Letters to the Editor: Dec. 8, 2011


Saddened by vote

San Simeon by the Sound is disappointed that the Village of Greenport has denied our request to use Mitchell Park as the site for our annual fundraiser.

We were hoping to return in the summer of 2012 after having hosted a very successful event in July of this year. Our two-hour reception brought over 200 people to the village on a Sunday afternoon. We contracted with all local businesses for the event and many of our guests stayed on to shop and have dinner in Greenport.

San Simeon is a not-for-profit facility based in Greenport offering short-term rehabilitation, adult medical day care and long-term nursing services to the community for the past 40 years. We employ nearly 200 people from the local community. The proceeds of our events are used to enhance the quality of care including the purchase of much needed electric beds.

As a Greenport Village resident and board member of San Simeon by the Sound, I am saddened that the Village Board has chosen to reject such a worthy undertaking.

Nancy Morrow


The village was right

If not, perhaps, for the same reasons, I agree with the Village of Greenport’s decision not to grant San Simeon’s request to use Mitchell Park for a fundraiser this summer.

With all due respect to San Simeon by the Sound Inc., it must be stated that it is a business, albeit a not-for-profit. In addition to receiving substantial direct reimbursements from Medicaid, Medicare and private pay, it is also the recipient of millions of dollars in state grants, including $3 million-plus to modernize back in 2006.

At the same time it does not pay taxes to the Greenport School District or the municipality, being exempt from property and sales taxes due to its not-for-profit status. In this state it’s well established that not-for-profit non-property tax paying entities receive favorable treatment in grant funding.

For example, my small adult care home a few miles up-island, which takes care of an even needier and poorer population than those at San Simeon and has paid over a half million in property taxes the past 15 years, receives only a shred of state funding. A grant application last year to the state health department, the same agency that funded San Simeon’s improvements, wasn’t even acknowledged.

San Simeon’s directors are well compensated, as they should be, although many think that operators of not-for profit facilities work for a pittance. San Simeon is not a true charity in that the operating budget comes from direct payment for services rendered from Medicaid, Medicare, and private pay, not cake sales and contributions from donors.

I can’t believe that they don’t have funds from their substantial operating budget to buy new beds for the residents. It seems that with “not-for-profits” the streams of revenue are never enough and appeals of one sort or another go out constantly.

San Simeon Inc. does not deserve preferential treatment from the village in its request to use public property to hold a fundraiser.

If anything, I would submit that San Simeon owes the Greenport School District and the municipality some of the revenues it has withheld due to its tax-exempt status.

I’m not surprised that two directors of the facility stormed out of the meeting, because San Simeon Inc. has a long history of getting whatever it has asked for.

And if I make no other point in this letter, it is to inform the readers that the good work that San Simeon Inc. does comes with a substantial price tag to the taxpayer in the form of Medicaid, tax exemptions and massive taxpayer-funded state grants.

Harry Katz


Farming’s future

I was happy to open last week’s paper and read the article “Bold ideas on farm changes.”

I had just returned from spending a few days at the young farmers conference in Westchester. The event brought together aspiring and beginning farmers from all over the U.S. and several other countries to discuss the state of agriculture and share ideas, successes and failures.

The most disheartening part was catching up with four young farmers who spent several years learning agriculture on the East End but were forced to move away when they came to terms with the fact that breaking into farming out here was financially impossible.

They now own farms and are producing food, creating jobs and enriching communities in Oregon, Vermont and other regions of New York.

I hope the Town Board takes the agricultural advisory committee’s suggestion very seriously and opens up a dialogue on the issue of encouraging new farmers. The article brings up the fact that land here costs $100,000 an acre and it’s estimated that it’s impossible to make a profit at anything more than $20,000 an acre. Due to the town’s land preservation program, farmland is available from around $30,000 an acre.

If the town is willing and able to go to the drawing board and get more creative, farming profitably doesn’t seem so hopeless.

Perhaps offering a higher price for development rights with the stipulation that land has to be managed environmentally sustainable. The extra cost would be offset by lessening the damaging effects of farming on our bays. Or require the land to be in active food production.

Maybe establish a leasing program, which connects aspiring farmers with those who have fallow land and would like to see it productive again.

