Letters to the editor: Higher standards are the way to go


Higher standards are the way to go

The standards set by a school district define the quality of that school. A catchy name, the “Do No Harm” policy will do just the opposite. Many people having good intentions are forgetting that a test is a challenge, not a punishment. Reduce its value, and you reduce the challenge. “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy” is an important life lesson. In the final analysis, schools that adopt the DNH policy will be doing a disservice to their students.  

This is a slippery slope. It is always easier to take the less challenging path. An exam can be challenging, but if it has little effect on a student’s grade it offers little incentive for a student to strive for excellence. Reduce the value of a test enough and that test will eventually join others on the junk pile of abandoned standards.

I cannot imagine how countries that are presently running rings around us — particularly in math and science education — view programs such as DNH. We will need a tremendous amount of well-educated brainpower as we continue into the future. I wonder if that resource will be available to us or if we will be found lacking. 

I have several suggestions for administrators and school boards. The first being: return to offering both a Regents and a non-Regents diploma. For a Regents diploma, the Regents should count 25% of the student’s grade. Students who are opting for a non-Regents diploma do not face the exam and thus they are not “harmed” by it. 

I agree that this is a step back to an older standard. If there is one thing that life has taught me, it’s that when offered the challenge of higher, not lower, standards young people will amaze you.  

Robert Jester


Hochul doesn’t support Native rights

The Montaukett tribe is one nation and has already been recognized as a federal and state sovereign nation prior to 1906, In 1687, deed issues reflected a disregard for Montauketts’ rights, prompting a new agreement in 1703. The state’s actions, characterized by greed and racism, included restrictions on population growth, threats of arrest for trespassing and denial of inheritance rights in mixed marriages. Additionally, Montaukett members were barred from selling grazing rights to “foreign” Native or African Americans. In 1906, court records described the Montaukett as having mixed with “inferior races,” leading to their classification as “extinct” by a judge who disparagingly labeled them as “shiftless.” 

This verdict, ignoring the tribal members present in the room, contradicted prior legal precedents, such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of Cherokee sovereignty in Georgia. 

Historically, tribes, like the Montaukett are required to have a continuous government-to-government relationship with the state. The Montauketts had that prior to 1906. Gov. Hochul’s actions, such as freezing the Seneca Nation’s accounts and vetoing the Montaukett bills for state recognition and Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act, demonstrate a failure to uphold obligations to Indigenous communities. Her decisions, viewed as perpetuating historical injustices, disregard the need for reconciliation and respect for tribal sovereignty. Despite efforts to pass legislation beneficial to tribes like the Montaukett, the governor’s actions reflect a continuation of centuries-old patterns of greed and racism, rather than meaningful progress towards equity and justice.

Angelique Howen


Public sentiment is carrying the day

Thank you for your ongoing coverage of the Strong’s Marine boat storage project on Mattituck Inlet. As you laid out in your most recent article, the Southold Town Planning Board has accepted a Final Environmental Impact Statement  prepared by an outside consultant and largely shaped by community input over the course of a detailed State Environmental Quality Review. 

Strong’s Marine has proposed to excavate about 124,000 cubic yards of sand from a hillside overlooking Mattituck Inlet on West Mill Road to build two roughly 50,000-square-foot heated yacht storage buildings. The FEIS underscored numerous threats the project poses to the environment and public safety, as well as significant impact to local traffic and community character.

On behalf of the community group Save Mattituck Inlet, we want to thank everybody who participated in the process and encourage the entire community to read the report, available on the Southold Town website (https://tinyurl.com/42m6r2hs). Regardless of what you think of the project, the report shows that public sentiment is being taken seriously here in Southold Town. The Planning Board has scrupulously followed the SEQRA process and given the public, both pro and con, ample opportunity to participate.

While this process is not over yet — the Planning Board’s final decision may take another month or two — we are deeply heartened to know that an active and thoughtful community is a welcome participant and can make a difference.

Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Jeff Pundyk


Get rid of leaf blowers!

As a very concerned citizen of Southold Town, I am writing to endorse our town to follow in the footsteps of East Hampton Town and ban leaf blowers. The negative impacts of these machines on our health, environment and quality of life are indisputable. Leaf blowers generate significant air pollution, spread harmful chemicals and dust and produce excessive noise that assaults our natural environment. They are also ineffective, as they simply move organic matter from one place to another and can cause health problems for operators and residents alike.

Another important reason to reconsider our relationship with and attitude toward leaves is that leaves are a vital resource for our local ecosystem. By leaving leaves on the ground, we provide essential habitat and food for insects, birds and small mammals. Leaves also help to reduce erosion, retain soil moisture and regulate water cycles. By blasting them away, we disrupt these natural processes and harm the wildlife that depends on them. Why be at war with nature?

