Thank you for writing this editorial

I wanted to commend you for your excellent opinion article in the latest Suffolk Times (“Maybe the sky is falling — so now what?”). I think it outlined the dire problem we have here on the North Fork with affordable housing. You clearly quantified the housing unaffordability with the analysis of homes advertised for over a million dollars. You also effectively demonstrated the impact that has had in our schools, particularly at Mattituck High School.

My perception is that Southold gives lip service to wanting affordable housing but when proposals are submitted, some excuse is used to turn it down. A good example is the Cutchogue Woods proposal that was submitted a few years ago. I went to a hearing about the plan and was impressed with the quality of the presentation. It was turned down.

I am afraid the town has equivocated for too long and viable options are closing rapidly. As a person who will spent the rest of my life on the North Fork, I shudder to think what we will do to keep the services we want operational into the future.

Don McCallion


This debt forgiveness makes no sense

President Biden knows he needs votes so he cancels $1.2 billion in student loan debt en masse, or so he thinks. But these loans were made through congressional acts using taxpayer money up front with an expected repayment over time. The repayment is now not going to happen. He just wasted taxpayer money by violating a congressional law that established the student loan program. So much for “we are a country of laws.”

This forgiveness now transfers to the nation’s ever-increasing debt. The taxpayer be damned. Yes, including those hardworking individuals who paid off their debt, those who never took on the debt and those who have yet to start working, or better yet those who are just now taking out student loans.

Don’t get me wrong, there are extenuating circumstances where individual borrowers should be allowed to claim bankruptcy that includes student loan debt. However, to offer blanket forgiveness is just wrong! On top of all that, it has been recently reported a college graduate will make on average of more than a million dollars over their lifetime than someone who didn’t go to college. 

So, Mr. President, here’s the thing: the debt is not forgiven, it’s passed on to those who never took on the debt and are now saddled with it. Just so you can buy votes. Talk about a threat to “democracy!”

Bob Bittner


Our allies must pay their fair share

Putin is a ruthless autocrat with no regard for human life. He and his country must be held accountable for starting an unprovoked war. That Putin banned me and 50 other lawmakers last year from entering Russia is a badge of honor. I anticipate supporting a bipartisan military aid package, led by Congressman Don Bacon, that would help defeat Putin and Hamas while deterring conflict with China. This package, which doesn’t have any humanitarian aid, expects to also have a detailed accounting for all U.S. aid sent to Ukraine, a country with a long history of corruption, to ensure it is being appropriately utilized. We need to ensure any future aid is also properly used and that our European and NATO allies are contributing their fair share in aid to Ukraine.

Nick LaLota

Mr. LaLota is a Congressman from New York’s 1st Congressional district.


We must find a better way

Chris Francescani’s article in The Suffolk Times (“Opioids fueling rise in countywide sex trafficking”) highlights how women with opioid use disorder are exploited by sex traffickers, prompting the Riverside County Jail to establish a new unit to identify victims. While I hope for their success, what else can we do about this issue?

As a physician-in-training, I am familiar with the FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine (i.e., Suboxone), and naltrexone. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 18% of those who could benefit from these receive them. Locally, Suffolk has few Suboxone clinics. Other barriers include prescriber restrictions, prior authorization requirements, transportation challenges and the criminalization of medication possession without a prescription. All of these undermine one’s pursuit of care.

Does it have to be this way? Things look different in Portugal, for instance, where drug treatment programs are free at the point of entry. Their police are also trained to prioritize counseling over arrests, fostering support rather than punishment and isolation. To preserve the livelihood of our neighbors suffering from opioid use disorder, we also should move beyond abstinence-only and reactive criminalizing approaches.

Patients with a stable and safe supply via FDA-approved medical therapy or through their relationship with a supervised consumption service (such as OnePoint NYC) face lower risks of engaging in crime, becoming ill and fatally overdosing. Patiently embracing harm reduction over punitive measures allows people who use drugs to safely use under observation without having to rely on dangerous and coercive sources of drug supply.

Sebastian Mendez


We must help the homeless

There have been homeless (migrant?) men hanging in the village since the summer, and they have been out in the freezing cold in the parking lot behind Front Street Station, in front of the old Bike Stop, and now in Sterlington Commons at night. Please find out their stories and how the public can help. Why have they not been supported?

Amanda Sanders


This debt will destroy democracy

I just read that the Biden Administration will automatically discharge $1.2 billion of student loan debt for 153,000 borrowers/voters, an average of $7,850 each. To grasp the significance of $1.2 billion of YOUR tax dollars, think of $1 as a second of time.  How long do you think 1.2 billion seconds would be in years? 38 years! 

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

Does $33 TRILLION ring a bell? If a dollar were a second, that’s 1.5 MILLION YEARS! Where do YOU think we are headed?

John Kramer


Reassessment would wreck everything

In your editorial “Maybe the sky is falling — so now what?” you bemoan the cost of real estate on the North Fork and then float a suggestion that could make the situation far worse. A “ripple effect” of rising land prices, you say, raises the question of whether the town should reassess our taxes. I have to wonder if you know your readership at all. In addition to all those multi-millionaires coming in, there happen to be quite a few of us on the North Fork living in homes that were purchased long ago. If the town decides to soak us all for higher taxes, then we’ll all have to leave. Then you’ll have a total hollowing out of the underlying community here, without creating any more affordable housing for anybody. Whose interest is The Suffolk Times pursuing here?

Robert Werber


Please attend one of the meetings

Southold Town’s Zoning Update will shape the future of Southold for generations to come. It is a massive undertaking, with devoted and experienced town planners working to balance growth and sustainability. There are many issues at stake and influences at play that raise many questions, the most important being — who are we planning for?

During a tourism discussion, former supervisor Scott Russell once said to us, “the sponge is full.” Do you agree? How much more development and traffic can we really handle? We are already a popular destination with considerable strain on our quality of life, our workforce, our residents, our infrastructure and particularly our natural resources. Do we want to continue to “plan ourselves into popularity” as Deputy Town Planner Mark Terry put it at a recent Town Board work session?

We must let the town know what we value and what concerns us. We encourage all residents to join us as we host informational zoning forums, presented by our town planners, in each hamlet. The Planning Department will present an overview of zoning and then we’ll discuss the zoning challenges we face. The more feedback we can provide the town, the better they can work to address these concerns as they update our town’s zoning.

East Marion: 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2, East Marion Fire Department

Orient: 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3, Poquatuck Hall

Greenport: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, Greenport firehouse

Cutchogue-New Suffolk: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, Cutchogue New Suffolk Library

Southold-Peconic: 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23, the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation

Fishers Island: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 28

North Fork Civics of Southold Town

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