Letters to the editor

Don’t blame teachers
The author of a recent letter tried to make the point that teacher contracts represent an unsustainable cost and that these negotiated contracts were arrived at without any public participation. Both of these points are erroneous.
Becoming a certified teacher in New York comes at a very expensive price. Teacher education colleges, private or public, require a hefty expenditure. Private colleges in New York average $40,000 to $50,000 annually. While less expensive, state colleges average about $25,000 per year. The vast majority of college students borrow to pay tuition and other required expenses.
After four years they graduate with a great deal of debt. Additionally, in New York extensive graduate work is required, amounting to an additional two to three years of graduate studies. This gives them six to seven years of college and provides them with the education and training needed to become a good teacher. Is it reasonable to expect teacher candidates to complete the seven years of college and then be paid a low annual salary?
Are teacher salaries arrived at without any community input? I think not. School board members are elected to represent the community in all operations of their districts. This includes salaries and benefits for all district employees. Is this not public participation, or would the writer of the letter prefer to have the entire community vote on all expenditures?
If residents are displeased with the board’s actions, they have the option of voting them out of office. That’s definitely community participation.
Let’s talk about the workday. Teachers are in their classrooms for about seven hours per day. During that time each is expected to teach about 120 to 150 students at the secondary level and 25 to 30 students at the elementary level. In addition, we expect teachers to relate to their students both inside and outside of the classroom as advisers, motivators, counselors and disciplinarians as well as a variety of other roles. On a daily basis teachers help students to cope with a variety of academic and non-academic problems.
After-school hours are filled with extra-help classes, parent meetings, student work evaluations and lesson preparation for the next day, which adds an additional three to four hours to the teacher’s day. Should we expect teachers to satisfy all of the state certification requirements and work a nine- to ten-hour day and not expect to be compensated fairly?
The letter speaks of the exodus of young people from the area. Does that include young teachers saddled with substantial debt, who will not be able to afford to live in the area where they teach?
The author of the “Unsustainable costs” letter uses a very tired argument put forth every time there’s trouble with the economy. Stated simply, it implies that it must be the teachers’ fault that the economy is in trouble, and if we limit their pay and benefits all will be well with our community.
Bernard Creedon
Editor’s note: Mr. Creedon is a former teacher, administrator and school board member in Brookhaven Town.

Cut the spending
How do you like the Southold School District proposed budget increase of 3.5% for the 2011-2012 school year?
I don’t. Since the 2004-2005 school year, the budget has risen from $18,537,664 to $26,576,276 estimated for next year. That’s an increase of over $8 million in seven years. But the number of enrolled students has dropped from 1,010 to 903 and the cost per student has increased from $18,354 to $28,435.
Our school board controls salaries, but unfortunately the contract has another two years to go. With the federal government $14 trillion in debt and the state almost broke, I suggest that the school board find ways to reduce spending.
We seniors have had no Social Security increase in two years.
Donald Wagner

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

Energy alternatives
What has taken place in Japan is heartbreaking and frightening.
Towns and people have been ravaged. No matter how hard we try to anticipate or to build better structures, Mother Nature ultimately decides what stays and what goes. We can only hope and pray after the smoke clears Japan can start to repair their lives and rebuild.
The most frightening event was the explosion of the nuclear power plant. Did you know there are 20 sites with 53 nuclear units in Japan alone? There are 104 aging plants in the U.S. The biggest concentration of nuclear power plants is in the U.S. and Europe. For a world map of these sites go to insc.anl.gov/pwrmaps/map/world_map.php.
The fallout from the Japanese nuclear plant will have a direct impact in the U.S. We have already seen the effects the tsunami had on Hawaii and the West Coast. The winds will bring the toxic fumes from the nuclear plants to the U.S., as one cannot live far enough away to avoid exposure.
Three reasons why we need to consider alternative energy solutions for future generations are Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in March 1979; Chernobyl, the Ukraine, in April 1986; and now Fukushima in Japan.
Did you know that of the 104 aging power plants in the U.S. there is no one common design used in the construction? This means that in the event of a nuclear event such as Three Mile Island we can’t go back to the other plants to say this is what we need to do to prevent this happening elsewhere.
To help remedy our reliance on nuclear, we need to develop solar, wind and geothermal energy sources.
We need to encourage elected officials to continue to invest in clean alternative energy solutions. Educated consumers conduct lots of research when buying appliances, cars or a home to ensure we are getting the biggest bang for our buck. As we know, knowledge is power.
In the case of nuclear power, the biggest bang for our buck in not a good thing.   
Marie Domenici

