Photo by Raymond Janis

Governor’s educational proposal dead on arrival

Here on Long Island, we love our schools, teachers and students. Our education system is the reason many come to the Island to raise their families because it contributes to strong, healthy communities and a balanced quality of life.

We should all be concerned that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s [D] proposed executive budget threatens our schools by ending the so-called “hold harmless” provision, which is a backdoor approach to cut millions of dollars in school aid. If the governor’s proposal is adopted, 56 school districts on Long Island will experience an instant decline in state funding. In Suffolk County, school districts will be out nearly $33 million in aid under the governor’s proposal.

These cuts would have a dramatic impact on our schools, students and communities. Additionally, cuts of this magnitude could result in larger class sizes, reduced staff, the elimination of athletic programs, extracurricular activities and clubs for students. These draconian cuts would also place additional burdens on Long Island homeowners, who already pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. The governor’s educational proposal is a lose-lose for Long Island and countless communities throughout the state.

Making this situation even worse, much of this critical education aid is being siphoned off to pay for the state’s astronomical and growing commitment to the migrant crisis, to which over the past two years the governor has allocated $4.3 billion. Clearly, the governor and the leadership in the Legislature are incapable of managing this crisis in an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of hardworking families and students. This cannot be tolerated. Funding must be dedicated to school services for the benefit of families who play by the rules, pay the property taxes and have the right to a quality education.

As lawmakers, parents and concerned citizens, we must make our voices heard in opposition to the governor’s elimination of the “hold harmless” provision, fight to restore education funding to our schools and put our children’s needs and education first.

Anthony Palumbo [R]

New York State Senator, 1st District

Skin cancer prevention for winter season

The winter season brings cold winds and snowy weather, but it also can bring damage to your skin. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun damages your skin year-round, not just during the summer months.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., yet most cases can be prevented. UV radiation from the sun and indoor tanning lamps are the primary cause of skin cancer, and reducing your exposure can significantly reduce your cancer risk. Even on cold, winter days, UV radiation from the sun can cause damage to your skin, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation, increasing the damage caused to your skin.

Sun protection is necessary every day, regardless of the weather or time of year. Sun safe practices such as applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, UV protective sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing, and seeking shade whenever possible, can help prevent skin cancer.

The Cancer Prevention in Action at Stony Brook Cancer Center works to build awareness about the dangers of UV radiation and promote the benefits of sun safety through education, awareness and policy support to reduce skin cancer rates on Long Island.

To learn more about Cancer Prevention in Action, visit takeactionagainstcancer.com or contact us at 631-444-4263 and [email protected].

CPiA is supported with funds from Health Research Inc. and New York State..

Cancer Prevention in Action

Stony Brook Cancer Center

Pro-life, pro-choice issue from a gender fairness perspective

Not surprisingly, in contemplating the pro-life/pro-choice debate, women as a group are pro-choice and men pro-life. This is demonstrated in multiple polls and although not absolute gender adherence, there is a statistical difference. No doubt this is because women bear the physical reality of pregnancy and childbirth and almost always of raising and paying for the child that two people created. A man’s role of planting the seed does not match their female partner — whether consensual or not. No wonder there is a clear distinction between how women feel on the issue versus men.

What if there was a way to make men share in this responsibility. Not to duplicate pregnancy, that’s biologically impossible. But to share in raising that child and paying for it. Would that change how men feel and vote? Fact of the matter there is a way: DNA identification. What if everyone had to submit a swab for DNA identification. Then every father who shared in creating a child could be held responsible to raise and pay for him/her. My point is not whether this is right. It is simply: Would this change the way men vote on the issue?

David Roy Hensen

Miller Place

Peace is possible

As Quakers, we believe that peace in the world is possible, as Mary Lord, Quaker, of the American Friends Service Committee, reminds us: “We are called to live into the peaceable kingdom, and in that living discover the joy of a better way of life — in harmony with the Earth and one another. Peacemaking is not only possible but practical every day” (Friends Journal, June 1, 2007). Peacemaking requires that we acknowledge the background of all participants, actively listen to what has been learned, then consider the elements of agreement.

Our peaceful sentiments have been called naive and even unpatriotic. However, which is the greater naivety: To believe that the difficult but productive path of using diplomacy and strengthening international law is the path of safety, or to believe that wars and their weapons of mass destruction resolve conflicts and make us safe and secure?

The path of “winning the war,” as though it were a game, is, as history shows, the more naive perspective. War brings a horrific cost in human life, in property, in cultural treasures, in the fouling of the Earth and killing of its creatures. The aftermath invalidates the notion that wars bring about resolution, as evidenced by continuing warfare in the Middle East, Ukraine, Myanmar, Somalia and elsewhere.

Because Quakers believe there is good in everyone — people always have the capacity to be their best selves — we believe it is worth the effort of taking the steps of peacemaking to avoid the horrific costs of war and to provide the hope of establishing a just reality that sows the seeds of peace for future generations.

Carolyn Emerson

Clerk of Conscience Bay Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, St. James

File photo by Raymond Janis

Thank you from the White Family

To: Reverend Lisa of Bethel AME Church; our Bethel Church family; The Three Village community; Kevin Finnerty, director of athletics at Ward Melville High School; the Ward Melville faculty, Booster Club, students; Town of Brookhaven and others:

Words can’t express the heartfelt gratitude you all showed in your own special way during our time of sorrow. Thank you all so much for your kind words, cards, love and support!

Your memories, tributes and accolades that you shared were absolutely beautiful! They truly warmed our hearts and eased the pain for the moment. We knew Willie was special to his family, but from the attendance at his wake, homegoing celebration of life and repass, showed the love you had for him. Willie L. White is gone for now, but truly left a legacy that will forever live in our hearts.

Sincerely With Love, 

The White Family

A call for fiscal accountability

The Port Times Record of Feb. 8 published a letter [“Rallying against unjust state aid cuts”] from Jessica Schmettan, superintendent of schools of the Port Jefferson School District, asking residents to use a district-provided form letter opposing the New York State governor’s proposed cut of 28.38 % in state aid (“Foundation Aid”) to the district.

