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Newsday letters of the year 2017

Issues from presidential behavior to NFL protests inspired strong and thoughtful reaction from readers.

The American flag, the anthem and protests by athletes

Members of the Cleveland Browns kneel during the
Photo Credit: AP/Ron Schwane

To the writers of "Disappointment in anthem protesters," why don't you listen to what some of these protesters have to say?
The protests are their way of highlighting legitimate concerns by heightening people's awareness of individuals who suffer injustices because of race and creed. Many have served with distinction and have given their lives in service to this country.
This is far from "the easy way out," as one writer put it. The protesters often face hateful ridicule. We should respect the right to peacefully protest to promote the betterment of our democracy.
James E. Morgan Sr., Centereach, Oct. 1, 2017
Editor's note: The writer is a retired Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War.

It’s time for the NFL players who’ve made a statement by kneeling during the national anthem to stand up.

They have every right to protest what they feel is the unequal treatment experienced by people of color in our society. Kneeling was a powerful reminder that we can’t disguise our nation’s problems behind touchdowns and chicken wings.

However, if the kneeling continues, they will go from sending a message of protest to one of division. Our flag is not a symbol of oppression, our government or its agencies. It’s the symbol of an ideal that our Founding Fathers put forth as something to strive for, though they failed to live it themselves.

To continue to kneel is to say that you are separate from those of us who still believe our country can move closer to that ideal. Those of us who stand salute where the country is on the journey to that ideal and where, as a united people, we want it to be.

Cliff Shaw, St. James, Oct. 12, 2017

Opioid crisis

This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an
Photo Credit: AP/Patrick Sison

Newsday’s editorial on the overdose crisis included a picture of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price [“Overdose crisis: Match words with funding,” Aug. 9].

In my opinion, this administration has only paid lip service to this crisis. Its proposed reduction in treatment funding, the lack of a cohesive drug policy, and the delay in declaring a state of emergency clearly demonstrates a lack of fortitude, good judgment and positive action.

As someone who has lost a loved one to this scourge, I very much appreciate the editorial board’s words, but there has to be more. There should be outrage that we have a major disease epidemic and, except for those on the front lines in both treatment and law enforcement, too little is being done.

Michael Ormin, Farmingville, Aug. 22, 2017

Nobody can deny that there is a raging drug epidemic on Long Island [“Massapequa leads Nassau in fatal ODs,” News, Sept. 15].

Sadly, a large percentage of Long Islanders can probably relate to addiction in some way — from a personal struggle, a family member’s struggle or knowledge of an acquaintance’s battle.

As a therapist, I have advice for parents, siblings, spouses, children, grandparents and friends. These people spend their time worrying, feeling guilty, being afraid and taking care of the addict. They have little time to think about themselves and their emotional, mental and physical health.

I dealt with a spouse struggling with addiction for many years. My addiction story ended much too soon, and my husband became a victim of his drug use. But in my recovery, I have been able to see that there is value in taking care of oneself.

So, go to therapy, join a gym, take an art class. Sip your coffee for a bit longer than usual. Take a personal time-out. Cry. Yell. Ask for help, because it is out there. You are not alone.

Brandy Siani, Sayville, Sept. 19, 2017

Don’t sugarcoat history of America

GETTYSBURG, PA. : On November 19, 1863, President

Two recent letter writers made interesting word choices. The writer of “Rediscover respect of post-Civil War era” [Aug. 29], called the war a “family dispute” when each side “fought for what they believed in.” The Confederacy fought to continue to enslave humans, to buy and sell men, women and children. I don’t think that side of the “family” deserves to be honored.

On the same page, a letter writer was upset that Christopher Columbus is called a divisive figure. Columbus and his men (who did not discover America) enslaved people of the West Indies and slaughtered many Taino people in a quest for gold [“Should we re-examine every historic figure?”]. This seems to me a tad more than divisive.

When confronted with horrors, we shouldn’t try to sugarcoat them.

