Letters to the Editor

Don’t buckle under
For years it appeared that the Southold Town zoning board had absolutely no spine. Any corporation with a $3 lawyer was able to just come in and tell the town what they intended to do and the town just buckled under.
This happened numerous times regardless of opposition from the community. The last incident was the 7-Eleven coming to Mattituck with over 3,000 signatures protesting same. The newest is the Suffolk County Water Authority — don’t be fooled, its a private, for-profit company — attempting to bully the town.
Well, hear ye, here ye! The town can stand up and fight if they so choose. These corporations do not have the power to bully the town if the town chooses to fight back.
Case in point, the Town of Hempstead just recently stood up to the White Castle corporation and told them that their plans to build a drive-through restaurant did not meet the zoning specifications for the village of Bellmore, thus they were denied the permit to build.
White Castle did what all corporations do, they brought in their hot-shot hired-gun lawyers and sued the town. This is where the Town of Southold immediately buckles without so much as a hint of a fight.
The big law firms took Hempstead to the State Supreme Court and after all was said and done the court told White Castle to get lost. The court said that White Castle’s plans did not meet the village building codes and the village/town does not have to allow the plans to be changed if they choose not too.
White Castle is not allowed to build in Bellmore. Case closed.   
Perhaps members of the Town Board can take a lesson from the western town and grow a spine when it comes to fighting for the people who live, work and pay taxes here.
Jon Ferris

No tax funds used
The Suffolk County Water Authority purchased 100 acres near Laurel Lake in two separate transactions, one in 1992 and the other in 1999.
In neither transaction did the SCWA use revenues from Suffolk County’s quarter-percent sales tax fund, as The Suffolk Times cites Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell as saying in a story last week.
Despite the name, the Suffolk County Water Authority is not a branch of county government but a self-supporting, public benefit corporation operating under the authority of New York State’s Public Authorities Law.
Since no public funds were used, a public referendum would not be required to sell the land.
That said, we want to reiterate that if the land is ultimately sold, we will make every effort to sell it to government partners and/or environmental organizations looking to ensure that the land is preserved in perpetuity.
Tim Motz
SCWA communications director

One angry agency
I think the Suffolk County Water Authority is really miffed at our town.
First they contend they don’t need the town’s approval to extend the water mains. Then they want to triple the annual rates for some Orient customers. Finally, they plan to sell 100 pristine watershed acres on Laurel Lake. Mind you, they need that open land to ensure a supply of clean water.
It seems to me that they want to get even with Southold because they weren’t able to get that stimulus money from the Feds. I guess they had plans for that cash.
I’m glad I have a good well.
Bob Cavagna

It has to change
I’m writing in regard to your Jan. 6 editorial, “Where’s the rest of it?”
Your statement beginning with, “So far, Mr. Cuomo has been silent on any companion measures, such as limiting employee salaries…” is very relevant with respect to the proposed 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases proposed by the governor. The problem with that, as you very well know, is that it would be impossible to implement under the current school salaries paid.
I have written my appropriate state and federal legislators to enact legislation making all school employees state employees. It would obviously take time to reconfigure existing salaries and benefits to current state pay grades and health coverage. But the most obvious advantage is that we, the taxpayers, would no longer be at the mercy of our school boards for the ever-increasing annual salary raises, given regardless of the community’s ability to pay for it.
Any increases would be in tandem with all state employee contract dates, and homeowners would no longer be afraid to open their tax bill every January. Additionally, and I think most importantly, school boards could actually concern themselves with the everyday operations of the school itself. Imagine that.
I have also written the state Board of Regents, which recently has been concerned about school consolidation. Better late than never. Almost every southern state has a regional county system which students from many communities attend.
Yes, for some the bus ride is a bit longer than 15 minutes, but the school taxes are less than 50 percent of what we pay here.
Hopefully, Governor Cuomo and the Board of Regents will someday use this radical approach to reducing the crushing burden of our school taxes. I only hope that someday comes sooner rather than too late.
Lloyd Booth

We are all Tucson
The shooting rampage in Tucson is generating necessary and healthy national discussion along with far-ranging suggestions for changing the discourse among the media and politicians.
The way I see it, the change has to come from every one of us, not just from opinion leaders. We are all part of this culture and we have all, in one way or another, contributed to the vitriol and hatred.
I ask myself whether I have also lowered my threshold for what I consider decent and acceptable speech. Am I using more extreme language than I once did to express my anger or disapproval in how I react to poor customer service or inconsiderate drivers? When I see or hear extreme speech among people in my daily life or in the media, do I put myself on the line by pointing it out, or do I just shrug my shoulders and let the chips fall where they may?
I include myself when I say we are all responsible for the culture we inhabit because we are that culture.
Hazel Kahan

