02/20/13 2:29pm

Reporter File Photo

To the Editor:

Nemo? What’s in a name?

The Weather Channel, Inc. has decided to name winter storms. The National Weather Service, however, names only tropical storms and hurricanes. They do not name winter storms because of their erratic behavior as a weather system. In other words, the NWS has criteria that is understood and adhered to by most meteorologists around the world.

What is the Weather Channel’s criteria? Anything that they feel like, whenever they want to. The Weather Channel decided that naming storms will “heighten awareness” of the storm. Make no mistake, The Weather Channel is a TV show and they depend on ratings. They get more viewers (and advertising revenue) when there is more interest in a significant weather event. And if the weather is not so significant, they will get your attention by “naming” the pending storm. (Snow in February is nothing to freak out about.)

The Weather Channel is owned by NBC Universal (now Comcast Cable), the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. (Yes, Mitt Romney’s old Bain Capital.) Their sole purpose is profit. Unlike the National Weather Service, they answer to their shareholders, not the public. I wonder if Mitt would have privatized the National Weather Service? Bain Capital could make a few bucks if the Weather Channel took over.

If we cannot trust the Weather Channel to comply with the accepted criteria and standards of the NWS and NOAA, then why should we trust their forecast? Hyping the weather is what they do. The danger in naming every other storm is that they will unnecessarily be “crying wolf.” We will become complacent and not be ready when a truly dangerous storm actually bears down on us.

The other problem is that most homeowner insurance policies have an additional deductible for damage from a “named” storm.

The Weather Channel storm “names” are not considered by the insurance companies. Not yet. But, if we all buy into naming every storm, then the insurers will certainly agree and we will pay more for every claim. FEMA will also not officially recognize the Weather Channel storm names.

As a federal agency, the National Weather Service mission is “(The) protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which an be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.” The NWS gives us unbiased weather forecasting and has saved innumerable lives over many decades.

The Weather Channel’s mission is to make money. Most of the media outlets have refused to mention “Nemo.” “Winter Storm Nemo” is copyrighted by the Weather Channel. But our own town website and this newspaper has referred to the blizzard as a “Nemo.”

The town government and local press should not contribute to the unofficial, inaccurate and confusing weather reporting by a TV program. The National Weather Service prediction and forecast office in Upton has served Shelter Island very well. We should stick with the NWS, not some TV show pulling a PR stunt.

The next Weather Channel storm “Orko” was on the heels of “Nemo.” But TWC hype petered out as “Orko” never really materialized. They did squeeze a few days of higher ratings out of it though.

Sam Cooke sang “The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and they call the wind Mariah.” You are free to call the next storm “Fred” if you like. But collectively, officially and for the record, let’s call a blizzard a “blizzard.” Just like the National Weather Service does.

VINNIE NOVAK
Shelter Island

01/21/13 10:29am

To the Editor:

To start off I grew up on Shelter Island. For the first 12 years of my life I enjoyed all the Island had to offer. I spent countless days in the woods around my father’s shop and in the water. I have an outline of the Island tattooed on my back. It will always be where

I call home and where I am from. It will always be where my heart is.

Now that I have suppressed any idea that I’m not “from around here,” I would like to say I am completely and utterly disgusted by the cartoon in the January 3 Reporter. For those who are not familiar, the picture is of a large man, armed to the teeth, with Wayne LaPierre in the background who has a rifle in one hand and another on the capital building. The man is then captioned as stating they should start arming various groups of people. But, the thought of gay marriage scares him.

What is wrong with you people? Is that how you see gun owners? As a bunch of gay-hating rednecks that carry around semi-automatic rifles all day? Why is it that our society paints gun owners as a bunch of death dealing merchants of carnage? Why do people see gun owners as those who instill fear into the rest of society? Isn’t the liberal logic to not be judgmental and give everyone a fair chance? Don’t we teach our kids to not judge a book by its cover?

It’s because of media like this that we as gun owners get a negative view from people on the fence about violence issues. Guns are not the problem. No gun in the history of our world has ever jumped up off a table and pulled its own trigger. There is always someone behind that weapon. And it’s because of media like this that there are inaccurate stereotypes. Isn’t that what liberals are trying to fight? Yet, here you are fueling the flames of prejudice and inequality.

Shame on you all. Shame on the artist. Shame on the people that think the cold-blooded murder of my two firefighter brothers in Webster, New York was a gun control issue. It wasn’t. It was an issue with our diseased judicial system that allowed a man who beat his grandmother to death with a hammer to draw another free breath. Shame on the ones that are uncomfortable with my

God-given right to protect myself and my family.

