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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

COURTESY PHOTO Writers took exception to the Reporter's editorial of August 18 on Congressman Lee Zeldin's (above) support of Donald Trump.

COURTESY PHOTO
Writers took exception to the Reporter’s editorial of August 18 on Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (above) support of Donald Trump.

Demagoguery?
To the Editor:
The Shelter Island Republican Committee extends a heartfelt thanks to everybody who braved the heat and ensured our BBQ was a success. A special thank you must be extended to Congressman Zeldin, Senator LaValle, CNN Political Analyst Jeffrey Lord and to all of the volunteers and their families.

Unfortunately, the committee must take exception to the insulting editorial in last week’s Reporter. The editorial board abandoned any pretense of responsible journalism and joined the shrill chorus of angry voices attacking anything and anybody related to Donald Trump.

Most offensively, the piece was less a criticism of Mr. Trump or even Congressman Zeldin, about whom the editorial was purportedly written, than it was an attack on their supporters. It stated in no uncertain terms that if you support Mr. Trump, you are either a racist or mentally deficient, and should be ostracized. The editorial expressed no valid viewpoint, but merely bullied people to frighten them away from voting and voicing their convictions.

We never expected the Reporter to endorse Mr. Trump or Mr. Zeldin, but anticipated a reasoned case in opposition to them.

Instead, the editors spent the bulk of their so-called argument impugning, belittling and condemning ordinary people who disagree with their political views; the same sin they lay at the feet of Mr. Trump.

Is this how the Reporter chooses to promote civil discourse? Shouldn’t the purpose of an editorial be to enlighten and persuade, not bully and demean? As a community, are we at the point of accusing our friends and neighbors of being racists, sexists and xenophobes simply because we disagree politically? The Reporter seems to think so. This demagoguery contributes a chilling effect on free speech, an issue you would expect any thoughtful journalist to consider seriously.

Their final paragraph of the editorial is laughable as it laments the loss of civility in political discourse. As the editors wring their hands in search of an explanation, perhaps they should look into the closest mirror.
ROBERT DeSTEFANO JR.
Chairman, Shelter Island Republican Committee

Many faults
To the Editor:
I thought the purpose of an editorial was to provoke civil discussion? Apparently the Reporter would rather use its platform to hurl epithets at fellow Islanders because they disagree politically.

Mr. Trump’s warning that the election might be rigged unless certain safeguards are enacted is somehow “taking a [verbal] sledge hammer to the cornerstone of American democracy” according to the editor. Preventing voter fraud is a threat to democracy? A rather sardonic view from the left considering they still accuse President Bush of “stealing” Florida in 2000 while somehow rigging the Supreme Court.

The editor stated that a religious test for a refugee is unconstitutional. Federal Law, Section 1158 of Title 8 U.S. Code, requires religion to be taken into account for any person seeking asylum. Before a person is granted refugee status and asylum from persecution, they must take a “religious test.” The reason is simple; asylum is directed by law to address persecution. It does not rely on the whims of the executive branch.

The editor also believes Mr. Trump is a racist for wanting to secure our southern border with the rule of law. If following U.S. Federal Law is vile, racist and dangerous to you, perhaps you should examine the atrocities the Mexican government has encouraged on their southern border and to the people of Guatemala due to an absence of law and order.

The editor implied Mr. Trump is anti-Semitic. An ironic conclusion in this election cycle considering it was the leadership of the Democratic National Committee that attempted to coordinate a disgusting attack on Bernie Sanders’ Jewish heritage during the primaries of Kentucky and West Virginia.

Mrs. Clinton is the most corrupt person in modern American politics. As secretary of state she claimed to be the defender of human rights across the globe; well, except in countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation. Apparently the oppression of women’s rights, the persecution of religious beliefs and the execution of homosexuals all had a price for Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Trump has many faults but none include personally profiting by selling American foreign policy to the highest bidder.
GARY BLADOS
Shelter Island
Editor’s note: The editorial made no reference to laws regulating refugees, but instead said Mr. Trump, who has called for a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the country, is “pushing an unconstitutional religious test to enter the U.S.”

Months of no action
To the Editor:
It has been over six months since I experienced the intensity of concrete grinding next door. I have not seen the Town Board address the code to give the town power to stop or regulate this activity.

How hard is it to implement a provision in the town code to regulate concrete grinding? Considering the lengths the town has gone in the direction to regulate docks and moorings, I should think it would be simple to insert into the code the language that gives definition to concrete grinding and the need to get a permit from the Building Department.

That would give enforcement action some teeth, where now, as I am told by the police chief, all that could be done is a summons issued with no stop-work order. In other words, a ticket would be issued and the grinding could continue.

