer services staff member David van Popering, we have been blessed by a generous gift.
He got in touch with a company that works with numerous individuals, corporations, schools, universities and state and federal agencies to collect, refurbish and then distribute computers all across Long Island, New York City, Westchester and Connecticut.
David spoke to Jon Zimmerman, the director of comp4kids. David saved the library thousands of dollars since he was able to obtain 26 free flat screen monitors, 24 PCs and 12 laptops for library use.
I appreciate David’s efforts and am sure library patrons will be happy with the news.
Dan McCarthy
Mr. McCarthy is the library’s local history assistant.

Time to scale back
I’ve been told that I’m a reasonable man.
Preparing for the future always makes sense. A library in any town is a valuable resource, even with Suffolk County’s Cooperative System with 56 branches and its live-brary, a Web-based system that offers everything a brick and mortar offers, delivered right to your home.
I would be in favor of a modest renovation and expansion of the Southold Free Library to accommodate future increases in demand for meeting space and to meet the needs of the relatively few folks who use the library regularly. However, I feel like this project is being forced upon the community. There is no plan B should the community vote against the $7.25 million design.
This Taj-Mahal-or-nothing plan smacks of arrogance. The design claims to be in alignment with town building standards. I am seeing quite a few commercial properties empty and declining in aesthetic upkeep. Are current standards providing for a vibrant, pastoral commercial inventory?
Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko has a successful revitalization plan entitled “Blight to Light,” which assigns a points system to evaluating properties under consideration for utilization. A main factor in this program is using existing properties before disturbing virgin land. Southold has such properties begging for a purpose.
“Borrowed money is cheap right now” is a poor reason to ignore best practices promoted by Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the green building certification system, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and some reasonable Southold residents. Looking around town I see unanticipated costs in one special district after another. The Cutchogue-New Suffolk Free Library recently asked for a $25,517 increase over last year’s operating budget. School taxes go up every year without fail and voters pass these increases by a vote of 2 to 1.
Where does it end, or does it ever? Can’t we scale back the incessant cost hikes through compromise and reason?
Peter Meeker

Go digital
If we care at all about the citizens and children who will be using the Southold Free Library, do not approve an increased budget that is merely an expansion plan.  Instead, put that money where it will matter and start a digital initiative focused on connectivity, devices and digital books right from the library website.
Children in other cities can check out a Kindle and download a book. Space is the last thing we need. Enabling technology and a digital program that moves with times is what is needed for our town to be competitive and allow for our residents to be moving at the same speed as other communities.
The class of 2020 (ten short years from now) will no doubt look at a room full of physical books as shortsighted, especially when access to all the world’s books can be had from their cell phones. Eighty two percent of the nation’s more than 16,000 public libraries now have Wi-Fi, up from 37 percent four years ago, according to the American Library Association.
Improvements should include a hybrid technology center dedicating more space to computer labs and meeting rooms.
Mark and Mari Ghuneim

All should register
I just read John Copertino’s letter to the editor entitled “Spawning deadbeats” (Sept. 30). As an active Organizing for America volunteer on the North Fork, I would like to make sure your readers understand the truth about OFA and that while I disagree with Mr. Copertino, I am not a deadbeat.
Organizing for America is strictly a volunteer, grassroots group that is working to reelect Congressman Tim Bishop and other Democrats. We believe that all citizens should register to vote and that it is their responsibility to exercise this right.
As with any voter registration event, OFA volunteers register voters of all parties because we believe in the democratic process and that every vote is important. Last Sunday I registered only one voter, and he was an 18-year-old Republican.
When we register a new voter, OFA does not enter this information into our database. The names OFA contacts as part of the campaign process are voters listed in the voter registration books, which is public information, or people who actively seek us out because they want to be involved.
The deadline for registering to vote in New York is Oct. 8. Any citizen who wants to register can go to www.suffolkvotes.com and download a voter registration form, either in English or Spanish. The form must be postmarked by Oct. 8 and mailed to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, P.O. Box 700, Yaphank Ave., Yaphank, NY 11980.
You need to fill out a new voter registration form to change your name or address if there has been a change since you last voted. You can also enroll in a political party or change your party affiliation by completing this form.
The www.suffolkvotes.com website is a wonderful source of voter information and includes downloadable absentee voter applications, a video about the new voting machines and other important information in English or Spanish. You can also call the Board of Elections at 631-852-4500 to obtain many of the same forms and services that are on the website.
OFA encourages everyone to vote. And I am not a deadbeat!
Anne Howard

