Letters: Oysterponds contract, YMCA and Obamacare

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A Suffolk Times editorial over the Oysterponds secondary school contract inspired several letters to the editor this week.


Editorial was right

I read with interest your editorial entitled “Oysterponds BOE has us scratching our heads.” I concur with your conclusions and would like to add some additional observations.

None of my comments are a result of any correspondence or contact with school board members from Greenport or Oysterponds. Rather they originate from my 31 years experience as a chief school officer.

The Oysterponds board’s timing couldn’t be any worse. Within a short time of Oysterponds’ announcement of their tuition decision, both school boards will be trying to finalize budgets that need to stay within the 2 percent tax cap. This poor timing prevents sound planning and is detrimental to both communities and their students.

The editorial had the general idea about busing, however it wasn’t exactly right. Oysterponds will have to provide busing for their private school students to the same extent as their public school students. They won’t have to provide transportation to McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead because the distance would be greater than to Mattituck, but they will have to provide transportation to The Ross and Hayground schools on the South Fork and Our Lady of Mercy in Cutchogue.

They will also have to run a separate bus to Cutchogue for Our Lady of Mercy students because the school day hours there differ from Mattituck’s.

The editorial asked the question, “Has the not-so-hidden undercurrent of snobbery raised its elitist head?” More than half of Greenport’s students are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. This program is a poverty indicator nationwide. A substantial number of these eligible children are African-American and Hispanic.

The answer to your question is clearly “yes.” Elitism and racism go hand in hand.

Elitism and racism were rarely demonstrated among students in the halls of Greenport High School. However, it does brew in the minds of many adults in Oysterponds. If you asked, most any East Marion or Orient graduates of Greenport High School would explain the extra value they gained by learning in a multi-ethnic culture.

If the kids have figured it out, why can’t the adults?

Charles Kozora

Editor’s note: Mr. Kozora is a former Greenport school superintendent.


Whole lot of trouble

The Suffolk Times editorial of March 22 says it all.

The current Oysterponds school board will be opening a Pandora’s box of troubles and problems should they vote to send any children to Mattituck-Cutchogue School District. All board members should fully understand the full merits of the abstain option when voting.

Further, the editorial is right on when it says it is time to negotiate a long-term contract with Greenport.

Walter Strohmeyer

former president, Oysterponds school board


You crossed the line

Your editorial in the March 22 edition about the Greenport and Oysterponds schools (“Why press for a divorce?”) crosses a line.

You’re right that the school choice issue is complex, and I agree with your inference that it is tragic the adults can’t get along as well as the kids do. But as your editorial criticizes the adults’ childish behavior, it then goes on to point at Oysterponds residents and call us names.

Do you see the irony here? Your slip-up would be kind of funny if it wasn’t so destructive. Every time your newspaper makes a statement like “elitist snob” I watch the fragile trust between the schools, which many Greenport and Oysterponds parents and school officials are pouring their hearts and souls into building, falter a bit more.

You may not be aware of this fallout, but I see it, I watch it happen and it’s frustrating for those who are trying to help the two districts move forward. I have a child in each school and am very active with both school boards. For the record, there are very good things happening in the relationship between the schools that almost always go unreported.

You don’t have to agree with the Oysterponds school board’s actions, but by applying the elitist snob label to our district, you are tearing down people you don’t even know. It’s mean-spirited.

Even if you say that you are only talking about some people in the district, your name-calling does not shed any new light on the complex problems both schools are facing. There is plenty of blame to go around for each of us in terms of problems between the districts. It’s all been said before. We need to move on.

Whether you realize it or not, some of your words in the past and now have undermined progress. I know you understand the power of words better than anyone.

Please consider the possibility that The Suffolk Times is part of the problem it rails against when it uses language that only fans the flames of controversy and divides people who are trying to come together.

Lisa DeLuca


We aren’t about big

I live out east because I like it out here. I don’t want the area to become like Western Suffolk.

It is our job to keep our rural character the way that it is. Tourists, who spend money, come out here to get away from it all — the houses, the big buildings, all the stoplights. You get the picture.

