Read this week’s ‘Letters to the Editor’

10/27/2011 5:00 AM |


Left unanswered

The candidates’ debate Saturday morning at Poquatuck Hall in Orient was substantive and worthwhile. However, there was an elephant in the room when the debate broke up. That was the unasked question of how we keep the ambiance of Southold as it is desired by those who stand up at Town Hall and say “keep it rural” and those flaunting “save what’s left” bumper stickers.

And how do we keep our Peconic Estuary pure and productive? And how are these questions connected?

How we answer these questions carries life or death significance for Southold Town.

There is the international factor of rising food costs and growing world hunger. This obviously means that agricultural land should stay in agriculture and local food production should be increased, or at least maintained. From the same perspective, many starving countries use the sea as their food source. The world’s estuaries, including our Peconic Estuary, are the nurseries of the oceans and the key to successful marine harvests. Maintaining a healthy and productive estuary is obviously the right thing to do.

The beautiful thing is that the desire to maintain Southold’s tourism economy and the open spaces, clean beaches, clean water and rural atmosphere aligns perfectly with a desire to maintain our agricultural production as well as being in total agreement with the tenets of estuary preservation. In this case, the right thing for Southold is the right thing for the world.

This concept should be out there in the daylight for all to discuss so that the comprehensive master plan covers all the issues and the Town Board turns these issues into legislation.

This is important.

Howard Meinke


Giving us a voice

I’d like to respond to the letter to the editor entitled “Blame Democrats.”

Yes, the Democrats created the “Save Medicare” line. The reason is to send a very strong message to the state and Washington, D.C. It’s been said “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The purpose of creating the “Save Medicare” line is to ensure we have a voice, aka a squeaky wheel.

We can stand around blaming either party for concerns and issues surrounding Medicare/Medicaid but at the end of the day, who will take responsibility for doing what’s right for the people?

As a community, we must band together without drawing a line in the sand based on party and elevate our voices. The Democrats created “Save Medicare” to give us a voice. If you would like to be part of the solution, on Nov. 8 vote on the “Save Medicare” line.

Marie Domenici

Editor’s note: Ms. Domenici is a Democratic candidate for a seat on the Town Board.


Hitting a nerve

Alas, I have been misunderstood and maligned in two separate letters in the Oct. 20 paper. I guess I hit a nerve.

First, in last week’s “Blame Democrats” letter, it was said that I blame Republicans for Medicare cuts. Not true.

What I said actually said was that earlier this year, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to cut out Medicare when they approved the Ryan Budget Bill. This vote by House Republicans did not attempt to put Medicare on a stronger footing or make it more sustainable.

It wasn’t a vote to make prudent cuts or cost savings. It voted to end Medicare. This is what I placed “directly on the shoulders of the Republican party.” I understand why Republicans want to run away from and forget they voted for this insult to America. The bill actually called for the replacement of Medicare with a “voucher” program. If you expect to be on Medicare, good luck with that one.

The destruction of Medicare was beaten back this time, but don’t get too complacent that this ends it. If the Senate and presidency also come under Republican control, it is a good bet that the Medicare program will not be made more sustainable, it will be ended.

Further, the party that controls state and local governments has a major impact on national elections. This may well determine the survival of Medicare the next time it comes up for a vote.

Second, in “Let’s tone it down,” Supervisor Russell does not take his own advice and, uh … tone it down. I am sure that Mr. Russell is sincere in his positions and opinions, so charges of intellectual dishonesty are best left out of our letters.

Let’s agree to discuss and argue without making it personal.

Anyone second the motion?

Mort Cogen


More impediments

Election season is upon us. Now is the time to have reason prevail in our town and allow good, hard-working, well-intentioned people who wish to invest in our community and hire people to work their businesses — insuring we prosper — to open their doors.

The article in last week’s paper regarding the struggle under way for the 7-Eleven in Mattituck to open is absurd (“New 7-Eleven hits a roadblock”). Our government seems to function best when it denies the right to do business to responsible individuals who have invested their hard-earned money and done their best to satisfy the needs of the building department, zoning board, Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.

Far too much power has been dropped at their doorstep.

The reason for the delay has been presented as the existence of a utility pole, which stood there during the last business’s existence and indeed, has stood there since poles were installed in Mattituck. Why now is it deemed an impediment to the organization’s opening its doors?