 I chose to write my own letter and sent state Assemblyman Flood [R-Port Jefferson] and state Sen. Palumbo [R-New Suffolk] the following:

 I’m a longtime resident of the Port Jefferson School District and notice that the district is aggressively encouraging parents to engage in a letter-writing campaign to state legislators regarding the cut in Foundation Aid proposed in the governor’s [Kathy Hochul (D)] budget. I’m sure you will receive the form letter the district is circulating.

 At this time, I would encourage you to examine the fiscal practices of this district. While the enrollment in the district continues to decline (from the present 910 students overall to projected enrollment close to 766 students by 2031) the district has done nothing to address this, despite numerous comments by district residents at Board of Education meetings.

 Instead, a pattern of spending has seen district funds expended of close to $800,000 on new bleachers on an athletic field, $240,000 on sod for that field, and a proposed “security booth” projected to cost close to $400,000.

 Two recent multimillion dollar bond issues ($23 million and $16 million, respectively) calling for substantial enhancements in an existing school building, as well as an artificial turn field costing $1.6 million, were wisely rejected by residents, although the district continues to ignore the message sent by residents.

 Despite the significant drop in enrollment, administrative staffing in the district has not been reduced nor has the district explored other potential cuts to address this major financial problem.

 The revenues from a Long Island Power Authority plant in the district are rapidly dwindling and the district presently faces seven Child Victims Act lawsuits. (The latter has only been acknowledged by the district when the proposed Foundation Aid cut was announced.) Transparency has not been evidenced by the school board and the administration.

 While you are examining the campaign to restore Foundation Aid cuts to the district, I would strongly encourage you, in the interest of fiscal prudence, to examine the spending practices of this school district and hold the board and district accountable for the lack of effective stewardship of taxpayer funds.

Charles Backfish

Port Jefferson

Cut the losses!

The recent article in the Port Times [“Uncertainty looms over the future of Port Jefferson Country Club,” Feb. 8] shows the futility of trying to keep back the forces of nature — the way of wind and waves — as concerns the East Beach bluff. For some of us the attempt to save the country club building always seemed a fool’s errand. 

To start with: Nature usually wins, but the previous village board of trustee’s would not admit to this, and forced without a vote a [$10 million] bond onto our taxes. See where this got us.

What to do? Declare the loss and build a more modest country club house way, way back, and let nature take its toll on the bluff; and focus on how to protect the downtown area with parks, shops, apartments and ferry infrastructure for the future and coming high waters.

Bente and Flemming Videbaek

Port Jefferson

Immigration history lesson

I want to thank Arnold Wishnia for the history lesson on immigration [“A critical analysis of immigration rhetoric,” TBR News Media letter, Feb. 8]. I was totally unaware that it occurred before the latest wave or that throughout human history some groups of people — including “mostly brown” people as Mr. Wishnia writes — treated other groups of people poorly. What an eye-opener. An eye-opener for him is that it is not only “Latin American immigrants” who are coming here illegally and in fact we don’t know who is coming. For this and many other reasons fear is reasonably mongered.

I could not and did not disregard “[George] Altemose’s inflammatory talk of invasion” as I do not know him and have not read the letter he wrote. This did not stop Wishnia from making assumptions about heroes and projection. An artful word to describe these assumptions is “prejudice” as Wishnia has, indeed, prejudged me.

Wishnia concludes by writing that I slandered the racist and sexist policy of diversity, equity and inclusion by describing it as racist and sexist. Let me ask him: If he did not get accepted by an Ivy League college or get hired as a university professor because of a quota, would he consider that to be “rather minimally” a mitigation of harm inflicted — not by him, but by other people? It seems that like Bruce Stillman [president and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory], Wishnia’s prototypical elitism is showing.

Paul Mannix

Wading River

One year after Grand Central Madison’s opening

There is still much to do one year after the opening of the Grand Central Madison station. Information was omitted from the MTA ceremony celebration that Port Jefferson LIRR branch riders would be interested in.

How many of the original 73 East Side Access contracts has the MTA completed? What is their collective dollar value? How much of the $600 million in debt service payments buried in the agency operating budget that covered project costs are still outstanding? 

The same applies to several hundred million more in debt service payments that financed $4 billion worth of LIRR readiness projects to support start of full service in February 2023. They are carried offline from the official project budget. These include the $2.6 billion Main Line Third Track, $450 million Jamaica Capacity Improvements, $387 million Ronkonkoma Double Track, $120 million Ronkonkoma Yard Expansion, $44 million Great Neck Pocket Track, $423 million for rail car fleet expansion. Without these, the LIRR would lack the expanded operational capabilities to support the promised 24 rush-hour train service to GCM and 40% increase in reverse peak rush-hour service. Honest accounting would include these other expenditures bringing the true cost of ESA to $16.1 billion.

How many thousands of the original promised daily ridership projection has not been achieved? This goes for the reverse peak as well. Why does Grand Central Madison still not provide 24/7 service as does Penn Station?

Grand Central Madison still has only two men’s bathrooms with a total of 18 urinals and 13 toilets, two women’s bathrooms with a total of 25 toilets, one lactation room and two gender neutral bathrooms each with a single capacity, all located on the Madison Concourse. There are none on the lower or upper level platforms and mezzanine.

There is still only one waiting room located on the Madison Concourse. It has only 29 seats and seven stools for Wi-Fi connections to serve riders. There are no other seating options on the platform and mezzanine levels while waiting. 

Options for recycling newspapers or beverage containers, disposal of garbage or other waste continues to be nonexistent except for a handful of garbage cans at the platform level. There are few options to dispose of waste at either the mezzanine or Madison Concourse levels. This conflicts with MTA’s claim to be environmentally friendly. 