Season’s real reason
The photo caption on page 1 of the Dec. 23 issue says: “What better embodies the special nature of the holidays than an elegant, sparkling tree and an elegant, sparkling table setting?”
For one thing, a Christmas manger that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who, after all, is the reason for the season.
Jesus didn’t have much to do with elegant, sparkling things.
Jack Abele

Truth obscured
There are true facts and false facts.
On the Web page timesreview.com/about-us there is a statement to the effect that the mission of The Suffolk Times is to deliver factual news coverage. Troy Gustavson, corporate officer of Times/Review Newspapers, began his first column of 2011 with the understatement, “You can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.”
Maybe the mission statement should be changed to aim for delivery of truthful news coverage. To quote Maya Angelou, “There is a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
For example, The Suffolk Times reported that “Hashamomuck (in Southold) is a natural cove with no shore-hardening structures that might create or contribute to an erosion problem.” (“Storm tides damage Southold soundfront homes,” Dec. 27, 2010) The truth is that there is nothing but bulkheads, groins, pavement and other shore-hardening structures, such as buildings and roads, surrounding Hashamomuck Cove.
The article may as well have informed readers that it was unforeseeable that the house built on the site of a house destroyed by a storm would be destroyed by a storm.
Benja Schwartz

The fox returns
At 8:15 a.m. Friday, Jan. 7 my wife Shirley and I were in the sun room of our house sipping that first cup of coffee and looking over the north end of Roses International Airport in Orient Point.
“She’s back! She’s back!” my wife yelled as she spotted a red fox diligently doing its rounds along the edge of an expansive stand of 4-foot weeds that created a mini-forest. It had been nearly four months since we last saw the fox.
In early fall we would see it taking the same course every few days. But since then we felt its reestablishment was over and something bad had happened to Reynard.
The life of a fox is always in tune with that of cottontail rabbits in its realm. As the population of fox expands, the rabbit’s numbers decline accordingly. Over a five- to six-year period, the reverse will occur.
During the height of the fox’s population on the North Fork we watched a vixen on a hillock near the airfield dig a den and raise four kits (pups). That same year fox here were infected with mange, a skin disease caused by parasitic mites that causes the fox’s hair to fall out. The mange almost eliminated them the following year and many people thought they were extinct.
We watch as the fox disappeared into the tall weeds. We were delighted to see that they were not extinct. We returned to our coffee and were dumbfounded to see another fox rapidly following the same trail as the first. It stopped for a moment and then lifted its right rear leg and blessed a clump of grass. He was moving at a faster pace than the first fox.
“That was great,” my wife said as she filled our coffee cups and we again settled down to watch the field. But no sooner than we did that a third fox broke into the open. It was slightly smaller than the first and darker that the second. And obviously a male.
My wife, who breeds and shows Scottish Terriers, determined that the first fox was a female in heat and the latter two males hot on the vixen’s trail.
“It’s their breeding season,“ she said and we settled down to watch the show. In the next 15 minutes two more frantic males were on the same trail.
Fox on the North Fork are no longer endangered.
Nick Karas

Here we go again
If death and taxes are inevitable, so too is an impassioned letter from John Copertino to start off the new year.
As usual, his diatribe against President Obama and his supporters is relatively free of logic and/or facts. Despite verifiable evidence that the current administration has overseen a significant crackdown on patrolling our borders, Mr Copertino would have the president bring our troops home from Afghanistan to further secure our country from “terrorists.”
By this logic we can assume that Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts have secretly moved from their hideouts in or near Afghanistan and are planning to launch a second major attack on the U.S. from Guadalajara or Toronto.
But why be troubled by facts or logic when you can hurl incendiary terms like “terrorist attack,” “feminist,” “Sharia law,” “entitlement riots,” or “Marxist cohorts” and make not-so-veiled references to Nazis?
Finally, though, it is sadly ironic to read Mr. Copertino’s virulently anti-immigrant invective, only to be moved minutes later by Jewell Gonzalez’ letter detailing the kindness, honesty and decency of a Latino immigrant whose behavior speaks for itself loudly and clearly in any language.
Jerry Barkan

