06/30/11 4:08pm
06/30/2011 4:08 PM

I shed a few tears Friday night, tears I didn’t know were there until they spilled down my cheeks.

There’s probably not a gay person in New York who wasn’t touched by the state Senate vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act. But after the thrill of the moment, many of us found ourselves wondering what it really means.

At the moment the vote tally was announced, it felt like a validation of my love for my partner of almost 22 years. It wasn’t just a political statement, but a v-ery personal moment. Our love and commitment to one another, equal to that of other couples, could be celebrated with a wedding.

Fast-forward a few days and we’re in limbo, not because our feelings for one another have changed, but because reality has set in.

Speaking to a number of others in the community who are exploring the possibility of marriage, I’m hearing people taking a similar “wait and see” approach.

“We’re sort of living in interim times,” Dr. Margaret Cowden told me. She’s director of the Narrow River Singers and she and her partner, Chris, have been together 15 years. They’re not yet sure whether they’ll take that walk down the aisle. Like us, they’re exploring the legal and financial ramifications of marrying.

“I’m certainly proud to live in a state that fully recognizes alternative families,” she said. “We’ve lived so long emotionally, spiritually, legally and financially” as a married couple. They’ve already taken the necessary steps to protect one another’s interests. Now they’re weighing the advantages and possible disadvantages of marriage.

Whether or not they take the step, Dr. Cowden, an ordained minister, just may find herself called upon to officiate at the weddings of other gay couples.

“I just broke down crying,” David Kilmnick, CEO of Long Island Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender organization, said about Friday night’s vote. He and his partner of 10 years are looking forward to “tying the knot,” but they’re not rushing. They are taking their time to plan the wedding they want.

“It’s really an empowering feeling that one is equal to their neighbors,” he said. At the same time, he’s concerned there could be backlash from those who don’t embrace marriage equality.

Looking ahead, Mr. Kilmnick wants to remind gay couples who are tempted to rush to the altar that it’s not just about rights and benefits, it’s also about responsibilities.

For Edwin Blesch and his partner, Tim, the issue is somewhat different. The two were married in South Africa, Tim’s home country. But they’re fighting to have their relationship recognized by the federal government to put an end to the shuttle between the two countries Tim’s visa status requires. Tim has a six-month visitor’s visa, which means they have to leave the country twice a year.

If Tim had married an American woman, he would have permanent residency status, but that’s denied him because he’s married to an American man.

Nonetheless, Mr. Blesch pronounced himself thrilled by Friday night’s vote and what he believes it will mean for other gay couples he knows.

“We are delighted for our friends, but until the Defense of Marriage Act is defeated, it doesn’t help our situation,” he said. That federal law enacted in 1996 provides that only marriages between one man and one woman can be sanctioned. DOMA remains a target of activists seeking marriage equality.

One privilege gay married couples will be able to enjoy in New York State as a result of the vote is eligibility to apply for a joint lobstering license, Mr. Blesch joked.

“We’re not there yet,” he said.

So what does it all mean?

Emotionally, it’s still thrilling and for many, which may be reason enough to marry. But for all of us, true equality lies in gaining the same federal rights our heterosexual counterparts enjoy.

It doesn’t make us any less grateful to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for leading the effort to pass the Marriage Equality Act. Nor are we any less grateful to many Assembly members and senators who struggled with their consciences and finally cast courageous votes to allow us to marry.

But it also doesn’t change the reality that, in the eyes of the federal government, we are still separate and that has never been equal.

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06/30/11 3:00pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sunrise lights up the beach at Orient Harbor

Tonight, June 30, Southold residents will get a chance to weigh in on what’s so important about the character of the community they call home.

Town officials will be taking comment on the second chapter of the town’s new comprehensive plan at the town Recreation Center on Peconic Lane in Peconic beginning at 5 p.m.

The draft chapter, available on the town’s website and at local libraries, documents the town’s history and how it shaped the landscape of the town today.

“The bucolic quality of the town is anchored by the scenic quality, culture and history of the built environment, landscapes and waterscapes. The importance of preserving these qualities is paramount in maintaining the quality of life within the town,” planners wrote in an introduction to the chapter.

The chapter lists the town’s scenic quality, including the vistas along the state-designated scenic byways of Routes 25 and 48 as one of Southold’s most important economic and social assets. Planners would like to hold community meetings to identify and prioritize more scenic resources by 2013, and then develop plans to manage those resources through the zoning code.

The chapter also calls for a 20 percent reduction in hardened shoreline structures and consideration of implementing Suffolk County guidelines for greenhouses on land where the development rights have been sold, and for more stringent environmental reviews of incompatible structures proposed in scenic byways.

The chapter also calls for more town involvement in the state transportation department’s Adopt-a-Road program and coordination with the county in planting the medians of Route 48 with wildflowers.