Too bad, so sad. Get over it.

If you think guns are bad, then don’t own a gun. But don’t tell me how, if, and when I can defend myself from the evil in this world.

Don’t judge my right to self preservation. Don’t tread on me.

CHRIS CLARK
Mooresville, North Carolina

07/05/12 5:00am

Dog’s eye view

To the Editor:

A word about the dog park from a dog’s point of view:

It is a given that dogs love to run, play and spend time with their own kind.

It is also a given that you and your dog will meet other dogs who do not have the temperament for this setting, and owners who do not watch, lead or have control over their dog or have any understanding of dog behavior. So who will be the pack leader of the park? I have often seen owners who let their dog run with a head held high directly at another dog, saying, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” having no idea how the other dog feels or the realization that a head-on meet may likely be interpreted as fighting words.

To a dog, a park is still a kennel in that it is a confined space. It is not a safe place to release the frustrations of the day. It is not the place for the excited, nervous, shy, fearful or dominant dog because you don’t know how the other dog(s) who may be excited, nervous, shy, fearful or dominant may react to this energy.

According to Cesar Milan, “A dog park can be used to maintain your dog’s social skills but not to burn off excess energy and it should never, ever be used as a substitute for the walk. The walk is the best and safest way for a dog to get to know another dog.”

Unlike children, dogs do not need to socialize or strike alliances with other dogs in a confined place. A pack develops over time and is fairly stable. Every time a new dog enters, there is an adjustment. Meeting new dogs in a fenced park is stressful.

Mike D’Abruzzi, trainer and behaviorist, says, “Once many dogs mature, they lose this super-social personality and it becomes more stressful than anything else to try to relate to these dogs that they don’t know … very unnatural to the dog. Dogs that stay more juvenile in personality and/or super confident can do fine there.”

Dog language is often subtle and their actions are much quicker than human reactions.

It is not abnormal for a dog to growl or raise his hackles when confronted with other dogs. But it is a clear signal that there will be a problem.

If you have never taken your dog to a park before, go with a trainer or experienced owner. Only enter a park with a calm, well-exercised dog. Many owners confuse happiness with excitement.

Do not bring food or treats to a dog park and be sure to watch your dog. This isn’t the time to take out the iPad. Your dog should be able and ready to respond to cues from you in case a problem develops. Here is where you have to hope the owners are on the same page. Even the most calm, gentle dogs are inclined to pile on and enter a fight between other dogs.

It is hard enough to break up a fight between dogs you know but have you ever thought of what you would do if you had to get between your dog and another dog you don’t know?

I would much prefer the town allow leash walked dogs on the beaches after 5 p.m., as it is in neighboring towns. If you really want your dog to have the pleasure of his own kind, adopt a second dog. Most shelters will have a professional help you choose and form your new pack without a training fee.

For me, there are too many variables among the humans’ judgments and the nature of the dog that predict negative outcomes, such as canine and human injury, costly insurance policies, litigious liability and some poor dog blamed for acting like a dog.

JOAN VECSEY, Shelter Island

Good Samaritan

To the Editor:

A most grateful thank you to Shelter Islander Mike, his family and neighbor for coming to the assistance on June 23 of two stranded sailors who were beached in front of their houses in the Silver Beach area when the mast on their catamaran came crashing down. Your display of hospitality, offering us food and beverage as well as physical assistance, was most appreciated. You were the epitome of the Good Samaritan. Thanks again.

KEN RICHTER and crew JAMES MATHEWS, Southold

Aerial barrage

To the Editor:

I read in last week’s Reporter a letter to the editor written by an East Hampton resident regarding air and noise pollution from East Hampton Airport. As a frequent visitor to Shelter Island and a resident of Noyac, I am well acquainted with the aerial barrage over our area. So last Friday, when what has become known as the “Million Dollar Seasonal Control Tower” began operations at East Hampton Airport, I was one of many noise-weary residents north and west of the airport who awaited the promised relief from the aerial assault; it never came. The following day, at an information meeting held at East Hampton Airport, I learned why.

At the June 30 airport meeting, East Hampton Councilman Dominick Stanzione enthused that the tower opening was an “historic” event; I don’t disagree with that since it certainly will merit mention in the annals of environmental misdeeds, as it will aid in bringing increasing commuter air traffic (i.e. that loud, low-flying red seaplane) and pollution to the East End. Yet Councilman Stanzione failed to mention that earlier claims by East Hampton town officials, airport management and aviation proponents — claims that the airport’s control tower would bring about noise abatement — were not on the agenda for the control tower operators. He did state that noise abatement was not an issue for air control operators. His statement was reinforced within minutes by Charles Carpenter, spokesman for Robertson Aviation, control tower operators, who said the tower’s purpose is solely safety and efficiency, not noise abatement. An FAA representative nodded assent to Carpenter’s comment.

