Letters: North Fork’s bravest, Southold’s roof and Obama

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | North Fork firefighters hard at work to put out the Feb. 27 fire in Orient.


Beyond expectations

We would like to thank the brave and tireless volunteers of all the North Fork fire departments who responded to the recent fire at our home.

Your dedication is inspiring and words can’t adequately express our gratitude.

Everyone, including complete strangers, has helped us beyond our expectations. We’ve been fed, comforted, clothed and housed.

We always felt that the North Fork was special. We now know that it’s because of all of you.

The Ozolins family


What the problem is

Mr. Gamberg’s thoughtful article on the corrosive effects of using state-mandated tests to evaluate a teacher’s and school’s effectiveness doesn’t go to the heart of the matter.

These tests are part of a concerted effort over the past ten or more years by corporate interests to privatize public education.

In an effort to defend themselves, many schools from coast to coast have resorted to cheating by providing answers to students.

Most of these schools are from low socioeconomic areas where youngsters are victims of conditions in the home and on the streets, unrestricted use of television and the inability of teacher and school to cope with students who are not ready, willing and able to learn.

There is no need for more evidence to show how much a youngster’s private life affects his formal education, when even students from affluent suburban areas suffer a decline in achievement when their parents divorce.

Mr. Gamberg briefly mentions the extraordinary public education system in Finland and wants us to believe it’s a result of their not using tests to judge teachers. On the contrary, Finland’s system is exceptional because the teachers are truly professional, by which I mean they as a group are involved in how the school does what is expected of it.

In fact, schools of education churn out people with Ph.D.s in education, which entitles them to the title of doctor of education, whatever that involves.

It should be noted that a large number with this degree come from the field of physical education, which I can’t get into for reasons of space. And whereas discussions about law or medicine are conducted by lawyers, law teachers and medical doctors, people who talk about education haven’t been in a school since they graduated, are administrators or have minimum teaching experience.

Great effort is needed to confront the powerful interests that want to privatize public education, and an even greater effort will be needed to professionalize teachers in view of the fact that their organizations do little in this direction, except try to prove they’re not as bad or over-paid as the privateers claim.

Sidney Waxler


More than just a bay

A very important driver of Southold policy is the Peconic Bay estuary program. As the 28th most important United States estuary, our own Peconic Bay system is a very important to not only Southold, but the entire country.

To magnify the importance of doing the right thing, along our northern border is another threatened estuary, Long Island Sound. All our Southold planning must take these estuaries into account, and this is not easy.

Our policy must be to apply the scientific data stemming from our Peconic Bay estuary program, a living document that is fleshing out as we learn more and more about the effects of septic pollution, agricultural runoff, the slow migration of underground water, the loss of wetlands through bulkheading, groins and jetties, landfilling and commercial and residential land use.

The Great South Bay and Moriches Bay are already extremely damaged by human activity. We must learn from our mistakes as we move forward. This is the point of the estuary program. Although it is still a work in progress, we must keep it right in front of us and not do things that are damaging, but worse, are irreversible.

We know that the current Suffolk County health department maximum nitrate limits on drinking water are much higher than the nitrates allowance for the estuary. This is a concern.

The coliform bacteria and other contaminants from septic systems are known to be very damaging. The new septic designs that keep nitrate levels much lower must be required for all new development. We must also use community-type anti-nitrate systems for hamlet and halo denser development.

There are limits to the amount of sanitary credits that can be taken from open land and added to already dense development. Too much density can stress septic systems beyond their ability to properly perform.

This estuary program has not yet fully developed into hard and fast development regulations. But we must draw our plans as we move forward with constant attention to the program regulations and where the limits are.

We are the custodians of the most magnificent real estate on Long Island, one of the most beautiful and productive water bodies in the state, and we cannot take this lightly.

Howard Meinke


The rest of the mess

We were surprised to read that hard-working village administrator Dave Abatelli said, “now that all the fire-damaged wood has been removed” from 620 2nd Street, the engineer, architect and builder are evaluating what’s salvageable.

Mr. Abatelli must be misinformed. The charred wood still smells so strongly after 3 1/2 years that passersby can smell it in their cars. Further, those engineers, architects and the local historical committee have had their say and they say it’s a fine structure, worth rebuilding.

Of course, that was before the builder removed the plywood from the side windows, causing the front porch to fall off. That builder has now apparently pulled up stakes and hasn’t been seen in weeks. Porta-Potties, gone.

We neighbors now pray for a strong wind to take down the rest of the mess since neither the North Fork Housing Alliance, the historical committee nor village administration take any responsibility whatever for the slum-like conditions on this block.

