Letters: Cablevision concerns, Tim Bishop and Big Oil

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island resident Walt Fogarty mentions Congressman Tim Bishop (pictured) in his letter on oil prices.

Kudos to Novak

To the Editor:

My thanks and congratulations to Vincent Novak for a wonderfully informative and provocative article, “A Bridge too small,” in the Reporter on March 15. I am one of those Cablevision customers who has been wondering about the more frequent freezing and pixelating of the programs I watch on cable television.

Now I understand the problem. Mr. Novak points out the seriousness of these problems being caused by the limited bandwidth and obsolete technology being provided by Cablevision to us here on Shelter Island at a very high cost!

He also makes several timely and important suggestions for the town to take up prior to an agreement for a new 10-year lease to Cablevision, making them the sole provider for Internet, phone and cable services for many of us.

I strongly suggest the town use Mr. Novak’s expertise either as a consultant or to head an advisory committee to the Town Board regarding Cablevision negotiations. It would be tragic to let this opportunity pass and be stuck with a more and more inferior product at a more and more expensive cost to the residents of our Island.

Finally, I believe that Mr. Novak’s suggestion of trenching cable and electrical lines along Route 114 is a terrific idea. It seems we did something similar when we had severe flooding a while ago. This would be both a safety and a quality of life issue for many of us on the Island. So, thanks again, Mr. Novak.

Hay Beach

More on Cablevision

To the Editor:

Thank you, Vincent Novak, for bringing some expertise to an intimidating technology. I am suffering cable anxiety, as have many other Islanders.

Line maintenance, programming and Internet access need continuous oversight. A future with buried optical cables would serve us better. How to pay for it?

I received a reply from the FCC when I innocently assumed they were the appropriate agency to complain to. I quote part of their reply, received in September from Sharon C. Bowers, Division Chief, consumer inquiries and complaints division: “The FCC no longer has the authority to act on consumer complaints regarding cable television rate increases. Local franchises are authorized to oversee the rates charged for basic service and the equipment used to receive basic service unless the cable system is found to be subject to “effective competition as defined in the Communications Act.”

Obviously, there is no effective competition! FiOS stops well to the west.

The FCC rules that basic service be offered and must contain Broadcast Basic plus government stations. PERIOD. The FCC has little jurisdiction over anything else, despite Cablevision’s misleading assurances to the opposite, made when their delegate recently appeared before our Town Council.

Here is a quote from the same FCC letter (a photocopy of which was given to Jim Dougherty and Peter Boody). “The local franchising authority, with the consent of the Cablevision system operator also may adopt and enforce customer service requirements that are more stringent than the standards adopted by the commission.” This legalese is all the more reason for town leaders to hire a tech expert as well as an attorney.

Rates and programming as well as technology are on the table. The FCC offers nothing. FCC authority has been greatly reduced,  deferring to local rule.

The Town Council should discuss with Cablevision:

1. The content and rates of all programming packages.

2. Eliminate two rates, regular and booster for Internet access.

3. Oppose  requirements that obligate us to rent  boxes for each set, both analog and digital. This is egregious.

The town, as the local franchisee, has to step up. Deregulation does not mean no regulation, it means local regulation … new responsibility for all of us, like it or not!

Shelter Island

Energy ideas

To the Editor:

Mr. Grossman infers in his March 8 Suffolk Closeup that U.S. gas and oil prices are up and that Big Oil companies, not too little oil and gas supplies and too much demand, are the reasons for these high prices.

I must agree with Mr. Grossman and his acolyte, Mr. Bishop, that oil and gas prices are up. In 2011, the average annual prices of oil and gas were higher than any time in the last 150 years. In 2012, these prices continue to skyrocket.

So what’s the problem?

Mr. Grossman says Big Oil and not oil and gas supplies is the problem. U.S. gas and oil supplies were up (modestly) in 2011, versus prior years. This I might add was thanks to Big Oil’s fracking on private and state lands in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma. What Mr. Grossman fails to mention are the missed opportunities to increase U,S. gas and oil supplies substantially by remedying the following problems.

The average number of deep water drilling permits approved monthly by the federal government in 2011 was down 30 percent.

Lease sales for onshore drilling were at, and remain at, all time lows.

Clear bipartisan local and state support for new drilling along the Mid Atlantic coast, eastern gulf and Alaska has been ignored.

Support for hydro fracking that is now on the verge of making the U.S. the world leader in natural gas has been non-existent.

Now Mr. Grossman believes we should put our support behind green energy to lower energy prices. Once more we are in agreement but let’s not ignore the green energy problems that will take years, maybe generations to resolve:

Green energy now costs five to seven times more than gas, oil and coal.

Government subsidies of green energy are 100 times that of oil per unit of energy produced.

To replace the energy (nuclear) produced by Indian Point that supplies one-third of New York City’s energy needs, you would need to cover the entire state of Rhode Island with wind terminals.

We need green energy. We also need time, lots of it, to resolve green energy’s problems.

Now, what about Big Oil? There are thousands of oil companies in the world today and many of them are bigger than Exxon. My guess is that Exxon has less than 5 percent of the world market. How in the world are 1,000 different companies going to agree to control prices?

This week, go to Riverhead and buy gas. Over 20 brands are available to purchase. Over five countries are represented.

Enough said.

Shelter Island