Readers may recall having seen in media across the East End many newspaper ads sponsored by the East Hampton Aviation Association (EHAA) prior to last November’s East Hampton Town Board election. Numerous ads appeared in the form of 10 questions and answers, one of which stated: yes, a control tower would alleviate neighborhood noise, not only in East Hampton but over a 10-mile wide and half-mile high airspace surrounding the airport. Many East End residents therefore harbored the hope that their pleas for aircraft noise reduction would be acted upon. The aviation association’s ads also contended that accepting FAA funds would give East Hampton town “local” control over airport operations. Both published EHAA statements are misleading, at best, given Saturday’s pronouncements about the limited scope of operations the tower can control.

The disinformation campaign waged by East Hampton Airport expansionists will no doubt continue and the other disingenuous EHAA statements will eventually come to light but the case of the control tower gives rise now to troubling questions: Was EHAA ignorant of the facts or were they mislead by town officials and airport management? Or did they deliberately misinform the public to support the re-election of East Hampton Town Board members known to support special aviation interests and to vehemently favor increased airport operations? Many residents would like answers to those questions.

And this coming week, Shelter Island, North Fork and Southampton residents will again spend our national holiday enduring aircraft noise from East Hampton Airport operations that elected officials at local, state and federal levels have been unable or unwilling to prevent. Shame on them.

PATRICIA CURRIE, Sag Harbor

Tick tips

To the Editor:

Although the 4-poster program is doing a good job on Shelter Island to keep the tick population under control, we still have ticks. And, since the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed New York State — and particularly the East End (including Shelter Island) as a top contender for Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases such as babesiosis and ehrlichiosis, it is important to take precautions. Brian Kelly in Riverhead Patch offers some excellent tips:

Ten Tips to Tick Ticks Off:

1. Reduce leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around the house.

2. Cut grass short and regularly.

3. Restrict use of ground cover, such as pachysandra.

4. Remove brush and leaves around stone walls and wood piles.

5. Where mice play, ticks will stay: Seal stone walls serving as nesting sites and small openings in the house that are entry points.

7. Rake leaves, as needed.

8. Create a tick-safe zone — a sunny, dry area around the home, swing sets, decks and patios — that is free of brush piles.

9. Use wood chips to help keep the buffer zone free of plants and restrict tick migration.

10. Trim tree branches to let in more sunlight.

Also, check yourself and your children daily for ticks. To remove an embedded tick, grasp it carefully with fine tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull outward gently but firmly. Do not use fingers, matches, nail polish or any other materials as this could cause the tick to inject infectious bacteria. Treat the bite site with a topical antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin. Once removed, save the tick Scotch taped onto a card and take yourself and the tick to a doctor.

Wishing all of us a tick-free summer,

PATRICIA SHILLINGBURG

Chairman, Town Deer and Tick Committee

04/26/12 7:12am

Eroding respect

To the Editor:

The rule of law, including its uniform enforcement and explicit consequences, is a fundamental principle of civil society. But respect for the rule of law is eroding, as these local examples illustrate.

Shelter Island’s Justice Court is in the habit of erratic and inconsistent enforcement of statutory law, proven by the number of cases in which infractions and their penalties are reduced to lesser degrees, lesser charges and lesser penalties.

Shelter Island’s town government has become accustomed to granting exceptions to its own codes, effectively making those codes arbitrary and capricious.

Shelter Island’s school has been taken to task by parents, both publicly and privately, for inconsistent and erratic application of its policies for discipline.

It should be no surprise that many of those growing to adulthood in such an environment no longer take the courts, government or school seriously. Those responsible adults who instruct their children regarding the rule of law and its consequences are seen to be liars in light of the evidence. The same things, and other comparable ones, might be said of a thousand other communities. But ours is the only one where we can make a difference. A community where kids don’t have reason to take grown ups and their institutions seriously will not for long be worth living in.

