Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down on 2013

CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO  |  A group of politicians are protesting the sale of Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center.
CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | Town leaders eliminated any chance of overdevelopment on Plum Island this year, earning a thumbs up from this paper.

A focus on deer

What has four legs, a white tail and is considered a “public health crisis”?

At this point, it’s probably clear the answer is deer.

With frustrations coming to a boiling point over the damage the animals cause to crops, health and cars, local officials took more action this year than in recent memory to get the deer population in check.

An ad hoc group was formed to bring numbers down, legislators lobbied a state assemblyman from Lindenhurst to move on a bill he’s kept in a key committee and, before long, the federal government is expected to bring in a team of sharpshooters to cull the herd and reduce the crisis.

Rotten to the Common Core

New York State has agreed to adopt high-stakes testing and controversial teacher evaluation systems tied to Common Core State Standards for a one-time installment of $700 millions in federal Race to the Top grant money. That’s less than 3 percent of what the state spends in a single year on education, experts say. Hardly seems worth the money to tie ourselves to a system that, at best, may help already college-bound kids attend marginally better colleges but will likely cause at-risk youths, English language learners and students with disabilities to fail in school in even greater numbers. Since the overhaul wasn’t created by legislation, lawmakers can, and do, deflect blame.

Protecting Plum Island’s future

It’s not often these days that a town can zone more than 800 acres without writing over existing zoning. But that happens to be the case with Plum Island, the home of a federal animal disease research center that has been in headlines for years since the federal government decided in 2008 to close the lab, sell the land and use the proceeds to pay for the cost of a new $1.1 billion facility in Kansas.

While visions of golf courses, casinos and high-end resorts have danced in the heads of some at the thought of such a large space, town leaders eliminated any possibility of overdevelopment on Plum Island with the zoning it enacted this year.

No clam chowder for you

It’s hard to imagine a Greenport Maritime Festival without a chowder contest. But that’s what we got this year.

In what organizers called an effort to better reflect Greenport’s legacy as an oystering community, this year’s Maritime Festival instead featured hundreds of oysters paired with local wine and beer.

The move didn’t sit well with locals who questioned why the committee felt oysters are so much more important to our heritage than clams.

We agree the move was short-sighted and only stood to rob people of an event they look forward to each year. Apparently the committee has come around on the issue and the chowder contest will be back for 2014.

A good first step for Dems

The Southold Town Democratic Committee deserves some credit for producing a nearly full slate of candidates this year.

While they caught some grief from this newspaper for not putting together the most qualified bunch, we’d be remiss not to at least acknowledge that the committee worked hard to give Southold residents a choice this year.

It was a good step forward for the party and, we hope a sign of even better things to come in a town where voters too often haven’t had any choice at all in many races.