Letters: Look to Europe to see how cars, bikes can coexist

04/26/2012 4:00 AM |


Troy is right on bikes

I liked Troy Gustavson’s ideas on a bikeway.

I’ve biked Europe, where cars and bikes must follow the same road rules. I was biking in Austria when a biker turned his head and indicated with a hand signal that he was turning left. The cars stayed back and honored his move. The same held true for right-hand turns.

On the bikers’ side, no one rode two abreast, or followed almost tire to tire with the biker in the front, so that cars could maybe get in between, if necessary. They all followed the same rules.

Holland had separate bike lanes, even over bridges and highways, and they have a lot of bikes. Cars have to be more aware of bikers and bikers have to also follow the rules of the road. Canada will ticket and fine bikers if they don’t stop at stop signs, red lights or signal turns.

In some European countries they require a bell for passing other bikes on bike lanes. I’ve seen some bike clubs riding two abreast on Sound Avenue, riding practically on top of each other, not calling out “passing on right” when passing and not following the car/bike rules.

Most bikers and cars are aware, but we are having more accidents. Middle Road where I live is a freeway. The speed limit is rarely followed and there’s no place for a biker to ride safely.

I hope someone follows through with Troy’s idea or something similar. It sounds great.

Judy Kayton


Wastewater woes

Having been recently informed of Mr. Fischetti’s representations in his April 5 letter, I am compelled to respond.

When I appeared before the Southold Town Board with Mr. Pio Lombardo, a credentialed wastewater engineer and proprietor of a state-of-the-art nitrogen removal wastewater system, at no time did I suggest that restaurants are the primary source of nitrogen pollution. Mr. Fischetti is mistaken.

I have been raising the specter of increasing nitrogen pollution from wastewater since 2006 and have been very clear that residential development is a significant source of the loadings to groundwater and eventually to our ponds, streams and bays. Air pollution and agricultural and residential use fertilizers also contribute to the loadings.

Although stormwater runoff adversely affects local water quality with municipalities mandated under the federal Clean Water Act to clean it up, it is not the largest contributor to nitrogen pollution of our bays, as Mr. Fischetti represents. Enriched groundwater is the primary source of the nitrogen loadings and validated by a substantial body of science.

My appearance before the board was to stress the urgency in reducing these loadings and to introduce the Nitrex system, the best-performing technology on the market.

Currently, there is a major disconnect in Suffolk County’s septic code. Regulating discharges for drinking water protection is not remotely adequate for protecting our ponds and bays. Even when functioning properly, a conventional treatment system removes only 20 percent of the nitrogen passing through it. With the failure to limit housing densities in our region’s watersheds, the impacts to water quality from the thousands of conventional (primitive) septic systems were bound to catch up.

In many areas we have already reached that tipping point. Fixing this imminent water quality crisis will be complex and costly, but we can’t continue to kick the can down the road. The time to act is now.

The regulatory authorities need to impose more restrictive nitrogen discharge standards and require that all new construction employ the most effective wastewater denitrification system available. Period.

Our commercial and recreational fishing interests, real estate values, tourism and the use and enjoyment of our maritime environment all depend on clean water. Clean water should not be a privilege, but a right. If we allow our local waters to continue to degrade, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Kevin McAllister

Peconic baykeeper


Say no to copper

It’s that time of year when we make preparations to launch our boats. Recreational boating is one of our most popular activities here on the North Fork.

We’re also aware of just how important our marine environment is to our quality of life and our local economy. It’s every boat owner’s responsibility to make every effort possible to protect our valuable marine resources.

Are you aware of the technology that has been incorporated into the manufacturing of bottom paints for boats over the last couple of years? It’s a fact that the only bottom paints that were effective in the past for battling harmful marine growth used copper as an active ingredient. These copper paints leached into our waters hard metals that were dangerous to the marine ecosystem.

But over the past couple of years a new bottom paint additive called Econea has been developed, which is both safe and effective for use on all boats. Econea is the future of anti-fouling paint technology. This copper-free biocide offers unsurpassed protection at very low concentrations.

Econea’s copper-free composition breaks down quickly in the environment, producing byproducts that are totally biodegradable.

The Southold Town Trustees are asking all boat owners to do their own research and consider having their boat bottoms painted with products that include Econea rather than traditional copper or hard metals. There are various manufacturers who currently offer these paints.

We encourage you to discuss this with either your local boatyard manager or marine supply store as you select bottom paint for the coming season.

As always, we thank you for your efforts in helping us protect our waters.

Dave Bergen

Southold Town Trustee


Shocking numbers

The proposed 6.86 percent increase in Greenport’s school tax levy is a shock to the Oysterponds school board and will represent an additional $94,500 in tuition fees above and beyond what we anticipated to have to pay Greenport at the current Seneca Falls rate.

This is just another example as to how our residents are taxed without representation and with very little input into the education of our grade 7-12 students.

