Letters to the Editor: Nov. 10, 2011

11/10/2011 6:00 AM |


We cannot tolerate hate speech

I think the entire Riverhead Blue Waves football team should be commended for the restraint they showed over the last two weeks in the face of verbal abuse that included racial epithets coming from the Newfield football players. Our boys were called the n-word on more than one occasion; Newfield players could even be heard shouting “white power” from the huddle in the first of two games the two teams played against each other.

I think it takes a lot of guts to stand there and have somebody say all those things to you as you play. This past game in Riverhead, the town had police on hand in case the same things happened again. Though not much was said this time around, I felt like, the first time the n-word was said on that field two weeks ago, the game should have been over and the team should have been disqualified — and disqualified from the playoffs. Newfield, a mostly white team, was doing this to try to intimidate our kids, and it’s not fair. These kids had to stand there and listen to these words being called. We, as parents, felt they were out in the wilderness, because we couldn’t do anything about it.

But I’m proud of the Blue Waves and the players shouldn’t be walking around with their heads down. We have to give them credit because they showed good sportsmanship; I couldn’t have done it. They showed guts, and that also shows that the parents here are doing a job by their kids.

The very one time a Riverhead student came back at a Newfield student over one thing that was said this past week, Riverhead got a flag. But how come no flags were thrown during the first game?

Moving forward, if an n-word or any sort of hate speech is used in a high school game, that should be it.

Game over.

Zelma Stevens


Getting budget issues straight

I have found a number of inaccuracies in a Nov. 3 News-Review article titled “Is the town’s highway fund being raided?” that I would like to respond to.

First, the article states that “Mr. Rothaar said Mr. Woodson has overspent the department’s equipment budget by $200,000 and his gasoline budget by $54,000.” The account that is overdrawn is not my equipment account but my equipment repair account. The balance in my repair account currently is -47,258 and that shortfall is due to being budgeted only $350,000 to repair and maintain over 80 vehicles.

I was requesting a transfer of $200,000 into my repair account to carry us through the end of the year.

The next error in your article, attributed to Mr. Rothaar, is that my gasoline (and oil and grease) account is overdrawn by $54,000. I currently have a balance of $22,988. This balance would be much higher if the Town Board had not transferred $21,000 from my gas account to cover the step increases for highway employees that should have already been budgeted for and the additional costs associated with Tropical Storm Irene. I have requested the transfer of $54,000 to cover my cost through the end of the year.

Your article also states that “The town has traditionally required the highway department and other departments to pay charge-backs to the general fund, but that amount has increased in recent years, from $540,300 in highway charge-backs in 2008 to $738,800 in 2010.”

While there have been administrative charge-backs for other departments, the highway department had never paid an administrative charge-back until the 2008 budget. And according to state Highway Law, the administrative charge-backs are only allowed for special districts and does not apply to the highway district. Only expenditures for highway purposes may be paid from the highway fund.

George Woodson

Riverhead highway superintendent


From ‘the other’ Carol Lee

I am writing regarding the letter from Carol Lee. It was not from me, but another person named Carol Lee. My husband and I have always had very positive experiences at Peconic Bay Medical Center; nothing to complain about at all! I would also like to thank the many people who have inquired about my husband since reading the letter about her husband’s post-surgery struggle.

Carol M. Lee


Politics putting lives at risk

On the night of Saturday, Oct. 15, after having a wonderful dinner on the North Fork, I returned home, showered, relaxed and decided to lie down and watch TV. Suddenly I had a stabbing pain in the top of my left shoulder and started vomiting uncontrollably. Thinking I had food poisoning and being a typical guy, I put off going to the hospital in hopes that I would feel better. After about 30 minutes, we drove to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.