As Southold Town reconsiders its zoning and future, I urge our town leaders to prioritize sustainability and environmental stewardship. Banning leaf blowers is a crucial step toward creating a more peaceful, healthy and environmentally conscious community. Let’s work together to build a brighter future for our town that values the well-being of both people and our natural environment. Imagine stepping outside each morning and hearing the beautiful bird song in place of the blare of these deplorable machines.  

Now is the perfect time to take action and implement a ban on leaf blowers. Let’s seize this opportunity to create a more sustainable Southold Town for ourselves and future generations. 

Sharon Kelly


Less is always better than more

I guess I’m just getting cranky with age. I applied for and received my first credit card while serving in the Navy about 55 years ago. Up until recently, when a business accepted my card, it was for the exact amount of the purchase. However, now I see an added percentage for credit card usage. Is there a law that regulates this charge and, if so, how high a percentage can be charged?

Customer convenience and loyalty must no longer be a business priority. This used to be called the “cost of doing business.” Now, everywhere that cost is being passed on to the consumer in one way or another. As Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a changing,” though not for the better. You see, I have always believed less equals more for everyone.

Bob Bittner


Thank you!

Over the years, there have been lots of stories about local businesses opening, reopening or closing in The Suffolk Times. It’s good that you always cover it. I thought the story on Hellenic Snack Bar stood out, with very nice writing by your Lilly Parnell. I feel like a need a souvlaki ASAP!

Robert Werber


We must maintain nature’s balance

As the spring brings warmer temperatures and blossoming landscapes, the beauty of the North and South forks draws many outdoor enthusiasts, myself included. It’s a season connected with the anticipation of fishing, a passion I’ve cherished since childhood. Living by the water, I’ve cared a lot about responsible fishing, which I have learned from my father, and understanding its role in preserving our aquatic ecosystems. Beyond the thrill of the catch, I’ve come to appreciate the delicate balance required to sustain our marine life and safeguard the waters we cherish.

Over the years, my love for our local aquatic environments has grown deeper, fueled by the insights I’ve gained through firsthand experiences and internships. These experiences, whether at the bustling Southold Fish Market or within the educational realm of Cornell Cooperative Extension, have shed light on the complex relationship between human activities and marine ecology. 

Engaging with local businesses and organizations has underscored the importance of looking carefully into fishing practices. Conversations with visionaries like Andrea Tese, proprietor of the eco-conscious Minnow at the Galley Ho, have reshaped my perspectives. It’s become evident that certain methods, like trawling and scallop dredging, take a toll on our ocean floors and the delicate ecosystems they harbor. The depletion of bay scallops and the detrimental impact on reef habitats serve as reminders of the consequences of unchecked fishing practices.

In deeper research, I’ve encountered harsh realities about dwindling fish populations, notably the once-abundant bluefish. Learning about regulatory measures such as possession limits has been eye-opening, making me rethink what I thought I knew about the resilience of certain species. Ms.  Tese’s insights on the shifting dynamics of marine populations have been particularly illuminating, prompting reflection on the sustainability of our fishing practices.

As stewards of our marine environments, we must embrace a more thoughtful approach to fishing — one rooted in conservation, sustainability and respect for nature’s delicate balance. Through education, advocacy and conscientious action, we can ensure that future generations see thriving oceans full of life.

Ryan Shimaitis

Ryan is an eighth-grader at Peconic Community School.


Please support the Legion

It was the efforts of local residents in 1938 that led to the construction of the first skating rink. When it  burned down in 1953, residents again pulled together to rebuild the rink in just 12 months! Over the seven decades since, many key figures, including Bob and Lillian White and George Costello, rallied these same residents to ensure the building’s continued survival.

The current members of American Legion Burton Potter Post 185 in Greenport, consisting of veterans and the sons of veterans, have accepted the responsibility for continuing to maintain the facility, thus continuing to make it available for community and private events. At this past Saturday’s event, we members were very gratified to see our efforts justified as we watched the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction to the band. While there were many longtime “locals” in attendance, it was nice to see so many newcomers as well.

Therefore ,we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who attended. Your financial and moral support are the key to our success! And to the Linden Farms All Stars for providing the music. This local band from Orient loves performing for us and accepts a very modest fee by way of supporting our efforts.

Jamie Schott handled the acoustics during the performance. It is Jamie’s expertise that allows us to use our own sound equipment, which eliminated the need to spend hundreds of dollars for an outside sound team. Our next event on June 8 will be our first annual Lobster Bake, provided for us by Charlie Manwaring’s Southold Fish Market. Charlie’s lobster bakes are the best!  

The goal of this fundraiser is to bolster our building emergency fund. This fund is our reserve to cover a major emergency expense such as the loss of an AC unit or unexpected expense. Only 200 tickets will be sold this year, so if you like lobster and a good time, buy your ticket early!

The Greenport American Legion Team

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