Richard Posner, Selden, Sept. 11, 2017

Teach students to deal with test stress

While other students at Oxhead Road Elementary School
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

While Newsday’s editorial “The problem when test results provide few answers” [Aug. 27] identified the problem and consequences of the opt-out testing movement, it came up short on offering solutions.

Much has been done on the state level to quell some of the concerns of teachers unions, teachers and parents regarding this controversial matter. Using test results to differentiate and measure degrees of teacher effectiveness is clearly contrary to any union’s philosophy of “one for all and all for one.”

In addition, teachers show real concern regarding accountability and how it will affect tenure, teaching assignments and even compensation. Understandably, the unions’ and teachers’ concerns are embedded in a tradition and culture that will take time to change. Their voices must be heard as consensus is built toward a resolution.

More difficult to understand are the parents who keep their children from taking annual standardized state tests. While I’m sure they mean well, they might be doing their children a disservice. We hear about the unnecessary stress of test-taking, for example, but there is an alternative. Parents should work with school officials to help students manage stressors. Stressors, at all ages, are a real part of life and dealing with them helps us grow and mature.

Philip Cicero, North Massapequa, Sept. 8, 2017
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired superintendent of schools.

The LIRR will return to normal? Uh-oh.

In this Friday, June 30, 2017 photo, commuters
Photo Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

The Long Island Rail Road has stated that regular service will resume on Sept. 5 [“On-time end to Penn work,” News, Aug. 25]. That’s a threat its riders should not take lightly.

Gary Urivetzky, Island Park, Sept. 1, 2017

Impressions of Charlottesville and its aftermath

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12: White nationalists, neo-Nazis
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Let’s agree that white supremacists are evil and no one should condone them. However, whether you like it or not, they were granted a permit to march and rally, their rights under the First Amendment.

However, the opposing group acted improperly when it attacked the white supremacists, causing mayhem. The opposing group had the right to rally, as well, but its members acted illegally without a permit. This is what President Donald Trump tried to explain.

As a black American, I understand that the First Amendment does not give those with opposing views the right to attack and beat people they disagree with.

David Duchatellier, Elmont, Aug. 27, 2017

In blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump is basically correct. The original protest was against the removal of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The group had a permit to march; as offensive as some of its rhetoric is, the group did have the right to march.

As I understand, this group was made up of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and some people who simply opposed the removal of the statue.

The violence started when the counterprotesters arrived and disrupted the march. The counterprotesters did not have a permit, but sought to disrupt the original group’s right to march and protest.

Violence ensued, and both sides were to blame.

My question is, where were the police?

Jack McCaffery, Farmingdale, Aug. 25, 2017

After Las Vegas, where to go on guns?

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017,
Photo Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

We need to change the rhetoric in this country. Any American who is a mass shooter regardless of race, sex or creed is a domestic terrorist.

All semi-automatic and automatic-type weapons are guns of mass destruction. Neither should be tolerated in a civilized society.

Howard W. Schneider, Huntington, Oct. 13, 2017

Suspect should’ve been in lockup

President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle
Photo Credit: AP/Mike Stewart

Regarding “Arrest in Md. fatal shootings” [News, Oct. 19], based upon the FBI definition of “mass shooting,” suspected gunman Radee Labeeb Prince fell short by just one fatality. He shot six people, killing three. These deaths are as tragic as any. The gunman easily could have increased the death toll to double digits.

The most troublesome part of this story is that this could have been prevented. Prince is reported to be a felon with 42 arrests. According to federal law, he could not have legally purchased the firearm used to commit the killings. More important, why was a felon who has been arrested 42 times set free to kill and critically injure people?

While politicians who vilify the National Rifle Association are again calling for more laws and bans that only affect lawful gun owners, they have paid too little attention to the flawed criminal justice system that puts felons back on the street. They fail to realize that the sensible gun-control laws they call for already exist in the form of laws that focus on the apprehension, prosecution and lengthy incarceration of real criminals.

Vincent Cristiano, Ronkonkoma, Nov. 6, 2017
Editor’s note: The writer is a life member of the National Rifle Association.

