Tears of a different kind
My family is close friends with Michael Hubbard’s family, and since the night of his accident, not a day, sometimes not even an hour, goes by where I don’t shed tears.
I cry for my son’s friend who lies in a hospital fighting so bravely and strong, and I cry for his mom, Nancy, who is by his bedside nonstop. Also for the rest of his family (Fran, Curtis, Carmen and Eddie), who visit them daily, who take on the burden of trying to remain strong for both Nancy and Mike, even though they sometimes feel weak themselves.
I cry for Mike’s friends, who at such a young age are not only missing their friend at school, they are being forced to grow up and learn lessons that they shouldn’t have to learn yet. And in selfish moments I cry for myself, thinking of the boy who with his cousin Kris has vacationed with our family and swims in my pool and made us laugh too many times to count.
Last weekend I was brought to tears again for Mike, but this time it was because of all the love this community has showed for him. Last Friday there was the car wash, which raised money and awareness. The next day at Wildwood Bowl, his bowling team and his cousin Kris put together another fundraiser. Fran (Mike’s aunt), one of the people who really knows me, told me several times not to make her cry … so I tried to be strong, but there were so many little actions that night that were so touching that they defeated me. Like the boy I saw walk up to the front desk, where there was a donation jug. He stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a lone bill and looked at it, then looked at the jug and slid it in. I know he was thinking of Mike as he did so. There was also the moment when Fran won the 50/50 and after she donated it back to Mike, the first thing she did was call Nancy at the hospital.
As we were leaving, I stopped at the table where the team moms had been selling raffle tickets and told them what a great job they had done. I knew they had probably met Mike because of the team, but it meant so much that they, along with their kids, had done this for him. All the while I was tearing, Mrs. Horton, whose son had a major hand in the whole event, and I hugged and tears were in her eyes. At that time she said the two of us would be no good together, and laughter broke through!
It was nice to cry for the goodness in people, and their desire to be a helping hand in Michael’s recovery. Really that’s all we all want, for Michael to recover.
We’re doing our best on homelessness
Your story “Crackdown coming at Wading River Motel?” that ran June 17 was somewhat an ambiguous characterization of homeless women of varying races, sunning themselves at the motel. Homelessness still suffers an unwarranted stigma. Virtually all the homeless that we work with are hardworking, decent folks who have lost housing due to unemployment, domestic violence, disability and/or other dire circumstances.
I am afraid I was misquoted in saying, “It is imprudent for us to place families in the communities where they are from.” On the contrary, I believe it is a vital necessity to keep families as close as possible to their children’s schools, friends and their personal support systems. This department also believes the Wading River Motel, located in a sparsely populated area, is ideal compared to the Riverhead motels no longer used that DSS had used for decades in the more densely populated areas of town. Once our 52 shelters in Suffolk have room, we will stop all placements at motels.
I am disappointed that Riverhead officials have not called DSS to discuss their concerns. The new owners of the motel are most reputable, and already operate similar motels for homeless clients in western Suffolk towns. I personally have kept in touch with the Riverhead Police. We are glad to work to resolve the town’s concerns. Indeed, practically all of the Wading River Motel’s residents are from Riverhead.
Homelessness is a lose-lose proposition, clearly expensive for local taxpayers. It grates at the fabric of the homeless family. But maybe it isn’t as bad in Suffolk County, where DSS housing staffers have worked to control costs by finding quality, affordable, underutilized resources in less populated areas, and by reducing the stay in motels and helping 30 to 40 homeless families per month to move into permanent housing.
As I drove to work this morning, I saw many Riverhead children and their mothers at bus stops around town. These mothers were chatting among themselves, some on cell phones and all vigilant in their supervision of excited children, eagerly anticipating their cherished summer vacation; very similar to writer Vera Chinese’s observation of those at the Wading River Motel. If we at DSS have succeeded at anything, we have hopefully lessened the stigma for anyone seeking assistance from domestic violence and homelessness, and have created an environment where it is hard to distinguish the playing children whose families still have their homes from those whose families are homeless.
commissioner, Suffolk County Department of Social Services
Editor’s note: Mr. Blass said ‘prudent’ in his interview with a reporter, not ‘imprudent.’ The News-Review regrets the error.
It takes knowledge to combat drugs
I attended the anti-drug forum two weeks ago at Mattituck High School. I would like to thank the North Fork Alliance, Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Southold Town Youth Bureau as well as all the support groups that were there in support of it, such as Alateen, Outreach and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.
There was a lot I did not know and I am glad I went. I did not know that “Kush” was slang for pot or that the percentage of THC in pot has gone from 3 percent to about 10 percent over the last 20 years. I did not know that there are shoes, soda cans and chapstick look-alikes that are actually manufactured to hide drugs, or that a 17-year-old caught driving drunk with a 14-year-old in the car could get four years in jail. I did not know that some studies of energy drink use suggest that their overuse by teens may be an indicator of future drug abuse.
During the two-hour presentation I was continually amazed at how much I didn’t know. If you were not able to attend, I would encourage you to spend time learning about current drug abuse trends and to attend any future workshops on the subject. As I learned, having informed parents in a community can be a great defense against the dangers of drug abuse.
Proud of downtown
I urge the developers, politicians and local merchants of Riverhead to refrain from the desire to rename downtown Riverhead. It is not the Bay District or the Emerging District Neighborhood. Neither of these names have any meaning to anyone. They are not places.
As downtown Riverhead continues to pick itself up out of the ashes, there is no need to run from the name. Conversely, the name should be embraced as a symbol of the little town that could. It should represent the hard work and determination of those who are responsible for making it a success. Downtown Riverhead is something of which to be proud, not something of which to be ashamed.
