Read this week’s ‘Letters to the Editor’

10/13/2011 5:00 AM |


True patriots all

Recently, I had an appointment at the VA hospital in Northport, the one with the golf course. I was in the main building on the fourth floor waiting for the bureaucratic ball to get rolling. I was already checked in and small-talking with a former jarhead about my age.

The waiting room was filling up quick with mostly old-timers for routine blood work and the like. About an hour in, I decide to ask the nurse how much longer. I got the good old government eye roll with the standard “Gonna be a while, sweetie” reply for my effort.

It’s about now that I decide to go downstairs for a smoke. The walk to the back is about four to five football fields worth of pure pale green GI linoleum. On my hike back to the smoking area, I begin to realize that the VA is drawing a much younger crowd these days.

Why the younger crowd? Because America now has more true patriots than she has seen since World War II.

Patriots with arms and legs blown off, sightless eyes and burns so god-awful that they will make any good American wonder what the hell they’ve been complaining about all these years.

Any and all sense of entitlement washed away on a short trip down a too-long hallway. With these very same feelings closing in on me with unnerving quickness, I stopped to offer a hand to a kid about 22 or 23. A kid like any other his age with a few subtle differences.

First, he had a cane. You know the kind. Long and thin with a white tip. Secondly, where his eyes were supposed to be, there were two burned-out, milky-white pools with no pupils.

“Where are you going, man?” I asked him. “Lookin’ for the pharmacy,” he told me. “About 30 yards down on the left. I’m going that way, can I show you?” I said.

“Nah, thanks, man, but I gotta figure this sh– out.” All I could reply was, “Right on, dude.”

The smoking area was just beyond the pharmacy, so I walked to the end, turned around and waited. The 15-second walk took that kid two to three minutes to cover, but he did it with no complaints. Although I didn’t speak with him again, that warrior made me feel as proud as I ever have.

The second “greatest generation” is right here in our midst, and even though they probably won’t ask us for any help, maybe we all should do what we can.

Thomas Wood
Kilo Co. 3/1, USMC. 1986-1990


Yes, it does matter

Last week we read in The Suffolk Times that the Board of Elections ruled in favor of allowing the Democrats to run under a “Save Medicare” party line. Republican Supervisor Scott Russell called it a “cynical ploy” and sought to dismiss the ruling by stating that Southold politics “will have no impact on the Medicare debate.”

I agree that Republicans in Southold will have no direct impact. And maybe it is a political ploy, but we all should realize that the Republican Party in Southold is part of the same Republican Party in Washington, D.C. I have not seen any local Republicans disavow the Ryan bill overwhelmingly approved by House Republicans that attempted to destroy Medicare. Strengthening the Republican Party at any level lends support to that goal.

Republican Party goals are not limited to Medicare. Just before the financial meltdown Republicans tried to privatize Social Security. Remember that one? Presently we see Republicans toying with the unemployed and even disaster victims. All this at a time when we should be debating what changes our current situation genuinely requires.

Yes, as Supervisor Russell points out, “the public is smarter than that.” I agree, but we should not forget that the Republican Party from Southold to D.C. is highly united on the goal of destroying Medicare when they should be dedicated to the constructive debate on how to fix it.

The “Save Medicare” party line just underscores the Republican Party position.

Vote the “Save Medicare” line.

Mort Cogen


Rally against copters

I want to thank you for printing Mr. Sertl’s “agitate with humor” letter seeking a ban on helicopters flying over the North Fork.

Mr. Sertl’s prayers have been answered. A North Fork protest rally (got to start local with these things) will be held at Rothman’s in Southold at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15.

All you have to do is show up with a carload and make your own sign to get things rolling (the sign director has a migraine from last Sunday’s flyover) and keep this quality-of-life issue front and center, and for our elected officials to make some noise of their own on this to get the FAA to come up with a solution.

P.S.: I’m working on the sandwiches.

Nicholas Deegan

Editor’s note: Mr. Deegan is a Democratic candidate for town councilman.


Building on success

This is in regards to your web story “NYC environmental group wants to ‘green up’ the East End,” by Jennifer Gustavson.

The East End towns do indeed face a series of complex sustainability challenges and Times/Review Newsgroup deserves a lot of credit for prioritizing them in your coverage. That’s a reflection of just how important the environment is to local residents.