The town’s 1,500 regionally important historic buildings are also highlighted in the chapter, which urges the town to give its Historic Preservation Commission more authority to prevent demolition of historic buildings and to delineate new historic districts. It also includes an in-depth assessment of what can be done to strengthen the character of each of the hamlet centers, such as tying together the two shopping districts in Mattituck, developing traffic calming measures in Cutchogue and ensuring that the Southold, East Marion and Orient post office remain in the hamlet centers.

A complete draft of the chapter is available at http://southoldtown.northfork.net/Planning/Southold%202020/2020PubComment.htm.

A second public input session is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. in the town’s Human Resource Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck.

06/30/11 2:50pm

The great wine label crisis of the 2010 vintage year has been resolved.

Congressman Tim Bishop announced Thursday that he has successfully intervened on the behalf of three North Fork winemakers to help them get their wine labeled and ready for sale, after federal budget cutbacks and increased demand jammed up the wine label approval process earlier this year.

Mr. Bishop announced Thursday that three North Fork vineyards —  Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards, Sannino Bello Vita Vineyards in Peconic and Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue — had received approval for changes to their wine labels from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)as a result of his intervention.

While TTB had in recent years approved changes to wine labels within 48 hours, some North Fork wineries waited months this year for minor changes to their labels.

Mr. Bishop learned of the logjam during a meeting  local vintners at a Long Island Wine Council event in late May. He pledged at the time to get to the bottom of the approval slow-down.

Mr. Bishop’s office said in a press release that the growth in the craft brewing industry has led to the doubling of the number of labels submitted to TTB in the past ten years, with 132,595 labels put in for approval last year. At the same time, TTB is also facing staffing cutbacks.

“A fine wine may get better with age, but paperwork does not,” said Mr. Bishop. “Long Island’s wineries are a powerful economic engine and I am eager to help them get their world-class products to market and create local jobs. No businessperson should face unnecessary delays in routine paperwork, and I am pleased that these fine wines will be available for summer tourists and others who appreciate their quality.”

The congressman added that the label issues have been resolved for all the wineries that he was made aware of. He urged winemakers still having label trouble to contact his Patchogue office.

Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery, who had recently changed the shape of the bottles and added the word “dry” to his 2010 rosé label, is relieved by the approval and is now ready to sell 120 cases of that vintage.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “We had a real problem and you couldn’t get anyone on the phone at TTB.  I’m being honest, I think if the Congressman didn’t get involved, we would still be waiting.”

06/30/11 11:33am

Three people were hospitalized late Tuesday afternoon after a three-car accident at the intersection of Route 48 and Depot Lane in Cutchogue.

Southold Town Police said that Gerald Cruise, 85, of Southold was making a left turn onto Route 48 from Depot Lane when he failed to yield the right of way to an eastbound car driven by James Wysocki, 31, of Cutchogue. After the impact with Mr. Wysocki’s car, Mr. Cruise’s car then struck another car driven by Doreen Williamson, 56, of Ridge.

Cutchogue and Mattituck fire departments and rescue squads responded to the accident and took Mr. Cruise and his wife, Patricia, and Ms. Williamson to area hospitals for treatment, according to police. Mr. Wysocki was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Southold Police impounded all three vehicles for safety inspections.

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06/30/11 9:09am

JULIE LANE PHOTO | It was standing room only for a hearing on Bed & Breakfast regulations in Greenport Monday.

The future of Greenport bed-and-breakfasts could be decided next month following a Village Board discussion on the pros and cons of allowing the businesses to offer five guest rooms rather than the current three.

For two hours Monday night, a standing-room-only crowd peppered the board with complaints about, and defenses of, B&B operations as Mayor David Nyce struggled to keep comments focused only on the guest room number resolution.

“There’s obviously a lot of tempers in this room tonight,” Mr. Nyce said. He warned speakers that he wouldn’t tolerate personal attacks or laughing, hooting, shouting and other disturbances and would have people removed from the room if necessary.

But that didn’t stop many from registering their disagreement with some of the testimony.

The issue for many is whether the change amounts to punishing bad behavior. Harbor Knoll Bed & Breakfast received most of the attention.

For the second successive month, neighbors appealed to the board to stop owner Leueen Miller from hosting weddings and other parties at her Fourth Street inn overlooking Greenport Harbor.

Through her attorney, Gail Wickham, Ms. Miller maintained there is no wedding business. Her husband, Gordon Miller, testified that the idea had been abandoned when they realized “a mistake was made.” But Bay Avenue resident Michael Edelson produced a photograph he said shows a wedding that took place there on Sunday, June 26.

In appealing for the five rooms, Mr. Miller said their home is very large and their children are grown and gone. He said Harbor Knoll could easily provide five rooms and sufficient on-site parking for guests.