I would like a reply from the board on this matter.
ROBERT WAIFE
Shelter Island

Numbers game
To the Editor:
How times have changed! School Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik was quoted in the Reporter (“School supe: Test results move from ‘good to great,’” August 18) stating that the Shelter Island School has moved from “good to great” based on the results of state test scores.

Reading the article, it seems that in math, 20 of the 42 students who took the test scored “below or well below grade level.” That amounts to 48 percent of Shelter Island students who were below or seriously below grade level in math. In English, 25 of the 48 students who took the test scored “below or well below grade level” in English. That amounts to 52 percent of Shelter Island students who were below or seriously below grade level in English.

When 50 of our students are below or well below grade level in math and/or English, I would not call this “great,” as Mr. Skuggevik does. I would not even call these results good. And this does not take into account those students whose parents opted them out of the testing because, arguably, they might have done poorly.

It is time to take a closer look at how our students, the Island’s most precious commodity, are really doing in school, especially when it costs well over $40,000 to educate each student here on Shelter Island.
BOB FREDERICKS
Shelter Island

Not quantum mechanics
To the Editor:
Your recent article on the Shelter Island School test scores was uncharacteristically misleading and inaccurate.

A cursory reading of the fifth paragraph could lead one to conclude that only four students in the school achieved level four proficiency in reading. Surely this is a mistake, as is the arithmetic contained in the paragraph. It is inconceivable that a school system that spends $40,000 per pupil and has two full-time administrators for 224 students can teach but four children to read with high proficiency. After all, we are not talking about quantum mechanics, we are talking about the basic, indispensable skill of reading.

Furthermore, if in fact that is the case, it is preposterous that the “Supe” would use adjectives like “good’ and “great” to describe the test results. It would appear that adjectives like “dismal” and “ abysmal” would be more appropriate.
DAVID OLSEN
Shelter Island

Score report lacking
To the Editor:
Many of us were dismayed by the cheerful tone of the article in the August 18 issue on the school’s test scores.

We understand that testing, in general, is a controversial topic. This is a state and federal issue affecting all public districts, not Shelter Island’s alone.

However, to report our current results as “going from good to great” is an inaccuracy on both the Reporter’s and the administration’s part.

According to school data, 89 students were eligible to take the tests — a fact not included in the article. Only 42 took the math and 48 took the English, approximately 50 percent of the eligible population.

The Reporter did report the 50 percent opt-out rate last spring, but in our opinion, neglected to include this important fact in this article. The school sent a letter out prior to testing to “remind” parents that their children could opt out. Certainly a more exact statistical analysis should be performed if these results are to be used as a comparison.

It is our opinion, that with the current “opt-out rate,” the test results do not come close to revealing the full picture of how most of students in our school are performing. If only half of the students are being tested, how do we truly measure the academic “greatness” of the entire student body? How do these results compare to past results when a larger percentage of students were tested?
CORI CASS
Shelter Island

Fight the good fight
To the Editor:
There is no question that this earth — which we love for all its natural wonder — is under tremendous stress from our behavior.

The sky above is full of junk, the air thick with pollution, the oceans used as a dumping ground for waste, and in our own backyards, poison being sprayed on a monthly basis. If you believe the earth is going to hell in a hand basket, why be a part of it?

Why not go down fighting the good fight, doing the right thing?

Those of you who sign onto having your lawns sprayed are adding to the already difficult time bees are having, and with the air filled with the sprayed residue, birds and insects are affected. The breezes carry the droplets of sprayed material to the water, and down they go where the small fish and other creatures hang out.

Most of the lawns I see with yellow warning signs are not even used, and if they are and you have pets, their feet absorb the poison.

The choice to spray is painful to witness. Cancel your contracts, lose a few dollars, be aware and inspect every itch you feel and go over your kids as if you were a mother monkey. We are losing our song birds, losing our bees and bugs, losing our crabs, and as I listen to the owls calling tonight, I know we will lose them also as the old trees are cut down .

The list is endless but we can at least start in our town to be apart of the whole by ceasing the spraying of neonicotinoids, also know as neonics.

JEAN LAWLESS
Shelter Island

An aging population
To the Editor:
The Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island is a nonprofit incorporated in 1998 and dedicated to promoting the interests, health and welfare of senior citizens on the Island. Over the past 18 years, we have made a difference in helping seniors improve their quality of life.

This week, in response to Ms. Judy Brandenstein’s generous gesture of selling a barely-used wheelchair-accommodating van to the town at a $7,000 discount to fair value, we have donated $36,000 to the town to purchase the van. The town has donated $2,000 towards the purchase. The van will be transferred into the town’s name and the town will maintain the vehicle. We hope to settle the transfer as quickly as possible.

There are at least 12 wheelchair-bound seniors who would immediately benefit having this vehicle available, saving the town ferry fees and allowing more volunteers to drive the van. This is a need that is only going to grow as our population continues to age.

