Letters: Oysterponds vote, Southold’s roof and Troy’s love for Obama

04/05/2012 5:00 AM |


Don’t charge more

Despite the contentiousness and verbal melee that erupted at the recent Oysterponds school board meeting regarding school choices for Oysterponds’ secondary students, some facts emerged.

First, the choice offered to the Oysterponds community must be cost-neutral so that it must cost no more to educate a student at either Greenport or Mattituck.

Second, transportation is a separate issue and will be voted on its own terms.

Since it would cost more to transport students to Mattituck, and since state law mandates that any increase in distance traveled include covering costs for private and parochial schools in that radius, members of the community concerned about increasing costs could vote against the transportation measure while still voting for school choice.

Those who choose Mattituck would have to find a solution to the transportation issue. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

There has been such heat expended on this issue, including a recent Suffolk Times editorial, that I can understand why the board would want to allow the community to express its opinion, rather than make a top-down decision even if the contract is only for a year. Longer contracts must be voted upon by the community in any case.

There are serious questions being raised about the American system of education that we need to address. Does the community want to teach to the test? I don’t.

How important is pre-kindergarten education and should it be a part of our school programs? I think very important. Too many women work and have to work.

Does the system of separate school classes, supposedly derived from a Prussian concept to make students more compliant, work today? Would a more open system — I know of some schools in New York City that are exploring this option — better educate students for the modern world?

With declining enrollments, if keeping the local public schools open means combining some classes then should we combine classes? It’s a fact that combined classes used to be the norm in many schools and I have met many educators with experience in mixed classes who believe they work well.

Parents and students who want to have a choice should have a choice but they should not expect the community to pay additional taxes for the increased distance traveled.

Sandra Sinclair


Do the math

In the March 22 issue you quote Cynthia Goldsmith Agosta as saying, “Greenport is not a failing school.” What she failed to add is how Greenport fares up against Mattituck or a private school.

“What doesn’t Greenport have that you want?” Ms. Goldsmith Agosta asked. Greenport receives $1.4 million to educate 78 students, which comes to $17,948.71 each.

One Oysterponds parent is so dissatisfied with Greenport he’s willing to spend $16,000 to send his two children to a private school. I’m sorry, but I have to question the math. Is it true that he can send his two children to a private school for $16,000 as opposed to $17,948.71 per student at Greenport? If Oysterponds sends all 78 students to private schools they could save $776,000.

I can imagine how irate most of your readers must feel about this Oysterponds parent who wishes to send his two children to a school with a better academic curriculum and where accountability and performance of students and teachers is graded.

What a concept: holding students and teachers accountable. Grading teachers on performance and failing students who don’t meet the requirements. Why it’s outrageous. It’s positively barbaric.

The man must be a racist, wanting to send his children to a school with few minorities like Bishop McGann-Mercy or Mattituck. Quick, get Jesse Jackson on the phone. Email Al Sharpton. There’s an emergency right here in Oysterponds.

I just can’t resist pulling the politically correct liberal socialist democratic chain.

In his March 15 Equal Time — “Time for our schools to start keeping score” — Gunther Geiss asks: “Why should we keep score?

Because we’re paying a heavy price for a service that fails to produce what we need: well educated citizens…” Remember this: The products of “No Child Left Behind” will be drilling your teeth and operating on your loved ones someday. Or maybe be in charge of the Federal Reserve Bank or serve as attorney general or president. Come to think of it, that would be an improvement.

George Dengel


Mr. Gray must go

The Oysterponds school board grants access to the minutes of past meetings through their website. As I began to look through the documents posted online I noticed the appalling attendance records of board member Thomas Gray.

There are records for 14 meeting dates of which Mr. Gray was present for only five, and at one of those he was an hour and twenty minutes late. That’s an attendance rate of 35 percent. The taxpayers of Orient and East Marion are entitled to better representation than that.

It’s pretty black and white: Mr. Gray should resign his position.

It’s obvious that his priorities take him elsewhere and he does not have a vested interest in the Oysterponds School District or the surrounding community. If he did, he’d show up more often.

Gregory Wallace


That’s the real price?

I read last week’s article about the roof repairs needed on the Southold school and was amazed.

It was written as if $2.5 million was the ordinary price for a new school roof. Doesn’t anybody think to question this?

