Letters: Look to the future graduates, not the past

JAY WEBSTER FILE PHOTO | The Mattituck Class of 2011 celebrates graduation last year.


Just do your best

This is the season for dishing advice to graduates. Most advice, while well-intentioned, is not well-seasoned with salt.

Harry Katz either had his tongue firmly placed in his cheek or he really did mean to offer the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” advice of an envious person. Our nation doesn’t need another generation of unmotivated, uncommitted public servants only wanting job security and a “rich” retirement.

No sector needs those without commitment to achieving and producing. The best advice is to find your passion and pursue it with all the energy and commitment you can muster. No matter whether you choose surgery, public service, trash hauling, manufacturing, selling, repairing or writing, do the best you can and fulfillment follows.

Most advice is based on personal experience and hindsight. My laborer father looked back at the Great Depression and insisted a secure job with the N.Y. Telephone Company was nirvana. But he admitted that friends in die and tool-making were enriched by making the tools that made the vacuum tubes that powered the “electronics revolution.”

But security seekers with N.Y. Telephone or AT&T suffered the breakup of the phone company monopolies. Even their precious research center, Bell Telephone Laboratories, cut staff. Look to the future, not the past.

A study that examined life satisfaction of a group of college students 20 and 40 years later concluded it was not the cards they were dealt, not family status, not the size of their initial wealth but how they played those cards that determined their satisfaction.

Job studies show that the more control a worker has, the more satisfaction follows. Take physicians in private practice, for example — but that may change when government-controlled health care arrives.

In recent congressional testimony, a Brookings Institution fellow concluded that U.S. census data showed young people who completed high school, worked full-time, refrained from marriage until after 21 and avoided parenthood until married had a 2 percent chance of falling into poverty and a 72 percent chance of becoming members of the middle-class.

Those who failed to observe these suggestions had a 77 percent chance of being poor and a 4 percent chance of being in the middle-class.

Good decisions about the major issues in life and your attitude have a bigger role in life satisfaction than the many things on which we receive advice.

Gunther Geiss


Back the budget

The Oysterponds school board did the right thing by ending negotiations with Mattituck school. Many people could not support a budget that had too many school-choice-related cost unknowns.

But now, on June 19 the public will have a chance to come out and support the school budget on its merits, which are many.

Anyone who takes the time to attend the Monday morning assemblies at Oysterponds school, or the science fair, or the band and choir concerts, or the science and technology projects like the computer programming club, and anyone who takes a look at our state test scores in math and language arts can see that our principal and teachers and kids are accomplishing more than ever.

They deserve a vote of confidence and support from the public.

Austerity is not good for a school that is serving its children well while cutting taxpayer expenses, rather than increasing them. I hope Oysterponds residents will make the effort to come out on the 19th and support our school.

Lisa DeLuca


Back the budget II

There goes Walter Strohmeyer again, advocating a “no” vote on the Oysterponds School budget unless certain terms impossible to meet are met by the June 19 vote. And unless the BOE capitulates and cancels the implementation of a much-needed preschool program.

Hasn’t Mr. Strohmeyer read any of the studies showing that preschool programs save districts many dollars in the long run by helping children in their formative years so that costly special ed programs are not necessary?

A paltry few dollars spent on this program will save us 10 times the cost in future years — not to mention the fact that our children will be better prepared to meet the increasing challenges of elementary education. And the idea that an informal “community program free from infection by the state education department” would be a better way to start children into education suggests an incredible disdain for the quality of all public education. Surely Mr. Strohmeyer doesn’t mean that. Or does he?

As far as the capital reserve program is concerned, he knows full well not a dime will be spent until a public referendum is held on a specific school improvement. Or maybe he’d like to go back to the old way of financing school improvements by putting each and every one out to bond and borrowing money over 30 years, which only enriches banks and costs the taxpayers much more in the long run.

Further, claiming that an austerity budget that slashes an additional $122,000 might not be a bad thing only shows a callous disregard for our students, who will bear the full brunt of this cut via one or more fewer teachers.

He knows full well that the current budget trimmed $271,000, a whopping 4.85 percent, from last year’s budget. That makes it the budget with the greatest percent reduction of any school district in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Perhaps Mr. Strohmeyer would like to see the days again when he was board president and the taxpayers were faced with double-digit tax increases.

