Letters to the editor

Way to go, Joe
In last week’s paper there was a lengthy article about the ongoing battle between East Hampton and the rest of the world over the routes helicopters should take on their way to the land of the rich and famous.
As expected, one East Hamptonite (sounds like a piece of flooring, doesn’t it?) again brought up the word “lawyer,” which is usually done to scare people off. Fortunately, we have someone I believe will not be scared off in Joe Fischetti, who I would like to thank publicly for his efforts on behalf of all of us on the North Fork.
We must not, however, let the task at hand fall on the shoulders of one individual. I hope the Town of Southold will do everything in its power to assist Joe in this fight, including lighting a fire under our elected officials, especially the federal ones. After all, the FAA is going to have a lot to say about instituting and enforcing the policy that is eventually put in place.
This leads me to one last thought: I assume the helicopter services involved have to file passenger manifests with the FAA for all their flights. I wonder how many times, if at all, the names of our elected officials or members of their staffs appear on those manifests and, if so, how their flights were paid for.
Patrick Lohn

No way to run a RR
As many residents of Southold Town are aware, Long Island Rail Road service on the North Fork is laughable at best and it has long been clear that the region is not a priority for North America’s largest commuter railroad.
Recently this unimportance was magnified by a snowdrift, of all things. On Friday, Jan. 21, an eastbound train lodged itself in a drift just east of Cox Lane in Cutchogue. While this may seem impossible given that the locomotive alone weighs 128 tons, it’s a common problem on the Greenport branch. Because there are so few trains, and so much track runs through open fields, drifting is inevitable.
I can forgive the train becoming disabled in a drift, but I cannot excuse the evacuation that took nearly two hours. With only 25 passengers on board, why should it take such an inordinate amount of time to safely remove them from the train? There was nothing life-threatening outside the train car. Aside from the snow, I see no reason that the evacuation should have been delayed.
As a regular commuter on the Greenport branch, this is the latest in a long line of insults. It’s a safe bet that if such an incident had occurred on any other of the railroad’s 11 branches, it would not have taken two hours to evacuate. If it had, it would have been all over the news.
But because of the lack of ridership, the LIRR can get away with sub-par service on the Greenport branch. I remember being told in March 2010 that the MTA would “seek to improve service on the North Fork.” If anything, the opposite has occurred and unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight.
Michael Arnone

An absence of facts
“Southold Trustee says dogs, geese responsible for West Creek pollution”, said last week’s Suffolk Times article, failing to mention relevant facts and presenting unsupported conclusions as facts.
The article does not mention that there is dense residential development all along the eastern shore of West Creek, from the humongous residence right on the southeasterly point at the mouth of the channel to the head of the creek at Wickham’s Farm. What do we know about the number and conditions of the cesspools in the creekside houses?
The article does not mention that Cutchogue Harbor Marina has a 200-gallon holding tank for boat pump-outs. How do we know if any boat that has been docking there has been pumping out into the water without using the pump-out facility? I assume, although there was no mention in the article, that the marina also has an on-site wastewater treatment system, or, in layman’s terms, a cesspool.
The article does not mention nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen pollution, aka nutrient pollution, was identified by the Peconic Baykeeper in Baywatch 2010 as possibly “the single greatest threat to Long Island’s estuaries.”
Even Baywatch 2010 fails to mention that nitrogen is a nutrient for coliform bacteria. The pollution issue involves where the bacteria come from and also how they stay alive and multiply.
Without correct analysis of all relevant data, all conclusions are suspect.
Benja Schwartz


