How have we gained?
Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks we are a different place than we were when the attacks took place.
We are indeed much poorer than we were 10 years ago, both in material terms and certainly in moral terms. The war on terror has cost more than a trillion dollars that could have been used to build schools and highways, reduce college tuition, bolster Social Security and Medicare and improve the quality of life in any number of other ways.
Are we safer today as a result? Instead we have two unfinished wars which will never be won, we have lost lives and treasure in the Middle East, and in a sad twist made no new friends in that region.
As a nation that believes in law we have ignored our own basic beliefs by holding prisoners without trial at Guantanamo, torturing prisoners in Iraq and in the black hole prisons created by the CIA, and surrendering our basic freedoms and privacy to a more intrusive government.
Perhaps most grievously, we have created a political environment which is completely dysfunctional. All we can talk about is how to pay less in taxes and how to do less for our country, less education for our children, less health care for everybody young and old, less public services like roads and infrastructure, less care for our environment, less of everything except military spending.
This isn’t a formula for success.
Have you ever noticed in a time of crisis both real and imagined people say and do things that don’t make a lot of sense? Here are a few I witnessed with my own eyes and ears before, during and after Irene.
Leading off was the person who made the bold prediction on the Friday before the storm there was nothing to worry about because the storm was “already breaking up.” Then there were the dozens of people who verbally harassed work crews suggesting they weren’t working fast enough and/or didn’t know what they were doing.
Next came the man on Wednesday who insisted on smelling the gasoline I was pumping into a container. When he realized I had a second container he insisted on smelling the gas in that one too. (You can’t make this stuff up!)
Finally, there was my personal guarantee that because my generator was gassed up and ready to go we would not lose power under any circumstances. Since my logic regarding storm outages has always proven true in the past why not this time? As the King of Siam once said, “‘Tis a puzzlement.”
I want to thank all the people working on the massive clean-up for their efforts. Why people complain to you and not the directors of LIPA is beyond my comprehension, which leads me to put a question before those very same directors.
After having caused inconvenience and sometimes hardship to hundreds of thousands of your own customers through your complete inability to repair Irene’s damage in a reasonable amount of time, not to mention the tens of thousands of man-hours the clean-up will end up costing, don’t you agree you should rethink your decision about putting power lines underground?
At one time you claimed it wasn’t feasible financially but I maintain when the final costs for Irene are totalled up along with estimates for future storms you will realize a serious mistake was made and now is the time to start correcting it.
Cruel & unnecessary
I’ll never forget, one day a few years ago, while taking a lovely bike ride through some picturesque tree-lined streets in Southold when, to my horror, my friend and I saw a deer running through a wooded area with an arrow shot into it and hanging from its side.
There are many things I can think of to replace the inordinate amount of time children spend on video games besides teaching them sport-killing. But that aside, I hope they will also be taught to respect the lives of all sentient beings and how to properly use a bow and arrow in order to inflict the least amount of pain and suffering.
Here’s something else you can teach them: Animals graze most frequently at dawn and dusk and are more likely to cross roads at that time. It would be prudent to drive carefully and at least within the speed limit in order to lessen the chances of running into one of them. The increased incidence of road kill during weekends is, frankly, depressing and heartbreaking, and just another indication of the human attitude that we own the land and the roads and to heck with anything that gets in our way.
Encouraging kids to hunt as young as 12? Maybe if we still lived in colonial times when hunting was necessary to feed ourselves.
Maybe the decline in interest among young people reflects a natural departure from a cruel and unnecessary “sport.”
One can only hope.
No need for conflict
Much as I’d like to believe remarks at the recent public hearing concerning Greenport’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, there are several points which are factually incorrect. (“Whither Greenport’s Waterfront,” Sept. 1.)
The neighborhood surrounding Sterling Basin was not opposed to maritime use of the waterfront property formerly occupied by Sharkies. It was the unrealistic plans for an inappropriate 150-boat, high-and-dry marina with issues of access, parking, traffic, noise from a forklift truck, flood lighting, and gas tanks/gas station in a densely populated, but quiet, residential neighborhood.
The conflict between the neighbors and the developers was eventually resolved after village government representatives were brought into a tripartite decision involving a mix of condos (12 units), affordable housing (5 units), and a marine business for finishing boats.
A lot of time, effort, and legal counseling went into finding a solution that would benefit both the immediate neighborhood and the greater village while preserving Greenport’s main resource of a beautiful and working waterfront.
