Letters to the Editor

09/08/2011 5:15 AM |


An unsafe practice

Last week’s issue should have had two pictures on the front page: One of a qualified and certified arborist removing trees safely with personal safety gear and the one of the unqualified homeowner on the roof trying to remove trees in a most dangerous manner.

If that person was working on another homeowner’s property and got injured, that homeowner would be liable. Arboricultural work is one of the most dangerous professions, which should be left to insured and licensed arborists. Showing this work, trying to be done on a roof by an untrained person with teenage help, is condoning a practice that often leads to serious injury or death.

There are many qualified tree care companies on the North Fork that can be found through the Long Island Arboricultural Association, a professional tree care association. There are many hazardous trees still in the landscape.

Joseph Broyles


Let’s bury the lines

Lives in disarray for nearly a week, food spoiled, business disrupted, noisy individual generators, traffic controls out. All brought to us not by Irene, but by a poorly designed, antiquated and ill-maintained power system.

Thank you, LILCO/LIPA.

We are grateful to the crews, local and foreign, for their extraordinary efforts to restore service, but the authority’s executives, managers and designers need to rethink their system. How can we draw their attention away from congratulating each other on surviving another “act of God”? Revolt!

When our next utility bill is presented, let’s deduct our costs before paying. On the LIPA bill, deduct the costs of spoiled food, gas for generators, travel to search for gas, business and life disruption, etc. On our Cablevision bill, deduct the proportionate cost of monthly services.

If you believe that aerial utility lines are necessary, ask yourself why the “clean, safe, natural gas” sources are always buried. The costs of burying utilities are not prohibitive when the lifetime losses due to storms and accidents are factored into the calculations.

Here’s a tip to emergency preparedness folks: Don’t depend on the Internet to inform the public. It isn’t ready for prime-time emergencies. The one source we all could reach and depend on, for a while, was good old radio.

Gunther Geiss


Where should it go?

Hurricane Irene was full of hot air.

Some of that hot air felled an amazing tree on my property. It was with great sadness (and cost) that I said goodbye to this old girl who had provided so much enjoyment via shade and tranquility during hot sunny days. I truly grieve for this tree.

My neighbor across the street also had a tree felled. Two other neighbors had huge branches that needed to be pruned. After calling the local police department, I was told that all downed trees and branches should be piled by the side of the road for town pickup. I was grateful that provisions had been made by Southold Town so quickly.


The four of us who had downed trees and branches consolidated the debris on the side of the road so that it would be easier for the crew to pick up.

The pile went about 6 inches into the street by accident. One neighbor, who apparently had no damage whatsoever, took umbrage and screeched at us, four homeowners cleaning up from potential disaster, “why don’t you just put it in the middle of the road. It’s so $%#% unsightly.”

I would have thought she’d have said, “I’m sorry this happened to you. Are you ok? Can I help?” Nope, instead she moaned about how a large pile of tree debris stacked neatly the side of the road disturbed her “vision and tranquility.”

She threatened us with notification to her son, who’s with the police. One neighbor told her that the police were the ones who stated that the tree debris should be piled at the side of the road. Indeed, if you drive route 25 you will see many, many trees stacked neatly at the side of the road for town pickup.

In the past three days this woman has made a disparaging remark every time she passes the pile. I would have never believed this person had such nasty vinegar in her veins. Happily, we all came through it with smiles. Except for this lady.

Buh-bye Irene. Bye-bye old tree. I will miss you.

Eve Randall


It’s part of farming

Every year about this time those of us who live here year-round have to listen to the whining of our summer visitors concerning the air cannons on our farms.

Well, I have a couple things to say about that. (Yes folks, it’s time to bring out the soapbox again.)

First, this is a working community. That means that those of us who live here will be going about our business every day from early morning ’til late at night. That includes cutting lawns, weed-whacking, fixing cars (had to get that in), plowing fields and, yes, revving up those air cannons.

The reason that farms elsewhere do not use air cannons is because they are huge and can afford the losses from birds and deer. Our Orient farms are relatively small operations. They can’t afford the losses and I doubt that they can afford to invest in alternative methods of keeping birds away, whatever those may be.

