Steve Levy responds
You claim in your editorial “the first thing an editor might ask a reporter returning from an event might be ‘what’s the lead,’ in other words what’s the news hook?”
Had you sent a reporter to the event, instead of commenting on something you did not report on, perhaps you would have been aware that the rationale for holding the press conference was to rebut inaccurate information spewed by an organization claiming that the county has not been doing enough to preserve open space throughout Suffolk.
While virtually every environmental organization has praised our administration’s open space efforts, one never-satisfied critic stated that our open space program must be failing because we’re not buying as many acres as we did twenty years ago. This is a specious argument, however, since it is obvious that there is not the same amount of property available today for preservation as there was before major development took hold. In fact, in 1987 the average acreage per closing was 120 acres. Today that figure is down to 12 acres because so few larger parcels are still available.
Notwithstanding a smaller supply, the county in the last seven and a half years has preserved or is heading toward closing for over 8,000 acres. This is an amount equivalent to nine Central Parks.
It was also disingenuous for this critic to suggest that the county was lagging behind other levels of government when exactly the opposite is true. Over the last several years, there has been a basic shutdown of open space preservation efforts on the state and town levels due to a lack of revenues. For instance, the entire state of New York injected a mere $5 million into land preservation on Long Island in 2010 while all of the ten towns in Suffolk combined ponied up a mere $28 million.
On the other hand, Suffolk County put forth over $88 million in open space investments in 2010 alone. The $450 million invested during my tenure in open space is the largest of any similar period in the county’s history and perhaps in the entire nation for such a stretch.
Finally, I take umbrage with the fact that you quoted an inaccurate statement from a former opponent who claimed that, “as a Democratic County Legislator, Mr. Levy voted against every open space buy put before him.” This is emphatically false and could have been easily determined to be false had you taken the effort to substantiate this accusation you so cavalierly published.
In fact, I supported every major open space initiative that was presented before me as a county legislator, including the 1986 Open Space Bond Act, the 1987 Quarter Cent Clean Water Act, the 1988 up-front advancement of these monies, and the Green Ways Program. I would on occasion oppose a parcel if it was a purely political buy with no environmental significance.
Upon taking office, I embellished these programs by extending the Clean Water Act to 2030, promoting a Save Our Open Space Bond and created the award-winning Legacy Fund that seeks to partner with local municipalities in preserving open space. I received numerous awards from the Sierra Club, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Long Island Farm Bureau and The National Land Trust for our environmental stewardship.
I certainly respect and appreciate your freedom to issue commentary on a particular subject, but perhaps in the future you could at least send a reporter to the press conference to first find out what it’s all about before issuing comments that are not based on fact.
Levy’s got time to make good
Your editorial “Steve Levy should forego the victory laps” was right on, but there’s another, even more important reason why bragging is not in order.
The 58,000 acres of open space and farmland that Suffolk County has preserved were mostly saved by Mr. Levy’s predecessors, so a victory lap for Mr. Levy is hardly in order. At his dog and pony show last week, Mr. Levy kept saying “we saved,” and “we’ve preserved,” etc. It turns out that the Levy administration is responsible for only about 10 percent of preserved land. Patrick Halpin averaged 2,200 acres per year — Mr. Levy about a quarter of that. H. Lee Dennison, John Klein and Michael LoGrande championed the preservation of open space. Mr. Levy has been dragged, kicking and screaming, to his reluctant participation in a wildly popular public initiative.
It’s one thing to want credit for one’s accomplishments, but quite another to claim those of others as your own.
If Mr. Levy wants credit for buying land, he has six months left to earn it.
executive director, L.I. Pine Barrens Society
A civil dialogue
Harbor Knoll and other local B&Bs work very hard to provide quiet, discrete accommodations for their guests. That is one of the primary attractions of a B&B.
We are being singled out by neighbors who are annoyed about all kinds of things, most of which did not happen or have no relation to our B&B operation. We will continue to work with the village to promote the type of accommodations which so well suit our community.
We are engaging in a civil and productive dialogue with the village, and while we have invited our neighbors to do the same, they have unfortunately chosen their public venting instead.
Harbor Knoll co-owner
Drama on Fourth St.
Shakespearean drama is not limited to the stage in Mitchell Park. Treachery, accusation, lawlessness, character assassination and other Elizabethan plot twists were in the limelight at Greenport’s trustee meeting on June 27, where Mayor David Nyce attempted the role of Polonius dispensing moderating wisdom.
The second act’s dramatic high was reached when Harbor Knoll Inn arrived on stage. Action swayed back and forth as supporters and opponents presented their impassioned monologues.