The East End truly does stand in sharp contrast with Washington D.C., where the political climate has become increasingly hostile to any suggestion that the air we breathe and the water we drink deserve protections.

It is precisely because of this region’s leadership on the environment that the New York League of Conservation Voters education fund recently issued our 2012-2013 “Blueprint for a Greener East End.” This green checklist was intended to inspire elected officials and residents to build upon their towns’ existing accomplishments, and take in new ideas from neighboring municipalities grappling with the same challenges.

Our green checklist was developed not by our central staff in New York City, but by the Long Island residents who serve on NYLCV’s Long Island chapter board. A number of these members are longtime and prominent East End residents. They know the region and its environmental issues intimately, having focused on them collectively for decades.

We also collaborated with several East End environmental organizations on our green checklist, for which we owe a debt of gratitude to the Peconic Baykeeper, Peconic Land Trust, the Group for the East End, The Nature Conservancy and others.

The East End would not be successful in meeting its environmental challenges without leadership from the many Town Board members and supervisors. We thank them for their achievements and look forward to working with them in the coming months on even greater, greener things.

Marcia Bystryn
president, NYLCV


What about us?

I sure hope Southold Town is in the mix — to get a piece of the pie.

After reading in Newsday lately about all the money being made available for good things all over western Long Island — especially about the latest “Connect Long Island” plan, a sweeping plan by Long Island Rail Road officials “to expand mass transit, link downtown developments” and take vehicles off our roads — I had to wonder and ask myself, what are we out here on the East End?

Are we just chopped liver? Aren’t we out here part of the mix? Aren’t the five eastern towns, the “Peconic Five,” also “connected” to Long Island?

I sure hope so.

Jack McGreevy


No too much to ask

Congratulations, Harbes. They’ve come up with fantastic use of their farms on the North Road and Route 25, which has attracted enormous amounts of visitors to the North Fork.

Wonderful for them and wonderful for us, to an extent.

Has anyone tried going to and from Riverhead from Mattituck? Impossible, with traffic that rivals even the worst of what happens on the South Fork during the summer. The traffic is not only heavy, but visitors pull in and out, make U-turns and generally bottleneck all the entrances to Harbes Farms and the roads. Traffic everywhere is affected — side roads, paths and even Northville Turnpike.

I don’t begrudge the Harbes one ounce of success, but it should not be at the expense of North Fork residents’ ability to use our roads. We live in tough times, but with the success the Harbes are enjoying it should be incumbent upon them to provide sufficient traffic directors/coordinators at every location to provide for a smooth and free flow of traffic.

I think this is a pretty fair deal considering the enormous success they’re enjoying.

Eve Randall


Don’t bash Starbucks

I am writing in rebuttal to the article in last week’s edition of The Suffolk Times praising Aldo and disparaging Starbucks (“Who needs Starbucks? We have Aldo”).

I have nothing but good to say about Aldo and the business he has, but Starbucks ran a very nice business also.

I was a regular customer, almost daily. The store was very well designed to be customer-friendly. The employees were courteous and polite. If you were a regular customer, like I was, they knew you by your first name and greeted you with a smile.

Starbucks has a large variety of quality products at reasonably fair prices, compared to the tourist prices that other coffee shops in town charge, and I am sorry to see them go.

Donald Ritter


What’s not listed

Suffolk Times’ Julie Lane did not attend the Oct. 4 special meeting of the Oysterponds school board. A discussion of board goals for this school year was the only posted agenda item.

However, it was preceded by a discussion led by Vincent Cullen, the district’s financial adviser, of the advisability of increasing the tax levy by up to $500,000, a 10 percent increase, to provide a larger fund balance as of June 30, 2012. Expenses are rising and the latter would be very helpful at year end to deal with the coming 2 percent cap on property tax hikes.

A healthy fund balance is essential. Nonetheless, this would be a dubious tactic since it would be spent by year’s end.

At the September board meeting, an unannounced motion to spend $22,911 for the renovation of the business office, primarily for the convenience of the superintendent, who by contract is to work two days a week, was passed even though the board noted there was no provision in the budget for this expenditure.