I know that slate roof shingles are expensive and that some flat-roof work is required, but I can’t believe this is a logical price. The shingles will probably be imported from India, by the way.

I’m not an expert, but neither are the school employees and the reporters who write about this stuff. I suggest an independent estimator be assigned to compute the costs associated with this roof job.

And by the way, did anybody check the price of these new shingles made to resemble slate and produced from used tires? Why not go green and save the taxpayers a bundle?

Bob Cavagna


A teaching moment

The March 22 cover showed a sad item: Children riding with helmets while an older person (dad?) was without.

This is a teaching moment for kids. I see it all the time.

Richard Brewster


Don’t blame eateries

A few weeks ago baykeeper Kevin McAllister did a presentation to the Town Board regarding nitrate loading in the bays. With him was an engineer from a company that had new technology for nitrate removal. High nitrates in the waters are one of the causes of the brown and red tides that we get in the summer. The need to limit nitrates is an important goal.

His presentation was to highlight pollution by nitrates and show there are new solutions. But Kevin, who is a friend of mine, made some errors and omissions.

He placed restaurants as one of the high wastewater polluters, but that’s really not the case. While restaurants have a high wastewater load, most of that wastewater comes out of the kitchen, not as sanitary waste, which contains the nitrates. A 30-seat restaurant has the same nitrate loading as a single-family home.

He also failed to highlight one of largest nitrate polluter of our bays on the North Fork; the Town of Southold. There are many areas where road runoff drains directly into our creeks. Rainfall and runoff pick up animal feces and nitrates from lawn fertilizers and, in most cases, carry them directly into our creeks.

The town should be thinking about cleaning up this nitrate problem before thinking about any legislation to require private businesses to spend tens of thousands of dollars on sanitary system upgrades.

Supervisor Scott Russell should place a goal for the town to reduce the pollution from our roadway drainage. He should direct the town engineer and the Trustees to make elimination of direct drainage of runoff into the bays a primary goal.

In actuality, the technology presented has some promise in reducing nitrates from road runoff. The town should look into starting a pilot project using this new filtering technology to test it. I would be willing to volunteer my time and expertise to help. I also think I can get contractors to donate their time.

I know the cleanup of this roadway runoff won’t be cheap. But we can’t solve the problem unless we set goals and start. The town should start by testing this technology.

Joseph Fischetti

Editor’s note: Mr. Fischetti is a professional engineer.


Thank you thrice

I thank you so much for three things in particular in the March 29 Suffolk Times.

1. The cover photo was incredibly good and the caption perfect. Oh, how much we adore and admire our beloved osprey, and the notion that his fish will be his mate’s meal gives us each “food for thought.”

2. The heartwarming photo and story of our amazing Gillian [Wood Pultz], 17 years executive director of the Southold Town Animal Shelter, aka “angel for all animals,” reminds us all to try to live our lives with self-sacrifice, compassion, kindness, love and humility, doing the best we can with whatever jobs we undertake. Surely Gillian and her many helpers set this example. It isn’t easy.

3. And I thank you, The Suffolk Times, for printing Dr. Kozora’s extremely well-written, accurate, helpful letter, which can only help clear up much confusion the readers may have had. Yes, the truth does set us free.

I feel these three impressive articles should help balance some of the negative feelings many of your readers point out in their letters. And isn’t that an important thing to try to do during our brief earthly journey — create/find/live a balanced life?

Isn’t our purpose/assignment at birth to try to take good care of ourselves in order to help one another and give hope to future generations? All three of these wonderful articles represent these philosophies.

Su Utz


Don’t forget Peconic

I heartily agree with Phyllis Lombardi’s article in the March 22 edition concerning the special role our local post offices play in the lives of all of us out here on the North Fork. However, I was dismayed that one special post office was left out.

I’m pretty sure the residents of Peconic would agree that our local P.O. is up there as one of the best. And it’s in large part due to one ingredient that was left out of the article — the people who work there.

With Ed, Kathleen, mail deliverer Danny and his brother Kyle before him, it’s difficult to leave our post office without a smile.

So it’s with a big thank-you that I would add the Peconic post office to the list of reasons that give living on the North Fork the welcome hometown town feeling that it has.

Linda Vardy Kedenburg


You call that ‘solid’?

My first reaction to Troy’s column last week was confusion. How could anyone say that 8 percent-plus unemployment, sky-high gas prices and record-breaking national debt is a “solid job” by the president?