I was one of those actors reading from a prepared script since the owners of Harbor Knoll, Gordon and Leueen Miller, engaged Abigail Wickham to represent them. One overriding issue concerns the Millers: transforming their B&B into a wedding venue supported by advertising abounding with glorious Hallmark-styled illustrations on their website and elsewhere.
The quoted price for the Harbor Knoll nuptial experience, excluding catering, flowers, musicians, wine, etc., is $22,500. Two strictly commercial weddings took place in 2009. The Millers deny this. Ms. Wickham even sent an angry lawyer’s boilerplate letter to neighbors.
“Our clients,” she wrote, “have advised us that the statements reportedly made to the Village of Greenport and The Suffolk Times regarding their operating a wedding business at Harbor Knoll and alleged occurrences of associated disturbances from guests, parking and noise are false and misleading.”
I quoted from two testimonials appearing on Harbor Knoll’s Trip Advisor site that extolled the joys of exchanging vows at the Millers’ sprawling B&B, one entitled “What a Beautiful Place for a Wedding!”
I also provided a photograph of the Miller’s latest “tying-the-knot at Harbor Knoll” event, taken on June 25. A police report on that date states: ”Responded to above I/L for an anonymous report of loud music coming from a party there. Upon arrival, undersigned spoke to the band which was playing for a wedding at the I/L and advised them to lower the music which they agreed to do.” Signed PO Steven J. Witzke.
In the June 30 Suffolk Times, Attorney Wickham characterized my reading of these testimonials saying “Those were misquotes …”
I realize that the statue of justice is blindfolded. Ms. Wickham makes me wonder if she also wears a hearing aid.
State does nothing
In response to the article in last week’s Suffolk Times, “Farm or trucking business?,” as a neighbor to Satur Farms I can assure the town that based on the number of bags of garbage that I pick up every year from Satur Farms that the product they are using comes from California, Florida, Texas, Mexico and large commercial bags of vegetables distributed by Green Giant, to name a few.
That would make them no more than a distribution center.
We are forced to be poisoned every day with toxic diesel fumes from trucks and a generator which was allowed to be situated within a hundred feet of homes.
Countless times the police have been called in and the town code enforcement never once fined them for polluting. Satur Farms has been polluting the area for over 10 years with garbage and diesel fumes and has been held above the law because they call themselves a farm.
I was always taught if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. We are forced to endure the sound of a chiller that puts out 140 decibels on a daily basis, but because they’re a farm they’re allowed to destroy the entire area?
We have pieces of foam and plastic from Satur Farms for miles in the woods, in the fields and on our lawns, but because they say they’re a farm it’s all acceptable?
All the neighbors know what a farm is, having lived around or worked for one of the local farms. Never did they pollute or harm the environment as Satur Farms does on a daily basis.
As the state does nothing, the neighbors of this horror show watch the investment in their homes destroyed. It’s impossible to sell a home with a distribution center (oh sorry, farm) that operates as carelessly as they do.
So we the neighbors should all just sit quietly and breathe in the diesel fumes, listen to the horns beeping all day long from the fork lifts, the chiller, the fork lifts going back and forth on a town road, the tractor trailers using their air horns, the generators running all day and night and watch our homes depreciate?
We should just deal with the tractor trailer trucks coming and going and if you get bored you can go outside and pick up some garbage off your lawn compliments of Satur Farms?
Having been born and raised here, the neighbors don’t understand how the state can allow a business to do such destruction without any consequences.
Oh that’s right — they say they’re a farm so they can do what they want. The agriculture laws in New York need to be changed because they are not working to protect the taxpayer, only business.
So many excuses
I wrote Republican leader Denis Noncarrow June 3 asking for a voluntary sign moratorium for the upcoming election. I found his reply on page 1 of The Suffolk Times of June 30, “NO BAN — GOP rejects moratorium on signs.”
The letters between the request and the GOP stating “no” had some interesting comments, such as a sign moratorium would only make the problem worse, Republicans would be so disappointed if they could not display a political sign (to date not one Democrat has expressed disappointment), calls for me to have made a “scientific environmental impact study” before proposing the ban and how much President Obama is spending on his re-election.
The one I like best was: “In some cases electioneering paraphernalia ends up collectible and valuable memorabilia.” And, oh yes, another said I should not have informed The Suffolk Times about the proposed ban.
Oh, well; we tried.