At the special October meeting, another unannounced motion to send two teachers to a conference at the Hawkins Centers of Learning at Boulder, Colo., from Oct. 14 to the 17th at a cost of $3,000 was made. For this motion, the “professional development” budget line was indicated as the source of funds.

At the special October meeting the attendees learned the earlier renovation was canceled, but a reversing motion has not yet been made.

The new MO at Oysterponds school board meetings seems to be to post a rather innocuous agenda of board motions, or none at all, at the local post offices. When queried about the absence of motions on the posted agenda, the board president stated the law only requires the board to give notice of a meeting.

Consequently, do not pay too close attention to the posted agendas as you may miss some very important items. In any event, attend the Oct. 18 board meeting since the tax levy will certainly be discussed and Oct. 31 is the tax levy deadline.

Walter Strohmeyer
former president, Oysterponds school board

Editor’s note: Ms. Lane had multiple meetings to cover that night.


National significance

Some years ago voting in Southold revolved around the suitability of the individuals on the ticket, not the political party.

I went to work sessions and board meetings as well as the debates. I developed likes and dislikes and voted accordingly. On the national scene it was much more political, but it was not as nasty as it is now. For example, Republican Richard Nixon, with all his right-wing credentials, was a protector of the environment and brought us the Environmental Protection Agency. Yes, the EPA, the same agency that the current right wing is trying to emasculate. President Nixon also made excellent foreign policy decisions.

Back then, both parties made sense.

Today, as we contemplate the upcoming Southold elections, the situation is very different. Every special election in the country for the past two years has been cast as a precursor to the 2012 national election. Last year an upstate New York Republican was beaten by a Democrat in a special congressional election. That was considered a sign of the future. When Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner recently resigned his seat and the election went to a Republican, that was trumpeted as a forecast of 2012. However Southold goes, this November will be thrown into the Carl Rovian mix of political, Republican prognostication. Let’s make sure that Mr. Rove and Fox News can’t use Southold in their right-wing rants.

I see our election outcome here in Southold as one where the country loses a lot if the current Republicans are awarded a win. To ignore climate science, close the door on revenue increases, kill the EPA based on a fraudulent loss of jobs argument and lower the boom on citizens in the most distress is simply inhuman, as well as stupid.

That’s not America.

A Democratic win here has such national significance that we must get it. The poor and middle class cannot carry the entire load. The wealthy must do some heavy lifting and intelligence has to be given a chance.

Keep this in mind when you vote this November. It has never been more important.

Howard Meinke

Editor’s note: Mr. Meinke is an alternate committeeman for the Southold Democratic Party.


Time to cut costs

Congress must take action this year to reduce government spending so our children and grandchildren will be able to live here. All entitlements and earmarks must be reduced or eliminated. The gravy train is over.

I have three suggestions to reduce expenses:

• Social Security was never meant to be our sole support in retirement. Since people are living and working longer, increase the eligibility age to 70 years.

• Most civil service jobs allow pay for sick and vacation days not used. Why? Pay only for actual sickness and no pay for unused vacation days.

• Mail delivery can be reduced to five days a week without any real hardship. Stop mail delivery on Saturday or Tuesday.

Implementation of these suggestions will reduce government spending by millions of dollars.

Donald Wagner


Post-surgery struggle

I read with interest the Sept. 29 article in your paper concerning the ribbon-cutting of Peconic Bay Medical Center’s Krauss Center for Joint Replacements.

My husband recently had a complete knee replacement there. Unfortunately, he developed other problems and this facility is not equipped to handle certain side effects of surgery. His knee replacement was their main concern and when things like hiccups for 14 days, anxiety attacks and, eventually, depression set in they did not know that they had to treat these problems just as swiftly and professionally as any infection problem that might occur.

Other replacement patients we know of have suffered from all sorts of reflux, stomach and muscle issues which were not aggressively treated until they went home to their own family physicians. These same family physicians are not allowed to treat the patients in this area of the hospital. Our doctor, Dr. Schaeffer, was one of them.

I know that it was stated in the article that 600 replacements have been done and no infections occurred, but has PBMC studied other issues related to the surgery? Maybe it is time to slow down a little and take more information from patients, both before and after surgery. Thank you for allowing me to give a version of these surgeries that no one had addressed.

Carol Lee