I know a lot of us depend on summer dollars to keep us going. However, for the one or two weeks that you out-of-towners come here looking for the country life, this is it. And this is the way it’s always been.

Remember, it’s their livelihood, not a vacation. They’re not doing it to be rude. They’re doing it to pay the bills. And if you don’t like it?

Yup, you guessed it. Go to the Hamptons.

Janet Hands


Great test results

Not only did Oysterponds School have the “strongest scores” as reported last week, Oysterponds had the best scores, on average, in state reading and math tests by at least ten percentage points of all North Fork elementary schools.

For the second year in a row, our teachers have succeeded in leading the North Fork, making our school in my view the best on the North Fork. Real estate agents please take note. Kudos to all who have made this possible. Too bad we don’t have this on the bulletin board in front of our school.

Also as reported, I exhorted our school to do better because merely good is not good enough to put us at the top of all schools on the East End. I note with a great deal of pride that both current BOE member Jeff Demarest and former member and resident Walter Strohmeyer exhorted our school to get a higher number of students into the top test score level. With small classes, excellent teachers and a new leadership team there is every reason to expect this can be accomplished in addition to getting more kids into higher score levels.

Most South Fork schools perform much better than all North Fork schools. Why?

Why don’t all the Southold town schools try to find out? Then we can really have a true East End “race to the top.”

Dick Leslie


Proud of the town

The North Fork Animal Welfare League would like to thank Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and all of the town’s emergency shelter managers for understanding the need for pet-friendly emergency shelters and acting on that need.

Southold Town was the only municipality on Long Island that designated all of it’s emergency shelters pet-friendly during Irene’s wrath. Having participated with animal shelters across the country in disaster relief efforts, we know first hand that pet-friendly shelters save lives, both human and animal.

We are very proud of the progressive stance taken by our town.

Gillian Wood Pultz
executive director,


Farewell to Southold

After 15 wonderful years in Southold my partner (now my legal spouse despite Jack McGreevy’s misgivings) and I are moving away.

While I am looking forward to warmer winters, I shall always cherish our experience on the North Fork.

During our time here we made countless friends and were made to feel welcome by a gracious and accepting community that was more interested in what kind of neighbors we were than in whom we chose to love.

We were embraced by Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, heterosexuals and homosexuals, youngsters and seniors. In short, the full range of people who make the North Fork the special place that it is.

And contrary to George Dengel, they recognized that we were moral, hard-working individuals with close and loving family ties, that we respected the environment, actively contributed to the community materially and spiritually and were therefore worthy of respect and friendship.

The people whom we wish to thank for enriching our lives are too many to name here, but you know who you are. Additionally, I would like to thank the wonderful people at Southold IGA, Southold Pharmacy, Southold Automotive, Blue Duck Bakery, Complement the Chef and Bonnie Jean’s Café, all of whom have enhanced the quality of our lives as well.

Please note that although we have sold our home, we anticipate maintaining an active presence out here one way or another in the years to come, so this letter is more of an au revoir than a goodbye.

Jerry Barkan


A light goes out

Theater maintains its commitment to the public by adhering with rigid devotion to accepted rules and traditions. One rule is that you must be in the theater at half-hour and not leave until after curtain call.

When we lose one of our own, we say he “left the building.” It is with terrible regret that we say it now about one of Long Island’s primary theater stalwarts: Lee Davis.

Lee’s reviews and articles, his support of new playwrights and actors, his books on theatrical history, his presentation of stars out here on the East End and — above all — his smile, his kindness and generosity, leave our theatrical community impoverished.

Peg Murray

Editors note: Ms. Murray writes theater reviews for Times/Review Newsgroup.


Kind, caring folk

On Saturday morning, Aug. 27, I fell in the Greenport Post Office and was quickly given paper towels for the bleeding and a chair to sit on while 911 was called.

Soon the police EMTs came and I was “escorted” to Eastern Long Island Hospital with great care.

The nurses and doctor were very kind and very efficient and I am happily recovering without severe damage.

Nora Busch


A voice for a choice

Thank you to the over 600 voters who signed petitions to put a “Save Medicare” line on the November ballot.