Southold Democratic chairman
Honor our soldiers
While graduation from high school is certainly an occasion to mark students’ academic achievements, it should also be an occasion to recognize and honor the choice and commitment of those graduates who chose to enlist as citizen-soldiers in our military services. This especially the case at a time of war when many of our defenders of freedom may be gravely injured or called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
Sept. 11, 2011, will mark the day to remember the sacrifices made a decade earlier by our public servants and their families. It should also be a day when we reflect upon the past service of our veterans, those now serving on active and reserve duty, and likewise our recent graduates entering into their proud ranks.
After attending a recent high school graduation ceremony, I was disappointed that the choice of those students to enlist in the service of our country was not appropriately recognized by publicly announcing their names during the ceremony. This glaring omission was the reason which prompted last week’s salute in your newspaper to our future citizen-soldiers by the Southold Democratic Party.
I note too the recent return of the ROTC programs to our nation’s universities and college campuses decades following the end of the Vietnam War and the forgotten neglect by our country to honor the sacrifices made by that generation of veterans.
Despite the all-too-infrequent hometown hero welcomes in our communities throughout Suffolk, I would urge The Suffolk Times to dedicate a weekly column of honor to the men and women from the North Fork returning from active duty from service overseas. Their dedication and commitment to the spirit of freedom must always be remembered with due public recognition.
Their bravery and courage has earned my respect and gratitude. As a community, we should all make a conscious effort to thank our veterans each day without the need for a celebratory holiday.
Editor’s note: Mr. Meguin is a Democratic candidate for town supervisor.
A deserving couple
What a wonderful story on the wedding gift for the two soldiers, Johnathan and Cathrine.
Who else would deserve that, except these brave soldiers doing service for our country.
Religion as bigotry
I agree with Vin Ricciardi that we, the people, define what marriage is. And who knows, perhaps some day, there will be a push for bisexuals to be able to marry one man and one woman.
But right now, there are plenty of gay couples who fit the perfect definition of what marriage ought to be, a commitment, which is healthy for society. Why create another case of “separate but equal,” which never worked when blacks were being denied basic civil rights.
But I fear he gives himself away when he asks, “How do we know God placed these behaviors within creatures of the world?” Behaviors? Huh? Does he also think heterosexual sex is behavioral?
As for Rev. Fred Moore, what would he do about my heterosexual friends who married without ever planning to have children? Is that okay with him? If so, why can they marry and not my gay friends, many of whom have adopted children, by the way, something the aforementioned couple is far too irresponsible to ever dream of doing?
And then there’s Brenda Casey, who thinks homosexuality is a lifestyle? At what point does she think I chose the homosexual lifestyle? And why? But most importantly, when did she choose heterosexuality, because she must have made a lifestyle choice, too.
Or by some miracle is others’ sexuality an instinct while mine is a lifestyle?
Underlying all of these arguments is the very sad use of religion to justify bigotry. I couldn’t care less about anyone’s personal views. As for the “sacred” part of marriage, that’s up to religion, whose clergy should never have to marry anybody they don’t want to.
Every poll I’ve ever read says that younger people, say, under the age of 35-40, approve of same-sex marriage by a large majority. Conversely, those over 55-60 disapprove by a large majority, with those in the middle split.
Guess which way this is going to end?
We are taught in elementary school to be tolerant. Tolerance is defined as an allowable deviation from a standard, while a stigma is a mark of disgrace or discredit.
The “give me generation,” as I refer to them, are spoiled, weak, overly complacent, liberal, apathetic, progressive, socialist and godless children. They have removed any and all stigmas in order to show how tolerant and PC their ideology is.
There is no stigma attached to becoming pregnant out of wedlock, getting divorced, contracting an STD, same-sex marriage, being addicted to drugs/alcohol, lying, cheating, stealing or living unnecessarily on government welfare.
Some examples of a stigma-free “give me generation”:
I’m 16 with a two-month-old baby. I have no husband, no education, no skills, no job, no money. I want and will receive welfare. The more children I have the more welfare I receive and you pay for it. Be tolerant.
I dropped out of school and have a menial job. I bought a house I couldn’t afford and defaulted on the loan. The government used your tax money to bail the banks. Be tolerant.
I’m serving a prison term for selling drugs. My incarceration is costing the taxpayer a hundred grand a year and my wife and kids are on welfare. Be tolerant.
I’m a politician caught cheating on my taxes and lying. I’m asking for and will receive another chance while I contemplate about my office and ask, “What’s in it for me?” Be tolerant.
The “give me generation” idolize the rich, the beautiful and privileged. They exhibit lascivious and permissive behavior and tolerate drug abuse, lying, cheating and promiscuity. Sounds like the prerequisite for a political candidate. You pick the party.