There are still no open newsstands. These services are readily available in Metro-North Rail Road Grand Central Terminal, Penn and Jamaica stations. 

There are 11 ticket vending machines still waiting to be installed. It appears that the designed space is not wide enough to accommodate standard LIRR ticket machines. 

All the facility storefronts still stand vacant. The original completion date was 2011. Full-time service began in February 2023. MTA Real Estate had years to find tenants for the 32 vacant storefronts. MTA Real Estate has yet to issue a request for proposal to find a master tenant to manage all 32 vacant storefronts. When will this take place?

The MTA Arts & Design recent announcement that it is presenting a selection of works from photographer Stephen Wilkes’ “Day to Night” series of famous New York landmarks at this facility is of little value to most commuters. Some advertising posters would be better and generate some badly needed revenue. 

Transparency on the part of Gov. Kathy Hochul [D], MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Richard Free in sharing with commuters, taxpayers, transit advocates and elected officials in dealing with these remaining open issues is required

Larry Penner

Great Neck


Photo by Raymond Janis

Rallying against unjust state aid cuts

As many community members have already heard, Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] has proposed drastic cuts in state aid to many school districts across Long Island. Based on the governor’s proposed state aid allocations, Port Jefferson School District stands to face a total 28% cut to our state aid package, which amounts to almost $1.2 million. This is one of the largest percentage cuts for any school district on Long Island.

The governor’s proposed reductions in state aid are very concerning to us. The reduction would put a significant strain on our district. The excellence of our faculty, combined with the careful management of the district budget, has allowed us to continually deliver a high-quality education to our students. However, this proposed cut in state aid would place a significant burden on our staff and community to maintain that level of educational excellence. The governor’s proposal is patently unfair and places our district in an untenable position. It is a gross injustice to the students and taxpayers in our district and we are determined to fight back. We are calling on our state legislators to advocate and work with the governor’s office to restore our Foundation Aid to its full level.

We are asking that the community join us in this advocacy. Our website provides template letters for residents to sign and forward to the governor and our state representatives. Together, we can send a powerful message to Gov. Hochul and our local elected officials to ensure adequate and equitable funding. The Port Jefferson School District relies on these funds to support our students and maintain the integrity of our educational system.

Jessica Schmettan

Superintendent of Schools

Port Jefferson School District

Upholding the promise of public education

Every child,  regardless of their ZIP code, deserves a high quality public education. Our public schools are an investment that benefits our communities and families. It is crucial that our elected leaders do not play politics with the well-being and future of our children.

It is unfortunate to see elected officials of both parties playing politics with public education funding. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s [D] “hold harmless” budget proposal is problematic for many school districts, as it falls short of the expected aid for the coming fiscal year. The state Legislature must correct this in their one house budgets and negotiations with the executive branch in determining the upcoming fiscal year budget.

However, it must be pointed out that in 2023, every Suffolk County Republican in the New York State Legislature voted against education funding. This was a year where there was record funding for public education, after a decades long fight for full Foundation Aid. To watch these same elected officials weaponize the current moment for political gain reeks of hypocrisy. The same is true at the federal level, where U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota [R-NY1] just voted against expanding the child tax credit that would lift half a million of America’s children out of poverty, a bill that passed the House with broad bipartisan support.

We need leaders who will prioritize caring for our youngest New Yorkers, not elected officials who use them as political pawns. New York is a wealthy state, and we do not need to cut funding for education or any human service or public good. We have the resources to provide these services, but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough elected officials who place the well-being of our children over their own political grandstanding. 

The New York State Legislature must restore these cuts in their one house budgets. And Suffolk County’s Republican elected officials should put the money where their mouths are, and vote for fully funding public education this year. Their votes are a reflection of our region’s values, and political grandstanding is inadequate at this moment for our communities. We, the voters, will be watching.

                                                  Shoshana Hershkowitz, South Setauket; Ian Farber, Setauket; Christine Latham, Stony Brook; Anne Chimelis, Setauket; Jeanne Brunson, South Setauket

A critical analysis of immigration rhetoric

Two letter writers use your Cold Spring Harbor Lab article [Jan. 11] as the slim local hook to propagate the fearmongering on would-be Latin American immigrants that former President Donald Trump [R] thinks he can ride into the White House: Paul Mannix (“The illegal immigrant issue,” Jan. 25) and George Altemose (Jan. 18, who also lavishes praise on a Nazi war criminal). 

Mannix claims you are “hurting your credibility” by decrying toxic talk on immigrants when the issue is “illegal immigration,” disregarding Altemose’s inflammatory talk of “invasion” of our southern border by hordes of “illegal aliens”, not to mention their hero Trump’s “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” and “poisoning the blood” of America.

Immigrants have always come here because U.S. employers were looking for workers. Pew Research Center tells us that since 2005 about 10 million unauthorized immigrants — their term — live in the U.S. and about 8 million work for willing employers. 

What makes these mostly brown immigrants “illegal,” whereas the ancestors of the white residents of Long Island were “legal”? Until 1808, southern landowners found their agricultural labor force in “legally” imported, kidnapped and enslaved Black Africans. Until 1882 immigration into the U.S. was totally unrestricted. Chinese came in great numbers to help build the transcontinental railroads and when they were no longer needed, the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) made them illegal. Until 1924, white Europeans entered simply by showing up with no signs of infectious disease. They needed no documents of any kind, neither a passport nor visas, and in their millions headed for the mills, mines, railroads or sweatshops whose owners were hungry for workers. In 1924 a xenophobic immigration law was passed that limited all but immigration from northern Europe to a trickle, since modified for some political categories such as anti-Castro Cubans and Nazis with useful talents. Employers still welcomed “illegal” workers for jobs citizens wouldn’t take, as we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic: farmworkers, meat and poultry processors, health and service workers of all kinds.

The U.S. has made life difficult for Latin Americans for 200 years. Today, refugees are fleeing gangs and chaos, even death squads. Many are legal asylum seekers, whom Trump refused to recognize. 

