Letters to the Editor: Dec. 1, 2011


Can’t have it both ways

Politicians in Riverhead seem to have a problem with the idea of sustainability. But I’m not talking about environmental sustainability (though they might have a problem with that as well), I’m talking about budgetary sustainability.

In budgeting, sustainability means having a balance between expenditures and revenue. When the town’s citizens require a service, the town must levy taxes in order to pay for those services. As the town’s population grows, it needs more services, especially during a recession. Yet somehow the town supervisor pushed through a budget that wasn’t balanced; it used reserve funds to seem balanced. This is something that has been going on in Riverhead for the last few years under both Mr. Walter and Phil Cardinale and is simply a huge one-shot in revenue. How can we be giving so many businesses tax shelters when we are $12 million in debt and facing a structural imbalance? Yes, it’s true that Riverhead needs more businesses. However, it’s not sustainable to grant corporations tax havens while sticking the average taxpayer with the bill.

Eventually Riverhead’s structural imbalance will cause huge problems for the town. The town needs to take a serious look at itself and decide what it needs — lower taxes and fewer services or higher taxes and more services. It’s practically and logically impossible to have both lower taxes and more services. This decision must be made sooner rather than later. It’s about time for our elected town leaders to come up with a solution that benefits Riverhead, not just their electability.

Drew M. Dillingham

Editor’s note: Mr. Dillingham is a student at Stony Brook University, where he is studying for a master’s degree in public policy. His father is a town employee by the same name.


Our time of need

I am sure we have all had someone say to us, “You live in Riverhead?” with that look of pity. We wish we could have brought all those doubters to Calverton Links on Nov. 10. We would have been able to look at them with pity for where they live. This town is absolutely amazing, and I am proud to be a part of it. Riverhead truly takes care of its own.

The town came out in force for Michael Hubbard and his family and then was able to rally around us in our time of need. Our family will never forget all that is being done for us. The level of support is astounding. There are no words to express our gratitude so we will leave it at thank you!

The Timpone family


What an effort

Denise Lucas, the founder and visionary that started the Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter group, held her second fundraiser at Polish Hall recently. I, along with other local and county officials, attended, only to find a room filled to capacity with over 300 supporters of the effort. Denise came to my office about two months ago with the idea of coordinating the public into fundraising for the betterment of animal care and conditions here, by relocating the outdated town shelter to a new and spacious site by collecting enough monies and materials to see it be cost-neutral to the town. At first I was skeptical, but after researching through the town attorney — and finding case law to support the town — it was off to the races. I proposed a resolution creating a trust fund, in which monies could be received by the town for the express purpose of moving and erecting a new shelter.

Denise started her fundraising, with the first event held at the Birchwood in October, raising over $5,000. This second one raised over $7,000. Denise has, through raffles and private donations, raised over $18,000 so far. Denise works for Otis Ford in Quogue and her boss, Tom Otis, donated $25 for every used and new vehicle sold in October to the MTAS. It was a good month, and he donated $2,250, I, along with Councilman John Dunleavy and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, presented a proclamation to him at Polish Hall.

I cannot express how proud I am of her efforts and her positive attitude to truly make a change the community not only can be proud of, but have a stake in. I have also been working to privatize shelter operations. The draft contract has been written and forwarded to the North Fork Animal Welfare League for consideration. It’s my hope that an agreement can be made that will mutually benefit the animals in our care, the taxpayers and the Welfare League. This has no impact on Denise’s fundraising efforts, and the town will own and maintain the physical structures and property the shelter is on.

Good things are happening, good people are working and supporting the efforts of one very strong-willed woman who wants the town to have a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility for dogs and cats, because she loves this town and wants the shelter to reflect how much we all care. Please visit the RMTAS website at www.rmtas.org to learn more.

Councilman Jim Wooten


NYC: You gotta try it

I have to agree completely with the first part of Ms. Chinese’s column. (Want to take Manhattan? Think twice,” Nov. 24) The media does portray the normal living conditions in Manhattan as though every twentysomething has a trust fund. If you don’t have a trust fund and you want to live in NYC you will have to share an apartment with one or several roommates. Your part of the shared apartment is likely to be smaller than your bedroom back home on the North Fork. You are most likely to find “affordable” housing in the outer reaches of Manhattan or in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, as the writer stated.

But not everything costs a lot of money. There are affordable local markets with better quality produce than you will find at Stop & Shop. There is a plentitude of small, local restaurants where you will get a decent meal for less than any of the Riverhead Main Street restaurants. And NYC is an extravaganza of free and inexpensive cultural/social activities. A movie ticket may cost a few bucks more than Cinema 16 but you can get to the theater without spending money on gas/insurance/maintenance of a car.

The subway is not “awful” any time of the year. The stations and subway cars have heat, A/C, are reliable and one of the best bargains in the world. The subway and bus system is convenient and runs 24/7, unlike most metropolitan cities. You can get a Metro card and travel most of the many miles of the system for a little more than two bucks! It will cost more than that to drive from the North Fork to Cinema 16.

