Throughout my 40-year career as a public official and political party leader, I've taken great pride in my record of advancing the public interest. I credit my success, and my longevity, in the rough-and-tumble world of politics to my earnest efforts to always do what I believed was right for the residents of Nassau County -- even if it meant standing up to Newsday when I thought that it was on the wrong side of an issue.
Newsday's suggestion that my opposition to the proposed use of open space funds to purchase the now-defunct Emil's Garden Center in Bethpage was motivated by my concern over voter backlash this November, rather than an absence of merit in the project itself, is erroneous and unfair ["Another reason to stop useless Nassau land buy," Editorial, Man 13].
I believe in the adage that "good government makes good politics," and I have throughout my career adhered to this principle as well as urged my party's elected officials to be guided by it.
After four decades in political life, I've found that the foundation for success at the polls is always in doing the right thing -- for the right reasons -- for the people you serve. Those who act out of any other motivations simply don't stand the test of time.
Joseph N. Mondello, Westbury
Editor's note: The writer is the chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee.
Faith issues don't belong in discourse
Newsday's editorial "Prayer ruling strikes balance" [May 6] states, "Religious faith is at the core of who we are as a nation." Wrong. Religious freedom is at the core of who we are as a nation.
The nation is filled with churches, temples and mosques where people can pray without fear of persecution. Your editorial also states, "Respect for the separation of church and state . . . will be successful only if all the voices that want to speak to the heavens are included."
Public forums are a place to speak with each other, not to the heavens. Keep religion out of public discourse.
No longing for Sonic in Smithtown
Since the Checker's restaurant, located on Route 347 near the Smithhaven Mall, went out of business in less than a year, I'm not sure that too many people are longing for a burger ["Longing for a burger in the Land of No," Opinion, April 23]. Columnist Lane Filler has no clue as to how a Sonic restaurant would affect our residential neighborhood.
First, you cannot compare a Sonic restaurant to a Cheesecake Factory or Bahama Breeze. Those are indoor restaurants with sit-down service, while Sonic's patrons use loudspeakers to order food and eat in their idling cars. When they drive away, where do you think the garbage will land?
Second, the proposed entrance and exit is on Alexander Avenue, a residential street that also serves as a direct through-street to Smithhaven Mall. A Sonic would result in significantly increased traffic backing up and down the length of the street, and that could prevent residents from entering or exiting their driveways. It would also make it difficult for emergency vehicles to get into the neighborhood.
Finally, homes near the Sonic property would be affected by the sight of the 20-foot neon sign, shining brightly into their windows until the wee hours, not to mention the increased smells of grease, garbage and exhaust fumes wafting through their yards.
Michael Kadan, Nesconset
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the Smithtown East Civic Association.
Prevent and treat gambling addiction
The story about Suffolk OTB borrowing $90 million for the creation of a video lottery terminal casino is troubling ["Suffolk OTB to borrow $90M for casino, creditors," News, April 29].
What is lost is the social cost of such a venture. Earl Grinols, a Baylor University economics professor, has painstakingly reported to mostly deaf ears that casinos might generate extra revenue in the short term, however, over the long haul, the cost is $3 for every $1 of revenue.
These costs come in the form of medical care, law-enforcement, treatment of mental illness and family destruction. There are lost wages and lost productivity.
Video lottery terminals are designed to exploit women gamblers, according to MIT cultural anthropologist Natasha Schull. Women overwhelming prefer electronic slot machines, and these games can addict people faster. Women are more "escape" gamblers than "action" gamblers, according to Schull.
Unfortunately, gambling addiction is sometimes neglected among addiction research, and even less is known about the woman gambler. Before these casinos are opened, the counties must make sure that there is a prevention and treatment program that deals with this problem.
It's bad enough that we use gambling as a regressive tax on sick people, but we can't do so without at least trying to mitigate the evils.
Kenneth Gaughran, Owego
Editor's note: The writer is a counselor and blogger on addiction.