A lousy way to raise revenue
Is Riverhead and Suffolk County trying to balance their budgets off forgetful taxpayers?
This year I did not receive the courtesy reminders from the town (which it has no obligation to do) and I forgot the second-half taxes were due May 31. I realized my mistake and went to Riverhead Town Hall on June 2, two days late, to pay my taxes and received quite a shock. Since it was too late, I was directed to the county treasurer’s office at the County Center. First, the county charged me a 5 percent penalty of $135. Then they added that to my base tax of $2,702 for a subtotal of $2,837. Finally, they charged 5 percent of that figure for interest of $142. That amount of interest for two days amounts to a rate of over 900 percent!
Maybe it’s just me, but an additional $277 for being two days late seems a bit excessive. I’ll have Post-it notes all over my house to remind me next year.
Rein in cyclists
Does anyone else feel that the number of weekend cyclists on the road has become a hazard? I was traveling on Peconic Bay Boulevard this weekend following black spandex shorts and number tags. And not just five to 10 cyclists, it was more like 50 to 75 on the road at one time. Plus they all stopped at Mattituck park, taking up half of Peconic Bay Boulevard. I would hate for an accident to be a reason something is done about this. It is time to establish some regulations.
It’s high time for watering regs
I read the News-Review’s editorial in the Opinion section titled “Yet another warning”. With over four inches of rain falling within the past few weeks I still see automatic sprinkler systems putting water on the lawns. I see systems with broken heads that are pouring hundreds of gallons of fresh water an hour into the street and down the drains. I see automatic systems on even while its raining, and I also see people watering at 3 p.m. on a windy and sunny afternoon with much of the water either being blown away or evaporating. Yet with all this waste the town still has not implemented odd-even watering days based on your address, or imposed no watering of lawns between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
So I guess that only when we run low on water, such as the severe drought conditions that exist in many areas of the country even now, will this town start some sort of water rationing. But by then it might be too late and there will be no more water left for drinking, and much less water for our lawns and shrubs.
Thomas W. Smith
About time Catholics speak on gay marriage
For a long time us Catholics wondered when the big wigs were going to speak out on gay marriage.
Well it looks like someone rang their bell and woke them up.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan and our own Bishop William F. Murphy went public. Loud and clear. Alleluia.
It’s about time.
What they proclaimed was what us loyal and true Christians, especially us die-hard Catholics, have been beating the drum for: “The State should not pretend words have no meanings and relations are the same.” Right on guys.
So to the spineless politicians upstate, play your political games but don’t tread on us. Christians are alive and kicking. But if, God forbid, these wimps pass a new law, “it will compromise any and every truth” as we believe and proclaim.
LaValle is wrong to oppose gay marriage
Senator Ken LaValle claims, erroneously, that “he didn’t think his constituency was prepared to accept gay marriage.” This from a senator whose district includes Port Jefferson, the Hamptons and the North Fork — all areas housing thousands of gay families and their supportive neighbors. He appears to align himself with bigots like “the Donald,” John Boehner, Newt Gingrich and state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. I wonder if they are still reeling over freeing the slaves or giving women the right to vote.
They don’t get it, but both respected Quinnipiac and Siena opinion polls show that 58 percent of New Yorkers do “get it.“ Indeed, nationwide those in favor of LGBT rights now outnumber those opposed.
For timid politicians lacking the courage to do the right thing, religion usually trumps the civil rights they are elected to protect. They are influenced by conservative churches and fundamentalist lobbying groups like the National Organization for Marriage. Doesn’t Senator LaValle know there still is separation of church and state in this country? Marriage for gays is, as for straights, a sacred pledge to honor the mate. The model is not great for heterosexuals, who now have a 50 percent divorce rate.
The District of Columbia and five states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont) already permit gay marriages. California lost its right to Prop 8. Can he imagine the significance of such a precedent in a democracy, taking away civil rights from a minority? Another 12 states recognize or accept marriages or civil unions from jurisdictions that allow it. Our Empire State traditionally has led, not followed, the nation.
At latest count, 17 countries sanction fully recognized gay marriage and some 24 others recognize civil unions and registered partnerships as civil, not religious, contracts. Even staunchly Roman Catholic countries, including Ireland, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and some parts of Mexico, recognize gays’ right to marriage with the same benefits as heterosexuals. The USA considers itself a first-world leader and dictates to others what they must do to improve their civil rights records. On Friday, the State Department of the U.S. hailed the passing of a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution granting equality to LGBT people as “historic.”
There are over 1,100 federal rights and hundreds of state rights that straights get and gays don’t. So, yes, gay marriage is important to this last disenfranchised minority in Senator Lavalle’s state.
He might consider the Pledge of Allegiance recited by every school child in America celebrating our republic. Its lines are NOT “with liberty and justice for all heterosexuals.” Our Constitution guarantees, among other “inalienable rights,” “the pursuit of happiness.” It does not say “for straights only.”
If Senator LaValle is so determined to deny the rights he enjoys to others, I suggest he heed the words of Whoopi Goldberg: “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry one.”
Edwin Blesch Jr.
Driver story on the mark
I am the maternal grandmother of race car driver Timmy Solomito. Please thank Mike Perricone on his gracious article on Timmy that ran in the June 9 paper. It was written with compassion and was thoroughly correct in content. My family has met Mike at the raceway and he is just as kind there as is the way he writes. It was also thoughtful of him to include Timmy’s brothers, Jerry and Shawn. Timmy is making progress but it can’t be fast enough for him. Thank you again.