Claudia Helinski


Bishop understands

Here on the beautiful North Fork, there is a direct relationship between the condition of our natural environment and the condition of our economy. In any community, reducing pollution enhances people’s quality of life.

Communities with clean air and water are more attractive places to live and work. Cutting pollution also lowers the risk of pollution-related health problems that reduce productivity and impose costly burdens on families as well as on local, state and national economies.

These kinds of public health, economic, and environmental benefits can’t be achieved by communities acting alone, especially when powerful industries are arrayed against change. Besides, there’s no way to confine pollution within municipal or state boundaries.

It takes national environmental standards and regulations to pave the way for progress. That’s why there was bipartisan support for enactment of the first federal clean air and clean water laws decades ago and for President Nixon’s creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. We need to maintain and improve this system, not undermine it, if we want to leave a healthier environment to our children.

As the top Democrat on the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, Rep. Tim Bishop has been a leader on regional and national environmental issues.

He has fought against dozens of Republican efforts to weaken environmental and public health safeguards.

Anti-environment, anti-government Republicans have voted to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate toxic pollutants like mercury. They also oppose farsighted national investments in mass transit that would reduce hazardous emissions from automobiles and help tame traffic.

Unlike many of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Bishop understands that lax environmental and public health standards only serve the special interests that profit from pollution, not the public interest.

Priscilla Lewis


Rotary says thanks

The North Fork is an amazing place to live.

Rain did not stop our community from responding to Southold Rotary’s “stuff a bus” food drive at King Kullen this Saturday. Boy Scout Troop 6 helped us stuff the bus and then some. Food has been donated to food pantries at CAST, the Loaves and Fishes, Cutchogue Methodist Church and Parish Outreach, thanks to the generosity of those who responded.

Southold Rotary celebrated 64 years of service in February, and we are grateful to all who have assisted us in this mission.

Your support of our various fundraisers, including the Lobster Fest (coming up July 28), our scallop dinner in the fall, our golf outing in September and our chicken and ribs dinner coming up April 24, enables us to give back to the community and the world in amazing ways.

Some of our programs include an evening of appreciation to local war veterans; scholarships for students at Mattituck and Southold high schools; sponsoring students for RYLA, a youth leadership program; sponsoring the Southold High School Interact Club and Boy Scout Troop 6; and providing holiday meals and toys for the less fortunate.

Last summer we sponsored seven young people from Mattituck and Southold schools for a short-term youth exchange to the Czech Republic, Sweden, France and Spain, and hosted a young lady from Germany for the year. We contribute to Camp Paquatuck, a Rotary camp for children with special needs’ provide an ice cream social for Camp Good Grief, run by East End Hospice; and contribute to Eastern Long Island Hospital.

All of this would not be possible without your support and for that we are deeply grateful.

We thank all of you for your generosity and for helping to make our world a better place.

Barbara Ackermann

president, Rotary Club of Southold


Where the fault lies

A response to Mr. Thomas W. Smith. Please don’t ever be ashamed to be an American. Instead, join me and millions of others who are justifiably ashamed of the leadership this country currently deals with.

From Mr. Bishop right on up to Mr. Obama, our politicians are giving this country away at taxpayers’ expense. I was at the meeting last week with Mr. Bishop and was introduced to how a politician operates. His views will never turn this economy around.

He justifies all the bailouts, claims Solyndra is “just a speck” while ignoring the fact that if we put all the “specks” together — including GM, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Amtrak, the banks that were too big to fail, all the foreign aid, including China (what’s that about?) — it would not be a speck any longer.

When it came time to compare national spending to a family spending, the entire concept of fiscal responsibility seemed lost on Mr. Bishop, who said, “If a family overspends and gets in trouble, they should get our help.”

Is he joking? What ever happened to working and paying your own way? I did it and resent having my money pay for the failure of others. Mr. Bishop also is against a flat rate tax, saying it would mean higher taxes for 95 percent of the people. I would assume that includes the almost 50 percent of people who pay no taxes and the wealthy, who pay less than 10 percent. Tell me again why 10 percent for everyone is not fair.

Now we have students in law school wanting us to pay for their contraceptives? When will this end?

When we vote these people out of office and get some people in there who have the courage to do the right thing. People that Mr. Smith and I can be proud of.

George Schneider


A sign of strength

Mr. Smith’s statement, “Today I am ashamed to be an American” [“Sorry for what?” March 1], struck a chord in my feelings about how proud I am to be an American.

As a former enlisted man, and having served my country for 20 years (Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War), I have never heard such drivel as put forth by that letter.

How do you think the Jews of this nation felt when the Germans burned their sacred Torahs in the 1930s? How would you react if some foreigner burned our Holy Bible?