A money issue, too
Newsday reported on March 10 that a Ronkonkoma electronics firm is moving to Mississippi in part due to transportation availability there. Also, a Patchogue church is raising money and giving away free bicycles for those who can’t afford to drive.
The role of mass transportation on the East End, unlike in other countries and in other areas of our own country, is rarely equated with the general economic health.
One can only speculate on such improvements as timely rail service to and from Greenport and Ronkonkoma, bus service to MacArthur airport from Ronkonkoma, a station at Tanger Mall and a bus from Greenport station to the Orient Ferry.
What about reopening the line between Manorville and Eastport allowing a unified rail system from Greenport to Montauk with stops at some of our wineries bordering on LIRR tracks? We could also have wine trains, dinner trains, fishermen’s specials, shoppers’ specials and specials for various events like the Strawberry Festival and the Maritime Festival.
These are within reason, can be economically viable and many have existed in the past. What does seem to be the reality is the lack of leadership, the general lack of a “can do” attitude and a public informed about the possibilities and the correlation between mass transportation and economics.
I read that rail transportation time between the East End and NYC is around the same as it was about 100 years ago.
Let’s be progressive on this issue and be supportive of an East End Transportation Authority.
Art Tillman
chairman, Southold Democratic Party

The Trustee is right
Entering into a responsible scientific dialogue, in this case, regarding fecal coliform testing and creek closures, requires as a minimum standard the reading of detailed reports and charts and a basic understanding of accepted scientific practices.
Last week’s Suffolk Times contained two letters to the editor that sadly did not meet that standard.
We all have opinions and they are valued. But these letters were unfairly critical of Trustee John Bredemeyer’s West Creek shellfish land status report of Jan. 19, as both letters demonstrated a lack of due diligence before offering a retort of science-based findings.
The North Fork Environmental Council land use committee read the five-page report and analyzed the four attached charts and applauds Trustee Bredemeyer for raising community understanding regarding creek closures, road runoff solutions and the need to increase awareness of the benefits of complying with the pooper-scooper ordinance.
In our opinion, the report is valid, concise and complete with achievable recommendations that can be applied townwide with great benefit for all.
The NFEC encourages informed discussion and participation in this matter, as well as the continued Trustees’ efforts to apply the best scientific methodology to “save what’s left” and safeguard the interconnected health of our community, environment and shellfish industry.
Mike Domino

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

Get up, get moving
I cannot let the letter “The Missing Piece” from the March 10 issue go unchallenged. In full disclosure, I’m a certified personal trainer and owner of a personal-training studio in Southold Town.
I cannot believe the writer’s inference of Dr. Pearson advocating a sedentary lifestyle over a more active one. Suggesting he’s informing his patients of a direct association of upper-body exercise causing an enlarged heart and possible death is a statement I think the doctor would run from — and fast.
I would like to think a cardiologist especially would greatly oppose a sedentary lifestyle, encourage an active lifestyle and advocate exercising.
Perhaps the writer misunderstood the doctor’s remarks relative to exercise and the heart muscle.
There are volumes of scientific and medical research supporting a healthy, active lifestyle. Exercising is a component of a healthy lifestyle and even with the risks is far better than the alternative. The days of “no pain, no gain” are long gone.
I encourage everyone to get up, get out and exercise. If you’re uncomfortable in starting a physical regimen, hire a certified trainer who’ll instruct, coach and motivate. Your increased body awareness and overall strength is worth the trip to the gym.
Your heart will love you for it.
Vin Ricciardi
Mr. Ricciardi owns Total Body Shoppe

