05/23/13 6:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riley Avenue School in Calverton.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riley Avenue School in Calverton.

To the Editor:

With graduation approaching, I cannot forget the dedication, inspiration and guidance of specific teachers and programs that tremendously benefited our son, Carlos.

While I have often railed against the unsustainability of the benefits and retirement packages at the expense of the beleaguered taxpayer, as well as the general edge that government workers have over those in the private sector these days, the aviation program provided by BOCES through the Southold School District and specific mentors set the stage for a truly exciting and richly rewarding career start for Carlos.

With over 2,000 flight hours already logged and positions from Guam to Ottawa, including flight instruction, first captain and advanced training of other pilots, he has been able to follow his dream.

An early mentor, Mrs. Madigan at the Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton channeled some of his apparent attention deficit issues in kindergarten into model rocket building and launching, which captivated him. Later on, after he made the cut into the aviation program, Mr. Dzenkowski was a role model and mentor.

Because of his and others’ dedication, and Carlos’ interest and aptitude for aviation, Carlos earned his private pilot’s license before graduating and was the keynote speaker at the aviation graduation ceremony. All this helped turn a youth who was not particularly thrilled with traditional academics into a good college student with an ongoing passion for aviation and a dedicated purpose in life.

This is all more than I could ever have foreseen during some of the more trying times early on. So, yes, for some graduates who may not have developed a clear idea of what kind of career they would like, or even what their skills and aptitudes are, I would always recommend looking into government work. But for other, such as our son, who have abiding passions, I recommend first following up on what they’re passionate about.

I’m sure they also have had mentors that they and their families will remember for years to come.

Thanks to the schools and teachers who made it possible for Carlos to embark on a rewarding career. At least for now.

Harry Katz, SOUTHOLD

To read more letters to the editor, pick of copy of this week’s News-Review on newsstands or click on the E-Paper.

05/02/13 6:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The collapsed remains of what once was the General Wayne Inn in Southold.

To the editor:

The saga of the General Wayne Inn, ending with its inevitable demise (“Town: Take the Old Inn Down,” April 25) evokes a comparison with the fate of the Old Barge acquired by the state earlier in the year.

What I find troubling, or certainly suggestive of a double standard, is why the owners of the General Wayne who paid a hefty amount for the Inn back in 2003 and then were denied operating permits for a more modern commercial enterprise and then lost it to the county, are held in general contempt for its current woeful state while the owners of the Old Barge, which was condemned by the town late last year after years of deliberate neglect, are heralded almost as heroes for selling their blighted property to the state for a boat ramp.

Although I don’t know the intricacies of either situation, it seems to me that the owners of the General Wayne were in an even more difficult economic situation than the family that had inherited the Old barge, because of severe mortgage and tax responsibilities on a non-functioning business. While there may have been some interest in public acquisition of the property, it never happened. The Old Barge was purchased by the state, taking the owners off the hook for the sorry state they left it in.

I remember going to a nice banquet fundraiser at the General Wayne Inn for the North Fork Environmental Council in the mid-90s. I saw how hard the proprietors at that time worked, in what was still a functioning facility, to serve over 150 guests. Obviously there was not enough to be gained by continuing to run it as a restaurant, and finally, with the application for a catering facility being rejected, there was no economic future for the historic Inn.

The saga represents both a curious double standard and the difficulties in maintaining viable commercial enterprises in an area where taxes and the general cost of living are high, but the population is low. The resolutions are vastly different, with the state bailing out one owner but not the other.

While a historic marker should one day mark the site of both businesses, no plaque of thanks should be left behind for the lucky family that was able to find a public buyer for its property.

Harry Katz, Southold

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times or click on the E-Paper.

03/28/13 6:00am
COURTESY PHOTO | Assemblyman Dan Losquadro in November 2011.

COURTESY PHOTO | Assemblyman Dan Losquadro in November 2011.

To the editor:

The absence of a state assemblyman representing our district is a very poor reflection on the state of New York government.

Former assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who was elected in good faith to represent us in Albany, abdicated his post after only 2 1/2 years to run for a totally unrelated position, that of Brookhaven Town highway superintendent, leaving a vacancy that may be filled by a special election.

I find it disturbing that Mr. Losquadro did not even serve out his term, a reflection of either lack of interest in his constituents, or personal ambitions fulfilled by becoming highway chief for an adjoining town that is, for the most part, out of the Assembly district in which he served. At the very least, one has to be cynical about his motives.

Now Phil Cardinale, a former Democratic supervisor in Riverhead, says he has to assess whether or not he has “enough interest” to run for the position vacated by Mr. Losquadro, balancing his desire to maintain an enjoyable retirement with the responsibility of being a public servant.

While his candor is commendable, this isn’t a position approached with wishy-washy indecision.

The North Fork needs an assemblyman with the passion and commitment of Fred Thiele of Sag Harbor or Senator John Flanagan of Smithtown, a person who will represent his constituency with all the energy he or she can muster.

In particular, someone has to step to the plate and be a voice for our senior citizens, business people, property owners and taxpayers who are underrepresented in state government. After all, those already in the public sector have strong unions and the government behind them. But the rest of us out here have no voice or authority, especially with the abdication of our assemblyman.

Harry Katz, Southold

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times or click on the E-Paper.

10/04/12 6:00am

To the Editor:

It’s disturbing that the New York State United Teachers Union is preparing a lawsuit against the state and its taxpayers for enacting a 2 percent property tax cap.

Make no mistake, this union is a very powerful special interest group with incredible lobbying strength in Albany. That it would initiate a lawsuit to overturn a proposition that was passed to help the overburdened taxpayer in the state — and specifically on Long Island — is a clear indication of its total selfishness and disinterest in the plight of the Long Island homeowner.

Our soaring property taxes are a direct result of the high salaries and prodigious benefits of the vested rank and file of the teachers union and are the single most significant factor in the declining middle class on Long Island and the region’s economic stagnation.

Teachers are being laid off and fresh graduates cannot find teaching positions, not because of the 2 percent tax cap, but because of the power of the unions that have pushed through salary and pension packages that the taxpayer cannot sustain. If the salaries, pensions and benefits were in line with those in the private sector, the school districts would have been in a better position to retain and hire new teachers.

We all know about the greed and lobbying strength of big business, but the same can be said for the state teachers union and other powerful public labor unions. Pick your poison.

Harry Katz, Southold