Apologies can signal strength, and in this case it was the right thing to do, because a non-apology would only have been met with greater violence and vitriol. International politics is a complicated and messy business and apologies can invite unforeseen reputational costs or reparations. An apology is the willingness of a state to accept blame for past injustices.

There is a long history of strong leaders apologizing to friends and foes alike. In the 1950s German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer famously apologized for German war crimes. On a 1998 trip to Africa, President Bill Clinton apologized not once but twice: first to Uganda for America’s slave trade and second to Rwanda for not doing more to prevent its genocide.

Even President Ronald Reagan did so in 1988 when he signed legislation apologizing for the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans. Nobody was fooled by George W. Bush’s reluctant acceptance that mistakes were made in Iraq. His lack of contrition came off as harmful to America’s reputation.

What makes this country exceptional is the ability of our leaders to recognize that we are not exceptional. When the Holy Book of more than one billion people is destroyed, it makes practical sense to apologize. By throwing the “other shoe” at our sitting president, you somehow associate a non-apology with American swagger. But apologies are not a sign of weakness — they are a sign of strength.

On this point, President Obama was not mistaken.

TSgt. LeRoy Heyliger

U.S. Air Force, retired


Credit where it’s due

Just as soon as the economy collapsed, the Federal Reserve immediately lowed interest rates to stimulate the economy.

Hence, everybody with money in the bank lost their interest income, so borrowing could become very cheap.

So who stimulated the economy? It was the people who worked hard, saved their money and expected to live on it in their retirement. Don’t heap any praise on the folks in Washington; they started the mess. Give credit to the people who are really paying for the “stimulus.”

A second thing: Why will the roof on Southold’s school cost $2.5 million to replace? That seems absurd to me. It only cost $11 million to build the entire Lowe’s building in Riverhead.

That roof job sounds like a con job to me and should be audited very carefully. The audit should be published in your paper.
I smell a rat.

Bob Cavagna


End of days

If there are any good people out there they are few and far between and doing nothing of substantial goodness.

I hate the do-nothing Congress and all elected officials, all the incompetent people in positions of authority who take their taxpayer paychecks and do little to nothing good. I hate all the whiny, union-affiliated people. I hate the insurance industry with its influence upon the health care industry. I hate that there is no personhood amendment or an owner-occupied real estate amendment. I hate all the litterbugs, the alcoholics, the drug dealers and the drug users. I hate all the arrogant, take-more-than-you-give mentality of most everyone on this planet. I welcome the end of this world. If there be any good people on this planet, let them die with the bad inconsiderate, immature, irresponsible, uncaring people, just to get rid of the crappy ones who never will grow up to love goodness and truth. Does anyone recognize themselves as a loser? Do these words enflame an uprightness desire to come forth within? Do you understand how sad I am to be living on this planet, in this society, that is not gentler or kinder?

Carla D’Esposito


End of civilization?

President Obama has ended religious freedom in America by requiring health insurers to pay for contraceptives for employees of religious-run universities and hospitals, even though insurers actually like to pay for these medications because it saves them money.

Don’t tell anyone, but contraceptives also cut down on out of wedlock pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions. On March 1 Senate Republicans sought to restore religious freedom in America with an amendment to allow any and all employers to remove coverage for any medical condition they have a “moral or religious objection to.”

Employers can say, contraceptives? Nah, it’s against my religion. HIV drugs? It’s a gay disease. Prenatal care? No way.

Inoculations? I don’t believe in them. Cancer? Try prayer.

Alas, all Republican Senators except for one voted for this amendment, but that still wasn’t enough and so it failed.

Now that Mr. Obama has done away with religious freedom in our country, I expect that Friday, Saturday and Sunday religious attendance will be way down. At my church, in order to avoid scrutiny we’re going to start meeting on Tuesday mornings in the basement.

Last week the president said it was his goal to make college available to any kid who wants to go. This is all part of his insidious plan to brainwash our youth so they pursue an immoral life and vote Democratic. After all, isn’t the whole purpose of college just to fill the heads of our youth with some fancy rot?

Mr. Obama and my father are such snobs. The president wants college for all and my father, who never made it past the fifth grade, made it his life’s work to send his two sons.

Last on this week’s list of Obama offenses is his destruction of our right to “the pursuit of happiness” as guaranteed in the Constitution. When there were no GM jobs, many Michiganders used to enjoy hanging out at the 7-Eleven. Since Mr. Obama financed the rebirth of Detroit, the American car industry is booming.

Now with all these jobs being created at GM, Ford and Chrysler, these workers are now back in the assembly plant instead of drinking giant Slurpees.

Mort Cogen