What’s in the water?

Can there be an element in the Greenport municipal water that causes so many residents to flaunt short memories?

At the recent Greenport Trustees meetings, members of local government and numerous Greenporters objected to the farmers market because its commercial nature violates the mission of Mitchell Park.

“The park wasn’t built for fundraising and commercial activities,” Trustee David Murray said. “I don’t want to see any of this in the park,” The Suffolk Times reports him as saying.

In case he never noticed, the Maritime Festival is a fundraising event for The East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation.

“I’m a believer in separation of church and state,” the mayor said, according to The Suffolk Times.

I agree wholeheartedly with this American principle. That’s why I wonder why we host a couple singing Christian folk songs who then also sell their CDs in the park. Shouldn’t we also open arms to a couple singing Greek Orthodox songs who afterward sell their homemade baklava?

Last year, Mitchell Park was the site of the following: a private anniversary party with a large tent on the grass, Mr. Softee and zeppole sales during the Maritime Festival on the plaza, exactly where the farmers want to locate; a marina event with sales booths peddling boating toilets and other gewgaws on the boardwalk; an art show featuring sales; wine tasting with ticket sales for connoisseurs; the private annual Power Squadron tent event; and so on.

It matters not a whit if one is in favor of or opposed to the farmers market compared to our village executives combining elastic entry rules with cupidity. Either we ban the farmers market to Adams Street and we prohibit all commercial and private activities in Mitchell Park, or we have a true open-door policy where everyone is welcome.

Maybe I remembered these Mitchell Park events because I use my own well on Bay Avenue where I live and fortunately need not partake of municipal water.

Michael Edelson


The damage is real

I was totally heartened by Bob Ghosio’s letter to the editor (“Many causes at play,” April 21). Yes, our wastewater is significantly contributing to the degradation of our bays and groundwater.

There are some informative maps included in the draft Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan.
Page 68 shows lots less than a half-acre — a size that can barely dilute nitrogen to drinking water quality — do not come close to meeting environmental needs. Of course these small lots hug the coastline, where they do the most damage.

A look at the map on page 322 shows the potential reach of contaminants flowing in groundwater that contributes to surface water bodies. Most of the North Fork lies in this critical zone.

Another telling map on page 146 shows the impact of a 2-foot rise in sea level, which impacts groundwater elevations.

There are clearly justifiable reasons to require more stringent elevations, treatment and conservation to compensate for wastewater impacts.

The technology exists. We just need to care enough about the state of our waters and aquifers to change our behavior.

Glynis Berry


A divisive idea

It was refreshing to read John Henry’s column last week about how we all have to pitch in to solve our budget mess. But then he left me in a lurch.

His column left the impression that if we could all agree to raise taxes (far preferable to going the route of Greece), we could balance the budget. What about the expenditure side? Medicare spending alone is up 130 percent over the last 10 years.
This kind of one-sided analysis is divisive.

The politicians on the right tell us that if we cut taxes (negative rates would perhaps be ideal), we can grow out of our problems. The ones on the left tell us that if the bums pulling the wagon (currently about half of U.S. households) would just pull a little harder then we could enjoy constantly rising benefits and all retire in middle age.

Don’t believe them. Do your own research. There’s plenty of info available online; the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget and The Concord Coalition are good starting points.

The world has been very solicitous toward the U.S. for the last couple of generations. Allowing us to print the world’s reserve currency isn’t a bad deal, after all, but when they lose their confidence, they will be equally unforgiving.

Tom Wacker


Keeps fools at bay

Rarely do I take the time to write something here, yet this is an exception.

Mr. Thomas Brennan expressed my thoughts “to a tee” in his April 21 letter “Facts? Not quite” regarding a previous submission on public schools. The name calling — “progressive socialist communist ideology.” Really!

How someone can skewer “facts” to serve his own ideas and be so unabashedly foolish as to publicly embarrass themselves is beyond me. Thank you, Mr. Brennan.

In a similar vein of gratitude, I am thankful for Mr. Gustavson’s comments on the joke that is called Donald Trump running for the presidency.

While “The Donald” may offer a modicum of meager entertainment, the notion of beginning a campaign with such an outrageous attempt to slur our president and call him a liar in the press does not strike me as a well thought-out plan to start out with.

Lord save us from fools.