This new plan never came to fruition because the developers chose not to build as a result of the economic downturn. This has left an eyesore along Sterling Avenue, which could otherwise have served as a model of successful community activism and local government mobilization to solve a problem of maritime use in changing times.
Many former fishing communities from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean have found creative solutions, including tourism and development, as the route to economic salvation.
There is a real need to explore alternate ideas that take into account maritime traditions while acknowledging the demands of modernity, without compromising one for the other. We must respect the past but look to what will produce long-term viable employment in the future.
Let’s hope the Village of Greenport will wisely choose to do this.
Ellen Schnepel and Susan Heaney
Sterling Basin Neighborhood Association
Vote for change
Southold Town Democrats do not have a chance of winning. The Suffolk Times is changing its name to The Republican Times.
Both these rumors are false. But one is widely believed and the other is partially true.
Get real, people. Since the United Southold sweep and the Josh Horton landslide, it’s incredible to believe that Southold Town residents vote on party lines.
The Suffolk Times is part of the current Republican “team,” led by the supervisor, party officials and big donors. Unlike a real team, in which all players are important, the Republican gang treats most people like the help (as in the movie “The Help”)
One example of how The Suffolk Times disrespects the common voices is how its reporters usually leave at the conclusion of the officially scheduled Town Board meeting agenda before the time for the public to address the board on any given topic begins. Even when groups of people have attended meetings and spoken at length about their concerns there has either been no reporting, or reporting obviously slanted by the perspective of the Town Board members. Public participation in Town Board meetings is not limited to listening.
For example, a common issue which has been addressed by members of the public, but which has not been heard, is our need to bring nature home rather than to shut nature out.
The real common interests of the North Fork — the creek shore, bay shore, Sound shore, farmland and our diverse residential neighborhoods — deserve respect. While some property lines do follow natural boundaries, others do not. Rather than continuing to passively observe and classify as inevitable the destruction of local natural ecosystems, we should be taking actions to preserve, protect and restore nature.
Driving in Cutchogue on Pequash Avenue, signs of the degradation of natural features and common the harm to interests currently occurring all over Southold Town are evident.
Residential properties are being fenced in, built-up and cleaned up. Landscapers run leaf-blowers at full throttle (and full volume) removing every leaf and blowing away the top of the topsoil. What is left of the yards is approaching sterility.
Then there are the vacant lots. These are vacant only in the sense that they have not been improved by development. People are filling these lots with dumped objects and litter. Some of the native flora, fauna and dirt that filled these lots as recently as 75 years ago still remains.
Voting for Southold Democrats appears to be our best chance of saving what’s left.
Editor’s note: Mr. Schwartz’ girlfriend, Nancy Sawastynowicz, is a member of the Southold Democratic Committee
What the numbers say
Newsday published the 2011 state math and English assessment examination grades 3-8 scores, which fall into four levels. The lower levels, 1 and 2, clearly relate to failing students. The state education department would like you to believe levels 3 and 4 demonstrate subject matter proficiency and thus Newsday combined scores for levels 3 and 4.
This paints a very false picture of the children’s achievement and competency. In life, only level 4 children have any real chance of success in high school and college or in the world of business or the trades, whether preceded or not by college. Bright students numbed by poor or uninspired teaching may come alive upon graduation.
One must also understand these papers are marked in a very convoluted and sympathetic fashion on the curve. Hence, a real grade could easily be raised from level 2 to 3 or even 4.
Some grades at some schools did particularly poorly. No schools make this data public. Furthermore, quoting this newspaper, ”Our public schools are failing: our students aren’t learning what they need to know to understand the world and find a place in it.”
What I find particularly unsettling is not one local school district — whether board member, principal or superintendent — has ever contacted the Quogue superintendent to ascertain why his school is tops in the state. (Quogue is routinely ranked high.) Frankly, I am appalled at this lack of interest, especially on the part of the very well-paid educational professionals.
Education will never improve in this country until parents begin to take a very serious personal interest in elementary school education, the foundation of knowledge for each one of us, and the schools hire teachers who know how to motivate the students by first explaining why the knowledge they are trying to convey is important enough for the students to learn.
former president, Oysterponds school board
Village came through
Thank you for your news and photographic coverage of our area’s encounter with Hurricane Irene.
