Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at Clinton G Martin Park...

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at Clinton G Martin Park on March 24, 2019. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Of course, County Executive Steve Bellone’s $3.2 billion budget doesn’t raise fees or pierce the tax cap [“$3.2B budget for Suffolk,” News, Sept. 21]. Residents are already fee’d to death.

We just paid a $450.50 fee to Suffolk to record a home-equity loan satisfaction. We had opened the home loan when we bought our house. Recently, with a whopping balance of 36 cents, we decided to close it — and were hit with the giant fee from Suffolk, all so the county could accept a letter by email from the bank and record the closure.

Mind you, we had already paid the $450.50 fee to Suffolk County to record the separate mortgage satisfaction a few years earlier. The result: $901 to Suffolk for record keeping. How much does that record-keeping job pay?

Rob Ripp and Peter Steinert,


Fusion-voting panel lacks authority

Reporter Michael Gormley’s excellent story on the effort to eliminate fusion voting in New York, “  ‘Fusion voting’ faces uncertainty” [News, Sept. 30], omitted a key detail about how Nassau County and New York State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs is attempting to limit political speech for the benefit of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and their party.

Jacobs, a leading member of Cuomo’s Public Finance Reform Commission, is pressing what we believe is an unlawful end-around the duly-elected State Legislature. He and the commission maintain that its singular vote on fusion voting and public campaign financing will become law — unless the State Legislature returns to Albany before Dec. 31 to say otherwise.

But no matter how many times Jacobs claims the commission’s right to make law, we believe it simply doesn’t have this authority. Only the State Legislature can amend state election law.

Fusion voting has thrice been upheld in court, and it shouldn’t take lawsuits from the Conservative and Working Families parties to uphold it again. Voters should be outraged at this cynical attempt to stifle dissenting political speech in our state. It is an affront to democracy.

Gerard Kassar,


Editor’s note: The writer is chairman of the New York State Conservative Party.

Other ideas for LIRR improvements

The Long Island Rail Road’s construction of a double-track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, and the progress so far of its third track on the Main Line, show that its projects can be done well and on time.

However, the East Side Access route to Grand Central Terminal should have opened 10 years ago. We still have to wait until 2022? When members of the East Side Access Citizens Task Force, of which I was a member, were given a tunnel tour in 1996, we had no idea the project would not be completed even in 2019.

The LIRR should give priority to these other needs:

  • A double track and electrification from Huntington to Port Jefferson. Current service is infrequent, slow and poor. The last weekday eastbound train to Port Jefferson with no transfers leaves Penn Station at 4:49 p.m., when most people are still at work. Some trains from Penn to East Northport, with transfers, take about 90 minutes to go 39.6 miles, less than 27 mph. Disgusting!
  • An LIRR train from Jamaica Station to Metro-North connections in the Bronx so people can more easily commute between Long Island and Westchester County and Connecticut.
  • Platforms with weather canopies east of Huntington.
  • When East Side Access opens, easy and quick transfers at Jamaica to Grand Central.

Ron Troy,

East Northport

Northwell CEO should fight medical errors

If ever there were a classic case of failing to stay in your own lane, Michael Dowling is one [“Northwell CEO’s push to curb gun violence,” News, Sept. 30].

The Northwell Health chief executive’s time would be better spent conferring with other health care executives to try to reduce deaths from medical error.

A 2016 Johns Hopkins University study estimated that number at 250,000 people in the United States each year. That number dwarfs the annual total of about 11,000 firearm homicides. The Johns Hopkins study said the 250,000 figure would make medical errors the third-largest cause of death in the nation if they were classified separately; firearms deaths don’t even make the Top 10. According to the FBI, in 2017 there were 403 homicides from rifles of all types, including assault weapons.

Instead of grandstanding with a conference in December to promote meaningless gun-control measures, perhaps if Dowling paid more attention to factors that he is actually in a position to control, there would be a reduction in unnecessary deaths.

James Policke,


Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the National Rifle Association.