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Views and comments expressed in Letters To Editor are the opinions of the writer not Smithtown Matters.

Thursday
Apr122018

Letter To Editor - LI Pine Barrens Society Is Not Anti-Farming

To the Editor:

Columnist Karl Grossman and Smithtown Matters know full well that the Long Island Pine Barrens Society is not anti-farming – we’re just pro voters.  In 2007, Suffolk County voters approved at referendum, a program in which the public would pay farmers not to develop their farmland.  Unfortunately, in 2010 and 2013 the agriculture lobby went to the Suffolk County Legislature and asked that the Purchase of Development Rights program be changed to allow them to do more building and construction than permitted by the referendum.  Our Long Island Pine Barrens Society objected.  Why? Long Islanders have preserve land – including farmland – by voting for it at referendum.  So, we don’t much like it when politicians and lobbyists change the laws the public created and the public is funding, without our approval.. 

We’re afraid that residents and taxpayers will stop supporting land and water protection if they know that politicians and lobbyists can change the law we created at referendum, any time they want.  Long Islanders have authorized more than $3 billion to protect land and water and they’re unlikely to keep doing it if a special interest and politicians can change the rules without our approval. Long Islanders have spent more money on land preservation than 45 of the 50 states.  Let’s not let the politicians and the agriculture lobby, kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The State Supreme Court and the Appellate Division on a similar case have declared that any law created by referendum can only be altered by a subsequent referendum.  Sounds right to me.  Why not? We’re appealing the Appellate Court ruling. 

Sincerely,  Richard Amper

Friday
Feb232018

Letter To Editor - Guns In Schools I Lived It

Imagine our schools patrolled by armored vehicles and soldiers with semi-automatic weapons because of the fear of violence.

This is not something I need to imagine.  It is a memory.

I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during a period of armed struggle known as “The Troubles.” I still carry the memory of soldiers and tanks in front of my school, St. Genevieve’s.  I fled the violence of Northern Ireland, fell in love with and married an American soldier, and resolved to raise my children in the peace and safety of the United States of America.

So, when I now hear some say that the only remedy to the massacres that have become all too common in America’s schools is to turn them into armed camps, I am horrified.  Let me tell you from first-hand experience, seeing a tank or an armed soldier in front of your school does not make you feel safer.  That is the past I fled, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is not our future.

I am inspired by the voices of the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School decrying the failure our so-called leaders to protect them.  One of the reasons I am running for Congress against Lee Zeldin is that he is complicit in that failure.  Because of people like Congressman Lee Zeldin and Speaker Paul Ryan, we cannot make any progress on reasonable measures that will protect our children.

As the wife of a decorated veteran and New York City Police Officer and the mother of two active duty soldiers, I support the 2nd Amendment.  And yes, I know how to shoot a gun too.  But, I also support common-sense laws to protect Americans.  

For instance, I support the Department of Homeland Security’s “no fly” list, which says that certain people are such a threat that they shouldn’t be allowed to board a commercial aircraft.  I imagine you do too.  Yet, the House of Representatives will not pass legislation to prevent those same people from buying a gun.

Think about that for a minute.  There are people we deem so dangerous that we will not allow them to step foot on an aircraft, yet those same people can legally purchase military-style assault weapons and unleash terror in any school in America.  That is just the tip of the iceberg of Congress’ failure to enact common-sense laws to protect us.

Lee Zeldin is proud of his “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). An “A”?  That’s absurd.  It is impossible to represent the interests of Suffolk County and be in 100% agreement with the NRA.  How do you earn an “A” from the NRA?  Among other things:

—Lee Zeldin cosponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which infringes on New York’s laws by allowing residents from other states to carry concealed weapons in our communities.

—Lee Zeldin opposes any ban on semi-automatic weapons, like the ones used in Sandy Hook and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

—Lee Zeldin voted to make it easier for people with mental illness to purchase weapons, including military-style assault rifles.

We can do better.  We must start by rejecting the false choice that we must either surrender our 2nd Amendment rights or turn our schools into armed camps and our teachers into snipers.

Let’s tackle the factors that lead to school shootings head on.  Let’s make it impossible for the angry and the mentally impaired to get their hands on assault weapons.  Let’s say that if you can’t board an airplane, you can’t buy a gun.  Let’s have a background check system that does proper background checks. 

Let’s protect our kids with actions, not words.  The answer to gun violence in schools is not to put more guns in schools, it is not to make our schools into fortresses.  I am still the same hopeful immigrant who believes in the promise of America, and I know that we can do better for our children.