I would also like to thank the many employers and volunteers of Greenport for their genuine concern for the safety and well-being of Greenport residents, as well as their long hours and days of hard work restoring our various services. Repairing electric lines, removing fallen trees, broken branches and storm debris required hard work but also, at times, considerable risk to those taking part in the effort. It also required speed and efficiency. Every office worker or employee with whom I had contact not only effectively resolved the problem, but in doing so showed honest concern and courtesy.
All of us in the local area benefited from the decline in Hurricane Irene’s ferocity, but I, and I am sure many others, was emotionally and personally restored by the manner in which Greenport handled the emergency. Thank you!
In response to a petition to the Board of Elections to create a “Save Medicare” line on the ballot for this year’s town elections, the town Republican chairman has accused Democrats of “pursuing a dishonest political ploy” (Suffolk Times, Sept. 8). “Scaring senior citizens into thinking that we’re against Medicare is a lie,” says Mr. Noncarrow.
The fact is that many prominent Republicans, including some seeking the presidency, have made it clear that they do want to eliminate or seriously defund Medicare.
The petition would be a lie if it asserted or even implied that all Republicans want to get rid of Medicare. They don’t, and that is not what the petitioners claim.
What the proposed ballot line does is offer many voters, Republicans and non-Republicans, the opportunity to express their convictions on a political issue that has an enormous effect on their lives.
Sometimes sharp-edged politics serves the legitimate function of allowing voters to express their most vital concerns .
Accuse the accuser
Although I expected a critical response to my support of Medicare, I did not expect to be called unpatriotic for being a teacher.
George Dengel’s sweeping and untrue assertion that my entire profession was against the Vietnam War and the troops is ridiculous, insulting and shameful. Many of the teachers I knew supported the troops, raised funds to send packages to them and encouraged students to send cards and letters to help with morale.
With over 55,000 dead and more thousands wounded, almost every citizen was touched in some way by that war, yet sadly, the burden of fighting it rested squarely on the shoulders of extraordinarily brave young men who were not fully recognized for their sacrifices.
As far as Medicare is concerned, there are numerous plans for saving this necessary safety net for all Americans that include addressing fraud, a weakness that justifiably infuriates any citizen. However, if a car needs brakes and a tune-up, one does not junk it, one fixes it.
Mr. Dengel doesn’t foresee a safer future for his children and grandchildren. He shares that concern with many thousands of middle-class people who see the progressive social programs that helped to build the middle class threatened at every turn by reactionaries who would return us to the pre-union glory of 1890. (Look at the tenement photos.)
He is perfectly free to be backward-thinking. This is America and he does have the freedom to speak or believe whatever he likes.
However, he is not free to attempt to scare people from disagreeing with him by questioning their patriotism. Intimidation is the strategy of tyrants.
As our war of words may continue, I heed Martin Niemöller’s warning about “not speaking out” when injustice (Read: Tea Party Antics) occurs. Eventually, they will come for you, Mr. Dengel.
The consequence of allowing a small group of malcontents to change our society and quiet the many is not only unpatriotic, but bad for business. What happened to the country’s credit standing as a result of the recent tea party polka about the debt ceiling?
I hope my comments haven’t been too “bloviating” for Mr. Dengel and his “minions” (slang for servile followers), a term used by him to describe petition drive workers. A marvelous propaganda technique: Accuse the opposition of your own tactics.
Get the song right
Today, while the political talk is about free markets and private property — and more respectable to defend laissez-faire — the bulk of the intellectual community favors any expansion of government power, so long as it is advertised as a way to protect individuals from big, bad corporations, relieve poverty, protect the environment or promote “equality.” But hold on: The present discussions of a national program of health care provide a striking example. The intellectuals, especially in our universities, may have learned the words of freedom and personal liberty, but they do not, at least yet, have the tune.
We the people must stay vigilant — liberty and freedom, first and always!
P.S. I am a member of the Sons of Liberty.
Lacking moral fiber
Here in the fresh vegetable basket of Long Island we all take for granted the fiber in the produce that is necessary for good health.
We eat it, we love it, we profit from it.
There is however another fiber that is extremely necessary and that is in increasingly short supply. That fiber is moral fiber.
Here is an example: The U.S. recently filed lawsuits against 17 of the our largest banks and investment firms that sold the federal mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie Mac nearly $200 billion of bad (read here stupid, illogical and unjustifiable) mortgages. These are mortgages based on no appraisal, no knowledge of income and no knowledge of the applicant’s financial history and on and on.
These revered financial institutions packaged the mortgages, hundreds at a time, into unintelligible documents. They received AAA from the ratings agencies and sold them off to Fanny and Freddie, the taxpayer-owned suckers at the end of the line.