In two words I will emphasize the “give me generation” — Casey Anthony.
Be tolerant and remember there is no stigma for what she did or didn’t do.
It’s about fairness
These are some responses to a few of your readers’ views regarding New York State’s approval of same-sex marriage.
In response to Ms. Carey’s comment that “marriage is for the sake of procreation to further society’s existence,” I assume, then, that she also means heterosexual couples who have fertility issues and cannot reproduce should not be allowed to be married under law. Conversely, heterosexual married couples who choose not to procreate should have their marriages annulled.
In response to Rev. Moore’s comments about pleasing our God by having children as Adam and Eve did, the good reverend needs to be reminded that our forefathers fought for the separation between church and state, and the law of this land is not governed from the Bible, but from the government of the United States.
Furthermore, in this wonderful nation of ours, we have freedom of religion, and one citizen’s God may be pleased by having children, while another’s God may not be so pleased.
Is the reverend’s God more right than another citizen’s God in this matter?
Finally, in response to Mr. Ricciardi’s question about the legalization of polygamy, bisexuality and promiscuity, this is beside the point of same-sex marriage. These issues were not a part of the proposed laws in front of our representatives and governor, and finally approved by them. Same-sex marriage is not synonymous with polygamy, bisexuality and promiscuity.
In response to Mr. Ricciardi’s wish to have a vote on the issue, he did have that right on Nov. 2, 2010, assuming he went to his voting booth to perform his civic duty.
Our new state law that recognizes same-sex marriage is a statement of protection of fairness and justice for all law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of New York.
Who gets a break?
A belated, heartfelt shout out to our governor, boldly fighting to enact the 2 percent property tax cap. Thank you, Gov. Cuomo.
It’s so refreshing to see a politician who listens to the people and fights for change, disregarding the naysayers who cry about how impossible it is to effect change. This is a good beginning, but boy is there a long way to go.
Last week the verdict arrived of the town Board of Assessment Review’s denial of my property tax. I learned that the assessed value system was set up by the state long ago and change is not possible. It’s the way it has always been and always will be.
My house, with a value listed at $504,587, sits on a half-acre with total taxes of $6,183. That’s about 1.22 percent house value. It’s a small two-bedroom Cape — no pool, no garage, no tennis court.
But there’s a $1.75 million Soundfront house in Cutchogue with a pool on 1.6 acres. It’s total taxes are $14,529.
There are other examples, including an Orient property valued at $1.9 million with taxes of only $7,310. A $1.85 million Nassau Point waterfront home with more than an acre is taxed $10,662.
As a percentage of value, proportionally I pay way more in taxes than the owner of a million-dollar home. My taxes would be $2,523 if I paid the same percentage as a $1.5 million house in Orient.
The people I’ve voted for since I first became a property owner 20 years ago have done little to help me as I became part of the working poor. And really, why should they? I am of no help to them, other than to secure their financial future.
They will all retire comfortably. Me? I’ll be here paying higher taxes so new workers will join the ranks and reap the bounty from people like me.
Things will not change because the boat would have to rock to make that so.
Good job, Mr. Henry
I wish to commend John Henry for his thought-provoking and candid Guest Spot article (July 7).
A nation, like people, cannot continue to grow and prosper unless it has the maturity and courage to recognize its faults.
The achievements Mr. Henry enumerates should not blind us to our shortcomings, but give us the confidence and determination to do better.
Victim, not a villain
Captain Sid Smith is the victim, not the villain. (“Boat captain faces two felony charges,” June 30.)
The DEC is a misguided organism that writes its own laws and arbitrarily changes catch limits and net mesh sizes based on manipulated landing figures, such as fluke landings are down 50 percent from last year. They don’t mention that figure is down due their own imposition of catch limits determined by the same flawed system.
There is no sound science behind these laws. It’s simply a way to make enormous sums of money through fines and permits to perpetuate salaries, pensions and equipment.
There are more people involved in enforcement than there are fisherman. Seems a bit lopsided, does it not?
Years ago, when I was involved in the business, an officer told me his goal was to put us out of business. I think not. Wouldn’t that put them out of business as well?
You know what Captain Sid was supposed to do with his over-catch? Throw the dead, edible fish overboard.
Keep it in the village
I was fond of the original Greenport heron sculpture and I contributed to the fund for its successor, the osprey. I made a contribution because the sculpture was to be displayed in Greenport, where I live.
If the Greenport shipyard is now an unhappy custodian, can’t the sculpture be moved somewhere else in the village? It would be fine on the end of the dock at Mitchell Park.