Neighbors argued that Ms. Miller had been renting as many as eight or nine guest rooms as well as a separate cottage.
In response, Mr. Miller shot back, “Greenport has the least friendly attitude toward B&Bs.”

The Millers’ daughter, Christine Miller Martin, said she didn’t understand the animosity toward her parents and that a realtor would list the house by describing it as “a magnificent house for large entertaining.”

If Harbor Knoll were owned by a celebrity who gave frequent parties for friends, the noise level and disturbance to neighbors would be far worse than it is for a well-run B&B, Ms. Wickham said.

Following the meeting, she said Harbor Knoll has had no notices of violations and no warnings about its operation. She took issue with those who said they were quoting from the Harbor Knoll website about tributes to Ms. Miller for weddings and other large parties she has catered and for dinner services they said she has offered.

Those were misquotes, Ms. Wickham said, adding that the business has been inspected and would be open to future inspections and to complying with whatever rules the village has in place.

Neighbor Roz Calvert presented a list of questions to the board about whether it’s legal to run another business out of a B&B, whether B&Bs can serve alcohol and how the village is handling code enforcement.

No answers were forthcoming Monday night. But on Tuesday morning village administrator David Abatelli said Ms. Miller has been told she can’t rent a third-floor room to guests and that several notices of violations will be served on her.

Mr. Abatelli couldn’t be reached about specifics of those notices.

Those who favor allowing B&Bs to apply to the Planning Board for permission to expand the number of guest rooms argued that Greenport inns are at a competitive disadvantage to surrounding Southold Town B&Bs, which are allowed five rooms. Others said there is an insufficient number of guest rooms in the village, which negatively affects businesses that would benefit from more tourist traffic.

Fewer B&B rooms could result in more hotels being built in and around the village and those are likely to attract people who would be noisier and less respectful of locals than B&B guests tend to be, others said.

Only one B&B owner, Clayton Sauer of Stirling House Bed & Breakfast on Bay Avenue, argued against the expansion. He charged that there are B&B owners already violating the three-guest-room limit, serving alcohol to guests without a state liquor license and violating neighbors’ rights to peaceful use of their own property.

“Removing glaring items which confirm wrongdoings from websites doesn’t mean the behavior has stopped,” said Mr. Sauer, taking direct aim at Harbor Knoll, which removed ads for its weddings from its website.

This was the second public hearing on the B&B issue. Board members will discuss their views at the July 18 work session and could vote as soon as July 25 to either approve the change or keep the number of legal rooms at three.

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06/30/11 7:28am

MATTITUCK

Inhumane treatment

I am the owner of the Feed Bag pet store in Cutchogue, but I do not sell animals. Prior to opening my store I worked for three different Suffolk stores that sold puppies. I would like to describe for you my firsthand experience in this business.

The majority of puppies sold would be trucked from huge Midwest puppy brokers, some with numerous USDA violations. When they arrived, an assembly line would be set up. The transporter would grab a pup by the back of the neck and hand it to a store employee, who would then pass the puppy to me. My job would be to “inspect” the puppy. I was not a veterinarian or a vet tech.

If the puppy had visible abnormalities it would be tossed back on the truck, its fate unknown.

The puppies sold at this store that did not come off these trucks were shipped by air to either La Guardia or Kennedy. They arrived in filthy crates filled with many puppies, not all of them alive.

The healthy-looking puppies that came into the store would go right onto the show floor. If the puppy was sick it would go to the “Iso” (isolation) room. All illnesses — kennel cough, parvovirus or distemper — were lumped together and all sick animals would go in the same room. The shop owner, not a veterinarian, would then determine the medical treatment the puppies would receive.

Every morning when we arrived for work the puppies would be filthy, covered in excrement, screaming and hungry. These were the lucky ones. Some just sat and shook. Others were removed from their cages dead. The shop owner would be compensated by the broker for puppies dying within a certain time frame after delivery.

There was no incentive to make these puppies healthy by sending them to a vet; that would cost money and affect the bottom line. After a week or so in recovery, and as demand required, they went to the sales floor. As sales associates, we were never advised to counsel potential buyers on the appropriate breed for their family. We were given bonuses based on our gross sales.

The other two stores I worked in that sold puppies differed very little from this.

When I went into this business it was because I wanted to be the person that facilitates that perfect moment when a family meets their new member. I wanted to be the one that put those fabulous smiles on their excited faces when they found the perfect puppy.

I work closely with the local shelter, providing high quality food at low cost for the sheltered animals and space in my store for animals needing homes. In spite of this, I have found that there is no way for me to sell puppies that does not contribute to the suffering of both the parent dogs and the puppies bred from them.

Reputable breeders with high standards of care do not sell their puppies to any pet stores for resale. The only option for pet stores wishing to make a profit selling puppies is puppy mills.

