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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


My intent
I’ve waited to comment on what some have said about me on these pages, largely because of two reasons: fear and common sense. Racism is a serious charge to leave unanswered, however, so I’m compelled to do a manual override of my defense systems.

Racism is defined as the belief, or discrimination based on the belief, that one race is, by nature, superior to another. That is not my belief, so it is with certainty that I can tell you there was no underlying racism in my heart or in what I said at the work session.

That anyone inferred racist elements from what I said on camera, or in subsequent quotes, is regrettable, but genuinely out of my control. All I did was relay the facts as I got them from people in a position to know. The reaction was wholly unanticipated.

I bear Latinos, legal or illegal, no malice. Like most immigrants, they tend to be decent, hard working people, many of whom have risked all to find a better life here in America. Current law and policy is failing all concerned, however, and needs to be addressed.

That was my intent when bringing up the whole unlicensed, illegal immigrant thing — not to engage in the national debate about immigration, but simply to have us tell Albany that something needs to done and a driver’s license would be a start.

It would be nice, I think, if people didn’t automatically assume the worst thing about public officials.

And you wonder why politicians are so good at talking endlessly and saying nothing.
Town Councilman

Saving the Island’s history
To the Editor:
I am a Sylvester and Havens families’ ancestor and I am definitely for saving the Island’s history (“Three resign from Historical Society Board,” July 16).

My ancestors were also involved in organizing the nonprofit Shelter Island Red Cross and its ambulance service, which I, as a volunteer, managed for 35 years. Therefore I have considerable experience fundraising for an Island nonprofit.

When reviewing the Historical Society’s 2014 Profit and Loss report, some expense totals listed were:
1. Salaries and payroll taxes: $112,502.02
2. General operating expenses:  $44,129.95
3. Facility and equipment expenses: $18,910.05
4. Insurance costs: $17,408.53
5. Professional fees/Contract Svc: $10,133.10

In the same report, the total contributions including dues, memberships, individuals/business support, etc. were $104,851.86, which equaled less than one half of the total 2014 income. The balance came from grants, events, programs and the Havens store. The endowment income of $16,643.36 was only seven percent of the total 2014 expenses.

Fundraising for a non-profit is challenging. Grants and endowments depend on the current economy. Generous donors and bull markets happen every few decades but the working families and retired residents are the glue that keeps Island nonprofits operating and vibrant.

The Historical Society’s board has a fiduciary responsibility to prevent the Society from going into financial arrears. I urge the board and donors to reconsider the “campus” plan. One suggestion is to develop a partnership with Sylvester Manor. It has the Island’s founding family’s 17th century home. The Havens House shows the next two centuries of Island life. Both could easily blend their significant histories.

Another suggestion is to establish a partnership with the library. The donated building funds should be used to restore/repair the Havens House. The remaining funds could be used to build an Island history room/vault onto the library. Many libraries, including Riverhead’s, have done this. Besides having a town center location and a nonprofit fundraising foundation, the library is also a separate tax district, guaranteeing its permanence and funding.

In conclusion, I hope this letter stimulates a re-examination of the “campus” plan. Developing partnerships and shared services with other Island organizations prevents competition for the same pool of Island funds, is cost effective and will save our Shelter Island historical heritage.
Shelter Island

Missed the mark
To the Editor:
I’m disappointed that the Shelter Island Reporter missed the mark again and showed no communal support for the annual Shelter Island Fire Department Chicken Barbecue with advance coverage.

Our volunteer firefighters spend a week (and more) preparing for this annual fundraiser. On Saturday, their work starts early. They are on the job throughout the day and into the night, regardless of the weather.

There was no mention of this year’s barbecue in the Thursday issue of the Reporter, except minimum information in the Island Calendar, and for some reason, the Reporter decided that a front-page, dead shark story was more important.

