Hardy Plumbing
January 12, 2011

Did Not Deny

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I must disagree with Congressman Tim Bishop's letter to The Independent last week wherein he claims that he did not challenge military ballots during the recent absentee ballot process.

My husband and I participated in the opening and counting of absentee and affidavit ballots for the Altschuler/Bishop race. Sadly, I must report that the Bishop campaign did challenge military ballots as well as the absentee ballots of Board of Elections personnel. BOE personnel must vote by absentee ballot because they work on Election Day, often from the time the polls open until well after the polls close, and cannot get to their own polling places. Challenged ballots by Bishop were those that indicated on the envelope Republican Party affiliation. Indeed, BOE personnel that were working together with the volunteers in the airplane hangar BOE facility at Yaphank even had their ballots challenged by Bishop!

The Altschuler campaign's policy was not to challenge military or BOE ballots regardless how suspect the ballot, or signature, may have looked or because of their party affiliation. However, when dealing with many volunteers and over 10,000 ballots it is possible that not everyone understands a campaign's policy. So as not to be accused of questioning the Congressman's character, (even though he maligned another writer), I would be willing to give the Congressman the benefit of the doubt that perhaps his campaign representatives didn't understand his policy or, they didn't advise him of the actions they were taking in his name.

Except, on November 19, the Altschuler campaign released a press release pointing out the actions of the Bishop campaign regarding military ballots and BOE personnel. Now, on November 19, I cannot imagine that someone, anyone, in the Bishop campaign didn't read the Altschuler press release. The absentee ballot process went into Thanksgiving week, well past this November 19 press release. Until last week's letter to The Independent Mr. Bishop did not deny his actions against the military. A Google search showed no statement whatsoever. Seems to me if the Congressman was so concerned about ensuring our military were not disenfranchised he would have put an end to the practice once alerted.


Euthanized Or Murdered?

Letter to the Editor,

Re: Bruno, a dog recently euthanized at the Riverhead Shelter and currently under investigation.

It isn't the first time that a dog at the Riverhead Shelter has been euthanized unnecessarily, but maybe it will be the last.

But I've been wrong before. Every time another animal shelter issue surfaces – and there have been many – I think to myself, "This is it. They can't possibly allow this to continue. The Town Board will surely do something now." And nothing happens.

Remember Butch, the "meatball" dog, euthanized after a kennel attendant was accidentally nipped when the dog reached for a treat? Or Linda Mosca, a dedicated volunteer, who was banned? For years Linda walked the dogs at the shelter and found homes for many. She even testified on behalf of the town when Riverhead faced improper practice charges by the union for allowing volunteers at the shelter. The case was subsequently dismissed.

The list is long.

And still, Supervisor Sean Walter either maintains a defensive position or refuses to discuss the matter. In a town hall meeting he claims to have followed the euthanasia policy to the letter of the law. Did he read the policy? Did he read the medical reports? Did he read ACO Lou Coronesi's documentation? Mr. Walter is reportedly an attorney. Is he familiar with the phrase, "arbitrary and capricious?"

And Chief of Police David Hegermiller, enforcer of laws. What responsibility does he assume, claiming that Bruno's death was "urgent?" He states, "It is impossible for the town to adopt out a dog with a bite history." Is that the policy? Is that why Bruno was killed? Who is the Chief of Police accountable to? Oh, that would be Sean Walter.

Councilman Jim Wooten, liaison to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee is conducting an investigation. Well, Jim, it looks like the ball is in your court – again. As a matter of fact, it's been there for the past three years.


Legal Housing Needed

Dear Rick,

Thank you for your excellent article on accessory apartments in the January 5 issue of The Independent. The article fairly represented the various viewpoints of this complex subject.

As mentioned in the article, one reason that there is a large supply of illegal accessory apartments is because the illegality can benefit the landlord. Many of these apartments are not on the tax rolls, are not held to proper safety standards, and the rents collected may not be fully declared. These property owners would not be interested in converting the apartments to legal units and officially declaring them as rented.

Given current zoning and the cost of construction in East Hampton, my economic intuition is that the private sector cannot profitably supply all of the legal housing needed to house town residents. That is especially true for apartments that have an affordability cap on the rent that can be charged.