I do not sell animals in my store because it is impossible to do so without contributing to this barbaric trade. I wholeheartedly support this legislation and thank Legislator Cooper and Legislator Romaine for introducing this bill,

Amy Cirincione

NEW SUFFOLK

Two big changes

I want to thank the Suffolk Times for its recent public stance opposing the sale of “puppy mill” puppies in Suffolk County. If any of the readers have ever seen the chaotic and pathetic circumstances in our local puppy store, or worse, a sick and listless puppy on display there, bravo for finally making a public statement that I can wholeheartedly sink my teeth into.

Shame on those of you who continue to support such an elitist and cruel practice by purchasing their dogs from pet shops and out-of-state breeders. Look into the eyes of a “rescue” and feel the love and pride of someone who has given and been given a second chance. For the first time in years, I closed my paper with a feeling of small-town pride.

On a broader note, bravo New York State for passing the same sex marriage bill into law. Just a year ago I had the extreme privilege and honor, as an ordained spiritual minister of The Esoteric Interfaith Church, to perform a marriage ceremony for a very dear friend and his partner of 11-plus years. My daughter (then 13) accompanied me to New Haven for this beautiful ceremony on the Yale campus. The ceremony was followed by a festive Cuban lunch and a stop at Town Hall to pick up a marriage certificate.

I would like to share these excerpts from their heartfelt and poignant vows:

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.

May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

One year later, New York has become the sixth state to make it legally possible for two people to marry without bias. May this declaration catch fire, spread throughout the country and incinerate the prejudices existing among us.

Joni Friedman

PECONIC

A very good start

Recently Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper introduced a local law that would ban the retail sale of puppies by pet stores in Suffolk County, unless they are obtained from animal shelters, animal rescue organizations or local breeders.

The North Fork Animal Welfare League is in full support of this legislation.

One hundred percent of the microchipped puppies originally purchased from local pet stores and then abandoned at the Southold Animal Shelter came from huge, out-of-state puppy brokerage houses, known better as puppy mills.

While the NFAWL is aware that this law alone will not close down these hellholes, it makes a very clear statement regarding what the residents of Suffolk County are willing to participate in.

If this law passes, our community is unequivocally saying that we will not encourage, enable or support the brutal and inhumane puppy mill industry.

Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” There is no one perfect law that will end the suffering that puppy mills perpetuate. But this is a good law that can be an outstanding example of how acting locally can promote national change.

Please let your voices speak for those who cannot speak for themselves by attending the public hearing on this issue on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge at 6:30 p.m.

Gillian Wood Pultz
NFAWL executive director

MATTITUCK

Why the delay?

Tell me why the GOP is taking so long to make a decision on the political sign moratorium.

This is a no-brainer.

Karen Klingman

GREENPORT

Signs are already up

It appears the next political cycle is in full swing and Democratic Committee chairman Art Tillman appears to be leading the way into silly season.

While I agree political signs are a hassle (especially for committee people who have to put them up and then take them down), he may have spoken too soon on a total moratorium on these signs. There are already political signs up in town and — guess what? — they support local Democratic politicians.

There are signs in front of a Cutchogue business supporting former town Democratic candidates because of its owner’s very public feud with the current administration.

If Mr. Tillman gets his way, would those signs be removed? Or in his rush to find free publicity, did he chose an issue that does not enjoy popular support?

If the Democratic chairman truly supports a sign moratorium, he should ask for the removal of those old signs, which are several years past the election cycle, before telling other citizens what they should or should not put up on their property.

He needs to take a drive through the town to see what is already up.

Jerry Martocchia

PECONIC

Bring on the signs

Buttons and bumper stickers, hats and pennants, posters and signs and, yes, even the political lawn signs are all part of the American electioneering process.

In some cases electioneering paraphernalia ends up as collectible and valuable memorabilia.

I doubt that Mr. Tillman has conducted a scientific environmental impact study to support his assessment regarding said signs being posted on people’s lawns and property.

Let me clarify: It’s called advertising and it’s the way we get our message across. Of course, if you have nothing significant to advertise and your opponent has, it’s a smart move to call for a moratorium on advertising under the guise of reducing cost and protecting the environment.

There’s no denying that the electioneering process is costly. Mr. Obama is poised to spend almost a billion dollars in his re-election bid. After all, when you’re asking the American public to re-elect a man whose policies and ideology are as detrimental as his, you have to be willing to spend a ridiculous amount of funds.

Let’s face it, the Democrats in Southold are strapped for cash, they don’t have any candidates worth the cost of a lawn sign and while their policies are a microcosm of Washington, D.C., they do nothing to enhance Southold Town roadways or neighborhoods.

Mr. Noncarrow, please send me any number of lawn signs supporting the Republican Party.