The website was equally disappointing. The Reporter’s coverage and pictures after the event are nice, but that effort does not sell chicken dinners. Advance and/or same-day coverage of this event is vital to the mission of the day and displays support for the local community, the volunteer firefighters, the Shelter Island Fire Department and the work they do throughout the year.

Sadly, the Reporter gets another “F.”
Shelter Island

Questions need answers
To the Editor:
I would like to compliment you on last week’s editorial (“Power plays”). Its description of our utility company is so very accurate.

I may not be equipped to be critical of the workings of a utility company, but when one becomes aware that we on Long Island pay some of the highest electric rates within the borders of the continental United States, then you have to question where all that money is going.

I fail to see how the loss of $9 million in rate payers’ money can be dismissed by saying, “Oh, well, we will simply abandon the project, when it was within a 100 feet of completion.” As I see it, this general record of incompetence requires an investigation.

I also must question the granting of taxpayers’ property here on Shelter Island for a temporary, fuel-driven generator site with no environmental reviews.

What do the people of Shelter Island receive in return but high electric rates!

Many questions need to be answered here.
Shelter Island

Avoidable tragedies
To the Editor:
I was video editor at NBC News and a member of their health and safety committee. After years of being stonewalled about basic fire safety in the studio building at 30 Rock, I filed a workplace safety complaint. The company told OSHA that 30 Rock was “fire proof” and questioned my motivation, suggesting that I was just being a tough union official.

I showed the OSHA inspectors photos of a casino hotel fire that I had just covered in Puerto Rico. But, I said, no matter my motivation; Are there fire code violations in 30 Rock, or not?

OSHA inspected and found several more violations than I had cited. NBC corrected the violations. Years later, a fire filled the building with a thick smoke. Because an annunciator alarm system was now installed and drills were practiced, people evacuated quickly without injuries

I covered many hard news stories for the network. So many times the tragedy was avoidable. The crew and I left the location wondering why someone didn’t say something. Why didn’t some bureaucrat do their job?

Now I find myself in a similar untenable situation on Fresh Pond. Folks imposed their own sensibilities on me, questioning my motivation for simply asking for proper water quality testing, or, at least, a sign warning swimmers that the water is not monitored. I see people, children, unknowingly swimming in water that might seriously harm them. But I am expected to look the other way and say nothing.

So, never mind what you think my motivation is. Fresh Pond is a class C, impaired pond and is not a bathing beach. Is it safe for the public to swim in?

Last week I noticed the beginnings of a blue-green algae bloom. I notified the authorities and the Suffolk County Health Department will test the water. The substantiation is in ongoing verifiable analysis.

WAC member Peter Grand advises that the two 2014 water quality tests show no problem for swimming.

However, those test show higher than acceptable levels for fecal coliform bacteria, enterococci bacteria, sulfates, organic nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, etc..

The state requires swimming water quality testing at least five times a month, not just twice a year.

I conclude that the disregard for the despised “other public,” the tourists, who are encouraged to swim in Fresh Pond, is deliberate. I realize the collective disdain, but unnecessarily risking anyone’s health cannot be justified.
Shelter Island

Gift of Life
To the Editor:
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday to learn about and to support of the Island Gift of Life Foundation. We would like to especially thank everyone who gave their time, talents and space to make our first annual Summer Soiree a success: The Erich Collins Carey Constituency, J. McLaughlin, the Ram’s Head Inn, Antico Noe and Stephanie Sareyani. A special thanks as well to the Shelter Island Reporter and LI Exchange for coming out to cover the event.

Over the last 15 years the Island Gift of Life Foundation has offered financial support to many East End residents battling life-threatening illnesses by covering uninsured costs such as transportation and co-pays. We have also raised over $60,000 to support the bone marrow registry on the East End.

If you would like to learn more about what we do, or are interested in applying for support, please visit our website at islandgiftoflife.org. If you would like to make a donation to support our vital work, please send a tax deductible donation to P.O. Box 532, Shelter Island Heights, NY 11965.