Letters to the Editor


Shame on The Times

I feel so disappointed with the placement of your article about our deputy supervisor taking over for Scott Russell during his absence.

Front page? Really? Shame on you.

I was truly shocked when I received the paper, especially when in the second paragraph Mr. Beltz states, “We hope that everyone respects the family’s privacy.” I didn’t think you would resort to such a humiliating, disgraceful way of reporting.

There was certainly a more fitting story that could have appeared there. The one about the great mission our Navy Seals accomplished just days earlier. You remember the one, how they flew into Pakistan and killed Bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist responsible for the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Actually, our military’s achievement wasn’t mentioned until page 9. How disrespectful.

I have always been proud of our small-town newspaper that is published in such a big way. Over the years your reporting has been not only responsible, but caring. Until now, that is.

You owe your subscribers and in particular the Russell family a heartfelt apology.

Maureen Cacioppo


This can’t continue

Our education pay scale is not tenable.

Currently, one school district pays all its teachers an average salary of $74,945 per year or, with benefits, an average total compensation of $101,796.

On a 1,200-hour work year, these amounts work out to hourly rates of $62.45 and $84.83. Without a doubt, many teachers work more hours, but this depends upon the degree of their dedication.

Clearly, this is on the low end of teacher salaries for North Fork Schools and the higher end is probably $83.33 and $113.19 per hour and $100,000 and $135,830, respectively, in salaries.

To fall in the middle, this would mean the average person in the private work force would have to earn $87,472 and with benefits, $118,813 a year to be on a par with the teachers’ scale of pay on the North Fork.

I wonder how many people who make their living on the North Fork with equivalent educations (a four-year college education at more competitive institutions more than makes up for a master’s in education at a teachers’ school) make this kind of money.

I doubt many do. And how about all those people with lesser educations who too often earn less money than their better-educated peers? We also have many retired people whose personal income nowhere approximates that of the teachers.

All of these people are the employers of the teachers.

Though all the budget increases this year are much lower than usual and it is not my intent to yell fire in a crowded theater or the equivalent, I wish to draw the attention of all voters that a situation in which the employees are paid more than the employers is not tolerable.

Walter Strohmeyer
member, Oysterponds school board


Facts? Prove it

It seems every month or so I’ve read enough letters about certain subjects to once again be thoroughly confused.

As I see it, the crux of the problem is this: There are contributors to this section who either don’t know or don’t care what a fact is. Case in point: There are a lot of letters concerning how much money the schoolteachers in Southold make.

One writer insists they average around $100,000 per year while another, claiming to use the very same source of information, says $40,000 to $50,000 is correct. Can someone out there tell me definitively what the average full-time teacher’s pay is in the Southold school system? Any help will be appreciated as long as it’s supported by hard numbers from the public record, not from a bunch of statistical gibberish.

Here’s a hint: Take the total amount of money paid to full-time teachers and divide it by the actual number of full-time teachers.

Could I come up with the answer? Probably, but I want the letter writers to stand behind their claims. They all can’t be right.

Next we have a letter from someone who, if memory serves me, claimed a recent Supreme Court ruling allowed him to decide who the school assessment part of his real estate taxes could be paid to, his local school district or a private school of his choice.

One letter of rebuttal correctly criticized his grammar while another charged the decision he was ballyhooing was concerned only with allowing a $500 tax credit on donations to the private school of his choice, not some carte blanche ruling allowing him to determine where his taxes went.

Giving your opinion on the state of public education in America is one thing, but backing up that opinion with erroneous or completely misinterpreted facts is another.

Finally, we come to the Scott Russell situation. I, for one, am a great fan of Mr. Russell. Even as town assessor you could tell by the way he carried himself he knew what he was doing. As town supervisor he has proven to be the most capable leader we’ve had in my memory, whatever that’s worth.

But unfortunately, as they say, “things happen” and The Suffolk Times has been roundly criticized for its report last week concerning Mr. Russell. I don’t know if the paper was right or wrong in its handling of the situation, but when the highest elected official in the town steps down for any length of time, don’t the people have a right to know what’s going on?

I think they do and even though a lot of people will disagree with me, I think reporting the facts is a better solution than a lot of rumor-mongering.

There’s a good chance I might be wrong on this point, but I do know for a fact that Barack Obama and his “agenda” have nothing to do with it.

Patrick Lohn


A different agenda

As the never-ending debate on where to educate the secondary students continues at Oysterponds, members of the Board of Education are misleading the public on the cost to educate the students at Greenport.

The Greenport and Oysterponds tuition agreement is estimated according to the state’s Seneca Falls formula and adjusted annually to reflect changes in enrollment, along with other variables. The Oysterponds board must plan accordingly for the change in this rate and, after attending some of their meetings, I cannot decide if they are dishonest or incompetent.

At the March 30 budget workshop, the board had the temerity to hand out a document entitled “Greenport Tuition Analysis,” which informed the public of the fiscal impact on the 2011-12 budget for the tuition adjustment. The amount was $92,941 for the school year ending 6/10, and $98,221 for the year ending 6/11.

Using their accounting skills, they stand to owe Greenport an additional $192,162 for those years. According to Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda, this is wrong. Greenport officials went over these numbers with Ms. Dumont, yet she has done nothing to assuage the incorrect accounting error with the public.

The correct figures are $17,109 and $20,000 respectively, making the impact for this budget year $37,109, not $192,162. They are off by over 500 percent.

Some BOE members want to incorrectly portray the rising costs of tuition as Greenport’s fault. Oysterponds has typically enjoyed a discount of upwards of $175,000 per year below the Seneca Falls rate. The increase in tuition costs is a direct result of the Oysterponds board’s requesting the Seneca Falls rate.