Here’s the real poop
I read the article about scooping poop and trustee Bredemeyer’s concern for getting our closed creeks opened again.
A long time ago when I suggested to a neighbor, who is a world class biologist, that we have a pollution problem because of wild geese pooping in our creeks, he said: “Do you also object to fish poop, deer poop, cat, fox, rabbit poop, etc.?”  After all, we do live in the country.
Apparently the real problem polluting our water is what people put on their lawns and automobile residue on the roads, which runs off through storm drains into the creeks. Converting the storm drains into dry wells is an expensive infrastructure project and will be slow to come about.
Creek closure is more a problem of bureaucratic inactivity. Any high volume of rain water flushed into the creeks raises the levels of pollutants temporarily, but creeks are tidal. They are flushed every twelve hours.
But once a creek gets two negative readings in a row, it is closed by the DEC. To reopen it, its water must pass thirty inspections in a row. Inspections occur every three months, if there are no budget restrictions that limit inspections by the DEC. Professional baymen go crazy because of this bureaucratic snafu.  
I spoke with an inspector about my creek being closed and he explained that because there was a marina at its mouth, it was closed as a precaution. He said they had no way to guarantee that boat owners would not flush their toilets into the creek water, but they had found no evidence of pollution at the mouth of the creek. It all depends when and where the readings are taken. The DEC is very conservative and does not want to be held responsible for any incidences of illness.
How do you get the creeks open again?  By spending more money on dry wells and inspections, which doesn’t seem to be available. Not by harassing people with more regulations that won’t solve the problem anyway.  
Alex Wipf

Stay with NFAWL
It has come to my attention that the Town of Southold is soliciting bids for the operation of the animal shelter on Peconic Lane. I just have one question. Why?
When I shared my concerns with a member of the Town Board, the answer was there were “personality issues” that existed between the board and the North Fork Animal Welfare League. I found this comment most disturbing, unprofessional and less than what I expect from my town representative.
Can’t we just follow the advice in the “Godfather” movie, “It’s not personal, it’s just business” and keep politics and personalities at bay? The issue is animal care, not who you would invite to your next barbecue.
We should be thankful and appreciative to have such a dedicated and responsible organization as the NFAWL caring for those that have no voice in our community. We should show our appreciation by negotiating a fair and reasonable contract with them as quickly as possible.
The NFAWL has operated the animal shelter for the past 30 years and until 18 months ago, when the new facility was completed, the working conditions for the staff were shockingly below standard. In spite of this, the NFAWL consistently provided an outstanding level of care for the animals.
I began volunteering at the shelter about seven years ago and from my observations, the NFAWL is an organization whose mission is to provide stellar care for all animals in need, not just dogs as the law requires.
Their executive director, Gillian Pultz, is well known and respected in the community and has 16 years of invaluable personal experience in the operation of our shelter. They have an incredibly dedicated staff who always puts the animals first.
As the records show, it’s the most cost-effectively run shelter on all of Long Island.
As an avid animal lover, I am concerned about the welfare of all animals, whether they be cats, rabbits, birds, ferrets or snakes. I cringe to think of what would have happened to the thousands of poor creatures that found themselves homeless in the Town of Southold in the last 30 years if it were not for the NFAWL, which rescued all these poor voiceless souls.
If the town is so displeased with how the NFAWL has been operating the shelter for the last 30 years, why have they waited until now to solicit bids for a new organization to replace them?
The timing of the town’s decision seems a bit suspect. Now that humane conditions have been provided for the shelter workers and the animals they care for, the Town Board wants to fire the crew of dedicated individuals who have been doing this job for 30 years.
Susan Ellsworth

She got it wrong
I would like to take this opportunity to rebut the letter from MaryAnn Fleischman titled “It’s way out of hand” (Feb. 3).  
She stated that teachers were making $193,000 a year as a base salary and that “If someone offered me $193,000 for 180 days of work I’d jump on it.”
First of all, there is not one school on the North Fork that even approaches $193,000 a year for a base salary (I checked seethroughny.net too).
Secondly, to work those “180 days” you need at least a master’s degree. (If you need some credits I could lend you some of mine. But you’re on your own for the thesis.)   If you take into account all my credit hours, professional development time and curriculum development hours, I have somewhere around a master’s degree plus an additional 110 credits, I think and probably more. I actually stopped counting after I obtained a master’s degree plus 75 additional credits.
But like most of the individuals in my profession I continue to develop my skills as an educator even after I have exhausted the maximum credits allowed by the contract. That means spending large portions of my summer “vacation” attending workshops, developing curriculum and attending training.
On the weekends I spend anywhere from four to 10 hours calling parents, planning lessons and grading papers. I have been known to occasionally hold Saturday review session to prepare students for the state Regents Exam and arrive at school before sunrise to further assist students and develop my instructional skills.
Tell me I am overpaid. Tell me I do not deserve the money I make. You can blame my salary for “sinking the Titanic,” but do not minimize my profession to only “180 days” a year.  
It is insulting and “way out of hand.”
Gregory Wallace