As Linda Goldsmith points out in her recent article, Oysterponds has asked and continues to ask for communication, curriculum alignment, transparency and social opportunities to transition 7th-graders.

This has not happened and Greenport clearly does not see the need for any of the above.

Thom Gray

member, Oysterponds school board


Reject the budget

This is a classic opportunity for the electorate to render a vote of “no confidence” by voting down the Oysterponds budget if it collectively feels the school board is not properly exercising its responsibilities.

From experience as a member of the school board for six years, and thus having a very close and detailed knowledge of the composition of school budgets, I can assure you the $121,000 difference between the proposed budget and the contingent budget will have no negative effect upon the quality of education.

With very few exceptions, every school board “pads” the budgetary accounts. Though overdone at times, it’s necessary to provide funds to cover unforeseen events.

The state education department does not allow the creation of contingency accounts. Furthermore, this practice is the usual source of the excess or surplus funds in the accounts of many school districts since unforeseen events rarely occur.

A turn-down vote might be quite beneficial. For instance, the purchase of iPads might better be postponed until the board develops a cogent plan. Also, before the board embarks on taxing the district an additional $250,000 a year, the need for a major building renovation and rehabilitation plan should be clearly established.

It would also mean there would not be any money for shifting personnel in five to six offices or rooms. The superintendent discussed this proposal at length at a recent budget board workshop. I find her claim that it would be cost-neutral very dubious. This moving and rearrangement would also be very unsettling to the students and the staff.

Linda Goldsmith has already done a superb job of critiquing all the negative aspects of the “choice” issues in her recent Suffolk Times article.

As it now stands the public has a chance to exercise all the privileges of citizenship and should feel completely free from any coercion whatsoever from anyone.

Walter Strohmeyer

former president, Oysterponds school board


Purple = prevention

Purple is the signature color for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and May 1 marks the beginning of the “paint the town purple” campaign.

The purple flags and ribbons prominently displayed throughout our Southold community each year are more than just a signal that the relay is coming. Purple is for prevention and local volunteers from Laurel to Orient create purple displays to remind everyone to make positive lifestyle changes to decrease their risk of cancer.

We have the power to schedule our annual cancer screenings, eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking and wear sunscreen. Join us in painting Southold purple and remember when you spread the power of purple, you spread the power of change in the fight against cancer.

Southold Town’s 7th annual Relay For Life will be held Saturday, June 2, at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic. For more information, visit relayforlife.org/southoldny today.

Cathy Dries


Generous to a fault

Thanks to all who came out in support of the second annual Locals for Locals Greenport Rotary Spaghetti Dinner at Claudio’s.

The turnout for the fundraiser to help Greenport resident Harry Lewis resulted in over 1,100 meatballs being served in 550 dinners. The Greenport Rotary members are truly grateful and are in awe of the tremendous outpouring of community spirit.

One thing is clear: The hearts of Southold Town residents are generous. And when it comes to helping one of their own, their hearts are just plain golden. The Claudio family and their staff are an incredibly hardworking team and when it comes to helping someone, they are the real heroes.

Thanks to the Rotary Interact Club, which pitched in to help serve, and the Claudio’s Clam Bar staff, which stepped in to work in the main restaurant, too. Without their help, who knows how all those dinners would have been served.

It was inspiring to see those who have restaurant experience step right into their familiar routines. And, of course, the Claudio’s serving staff kept a pace that would put a marathon runner to shame.

Thanks and appreciation to Blue Duck Bakery for providing excellent bread, the Greenport IGA for providing emergency extra-ground beef, and J. Kings Food Professionals for their dessert donation.

For anyone who missed the dinner and would like to make a donation to “The Harry Project,” please send to Greenport Rotary, P.O. Box 204, Greenport, NY 11944.

Eileen Solomon

president, Greenport Rotary


He got it wrong

It was nice that Ken Stein in his April 19 letter quoted Sen. Moynihan’s wise remark: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinions but not to his own facts.” Unfortunately, the rest of his letter did not continue in this spirit.

Right after the quote he attributed to my April 5 letter a statement I did not make, and said that this invented statement “tests the limits of sanity.”

What I actually said is that the estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “for the net effect of the [Obamacare] law, including both cost and revenue … show … that Obamacare reduces the federal deficit.”

Now if Mr. Stein wanted to challenge this in a manner consistent with Sen. Moynihan’s comment, he could have checked to see if I had correctly cited the CBO’s conclusion. He would have found that I had. He could have then studied the CBO analysis and attempted to find flaws in it.

Too much work, I guess. Much easier to convert my statement to a more simplistic one and then hurl an insult or two at it. Not much of a contribution to the public debate, however.

Stanley Brown


Always both sides

Last week the Romney campaign jumped at the opportunity to be “outraged” by what they said was an attack on Ann Romney’s choice to be a stay-at-home mom. The comment was made by CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, a Democratic analyst who worked for Hillary Clinton when she opposed Obama in 2008. Rosen unfortunately said that Ann Romney “hadn’t worked a day in her life” and therefore wasn’t the best choice to advise her husband on the plight of the millions of poorer women who don’t have the economic luxury of staying at home. Politicians from both parties immediately went on air and distanced themselves from this remark, and the commentators on Fox News tied themselves in knots trying to link Ms. Rosen’s comments to the Obama campaign when there was no connection.