Profit makes this country work
In response to Julie Lane’s column last week on health care (“Gouged on health insurance until 2014″), it’s interesting that Ms. Lane tells only part of the story to suit her needs. And perhaps she needs a lesson in Macroeconomics 101 to realize the importance of profits for all American industries.
Ms. Lane claims that WellPoint made a profit of $2.5 billion in 2008; UnitedHealth Group will have revenues of $93 billion; and Emblem is still reporting profits; looking at the 2009 results of WellPoint, their profit margin was 4% ($61.3B in revenues, $2.49 in net income); UnitedHealth Group’s profit margin was 3.7% ($81.2B in revenues, $2.98B in net income); Emblem had the following result for these years: 2009, less than 1% profit; 2008, no profit; 2007 profit of 1.2%. These are not obscene profits; in fact, fairly standard for this industry.
Companies need to make profits to survive; shareholders and pensioners rely on their dividends; pension holders, including civil servants, teachers, police and firefighters, union workers, need these companies to make profits year after year so that they get their monthly retirement checks. Profit is not a bad word; it is what has kept America going all these years; and no one, including the government, should dictate what percentage profit anyone or any company should make.
Ms. Lane expresses belief that since so many people give a favorable rating to Medicare, then the single option plan by the government should also be the answer; let me ask Ms. Lane about other government-run programs: How did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac work out? How’s the U.S. Postal Service, a quasi government program, doing, losing $6 billion this year? How about the fact that Social Security and Medicare (both government programs) are expected to run out of funds by around 2030? If you want a government plan, go ahead, sign up for it; as for me, I want choices of which health insurance company I can join; freedom of choice is another tenet this country has been about.
Do not vilify the insurance companies; they are reacting to all the various medical costs that are constantly rising; government does serve a purpose, and trying to assist those that need health care should have that opportunity; however, don’t mandate to all a government plan; there are choices for everyone, the way it should be.
Robert Scharback

Glen Beck wannabe
Considering that we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Considering that most of the unemployed are not so by choice.
Considering that compassion for the less fortunate and empathy for the disabled and those Americans who suffer from poverty and disease is part of the fabric of this nation.
Considering that our schools have suffered from lack of funds and that our children are falling behind the rest of the world in math and science.
Considering that under the new healthcare law adult children under the age of 26 can now be covered under their parents’ policy if they don’t qualify themselves.
Considering that health insurers can no longer drop patients with pre-existing conditions.
Considering that if Social Security had been privatized millions of elderly Americans would be living on the streets or in shelters by now.
Considering that Medicare has helped keep our aging population healthy.
I find the diatribe of people like John Copertino to be simplistic, misleading and based on their own ruminations rather than facts. In his letters Mr. Copertino has been purposefully provocative and nasty. His rants resemble the ramblings of the charlatan Glen Beck and are anything but constructive.
His name-calling and labeling is childish. His enemy it seems is socialism and big government, yet he fails to note that lobbyists for big corporations have had a greater influence on the laws and policies that effect our everyday lives.
Enough. We do not live in Nazi Germany or The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and there is no evidence that we are headed in that direction. There is no proof that our president is a Socialist. He is an American-born Christian moderate Democrat.
We live in The United States of America. It is not perfect and sometimes messy, but it is still a democracy.
Tom Spackman

Get the facts right
Mr. Copertino should learn more about the history of the Socialist movement in America before conflating it with Communism (“Spawning deadbeats,” Sept. 30).
The Socialist Party leader whom he cites, Norman Thomas, spent his life (1884-1968) fighting for the American Constitution’s proposition that “all men are created equal.” After the Russian Revolution, he warned of the dangers of Communist dictatorships.
He was pleased that the Democratic Party took on his mission for Social Security and minimum wage, but was by no means done fighting for civil and human rights when he hung up his hat as a presidential candidate in 1952.
Louisa Hargrave
Editor’s note: Ms. Hargrave is the granddaughter of Norman Thomas.

