Letters to the Editor: Dec. 22, 2011


Respect their rights

I find it difficult to understand why the Riveras of Mattituck are being subjected to such negative publicity and reaction simply because they, not unlike any other homeowner, are trying to protect their given rights as property owners.

Why does it matter whether your land abuts Long Island Sound or your next door neighbor or a vacant lot? You have rights and responsibilities that come along with that ownership.

As a homeowner on Peconic Bay I am liable and personally exposed if someone trespasses on my property and happens to fall or injure themselves. Unlike typical homeowners, I am not permitted to protect my legal exposure by fencing my property to safeguard my interests or give me and my family security.

In addition to a higher tax structure, the privilege of waterfront ownership comes with the inconvenience of the “glass house” syndrome where people seem to focus more on your life rather than on their own.

The Riveras are simply trying to preserve their rights and legal exposure by adhering to the law, which has been established to allow them and all Southold property owners to do so. I think jealousy is replacing common sense and logical thinking when it comes to this whole issue.

Let’s leave the Riveras alone and allow them the respect that we would all strive for if we were in their position.

Joe Bendowski


Blame the supe

My firm represents Chris and Richard Rivera in their recently commenced law suit against Supervisor Scott Russell and the Town of Southold.

Contrary to Mr. Russell’s statement quoted in your article (“Property owners in Mattituck beach dispute sue town,” Dec. 16), the rock which Mr. Russell ordered removed from my clients’ property was located wholly within the original lot lines of the Riveras’ parcel, as it was first laid out and described in the original Captain Kidd subdivision map in 1949.

I can assure you that my clients have been highly taxed by the town year after year for every inch of this property, and I challenge Mr. Russell to provide any survey or other legally cognizable evidence to support his claim that the rock was located within “the town-owned road end.”

On the broader question, all my clients want is what every other resident of Southold wants and takes for granted: that their basic property rights will be respected by the town and their neighbors, and they will be left in peace. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

If the town government intruded without notice or permission into another resident’s backyard and took or destroyed his property, the resident would be justly outraged. But simply because my clients’ backyard happens to be the beach, it seems that Mr. Russell and some of the Riveras’ neighbors don’t believe the same rules apply. They are wrong.

It has been the law of this nation since its founding (and, in fact, going all the way back to English and Roman law) that owners of beachfront property own the beach down to the mean high water line, and have the same rights of exclusive possession and peaceful enjoyment of their property as any other property owners. The fact that Mr. Russell and some other individuals resent my clients’ good fortune in owning beachfront property is no excuse for unlawful government action.

When my client, Chris Rivera, went to Town Hall to discuss this matter reasonably, the town attorney was instructed by Mr. Russell not even to discuss the matter with her. Mr. Russell’s own response was, as stated in your article, “If you don’t like it, sue me.” So we have.

The town has only Mr. Russell to blame for this waste of public funds.

Jonathan Sinnreich


We were working

In matters of the public trust doctrine, it’s always appropriate to question the Southold Town Trustees. So where were we on the day of the Rivera-Calabro trial?

We were conducting field inspections set by our public agenda nearly a year ago, and so meeting our trust and statutory obligations under the town’s patent and wetlands acts. That work directly led to mandated alterations in shoreline structures so the public can pass and repass along shores under our jurisdiction and ownership.

Had our schedule been otherwise, I am sure we would have been at the trial.

Had New York State met its trust obligation and not failed to appear in court when the Riveras first acquired land previously under state ownership, this trial might have been unnecessary.

On the heels of Mr. Tillman’s failed attempt at bringing the national political scene to local elections this fall, his playbook now includes trying to influence the upcoming appointment to the vacancy on the Board of Trustees by suggesting town officials — and the Trustees in particular — are not meeting their trust obligations for beach access, when this whole matter derives from a failure of the state meeting its.

I hope Mr. Tillman will join me and in a call for an independent investigation into the matter of the state’s default of public lands under its ownership and better use his bully pulpit to encourage the state to undo the damage it has done.

John Bredemeyer

Southold Town Trustee


Not a good idea

The editorial advocating more taxes on “the rich” dismays me.

Don’t get me wrong, my income certainly doesn’t qualify for a tax surcharge, but the proposal itself is wrong-headed.

Remember there used to be a luxury tax on expensive items back in the nineties? If you bought an expensive car or a new boat over some fairly low dollar threshold, you paid a bunch more money to the feds. Remember what happened? Boat building in the U.S.

all but disappeared. That tax wiped out almost an entire U.S, industry. That put a lot of people out of work — and a number of them used to build boats here.