Then I realized Troy is just up to his old tricks of stirring the pot to get folks like me riled up. With no emotion here are some basic facts:

Troy says General Motors would have somehow disappeared without Mr. Obama’s intervention. Has he not heard of orderly bankruptcy? Does he know that American Airlines is flying and is under bankruptcy protection? Many businesses come out much stronger after a bankruptcy.

He suggests Obamacare will be affordable. Is he aware the Congressional Budget Office just almost doubled the projected cost of that monstrosity to close to $1.74 trillion over 10 years? Not “affordable.” Hopefully the Supreme Court will deliver us from that menacing beast by striking down the individual mandate, a free pass that allows Congress to demand its citizens to do anything it deems important for the state.

New oil drilling permits on public properties have dropped to historic lows under this president, yet he boasts, “We’re drilling like never before.” But “we’re” has nothing to do with Mr. Obama. That activity is on private lands, primarily oil shale.

This is the worst president, worse even than Jimmy Carter, we’ve ever had. He fundamentally doesn’t understand capitalism and individual freedom. He believes instead in centralized, all-powerful government.

Troy, put your Obama T-shirt in the washer. It stinks.

Don Rose


Gridlock via the GOP

Last week Troy Gustavson wrote that Barack Obama has “done a solid job under extremely difficult circumstances, and he’s earned another four years to finish the job.”

Part of the difficult circumstances were the problems he took on as successor to George W. Bush, who left office with two wars in progress and the economy in the worst shape since 1931. As Mr. Gustavson pointed out, there has been progress on both of those fronts.

The second problem was that he tried to govern with the assistance of congressional Republicans, who swore from day one that their primary goal was to do whatever was necessary to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Their goal was to make him fail.

In some cases, making him fail has meant that legislation to improve the economy would never reach a vote in the Senate, which now requires 60 votes for closure so that a majority of 51 can pass a bill. Does that make sense?

41 Republicans determine what gets voted on in the Senate. 41 Republican senators dominate every issue and every nomination to the courts and the executive branch. 41 Republicans in the Senate can cause gridlock.

The House of Representatives has played its part as well in making for difficult circumstances. The budget negotiations and the insistence of the Republican majority on the tea party agenda have seriously hurt the economy.

But most important, it’s clear there haven’t been good faith discussions when it comes to dealing with House Republicans. Speaker John Boehner either can’t speak for his members as their leader or he likes to carry out negotiations that can never reach closure.

Part of the solution must be to elect a solidly Democratic Congress that will give the president the support he deserves. One conclusion to draw from Mr. Gustavson’s article is that if a second term is to be more successful than the first, New Yorkers must return Kristin Gillibrand to the Senate and Tim Bishop to the House of Representatives.

Steve Curry


Twisting the facts

In his March 29 letter George Sullivan accuses the president of “blatant misrepresentations” with regard to the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”). However, everything Mr. Sullivan says about Obamacare is incorrect or misleading.

For example, he points to recent increases in insurance premiums as if they are the results of Obamacare. But most of Obamacare, including in particular the provisions expected to slow the growth of premiums, has not yet taken effect. The recent increases are the result of the existing system, not of Obamacare.

He quotes a projection by the Kaiser Health Institute that “retaining a dependent child until age 26 will increase policy costs by 20 percent.” I think most of us would expect to pay some more for a policy that covered an additional person longer.

No one is required to retain this coverage for their young-adult children, but many people whose children are not yet able to obtain health insurance on their own are grateful for this option created by Obamacare.

Most egregiously, Mr. Sullivan misquotes recent estimates by the Congressional Budget Office to imply falsely that the estimated cost of Obamacare has doubled. In fact, the two estimates he quotes apply to different time periods. The first estimate includes the first few years, when most provisions of the law are not yet in effect, and the later estimate includes more years of full implementation.

Mr. Sullivan is comparing apples and oranges. As the CBO stressed, when you compare the new and old estimates for the same years, they are essentially unchanged. Even more importantly, these are only the estimates of cost increases.

The CBO estimates for the net effect of the law, including both cost and revenue, continue to show that Obamacare reduces the federal deficit. In fact, directly contrary to Mr. Sullivan’s assertion, the latest estimate for the deficit decrease due to the law is a bit more than the earlier estimate.

