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OpinionLetters

Fix bay crisis, voting mistrust, migrant aid

One of the worst brown tides in years

One of the worst brown tides in years is threatening hard clams in the Great South Bay. This is the scene in East Patchogue on July 1. Credit: Chris Ware

Fix bay crisis before adding fast rail

Did we really expect brown tide to go away after all the political photo ops, along with the clam and oyster beds that were created to filter the bay ["Great South Bay faces a crisis in full bloom," News, July 4]?

Besides wasted funds, grant money or not, it’s still taxpayer money. I applaud those trying to fix and farm our waterways, but brown tide will only get worse and new septic systems with low nitrogen output are not the answer.

Suffolk County can’t keep kicking this issue down the road. Hard choices must be made.

Why is there talk of building a new high-speed railway when commuters at times can’t even get to the city on time using the existing system ["LI high-speed rail plan moves ahead in D.C.," News, July 3]? Why should this work any better? It accomplishes little for Long Island’s masses.

Monies and grants for the brown tide should be pooled for this colossal undertaking instead of making cheaper efforts, thinking this will fix it. Maybe after our waterways come back, Long Island could again become a vacation-seaside getaway. Let’s not wait.

— Anthony Tanzi, Mastic Beach

Safeguarding our waters from harmful algal blooms (HABs) is a priority for New York State. Newsday’s story shines a light on this challenge.

To date, 2021 has been a typical year for marine and freshwater HABs. While the exact cause of HABs is not fully understood, they usually occur in waters high in phosphorus and/or nitrogen, and they can spike with changes in temperature and oxygen levels.

With local, county and academic partners, New York is reducing phosphorus and nitrogen entering marine waters with investments through the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan, Bay Park Conveyance Project, and the replacement of aging septic and cesspool systems.

Since its inception, LINAP has guided more than $879 million for Long Island projects, excluding the Bay Park Project.

In addition, through the statewide HABs Initiative, the Department of Environmental Conservation is undertaking the nation’s most aggressive plan to reduce the frequency of freshwater HABs with more than $187 million advancing innovative solutions to respond to these blooms.

As scientists better understand HABs, the DEC encourages New Yorkers to protect themselves, their families, and pets from potentially toxic algal blooms. Visit dec.ny.gov to learn how to "know it, avoid it and report it."

— Basil Seggos, Albany

The writer is the state DEC commissioner.

GOP most responsible for voting mistrust

William F.B. O’Reilly’s essay "Voting debacles erode trust and confidence" [Opinion, July 2] is misleading. He claims that Democrats are equally to blame as Republicans for a lack of confidence in voting systems because Democrats have pursued voter reform laws that he seems to find confusing.

He also cites the error by the New York City Board of Elections in the mayoral primary as a contributing factor for loss of voter confidence in the electoral process.

First, voter reform legislation has nothing to do with the NYC mistake.

Second, and more important, voting reform legislation does not undermine the electoral process and should not result in a lack of confidence on the part of any fair-minded voter.

The primary reason that so many people do not have confidence in our system is because of the "Big Lie," perpetrated by Republicans in Congress and the right-wing media, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

O’Reilly’s attempt to spread the blame and create a false equivalency serves only to perpetuate rather than clarify the confusion and lack of confidence of which he complains.

— Tom Quigley, Garden City

Migrant aid doesn’t go far enough

Kudos to attorney and author Mark A. Torres for uncovering and compiling the sobering historical research exploring the inhumane working and living conditions among migrant farm workers not too many decades ago on the North Fork ["A painful chapter in history," LIlife, July 4].

Helen Wright Prince, teacher at the Cutchogue labor camp from 1949-1961, was a visionary who memorialized her directive from the head of the farming co-op in her memoir: "But, Helen, you don’t have to teach them anything, you just have to keep order."

With the Democrats taking control of the State Senate in 2019, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the legislation for The Farm Laborers Fair Practice Act, after similar bills had failed for years. This act provides migrant farm workers with a day of rest, disability pay, paid family leave, unemployment insurance, collective bargaining rights, and overtime pay after 60 hours.

Although encouraging, it is unfortunately decades too late and many dollars short.

— Mary Roulette, West Islip

The article on migrant labor camps reminded me of an old incident. I have served as a lay preacher in Long Island churches — especially during a pastor’s vacation.

My duties have included presiding throughout the service. One Sunday in 1959, as I was about to lead morning worship at a North Fork village church, a member of the congregation handed me a slip of paper and asked me to include its contents in the spoken announcements: a meeting of a committee on living conditions for migrant workers. Naively, I did so and was shocked by the roaring outrage that followed.

Several persons stood up to protest using the pastor’s absence to promote discord. One apologized for my being the unwitting messenger of a "Communist plot."

The incident awakened me to what journalist Edward R. Murrow soon thereafter exposed as Long Island’s agricultural and social scandal.

Now, six decades later, we have other causes to address, and our houses of worship are the venues in which to recall and heed the prophet Micah’s summons: "He has shown you what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

— D. Bruce Lockerbie, East Setauket

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