Letters to the Editor: Nov. 4, 2010

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11/03/2010 6:21 PM |

Supervisor responds
Vincent LaRocca’s letter to your paper last week attacking me and the budget I propose contains errors and omissions of fact that should be clarified.
First, Mr. LaRocca does raise a good point on the timing of raises for elected officials, given the current state of the economy. The outlook for Southold Towns fiscal health is good, but the overall economy has not improved and the board and I should weigh that point heavily before considering raises for elected officials.
That being said, I have presented five budgets for each of the last five years and this is the first time I included a raise for the supervisor’s position. One single raise of 4 percent over five years in no way resembles the picture of “political self-indulgence” that Mr. LaRocca tries to paint.
Second, the accusation that I somehow pilfered the town’s “emergency reserves” to the tune of $2.1 million is ridiculous for several reasons. Not the least of which is that the town does not have “emergency reserves.”
What we do have is a very healthy fund balance. Over the past few years this board has made substantial changes to fiscal policy. They include a requirement that our fund balance be no less than 10 percent of our operating budget and multi-year budgeting. The $4 million we have in the unallocated fund balance not only far exceeds the 10 percent policy, it is the highest it has been in years.
The $2.1 million I allocated is above and beyond the $4 million balance. That money was largely allocated in fiscal 2010 for certain expenses that did not come due. My budget reallocates those expenses along with the money to pay for them into 2011.
Lastly, the town’s fiscal health is good because this Town Board scrutinizes every dollar before it gets spent, pursues all available revenue alternatives such as grants and FEMA aid and follows a strict policy of work force reduction through attrition and re-allocations of the workforce.
In fact, this board demonstrates the very fiscal responsibility Mr. LaRocca purports to demand. Despite Mr. LaRocca’s simplistic armchair analysis, the bond rating agencies have recognized the town’s fiscal responsibility by rewarding it with a stellar credit rating.
Again, Mr. LaRocca does make a good point about the timing of raises for elected officials and it is a case we need to consider. When it comes to the merit of this budget and the overall economic health of the town’s government, I am more inclined to follow the advice of fiscal experts.
Supervisor Scott Russell
Lacking empathy
Mr. Russell, your budget proposal totally lacks empathy and understanding of your constituents.
This 1.93 percent tax burden is solely for the benefit of town government employees, who will receive a 4 percent pay raise and $900,000 will be placed into the state pension fund, to which employees do not contribute and solely benefit from at retirement. No one is rushing to supplement my 401(k).
Senior citizens and the military didn’t receive a pay raise in 2010 and won’t in 2011. But our government employees will.  
The town faces 200-plus foreclosures and you don’t mention it and you don’t seem concerned about it. How many more people may face foreclosure with the combination of proposed town, fire department and school taxes?
This is the worst possible time to give a 4 percent pay raise when last year you fought to deny a 3.5 percent raise. Bad timing to tell us our home value has declined at least .6 percent and now we must pay 1.93 percent more.  
You campaigned for this office, volunteered in essence to serve the people of Southold Town. Don’t complain about not getting a pay raise. If you don’t like the job or the pay, don’t run for office, and the same is true for the part-time board members.  
I understand last year was the first year government employees contributed to their health care costs. Non-government employees have been paying up-the-nose their entire life for health care. Welcome aboard!
How are you going to spend the $2.1 million surplus? And what becomes of the remaining $4.3 million? Does your proposal lessen the burden to the elderly or those facing foreclosure?
Don’t give out pay raises on my dime when the town, country and I are facing an economic crisis.
Vin Ricciardi
RIP, Arcade
Regarding last week’s story “An era ends on Front Street” — oh, no! Say it isn’t so!  
The Arcade, with its wide-planked floors, with a familiar face (who knows my name) ringing me up, with the convenience of being right here, will be closing.
What this means to me is I may have to go to “box” stores for certain whatnots, one of my worst nightmares.  
RIP, Arcade Department Store. You have served us well and you will be missed.
Joann Tamin
Yes, I am angry
I am a retiree who refuses to allow this country to be destroyed by the Obama administration.
I am criticized for my letters and accused of being an angry malcontent.
My critics are correct. I am angry. There are many just as angry as I, not only in this town, but all across this great land of ours. We are the silent majority who showed our anger at the polls.
I am not bothered by my critics. To me they are nothing but spoiled hypocrites who have given nothing but have taken much from this great country of ours. They have enjoyed the benefits of capitalism, probably handed to them through the sacrifices of their families.
They are mostly well-off, over the age of 60, college-educated, aged hippies.
They still live in the “land called Honah Lee” with their simplistic, progressive, romantic ideas of a new society called “socialism.”
For many years while raising their families they have insulated themselves from the common man but have kept alive the commune mentality of their youth. I doubt if they ever studied what the effects socialism had on the citizens that were oppressed under that system. I wonder what they studied in college beside the works of Saul Alinsky.
After voting for this disaster called Obama they continue to support and alibi for him and his failures. Obama care, stimulus spending, cap-and-trade and redistribution of wealth are only a few of the Obama failures.