Mannix, lastly, slanders diversity, equity and inclusion — practices that rather minimally try to mitigate centuries of legal and de facto discrimination — as “racist and sexist,” a classic Trumpist projection of placing their own failings onto their opponents.

Arnold Wishnia


Unmasking the myth

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

George Altemose insists Wernher von Braun was a “great American” even considering his participation in Nazi crimes [Letters, Feb. 1]. In his eagerness to whitewash von Braun’s career as a Nazi, he distorts a number of facts, and omits others. Von Braun was not “forced” to join the Nazi Party in 1937, nor was he forced to join the SS in 1940. During his career in the SS he was promoted three times by Heinrich Himmler, the organizer of the systematic mass murder of Jews and others deemed by the Nazis unworthy of life.

 Like so many Nazis after the war, von Braun retrospectively downplayed his own participation in the holocaust. But by his own admission he was quite aware that his V-2 rockets were being built by concentration camp slave laborers living in appalling conditions and being routinely worked to death. 

As for his 1944 arrest for having a defeatist attitude, that’s not quite the whole story. He was arrested after having drunkenly — and correctly — remarked that Germany was losing the war. Also because he regularly piloted a government-provided plane he potentially could use to escape to Britain. During his brief detention he was pressured to speed up the development of the V-2 — so much the worse for the slave laborers — and to pledge not to defect. He was released on the direct order of Hitler, who called him “indispensable” for the Nazi war effort. He was a willing participant in, not a victim of, the crimes of the Nazis.

Although von Braun could not have single handedly stopped the V-2 program and its use of slave labor, he could have refused to participate. That’s the key. To state, as Altemose does, that for this he would have been killed is a well-worn fallacy. There were cases of Germans who refused to participate in Nazi atrocities. No one in the Third Reich was executed for mere refusal. This has been thoroughly documented by numerous works such as “Ordinary Men” by Christopher Browning. At worst, if von Braun refused to participate in Nazi crimes, he would have stalled his career. Many were faced with the same choice in Nazi Germany. Not everyone made the same choice as he did.

It really doesn’t matter what rockets von Braun developed for America. He was a man without morals, a willing participant in the Nazi enterprise. To tout him as a “great American” is a travesty and an insult to our country.

David Friedman

St James

Farewell to a sweet tradition

I was very disappointed to learn about the closing of Stony Brook Chocolate. I loved taking my grandchildren there to choose from the large assortment of candies filling an entire wall. The wonderful chocolates and truffles were my go-to holiday gifts, and they were always well received. I will also miss the friendly and helpful salespeople. Stony Brook Chocolate was a terrific asset to our quaint village. So sad to see it go.

Susan Mcbride



File photo by Raymond Janis

Hooray for Theatre Three

As a longtime season ticket holder of Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three, I certainly appreciate the fine job Bradlee and Marci Bing did with their performance of “The Gin Game.” They still have it! To all who read this, we are blessed with live theater in our village. It is difficult these days to compete with modern technology, but on the other hand up close and personal performances are something special. This is more than a plug for Theatre Three. It is a message of do not miss these opportunities for live entertainment in your local area

Harry Faulknor

Port Jefferson

Glad for Lawrence Aviation action and looking for more 

The The tentative Metropolitan Transportation Authority deal at the former Lawrence Aviation site in Port Jefferson Station is moving forward with positive reactions from the officials on this plan. It is a partnership with federal, state, county and town officials that is making this happen: 

Proposed MTA electric line trainyard with a county bridge constructed if New York State requires it. 

A passive solar farm that is proposed in the old buildings site, which is being cleared and the metals being recycled.

The much-needed open-forested space in our hamlet as a buffer. All this is still in the planning process with the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation working on the details of which some are time critical such as the federal Environmental Protection Agency lifting the Superfund designation by the end of this year and the New York State Department of Transportation working on any Greenway rerouting. 

We in the community are glad for the positive results we see with the removal of these eyesores and are now asking our officials to move on with the paperwork. Our Port Jefferson Station has been looking for years for this progress. Let’s make it happen.

 Charlie McAteer

Port Jefferson Station

Legal immigrants justifiably fearful

If true, it is commendable that George Altemose [“Legal talented scientists are welcomed,” Jan.18, TBR News Media] and Paul Mannix [“The illegal immigration issue,” Jan. 25, TBR News Media] harbor no animosity toward legal immigrants, and only object to illegal immigration. Perhaps 40 years ago one could have reasonably argued that most conservatives felt that way. But unfortunately, they are wildly out of touch with the attitudes that now prevail in the Republican Party.

A 2019 Pew poll found 57% of Republican voters fear “losing our identity as a nation” due to immigration, a 13% increase in just two years. That phrasing gives away the game, as equating our “identity” as Americans to ethnicity or race is inherently bigoted. The leading Republican presidential candidate recently said that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” If they are really a threat to our “blood” it is clearly irrelevant whether they are documented or not. He gleefully separated children from their families and is now promising internment camps and mass deportation for 11 million people peacefully living, working and paying taxes in the U.S. His followers are loving it.

Prospective foreign Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory students and employees rightly recognize that such rhetoric wouldn’t exist if the MAGA faction of the Republican Party was making nuanced distinctions between legal and undocumented immigrants. They understand that this rhetoric, and the normalization of the hatred behind it, pose a real threat to their physical safety.

Let’s be frank: U.S. business loves illegal immigration because it gives a huge pool of vulnerable workers. The farming, meatpacking, construction, landscaping, hospitality, health care and food service industries all heavily exploit cheap, undocumented labor. Republican politicians refuse to effectively punish employers — the only way to actually reduce illegal immigration — because the issue lets them exploi their voters’ racial and ethnic fears in every election. Witness their blocking the recent bipartisan Senate border security bill. MAGA voters, currently driving the Republican Party, are virulently anti-immigrant because they believe the U.S. should be a white, traditional, Christian country.