I could go on. Mr. Sullivan’s other statements about Obamacare in his letter are also faulty, but perhaps I’ve said enough to illustrate that it’s not the president who’s guilty of “blatant misrepresentation.”

Stanley Brown


The rich get richer

I hope you’re paying attention as the conservatives flaunt their Paul Ryan deficit solution.

It balances the budget fix on the backs of the poor, the jobless and the homeless. This is an “in your face” example of pamper the wealthy while damaging the middle and lower classes, the elderly, the poor and students. Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, Pell grant cuts, food stamp cuts, all to shift the pain to the less fortunate.

Apparently, in the conservative view, coddling the 1 percent driving their Lamborghinis and jetting between seasonal mansions, together with balancing spending cuts on the back of the rest, is a formula to save the country from disaster.

As we continue to outsource jobs to the cheapest foreign labor and direct ever more income to the wealthy, the CEOs and the stockholders, the situation for the average Joe is getting ever nastier. The wealthy will wallow in more money and the rest will give up more and more and apply personal deprivation and sweat toward resolving the country’s debt problem.

The United States was formed on the concept of a people united in their efforts toward equality and freedom. Now, in an era of greed and political deafness, the conservatives have turned that concept upside down.

The conservative GOP plan is a terrible course for the country. This is a path to financial gain for the few until the ship of state starts to sink. It’s a route to disaster. It’s unfair and it’s un-American! It will hurt the majority of our citizens and it will add to the decay of our United States.

We must unite to fix this mess in November.

Howard Meinke


Changed the world

How does Holy Week touch us? Do we truly believe?

It’s part of recorded history since the Roman rulers documented everything. The passion and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ were duly recorded by the powers of the Roman Empire, as prescribed by law.

And so it came to pass, the crowd chanted, “Crucify him!”

And Jesus, the Christ, was condemned to death.

It is written in the Gospel of Mark, leading up to the crucifixion; “They struck His head … spat upon Him … mocking Him … Then they led Him out …” where, as recorded, “He was nailed to a cross” to die a horrible death.

What took place, three days later, changed the world forever.

On Easter morn, God’s only son rose from the dead.

Jack McGreevy


Justice must prevail

If you’re not familiar with the situation in Sanford, Fla., involving the death of a young black teen, here’s a quick synopsis: A young black male named Trayvon Martin was shot down in cold blood by a member of a neighborhood watch group all because of Mr. Martin’s appearance. He was young, black and wearing a hoodie. We’ve heard the arguments from both sides. We can have different views, but there cannot be different facts. The shooter, George Zimmerman, states that Mr. Martin was the aggressor. Yet as one listens to the 911 call, one must conclude that Mr. Zimmerman was in fact the aggressor. What was Mr. Martin’s weapon as an aggressor? All they found on him was a bag of Skittles. Let us stop kidding ourselves — “it is what it is,” cold-blooded murder fueled by hate. Not only should Mr. Zimmerman be charged with murder, a hate crime enhancement is justified.

Reality is not an illusion and hate crimes are real. Whether motivated by race, gender, sexual preference or religion, when it is obvious that a crime took place due to one’s dislike or prejudice bestowed upon another, then the hate crime element is attached.

Oftentimes we feel not connected to atrocities like this. If you think that this could never happen in your town, village or city, let me send you a memo titled: “Hate is Alive and Well.” There are many other Zimmerman-type characters out there stereotyping and then fatally acting on that stereotype. A young black male wearing a hoodie was viewed as a threat, a combatant and an aggressor. This is not a “teach-able moment,” it’s a “reach-able moment” — the justice system must reach out and charge Mr. Zimmerman. Let him have his day in court, even though he should have been arrested and charged from the beginning. I say let’s seek justice in a peaceful manner and steer away from the agitators that only seek retribution through violence. We in the African-American community have always been told to be peaceful. I pray that justice will prevail. If they drop the ball on this one, I don’t know how much more peace the community has left in its tank.

Carnal Hobson Jr.

Editor’s note: Mr. Hobson is a former Riverhead resident.


Stand up, speak out

What is fair? What is unfair? Where is the justice?

Where is justice when a person of color — an unarmed person of color — is perceived to be dangerous and killed on the spot? For shame!

We must stand up and speak out against the acts of violence that continue to be perpetrated against young black men.

Marjorie Day