George Dengel

MATTITUCK

It’s a game-changer

It’s a sad day for New York. Gay marriage, the new law, has redefined the true meaning of traditional marriage.

What’s next?

What’s really sad and tragic is our Republican political leadership betrayed us and our Catholic bishops came on too little and way too late.

Sad, but true, it all comes down to politics, power and money, across the board. As far as the rest of us go, we all sat back and watched it all happen.

No excuses. We didn’t stand up for what was right and moral. We folded.

God help us. What has taken place is only the beginning.

Will we unite before it’s too late?

Time will tell.

Jack McGreevy

ORIENT

Put it in perspective

Think of the very devastating harms people have done each other, such murder, rape, pedophilia, kidnapping and arson.

Think of all the suffering involved in war, famine, illness, poverty, slavery.

Think of all the natural disasters that can befall us here on earth. Think of all the accidents to which we are subject.

Honestly, I cannot take seriously concerns over the state’s acknowledging commitments between people who love each other.

Maureen Sanders

SOUTHOLD

Two basic questions

Dictionaries I’ve checked define marriage as “the legal union of a man with a woman.” Thus, “same sex marriage” is an oxymoron.

Same sex marriage legislation involves two issues. First is redefining marriage. Does a state have the constitutional authority to do so? I don’t know, but if the issue eventually goes before the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be interesting to follow.

Second is whether a state has the authority to provide the benefits and obligations of marriage to legalized same sex unions. I believe yes, but if the Supreme Court rules that a state does not have the authority to redefine marriage, then the union will have to be known as something other than marriage.

Unless, of course, the Supreme Court decides that the redefinition of marriage is not a constitutional issue and opts not to accept the case.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I hope this legislation and whatever judicial decisions follow will go a long way to eliminating the prejudicial speech, biased actions and hate crimes to which so many of our gay brothers and sisters have been subjected.

Joe Sullivan

GREENPORT

We are so ready

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, many politicians and legislators said the people were “not ready” for integration of schools, public spaces and other government services. Many went further to say the people were “not ready” for interracial marriage, and fought to enact laws forbidding it.

Today, amidst the equal rights movement of our times, Senator LaValle claims to speak for his constituents, saying that we are “not ready” for marriage equality.

The senator seems like a decent, hard-working public servant. It’s too bad he’s chosen to ally himself with those who, like his predecessors in the middle of the last century, will go down in history as lacking the courage to come out on the right side of a civil rights issue with a weak cop-out statement that we are “not ready.”

The reality is that bigoted legislators of the 1950s and 1960s were the ones who were not ready for de-segregated schools and de-segregated drinking fountains. Senator LaValle is the one who is not ready for marriage equality. His constituents, particularly the significant number of gay constituents and their straight supporters who live on the East End, are ready.

Let those of us who are ready for marriage equality also make sure the senator hears from us at the polls when he runs for re-election.

Those who write letters to The Suffolk Times proclaiming that marriage between two men or two women who love each other is an affront to your religion, do not fear. The great thing about our country is that we all are free to practice the religious beliefs of our choice.

The Marriage Equality Act changes nothing about your faith and your church, and those of us who support marriage equality should also support your right or your church’s right to believe that marriages between a man and a woman are the only true marriages.

However, those religious beliefs will no longer tread on the rights of another citizen to marry the person he/she loves. This is part of what makes this the greatest nation on the planet.

Doug Roberts

CUTCHOGUE

Why we celebrate

In 1821, construction workers in Alexandria, Va., accidentally disturbed a grave and discovered a body in full Revolutionary uniform. The body was quickly reburied.

There he lies, in the “tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier known but to God.” Never heard of the place? Yes, it’s little known and little visited, even though it’s in a church cemetery close to Arlington National Cemetery.

Independence Day will be upon us this weekend and, as John Adams stated, we should celebrate with “great illuminations and fanfare,” or something like that, and we will.

However, as you read this, please reflect upon the reason America came to be. It started just after Chris Columbus discovered the New World and people in Europe yearned for religious freedom and boarded little ships and crossed a big ocean and came to this New World and established themselves.

As the years went by and these settlers grew more and more self-reliant, they realized that they did not need the “mother country.” When dear old mother England crossed them one too many times, the voices of independence gained a foothold. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness ended up in our Declaration of Independence.

We wanted less government interference, more say in our daily life and, most of all, the ability to live a life far different from what had been established in all of the then-known history.

Talk about foresight. Our Founding Fathers gave us a Republic and a sense of freedom. But freedom had to be earned and many lost their lives and fortunes to establish this country.

July 4th was by all accounts a very hot day in 1776 and, yes, men and women came forth and placed their lives and fortunes on a chance that they could create a new and exciting form of government. All historical knowledge of that time placed all odds against them. Yet they persevered.