Leading up to that request, Greenport negotiated a good faith flat tuition rate that was discounted below Seneca Falls. Rather than return to the bargaining table to see if the terms of that contract could be renegotiated, the Oysterponds board voted to terminate the final year of the contract, then demanded Greenport renegotiate the deal.

So much for good faith.

It’s true that if Oysterponds were to send their secondary students to Mattituck using Seneca Falls, Oysterponds taxpayers would enjoy a $50,000 discount on the tuition bill, but this does not take into account transportation.

The fuel efficiency of a school bus is 7 mpg and the bus ride to Mattituck would add an additional 23.2 miles per bus trip. There would have to be a minimum of three bus trips a day, for a total of 69.6 miles. Using the current national price for diesel fuel of $4.45 a gallon, over 180 days, results in an additional fuel cost of $8,000. Nearly 20 percent of the saving is wiped out in fuel costs alone.

This does not take into account the additional labor and maintenance costs for the bus company, or the economic impact to the local merchants who will lose their customer base to Mattituck as families begin to shop and eat out in that community when they attend school-related functions.

I doubt those same families will seek summer jobs for their children in Mattituck.

There are members on the Oysterponds board that are fixated on terminating that district’s relationship with Greenport, regardless of the detrimental effects on the community and local economy.

If this was about saving money, Oysterponds could tuition every student to another district and save taxpayers millions. This is the work of a few individuals driving a wedge through the community.

Besides, parents who do not want their children to attend Greenport already have their choice — of real estate agents.

Gregory Wallace


Saving Sound Avenue

The North Fork Environmental Council thanks Tim Kelly, Beth Young and the entire staff of Times/Review Newspapers for its wonderful recent coverage of the NFEC.

Thankfully, there are many good things always happening on the North Fork that require valuable newspaper space. The NFEC appreciates the space you have dedicated to us in recent issues and the important issues we’ve been bringing to the public’s attention. We are particularly thankful for the coverage of our upcoming “SOS” event, or “Save Our Sound Avenue,” to be held at Martha Clara Vineyards on May 13.

Beginning on Route 25A in Wading River and going out along Sound Avenue to Park Road, there are four major developments proposed that could have dramatic impact, in a negative fashion, all the way out to Orient. When visitors come from the west for pumpkin-picking, farm stands, wineries and more, they travel along scenic and bucolic Sound Avenue.

Currently, open vistas abound and are part of the attraction for folks to drive out during the spring, summer and autumn to various sights and sources of pleasure. I can’t imagine these same folks continuing to come out to the North Fork if the proposed commercial developments are allowed to be built and Sound Avenue looks like Route 25 or 25A in western Suffolk.

The NFEC was started in 1972 to help fight the proposed Jamesport nuclear facility and the widening of Sound Avenue to a four-lane highway. Today, the fight continues to preserve this rural corridor, as changes on Sound Avenue will affect all of us, from Wading River to Orient.

We ask all concerned residents and business owners to come out to Martha Clara on May 13, have a good time, speak to our elected officials and listen to them and help the NFEC “save what’s left.”

Ken Rubino
president, NFEC


Passing marriage law changes everything

Be careful what we put into law.

The once outspoken and flashy New York City politician Adam Clayton Powell warned “…if we keep on doing what we’re doing, the chickens are going to come home to roost.”

At the time, he was warning the powers that be in the whole country that unjust laws that go against basic, moral values, no matter how well intended, can have serious, lasting consequence.

He was proven right and our country suffered for years.

Now, Adam Clayton Powell is rolling over in his grave. Why? Because in New York State we’re on the verge of changing or making new law which will redefine the meaning and purpose of marriage.

To me, it goes against everything that God created. The first man and woman to “become one and be fruitful … bone of bone, flesh of flesh.”

One man coming together with one woman is what most people believe is the true meaning and moral purpose of marriage.

Jack McGreevy


Ospreys need nests

The Hampton Collegiate Baseball League North Fork Ospreys are returning to their nests for the 2011 summer season, which starts June 1.

The Ospreys were last season’s league and division champions. In non-bird terms, nests are homes desperately needed to house responsible, dedicated and committed college baseball players, who all dream of going pro.

Last year my family housed three players. The joy, happiness and experience of last summer invigorated my family to again house more than one player this year. Your summer can be filled with baseball games to attend if you so desire. You can meet members of our community and form bonds and make friends.

This is collegiate baseball. It is real and exciting.

Imagine, you can follow your player’s career in the future. You never know — the next Derek Jeter or David Wright might be your player. Also, if you have children, your player can be an inspiration to athletics, teach baseball skills and motivate them to pursue a college education.

Please, if you can, help the Ospreys and house a player. Your community team needs you.

I guarantee the rewards will make it worthwhile. Call (516) 641-6854 if you can help.

Michael Solomon


OTB closed and workers relocated?

I read in a Long Island newspaper that because of the steep decline in Suffolk County OTB revenues, the county has declared it bankrupt. The news article goes on to say that even while the Riverhead OTB office has been closed the staff has, however, been “relocated.” If Suffolk County OTB is no longer viable, and there are fewer OTB offices to be staffed, then I have to wonder why the staff hasn’t been fired, but in fact just “relocated”?

Is this how the county saves taxpayer dollars in a bankrupt operation, by keeping the staff and hiding them (aka relocating) in out of the way locations, even while having the taxpayers of the county continue to cover the paychecks and fringe benefits of employees who are no longer needed?

Our politicians are concerned for those who complain about excessive rent increases in public housing. The same politicians are concerned about the owners of mobile homes and the increase in their rent. But when was the last time any property owners have heard from these same elected officials about the steady  increases of property taxes that, in year in and year out, continue to rise higher than the rate of inflation? When?

Thomas W. Smith