Where’s the drain?
For well over six months now we have attempted to obtain information from the Southold Highway Department. We live downhill from more recent housing construction on Summit Drive in Mattituck. This construction was not required to contain their water runoff on their property.  As a result, their runoff directly floods our property.
Our house is downhill on Miriam Road and at one time there was a large drainage catch basin at the intersection of Summit Drive and Miriam Road to accumulate some of the runoff. The runoff now floods the front yard of our house, leaving leaves, debris such as rocks and sand on our walkway leading into our house.
We have tried to determine why the drain was removed.  Who removed it? What was the town’s involvement? Did the town grant the removal?  
These do not appear to be unreasonable questions to ask of paid town officials. Does anyone have any suggestions on how simple answers can be obtained from any responsible individuals at the highway department?
Barbara and George Lomaga

Trashing the shore
I write this in hopes of getting some attention to an environmental travesty taking place in East Marion.
The property known as Cove Beach Estates was chopped up into lots for sale many years ago. However no construction has begun, which to some might seem like a good thing. But numerous people have been using that road to access the beach for fishing, campfires and parties. And what they leave behind is the real problem.
I have seen more than a dozen large bags of garbage, bottles, cans, plastic bags, diapers, even appliances dumped haphazardly on the bluff and on the beach.
I see rampant poaching of fish and even drug use.
We all pride ourselves in keeping the North Fork clean and beautiful. But here is a glaring example of the illegal use of private property and of pollution without regard for the beauty that surrounds us or fear of punishment.
I implore the police and the community to do something. Either close that road (the previous owners locked it and gave keys only to fireman and police), or have the police check the place often and the DEC stop the poaching. Every day now crowds arrive leaving incredible amounts of garbage and doing incredible damage.
We have many reserves out here in the North Fork, including the one next to this property on Dam Pond. Though the creators of these mean well, they should look a mere 300 yards from Dam Pond to see the incredible amount of garbage and disrespect for nature that’s occurring.
Lets be consistent when we say we respect nature.
Joseph Vukas

Oysterponds’ choices
Walter Gaipa’s comments about the recent Oysterponds School forum are unfounded in several respects and right on the money in others.
The suggestion that the community should not be consulted in early planning for the future of the school makes a mockery of community involvement. The practice of no community consultation was the hallmark of the boards upon which Mr. Gaipa served. We should thank the OPS board for inviting community views before, not after, they hire an educational consultant.
The proposal of multi-aged grouped classes is not new, and is employed by schools across the globe. That includes one very successful one, New Suffolk, right here on the North Fork. Research expounds the success of this strategy and results prove it.
Regarding pre-K classes, I’m delighted that Mr. Gaipa supports this idea, and I hope OPS institutes this program sooner rather than later. Segregating this class from others is a good idea, should be considered and could be easily accomplished.
Bring seventh and eighth grades back to OPS?  An intriguing idea that may not turn out to save much money or have educational value, and the concept needs more research.  
However, Mr. Gaipa’s suggestion that consideration be given to exploring a North Fork middle school is “spot on” and should be explored. Who knows? — this idea could be the precursor to true North Fork school consolidation. This is where we all really ought to be headed.
Ms. Goldsmith’s letter is more troubling. She brags about the latest Greenport/OPS contract as being less costly in absolute terms than the prior contract. However, the current contract is at the highest rate permitted under New York State law and, in contradiction to her assertion, is the most costly in history.
The prior contract was a flat rate contract not based on fluctuating student population, which resulted in OPS paying as much as $1 million more, over a six year period, than the highest legal rate permitted under state law.
Now, even she decries the previous contract, signed by her and long supported by her as too costly, claiming the current contract as the best value for OPS.  Which is it, Ms. Goldsmith? What both contracts have in common is Ms. Goldsmith’s determination to shovel money to Greenport without voter approval.
Ms Goldsmith accuses Ms. Dumont of secretly attempting to bring charter schools to Oysterponds. That’s simply because she serves on the board of a charter school in the Bronx, which serves the poorest and most disadvantaged congressional district in the entire country. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Given Ms Goldsmith’s twenty-plus years on the BOE surely she knows that under state law charter schools may not be proposed in one-school districts, like Oysterponds.
Certainly Ms. Goldsmith would not like the governance of a charter school, as the group that secures the charter from the state chooses the board and it is not elected by the public. We could then have a board that would attract only those people interested in education rather than those only interested in attracting public attention.
Dick Leslie