It seems the SIIMBYs (stick it in my backyard) don’t like this rural quality we enjoy. They want a really big building built out here.

This 40,000-square-foot YMCA should be built in a more centrally located area of Riverhead so people all over can have easy access to it.

How about near a school or park so our children can have easy access to it?

Have you noticed the Ys in Patchogue, Bay Shore and Huntington are centrally located in their towns? None are out in the country, away from the people. Why here? Possibly an exclusive country club kind of thing?

If it’s a pool everyone wants, why doesn’t the Town of Riverhead build it?

Dean Sambac


The town can do it

In his “Equal Time” spot last week, Congressman Tim Bishop hopes to dismiss the notion that he has done nothing for our community since his election to Congress a decade ago. Rep. Bishop still doesn’t get it.

After his razor-thin victory in 2010, he believes that the most effective way to campaign for re-election is to brag about all of the money he’s spent for the North Fork.

Did it ever occur to the congressman that in 2010 the message to Congress was to stop the spending and get a grip on federal finances? That’s what his constituents have been forced to do every day in their personal lives. We make the tough choices for ourselves and our families, forgoing the luxuries and learning to do without, all with an eye toward the future for our children and grandchildren.

Did it ever occur to him that we might admire and applaud a congressman who had the courage to vote no to spending and insist on balancing the federal budget? Could he join his cohorts to do some creative problem-solving to ensure the long-term future of the country?

I suppose he expects us to act like trained walruses and flap our flippers as we’re fed the line of over $10 million that has been spent for us. I contend that he’d fare much better adopting the strategy of our Southold Town government. Our little town has been working in bipartisan fashion to make tough decisions, often painful ones, to ensure our long-term solvency without detracting from our overall quality of life.

Instead of vilifying the House Republican leadership for its ban on earmarks, how about following their lead? Think about where we as a nation will be in the next decade. Can the North Fork survive without his brand of deliverance? I know we can when our elected leaders prove that our sacrifice is for the greater good, the survival and prosperity of America.

Barbara McAdam


A very deceptive bill

I am writing to respond to two letters appearing in the previous edition of the Suffolk Times that lauded the accomplishments of our present congressman as well as the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act, frequently referred to as “Obamacare.”

I will not argue his environmental accomplishments, however there seem to be many Southold residents who feel we’re not receiving equal representation. I also applaud his work on behalf of the NJROTC program, which has made a positive difference in the lives of many of our high school students.

I must, however, take issue with his support of the so-called health reform legislation, the blatant misrepresentations made to the American people by his political party and, more importantly, by the president. These statements in support of the legislation were not mere exaggerations, but intentionally made to deceive.

We were told the cost of future health premiums could decrease by a yearly average of $2,500, however, the cost has risen by $1,300 to $2,000 per year. The Kaiser Health Institute projects that six out of 10 Americans will be subject to a rate increase and the cost of retaining a dependent child until age 26 will increase policy costs by 20 percent.

We were also led to believe that all presently insured individuals would be able to retain their policies and keep the doctors of their choice, but we now see this is not the case.

Third, that the bill’s implementation would cost $900 billion and ultimately bend the cost curve of insurance downward and not add to the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has now confirmed that the actual cost will be $1.8 trillion, the cost curve continues to rise and the deficit increases.

House Democrats also promised that religious concerns would be recognized, but White House’s recent executive order broke that pledge.

The bill was to be a job creator, but the CBO has indicated that 800,000 jobs will be lost and many covered workers will lose their benefits as employers will opt to pay the penalty rather than the insurance costs.

Mr. Bishop and his fellow representatives made a mistake and I would urge them to demonstrate some leadership and call for a repeal of this deceptive legislation.

George Sullivan

Editor’s note: Mr. Sullivan is Southold’s tax receiver


A magical memory

My family home is on Fourth Street in Greenport. When I read recently of Exxon Mobil’s decision to work with Peconic Land Trust to preserve the property on our street I had mixed feelings, but mostly thrilled.