Dying Puerto Ricans are desperate for help

A man walks past a house laying in
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/HECTOR RETAMAL

President Donald Trump says it’s difficult to get aid to Puerto Rico because it's an island in a very big ocean ["Trump to visit Puerto Rico,"; News, Sept. 27]. What baloney!

During World War II, our planes crossed the Atlantic with "Bundles for Britain"; when that country was under attack from Adolf Hitler's forces. We helped save Great Britain!

Trump also has said that Puerto Ricans should be helping themselves. How do you do that when you have no home, food, water, medicine or transportation, and little communication? Does he expect dying people to help themselves?

Come to think of it, maybe he does. That's why he wants to limit Medicare, Medicaid and other relief for senior citizens and the poor.

Some states have begun contributing to aid for Puerto Rico.

Frances Arnetta, Selden, Oct. 15, 2017

On geometry student's side

Regents Roger Tilles met 11th grader Ben Catalfo,
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

I am grateful for Newsday’s highlighting the work done by Ben Catalfo and his proof that a third question on this year’s geometry Regents exam was based on faulty reasoning [“Angling to fix Regents error,” News, July 19].

The student’s work highlights exactly what we want our students to achieve: an ability to think critically and apply disparate portions of their learning to solving challenging and unfamiliar questions. This is the same skill the Common Core Regents has tried to promote, but this question fell just a bit short of doing so, as the student has correctly proven.

What we ought to learn from this experience is not that we should make the tests less challenging; it indeed is good for our students to be pushed an appropriate distance outside of their comfort zones during tests. The tests just need a bit better vetting. Perhaps an offer should be extended to Ben Catalfo!

Ross Lipsky, North Woodmere, July 23, 2017
Editor's note: The writer teaches math at Valley Stream South High School.

Long-held hopes for a better LIRR

Looking west from the Floral Park LIRR station
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

I commend the agreement to improve the Main Line of the Long Island Rail Road through Nassau County [“LI’s future is on the right track,” Editorial, July 23]. The third track will help all of the Island.

I fondly recall my youth, in the 1950s and ’60s, on the railroad with my father, who was a trainman and conductor. Back then, my father talked about the need for the third track on the Main Line.

With further upgrades, I’d like to imagine, as he did, trains leaving Penn Station and getting to Jamaica in 15 minutes, Hicksville in 30, Ronkonkoma in 45 and Riverhead in an hour.

And I hope I can see the new Penn Station in my lifetime.

Ken Archer, Shoreham, Aug. 2, 2017

The Long Island Rail Road has stated that regular service will resume on Sept. 5 [“On-time end to Penn work,” News, Aug. 25]. That’s a threat its riders should not take lightly.

Gary Urivetzky, Island Park, Sept, 1, 2017

Tax reform raises ire for New Yorkers

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Speaker of the
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Alex Wong

New York has made this a great country since it became a state in 1788.

The reasons are its natural harbors; location for commerce; vibrant New York City, where millions come to work; its reception of immigrants; and its educational opportunities.

This activity requires bridges, roads, mass transportation and care for people who haven’t made it yet. Plus, it requires support of our extensive state and city colleges. This all costs big money.

So after New York has helped make the United States a great country, Congress wants to double tax us by removing our state, local and property taxes deduction. This would kill our real estate markets and affect hundreds of other businesses. This growth engine will come to a halt.

Paul Besmertnik, Melville, Nov. 19, 2017

Trump and the media

US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks as
Photo Credit: THEW/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock/Shawn Thew

The next time President Donald Trump uses the expression “fake news,” let him name the outlet, story and author [“Trump knocks Russian probe, ‘fake news,’ ” News, Oct. 6].

If the media outlet can prove its story was true, Trump has to apologize. If the story was false, then the outlet should correct it and apologize.

Simple — and let’s keep score! The country would benefit.

Lee Temares, Plandome, Oct. 12, 2017

Don’t the mainstream media realize that we are experiencing a historic event?

A fairly wealthy man waded through the cutthroat business world to emerge at the top of the heap. This same man has moved from political novice to the presidency of the United States [“Nation should pull together around Trump,” Letters, July 23].

