Letters to the editor

Some people deserve a break
After reading the letter to the editor from the director of the county’s affordable housing unit in last week’s News-Review, I believed it necessary to clarify my position. I certainly never meant to criticize affordable housing programs in my letter (‘These are real people being hurt,’ Feb. 24). My point was that, in a situation where a homeowner has demonstrably fallen on hard times, the government should never have the right to confiscate that homeowner’s property. Such makes us all mere serfs to the feudal kings ruling over us.
If a homeowner decides to quit working out of sheer laziness, and their property becomes “non-producing” in terms of tax revenue, then their property could be justifiably confiscated.
But what if a homeowner once had a good-paying job and lost it through events beyond his or her control? What if they started working several lower-paying jobs (assuming they could find any) and were trying to pay their property taxes, but could no longer meet the full amount? This is the circumstance I refer to when I say such citizens should never have their property confiscated. (That’s what I understand the phrase “circuit breaker” to mean, in the context of property taxes.)
The 72-h program may indeed be a success, but I beg to differ with the claim that it was such “for all involved” when many of the 100 homes taken by the county over the past two years likely involved some people who were trying to pay their property taxes but couldn’t. For these folks, the 72-h program probably doesn’t seem so wonderful.
We definitely need affordable housing programs. We also need a circuit breaker clause in our property tax code.
Thomas Pfalzer

A wonderful winter

Who’d ever thought we’d be sorry to see winter come to a close? Who’d ever think we’d be saying “Winter went by so fast?”
Chances are if you’ve been a regular attendee of the Winterfest you’re saying just that. If you haven’t been a regular, you only have one more weekend to experience Winterfest’s “Jazz on the Vine.”
When we’re talking regional economic revitalization, we can point to the economic benefits that Winterfest brings to a broad base of the East End business community.
Winterfest was developed to address the problem of a slow season during the winter months. Businesses were feeling the effects of lack of visitors. Summer and fall are robust with tourists, but there was little reason to travel out east in the dead of winter.
Winterfest provides that reason. World-class music along with world-class wines in a beautiful tasting room setting clearly appeals to many. With record-breaking attendance at vineyards, hotels and restaurants, the East End Arts Council, Long Island Wine Council and Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau have given the East End a cultural/agri-tourism initiative to be proud of.
Support from Suffolk County government made Winterfest a reality for the last four years. We are indebted for the unwavering commitment of County Executive Steve Levy and Legislators Ed Romaine and Jay Schneiderman, who recognize the power of this festival to bring in dollars to the East End economy.
Our thanks also go to the musicians who have shared their talents and keep a smile on our face and a song in our heart.
Pat Snyder
East End Arts Council
Steve Bate
Long Island Wine Council

List the names of our fallen soldiers
Having served in the United States Navy during World War II, I find it to be terrible that no local newspaper serving the area publishes a final salute to American service members who have been killed in action during this mess we have become involved in in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am a member of most veterans organizations, with one of them being the VFW, and the latest edition published a Final Salute, which indicates that 65 Americans were killed in action over 44 days from Oct. 25 through Dec. 8, 2010.
The only time anything gets in the papers, it seems, is when a large number of people are killed in one action or when a local member is killed. I think this is unacceptable. We are a great country, but we are a big country with more and more people all the time. We shouldn’t have to keep on losing them in a mess like this without the American people being kept informed as to how fast they are being killed.
At 84 years old, I try to keep informed on what’s going on in the world, especially my country, and I cannot see any great appreciation of what we are trying to do for others except a lot of words but no real action.
Enough of our people have already given their all.
Richard Beckwith
Editor’s note: Mr. Beckwith is a former Riverhead resident

Get us out of here
Rolling the eyes and scoffing is the usual reaction to an evacuation plan for Long Island. The unspoken solution is do nothing.
Following the Japanese triple whammy, Long Island officials were asked — again — about our evacuation plan. Their solution? Hunker down, since Long Island can’t be evacuated. Says who?
Sure, if you look at the big picture. But what if you chop it up into little pieces? It’s doable, but “hard work” is not in the vocabulary of many politicians. Here’s one idea. See if you think it’s possible.
Take the North Fork. A tidal wave is coming and we have six hours before it hits. Our supervisor makes several phone calls to agencies already involved in the advanced planning — the ferry company, the Navy, the Coast Guard and maritime commercial interests.
The alert is sounded. People already know where to meet and the evacuation begins. The closest barges, tugs, freighters and military vessels stand just offshore while the civilians trained for this operation ferry people to waiting ships to carry them up the Thames and Connecticut rivers to hill country.
Buses waiting along the shore at Old Saybrook pick up private individuals who made the trip across the Sound in their own boats. The Red Cross, relatives, schools stand by to receive us. By tomorrow the wave has passed and we make our way home, if we have homes to return to. But we were on high ground just 30 miles away.
Can this be done in six hours? Not without planning. I can hear the objections already, such as “We don’t have the money,” “We don’t have the personnel” and “The voters won’t approve it.”
Oh yeah? Ask us. You might be right, but I hope not.
Paul Hunter

Hats off to some unsung heroes
Riley Avenue School would like to share with you a story of caring for others. As part of our kindergarten social studies curriculum, our students have over several years studied our community, which involves looking at different occupations and going on the occasional field trip to see the various jobs people perform. The young students get to see firsthand how different places operate and do business.
During the month of February, our classes had an opportunity to visit the Calverton post office, where the children were shown how the mail is received and sorted, including a look at the sorting process and the inside of a mail truck. They also learned about post office boxes. A highlight of the trip involved each pupil creating and mailing a Valentine to their families.
We want to recognize two caring community members, Michelle Nadeau and Barbara Merker, for making this yearly opportunity so special. Ms. Nadeau facilitates coordination of this trip with our friends in the post office. Ms. Merker does a wonderful job conducting the tours for the children and, in an act of true giving, has personally supplied stamps for each child’s Valentine, which we have recently come to find out she has done for many years. We would also like to recognize Glenn Meyer for his efforts in setting up this trip.
This is consistently one of the students’ favorite experiences. Without those mentioned above, it almost did not happen this year. You’re all our unsung heroes. Thank you!
The kindergarten staff