By all means let’s implement a humane, legal immigration system that actually addresses the obvious workforce needs of the country, punishes illegal hiring, while addressing impacts on infrastructure and services. Let’s pursue a more enlightened foreign policy that helps stabilize and develop Mexico and Central America — by far the largest sources of illegal migration. But let’s not pretend that most Republicans are happy to welcome nonwhite legal immigrants.

John Hover

East Setauket

Wernher von Braun is considered a great American

I would like to respond to a recent commentary letter from Professor Lester G. Paldy regarding my characterization of Wernher von Braun as a great American, as a consequence of his enormous contributions to our space program [“Hardly an example of a great American,” Jan. 25, TBR News Media]. 

It is true that von Braun was instrumental in the development and use of the German V-2 rocket during World War II. He was forced to join the Nazi party in 1937, when he was 25 years of age, and the SS in 1940, when he was 28. He showed no enthusiasm for activities other than rocket development, and advocated for work on space travel. In 1944, von Braun was suspected of having a defeatist attitude, for which he was arrested by the Gestapo and held for two weeks, before being released because his contributions were deemed essential for the German war effort. 

Following the defeat of Germany, von Braun and more than 100 of his associates were brought to the United States, where they were attached to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps for the purpose of developing advanced military rockets. This effort was enormously successful under von Braun’s leadership. They produced the Redstone and Jupiter-C missiles, leading to our entry into the space program with our first satellite in 1958, closely following the Soviet Union’s Sputnik a year earlier. This was followed by the Saturn V rocket, which took us to the moon in 1969, and is still the most powerful machine ever built by man. None of this would have been possible without von Braun, both for his technical leadership and for his popular promotion of the importance of sending people into space.

Today, von Braun remains a controversial figure, primarily as a result of the brutal use of Holocaust slave labor for the manufacture of the V-2 rockets. Research appears to show that he was aware of this situation, but was powerless to prevent it. Had he tried, he would have been immediately removed from the program, and almost certainly killed. As it turned out, he spent the first 33 years of his life in Germany, and his next — and last — 32 years as a model citizen of the United States. Was he a great American? I believe that he was.

George Altemose


Need to reassess Hochul’s plan to decrease our school aid

As a lifelong member of the Three Village community, alumnus of Ward Melville High School and parent of a school-aged child, I am incensed by Gov. Hochul’s [D] plan to decrease our state aid by nearly $9 million. 

The recent proposal for the 2024-25 school year to cut nearly 18% of state aid to our district is quite plainly unjustifiable and contradictory to the current “hold harmless” policy. On Jan. 16, during the governor’s budget presentation, she touted “the highest level of education funding in state history,” yet she has chosen to penalize a district that was previously recognized by the State Comptroller’s Office as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” 

The decision to drastically cut aid to a high performing Long Island school district has the capacity to catastrophically fracture our incredible academic, arts, music, technology and extracurricular programs. We would also be vulnerable in areas concerning mental health and wellness, and physical safety and security at a time when these services are more essential than ever before.

Politicization of this situation would be a very easy sword to throw ourselves upon, but this is not the time to make this a “red-blue” issue. We need to stand together as it is truly incomprehensible to think that more consideration should not be given to all that would be lost by our district if these cuts were to happen. I, along with many other parents and community members, have reached out to the governor and other state officials in an attempt to urge a reassessment of the proposal. 

Our district simply cannot sustain the potential long-lasting damage that this proposed budget could cause, and our kids are worth the strength we can exude in our words and actions. 

Time is of the essence. Take a stand for our kids.

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Setauket Neighborhood House: a community gem

I recently attended a meeting of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce at the Setauket Neighborhood House and was intrigued on how our community came to own this wonderful place situated across from the lake leading into Frank Melville Park on Main Street.

The plaque in the house says the Neighborhood House was purchased by the 19th-century industrialist Eversley Childs and his wife Minnie and given to the Setauket community as a place for meetings and community gathering since 1918.

What a wonderful philanthropic gesture by the Childs couple to bequeath our community with a publicly-owned meeting house that in many ways is the center of community activity in the Three Villages. I know of few other places on Long Island that have such a community run and supported meeting house. 

Kudos to the members of the Setauket Neighborhood House’s board of directors and its manager for providing a special gathering place for civic, community and family events and for keeping it in such historic splendor. And a belated thank you to Eversley and Minnie Childs for their considerable community philanthropy and wisdom in providing a place for the Setauket community to meet and come together for more than 100 years.

George Hoffman


Best person to serve as an MTA board member

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine [R] now has an opportunity to appoint a representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 15-member board. Allow me to offer my services. I’ve been a regular Long Island Rail Road commuter for decades and previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions of dollars in annual grants that supported capital projects and programs for the MTA including the LIRR, NYC Transit subway, bus and Staten Island Railway, Metro-North Rail Road and MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in New York and New Jersey. I also assisted the MTA in winning a number of national competitive discretionary grants. 

I possess a detailed knowledge of all MTA operating agencies including the LIRR physical assets such as equipment, stations, yards, shops and maintenance as well as management of capital projects and programs. I gave emphasis to completing federally funded projects on time, within budget with a minimum number and dollar value for contract change orders. They had to be justified as fair and reasonable. This was my motto for the MTA and LIRR. 

There is no MTA board member today who has had firsthand experience in applying for and managing federal assistance from Washington. Federal dollars play a key role in the success of MTA’s capital program. My addition to the board could be a real asset. Having no driver’s license, I have always been transit dependent. Being retired, I could represent the interests of Long Island commuters, taxpayers and transit advocates as a full-time member on the MTA board at no expense.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Tell Hochul to keep the ‘hold harmless’ state school aid provision

I join fellow residents and school districts in shock and dismay after reviewing Gov. Hochul’s [D] proposed cuts to some local districts’ state education aid. There is no way to justify pulling the rug out from under our already strained school districts. This would only lead to hasty discussions about cuts to our children’s programming and staff, and likely increases to our already excessive property taxes. 