If the sculpture’s really going off somewhere else, well, that’s OK, only I want my money back. On the other hand, if the sculpture needs some maintenance work I’d be willing to help out.
For good causes
I am writing to say thank you to everyone who came to my “no-tag” sale Saturday.
Apart from the early birds who berated us for not being ready, people got behind the idea and were very generous. There were very few people who took advantage and left only $1.
All together we collected more than $500, which will be divided between CAST and the Southold Animal Shelter.
Don’t blame workers
At the completion of another academic year, the last graduation cap has been joyously chucked into orbit to join the mitt launched into the air by Mets relief pitcher Jessie Orosco as he closed down the 1986 Red Sox.
Time to tip the hat to the teachers, aides and maintenance employees who contribute to one of the few remaining institutions working toward that elusive, neglected and recently maligned moral and political category of the “common good.”
A number of new members arrived in January in the halls of Congress and state capitals with a syllabus apparently designed to disparage teachers, police, firefighters and nurses and to assert “state sovereignty” as opposed to “states’ rights.” One wonders what happened to the notion of “a more perfect union?”
In a rewrite of history, we are told it is these working people who have brought the economy into hard times. We are informed fault lies with those who reject the claims the only rights we have are those bestowed by the free market, the whims of legislators and the benevolence of corporate employers.
The masters of the universe on Wall Street, plus corporate offices and politicians voting aye for lavish tax cuts are exempt from responsibility for the millions hoofing the pavements looking for a job to keep their families together. Blame those venal, rapacious union members who have the audacity to assert collective bargaining and just wages are matters to be discussed, not decreed by executive edict.
Collective bargaining is not to be confined to that upstart Oliver Twist timidly requesting another bowl of gruel. As this new syllabus analyzing the contribution, purpose and function in the economy is examined, one recalls the advice of Mark Twain: get the facts first, you can distort them later.
Kudos, a round of applause, a burst of “Olés!” and a take a bow to those teachers, police, firefighters and nurses who by words and actions indicate such values as critical thinking, conscience, courage and a sense of the “other” are alive and well in the land.
Their values are not factored into the Dow Jones index.
Sad state of affairs
Three things hit me last week as I read the news.
The first was a story about the $6.8 billion dollar replacement of the Oakland Bay Bridge that had been seriously damaged in the 1989 earthquake. The new bridge just arrived on barges from China and installation is under way.
Andrew Carnegie must be rolling over in his grave. He started the steel business in the United States in the 1800s and here we are importing an entire bridge from China.
Simultaneously, an article covered the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Iberdrola Renovables that is meeting our U.S demand for wind power generation. As a result of the United States determination to build wind energy generation, the Spanish company received over $1 billion dollars from the U.S. treasury to jump-start the program. This, incidentally, was the largest sum ever awarded to a renewable energy company anywhere.
The third thing that tweaked my interest was an analysis of corporate profits in the U.S. From 1973 to 1985 showing the financial sector earned about 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986 that number reached 19 percent. In the 1990s financial sector profit oscillated between 21 and 30 percent. In this decade the financial industry share reached 41 percent.
As corporate CEOs and their financial gurus determined that they could outsource almost anything and increase profits off the backs of cheap foreign labor, they did. The hysterical chase for ever-larger profits washed away any thoughts of modernization of American facilities and infrastructure or maintaining a balanced, full employment economy. They chose the quick buck and never looked back.
This recession demonstrates the stark reality that our reliance on greed and financial sleight of hand has seriously damaged the country. No longer do we build things. The working class now makes hamburgers and cleans bedpans or stands in unemployment lines. And worse, greed has so taken over our governmental system that lobbyists and special interests control the agenda and a return to common sense is seems unlikely.
Unfortunately, today’s America is no longer the one our forefathers founded and drove to greatness. It is time to get back to our roots.
Do the right thing
Watching the government fall over themselves has become a national obsession. I would suggest we all stop obsessing.
What is needed at this time is decision. Is there a decisive member somewhere in the government?
Where is the “Great Compromiser” of this age? I know we have to stop the spending, that is obvious. But we also probably need a way to increase revenue without hurting the public. That is the angst we feel right now.
I remember as a kid wanting to go swimming at the pool. However, I was short on cash. The answer was simple, you set up a lemonade stand and ten cents later you could go to the pool on a hot summer’s day. If you ran the stand right you could take the whole neighborhood.
My suggestions is every member of our three branches of government chip in and set up a lemonade stand and do their part. I for one would at least feel they are doing something for the salary we provide to them.
Right now I am sick of this political theater. We are red, white and blue, not just red and blue. It’s time to do the right thing for all.