Some of the proposals mentioned in the article are a step in the right direction, although I believe that diversification will lead to less risk and a better chance of success than their specialization. This can be promoted by supporting farmers markets, encouraging our restaurants to use more local foods and being open to the idea of a small slaughterhouse so we can process our animals without having to drive for hours to do so.

It’s no secret that our farmers are getting older and, with some exceptions, their children aren’t staying on the farm. At the same time there is a group of passionate people that would love to fill that gap. Current farmers, aspiring farmers, business owners and anyone who has a vested interest in making Southold a better place while keeping what we love intact need to join the conversation to make that a possibility.

Thomas Hart


Shame on him

Thank goodness our police force has more compassionate officers than the one who stood by an injured deer on the North Road and in no way tried to assist in finding aid for it.

Rather, with total indifference to its pain, he coldly pushed it to the side of the road with his knee, thus making it no longer his problem. Shame on him for exhibiting to all who passed by on this populated road the callousness of one of our own.

Had it been an ordinary civilian treating a wounded animal in such a manner the law would not take the matter lightly. Perhaps this officer needs some education on the treatment of our lesser beings, or has he become one himself.

Such behavior surely shows a less-than-humane attitude toward those animals with whom we share our environment and whose pain is as great as our own.

MarieClaire Schnoor


Keep it local

Enough is enough.

Last week’s paper contained three letters that have nothing to do with our local interests. Many contributors, some on a weekly basis, use the letters as a bully pulpit to promote their personal agendas.

I can read about national politics in the major tabloids and I have this propaganda shoved down my throat from CNN, FOX and the Internet.

I buy The Suffolk Times for local news, so the letters to the editor should have local information and critiques on your news and editorial content.

Please consider editing the letters submitted and eliminate this political BS.

Bob Guarriello Sr.


Who’s paying for it?

Reading your Nov. 29 issue reminded me of “Six Degrees of Separation,” a play about connections, relations and distances.

In a story about our latest and largest windmill installation at Pindar Vineyards — a 100-killowatt model costing $550,000, 30 percent of which will be paid by a grant from the rest of us — Alex Damianos praises Supervisor Russell for expediting code changes so the grant deadline was met.

“Without the federal grant, fiscally it wouldn’t work for us,” he said.

Hooray! It’s not economically feasible, it’s another blight on our landscape and more debt for us.

In the legal notice posted by County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, I learned that Alex Damianos owes $14,853.53. Father Herodotus Damianos owes $61,236.55. Pindar Vineyards owes $37,681.14 and Pindar Associates owes $46,231.02 in property taxes in Southold.

Assuming they are all “closely related,” their total is $160,002.24. To be fair, there are many recognizable names on the notice, probably none holding the 600 acres or more held by this family. For context, the runner-up, Winhaven Associates LLC, owes $37,967.67.

Was as much effort put into collecting these unpaid taxes as in expediting approvals to meet a grant deadline?

Don’t we, the taxpayers, have to pay for short-term borrowings that the town and county make to cover shortfalls in tax revenues?

Gunther Geiss


Diversity on deposit

Having noticed as a depositor that the Hudson City Savings Bank in Southold did not have any advertisements of white people in the branch, I sent a letter to the bank’s chairman, Ronald Hermance.

Ronald Butkovich, the bank’s senior vice president, wrote to say the bank “does not discriminate against any ethnic groups in our advertising, media or branch-related displays. I personally checked with the branches,” he said, adding that “all Hudson City branches have display posters that include a variety of ethnic groups.”

Upon my returning to the branch, I still did not see any ads of my ethnicity in the branch.

I then called Town Hall, left a message with the Anti-Bias Task Force, informed The Suffolk Times and the Homeowners Political Action Committee and spoke on WLNG about this.

Lo and behold, I found this past Saturday that one of the Asian lady’s posters was replaced by one of a white grandfather and his grandson, and a new one of my ethnicity was placed at the door.

On my way out I saw a lovely Menorah to celebrate Hanukkah and something that looked like Frosty the Snowman to celebrate Christmas. I hope Mr. Hermance and Mr. Butkovich will take notice of this before the Catholic League, the Knights of Columbus and the bank’s Christian depositors do.

I do not believe there will be a run on the bank by their depositors ­— as yet.

Thomas McKenzie