Oh, I forgot to add skyrocketing unemployment.
How about Obama redistributing his wealth to the unemployed in Southold? Not a bad idea, right?
The Obama socialists amongst us still advocate for the immigrants, but if their neighbors rented a house to a group of them – wow, would they howl.
These pompous elitists foolishly think that they would survive the socialism that Obama and his cohorts surely will impose on them. What arrogance.
These blind, misguided non-thinkers don’t even realize that their puppeteer has appointed destructive justices to our Supreme Court.
Watch these liberal justices vote to fundamentally change our constitution.
I get a lot of compliments from people that agree with my letters. Those that disagree with me have the right to criticize. Could they if the government controlled the press?
Think Chavez’s Venezuela.
I want to thank the editor and owner of this informative newspaper that give me and my critics a chance to vent our concerns in this public format.
May God bless America.
John Copertino
Diversity? Of course
It is wonderful to see that Mattituck and Greenport high schools are starting to really take issues of diversity into consideration, despite still the higher population of Caucasians in the community.
It is extremely important in the advancement of education that we continue to promote diversity in schools and classroom curriculum. As a member of Mattituck High School’s Class of 2004, I know the ins and outs of Mattituck. I am glad to see the new considerations put into place for minority students. Improvements in this area are fantastic.
As a soon-to-be school counselor, I have studied and learned about issues surrounding diversity and have grown to realize how imperative it is to include these in all aspects of the school environment so that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed. The American School Counselors Association has standards about diversity and I’m so happy to see that Mattituck and Greenport high schools are taking a proactive approach.
Although we are a small community we can make a huge statement by starting to address this. With our country’s ever-growing population diversity, I am glad to see our smaller communities reach out and take the position that this issue is a huge part of making our school systems more approachable for all cultures, sexual orientations, skin colors and ethnicities.
Congratulations, Mattituck and Greenport. You’re at the start of something great!
Kristina Seyfried
Vote for Nick
As a commissioner, it is my pleasure to work with Nick Deegan at the Mattituck Park District and know firsthand that he has worked very hard for all the people of Mattituck and Laurel.
What has Nick accomplished in three years?
First, we have better management of the properties and upgrades to Bailie Beach lodge and all ball fields, restoration of our two tennis courts, repairs to the Love Lane boat ramp, bulkhead and docks and installed new showers at Veterans and Breakwater beaches.
We have improved the walkway outside the Vets Park building, obtained a new septic system and transformed the unused garage facility into a community room to allow group use for family and other functions. We also created a website (www.mattituckparkdistrict.com) that informs everyone of the facilities that MPD offers to residents.
Nick also made changes that improved district operations. The office now functions with upgraded accounting techniques recommended by our auditors. We follow procedures prescribed by law, namely resource and asset controls, time and attendance documentation and strict procurement and investment procedures.
This has dramatically reduced credit card, phone, fuel and other expenses and the result has been a park budget that has decreased over 10 percent during Nick’s tenure due to good management.
These changes have been accomplished only through Nick’s dedication and hard work to properly care for our assets. Nick is a conscientious commissioner who is effective and a good listener. We need Nick Deegan to continue his oversight for the benefit of our entire community.
The vote is Nov. 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. Now is the time to come out and show our support for all he has done for us and vote to continue prudent oversight of our valuable park assets. The transformation has just begun and we can do more to improve the park district. Future projects include beautification and continued strong fiscal management.
This is a challenging election and I urge you to vote for Nick Deegan.
Doris McGreevy
Mattituck Parks District
Board of Commissioners
A puzzling candidacy
I am puzzled by Mr. Goehringer’s candidacy for Mattituck Park District commissioner.
He claims that he is “working for everyone … not just some.” Yet in his past tenure he presided for almost 30 years as commissioner over an illegal voting exclusion that denied equal voting rights to many women and other residents. Although I was not the first objector, the situation was only remedied by my court action and corrective legislation introduced by Assemblyman Alessi in 2009.
Secondly, he claims that he constructed a “new 30,000-square-foot multi-purpose building at Veterans Memorial Park.” While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the so-called multi-purpose building is almost an eyesore on a beautiful bayfront property. I call it the “plastics factory.”
Construction of that building on that site evidenced no foresight or sense of place. It also sat for two years in an almost-complete state with (my estimate) $80,000 in imputed costs for a building unable to be used for any purpose.
I sincerely believe that the process reflected poorly on Mr. Goehringer’s management skills.
I do not think a “vote for Jerry” is a vote for better parks. It is a vote to return to same old, same old.
Peter Young
Those days are gone
On Nov. 11 we the people of the Mattituck Park District will have the chance to re-elect incumbent commissioner Nick Deegan, who will face challenger Gerry Goehringer.
The incumbent’s record speaks for itself. He and fellow commissioner Doris McGreevy accomplished the first audit of park district financial records in 37 years. He cleaned up all the mismanagement the audit found.
Under Mr. Deegan’s watch: 15 gas cards were deactivated and commissioners no longer fill their personal gas tanks two to three times a week. Deactivating gas cards and eliminating cell phones saved thousands a year. Record keeping has been systemized and is now coherent and legal.