Marianne Selwyn


His facts are wrong

In your April 14 issue, you published a guest spot by George Dengel, fulminating about public schools. As an expression of Mr. Dengel’s opinion, it was appropriate for the guest spot, intended to bring us diverse views.

However, as the late Sen. Moynihan said, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” The linchpin of Mr. Dengel’s spot was the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. But he almost completely mischaracterized the decision.

He asserted that the court “ruled … that only the individual can determine how their school taxes are to be spent.” Not so.

Rather, the court upheld an Arizona law allowing a credit of up to $500 on state income taxes for donations to “student tuition organizations.” Nothing about school taxes, let alone complete control by the individual of them. Nothing about taxes of any kind for those outside Arizona.

Mr. Dengel should have understood the decision before he wrote his submission. But my main concern is with The Suffolk Times. Shouldn’t it take some responsibility for purportedly factual statements appearing in its pages?

Whatever happened to fact checking?

Stanley Brown


The ‘bully’ pulpit

I could not help but chuckle at Troy’s column on Donald Trump. He describes him as a person exuding bravado, bluster and BS.

Excuse me, but isn’t that the persona of every politician in existence? Don’t get me wrong, I am not a proponent of Donald, however I do believe he has some better credentials than President Obama.

A good leader has to be a bully of sorts. (President Obama can relate to that.) But first and foremost, he must be a good manager. Leading a country, an army or a newspaper requires appointing competent personnel to help and advise you and being able to get the utmost from them all the time.

That requires constant communications with them and no tolerance for mistakes. Management is where President Obama fails miserably.

President Carter was one of our nicest leaders and not a bully. I rest my case.

Bob Guarriello


Still on the increase

Your article in the April 21 edition that said the Southold teachers take a cut and will give back $2,000 each year for two years needs some clarification. There are no salary reductions in the new contract. What was given back?

The five-year contract had two years to run and called for a 4 percent salary increase on July 1, 2011. This new contract gives teachers a 2 percent increase on July 1, 2011. Combining the 2 percent increase with the step and longevity increases, most teachers will receive 5.5-percent increases.

The proposed 2011-2012 budget goes up from $25,676,931 to $26,254,778, an increase of $577,847. The projected student enrollment goes down from 903 to 869. This means that it will cost $30,213 for each student starting July 1, 2011.

Consider these items when you vote on May 17, 2011.

Donald Wagner

former member, Southold school board


You mean illegal

I read in your paper about the alleged art thief, Angel Palencia, as being “an undocumented worker.”

Doesn’t that mean he’s an illegal alien?

Why is it the police on the second time around after his first arrest for drunken driving only reveal this now? Couldn’t they have done something about this the first time and saved the residents of Southold and elsewhere a lot of grief?

The court judge did the same thing the first time around on his drunken-driving charge. Couldn’t this judge realize the questionable character of this “undocumented” illegal alien?

Mayor Nyce of Greenport has an open invitation for illegal aliens to live in his village, not wanting any action to be taken against them. How long will it take when these aliens start living two and three families to a house before his schools become overcrowded and certain areas become slums?

Congressman Bishop has failed to answer my letter sent to him six years ago on how many legal aliens have green cards in his district and how many were deported the previous year?

Could there be a serious failing in the protection the police, the court and our elected officials give us in protecting the citizens of Southold Town?

Thomas McKenzie


You got that wrong

I am sure a lot of Greeks will be surprised to find out that they are not Christians.

In Julie Lane’s April 21 village board article mentioning Greenport’s Greek community, she states: “Both Greek and Christian Easter celebrations fall on April 24 this year…” The sentence would be more accurate if Ms. Lane wrote “Both Greek and other Christian Easter celebrations…”.

Kevin Montgomery

Editor’s note: Mr. Montgomery is absolutely correct and we apologize for the error.


Pauls and Peters

Sitting in a local repair shop, waiting for my oil change, I chatted with the woman at the front desk about things that are on everyone’s mind these days, paying our federal and state taxes on time, the price of gasoline — things that we all must deal with but that somehow seem to consume an ever larger part of our resources.

Of course, the shortcomings of government and the knee jerk reaction to “throw the rascals out” were mentioned, as well as the fact that many folks see government as the solution to everything.