The former business existed in this same place with the pole in the same location until it went out of business. The gas station has gone the way of thousands of businesses of this ilk because of regulations that require an inordinate amount of money be spent to replace and abandon underground oil tanks.

Governmental regulation has become a barrier to business instead of an ally. In this town, gaining the approval of the building department for anything — whether the request emanates from a homeowner or a businessman — is always an adversarial process.

Why do you think most building is done in Riverhead? Could it be because that government sees that thoughtful expansion is a bonus to their community, adding to the tax base and employing their citizens?

Yes, it is election season.

I would only hope that some good people reading this plaint see the rationale and perhaps, in their capacity of shapers of the future, act with all of us in mind.

Carla Rosen


They have a clue

In the letter “A clueless protest” of Oct, 20 the author recommends that the people at Occupy Wall Street “get a clue or get a job.”

They obviously have a clue about what’s wrong with the state we’re in and if the dishonest and greedy practices of financial institutions had not destroyed the economy, they’d also have a job.

Teresa Taylor


Occupy Washington

With the Occupy Wall Street protesters blaming the banks for the recent housing crash, maybe it’s time for a history lesson. The Community Reinvestment Act that President Jimmy Carter put into effect in 1977 is the single biggest factor for our recent housing crash. One only needs to read this and look back over the past 30 years to see how this happened. Our own government as well as community groups and organizations put tremendous pressure on banks to give out these questionable sub-prime loans in order for banks to get favorable CRA ratings. Twenty percent down payments were hard to come up with. In order to push out these loans, banks had to lower their standards (down payments) from 20 percent to 15 percent to 10 percent to 5 percent to — you guessed it — zero money down.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton added changes to put more pressure on the banks. Was there greed involved at the banks? You bet, but it was our own government that created this mess. That is why we had to bail the banks out. This was a 30-year process. Right now everyone should be protesting in Washington. The future will be the time to protest the banks, as soon as they drop their down payment standards again. If not, history will be destined to repeat.

Jim Breitenbach


A job well done

Our president, Barack Obama, handled the Libyan situation extremely well.

He obtained international support and, with other NATO nations, we supported a just cause. And we spent less money than we did for three days in Iraq.

I think we all must acknowledge a job well done.

Maureen Sanders


We’re out of cash

The only thing more annoying than the drone of a chopper is a Democrat whining about how the Republicans are out to do away with Medicare.

Why is it so difficult for Republicans and Democrats to agree that money is the grease that keeps the entitlement programs rolling along?

The unpopular fact is the U.S. is broke, deep in debt, and we should not keep borrowing unless we want to become the United States of China with no entitlements.

No one in their right mind, including myself, will deny that the Republicans are not without blame for the national debt.

However, the current administration has added more to that debt than all the preceding administrations combined.

The president and his Democratic party have been extremely successful in polarizing the country. You can call it what you want — social, class or economic warfare — but the fact remains that “a house divided cannot stand.”

The “Save Medicare” party line is just another form of division. What’s needed is to build a fire under Tim Bishop’s seat in Congress. Tell him to do his job by bringing jobs back to America and by removing the restrictions that fail to encourage the growth of businesses and to reject the president’s stimulus job plan.

Put Americans back to work and they will provide the revenue to fund entitlements, plus there will be less people needing entitlements.

God bless and keep the USA.

George Dengel


Joining won’t work

Julie Lane reported the Oct. 18 Oysterponds school board meeting in a most excellent manner.

It was not easy, since most board members converse with each other in low voices with little concern for whether the patient district attendees can hear the discussions or even know how each member votes.

However, the consolidation discussion was much too limited. Foremost, all school property — the land and buildings in Orient and the park in East Marion — would be under the complete control of the combined school board. Since the residents of the Greenport district far outnumber those of Oysterponds, the chances of selling part or all of this property would become a real possibility.

Although the school populations are approximately 175 for Oysterponds and 555 in Greenport, the estimated $20 million cost of running the combined school would not be allocated on the basis of student population but rather on an assessed valuation basis.

In that case, Oysterponds would account for 24 percent of the student population, but taxpayers would carry 46 percent of the costs. Thus, the cost to the Oysterponds district for sending 175 children to school would increase from $6 million to $9 million

Of course, that works out to be the astronomical sum of $52,500 per student and an automatic increase in real estate taxes by 50 percent. A $4,000 property tax bill would jump to $6,000.

A solution that is followed by a number of the South Fork schools to avoid consolidation is to tuition out most of the student body. Some only retain grades K-2 and Seneca Falls’ rates tend to be much less of a burden on local property taxes.

