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Letters: Attorney Gen. Sessions should come to LI immigration conference

SUNY Old Westbury president Calvin O. Butts III,

SUNY Old Westbury president Calvin O. Butts III, during a tour on March 22, 2013. A meeting of a group of civic, community and religious leaders, a "Voices Against Violence" tribunal, is set to be held Friday, April 28, 2017, at the college. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Sessions should come to conference

Last summer, Newsday’s editorial board called for someone to lead discussions on issues related to race, guns and police on Long Island [“A local discussion on police, race?,” Editorial, July 19]. I wrote then that SUNY Old Westbury would do so. After months of work by a group of civic, community and religious leaders, a “Voices Against Violence” tribunal is set to be held Friday at our college.

Now, as police commissioners and community leaders are ready to engage in meaningful information sharing, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced plans to visit Long Island Friday.

I understand that Sessions is the attorney general, but I believe in my heart that he is an overt racist. Most positions he has taken across his political career are vile and divisive.

I do not believe he is the man to lead us to a solution for the growing violence in our community, and I feel certain he is instead using this issue to press an introverted, anti-immigrant platform that does not represent the values of inclusiveness and equity I believe America has and should always espouse.

I understand that a visit to Long Island by the U.S. attorney general, the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, may demand the attention and time of those who lead our local law enforcement agencies, which could jeopardize the program we have put together at SUNY Old Westbury. We may consider choosing a new date if that becomes the case.

However, if he would like to hear from real Americans who are working every day on Long Island on issues related to violence, gangs, law enforcement, immigration and more, Sessions would be wise to attend a session like the one we hope to have Friday.

Calvin O. Butts III, Old Westbury

Editor’s note: The writer is the president of SUNY Old Westbury.

Wealthy wield too much political power

I read “Donating at home with little success” [News, April 16], which detailed the substantial contributions that Long Island billionaire Robert Mercer has made to the campaigns of various political candidates.

It seems unreasonable that anyone should be permitted to make such huge contributions to any political campaign. Each one of us gets one vote, but only a handful of individuals, like the Mercers, get to exert such disproportionate influence on our elections.

Yes, money in some sense is speech. Let us remember, however, that the Supreme Court has asserted over and over again that it is sometimes necessary and proper to place limits on our right to free speech. I certainly cherish that right. However, just as we limit speech that is slanderous, libelous, an incitement to riot, and so forth, it is reasonable that we do not allow billionaires to weaken our democracy through their excessive influence over elections.

The Supreme Court should reverse its terrible Citizens United decision. Our democracy is too important for us to allow billionaires to hijack it.

Robert and Rebekah Mercer have gone beyond simply donating to candidates with whom they agree. They seem to treat our government as if it is a corporation in which they own a substantial share.

Robert Marcus, Setauket

Editor’s note: The writer is on the Suffolk County Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, located in Central Islip.

Stop no-bid contracts in Hempstead Village

The new government of Hempstead Village is following the same road that has gotten other GOP politicians indicted and convicted [“No-bid business,” News, April 19]. No-bid contracts and a lack of transparency are inappropriate. This not only costs the taxpayers, but displays cronyism at its worst.

Just because it was the practice of previous administrations is a poor excuse for continuing.

Judi Gardner, Huntington

Girls should wear helmets for lacrosse

Regarding helmets for girls playing lacrosse, I have two words — ’bout time [“Helmets optional,” News, April 2].

Vincent O’Neill, Massapequa Park