What we could agree upon is that the political system is inescapably linked to 535 well-meaning men and women in Congress, all jumping over each other to bring home goodies for the people who sent them to Washington in the first place. Seems they just can’t help it.

If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you will be successful, in the short term at least, since there are always more Pauls than Peters in the mix. It’s how our representatives get rated. Do we really expect Congress to achieve a greater national good when the vote incentive is regional and parochial?

What we get instead is a legislative culture explaining and justifying how this or that particular act rewards the whole, while especially benefiting the few. They are very good at doing just that.

In the midst of this chat, a middle-aged gentleman walked into the waiting area. He catches our drift and proceeds to tell us that he’s glad he does not have to worry, having just received a $60,000 check from the government tax-free, because he’s a wounded war veteran. He was upbeat in his demeanor and uttered, “thank God for [naming a congressman].”

I do not know anything about the gentleman or what he suffered in service to our country. (My son is a U.S. Marine reservist who served in Iraq.) I’m happy, though, that the man seemed content about his check from the government and that he appeared to be fit and healthy.

Even if it escaped him that someone had to earn the money and pay tax on it before he received it, he is not the enemy here and I wish him no ill.

How easy it is to rationalize the term “fair share” and how hard is it to do otherwise since it has about the same number of definitions as there are people using the phrase. Most humans are susceptible to becoming Pauls who cheer for their guy when he grabs a share of the pot for them, even if someone else has paid the freight on it.

If we continue to redistribute wealth, even for the most saintly of reasons, we devalue personal achievement. Opportunity, not outcome, is what has worked in the past.

The exceptions we allow through compromise, regardless of how noble or compassionate, result in diminishing achievement, which ultimately degrades our fitness to compete in the world.

Dunewood Truglia


Possible answers

As the North Pole melts, harp seals swim south?

Regarding Mr. Henry (“The wealthy should pay higher taxes,” April 21), you can and always could pay more in taxes. A prideless Uncle Sam will always take a handout.

In response to Mr. Brennan’s grammar problem (“Facts? Not quite,” April 21), maybe a pay raise and a bigger package would help with that whole dangling participle thing.

Gary Quarty


Beware the ticks

Can diseased ticks kill you? Ask someone who knows.

As a volunteer with Southold Town’s Conservation Advisory Council, I can tell you the dedicated members do a considerable amount of surveys and inspections of properties.

From my observation and experience, the deer population is definitely growing, along with their dangerous, disease-bearing ticks.

Ticks can transmit not only Lyme disease, which is bad enough, but, as I found out, another disease called babesiosis. It can do a job on you. Fortunately, I survived.

So, watch out. Be careful.

Jack McGreevy


Know the numbers

The Working Poor Taxpayer group is no longer operational. The group has decided to secure a name change to “The Educated Taxpayer,” which better explains the purpose and the mission of the group.

A current focus is to educate the community with info about local school district budgets. In order to make a responsible vote, citizens must be educated on the details. There is so much information about the school budgets that require a lot of time and effort to understand.

The Educated Taxpayer will try to simplify this process to make you a more educated voter. We believe that all of our votes count, no matter the choice. In order to vote with conscience, we need to know what we’re voting for.

There are several informational flyers available throughout the community for members interested in learning more about what they will be voting for. The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District budget proposal lists department totals separately, and can become quite confusing. Specifically, all professional instructional staff salaries total $14,990,523.82 for 160 people.

Non-professional, non-instructional staff salaries are $3,751,148.62 for 85 full-time and six part-time employees.

Combined employee benefits total $7,999,008.96.

Salaries and benefits for the full staff, 248 people, are $26,740,681.40. The budget for everything else is $10,622,567.60. That puts the total at $37,363,239, and yet the projected student population will drop to 1,472 for the year.

The numbers for the other school districts will be forthcoming shortly. An example of curious factors in the Southold School District’s proposed budget is the public statement that the superintendent will not take a pay raise again for the second year in a row. Yet the raise is still represented and added in the proposed budget.

Most curious is that for 2009-10 and proposed for 2011-12, respectively, is a line item listing the superintendent’s vacation pay of $7,292 and $7,583. A superintendent getting paid to have a vacation, but no pay raise? What’s the difference?

I hope that doesn’t catch on in other districts on Long Island.

MaryAnn Fleischman