Our common vision
America at its best. That’s what it was on Monday night, on Jan. 31 at the town recreation center on Peconic Lane in Peconic.
Many, Americans all, came together to talk about what they want Southold Town to look like in the years to come and how to do it.
Sitting together in groups of 10 or more, we all spoke respectfully of what is needed and what each of us can do to not only protect what we have, but also to grow as a town and as a people.
It seemed we came from all walks of life, values and perspectives. But we all agreed on one major thing, and that is, this is our town. Let’s work together and save it. Yes, we all said. It’s worth saving.
Jack McGreevy

Save the innocents
There has been a lot of talk about saving the whales, the elephants, tigers and other animals. What about the innocent lives that are being aborted and discarded like trash?
Who is rallying to save these little innocent, unborn babies? Not fetuses, but little helpless babies. Are they not as important as the animals?
Write to our president, senators and congressmen. Do something to help save these unborn babies, future humans like yourselves.
Rose Rogers

Sound and sense
During this “winter of our discontent,” a large enthusiastic crowd found its way through the thick fog, icy snow, heavy rain, lightning and thunder to Poquatuck Hall on Village Lane in Orient this past Saturday (2/5/11) to enjoy an evening filled with pleasure and tremendous talent, the 6th annual Celebration of Poetry and Art, an evening created to celebrate poetry at its finest.
With extremely talented local poets such as Anne MacKay, Billy Hands, Harvey Feinstein, Kimberly Abruzzo, Pierre Gazarian and others participating, listening and watching was pure joy. I’m sure many in the audience felt one of the highlights of the evening was Suffolk County Poet Laureate Tammy Nuzzon-Morga’s presentation.
Ah yes, talented poets each, providing us with their own personal style of words and thoughts and images and delivery style.
The frosting on the cake, was surely the wonderful art work hanging on the walls by local artists, such as well-known Alan Bull and Annie Wildey, our artist-in-residence living and working at the William Steeple Davis House & Studio on King Street. Also shown were art pieces by Paula DiDonato and Holly Mastrangelo.
Our deepest thanks must be extended, not only to the participants and attendees, but to Linton Duell who expertly organizes this wonderful happening yearly and is such a capable master of ceremonies, and to all who help him make it a reality.
Needless to say, much time and effort must go into the planning for it to always be such a successful event.
From those of us who found motivation and courage to attend in such inclement weather, and for those who participated, thank you for once again making it such a memorable, delicious evening, one we can hopefully look forward to in mid winter 2012.
What a treat. Lucky us.
Susan Utz

Can’t reach goals without music
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on this country to “spark the creativity and imagination of our people” and “out-educate and out-innovate the rest of the world.” Students in the fine and performing arts programs in Long Island schools — and throughout this state and nation — are in the pipeline, ready to take on the challenge. However, a tax cap could prevent this from continuing in future years.
There is a strong relationship between the arts and the skills in creative problem-solving and higher-order thinking that our students will need to be successful in the 21st-century economy. Our students excel not only in the arts, but academically. Many of them are in the top 10 or 20 of their graduating classes, and on the honor roll. In fact, all of the Intel Science Finalists are involved in their school arts programs.
Long Island music programs have the largest percentage of students selected to the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State ensembles, and can boast 74 selected to perform in the MENC All-Eastern ensembles in Baltimore this April.
Our art students exhibit works throughout Long Island, New York State and beyond through events sponsored by several art associations including the New York State Art Teachers Association.
Over the past four years, the Long Island Arts Alliance’s Scholar Artist program recognized 80 students as scholar artists and over 200 as Award of Excellence winners for their academic achievements and their talents in music, visual and media arts, theater and dance.
In light of cuts in state aid and the impending implementation of a property tax cap, it is imperative for our local communities to continue to ensure that our arts education programs remain intact.
Dr. John Gallagher