This is why we celebrate this day:

That such men and women lived and were willing to die for a just cause greater than themselves. That each succeeding generation has honored the preceding. And that our pursuit of happiness continues.

America, may you continue to persevere.

Bob Bittner

SOUTHOLD

The library’s future

The Board of Trustees of Southold Free Library would like to thank James Ahearn for his thoughtful letter in last week’s edition.

We appreciate his support of our efforts to make modest, cost-effective improvements to the library in the wake of the failed bond vote last fall. While many taxpayers supported an expanded library, many did not agree with the proposed size, cost or design.

We heard from the community and have been considering the issue carefully. We believe that libraries are relevant and necessary, even in the age of e-books.

Libraries can help people navigate the overwhelming amounts of information now available to us. They can provide access to both traditional formats such as books and DVDs and new media like e-books and MP3 files.

Most importantly, the library is a common space that serves as an antidote to the isolating effects of today’s technology.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, the library’s expansion fund now totals more than $1 million. This summer we will begin to solicit input from the public about what you want from your library now and in the years to come.

Watch for an ad in the paper announcing a series of public meetings.

Please join us, or contact director Caroline MacArthur. We want to know what Southold and Peconic residents envision for the future of Southold Free Library.

Maggie Merrill

Southold Library Board of Trustees president, on behalf of the board

PECONIC

You missed the point

Your recent article, “Off the grid,” in the real estate section seems to be off the mark.

It misses the real idea of solar energy as it exists today.

When I was a young kid, I took a little solar cell and powered a small electric motor to  get a tiny fan-like gadget to operate for a few seconds. As I grew up, so did those solar cells and now I power my entire home for free.

Just like 4,000 other on-the-grid adult homeowners, I use photovoltaic cells to be energy independent. No gadgets, no toys, no small fans.

You can find out the exact details fully explained at renewableenergylongisland.org/.

Joel Reitman

LAUREL

Close the loopholes

A few days ago Republican Senator Eric Cantor walked out of Vice President Biden’s deficit reduction meeting because, “I can’t continue with these meetings if the Democrats keep demanding tax increases”.

The Democrats are not demanding tax increases; they are trying to close costly tax loopholes. Most of us North Forkers don’t have any personal experience with loopholes because they are the province of the wealthy and corporate America.

Divert your income to a post box in The Cayman Islands? Set up subsidiaries in foreign countries where profits are lightly taxed, if at all? Make your income look like capital gains, not ordinary income? And on and on.

A report issued by the Citizens for Tax Justice found that from 2008 to 2010, 12 Fortune 500 corporations with $171 billion in profits enjoyed an effective tax rate of negative 1.5 percent because of corporate loopholes, shelters and special tax breaks.

Last year Exxon Mobil recorded $45.2 billion in profit and paid zero dollars to the IRS.

On top of this, the oil and gas industries are receiving $32.9 billion in subsidies and other tax deals.

The revenue from allowing the ill-conceived Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire would bring in nearly $40 billion of needed revenue.

If we are serious about fixing the deficit and restarting the economy — and we have to be — we must look realistically at the entire problem. Cutting expenses is a real goal. Obviously, increasing revenue should be a real goal. Sharing the pain must be a real goal, too.

We may not have personal experience with loopholes, but we can still fight to eliminate them. Tell Senator Cantor and the rest of the Republicans to look for fairness and intelligent policy, not simply goodies for greedy supporters and lobbyists.

Howard Meinke

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

06/30/11 6:25am

Limit political signs? Yes.

Ban them outright? No.

That’s the response from the Southold Republican Party’s executive committee, which met Monday night to consider the Democrats’ call for a full moratorium on campaign signs in the upcoming town elections.

“It seems a bit extreme,” said GOP leader Denis Noncarrow. “But we’re always willing to talk about limits, as we’ve always done before.”

The chairman also called a full ban on signs unworkable and said there’s no way to prevent party supporters, or candidates in countywide elections, from putting up their own signs.

“I agree that it gets crazy,” said Mr. Noncarrow. “But telling everybody no signs? I don’t see how that could work.”

Last month Southold Democratic leader Art Tillman, who is running his first election since becoming chairman in the fall, suggested an all-or-nothing ban on both the larger billboard-type signs and the small lawn signs that both parties have put out in large numbers in recent years.

“They’re ugly,” he said at the time. “People are getting sick of this.”

Mr. Noncarrow said he often met with former Democratic leader Larry Tuthill to set dates before which no signs could appear, but he’s had no such contact with Mr. Tillman, whom he accused of political grandstanding.

It’s not as difficult to keep the town sign-free as Mr. Noncarrow suggests, Mr. Tillman said.

“Signs are passed out by the party,” he said. “If you don’t have them, there’s none to pass out.”

He agreed that it’s all but impossible to enforce a full ban, but added that he has no objection to posting homemade signs.