DAVID L. DRAPER, Shelter Island

A reminder

As most Islanders are well aware by now, thanks to my late wife and others, May is mammogram awareness month. Having made it her mission to raise awareness and educate women on the dangers of breast cancer, Teresa handed out several dozen pink ribbons last August. I am asking the proud owners of those ribbons to please display them for the month of May to remind everyone how important screening is to find and fight this dreadful disease. Please ask your doctor for a copy of your mammogram report from the radiologist. Ask about whether you would benefit from additional screening if you have dense tissue as mammograms have trouble seeing cancer in dense tissue.

I look forward to seeing Teresa’s efforts continue on behalf of Island women.

I will be headed to Albany next week for a press conference on pending New York State legislation with regard to informing women about their dense tissue and screening for breast cancer.

Still fighting for Teresa’s cause! Thanks for caring,

TOWNY MONTANT, Shelter Island

Generous Island

To the Editor:

I just wanted to extend a big “thank you!” to the residents and visitors of Shelter Island for their contributions to our annual food drive this past Saturday. On April 21, Girl Scout troops from all over Suffolk County gathered outside of grocery stores to collect food and non-food items. Thanks to the generosity of our Island, our local community pantry received 198 items and $93.68.

JANINE MAHONEY

Girl Scout Coordinator, Shelter Island

Shepherd is right

To the Editor:

I grew up in an Irish neighborhood in Upper Manhattan where many of my grammar school classmates went on to become policemen and firemen. I have great respect and admiration for them and the many others in uniform around the United States who make sacrifices and endure hardships in order to protect the rest of us. That respect and admiration, however, does not translate into worship and it does not ignore certain realities.

In the past two weeks, the Reporter has simultaneously covered two current stories that, in my mind, are directly related. First, it reported on April 12 that the PBA and the town had agreed to a three-year contract that provides for annual increases of 2 percent plus an additional 1 percent for “longevity pay.” When combined with the previous contract (3-percent annual increases for three years) that was settled by binding arbitration, the four-year increase between 2009 and 2012 would be just under 15 percent, significantly more than inflation or the Consumer Price Index.

In addition, the contract negotiations failed to include a provision where the PBA members would pay even 1 percent of their health care costs because, as the supervisor put it, “this is the Alamo for them.” Perhaps it should have been the Alamo for the rest of us.

The other issue, covered in the same April 12 edition, involved a disagreement between councilmen about the “fairness” of equal health care contributions versus the “fairness” of grandfathered criteria. Peter Reich justifies the fact that some town employees pay nothing for their health care benefits because they showed up earlier and are grandfathered in to their original cost, zero.

Grandfathering might be an acceptable concept when it applies to personal property but it is an irrational concept when applied to economics. I’m 68 years old and I’d like to pay 20 cents a gallon for gas as I did in 1966; I’d like to pay a sales tax of 3 percent; I’d like to ride the subway in New York for 15 cents just as I did in high school. Why can’t I?  Because the laws of economics apply to everyone, even me.

The concept of grandfathering is a factor of power, nothing less. It has nothing to do with economics or fairness or good government. And Mr. Reich’s effort to justify his position by saying, “We live in a democracy and we are not all the same,” is also economically irrational. Let him go to a gas station, a grocery store, either ferry or a Mets game with Jim Dougherty and Paul Shepherd and see if he pays less than them. His ability to pay nothing for his health benefits is not a function of economics, just the power of the councilmen and women at the time who voted to force the “new guys” to pay a portion of their health benefits while they continued to pay nothing.

Taken together, however, the impact of no contributions or modest contributions to health care costs, and skyrocketing pension costs for government workers, is putting state and local governments on a path towards potential default or bankruptcy. In the same April 12 article, the Reporter quotes Supervisor Dougherty as saying that health care costs now represent 13 percent of the entire town budget. In this week’s (April 19) edition, he also states that the pension costs of the town “have increased by 770 percent in 10 years,” an absolutely unsustainable figure. Given the ability of some town employees to retire after only 20 years, and given the current life expectancy tables, the Shelter Island taxpayers could pay our employees for 20 years and then pay their pensions for another 40 years or longer.

I believe that Councilman Reich is wrong to view grandfathering as a legitimate part of employee contract negotiations. I believe that Supervisor Dougherty is correct and realistic when he says that “employees must be made to contribute more towards their health insurance costs” but he is wrong when he accepts a PBA contract with no contribution because “this is the Alamo for them.” Congress, our New York State Legislature and our Suffolk County government are creating obligations that will drown our children and grandchildren in debt. It is frustrating to watch our town government add to that future burden with foolish economic notions and weak negotiations. Councilman Shepherd might not be correct on every issue but he is absolutely on target on this one.

KEVIN BROOKS, Shelter Island