Everything is not “filthy” either. Considering the number of people living in and visiting Manhattan, it is a very clean city compared to other cities in the world with high-density populations. As for the driving complaints, a local doesn’t drive in Manhattan, even if they are a trust fund baby. It is a great city for walking. If walking is not convenient, you take public transportation. When necessary, hail a taxi. Living without the burden of a car is a liberating experience.

Living in any major city is a experience that every twentysomething should embrace, if only for a short time. It’s a departure from the microcosmic bubble of the East End. You will learn social and financial skills you will never learn in a small town. Is it scary? Yes! Challenge yourself!

Small-town living is fabulous but if that is your only experience you are selling yourself short.

Thom D’Angelo


It was way off base

I’m a longtime subscriber who was startled at Ms. Chinese’s column last week. It was not clever or funny.

I grew up in Brooklyn and raised my children in the city and we’ve lived in Southold for over 25 years. They know about Washington Heights. They know that Columbia Presbyterian is one of the best hospitals in the world. I’ve taken them to Coogan’s pub, a place you can meet folks who are proud of their Dominican Republic background and meet firefighters and cops and nurses. It reminds me of Founders Tavern.

My daughters love Southold. They learned to swim here, they went to basketball camp in Mattituck, we went to Christmas tree lightings and learned how to drive here. We are huge fans of the North Fork Community Theatre.

Ms. Chinese is not accurate. The streets of New York are not full of urine and nutshells. Just like Southold, they are filled with people who are full of compassion and care.

Michael Regan


No place like NYC

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I am responding to Vera Chinese’s Nov. 24 column with a note about our family’s love affair with New York City. Every year for 27 years my husband, two daughters and I spend three months on the North Fork and nine months in NYC. Although we treasure the beaches, farms, small towns and friends we have made here, becoming “city people” has given us great joy.

New York is a big collection of villages. Apartments are small because the city is our living room, porch and backyard. It is a magnet for the world’s best and brightest. Creative, energetic young people flock to the city and rejuvenate neighborhoods creating new vibrant, fun and affordable communities. As for your concerns for “weirdos, murder and roaches” I don’t know what that means. Our family has never experienced a violent crime and there are many more bugs and rodents in our North Fork home than in the city. “Weirdos” defined as “unnatural and mysterious”?  My New York City is full of friends and friendly conversation on every block and in every shop. Our block association plants and cares for street trees and gardens. We bring food to ill neighbors, have a babysitting co-op for watching each other’s kids, host welcome parties for new neighbors and run food banks and Halloween parties. Perhaps people can seem mysterious only because we don’t know them.

At a young age, public transportation gave my daughters the freedom to explore parks, museums, music venues, mom and pop shops and inexpensive ethnic restaurants. They attended wonderful public schools with children of every religion and cultural background. Later, looking back, they told us that the city and its people were their best education.

We each have our own definition of a happy life. For us the beautiful and exciting experiences and personal interactions gives us a life that has been beyond happy. New York isn’t always easy, but great things usually aren’t. It makes you work a little harder, think a little harder. It forces you to interact with architecture, with ideas, with street musicians, people riding the subway, people talking to themselves. With life.

Ellen Wexler


Death of a holiday

On the Monday after Thanksgiving Day, the electronic and written media continued to hype the death of another American holiday to greed. They report a huge increase in sales this past weekend.

But let’s look at their comparison and see if it’s all they say it’s cracked up to be.

This year many retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving eve. Some even opened on Thanksgiving itself. This created a longer shopping window and created hype for what has become the new American holiday — Black Friday. It is now “fun” to shop on Thanksgiving Day.

The media is touting a huge increase in sales over last year, but what were the actual hourly sales? Was it the same as last year? There has to be a limited number of cash registers. Do you ever see more cash registers installed, or even more clerks using the ones still available?

Did the retailers increase the number this year? I doubt it. Instead, they increased the window of opportunity for sales and, in so doing, are bringing about the slow death of another American holiday.

So far they have claimed Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and even New Year’s Day. This is just one more holiday to conquer.

The first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast for the Pilgrims and Native Americans, a time to thank the creator, not to make commerce.

Yes, Virginia, it really is all about greed. And that greed was captured on the nightly news as shoppers camped out in front of stores and fought one another to get the deal of the day.
I recognize that consumer buying is necessary in order for the entire country to prosper. What I don’t recognize is why that buying must take place during Thanksgiving Day, the day before that and in the wee hours of the following morning.

If retailers must open early, why isn’t 6 a.m. early enough? As reported by family members, no one was in the stores at that hour. Why not extend the shopping window at the end of Black Friday instead of the beginning?

Sales may be up, but did the number of customers increase over the weekend from the same time as last year? People waiting in line for days before the sales start certainly says something about American values.

Let’s all return to the days of yesteryear, when family values overruled profits and the return on investment. If not, we have only ourselves to blame for the death of Thanksgiving.

Bob Bittner