Some may remember my thoughts about Peconic Bay written back in March: It’s not the “dump” it used to be and a much better place than its reputation on the South Fork suggests.
I was immediately triaged and brought into a room in the back. After a quick EKG it was determined that I was having a heart attack. Scurrying began and I was quickly hooked up to multiple IVs providing clot-busting drugs and given a handful of other medications to help stabilize me. I was also informed that an advanced life support ambulance would be carrying me to Stony Brook for a cardiac catheterization and, ultimately, several days in the cardiac ICU.

Stony Brook successfully implanted a stent in my blocked artery — I had a 100 percent blockage of the artery known as “the widow maker” — and the follow-up care and treatment ensued, all delivered in excellent form.  However, the ambulance ride from Peconic to Stony Brook was the longest ride of my life. And it brings to mind the question, why isn’t there a cardiac cath lab on eastern Long Island? The answer might shock you. It’s not because the technology isn’t available or the physicians necessary aren’t on the East End. It’s because of politics.

NYS is not certifying any more cardiac cath labs in the state.

My situation worked out very well, thank God. And a special thank you to the doctors, nurses and paramedics who I came in contact with. But others may not be as lucky; I urge our local politicians to advocate on our behalf and bring the medical care on the East End where it needs to be for the 21st century and beyond. Peconic Bay Medical Center is doing its part. We need to please encourage assemblymen Fred Thiele and Dan Losquadro and Senator Ken Lavalle to push for the necessary certifications. The next ambulance may carry you.

Jaime Siegel


Why even work?

I am the owner of a small pest control business in Calverton who had an employee quit his full-time position with us in August 2010. He took another job and was fired a month later. He filed for unemployment benefits and was granted them. My account was charged for his weekly benefits of $382.50 per week. I objected and requested a hearing. Two months later, at the hearing, I was informed the law states that even though he voluntarily quit, he was fired by the new employer and therefore, my account had to be charged for his benefits and my objection was denied. I offered him his job back the next day but he refused to report. I then reported his refusal to report. After another two months I was told he did not renew his state certification, which he needed for the job, because he couldn’t afford the $450 fee. The state denied my objection and allowed him to continue collecting unemployment benefits charged to my account. I offered to hire him back and recertify him, pay for his license renewal and give him $17.78 per hour, full time, and 100 percent paid medical, dental and prescription plan. Plus a Simple IRA pension, holidays and paid a vacation. His pay during his training period, approximately one week, would have been $12.78 per hour. Yesterday I got a determination letter stating only that my job offer of $12.78 per hour for an apprentice was “substantially below that is prevailing for similar work in the locality, ($13.76.)” They did not allow or ask me to increase the offer; they just let him stay out of work collecting benefits.

This exemplifies a problem with the systems of our government, which allows people to abuse the system to collect benefits to which they should not be entitled, which in turn is unfair to employers and out-of-work Americans that really want to work!

Skip Weaver

Another Pest Control Corp.


Don’t forget other development project

Many, including the News-Review in a recent editorial (“Saving Sound Avenue,” Oct. 27), have acknowledged the importance of preserving the rural character of Sound Avenue in light of the county’s imminent purchase of a 4-acre parcel on the corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue in Riverhead. And although I could not agree more that it’s much better for all of us that this parcel become a wooded 9/11 memorial instead of more retail space, I cannot help but be struck by a glaring omission in most of this feel-good talk.

There’s another proposal for Sound Avenue, and this one’s even bigger. Yes, the land is owned by the same man and, yes, there were similar last-minute changes to the town’s comprehensive plan that resulted in the commercial zoning that got us into this predicament. I guess this sort of thing happens when you have a big fish in a small pond. But it shouldn’t matter who owns it and it shouldn’t matter how east or west it is. If a smaller retail/restaurant project was wrong for Sound and Park then a larger project is at least just as wrong for the western tip of Sound Avenue.

The Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition has taken a strong position against new commercial development and significant expansions of commercial businesses on Sound Avenue. RNPC members attained hundreds of petition signatures, participated in events and lobbied officials about the Sound and Park parcel. So, of course, I and other RNPC members are also steadfast in our opposition to a 30-store mall at the very entrance to Sound Avenue.