Now it will come as no surprise to anyone that Mitt Romney, who has taken both sides of every issue during his political career, attacked stay-at-home moms himself for not working before he was for them.

Just last January, campaigning in New Hampshire, Romney touted his support for the TANF program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which is designed to tie job training and mandatory work to welfare assistance primarily for single moms who fall below the poverty line. Romney bragged that this program, which “reformed” welfare, most importantly gave recipients the “dignity of work.” It’s clear that Romney believes that staying at home and raising your kids only provides the “dignity of work” for mothers who can afford to stay at home. But now Mr. Romney and all those irate Republican legislators will have the opportunity to back up their outrage. The WORK (Women’s Option to Raise Kids) Act is being proposed in the House to allow mothers raising children younger than 4 years old to count their child-rearing as work under the TANF program so that they can stay at home to raise their children, like Ann Romney did, and still receive benefits for doing so.

So far no Republicans have come out in support of the bill.

Jerry Silverstein


A quest for truth

A democracy becomes dysfunctional when the representatives reject a sincere quest for truth. America has been mired in just such a morass for around five years now.

It’s time to place country above party. To do so, our representatives must embrace the truth of an argument at hand and reject the ideology of the party for the good and well-being of the governed. That really is why we elected them.

Every day we hear on the news of a politician saying another is lying. One says another is cheating. Yet another calls a colleague a socialist, even though they took the same position on the same issue 10 years ago. The one says another is trying to destroy America. This destructive rhetoric is tiresome.

It should be “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts” as Sgt. Friday would ask on “Dragnet.” The facts need to be accepted by our representatives in order to move the country forward beyond the one-upmanship that rules the day.

The alienation and polarization we’re experiencing is rendering our political system dysfunctional and preventing (so far) reasonable political solutions from being crafted and enacted. The American people are the victims.

We need to get our representatives back to the point where they look at facts, explore the facts and consider the facts. We need to get back to the point where views are formed by people who know what they’re doing and don’t rely on bureaucrats behind the scene working with computer programs and numbers.

We need leaders who can find the ray of sunshine even on a cloudy day. We need leaders who will stop the destructive rhetoric for the good of the country rather than rely on it to get elected and re-elected.

We need Americans to become aware of the facts of the issues of the day. We all need to have a sincere quest for truth and not be swayed by destructive rhetoric.

We can solve our many issues if we seek the truth and not the rhetoric or ideology of the moment. We need to seek answers that have a vision.

We need to leave this nation better than what we inherited it, for the sake of the sacrifice made by many to “preserve, protect and defend” it.

Bob Bittner


He’s not to blame

Some Republicans and some super PACs seem to believe that the president of the United States has a magic wand when it comes to gas prices.

Newt Gingrich says that if he were president gas would be $2.50 a gallon. How could this happen? No one knows, including Newt, but Republicans in general want to blame the problem of $4 gas on Barack Obama. They want more drilling and fewer environmental protections, but more drilling has almost nothing to do with the daily price.

Gas prices are based on a complex market of supply and demand, speculation by Wall Street investors and OPEC. A recent report by the Senate special investigations committee suggests that speculation in oil futures may add 56 cents to the price at the pump.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have had creative ideas about how to control the market, although a stricter application of the Dobbs-Frank bill could reduce the impact of speculation. Under George W. Bush gas also went beyond $4 a gallon. In reality, gas is more expensive everywhere else in the world. In Australia it is about $6 a gallon. In Europe it has been over $7 a gallon.

Americans love big cars that use lots of gas. They are expensive to own and expensive to fuel up.

President Obama has reached an important agreement with automakers to raise fuel efficiency. That will bring down the cost of gas per mile by roughly 20 percent and it will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Obama presidency a higher percentage of the oil used by Americans is produced in the United States, which helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the balance of trade.

Under both Republican and Democratic presidents, gas prices have fluctuated significantly since the embargo of the mid ’70s. In 40 years precious little has been done to address the basic problem that we consume too much oil. At least President Obama has tried to support alternate energy and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The oil industry doesn’t mind high prices. Look at their profit margins and cash flow. In the meantime, as profits soar, the CEO of Exxon-Mobil got a 17 percent increase in his compensation package and the oil industry as a whole gets a $4 billion handout from the U.S. Treasury every year.

Steve Curry

hampton BAYS

To Maureen’s Haven

For all that you have done, not only for me but for all those you have helped, counseled, sheltered and, most of all, showed genuine caring and concern for at our times of need. I personally appreciate all that you unselfishly do. It takes a special kind of people just to be you. Know that I never forget. God bless you always.

Patrick Bennett