Now in the prosecutor’s cross hairs, these 17 institutions must of course mount their defense. They say Fannie and Freddie are sophisticated investors who should have known that these securities were not without risk. In other words, it’s ok to put together and sell toxic financial packages because the buyer is assumed to also be a devious expert in these securities.
What about honesty? Forget about it. The buyers don’t see the sleight of hand if they accept the unjustified AAA from the rating agencies? Tough, That’s business.
Apparently it’s OK to lie as long as the person you lie to is assumed to be able to sort it out. It’s OK to lie and then bet against those you lied to. (See Goldman Sachs’ short selling profits during the crisis.)
And don’t forget, the big money loser here is not the perpetrators, it’s the taxpayers. It’s us.
It’s all too clear. Moral fiber is in extremely short supply.
Remembering a firefighter
As a former member of Southold Fire Department’s Packard Hose Company No. 2, I would like to say thank you to the chiefs, commissioners, officers, firefighters and EMS of the Southold Fire Department for the plaque dedicated in memory of my brother:
Last Alarm 12-17-2000”
that has been placed in the hallway of fire headquarters.
Also: Congratulations on the department’s 125th anniversary. Keith would have been proud!
ex-captain, Eagle Hose
Greenport Fire Department
Memories of Molloy
I recently received a copy of a 2009 article concerning the demise of Camp Molloy in Mattituck. As a former camper and the last director of this camp during its good summers, I am glad that some attention was given to this truly unique and effective concept.
The closing of Camp Molloy is an indictment of the American Catholic Church, as it was an effective and successful program that promoted the faith, enhanced positive interactions with others, taught new skills and encouraged appreciation of nature and conservation. And yet its infrastructure was continuously neglected and its finances divided to other areas.
This was a concept initiated in the early 20th century that had a positive impact on many individuals.
I remember and cherish my experiences and relationships at Camp Molloy and remember them as if they were yesterday.
I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity for these experiences, memories and relationships.
Time to grow up
Many of us have had the experience, when teaching our children or grandchildren how to play games, of their having to learn how to deal with losing.
Sometimes they get very upset, even have tantrums and want “do overs.” We have to patiently teach them to accept the consequences of losing, fairly and squarely.
Last week, a Senate committee held hearings about the nomination of Richard Cordray to be the head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Republicans were not interested in exploring his qualifications, but only in complaining about the law creating the bureau.
They had these same complaints before the law was passed, but they lost in the congressional debate. Now they say they will not allow the approval of the nomination of Mr. Cordray or anyone else for this position unless the law is changed to their satisfaction.
How does this behavior differ from that of a child learning to play games? Well, the senators are not 6 years old; they are supposedly grown-ups. And their tantrums amount to abuse of their constitutional authority to advise and consent on presidential nominations.
Pray for us all
The last 32 months have been marked by absurdity.
As the nation continues to reel from a staggering economy, Congress reconvenes as a house divided. We are fighting wars on three fronts, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which cost us billions in dollars and the immeasurable loss of members of our military.
Soldiers and members of our Border Patrol have been killed in an insane debacle that has allowed over 1,600 weapons to be placed in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Good, average Americans, concerned about the direction in which the administration is taking the country, are eager to express opinions or gain clarification on the work in progress. Increasingly, the president’s accountability has morphed into a series of well-choreographed events designed to keep genuine inquiries and protests at bay. Both the White House and Congress label dissent as “un-American” activity. The Constitution is treated like an irrelevant artifact. The Bill of Rights may as well be trampled upon, too.
Our founders came to America in a quest for religious freedom. I call upon all residents of the North Fork to exercise a right still guaranteed to us. As I worship at Cutchogue Presbyterian Church, I am overwhelmed by the history, beauty and timelessness of this sanctuary.
When I contemplate all that this mighty little church has endured through nearly 300 years — occupation by the British during the Revolutionary War and a congregational division during the Civil War are just two examples — I am comforted that there is also hope for our nation at this time when we are so divided.
There are many equally beautiful, historic and mighty houses of worship on the North Fork. Please visit them. Please exercise this inherent right. Please pray for our country and for a return to American ideals.
Martin Luther, one of the most notable protesters in history, states, “A mighty fortress is our God.” Whoever or whatever the Almighty is to you, pray that Americans will use intelligence, creativity, wisdom, fairness and love for our country as we chart our future course.