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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: June 3-10

Medicare for all

To the Editor:

As journalist Sara Austin emphasized in a November 2020 article (“Thank you to our front line health care workers,” Riverhead News-Review) Suffolk County should be grateful for the health care workers who fought tirelessly against COVID-19. The best thing to do to thank them is to grant them the professional autonomy they deserve. We can strive for this by changing how we finance health care while retaining our private doctors and hospitals for less.

I’m often asked, “How would we pay for Medicare for All?” To that, I say, “We already do.” Consider how a recent analysis of the NY Health Act — which would guarantee health insurance through a statewide single-payer system — found that 98% of residents would pay less for more coverage. This includes often-neglected items and services that are essential for our aging community: hearing aids, eyeglass prescriptions, and dental care. We can achieve this without the “government takeover” which worries conservatives.

A large reason people despise government involvement is the fear of inefficiency; ironically, current administrative costs are not terribly exceptional. In 2012, 8% of US health care expenditure went towards administration. Yet, if we consolidate for-profit insurers into a collective insurance pool, we can reduce yearly expenditures by $219 billion, as The Lancet, the highly respected British medical journal, reports. Moreover, if we were to negotiate pharmaceutical prices with the bargaining power of all United States citizens, it’s estimated that we would save another $180 billion.

Single-payer policy is inherently self-serving. Today’s doctors cannot spend as much time with patients as they would like, and when they do, they’re often seeing patients for chronic issues that could have been prevented earlier. In fact, up to 75% of the national health care expenditure in 2012 was devoted to the treatment of preventable diseases. If we remove the barriers to health care engagement, our neighbors will be treated sooner, our doctors will have less paperwork, and the decisions we make with our doctors will not be undermined by the whims of a businessman.

SEBASTIAN MENDEZ, Medical Student, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University

Press critic

To the Editor:

Last week’s Reporter reminded me of the National Enquirer. A little blurb about our Memorial Day services and then a something about tick stuff, shoreline changes and a “hissy fit” at a committee meeting. Memorial Day services should have been front page only.

I have always been led to believe all committee meetings regarding town matters were open to the public. New rules and codes no one seems to have heard of are in place. At least I never heard of them. But, I do know all about the short-term rental business — so unnecessary. Seems the Community Housing Board certainly needs a liaison from the Shelter Island Building Department, before a shovel goes in the ground. Will that ever happen — 30 years of chit, chat is not good. Especially since the town owns property for some kind of project, there are funds available.

My checking things out is limited to the computer, Facebook, this publication, and channel 22. I’m especially fond of Shelter Island Local. Someone wants to build a 20-foot wall in the Heights, still want to know for what purpose, has me a bit stymied. Then we have the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club (GBCC) project, which has me a bit more stymied — a hotel and an apartment house and no swimming pool and tennis courts? GBCC is quite beautiful the way it is, however I guess housing for seasonal workers becomes an issue, but how many are there? Lots of questions for this one.

But it is my Tom and Tillie Ospreys that occupy most of my day. Incredible how programmed they are. Tillie sits on the eggs, and when she goes out for a flyabout, he stands on the edge of the nest. And always at noon he brings a fish, generally a big one for lunch. My free entertainment. However, during the day, Tillie does do a bit of nest cleaning — amazing to watch.

So, here we are, the games have begun, with all kinds of stuff going on it’s hard to keep track, so I just get Cinnamon in the car and we go for a ride around and check things out. Lots of works in progress on the Island wide and beyond interesting. Architectural wonders here and there. Our restaurants are all fabulous, all with signature dishes. Onward.

Still reference my Mother’s Day book daily, about the horse, the boy, the fox, and the mole and their meanderings and thoughts, today: “Is your glass half-empty or half-full?” asked the mole. “I think I’m grateful to have a glass,” said the boy.


— Last week’s Reporter had a page 1 photo of the Memorial Day ceremonies, and a comprehensive (1,300 words) story on page 3, with a photo, covering every aspect of the day’s events.

Paved with good intensions

To the Editor:

Re: The website article “Picking up the pieces after sudden resignations: Comprehensive Plan process shut down, election question looms,” June 10.

Last summer I applied to serve on the Comprehensive Plan Committee. I wouldn’t have done so if I didn’t think I had the qualifications, demeanor or the experience with Shelter Island that would enable me to bring something to the table. For some 60-plus years my family has been on Shelter Island, first as renters, then as homeowners; now I am a resident, having moved here permanently four years ago. It is an incredible, unique place that I and my family cherish with all our hearts.

I hesitated initially when applying because I knew it would be a thankless job, i.e., one that would entail dealing with competing constituencies — both on the committee and in the Shelter Island community at large. I applied even though I suspected, in my heart, that the process undoubtedly would involve frustrating attempts at resolving differences between intransigent, opinionated, competing blowhards who had little interest in working for the common good.

I am sure the majority if not all of the people who are involved in the committee have good intentions; unfortunately, we all know what road those intentions pave. I was disappointed when my application was rejected, but now I consider myself lucky since life is too short for this sort of nonsense. You see, I’m a hardened cynic and, it gives me no pleasure to point out, a clairvoyant.

My unsolicited advice for anyone working or thinking of working on the Comprehensive Plan: Try to keep in mind that it’s about Shelter Island, not you.

SCOTT A. ROBBINS, Shelter Island

Thanks, but no thanks

To the Editor:

The two years of a supervisor’s term is a good metaphor for how long ahead this town commits to a single vision. 

The blow up of the current Comprehensive Plan committee, for whatever reason, should be taken as an exercise in wishful thinking. This town rejected the idea of creating a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). 

Here’s what the New York State Department of State Corporation a says a LWRP is all about:

“The LWRP serves as the Office of Planning and Development’s primary program for working in partnership with waterfront communities across the State to address local and regional (coastal or inland) waterway issues, improve water quality and natural areas, guide development to areas with adequate infrastructure and services away from sensitive resources, promote public waterfront access, and provide for redevelopment of underutilized waterfronts.”

And Shelter Island could not get its collective head around this and create its own plan?  And we are surrounded by water! 

For all the good intentions on the Comprehensive Plan Committee, thanks, but no thanks.

BERT WAIFE, Shelter Island