In the past, under the challenger’s decades as a commissioner no records were kept. Human resource data was not secured. It was past practice for the clerk to take cash home with her and deposit it at her convenience.
The current district commissioners hired a professional clerk, Lydia Tortora, an aide to former Assemblywoman Pat Acampora and secretary to the town supervisor. Under her watch, nightly deposits are now made and rental income from Veterans Beach and the scout lodge has increased. The pickup truck is no longer a take-home vehicle. Daily odometer and time card records are signed off on.
During Mr. Goehringer’s rule we saw decades of deterioration to the park system with both beach snack bars now gone. But he secured a job for his daughter. We also saw a useless building erected at Veterans Beach, not open or available to the public. What we could have had was a rental facility similar to that at Founders Landing in Southold.
Mr. Deegan’s record speaks for itself, while the challenger continues to defend his record of mismanagement. Re-elect commissioner Deegan and tell Mr. Goehringer that the years of personal perks no longer fly in these tough financial times.
Stephen Husak
Selfishness reigns
Wall Street firms showing large profits, high salaries and staffs of accountants and lawyers succeeded in granting millions of mortgages to unqualified borrowers. They turned these questionable mortgages into investments that lost millions of dollars for unsuspecting clients while making millions for themselves.
The inevitable repossessions are being rushed at such speed that important documents are being signed, unread, by low-level clerks, and the most necessary documents are not even found.
Is this activity that makes us proud?
Our business community now outsources everything it can, taking advantage of poor foreign workers while consigning American workers to unemployment and poverty. Never mind that you can’t be a contributing citizen of the country while on the dole. Is this the way we should treat a large part of our workforce?
Does it make us proud?
Under the guise of fiscal responsibility there are loud voices saying “cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare,” the lifelines of low-income people. Those calling for these cuts also want to continue the tax cuts for the wealthy — meaning about $700 billion of profit for them and $700 billion of expanding deficit for the rest of us.
Does this make you proud?
Here at home, practically everyone shops at Wal-Mart to save money. This saving is at the expense of workers with no health or pension benefits who receive very low wages.
Have we thought about what our shopping habits mean? We should.
The common thread here is countrywide selfishness. If we don’t find a way to regulate and control greed, a way to keep it within the norms of competitive personal behavior, we will continue our slide toward becoming a land of millionaires and food stamps and stagnating economy.
We must rediscover our basic decency and use our government’s law-making ability to gain control. All our citizens are important, not just that minority who have the money to live well and to game the system. The country’s mantra now is “We must get the economy moving and get citizens spending again.”
In the current “me first” atmosphere, do you see improvement coming soon?
Howard Meinke
No surprise at all
Recently, we have read about terrorists planting bombs on cargo and passenger flights. Is anyone surprised by this?
Although airport security looks good on the front end, whereby passengers go through vigorous screenings such as pat downs and body scans, air freight security has always been sorely lacking.
The media will have us believe “some” air freight cargo goes on passenger flights. Not. Air freight cargo, aside from going on cargo flights, also goes on every single passenger flight, in every single airport in this country.
Items shipped include bodies shipped home from another location, radioactive drugs to hospitals and vials of bacteria being sent to and from labs like the Centers for Disease Control and Plum Island.  
Homeland Security needs to wake up and smell the bombs.
Did you know only 10 percent of cargo arriving in U.S. ports is ever screened? And they say Halloween is scary. Cargo freight should never be allowed on passenger flights unless it is screened with the same scrutiny as passengers. Otherwise why screen the passengers? Why screen at all?  
Cargo freight is as much a suspect as any passenger. Perhaps we, as unsuspecting individuals, should not assume Homeland Security is doing its due diligence and we should be outraged for being put at risk.  
A little knowledge goes a long way.
Marie Domenici
Café changing hands
I have just come from my Sunday morning breakfast at the Country Corner Cafe in Southold. Word is out that this wonderful food establishment has been sold and the new owner will be taking over in a week.
After all the effort that Kelly Hunstein, the proprietor, went through to build this business in the heart of Southold for the past decade and a half and being made to leave their original place of business, they have become even more of a success in their new location.
I guess it’s time for them to move on. The people of Southold are going to miss Kelly and her family. She is always so pleasant and always has a smile. She listens to everyone that comes in.
She is an amazing person and has done such a wonderful job in making the cafe successful and she deserves a lot of recognition from the community.
My family and I will miss them a lot, but still hope to see them around. Kelly and Dave have contributed so much to Southold. Good luck to them.
Grace Graham
A generous response
On Halloween, a group of young people from Mattituck Presbyterian Church’s “Special Kids Involvement Program” (SKIP), went door to door in costume to inform our neighbors about Maureen’s Haven, our community’s homeless shelter.
The wonderful people from the Laurel Woods Drive area were so kind as to listen and share with us some generous donations for Maureen’s Haven. For this act of kindness we are forever grateful.
May God bless all of you.
Darlene Olsen