Read the Reporter Letters to the Editor for the week


To the Editor:
Growing up on the Island, I was known to pen a provocative letter or two to the Reporter, but it has been a number of years since I have had to get a couple of items off my chest.

First of all, to the well-meaning young woman suggesting that the school take the allegedly insensitive Indian moniker off its sports teams (“Graduate wants new school mascot,” August 22), I beg her to consider this. I am guessing that nobody is proposing changing the name to the Shelter Island Hitlers. I am also guessing that Shelter Island Terrorists is off the table. There is a very good reason for that. We name teams our children play on after things we respect and admire … you know, like the Indians. Perhaps time and energy is better spent critiquing other local teams like the Whalers or the Settlers. One hunted that great animal almost to extinction. The other stole the land from our beloved Indians!

Let’s all please agree that we can address the names of sports teams, when all other problems are solved. Bringing me to my next point …

To the group of people on Crescent Beach last Saturday who spent the whole afternoon chain-smoking cigarettes, puffing on obnoxious cigars and stubbing the butts out in the sand — thank you for the headache that lasted into the next day. You huffed and puffed while your smoke drifted into clusters of families with many small children (including your own!) and senior citizens. I would have said something but the dozen or so empty beer bottles scattered around your chairs suggested that a reasonable request by me could escalate into a more robust debate. I am usually not one to advocate more rules governing our behavior, but if smokers are not going to self-regulate, then perhaps we need to look into prohibiting the nasty habit on our public beaches.
Massapequa Park, home of the Massapequa Chiefs

Time to right a wrong?

To the Editor:
At the August 19 Board of Education meeting, Lisa Kaasik made a well researched and impassioned presentation to consider changing the Shelter Island School’s mascot. Her courageous suggestion has touched a nerve and raised lots of uncomfortable feelings.

There is no doubt that this community is proud of the school, its athletic teams and its traditions. Obviously years of Shelter Island Indian pride isn’t to be taken lightly. No one is suggesting that the use of Indian as a mascot was ever meant to be anything but positive.

However, it is unsettling to realize that as a community we may have unwittingly been perpetuating a stereotype. While many of us think of Indians as a symbol of fierce pride and honor, we need to acknowledge that the term can be seen as offensive and racist.

Changing a mascot has been done before. A recent example is St John’s University’s transition from Redmen to Red Storm. What mascot comes to mind for Syracuse University? Most of us probably think Orange, but before 1978 SU was symbolized by the Saltine Warrior. I doubt that any of us think Syracuse now lacks school pride.

My sister-in-law Nancy Redeye is Seneca, from western New York. She is offended by the use of Indians as a mascot. I respect her feelings and quote her here. “All people need to hear the message that Native people are real and not cartoons. If any other minority group was dressed up in costume and paraded around at a sporting event, would there not be shouts of racism and a demand for it to be stopped?”

However, within any group of people there is rarely consensus, and certainly nothing is cut-and-dried. Other people with Native American roots find the use unobjectionable.

So, what to do? Others have suggested polling local Shinnecocks or other local native groups to see if they have a strong opinion. Lisa suggested that the History of Shelter Island class at the school research the topic and perhaps suggest some alternative mascots. The question will remain: How should it be decided? Students at the school? A community referendum? A School Board vote? Debate and discussion is healthy. Let’s take the time to truly think about the situation and form our own opinions.

There are many people in the community that, while proud of the school and what we do, are ambivalent at best about the mascot. The movement to change the mascot does not mean that history will be erased, or we are any less proud of our past.

Lisa has asked the question. We now have a chance to acknowledge a past wrong, no matter how well-intentioned and correct it.
Shelter Island

Look to others

To the Editor:
Are all these schools wrong in using Indian-related names for their sports teams? Massapequa Chiefs, Syosset Braves, Sachem Flaming Arrows, Bentwood Indians, Connetquot Thunderbirds, East Islip Redmen, Manhasset Indians, Sewanhaka Indians, Comsewogue Warriors, Amityville Warriors.

There are numerous villages, hamlets and towns on Long Island that have Indian-related names! Are there those who want to change every Indian-derived name?
Shelter Island

Something must change

To the Editor:

Having summered for 54 years on this Island, I have many boyhood memories, including having occasionally heard biplanes overhead, and all the romantic associations the sputtering of their engines brought to a sleepy afternoon.