Yet the crazed media and Democrats hate President Donald Trump so much that they are coming unhinged. Democrats blame their losses on former FBI Director James Comey’s statements, fake news and collusion with Russia.

Trump has been hit by just about every conceivable political force, and he has remained standing!

Walter McCarthy, Massapequa, Aug, 4, 2017

Offended by the president

US President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform,
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/MANDEL NGAN

I have lived under many U.S. presidents, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and I have never witnessed such malignant presidential behavior as we are experiencing under President Donald Trump [“Tweet ring circus,” News, July 3].

I’m a registered Republican, but this so-called administration has made me think long and hard about changing my affiliation. Trump does not demonstrate that he respects those with differing points of view. He disparages and humiliates everyone he perceives as not being in his corner.

He has not acted presidentially and has brought out the worst in U.S. citizens from state to state. He reaps what he sows.

Gabriele Kathryn Libbey, Harbor Isle, July 7, 2017

As a retired deputy inspector with the Suffolk County Police Department, I’m offended by President Donald Trump’s comments on Long Island Friday, which advocated violence by police against arrestees.

Police are not thugs, nor should they be encouraged to be. They should not be encouraged by any responsible politician to take the law into their own hands and become judge, jury and executioner. We got away from that decades ago.

Trump is unqualified. He has so little regard for what is legal and proper that he openly criticizes Attorney General Jeff Sessions for doing what is proper and what the law requires, which is to recuse himself from overseeing and participating in a federal investigation in which Sessions could become a target.

Howard Mandell, East Northport, Aug. 3, 2017

Trump’s travel ban has two sides

Photo Credit: Getty Images North America/Mark Wilson

I applaud President Donald Trump for his ban on immigrants from nations it regards as sources of terrorists and for making it more difficult to enter the United States! Now my family can sleep a little better.

Michael A. Guerriero, East Northport, Jan, 31, 2017

The Nassau County property-tax game

Mineola: Nassau County Assessor's office on Friday, October
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Congratulations on your “Separate & Unequal” series [“News, Feb. 3-5], covering the Nassau County property tax situation. The articles were clearly written.

If I understand the process, it works like this:

Step 1: Overassess the homeowner.

Step 2: The homeowner hires a firm to grieve the overassessment.

Step 3: The firm representing the homeowner is successful and retains about 30 percent of the first-year savings as its fee.

Step 4: The firm representing the homeowner makes a contribution to a local politician’s campaign fund.

Net result: The homeowner has been cheated out of 30 percent by the firm that grieved for it and by the politician.

Do I understand the process?

Bob Boos, Plainview, Feb. 16, 2017

Thank you for your in-depth reporting on the broken Nassau County property tax assessment system [“Options for solving a tax problem,” News, Feb. 19]. This reporting is public-service journalism at its finest.

Newsday shed an important light on the need for the complete reform of Nassau County government. When our elected officials not only allow but also invite the law firms who stand to benefit the most from the changes to write the new law, it just further erodes trust in our county government. The system is unfair and inequitable.

Also, as someone who for many years went to the county’s Assessment Review Commission’s Web page to see whether I had a case for grieving my taxes, I found the system always advised me that I probably didn’t have a case. Now that I know that similar homes are assessed at $200,000 less than mine on my block, solely because their owners filed grievances, do I have a case to sue Nassau County for this incorrect advice?

James Sheridan, Wantagh, Feb. 26, 2017

Repeat robocalls seem pointless

In this Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, photo, Jen
Photo Credit: AP/John Raoux

I’ve been receiving robocalls for more than a year from someone about my electric bill [“Possible solutions to reduce robocalls,” Letters, Aug. 17]. They say that Congress is passing a bill to lower electric rates.

They’ve called three or four times a day from what I estimate are at least 10 numbers. I no longer answer them.

This is extremely annoying, and I do not understand the point especially after a long period of no response from me.

These calls should be stopped by our phone service providers.

Lorraine Marrero, Valley Stream, Aug. 24, 2017


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