After all, Sound Avenue is a designated historic rural corridor that is integral not only to the daily lives of residents who cherish it but also to the livelihoods of those who work the land and benefit from our agriculturally inspired economy. As a community we need to fight to protect this entire rural corridor. We are all one Riverhead. Let’s continue to work together to keep retail and other unwanted commercial development off all Sound Avenue.

Dominique Mendez


Why Poland for K-9?

Outrageous! That was the first word that came to mind when I read that the newest police dog came from Poland.

I fully support a new canine to assist the town police department, but with all the American dogs killed in U.S. shelters — many in kill facilities like Riverhead’s pound — no one thought to rescue one of our own dogs to train?

In addition, as town-owned property, why isn’t the dog being housed at the pound? Oh, because it is short on staffing, it is unsafe and because there is no room for him. Not to mention the 27 poor, innocent dogs already there.

Sandra Lee Mott


Does supervisor really care?

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter recently sent a glossy mailer to Wading River residents telling us how much he appreciates the qualities of the area. If he actually cared, why has he not led the Town Board to declare a moratorium for the proposed huge retail developments while a study is done?

Gaynell Stone


Demand more of the Navy

On short notice, the U.S. Navy held an informational public meeting on its suggested plan to clean up the toxic plume at the former Navy/Grumman airfield in Calverton. The meeting, like the plan, was only a good first step. More — much more — is needed.

Only a dozen or so interested people showed up at this meeting. The North Fork Environmental Council and others are hoping the Navy will agree to hold a better publicized meeting at a larger, more central venue, as this is a matter important to all who are concerned about polluted groundwater, drinking water and waters flowing into the Peconic River.

Public comments on the plan can be submitted in writing up through Dec. 12. While we encourage people to read the full report before submitting comments, we strongly suggest that you raise your voice and demand another, more interactive informational hearing so that you may hear and better understand the details of the plan directly from the Navy and their consultants.

While the plan is well thought out, it is but half a solution. For now, full active remediation efforts will take place only on the Navy property along the fence line and north, which includes the area at the heart of the plume. The larger portion of the plume — which extends from the fence line area down through the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club, whose wells are tainted and closed, to the Peconic River — will have no active cleanup steps taken for the time being.

The reason given for the delay is the Navy’s need to collect more data from this ever-shifting portion of the plume and the need to study and develop new active cleanup processes that won’t adversely affect the wetlands and river, and the wildlife each supports. While such a delay and actions have some merit, the history of this plume has been one of delays and inaction. We can’t just sit and hope that the problem will fade with time. That’s how we got to this critical position in the first place.

A copy of the Navy’s plan can be found at Riverhead Free Library and online, including the NFEC website.

Bill Toedter

president, NFEC


Educating the assessor

I am responding to the letter Town Assessor Mason Haas wrote (“Educate Yourself,” Nov. 3).

I never stated that anyone of any opposition party would be targeted as to their property evaluation and I don’t know where he got this information. I am fully aware of the grievance procedures.

Mr. Haas stated that the assessor’s job is “administrative.” If that is the case, why do we need an election? He could have been appointed by the Town Board. The job is political, as Mr. Haas was on the Republican ticket and I was on the Democratic ticket. Healthy government requires a two-party system and it is sorely needed in Riverhead, especially on the Town Board and in the assessor’s office.

If Mr. Haas had checked further with the town clerk, he would have found I requested a copy of a document under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) in June 2010 and the town did not give me the information until December 2010. The copy had many deletions. I went to the town attorney’s office three times, sent emails and made several phone calls to get information.

My next FOIL request was in January 2011 and I had to wait until April 2011 to get information. Again deletions were made in the reports. A total of over eight months to obtain information. This is why we need open government. I have the documents to prove what I have stated.

Robert Svoboda