When someone gets rich, they pay taxes just like you and me. Then they start living off investments and their tax drops to capital gains levels. It’s not as though they haven’t already paid taxes. You bet they paid, and big time in the highest bracket.

Soaking the rich is just counterproductive. Have you ever worked for a poor man, or a person of modest means? They don’t create jobs. Successful people create jobs.

That success should be celebrated, not hated and made to be divisive.

Don Rose


Other people’s $$$

In recent years, Oysterponds school boards were very successful in keeping expenditures under the approved budgets. Now, a lack of expenditure control seems to be very much the major problem.

During the Dec. 13 meeting, both the board majority and the superintendent continued to express little concern for OPM (other people’s money). Expenditures as a percentage of the budget are running at 31 percent, which is 5 percent greater than last year.

They have taken no steps to confine expenditures to “needs” rather than “wants.” They do not realize school law prohibits spending more than the approved amount.

At the current rate of expenditure, exceeding the budget total at year’s end is a distinct probability and significantly diminishing the fund balance is almost a certainty.

Grades 7-12 will continue to go to Greenport. Even though a forum is intended for some date in the very near future, the early decision date of April 1 makes any change extremely problematic for 2012-13. In the discussion, they managed to be rude to both the attending Greenport board members and to the former Oysterponds board member who queried what 7-12 school his child would attend in the fall.

Though there are no funds for such a venture, they are contemplating a pre-K program, even though a very good one exists next door at no cost to the public. They also granted fringe benefits to a long-term sub despite one board member’s assurance that other school districts do not do so. Further, they approved $2,000 for non-identified electrical work.

The board exhibited almost a total lack of concern for what was being expressed to them by the attending public. Also, the decision to eliminate some financial statements provided to facilitate monitoring the adequacy and integrity of financial matters is a very unsettling situation.

One has to wonder what is motivating the finance committee and superintendent in this matter.

Walter Strohmeyer

former president, Oysterponds school board


The girls did it all

On Dec. 15, a picture of Girl Scout Troops 720 and 2932 was printed with an article about their Silver Award project. As their leader, I feel I must advise you of an error stated in the article.

The Girl Scouts in Troops 720 and 2932 built the entire memorial, including the three benches and the mosaic. These girls gave up many fun activities to save the money to build the entire memorial. The only assistance they received was from Anthony Sannino, our construction supervisor, the Mattituck Lions and Southold PBA.

Congratulations, girls.

Maria Mineo


Wonderful sounds

The classical music scene hereabouts certainly hit a high note this weekend with two amazing concert music programs.

Saturday afternoon Orient Community Activities presented a stunning chamber music program at Poquatuck Hall. Pianist Alexandria Le, who has played here twice previously, assembled an ad hoc group of musicians from Stony Brook’s music department for a very stylistically varied program of Mozart, Gershwin, Piazzolla, Prokofiev, and Brahms.

Sunday the Lyris Quartet from Los Angeles played two performances of works by Janacek, Philip Glass, and Ravel, the second piece accompanied by imagery from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 film “Koyanisqatsi.” Both performances took place in the Main Hall at Brecknock Hall.

In all, hugely appreciative audiences heard eight major composers of varying types of classical music. They heard nine young award-winning musicians show their talents. The participants were of ethnicities making up their own United Nations: Chinese, Russian, Turkish, Cape Verdian/Ecuadorian, Japanese, Indian, many hyphenated Americans.

We must applaud the two people who made this all possible: Jane Smith, Director of OCA, and Dominick Antignano, Director of Cultural Arts and Activities for Peconic Landing. May they bring more such events our way. We must also applaud those community volunteers who worked so hard to make the venues the successes that they are, happily not only beautiful but with good acoustics.

Now we music lovers must make it our job to publicize future such activities in a way that will draw in the young people of the community, many of whom have as yet no idea of the beauty and pleasure of classical music.

Edwin Blesch Jr.


A holiday message

I guess Mr. Meinke (“Election issue in ’12”, Dec. 15)) didn’t get the hint.

Keep it local.

Thank you and a merry Christmas to everyone.

Bob Guarriello


He’s quite free

Regarding last week’s “Attacking religion” letter,  I still have not been able to figure out why or how someone else’s personal marriage choice or decision affects anyone else’s freedoms.

Mr. McGreevy is free to marry, or not, whomever he chooses. His freedom is not in danger, nor is it threatened.

His liberty, religious or otherwise, is not being denied, only his “right” to interfere with the freedom of others to pursue their own happiness.

Merry and happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid and Kwanzaa.

Teresa Taylor