The town will need to supplement private sector housing with housing that receives assistance from a government or non-profit agency. Otherwise, East Hampton will suffer an increasing emigration of its middle class and senior citizens. We also need less expensive housing that is attractive to younger adults who want to come here (or return here!) to teach, work at the library, and provide other needed services.

Government assistance does not have to be expensive as the town might provide land that it already owns, or act as a guarantor of a mortgage. A side benefit is that it is easier to enforce the legal use of properties in which the town has a financial stake than it is to enforce legal use of privately owned houses and accessory apartments.

But whenever there is a mention of using a property for assisted middle-class housing, there is an outcry that school taxes will be unfairly increased in that hamlet. The school tax increase often becomes the main obstacle to the project.

I would propose the following property tax law to remove that obstacle: for housing in which the town has a financial stake, the school taxes that are attributable to that housing would be paid town-wide. This law would allow the town board and its citizens to choose the best sites for new housing without worry that the tax effects will penalize any one hamlet.


Aircraft Carriers Unavailable

Dear Rick,

This letter references numerous points in Steve Cohen's article in Forbes of October 25, 2010 entitled "Where Are The Carriers?" which concerns the availability, value, and number of U.S. aircraft carriers.

As a former Navy enlisted man and Naval officer, I am concerned with our ability to deter, thwart, and counter aggression in the world. Our carrier battle groups are formidable forces that can be forwardly deployed to remote and far flung locations around the globe. Each carrier provides on the order of 70 aircraft ready for battle. They are highly maneuverable moving platforms, and contrary to the Defense Secretary's thinking, the long-range anti-ship missile systems of any foreign country probably do not have pinpoint accuracy at long distances to inflict damage on the carriers. Fixed long-range missile sites could be knocked out, if necessary, by a number of U.S. systems and by the conduct of special operations. At short ranges enemy shipboard based missiles would be subject to attack from our aircraft, surface warfare vessels and submarines.

It is worthy to note the apparent value of aircraft carriers to China. It currently has four aircraft carriers under refurbishment, which it purchased from other countries.

If Secretary Gates isn't going to rely on the carrier battle groups for close air support for our troops then he will have to use land based planes, which are typically located potentially far from the various hotspots in the world. The planes have to fly long distances to get to their targets and our fixed bases could be vulnerable to enemy air attacks and sabotage operations.

As of the end of October we had only three out of 11 carriers operational. Having two carriers in dry dock and six carriers in various stages of refurbishment, maintenance and recertification means we are not prepared to address potential conflicts around the globe. Three carrier battle groups would not be enough to counter a North Korean attack against South Korea. Furthermore, we need at least one or two carrier battle groups to support operations in Afghanistan. It is estimated the six carriers in various stages of repair and maintenance could be made available for operations within 30 to 90 days, but this is unacceptable in terms of needed response times.

We need to do a better job of having more of our carriers operational at any one time. Our security and the security of our allies is in jeopardy when eight of eleven carriers are laid up for repairs, maintenance and refurbishment. We probably need 15 carrier battle groups to cover our worldwide security commitments, and provide for downtime associated with in port maintenance activities.


Serve The Public

Dear Editor,

Tourism is the town of Southold's life-blood. We can't afford to lose it!

As tourism grows, so does vehicle traffic. At the height of the season we are clogging up our limited roads with heavy traffic. Over time, as traffic grows tourism as we know it will disappear. People come to Southold for the "good life" not to choke in bumper-to-bumper traffic. They'll say, "that's it!"

Something has to be done. What we need, ASAP, is obvious: a modern, best in class, people oriented transportation system, i.e.: a Light Rails System. With a Light Rail System at the core, servicing the entire East End, tourism will survive and flourish. All of Eastern Suffolk County will be the better because of this improvement and substantial investment in our future.

Good and reliable public transportation is vital to a region's growth and prosperity. It stabilizes communities, giving people and businesses a sense of security. It attracts industries, capital investments and in turn, creates new and well paying jobs, incentivizing our well educated young people to stay here and enabling them to afford to stay and raise their own families here.

Well-designed public transportation that serves the public is key to the economic well-being and health of our region's future.


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