Let’s hope the voters have the good sense to see through these verbal sleight-of-hand techniques and vote “yes” on the budget. To do otherwise would only hasten the day when our school will no longer be the great school that it is and its demise will be a certainty.

Dick Leslie


Offensive to the eye

The advertising recently slathered over the behemoth vehicles of the Hampton Jitney is gaudy and ugly. These huge, extra-loud billboards parading our streets are offensive to the eye and to the atmosphere.

Stepping aboard you see the sunlight is dimmed by the advertising slather to a depressing gray. When you look out the windows the little dots of the advertising put everything out of focus.

The recorded announcement on the bus asks passengers for suggestions about the service. Mine is a question.

Why did Hampton Jitney do this to its customers?

Michael Keating


A perfect afternoon

Saturday afternoon we went to the movies in Mattituck.

Somehow or other I got the times wrong, and we wound up with a big bag of popcorn and an hour and a half to kill. My ever-patient wife said, “Let’s go to Clovis Point.”

We walked into the Clovis Point winery in Jamesport with the big bag of popcorn and the guy in the tasting room said, “I haven’t heard that one before. But why don’t you try the 2008 Syrah?”

We sat there, listening to a guy with a guitar playing 1970s Cat Stevens songs and almost skipped the movie.

To make a long story short, it turned out to be a perfect afternoon.

Wallace Mahoney


You do lean left

Reporting on the news, whether it’s liberal or conservative, doesn’t make the paper lean one way or the other.

What makes the Suffolk Times a left-leaning liberal newspaper is its opinions expressed in the editorial and when the writer of a news story interjects a personal opinion for a liberal cause and against another with a conservative agenda.

I don’t think the newspaper reporters wake up and plot to undermine the conservatives in the town. But they are of a liberal mind set and they unknowingly report aggressively on news stories they think are important and cover those stories in a favorable light. They do the exact opposite on news stories they cannot identify with, or reject the story in its entirety.

You’ll get the strong left thinking the paper isn’t liberal enough and you’ll have the strong right thinking the paper is borderline socialist. Taking the extremes away, you’re left with the average of the reporters, who will no doubt self-identify with liberal causes more than those of the conservative right,

This makes the newspaper a left-leaning liberal publication.

Vin Ricciardi


The wrong turtle

That is a great picture of a turtle on the front page of the June 7 issue of The Suffolk Times.

It’s described as being an alligator snapping turtle. However, it appears to me to be a common snapping turtle.

Alligator snapping turtles are not found in this part of the country.

Paul Gillen


Wisconsin’s lesson

Municipal and teachers unions need to be more realistic and adapt to the trends of the 21st century if they are to survive.

The original agreement was that, in exchange for wages and benefits lower than those in the private sector, job security would be provided to the public employees. However, somewhere along the line the politicians, in return for political support (conflict of interest?), gave away the keys to the bank in pension and healthcare benefits.

Municipalities and taxpayers can no longer pay for this free ride. All have to pay their fair share.

Michael Kurz


Baseless attacks

This in response to Ron McGreevy’s June 7 letter entitled “A privileged group.”

Privilege has nothing to do with Congressman Tim Bishop’s political decisions and votes. The wisest use of diminishing governmental funds available for projects does. Can’t Mr. McGreevy believe that it’s actually possible to live on the South Fork and at the same time represent the North Fork, Shelter Island and the rest of his district equally?

That’s what this intelligent, honest, humane elected official does. Would that many of the opposition party’s players were so transparent and decent.

On Feb. 24 I attended an informational meeting given by Mr. Bishop at the Mattituck senior center. Many in the overflow crowd behaved quite rudely while the congressman maintained his gentlemanly composure. During that session his opponents repeatedly asked why Montauk got funds for dredging while Mattituck did not.

His answer was clear and accurate, a no-brainer. Montauk is the home of a U.S. Coast Guard station and a huge commercial fishing fleet. Called “The sports fishing capital of the world,” Montauk brings in huge tourist revenues. Mattituck, on the other hand, has no strategic defensive role, though it does serve as home for some fishing boats and private leisure vessels.