Where to begin?
John Copertino’s latest tirade in the Jan. 6 edition requires some response.
I like political correctness. It’s great that it’s no longer fashionable to use ethnic, racial, sexual or other slurs. Further, stereotyping people, even in jest, is the most un-American of sins in that it robs people of their individuality. Let’s remember that the search for a new life and the opportunity to define one’s own future is what motivated most of our ancestors to come to this beloved country.
Regarding the accusation that President Obama is purposely neglecting securing our borders to acquire future Hispanic votes, I’d ask Mr. Copertino if he thinks Mr. Bush was similarly courting future Hispanic voters during his administration, when the rate of illegal immigration was higher?
On Mr. Copertino’s accusations that President Obama is a Marxist, I assume he’s is referring to Mr. Obama’s efforts to reform our healthcare system, the auto industry and the financial industry, and to the recent debate over the continuation of the Bush tax cuts.
Regarding health care, whatever one thinks of it, a program that requires people under pain of monetary penalty to buy private health insurance certainly can’t be called socialist.
On the rescue of the auto industry, which involved interim financing to two of America’s remaining car companies after their bondholders, suppliers, creditors and employees were required to give up major claims against the company, also can’t be called socialist or Marxist.
Letting GM and Chrysler go out of business would have destroyed a major portion of what is left of this country’s industrial base, as confirmed by Ford Motor Company, which didn’t seek government help.
Lastly on this issue, the reorganized GM recently launched a successful IPO, which is the first step in completely repaying the government for its interim financial support.
No rational person disputes the need to have preserved the financial sector, or argues that the industry wasn’t in dire need of regulatory reform. Some say the banks should have been allowed to fail, with only depositors and consumers protected. Others say the government should have seized and reorganized the most problematic institutions, as was done with GM and Chrysler. And many say the threat of “too big to fail” remains.
But notwithstanding any of this, there’s no way that what was done can be characterized as Marxist or socialist. Again, most, if not all, of the government’s money will be repaid.
Lastly, on the charge of class warfare and the recent tax debate, a few facts can correct the record.
The Obama administration’s proposal was to let the Bush-era tax reductions be reversed only for those in the top 2 percent of earners, restoring the top marginal rate on current income from 36 percent to 39.6 percent, as well as restoring pre-existing capital gains rates, both going back to where they were during the Clinton administration.
Now, this is only the marginal rate applied only to income above the threshold, $250,000 for joint filers, not on the full amount of one’s income. Remember also that the Clinton years constituted the longest sustained period of economic growth in U.S. history, with over 22 million new jobs created, businesses making vast amounts of new capital investments, average weekly wages increased by 21 percent and the first federal budget surpluses since 1969.
Everyone agrees that the current scale of federal deficits must be addressed, and all responsible people acknowledge that doing so will take a mix of tax increases and spending reductions. But, if taking the top federal income tax rates back to what they were during the Clinton years constitutes “class warfare,” I despair of this country ever getting its fiscal house in order.
Chris Lowery

One bell at a time
If you passed by the Cutchogue King Kullen in the weeks before Christmas you may have noticed a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.
This older gentleman, named William, was seated there every day no matter what the weather or temperature. I asked him how he dealt with the cold and he said he always wore long underwear and warm gloves.
I believe the Lord protected him from the cold because he was working for others less fortunate than himself. Indeed, he will be an inspiration to us all year long.
William, a man who does good work one bell ring at a time.
Rick and Linda Kedenburg

By any other name
Since William Swiskey announced his candidacy for the next village election almost a year in advance and has been campaigning hard at it ever since, no one has earned the title “politico” in Greenport more than he.
Michael Edelson

The ‘battle’ paid off
A big thanks to Greenport’s community when it came to November’s battle of the bands.
From donations from local businesses and support from the school, our fundraiser was successful.
Another thank-you to the Greenport PTA for donating its proceeds from the December talent show to help raise funds.
Thank you all very much and don’t forget to come and see Greenport’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Jan. 14 and 15.
Tori Staples

Hats off to our firefighters
Every 23 seconds somewhere in the United States, firefighters are responding to a call. Surprisingly, 72 percent of those firefighters, nationally, are volunteers, and in Suffolk County all our firefighters are volunteers.
This past week I joined several elected officials to honor and thank emergency responders — nearly 100 volunteer fire departments and ambulance companies from throughout the region — including the Mastic Fire Department and Chief Dwight Blankenship for the heroic actions that led to the evacuation of more than 2,000 area residents when a propane fuel supplier making a delivery noticed something wrong early New Year’s Day morning. The actions of first responders undoubtedly averted what could have been a major catastrophe. Later this month I will nominate Chief Blankenship for a New York State Senate Liberty Award for his actions that day.
Now I want to thank all our volunteers for the work they have done and continue to do.
Our volunteer firefighters and first responders unselfishly commit substantial amounts of time to training and responding to calls. They leave family gatherings, respond on days off and at all times of day and night — it doesn’t matter. When the community calls, our volunteers respond. The volunteers respond not knowing if it is to a false alarm, a minor incident, or a major catastrophe that will put them in harm’s way. For their dedication to public service and our community, I say “thank you.”
Kenneth LaValle
New York State Senator
1st District