The proposed education aid reductions to 44% of New York state’s school districts — and increases in aid to the other 56% — result from the governor’s proposal to end the “hold harmless” provision. This provision has historically provided all districts with at least as much state education aid as they received in the previous fiscal year. 

Unfortunately, state Assemblyman Ed Flood’s [R-Port Jefferson] claim that “Hochul is dumping taxpayer dollars into New York City’s disastrous migrant crisis and leaving the priorities of New Yorkers behind” is either a misunderstanding of how the NYS budget works or a political attempt to pin our community’s upset on an unrelated issue. In the proposed budget, statewide education aid would actually increase by over 2% to a total of $35.3 billion, and our districts would lose funding only because this aid is being redistributed without the “hold harmless” provision.

Any attempt to tie this nonpartisan education policy issue to any partisan issues will weaken this urgent call to action. For the sake of our children’s quality of education and to avoid another burdensome tax hike, we must join in bipartisan opposition to this sudden abandoning of the “hold harmless” provision in the state’s foundation aid formula. We need all community leaders and residents to wholly engage in a clear message to Hochul: Reinstate the “hold harmless” provision for the 2024-25 state budget.

Rebecca Kassay

Port Jefferson

                                                               The writer has declared her candidacy for New York’s District 4 Assembly seat under the Democratic ticket.

Photo by Raymond Janis

Still no green light for Port Jeff Branch electrification

You can learn a great deal about the priorities of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in her State of the State speech, when it comes to any consideration for advancement of the $3.5 billion LIRR Port Jefferson Branch electrification project. 

Only months ago, she participated in the announcement of a $7.7 billion Federal Transit Administration Full Funding Grant Agreement ($3.4 billion federal/$4.3 billion local share) for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway. Before the shovel is even in the ground, she now wants to extend Second Avenue subway further west along 125th Street in Harlem for another $7 billion.

Hochul also wants funding to be provided for the start of design and engineering in support her pet $5.5 billon Brooklyn to Queens Light Rail Connector project. Hochul continues to be a vocal advocate in support of the $16 billion Gateway Tunnel — two new tunnels connecting New Jersey and Penn Station benefiting Amtrak and NJ Transit — and her own plans for an $8 billion Penn Station upgrade.

This same week, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber published his agency’s proposed 2024 Program of Projects to apply for FTA funding. Included is a request for $2.2 billion toward paying for the $3.1 billion Metro-North Bronx East Penn Station Access project. Hochul, along with Democratic Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, have been consistent supporters for all of these projects.

There was nothing in Hochul’s State of the State speech or Lieber’s FTA 2024 Program of Projects to include any funding to advance the $3.5 billion LIRR Port Jefferson electrification project. 

In the eyes and lack of action on the part of Hochul, Schumer, Gillibrand and Lieber, they have no interest in providing any significant financial assistance to support advancement of any major transportation improvements that would benefit LIRR Port Jefferson Branch residents, taxpayers and commuters.

Supporters of this project need to continue lobbying Hochul, Schumer, Gillibrand, Lieber and LIRR President Robert Free if you ever want to ride an electric train on the LIRR Port Jefferson Branch in your lifetime.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Come join us at a Quaker meeting

We are writing to extend New Year’s well wishes and reintroduce ourselves to you. We are the Conscience Bay Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) — a small, but growing community practicing our faith.

The Quaker religious movement began in England in the mid-17th century and emphasizes the belief that “there is that of God in everyone” and that therefore all people can access “the Light within.” Our testimonies about simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship all flow from this core belief. Historically, Quakers have lived these testimonies by participating in movements to end wars, abolish slavery, and bring about racial and gender equality.

While Quakers have lived and worshiped in Suffolk County since around 1650, our own Quaker meeting was established in 1961 and found its home in St. James when William R. Huntington — a local architect and American Friends Service Committee representative to the United Nations — helped to facilitate the purchase of the property and the conversion of a carriage house to our meetinghouse.

Since its formation, our meeting has been moved to participate in a variety of activities driven by our testimonies: counseling conscientious objectors in the 1960s and ’70s; organizing against both the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in the 1980s and the stockpiling of nuclear materials; and marching against endless wars and social injustices in more recent decades.

In the current moment of international and national violence, our members and visitors have found sustenance in our Sunday practice. Waiting in silence upon the Light is a deep and powerful experience leading to spiritual guidance.

We invite you to join us. We worship every Sunday at 11 a.m. at our meetinghouse, off Moriches Road in St. James. All are welcome. More information at: consciencebayquakers.org. In friendship,

Carolyn Emerson

Clerk of Conscience Bay Meeting

Hardly an example of a great American

The recent letter [“Legal talented scientists are welcomed,” Jan. 18] making the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants listed Wernher von Braun as a great American together with Einstein, Tesla and others. He was an aerospace engineer secretly brought to the United States after World War II with other German scientists to contribute to the American space program.

He was one of the leaders of the Nazi V-2 missile program employing slave laborers at the Dora-Nordhausen concentration camp who were often worked to death or executed for work deficiencies. 

He was an early Nazi Party member appointed as an officer in Heinrich Himmler’s SS that played a key role in the Holocaust and other war crimes. Whether von Braun’s admission that he knew of the horrendous condition of his workers should have led to his prosecution as a war criminal is a matter of legal interpretation, but he is hardly an example of a great American despite his recognition by the U.S. government and engineering societies for his work on the U.S. space program.

Lester G. Paldy

Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Stony Brook University

The illegal immigration issue

A few comments about your article addressing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory President Bruce Stillman’s concerns [“CSHL’s Stillman concerned about the effect of anti-immigrant talk, policies on US science,” Jan. 11].

To begin, please stop hurting your credibility by referencing “anti-immigrant talk” or “toxic talk toward immigrants.” The issue is illegal immigration. I know, and you know, that you know this. Your disingenuous use of “immigration” casts a shadow on everything you say.