Anyone can do the calculus, and I defy Mr. McGreevy and Mr. Bishop’s antagonists to come up with a valid reason why this decision should not have been taken.

Here are a few facts that Mr. McGreevy should know:

Mattituck Inlet was dredged in 2004 as directed by Congressman Bishop in a federal earmark for $700,000. The previous dredge was in 1990, 14 years earlier. Why should he be attacked after only 8 years?

In his tenure, Congressman Bishop has secured $1.4 million for Mattituck Inlet and harbor. Republicans cut the Army Corps of Engineer budget and now we have to deal with less funding. Less funding means less dredging.

Lukewarm attacks based on partisan politics carry no weight unless backed by fact and a sane rationale, not by prejudice and narrow-mindedness.

Edwin Blesch


Absurd suggestion

Whether you support President Obama or not is a matter of choice, but to suggest, as Mr. Reitman did in his letter last week (“He is a disgrace”)m that the United States “should be sending an armada to free Dr. Afridi” is absurd.

Dr. Afridi surely knew the risk he was taking and must have been aware of the consequences. For all we know, he may have been offered asylum.

Mr. Reitman recklessly suggests that we invade Pakistan, a sovereign nation. Haven’t we learned anything from our invasion of Iraq?

At the very least, this decision is above Mr. Reitman’s pay grade and displays a lack of critical thought on his part.

As a nation, we don’t need another war. We certainly can’t afford one, especially with a country possessing nuclear weapons. I would suggest that everything possible is being done, diplomatically, to help the good doctor. Time will tell.

As for Mr. Reitman’s assertion that President Obama is a “disgrace,” he and Mr. Copertino should form a coffee klatsch and ruminate on the myriad ways this president has disgraced us. Many of us believe he’s had a positive effect on our status in the world.

Tom Spackman


Blind capitalists

When we were a young country capitalism was a strong and appreciated system. With government on the side, private entrepreneurs started businesses, hired and paid labor, sold products and made profits.

What’s wrong with this? Nothing.

As time has passed and all economies have gone global, much has changed. Now large and successful companies such as Apple Inc. outsource labor and production to countries with cheaper (often poorly treated) labor while making outstanding profits for the officers and stockholders. Wealth lands in their pockets and dust lands in our American laborers’ pockets.

We now have a very large financial industry where big bets are made, companies are bought, laborers fired, companies merged, companies sold and big profits go to the leaders, often accompanied by disaster for the workers. Other successful capitalists make billions gambling with investors’ and savers’ money in the global casino. Some bets go bad and we citizens then bail them out with tax dollars.

We must pay attention to this tale of the maturation of capitalism. The leaders in this sector are now very self-absorbed and show no familiarity or interest in the rest of the citizens and their problems. Unfortunately, securing great wealth has blinded these capitalists to the great variations in the lives of the rest of us and the travails of the poor and needy.

From 2000 to 2007, years of slow economic growth, there were increased corporate profits that came from reductions in workers’ wages and benefits. This is today’s capitalism at work.

The GOP would like to foist off on us one of these narrowly focused capitalists to lead the country, just when we need a president who sees the entire population and will develop broad-based policies to reduce the income gap and put the country back to full employment.

This November’s election will have tremendous impact on the economics of working America. Pay attention, voters, this directly affects you.

Howard Meinke


Thanks, hacks!

With the federal government now adding 50 types of cancer to be covered for the 9/11 first responders, it should be remembered that it was President George W. Bush who appointed former New Jersey governor Christine Whitman as EPA administrator, and whose proficiency and ability to do this job was only due to the fact that she was both a Republican and friend of the Bush family. As EPA administrator, she assured the nation that the air around the Twin Towers site was perfectly safe to breathe.

The failure of Ms. Whitman in informing both the public and the 9/11 first responders of the deadly nature of the site is surpassed only by the failure of another presidential appointee, Michael Brown, head of FEMA, in both notifying the people of New Orleans to be prepared for Hurricane Katrina and the complete failure of FEMA in reacting after the hurricane caused such widespread destruction.

Along with these facts, which are now conveniently being forgotten by the Republican party, we must also remember that between 2000 and 2008, under the watchful eye of President Bush, the U.S. national debt doubled in size!

Thomas W. Smith