Losing the tax revenues and uncertainty about potential residual contaminants that may be unearthed are my adult concerns, although I’m relieved to learn the company would still be responsible for cleanup. But I write to share a cherished childhood memory I have of that property, and one of the tankers that tied off on the pilings offshore on a summer afternoon in the late 1960s.

I don’t honestly recall the exact year, but I was in my pre-teens and the company was still actively using the property as a bulk fuel storage facility. In those years I ran with a small crew of Greenport boys; often I was the only girl, but not on this particular day.

We’d spend endless hours outdoors, away from our families all day and often into the early evening. Messing around in boats, going to the beach, walking everywhere, hanging out down street, sometimes getting into trouble but mostly just taking it all in.

It was hot, hot, hot that summer day. We were listless, restless in the way only pre-teen boys and girls can be. A tanker had tied up to the massive pilings, a routine affair in those years. I’m sure it would pose a serious affront to neighbors at Fourth and Clark now, but for us at the time the tankers represented excitement and something to do. We walked down to hang out and watch.

To our great surprise we were invited on board. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine what those men were thinking — and surely a similar act of generosity and sheer folly would not be allowed today if tankers were still docking there.

Not only did they invite us on board and give us a short tour of the vessel — adventure enough — they allowed us to dive off the ship that afternoon. I have no recollection who had the bright idea to ask, but what’s more remarkable is they permitted it and not just once but repeatedly.

I’ll never forget that sultry afternoon. Somehow the adults on that ship momentarily suspended the rules and gave us a thrill. Even then, I knew it was a rare treat but looking back on it now it feels downright magical.

Suzanne Donovan


Not very helpful

I find it amazing that LIPA spokespersons are always saying that they won’t shut off someone’s power for lack of payment without first trying every avenue for a solution.

Two weeks ago a gentleman from LIPA called and said he understood that I’m a disabled veteran with a very, very limited income and that I only receive funds on the first of the month. For April, I’ll get payments on the 30th. He assured me that I was OK with that.

On March 23 a woman from LIPA called and told me that unfortunately the payment must be made on the 28th or I would be shut off. I told her of the previous week’s call and she said she knew nothing about it. I thought it reasonable that since she called for a payment she could help me. She stated that her help was to tell me to call customer service.

I asked then why was she calling, as I had already spoken to someone from her department. She again said she could help me by having me call someone that could help.

I’m wondering why she’s receiving a paycheck if she can’t help those she calls. Maybe she fills a position that upon elimination, and the elimination of others in positions not able to help customers, then maybe our bills would drop.

I’ve talked to LIPA several times and I’m always told to call another department. Is there someone in that organization that can help?

Bruce Sykes

We’re all immigrants

We have many undocumented workers on the North Fork and they have become an important part of the labor force doing jobs that Americans do not seem to want.

Like most immigrants they came here from other countries where conditions were intolerable, risking all to survive. In spite of this, there seems to be little tolerance for these immigrants. Republican presidential hopefuls regard even the Dream Act as being too soft, and sometimes calls for deportation appear in letters sent to this paper.

This is a country of immigrants and so except for Native Americans we all came here from someplace else. So why are we so tough on Latino immigrants?

I often hear the “Yeah, but my ancestors came here legally” argument. True enough, but if Ireland were located where Canada is and the Irish were able to just walk here, would they have just patiently endured the potato famine waiting for their paperwork to come through?

If there was no Atlantic Ocean separating Europe and the United States, how many Italians, Poles, Germans, Jews, Norwegians, etc., would have been illegals?

The truth is, our ancestors were legal because a geographical barrier necessitated them to be legal. The Atlantic Ocean enforced our immigration laws. Let’s face it, our forebears would have come in surreptitiously if they could have.

Like today’s Guatemalans here on the North Fork, our ancestors were suffering in their home countries and would not have waited for their “papers” to come through either.

The undocumented workers on the North Fork are not so different from our own relatives. They are already here, so let’s try to find a practical and humane solution to this problem that recognizes they are not so different from us.

Mort Cogen


That’s not justice

Only in America can you get arrested for throwing flour at an over-privileged socialite, yet face no charges for shooting a “suspicious” black teenager armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles.