Exactly which “immigration policies that exclude a broad swath of people who might otherwise ensure American technological competitiveness” are there? I doubt they truly exist but if they do and you can cite them I will gladly work to change them. Bruce grew up in Australia so, unless he was born here and moved, is an immigrant hopefully ensuring American technological competitiveness and stands as a refutation to the claim about broad swaths.

As for the racist and sexist policy of diversity, equity and inclusion, Stillman appears to be the prototypical elitist, complaining that “now people are emboldened to attack those in leadership positions” and that “many people have an opinion on the way things ought to be.” Imagine that! Bruce seems upset that the peasants are revolting.

Paul Mannix

Wading River

Photo by Raymond Janis

Fueling drug violence

I have been reading about the violence engulfing Ecuador with its drug gangs — and thinking. Some in our community are users of cocaine, and they have to be affluent since cocaine is not cheap. Do they realize that they are fueling this violence? Or do they just not care? How do they justify themselves?

Jane O’Sullivan


LIRR and its president must do better in 2024

The MTA invested $11.6 billion in direct costs for construction of the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access to Grand Central Madison. Part of the scope of work involved upgrading the Harold Interlocking and signals west of the Woodside Station. This cost over $1 billion. These capital assets were previously updated in 1991 at a cost of over $100 million. 

The most recent work included upgrading and expansion of the signal system to accommodate new LIRR service to Grand Central Madison. How disappointing that less than one year later, there was another round of signal problems west of the Woodside Station. This resulted in service delays on Saturday night, Dec. 30. There was no service in or out of either Grand Central Madison or Penn Station for one hour around 10 p.m. 

This represents the most recent in a series of failures on the part of the LIRR to maintain consistent safe and reliable service 24/7 on the Port Jefferson and all 11 branches. Once again, the LIRR left coal in the stockings of commuters this holiday season. So much for any decent on time performance. 

Our New Year’s resolution is for new LIRR President Robert Free to do better in 2024.

Larry Penner

Great Neck


We now have politicians that apparently exist in a state of moral depravity. Witness the state of the nation presently. God bless America from a veteran to World War II and the Greatest Generation.

Leonard J. Henderson

       Port Jefferson 

Legal talented scientists are welcomed

A recent edition of The Village Times Herald featured an interview of Bruce Stillman, the president and chief executive officer of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. [“CSHL’s Stillman concerned about the effect of anti-immigrant talk, policies on US science,” TBR News Media, Jan. 11.] In the interview, Stillman lamented the “toxic talk” and “adversarial dialogue” that many Americans are expressing with regard to the invasion of our southern border by “immigrants,” eschewing the use of the correct legal term, which is illegal aliens. 

This hostility, he claimed, makes it difficult to hire very talented scientists from other countries.

I think Stillman should explain to his potential candidates that the concern of American citizens over immigration issues is not directed toward those who obey our laws and comply with our regulations, which almost certainly applies to those whom he is considering hiring. 

All Americans have tremendous appreciation for the incredible contributions made by (legal) immigrants of the past and present, including great Americans Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Wernher von Braun and Elon Musk, as well as many others.Once this distinction is clarified for the new hires, I have no doubt that they will happily follow the proper procedures, and I wish them long and fulfilling careers at CSHL.

George Altemose


Communication necessary between community and BOE

It was with great frustration that I watched the video recording of the Port Jefferson Board of Education meeting of Jan. 9. At 35 minutes 50 seconds, during public comments, resident Gail Sternberg addressed many of the same concerns that I, along with my neighbors, share. She gave rational, factual and statistical information that she took the time to FOIA. She presented the information to the BOE. There was no response, and then she was “thanked for her comments” and simply told her time was up. Disappointingly, it appeared there was a dismissive tone for her broaching these uncomfortable topics. I was rather surprised to learn that the total student enrollment for the high school is projected to be less than 200 students within just seven years, and even lower thereafter. I also recently learned from reading Newsday that Port Jefferson School District has seven lawsuits filed against it for which we are potentially responsible. 

Along with these lawsuits and a decline of student enrollment, we have the current glide path of taxpayer expenses rising, due to loss of LIPA revenue contribution. All these issues are veering ahead at precisely the same time, and we have no large reserves for all of these expenses, thus creating an unfortunate “perfect storm.” It would be helpful if a special meeting is held where the community can ask questions, voice their concerns and try to understand what is ahead. The other surrounding school districts that are facing the dilemma of declining enrollments have already done so — to let the community know what is going on, and what remedies might be considered. 

We need to keep taxes down and spending curtailed if we want to bring in new families. A declining enrollment does not lend itself to having opportunities for socialization, sports programs and advanced courses. We cannot simply “kick the can down the road.” If we desire to keep our high school a thriving and financially viable school in the coming years, the time to start a conversation is now. 

I think it is the responsibility of the BOE to address the community so we can be educated voters in the future. I am hopeful the BOE will want to consider this community’s input when making decisions going forward and, if so, share with us what a plan B might look like. It is time to discuss the elephant in the room.

Darcel Weldon

Port Jefferson

Vote on proposed Terryville Fire District bond issue to upgrade facilities

I want to take the opportunity to alert the residents of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville to an important upcoming event impacting the safety and quality of life in our community. The Terryville Fire District has recently proposed several upgrades and repairs to the two facilities operating within their jurisdiction. These improvements would bring the headquarters on Jayne Boulevard and Old Town Road, Station 2, into compliance with current firefighting standards as well as replacing aging materials and equipment. EMS personnel and equipment needs have nearly doubled since the construction 50 years ago of Station 2 in 1974 and the main facility on Jayne Boulevard has not had any meaningful upgrades in over 20 years. 

The district has proposed to replace the roof and upgrade the existing siren at the headquarters as well as provide additional storage and training facilities within a new utility building at Station 2. 

I would suggest the district considers providing for public spaces and meeting rooms for community use as is the case in surrounding fire districts. The proposed bond to pay for all these renovations is $18 million.