Regulating moorings
The complaints of several boat owners whose moorings were recently removed from Sterling Harbor are baseless.
No amount of  bombast or demands for proof of the village’s authority can alter that. And, by his comments, Mayor Nyce is aware of the village’s authority in these matters.
The New York Navigation Law provides that a village “may adopt … and enforce local laws … restricting and regulating the anchoring or mooring of vessels in any waters within or bounding the … village to a distance of fifteen hundred feet from the shore.” Nav. L., §46-a.
So, it’s really quite straightforward; without prior authorization of the village trustees (not the harbormaster) no one may place or retain an unauthorized mooring in Sterling Harbor.
Arthur Tasker

Don’t take the dogs
The Greenport Maritime fest has been one of the highlights of my visits to my family in East Marion for many years. However, each time I go, I am troubled by the continued allowance of dogs within the festival boundaries.
I am owned by three dogs myself, so this is not an anti-dog diatribe. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is, however, anti-idiot.
I witnessed at least five dogs in distress, from lack of water and shade, dogs scared by the crowds and the noise and just plain exhausted. One poor long-haired Dachshund was seriously near collapse. The owner finally tried to give him some relief with a cup of ice. The poor thing tried to climb into it. The only shade the woman could find was right next to the speakers of a band playing as loudly as they could.
Dogs have hearing which is many times more acute than humans. I couldn’t stand next to the speakers due to the noise. Imagine the poor dog.
I had spoken to this same woman earlier in the day, as I am a Dachshund lover. She related that this was a dog rescued from a cruel puppy mill. Guess what? He was suffering pretty badly the last I saw of him. My family had to pull me away or I would have stolen him.
I saw other dogs accidentally kicked in the head, stepped on, have beer spilled on them and dogs being pulled and pawed (no pun intended). Exhausted and frightened dogs are also at potential risk to bite.
Please, please, please prohibit dogs from being allowed at this event.
Carol Tully

Deadly tangles
As part of our morning exercise, my husband and I walk by the water from McCabe’s Beach to Kenney’s Beach. While looking for shells on Sunday, I came upon a big tangle of fishing line.
I explained to my husband that we needed to pick it up, as seagulls often mistake fishing line for food and swallow it. He agreed and carried it as we continued down the beach. Farther along, I noticed another piece of fishing line and I started to wind it up in my hands before realizing that at the other end was a seagull that had already swallowed part of the line.
It was on the sand trying to free itself. As we approached, the gull flew up in the air. The line was not only poking out of its mouth, there was more line tangled around its feet and a large hook was dangling two feet below. The gull landed in the water. We watched as it tried to fly up again but it was stuck.
It could get no higher than one foot off the water. The hook had apparently caught onto some seaweed below and was keeping the gull anchored to that spot, either to die from drowning when the tide comes in, or from eventual starvation.
If you’re a fisherman please, please pick up all your fishing line. Birds don’t know it’s not food. They feed it to their young as well. It’s a sad, terrible thing to do to these beautiful creatures.
P.J. Waller

Don’t forget WSUF
I am happy that WLIU has survived. However, it is not the only NPR Station on the East End.
WSUF broadcasts from Greenport at 89.9 FM. It is true that WSUF is part of the WHSU Public Radio Group, which is based in Connecticut, but they have reporters covering New York State government and Long Island.
I think that qualifies it as a local NPR station. And the NPR coverage is continuous with music only late in the evening on weekends.
Mile Wilson

Settlers’ pride
I was so proud to take part in the Southold alumni soccer game this past Saturday at the high school.
A big thank-you to Dan McGunnigle for stepping up to organize what I hope is the first of an annual tradition to come. He was able to recruit 42 Southold alumni from all over to participate in this enjoyable and memorable community event for players and spectators of all ages.
Thanks also to Paulette Ofrias, BOE president and member of the Southold Athletic Association, for all her efforts. And to the dynamic, driving duo of coaches Craig and Rick Osmer for guiding us back to our former glory on the field.
The alumni game was followed by an exciting game between the Southold varsity boys vs. the Greenport Porters. The game was won in double overtime by the Settlers to put a cap on a great afternoon.
Although there were some aches and pains involved (speaking for myself, of course) pride never hurt so good.
Craig Goldsmith