Gregory Wallace


Get Albany to act

As an informed voter in Suffolk County, I cannot emphasize enough how strongly I feel that the New York Senate and Assembly must proceed with the state health care exchange with all due speed.

The exchange will provide competitive insurance for all whose employers do not carry employee insurance and who do not have Medicare or Medicaid. It’s completely uncivilized for a compassionate nation, as is America, to keep people who have pre-existing conditions from finding insurance at reasonable rates.

The exchange will competitively provide reasonable rates. All who must purchase insurance on the open market will benefit from the exchange.

I urge all voters to encourage Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Losquadro to help to establish a New York State health care exchange now.

Shannon Simon

It defies logic

You have just got to love the political theater taking place before our eyes. Gas prices go up. Demand is down. Hey, weren’t we all taught that if demand is down prices should level off and recede?

Oh, but wait, oil is on the world market and those other countries are to blame. Yep, it’s the blame game again. I have been listening to this from our politicians for well over 40 years now.

Now the media says because we are switching over from “winter grade” to “summer grade,” which cost more to make and that will drive the price of fuel even higher. Does that mean we get bad fuel for our cars in the winter or because we drive more in the summer the oil companies have a gimmick in place?

Now comes the president, who wants to end the “oil subsidies,” which he says will drive down the price or at least make oil companies pay their fair share. I don’t know what facts he’s privy to, but this seems a little illogical. Over the years America has been handing out subsidies to all sorts of industries that go to their bottom line, a high priority in our capitalistic society.

Let’s say the president gets his way, do you really believe the price at the pump will decline? I doubt it and here’s why: Logic will take over.

Take away the subsidy and you take away from the oil companies’ bottom line. Let’s say you have a job and the boss cuts your pay.

What do you do? That might not be a good example because you adjust your spending. I doubt any industry would do that.

Logic would say that if you cut the subsidy and impact the bottom line that the oil company would not decrease prices, but rather increase prices to make up for the loss of revenue. The result is the oil company maintains its bottom line.

What we have is an unintended consequence of the president’s action. The gas company doesn’t lose, nor does the government.

Why? Because they no longer pay the subsidy.

The only losers in this scenario are the American people. The price of gas rises even higher and the government gets its hands on more money. Does anyone believe this money will be spent more wisely?

I remember the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, and Hardy would always say to Laurel, “Well this is another fine mess you have gotten us into.” Isn’t that always the way.

Bob Bittner


For the long term

The issue of our independence from foreign oil has been discussed for a long time with very little result or resolve. You would think that given the impacts of past oil embargoes on the U.S. by Saudi Arabia that there would have been much more progress with addressing the issue over the past 35 years.

President Jimmy Carter sounded the warning decades ago and did develop a comprehensive energy policy that, if enacted and adhered to, we would now be much more independent from foreign oil than we currently are. As I recall, in order to set an example, President Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House, which were subsequently removed by President Ronald Reagan.

The fact is that “there is no quick fix” to our energy demands. There’s a plethora of TV ads about the abundance of oil and natural gas in this country and in Canada to last us for over 100 years. What these ads don’t have time to mention is that releasing these petroleum resources from shale and from the “oil sands” of Alberta results in very negative environmental impacts.

Although the issues of releasing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York is being actively debated in the state Legislature, the impacts of securing oil from the oil sands gets less attention because Alberta is not in our backyard.

It’s estimated that the oil sands hold 1.6 trillion barrels of oil, approximately 14 percent of the world’s supply. However, the recovery of this oil requires the excavation of vast amounts of earth, the destruction of wildlife habitats, and the degradation of local water quality. The process of oil production from oil sands requires the use of several barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced.

Contrary to the TV ads, there is no easy fix to our energy needs. We need to aggressively pursue the development of alternative energy sources and as a society we need to change our wasteful practices. Hopefully the high cost of gas will make people think about the true value of energy and then they will convert to more efficient vehicles and make sure that their tires are properly inflated.

George Bartunek

Vice president, North Fork Environmental Council