Later I learned that it was over these very engines that my dad formed a mechanic’s friendship with Frank Klenawicus and Sydney Stiber. Indeed the late afternoon planes were likely piloted by either of these two returning from Providence with a loaf of Portuguese bread.

As an adult, there were many times that I, conversely, flew over the Island while returning to New York on transatlantic commercial flights. Many fellow passengers, strangers to me, to whom I had previously evinced no interest, were quickly summoned to the window to behold the cove where I have fished for snappers since 1961.

This summer, more than ever before, my attention is drawn to the air above, but with an annoyance not ever imagined. The continual low-flying air traffic enroute to and from the airport at East Hampton has provoked me to write to the town supervisor. With plenty of pathways over open water, I cannot understand why air traffic cannot be re-routed away from over my roof. This weekend in particular I feel as though I am living besides a large airport like LaGuardia.

The airplane and helicopter noise starts in the morning and continues throughout the day. Last night I clocked one flight at 10:18. This is not a sentimental personal complaint. Apart from my memories, this interferes with everything from our pristine habitats to the value of our properties.

The character of the South Fork has been irreversibly spoiled by unchecked development. For one, I am not content to remain silent while part of the unique character of our Island sanctuary becomes collateral damage to that misfortune. I encourage anyone willing to write and demand a change in flight pattern before it gets too late.
Shelter Island

Sticking to the union

To the Editor:

Your Labor Day editorial (“What is Labor Day,” August 29) contained an element of condescension toward “the once-essential movement” that I found particularly disturbing. You acknowledge organized labor’s contributions to the expansion of the American middle class, but you end your editorial with a plea for understanding “what it took to achieve the quality of life we all have.” If you are not aware, there are 20 million or more in our country who live below the official poverty line. And there are millions more who have lost jobs and homes, pushed out of the middle class by the economic collapse resulting from the greed and fraud of Wall Street bankers and their corporate collaborators.

In my opinion, we should be applauding the efforts of fast food and big box workers to raise the minimum wage. They aren’t asking for the hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailout money we handed to Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America, among others — much of which was distributed to top executives as bonus money for their “superior performance.” The workers are merely demanding a living wage to lift their families out of poverty — a concept long fostered by the labor movement you find no longer essential. Since whatever they gain will no doubt be passed on to the consumer, wouldn’t you be willing to pay 25 cents more for your big Mac?
Shelter Island

Clint Eastwood on Third Street

To the Editor:
I am the New Jersey resident who had the regrettable confrontation with Ms. Ruth Lapin, the swashbuckling protagonist featured in your recent article on North Ferry traffic (“The new normal: Ferry traffic jams,” August 22) and the kerfuffle around waiting on line. My spat with Ms. Lapin while waiting on line for the ferry on Third Street started my vacation off inauspiciously, in precisely the opposite vibe that the ferry fosters in those looking to leave their real worlds behind.

Let me start with the most important words I can write: I am no line cutter.

I’ll explain later why this is important, but allow me to pick nits first. Your portrayal of me and fellow Third Street drivers was that we knew what we were doing when we turned on Third. I am relatively new to Shelter Island. I followed my GPS and waited “in line” on Third Street for 10 minutes. I watched the drivers in front of me dutifully alternate with drivers on Wiggins, using reasonable “line-merge behavior.”

Then I was accosted by Clint Eastwood in a kaftan.

Ms. Lapin stomped down Wiggins, blocking my (and others’) progress on the ferry line. She stood in front of my car, barked aggressively that I was a “line cutter” and pleaded with police to approach.

Some might view Ms. Lapin’s actions as heroic … a concerned citizen standing up for fellow rules-followers. However, it’s not a citizen’s right to stop traffic because of her sense of right and wrong. Were I to have done this (using my moral compass), I would have avoided her body and stayed on line. Surely, we’re not suggesting that residents should resort to self-righteous vigilantism.

Had there been no line whatsoever, would I have been “breaking the law”? It seems that what made my unwitting transgression a transgression was that there was traffic. But how am I to know this until I make the turn in the first place?

I get that I missed the small sign directing me to Sixth Street for ferry access, but where does it state that access from Third Street was prohibited? Did I miss a “Do-Not-Enter” sign at the junction of Third and Wiggins?