“Then you won’t see the thousands we usually see,” he said. “I think that would lead to a lot of creativity.”

The chairman said Democrats have yet to decide whether to follow a self-imposed ban on election signs.

“It’s a possibility,” Mr. Tillman said, but a decision won’t be made without first speaking with his candidates.

“Personally, I’d like to go with a unilateral sign moratorium,” he added. “I have to think the electorate is not swayed by signs.”

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06/30/11 5:13am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wally Broege (left) with the gift from the President of the SCHS Board of Directors, Robert Barauskas of Riverhead. The gift is an album of photographs taken by Judith Mc Cleery (The Puparazzi). She visited his home when he wasn't there and photographed his dogs.

More than three decades ago, Wally Broege, who hails from upstate New York and studied marine science in college, never imagined himself heading the Suffolk County Historical Society. Or any historical society, for that matter.

But in the mid-1970s he took a part-time job with the Riverhead-based organization and in 1979 applied to be its first full-time director. The historical society, established in 1886, had previously been run by a volunteer board of directors.
Mr. Broege was selected for the job.

“I can’t say in high school an interest in history was instilled in me,” he said. “But my interest in Suffolk County history grew as I worked here.”

Now, more than 30 years later, Mr. Broege will be stepping down from his post as the society’s first director at the end of July.

In that time he has put together more than 30 annual budgets, helped develop hundreds of exhibits and overseen the construction of a climate-controlled area built for archives inside the West Main Street building, now added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Of his favorite exhibits are “Barren and Waste Land: Long Islanders and the Pine Barrens” and  “Patriots Come Forward: Suffolk County’s Role in the Civil War” (2009) featuring cannonballs, rifles with deadly bayonets still attached to their barrels and pistols of all sizes that were used by Long Islanders serving in the union army among other artifacts. Some of the more complex exhibits take about three years from conception to implementation, Mr. Broege said

The most enjoyable aspect of the job for him has been working with a dedicated staff and creating exhibitions.

“The best memories I am going to have are the people,” he said. “I’ve worked with people that took pride in their work.”

He will be succeeded by Kathryn Curran, the historical society’s former part-time public programs director.

“She makes exhibitions look easy,” Mr. Broege said as Ms. Curran worked in a gallery cluttered with supplies just three days before the opening of the museum’s latest exhibit, “Private Place, Public Space.”

“How many times can we bother you in a month,” Ms. Curran said, promising to seek Mr. Broege’s advice frequently.

Ms. Curran said she would like to see school groups visit the museum again, something that stopped in 2007 when the organization eliminated its education coordinator position. Ms. Curran said she’d like to bring back the position on a volunteer basis.

“I’d love to mine the resources of retired teachers,” she said.

For Mr. Broege, one of the hardest part of retirement will be no longer having a hand in the many exhibits that commemorate Suffolk County’s rich history.

“I’m going to leave some of the projects undone,” he said. “It’s a little bit difficult to let go of things.”

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06/29/11 9:07pm
06/29/2011 9:07 PM

Denny’s and I started out on the right foot, but that was only because they bribed me.

I was about 10 years old when my mother decided it would be a good idea for her and me and my uncle and his four kids and mother-in-law to pack into a Ford Econoline van and head to Florida together in August. It took only until the first New Jersey rest stop for my mom to get so aggravated she started chasing me around the van with a shoe in her hand. In a cartoonish sort of manner, I scurried up the Econoline’s rear ladder and onto the roof for safety. I forget what happened when I got down; just another repressed memory, I guess.

During that interminable trip it seemed we ate at Denny’s at least once each day, sometimes more. And I loved it. Not so much for the food — I’m sure a grilled cheese sandwich tastes the same everywhere — but for the Flintstones toy figures, which were top-quality, not that flimsy Happy Meal stuff. The toys were good for the parents, too, as they kept all us kids quiet for a few minutes after returning to the van. Denny’s: Good with kids. But bad with food, I would later find.

My next Denny’s experience came some 11 years later, after college and at the end of a bad date in Maryland, during which the young woman ­— a colleague of mine at the time — drank too much, said too much, and somehow got me to agree to go with her to a Mormon wedding six weeks later in Salt Lake City. (I thought she would forget the conversation but she booked the tickets the next morning!)

Things were going uncomfortably wrong that whole night, but I was expecting some decent food at Denny’s for some reason, given my positive associations with the place from childhood. Plus, it was 2 a.m., after several hours out that involved a Capitals hockey game and beer. What could taste bad at that point?