Currently, Republicans at the Board of Elections, acting on the behest of the Southold Republican Party, are attempting to eliminate this line. If successful they will not allow you a choice to vote for our candidates on a “Save Medicare” line.

The Southold Democratic Party strongly believes Republican proposals to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are wrong, and want to give all an opportunity to express their support for these programs and our candidates on a “Save Medicare” line.

Art Tillman
chairman, Southold Democratic Party


What’s his plan?

First, let me express my condolences to Art Tillman on the loss of his wife.

Second, I would like to rebut Ms. Elizabeth Weiss’ verbose, bloviating and typical liberal, progressive, socialist tripe. She states that Mr. Tillman’s knowledge of Medicare and the health care system likely exceeds that of most Suffolk Times readers. A true elitist statement if I ever heard one.

As a true progressive socialist teacher, she failed to comprehend the crux of my letter. I asked what is Mr. Tillman’s plan to save Medicare? I was standing nearby a petition collection site and heard Mr. Tillman’s minion drones deliberately scare and deceive the elderly and uninformed as they collected their signatures. I will reiterate my “meanspirited” statement, “I hope Mr. Tillman’s plan has more substance than Mr. Obama’s plan of economic growth.”

For the record, I was stationed in Cuba during the 1962 Missile Crisis and in Vietnam in 1965. I returned to this country via MATS (Medical Air Transportation Service) to be discharged from St. Albans military hospital in Queens. There were no bands playing or accolades on my return and I never expected them. The majority of returning veterans were greeted by shouts of “baby killer” from teachers and teachers in training.

Like so many Vietnam veterans I remained silent, but no more. I owe it to all those fine American servicemen and -women who never returned to stand up and identify those who would destroy this country from within.

We have a neophyte for a president who is usurping his powers and the Constitution while bankrupting the nation. The tea party is the new silent majority, so get use to it as we put this nation back on track.

God bless the United States and protect us from liberals.

George Dengel


More than unsettling

I read how Mr. Mates was unsettled by a letter to the editor concerning the credibility and competency of a Southold town justice (“A vote for Rudy,” Sept. 1.).

Mr. Mates is unsettled?  Because of a citizen’s letter complaining how he was treated by government? Mr. Mates’ letter attempts to trivialize a serious matter and seeks to dismiss an aggrieved citizen’s valid complaint.

The letter that Mr. Mates found “unsettling” was Mr. Bellissimo’s description of how his case was mishandled by our town justice.

Did Mr. Mates bother to review the record of that case? Or is he unsettled because Mr. Bellissimo chose to write about it?

The public record of this case is clear. Justice Bruer refused to decide important issues, refused to hear motions and refused to hold required hearings. The matter then went to trial where Mr. Bellissimo was acquitted of an assault charge, but found guilty of a trespassing charge. He then appealed the trespassing conviction and brought the matter to an appeals court.

The appeals court returned the case to Justice Bruer, directing that he decide the motions, hold any required hearings and report back to the appeals court. When he reported back his decisions were vacated, the conviction overturned and the entire matter was dismissed. Mr. Bellissimo was finally vindicated.

Like it or not, those are facts as articulated in the appellate court’s decision.

Had Mr. Mates taken the time to review the tortured history of Mr. Bellissimo’s matter he would have found it to be more than “unsettling.” As an attorney he should be deeply disturbed at what happened to this man. It took more than five years, great expense and much personal turmoil for this citizen to get justice.

The justice that was denied when the original judge simply refused to do what he was required by law to do. This miscarriage of justice did not happen in the far distant past, it only ended on May 9 of this year when the appeals court dismissed the entire matter.

The seriousness of this case cannot be overstated. From the underlying errors by the trial Judge to the corrective actions by the appeals court, this matter was noteworthy. It did not go unnoticed by those who report on our legal system. The matter has been prominently reported in two notable legal publications: New York Law Journal and Atticus, the publication of New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The appellate court’s decisions are available in their entirety and can be easily found by anyone, especially an attorney with Mr. Mates experience.

Brian Hughes

Editor’s note: Mr. Hughes is the Democratic candidate running against Republican Town Justice Rudolph Bruer in November. His challenge to Mr. Bruer’s Conservative Party endorsement will be decided in a Sept. 13 party primary.