Islanders over 60 make up 51 percent of the Center’s population and 47 percent of the Heights. We are de facto a naturally occurring retirement community. The old paradigm of having three and four generations on the Island to look after the older ones has been broken by the fact that people in the age group 25 to 34 make up 3 percent of the town’s population. Where are our firefighters and police and ambulance crews going to come from?

We are making this contribution in honor of Howard Brandenstein, a bulwark of the Island community and 2012 Lions Citizen of the Year. He added so much to any organization to which he belonged.

Anyone wishing to contribute to this effort can visit our website — siseniorfoundation.org — and click on “donate,” then click donate again at the bottom of the page.
WILLIAM P. SEEBERG
Treasurer, Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island

Tribute to Boris
To the Editor:
I have been somewhat remiss in not having acknowledged the sudden passing last month of my friend and fellow boat lover, Boris Hazell.

While he was perhaps not known Island-wide, he was a familiar figure in the harbors of Shelter Island and Greenport. A native of the Caribbean island of Bequia, Boris came to the United States and made a career in high-end boat maintenance. Boris’ talent with a brush was unequaled.

While he had his shortcomings, as do we all, there was not a malicious bone in his body. He loved his children with a passion. In fact, he loved all kids and they loved him back. If he drove you crazy, as sometimes he did, it was never intentional. It probably stemmed from his laid-back philosophy.

Whatever the case, during the decade-plus that I knew him, he went from a talented worker to a good friend. He lent a special spark to the local harbors and his presence will be missed.

I know that I will always remember and miss him as I enjoy the countless things that his hand touched.

JAMES W. EKLUND
Shelter Island

Promoting nuclear
To the Editor:
Despite anti-nuclear activists’ protests (“Bailing out nuclear plants,” August 11), it’s impossible to achieve the goals defined in the New York State Clean Energy Standard (CES) without supporting the state’s largest provider of clean energy — nuclear power.

Our statewide nuclear plants prevent over 21.4 million metric tons in carbon emissions, the equivalent of keeping 4.8 million cars off the road annually. Additionally, these nuclear facilities provide great economic output for their local communities as well as the state with $2.5 billion in annual economic output and thousands of jobs.

Despite nuclear opponents’ belief in wind and solar as the primary energy sources of the future, these can only produce energy while the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. Nuclear power plants produce safe, clean, zero carbon energy 24/7, 365 days a year. If we lose our statewide nuclear facilities, that void would be largely filled by natural gas — which emits carbon.

Environmentalists across the country, including Environmental Progress President Michael Shellenberger, have applauded the passage of the CES and its support of nuclear power. The benefits will far outweigh the costs of the program, though more should be done to reduce taxes and non-energy related surcharges on utility bills in New York. To achieve the goals defined by the CES, we must keep all of our clean energy sources as a bridge to a greater renewable energy future.
ARTHUR KREMER
New York City
Editor’s Note: Mr. Kremer is chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance.

Reporter Review
To the Editor:
Some thoughts on the August 18 Reporter: My dog Cinnamon was upset when I showed her the weekly cartoon. She was horrified by the reference to “a plastic knife” when I read her the text of the cartoon. Thought cartoon itself was cute, though.

The editorial attacking Lee Zeldin (“Common Sense”) because he supports Donald J. Trump, is outrageous: “I don’t feel uncomfortable at all.” Why should he? He is a Republican Congressman supporting the party’s candidate. Mr. Zeldin seems to be doing a great job, especially regarding issues here on the East End.

At least he is not creating visual pollution with signs all over the place. I wonder what tall tale Hillary Clinton is going to tell us next? The latest being Colin Powell’s directive that wasn’t, but there’s probably more to come.

The Shelter Island Olympics sports satire (“On the Half Shell”) was pure genius, I giggled all the way through it.

The tick business — online there is a photo of deer standing next to a 4-poster, but not with their heads through the rollers of deadly permethrin. Will it ever really get on their bodies? And if and when it does, how will it affect the animal? Permethrin studies are still very iffy. This project is a waste of money.

Burning small patches of areas where deer congregate, and beach grasses where ticks seem to be prevalent might help. The town has to get serious here. Lyme is no fun. All of the rental customers from my real estate office are given all of the tick information that the town and the county provide. But it’s not enough to know about the ticks, they need to be eradicated and the 4-posters are not working.

The town needs to contact all homeowners using the online rental sites and inform them of the town rules and regulations, information that is easy to obtain. The only person in our house bothered by short-term rentals is Cinnamon, who barks at strange cars, and lights that are on but should not be. There is your neighborhood watch.

And how about testing Fresh Pond (“Your letters”)? It sounds like there may be some very strange organisms growing there.

Who knows? Obviously not the town.
GEORGIANA KETCHAM
Shelter Island

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