On our minds: Public beach, MTA widow, sober housing


Newsday's editorial board spends all week striving to be a reasoned and pragmatic voice for Long Island and its values through our editorials and columns. We debate local, national and international issues and write on those we think will impact our readers.

Some topics come up that don't turn into longer pieces, but are part of the national conversation and worth bringing up. Here's how we're telling you about them.

Public dollars should mean public access at beach

$25 million -- That's the estimated minimum cost
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(Credit: Steve Pfost)

$25 million -- That's the estimated minimum cost of restoring the Long Island Sound beach that protects the main road in Asharoken. Flooding from superstorm Sandy temporarily closed the road, isolating both Asharoken and Eatons Neck. About 90 percent of the project would be funded with federal and state dollars, but there's a catch -- to get the money, Asharoken Village must open to the public what has been a private beach. With safety in the balance and that much money at stake, Asharoken should open up its beach.

MTA should trim deduction from widow's pension

Bureaucracies don't have hearts, but Shirley Findel deserves
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Bureaucracies don't have hearts, but Shirley Findel deserves all the compassion MTA officials can muster.

The 80-year-old widow and her husband, a Long Island Rail Road engineer, were overpaid $26,707 in pension benefits over 20 years. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority discovered its clerical error in the fall and is withholding $230.23 from her monthly checks for repayment. Then there's Christopher Parlante. The 61-year-old ex-conductor bilked the federal rail pension system out of $294,717 in disability benefits even though he wasn't disabled. A judge ordered him to repay $25 a month.

The world has tilted on its axis when an elderly widow who did nothing wrong must repay 10 times more a month than a convicted scam artist. Findel has appealed for a more realistic arrangement. Something less than $25 a month sounds about right.

The right way to house substance abuse clients?

A sober home on Long Island. It
(Credit: Randee Daddona) (Pictured above: A sober home on Long Island. )

A sober home on Long Island.

It will cost more than Suffolk County had hoped to run regulated, effective sober homes, places where alcoholics and drug addicts can transition after a stint in rehab. However, the county hopes to receive bids by July 24 that will allow it to move ahead.

Sober homes are often overcrowded and filled with drugs. They can do as much to hamper sobriety as they do to ensure it. Part of the problem is the reimbursement rate, $309 a month for rent or $475 for rent and board per client, set by the state decades ago. The county wants a 45-bed pilot program, with oversight, treatment and services. Its first request for bids, capping reimbursement at $500 a month, got no response. Now, new bids are sought with a cap of $996 per month. While that sounds like a lot of money, hosting a relapsed addict in the Suffolk County jail costs almost $7,000 a month.



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