What I got was an omelette that looked exactly as it did in the picture, like a piece of plastic. It was as if the thing had been prepared — supposedly grilled, though I didn’t see any flaky brown evidence of a grill — on an assembly line hundreds of miles away, then reheated here in 40 seconds. This way-too-yellow-to-be-a-real-egg concoction was seriously horrendous. Indeed, the whole place was awful for anyone accustomed to eating in a Greek or Turkish diner. And it was in a Denny’s booth that I idiotically agreed to go to this person’s cousin’s wedding. I thought she would flip or burst into tears if I said no, and I was about an hour from my home. (I actually went to the wedding; but that column is for another day.) I haven’t thought much about Denny’s since.

Fast-forward 11 more years. Now comes news from a government source that Denny’s wants to come to Riverhead. I’m not sure if the corporation has noticed, but Long Island is the diner capital of the world. And right here we have some really good ones, the Peconic Bay and Greek Island diners. I actually can’t imagine any Denny’s doing well anywhere in Suffolk or Nassau, but then again, Long Island is home to three Olive Gardens.

Here is my own selfish reason for not wanting a Denny’s here, aside from my dislike of the food and atmosphere: The place just isn’t any fun.

I’m not completely averse to corporately run restaurants, but I’ve been opining for years that Riverhead, mainly downtown, needs some fun and some action. Even on Route 58, Denny’s would just be stealing space from a possible Miller Ale House or Buffalo Wild Wings or even a Texas Roadhouse. Sure, these places also have that manufactured feel to them, but they’re always abuzz, seem to strive for top-quality food and good prices and are great meeting places for sports and birthdays and other friend- and family-oriented events. Denny’s? Snoooozer!

And it could be catastrophic if such a place should come downtown. It would fly in the face of everything being envisioned for Main Street, which is an eclectic mix of family-run mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. The anti-Route 58, if you will. Denny’s could stifle such a movement.

Ed Tuccio, owner of Tweed’s downtown, even told the News-Review he’s heard Denny’s could be looking for tax abatements from the town — as if such a restaurant could offer some one-of-a-kind, job-creating and blight-busting boon to the area. To me, Denny’s is a blight. If representatives of the Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s Corporation actually come to ask for tax breaks, town officials shouldn’t think twice about giving them an old-fashioned fuggedaboudit! (They won’t know the difference between Brooklyn and Riverhead.) And tell them to pay up, or get lost.

Denny’s bribes us. We don’t bribe Denny’s.

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at 631-298-3200, ext. 152. Or at [email protected].

06/29/11 9:07pm

COURTESY PHOTO | Jake Okula wants to be a journalist thanks to a contest from SNY, the Mets' television network.

Not many 9-year-olds who are asked the common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” answer, “A journalist.”

But Jake Okula of Peconic recently decided that’s exactly what he wants to be, thanks to a contest run by the television station SportsNet New York (SNY).

For an essay he wrote and a series of baseball plays he announced in front of a panel, Jake won the opportunity to interview SNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt at a recent game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Mets.

He was one of 10 youngsters from the tri-state area, all between 7 and 15, selected to read essays they’d written in response to the question, “If you were Mets manager Terry Collins, what would you say to the team before Game 7 of the World Series?”

Jake wrote that he’d inspire the team, which hasn’t won a World Series in more than two decades, with three values: determination, loyalty and legacy.

After reading his essay aloud to a panel of SNY judges, Jake had to announce three plays, off a replay of a game, with sports broadcaster flair. He effortlessly called out a home run, a steal and the finish of a game all the while dropping the names of Mets stars.

“You could tell he was very knowledgeable about the Mets,” said SNY senior coordinating producer Julie Frahm, who sat on the panel. “And something we looked for was personality. He stood out.”

Jake took second place and then prepared for his interview with Mr. Burkhardt. He asked the well-known reporter which player on a team with many young athletes has been the most pleasant surprise this season, and which Met would be the most fun for his Little League team, the Blue Sox, to meet.

Mr. Burkhardt replied that infielders Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada surprised him most this season, proving they belong in major league baseball. He said infielder Jose Reyes, with his energetic disposition and permanent smile, would be the best choice for Jake’s fellow Little Leaguers to meet.

Jake, who is now playing on the North Fork All Stars, has always wanted to be a professional baseball player. But now that he’s had a taste of sports journalism, he’s hoping he’ll be able to swing both careers.

“The contest definitely put the idea in my head that being a sports reporter could be really fun and a great experience,” he said.

Jake’s mom, Kim, said the experience opened his eyes to the behind-the-scenes aspect of the game he loves so much and instilled an air of confidence in him. And the whole family — including Jake’s older brother, Sean, who ironically won second place in the contest last year — was treated to field seats right behind home plate at the Mets’ June 23 game, an exciting prize for a family of fans who have a bathroom painted in blue and orange, the Mets’ colors.

Ms. Frahm said SNY has run the contest for the last three years to connect with its fan base and give kids hands-on experience in a career they might not otherwise consider.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to gain confidence and do something they wouldn’t normally do,” she said. “To get that at such a young age is an invaluable experience.”

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