Letter: Defending Suffolk mosquito spraying

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I must disagree with much of Michael Dobie's column "A flawed plan to attack mosquitoes" [Opinion, Aug. 24]. Dobie suggests that Suffolk is not following the state West Nile virus plan and that an "emergency" should exist to justify spraying pesticides. I was a leading member of the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality, which developed the county mosquito control plan, and it follows World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and state guidelines.

The state West Nile virus plan authorizes individual municipal responses, and Suffolk's was reviewed by state health officials. The protocol allows the use of spraying to kill adult mosquitoes with sufficient evidence that there's a threat of disease outbreak or increase in infected mosquito populations. State health officials have determined that emergency declarations are unnecessary when disease is chronic in an area, as in Suffolk. Indeed, the entire thrust of the Suffolk plan is to prevent emergencies.

Dobie wrote that the detection of "only" 30 diseased mosquitoes in Babylon was not enough to justify spraying. However, federal and state guidelines call for active suppression as early as possible to prevent the disease from establishing itself. Dead birds are no longer a reliable indicator of viral presence, as many are now immune to West Nile virus, although they remain carriers.

Finally, Dobie notes that there have been no human infections. This is precisely because of aggressive early suppression.

Michael Kaufman, Nissequogue

Judging teachers by the numbers

The evaluation of educators is difficult ["LI teachers, principals: 97% make the grade," News, Aug. 29]. As a social studies teacher some years ago, I was called on the carpet for 10th-grade Regents test results. In four of five classes, a total of one student failed, but in the fifth class, six failed.

How could that be? Was I too tired by that end-of-the-day class? I said 13 of the 28 students in that class were receiving remedial help in reading and writing. I thought that the remedial-help teachers deserved a great deal of credit in helping me get seven very weak students to pass the initial test. Four of the six who had failed eventually passed with the help of summer school.

It's easy to get bound up in the numbers and not get a full picture of what's going on. We could all have great numbers if we eliminated our weak students, but would that really be what we want in education? Teachers cannot be evaluated simply by numbers.

Joseph Marcal, Commack

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Burger King derives many U.S. benefits

I'm a middle-class American with a modest income, and I pay taxes on all of my income ["Don't blame Burger King for ducking U.S. taxes," Editorial, Aug. 27]. I believe that all companies operating in the United States, including Burger King, should pay taxes on their U.S. profits.

If a 35 percent corporate tax on profits is too high, if some businesses pay little or no taxes because of loopholes and deductions, and if foreign businesses are not taxed on their U.S. profits, then maybe those things have to change. Our lawmakers need to rewrite the tax code.

Our government needs money to operate, and we all benefit from programs our tax money supports. Whether it's a court and prison system to keep criminals away, so they can't rob Burger King; roads to travel on, so Burger King can get deliveries and customers can get to its restaurants; inspectors to keep our food supply safe, so Burger King can sell safe meals; or many other things, Burger King benefits from the programs that tax money pays for.

Although a company may feel a responsibility to maximize profits, that does not mean by any method possible. We all need to act in a moral and ethical manner, which means meeting our responsibility to pay our fair share.

Carol Raab, Coram

Can't sit idly by as police kill

Let us move forward with focused meaning and faithful mission until true justice is attained for slain black men like Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri ["Our trust of police takes a beating," Opinion, Aug. 26].

We must not sit idly by and allow the present-day racist system of "justifiable homicide" to be accepted. There will never be any justification for these killings. We must move forward and make a difference.

We can move forward by developing more jobs for our youth, by pushing positive and progressive education for young people, and by building and funding youth centers in our most troubled communities throughout the nation. This needs to happen one community at a time until we make the true difference that is needed for this present age and present stage.

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No police officer should ever operate as judge, jury and executioner. Thank God for the many positive and progressive police officers who protect the public every day.

The Rev. Arthur L. Mackey Jr., Roosevelt

Editor's note: The writer is the senior pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt.

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