Kate Browning, Candidate for Congress, NY-01

Thursday
Feb012018

Letter To Editor - Zeldin's Live:Lee In DC A Real Snooze

To the Editor:

Lee Zeldin recently sent emails promoting his new “Live: Lee in DC” where he  reads comments and queries posted on  Facebook.  However, when you tune in to his video, note that he spends 99% of his time with blah-blah-blah.    

https://www.facebook.com/RepLeeZeldin/videos/892596670909118/ 

He chooses the Facebook comments to read, and selects NOTHING of substance. He recites the countries where he visited our troops over the last three Christmases, and comments that he was making a sacrifice by missing his children’s school play in order to remain in Washington for a budget vote.   His answers are vacuous, meaningless prattle such as how sleepy he is, that his daughters like stuffed animals, and that he is actually on speaking terms with some Democrats.  He consumes an inordinate amount of time ruminating on his favorite foods and restaurants in CD-1,  a complete waste of time unless you’re a chef.  Oh yeah, he also watches News 12, wonders about what game is on TV, and quotes from the Fox website. 

 Long pause … longer pause … looonger pause … ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ  

Call Zeldin’s office right now and demand a real Town Hall in the district rather than his idiotic blathering on “Live: Lee in DC.”  

DC: 202-225-3826     Patchogue: 631-289-1097 

Ruth A Cohen 

Monday
Jan222018

Letter To Editor - Zeldin Will Forego Salary Better He Stops Wasting Public Money  

Dear Editor,

“LEE ZELDIN SAFEGUARDING OUR ENVIRONMENT” is the title of an attractive  two-sided flyer, printed in color on heavy paper, that Lee Zeldin recently sent to constituents.

It purports to burnish his credentials as a guardian of Long Island’s environment.  However, in listing his achievements, he relies heavily on words such as “advanced,” “supported,” “worked closely with”  and “advocated.”   Nearly every piece of legislation he “supported” got stuck in committee.  He claims to have introduced the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, but, according to Congress.Gov,  it was introduced by Steve Israel, Democrat  NY CD3, and last saw the light of day when it was referred to a subcommittee on July 14, 2015.

According to the League of Conservation Voters, out of 73 environmental votes between 2015 and 2016, Zeldin voted pro-environmentally only eight times. The League, on its National Environmental Scorecard, rates him at 8% for 2016 (the most recent score available), and gives him a lifetime score of 11%.

In 2016 he even voted against defending the poor little threatened sage grouse.  

If Zeldin were genuinely interested in protecting the environment, why hasn’t he sponsored a single environmental bill from 2017 through today?   He did make sure to  co-sponsor the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,  forcing states with stricter gun laws, such as New York, to honor out-of-state permits from states with less restrictive requirements.  Zeldin, rated ‘A’ by the NRA, made his priorities clear.

If Zeldin’s self-serving, insincere flyer is not insult enough, it bears the following warning:

Official Business This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense.

Zeldin just announced that, as long as the government is shut down, he will forego his salary.  It would be better if he just takes his salary, and refrains from wasting public money on drivel like this. 

Ruth A Cohen
Monday
Jan222018

Letter To Editor - Offshore Drilling Devasting To LI's Coastal Communities

Dear Editor:

As Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, I am deeply concerned regarding the Department of Interior’s Draft Proposed Plan to permit offshore drilling leases along the Atlantic Coast and other protected areas of the outer continental shelf despite mounting opposition from states, coastal residents, environmental groups and businesses, and individuals whose livelihoods will be jeopardized.

The National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program would be devastating to Long Island’s Coastal communities by damaging marine life and precious natural resources, increasing the chances for a catastrophic spill and threatening pristine coastal areas. 

In addition, the environmental impact of offshore drilling for New York State and the ecologically significant coastline of Long Island, where water quality drives not only the fishing and boating industry but a large part of the tourism and recreational sectors, can potentially damage the economy for years to come. 

Healthy oceans contribute to a healthy economy. Tourism on Long Island is a $5.6 billion industry that supports close to 100,000 jobs and accounts for 54% of traveler spending according to a 2016 report prepared by Tourism Economics; an increase of 3% from 2015 to 2016.  Tourism on Long Island generated $1.8 billion in direct labor income and 6.1 % of all employment on Long Island is driven by tourism.

Suffolk County alone produced 54.7% of the region’s tourism base generating $700 million in state and local taxes.

The prospect of 47 lease sales on both coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska combined with the relaxation of safety measures designed to prevent catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon one in 2010, signals a lack of concern for the environment that has the potential to alter the future for years to come.

United States Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 13 Senate co-sponsors to introduce the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act which would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean saying it is commonsense, anti-pollution legislation that would prevent short and long-term marine and coastal damages and protect and preserve shore economies. 

Several Governors, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have requested exemptions from this ill-conceived proposal, especially in light of the Interior Department’s granting Florida an exemption. 

As Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, I am committed to fighting to prevent offshore drilling and to protecting our residents, our coastline and our economy from this environmentally destructive plan that has the potential to cause irreparable damage to Long Island’s coastal resources.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory

Suffolk County Legislature