One last nit. Those of us trapped on Third Street following Lapin’s histrionics were left with two options: We made either an illegal U-turn on Third Street to leave the area or, worse, traveled the wrong way on one-way Wiggins.

Lapin forced us to violate the law. Would she have paid for my ticket?

There’s only one reason why Lapin could even remotely be viewed sympathetically, and that is if she was blocking something we all loathe … line cutters.

This is why my five words above are important. I am no line cutter. From that perspective, Lapin’s actions were unjustifiable and misguided, and the ire was directed toward the wrong individuals. The ire should be directed toward inadequate signage for visitors to do the right thing.

I’d recommend a “Do-Not-Enter” sign on Third.

And, yes, I might also recommend a moratorium on Dirty Harry movie nights at a certain someone’s home.
Morristown, New Jersey

Saving lives

To the Editor:
As the summer winds down and we all take a deep breath and enjoy some of the nicest time and weather the season can bring, let us not forget the people in our lives and community who are so important to us. Nothing is more important in our daily lives than our own health and the health of those we care about. With that in mind, I hope you and the members of the community will join me on Crescent Beach September 14 for the fourth annual “Real Men Wear Pink” photograph, which promotes breast cancer awareness and screenings. The fun starts at 4 p.m. and the photo will be taken promptly at 5 p.m.

Having lost my wife Teresa to breast cancer 23 months ago, I know how important screenings are.  Again this year, women in our community have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection is key to treatment and survival of breast cancer. The photograph is purely a reminder of how important screenings are in this fight. Early detection saves lives, so come and show your support for women in the fight today or those who are survivors by wearing your “pink attire.” Men, women and children are all invited. There is no charge to participate, so come on down and support the women in your life and encourage them to be screened. This year the fun will include a bean bag toss contest with a prize for men, women and children as well as some simple snacks and drinks donated by folks who care about our community and the people in it.

We will gladly accept new team members and donor support of “Team Flamingo” for the October 19 Shelter Island 5K.

We will also have tickets available to the “Real Men Wear Pink” cocktail party on October 5 in East Hampton as well as raffle tickets to that event, all of which benefit breast cancer charities here on the East End.

Thank you for your help in raising awareness about a disease that has touched too many in our community.
Shelter Island

A Bucks’ salute

To the Editor:
A huge thank you to everyone who made the Shelter Island Bucks season the success it came to be. We would not have been able to accomplish what we did without the unbelievable support from the community as a whole. Thank you to our host families, especially Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie, who generously opened their homes to our players and made them feel they were part of the family. Thank you to our food sponsors, who selflessly supported and fed us before and after each game: Sweet Tomato’s, Eagle Deli, Bella Vita, The Islander, IGA and Clark’s Fish House. Thank you to Walter Richards and Liberty Lawn and Landscape along with Brian Springer for their hours making our field look the best in the league; to Meredith Page for manning our merchandise table throughout the season; the Shelter Island Fire Department, Lions Club and CTC for their volunteers in running the concession stand for nearly every game; our announcers Frank Adipietro, Bob DeStefano, Jon Kilb, Tom Hashagen, Brian Mundy and Jack Monaghan; Ken Wright for running our brand new scoreboard and incorporating “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch; Fred Hyatt and Peconic Plant Care; Camp Quinipet; Perlman Music Program; Dave McGayhey and Dickerson Electric; John’s Gas Service; Bill Hannabury Painting; North Ferry and South Ferry; Tom Cronin and TMC Trucking; Shelter Island Town and Highway Department for their many hours on our scoreboard; Gardiner’s Bay Country Club; the Gurney Family and Ace Hardware; Brian Cass and Cass Carpentry; Shelter Island Recreation Department; Dan Binder and Dan’s Carting; Justin Sullivan; Linda Bonaccorso; Pat and Jon O’Shea; Chrissy Gross and Two South Ferry B&B; Tom Graffagnino; North Fork Welding; Greenport Shipyard; Marcello Masonry; Mike Hynes and the Shelter Island School; Jack Reardon and his 2013 structures class; Carol Galligan and all of our scoreboard donors; the Shelter Island Reporter for its great coverage this summer; and finally to all of our loyal fans who came out and supported us each and every night. We honestly could not have made this season happen without the overwhelming support from all of you.

We look forward to an even more successful year in 2014. See you in June!
General Managers, Shelter Island Bucks