A very grateful cast
Three packed houses and three great performances. On behalf of the entire cast of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” thank you.
It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, the Mattituck High School musical was just a dream for us. Thank you, too, to every person who “liked” our page on Facebook and supported us in our effort. We couldn’t have gotten this musical to happen without all the love from the community.
Also, a huge thank-you to everyone who ventured out to see our show. Performing for three nearly sold out houses was an absolute thrill. We are so happy to have been able to bring the Peanuts characters to life for you. An extra special thank-you to Cathy Hughes and all the lovely ladies at Dellaquila Beauty Salon for helping Lucy and Sally come to life each night. We are so grateful.
We are so lucky to live on the North Fork. Happiness is the only word that I have to describe this entire situation.
It has truly been an honor to help return musical productions to Mattituck High School. Thank you for helping make our dream come true, and enjoy all the future musicals at MHS.

Marissa Russo
Editor’s note: Ms. Russo is one of three Mattituck seniors who successfully petitioned the school board to approve funds to stage a musical. She also played Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

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

’Twas fine indeed
Thank you, Joe Corso, Cutchogue Fire Department and all the participants for a really great St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Frank Thorp

A call for more welfare reform
It has become apparent to me that push is coming to shove. The taxpayer is being trampled and taken advantage of. Once again, the government is butchering the golden goose, slowly but surely. The starved and wilting services taxpayers are expecting for their hard-earned money continue to dissipate as unnecessary social programs and government waste continue to grow and flourish.
I remember when sales tax was first introduced in New York. It was 2 percent, never to go up, and for education only! It appears that we may have been fooled. What do you think?
All of the financial cuts to the schools by the state or federal government are a fast-track recipe for disaster. Properly educating our youth might be the only way to compete on a global economic stage. Cuts in school activities as well as competitive sports will cause our youth to become misguided and discontented and result in an increase in substance abuse and crime to a higher level than it is today.
The solution is to identify and report all illegal aliens of any nationality and decline financial assistance to those physically able to work or who fail a drug test. There is no logical reason for any person who is healthy to be on assistance.
Other areas should also be examined. We all know the cost to the taxpayer of taking care of those who are imprisoned for criminal activity. Public service work could be performed by some of them, such as repairing roads, rails, public lighting and sanitation. Jobs for which the individual may be suited can serve as an incentive to reduce the term of incarceration of the prisoner performing these services.
We as a people cannot permit government to cause our educational system to be diminished in any way. Quite the contrary — we are compelled by international competition in the marketplace to expand our children’s educational horizons and options.
Yes indeed our hope is for the future, and to learn from our past. Please prevent our elected officials from destroying all we have worked for, all our hopes for a bright future and even more important, all of what we have already funded with our hard-earned money.
Frederick Rodgers

Many generous folk
The Long Island agricultural community and Cornell University would like to thank Digger O’Dell’s Irish Pub for hosting a fundraiser for Cornell’s Horticultural Research Center in Riverhead.  
This has been an annual event for seven years and began as the idea of Joe Gergela and the Long Island Farm Bureau. Steve Wirth, the owner of Digger’s, generously donates all of the proceeds from the buffet dinner to Cornell University.  
All of the funds that are raised go directly to the Research Center and support research and extension projects that benefit Long Island agriculture. Special thanks go out to Mark Zaweski, Nate Corwin, Bennie Orlowski, Donna Gergela, Mark Sisson and Bob Kern for accepting our invitation to act as celebrity bartenders.  
In these difficult financial times, it is a pleasure to know people like Steve Wirth and all those who supported this event.
Dr. Mark Bridgen
director, Long Island Horticultural
Research & Extension Center