The assessed valuations are $13,558,423 for Oysterponds and $15,844,781 for Greenport.

Walter Strohmeyer

former president, Oysterponds school board


He’s the real deal

What an interesting and heartwarming piece about Dr. Robert Savitt (Oct. 13), who oversaw the development of the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District into one of the finest districts on the Island.

While I was there from 1956 until 1970 Dr. Savitt oversaw many fine innovations, including closed circuit TV in the elementary school, developing fine academic and cutting-edge extracurricular programs, the hiring of foreign exchange teachers and, yes, the hiring of black teachers and administrators. But that was all before 1970 and in the elementary and junior high grades.

In the interests of accuracy, it should be pointed out that when I graduated in 1970 there was not one black teacher, administrator or staff member of any kind on the payroll. There was also not one black or Hispanic student in that graduating class. I distinctly remember the one or two black students — as well as the one Chinese student who passed through the doors but did not graduate — having a great deal of trouble with the homogeneous student population.

For some reason, Dr. Savitt’s attempt to diversify our lily-white, middle-class school district came up short. I wonder if there was a lack of qualified recruits or whether it was objections by the otherwise extremely liberal white faculty and student body that kept minorities out of the district.

Based on what I have gleaned from the “Reflector” yearbooks of the early ’60s, I would argue that the Mattituck school district, without some of the liberal pretensions that I went to school under, did a far better job of naturally keeping its student body both diversified and integrated, despite the absence of black teachers.

I wish Dr. Savitt the best. There is no doubt that he laid the foundation of a lifetime of learning in many of the students who passed through his doors.

Harry Katz


They saved two lives

In August I was on vacation with my family on the beach down by South Harbor Road in Southold when my two children decided to go sailing on the cottage sunfish. It was pretty windy and I tried to keep my eye on them to make sure they didn’t go too far out.

The wind took them way out and I lost sight of them within the hour. They went out about noon and by the time it was 2:30 p.m. I began to worry and started looking for them.

I scanned the shoreline from Southold to Greenport and was not able to see their sail anywhere. They didn’t have a phone so I couldn’t reach them.

By the time I made it to Greenport it was 3:30. I called my husband and we both decided to call the police. I called the police about 3:50 and by 4:20 they called me back to tell me that my children had been located.

I was not worried and didn’t have any details yet as to how they needed to be rescued. About 45 minutes later they finally arrived at shore with the sailboat in tow.

When I saw bay constable John Kirinsic’s face, I was concerned and he told me that it was a very close call. Tears come to my eyes every time I think about it.

I remember there were no boats in the water at that time. It was very rough and I found out that my children had left the boat after it capsized and tried to swim to shore. They were floundering in the water for 45 minutes without life jackets.

If Constable Kirinsic and Officer Jacob Bogden had not had the eagle eyes to see my children in the water quite a distance away in rough waters waving their arms for help, they would have drowned.

I am so grateful to them.

I was so overwhelmed with emotion the days following that I found it difficult to talk about it and this letter is long overdue. I want everyone to know how thankful I am for their service on the water that day.

They saved my children’s lives. This story could have ended differently.

God bless them for what they did that day.

Kathleen Goggins Nickles


Generous & caring

My community in upstate New York has been completely devastated by Tropical Storm Lee’s torrential rains and the ensuing flood in September.

Entire neighborhoods have been lost to water, mud, raw sewage and an overwhelming sense of gloom. People have lost everything. Homes that have been in the family for generations are gone along with pictures, furniture and appliances.

And yet, we have all gained much more than we have lost. Thanks to your community, as well as members of our own, acts of charity and generosity give the inspiration to rebuild.

I am writing on behalf of the 18 (and counting) families who have benefited from the generosity of your community.

Hard goods such as couches, cooking ranges and tables were donated, loaded on to trucks and delivered to our struggling community in Broome and Tioga counties. It has been enriching to the soul to see the gratitude and relief in the eyes of my weary neighbors as they pick from the supply of high-quality used goods.

Experts say it will take two years for my community to recover. Those who helped in the collection and delivery of these precious donations, especially those at Miller Environmental Group, Miller Marine Services and the Orlando family, have helped make recovery a little sweeter and the burden a little lighter.

Thanks for sharing the burden.

Jennifer Wheeler

Editor’s note: Ms. Wheeler’s father, Jim Miller, founded Miller Environmental Group.