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Letter: Firing of commish raises questions

As a former Islip Town councilman, I am concerned about the recent unceremonious firing of Islip Planning Commissioner Dave Genaway ["Deputy replaces planning commish," News, Nov. 8].

The town has prided itself for years on having a professional and independent planning department. I found Genaway to be a bright and experienced planner who always put the best interests of the town and residents before any pressure from developers or politicians.

The apparent sudden firing of this vital commissioner is disturbing. It occurred at a budget meeting and in the absence of Supervisor Tom Croci, who had retained Genaway as his commissioner -- and only days removed from an election. The fact that no member of the town council would comment on the firing is also disturbing.

I can only hope that this is not a sign of another political power struggle within Town Hall and that politicians are not attempting to undermine the supervisor or the importance of having an independent planning commissioner.

John Edwards, Islip

Editor's note: The writer is a Democrat who served on the town council from 2008 through 2012.

Wage laws meant to keep work local

Contrary to "Rationale for NY's wage law" [News, Nov. 1], the invidious 1931 prevailing-wage laws, passed during the Great Depression, are relics of the Jim Crow era intended to prevent nonunion Southern "coloreds" from competing with local white workers.

"Unskilled, fly-by-night and poorly paid" is veiled doublespeak for blacks and immigrants workers.

Then-Rep. Robert Bacon should not, as your article suggests, be admired for his "key role" in the legislative process. He made sure the Alabama contractor working in his district, as well as his all-black workforce, wouldn't visit Long Island again.

By applying union rates as the standard for prevailing wages, the law ensured that local white union workers would receive all federal public work jobs, particularly since the unions controlled the only approved apprenticeship programs, which in turn trained the required skilled workers. Nice trick. Does the fox guarding the henhouse ring a bell?

Ironically, states in the deep South with discriminatory laws caused the reactive Northern states to sponsor and pass the Davis Bacon Act.

Larry B. Hollander, East Hills

Editor's note: The writer is a partner in the construction law firm of Hollander & Strauss in Great Neck.

Consolidating hospital wards

The maternity ward at Plainview Hospital closed last weekend ["Docs: Closing maternity ward risky," News, Aug. 15]. Some 60 dedicated nurses and staff are being reassigned to other positions within the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, some in distant locations requiring retraining.

My wife is one of the nurses. She spent most of her 40-year nursing career in Plainview, delivering thousands of babies. Some say the nurses are fortunate to having another position.

Plainview and nearby communities will be without a valuable resource. North Shore-LIJ has deemed this service expendable. Why? The system's competing Katz Women's Hospitals in Manhasset and New Hyde Park are underused. The big machine wins again.

Joseph Altmann, Hicksville

Publicity harmful in harassment case

Something hit me as deeply disturbing when I opened Newsday and saw a photo of David Harounian ["Not guilty plea from deputy mayor," News, Nov. 8]. I don't know him personally.

Based on the accusation of a woman he sat next to in a house of worship, he has had his name and photo plastered all over Long Island and beyond as an alleged harasser. What about his reputation?

I don't take the accusations lightly, but why should the press be the judge and jury?

Mike Jacobs, Wantagh

Councilman's loss and airport noise

In his bid for re-election to the East Hampton Town Board, Councilman Dominick Stanzione's profound defeat at the polls was, in effect, a referendum by the voters on town aircraft noise policy ["Our towns: Final results," News, Nov. 7].

The message is that the public wants the town to run an airport that ensures the safety of airport users while it respects the noise impact on East End residents, properties and ecosystems. Despite claims to the contrary by critics, these are not mutually exclusive goals.

The East Hampton Town Board can legally control noise by setting reasonable business hours and curfews, limiting the number of flights in a given period, and excluding some of the noisiest aircraft -- but only if the board stops taking Federal Aviation Administration grant money.

The town has contractual obligations to the FAA that expire on Dec. 31, 2014. Then, the town, as owner and operator of its airport, will be able to act. Then East Hampton will be able to operate a safe and quiet airport paid for by its users.

Kathleen Cunningham, East Hampton

Editor's note: The writer is the chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition, an activist group.