Given the growth in our hamlet in past years and facing significant development pressures in the future from the proposed Jefferson Plaza project — and many others surrounding the 112 corridor — it is imperative our residents carefully evaluate this bond issue with an eye toward meeting the challenges we face over the coming decades. 

Unfortunately, the fire district reached out to the local civic association only recently, and I applaud Commissioner Lee Brett for his efforts. However, as president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, I appreciate their efforts to engage the community, it is hard at this late date to fully weigh the benefits of these improvements against the cost impact that might result in a projected tax increase to residents of about $10-$12 a month from passage of this bond. 

I am hopeful the fire district, with less-than-ideal outreach, will still be able to generate the community support needed to persuade my neighbors that approving the bond issue is a wise investment that will meet the needs of our area.

The vote will be held at the main headquarters on Jayne Boulevard Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 2 to 9 p.m. I urge concerned citizens to participate in deciding the ability of our first responders to rise to the occasion when called upon to help our community.

Ira Costell

President of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association

Photo by Raymond Janis

Keep those letters coming

Congratulations to my fellow 2023 letter to the editor writers. Surveys reveal that “Letters to the Editor” is one of the most widely read and popular sections of any newspaper. Most newspapers will print letters submitted by any writer regardless of where they live so long as the topic is relevant to readers.

It helps to have a snappy introduction, good hook, be timely, precise and to have an interesting or different viewpoint to increase your odds of being published. Many papers welcome letters commenting on their own editorials, articles or previously published letters to the editor.

I continue to be grateful that the Times of Huntington-Northport, Times of Middle Country, Port Times Record, Village Beacon Record, Times of Smithtown and Village Times Herald along with other newspapers afford both me and my fellow letter writers the opportunity to express our views, as well as differing opinions on issues of the day.

Please join me along with your neighbors in reading the Times of Huntington-Northport and all other sister TBR newspapers. Patronize their advertisers — they provide the revenues necessary to keep them in business. This helps pay to provide space for your favorite or not-so-favorite letter writers.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Wouldn’t you prevent cancer if you could? You can. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Cancer Prevention in Action program at Stony Brook Cancer Center wants to share how you can prevent cervical cancer for yourself and your loved ones.

There are two things you can do to significantly reduce your cervical cancer risk: regular cervical cancer screenings and getting the HPV vaccine. Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus. Being vaccinated against HPV would prevent most cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for children beginning at age 9 and can be given to young adults through age 26. This vaccine can prevent about 90% of HPV-related cancers from occurring later in life, including cancers of the mouth, throat, anus, vulva and vagina, and penis.

Regular cervical cancer screenings can also help you prevent cancer. Cervical cancer screening tests can find the cells that lead to cancer before it starts. These cells can then be removed. Screening also helps to find cancer early when it may be easier to treat. Cervical cancer screening is recommended from age 21 to 65.

The CPiA program at Stony Brook Cancer Center works to increase HPV vaccination and help reduce cancer rates on Long Island. CPiA educates health care providers, community organizations, parents and young adults about the benefits of the HPV vaccine. 

To learn more about cervical cancer prevention and the HPV vaccine, go to takeactionagainstcancer.com or contact us at 631-444-4263 or [email protected].  

The best time to take action against cancer is before it starts.

Cancer Prevention in Action

Stony Brook University

Inspirational family stories

My wife and I wondered how we could leave our children and grandchildren with a record of some of the history and genealogy we have collected over the years and make it interesting as well.

This Christmas, we gave each of our children and grandchildren a book of short stories about our families. The 85-page book we finished in early December is titled “Grandpa Swallowed His False Teeth and Grandma Got Run Over by a Cow.” These two stories plus many others, some going back more than 10 generations, are included. We worked diligently over the past year to pull stories together and to edit and correct the book until we were satisfied with its content. We also included many pictures to go along with the text. Some of the stories are parts of articles I have written in The Three Village Herald and The Village Times Herald over the past 40-plus years. 

We hope this may inspire you to write down some of your family stories and possibly even share them with readers of TBR newspapers.

Beverly C. Tyler

East Setauket

File photo by Raymond Janis

Fire station relocation in Port Jeff

There has been a lot of discussion about moving the fire station because of flooding. A site often mentioned is the Maryhaven building or site. Several issues arise from these suggestions. 

One is that of distribution and circulation. Fire stations are typically central to the area that they serve to get fair access to all in the fire district. If a fire station were to be built on the east side of a fire district, another would probably have to be built on another side of the fire district, i.e., make two districts or more. Therefore a careful study of circulation routes and population density would precede site selection.

Secondly, fire stations are very expensive. If you look online a small one runs about $6 million and the average seem to be around $15 million. This would presumably be paid for by the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson with a bond and tax increase. 

We are working on a village grant to study stormwater flooding in the village to find a solution to flooding in the village (this preliminary work was presented at Village Hall on April 5 and is available as a village podcast). A most important area is the fire station and its surroundings because it was once the location of Crystal Lake. We believe that a real effort should be put into a solution for this before it is deemed necessary to retreat.

Similar discussions have arisen about moving Village Hall to Maryhaven. Not sure why because it is an important symbol of community and it’s central placement at the harbor seems important to this meaning.

Michael Schwarting

Campani and Schwarting Architects

Port Jefferson

Will Hochul be a transit Santa or Scrooge?

The next opportunity for MTA to commit funding to advance the Port Jefferson Branch electrification would be within 12 months when the 2025-2029 Five Year Capital Plan is adopted (Editorial, “Long Island’s wish list for Gov. Hochul: Port Jeff Branch electrification,” Dec. 14). This will be followed by the 2030-2034, 2035-2039 and 2040-2044 Five Year Capital Plans. Funding needs to be programmed in increments. First, for preliminary design, engineering and the National Environmental Policy Act review. Following NEPA is necessary to preserve Federal Transit Administration funding eligibility.

Next, Hochul must instruct MTA Chairman Janno Lieber to request permission from FTA to enter the Capital Investment Grant New Starts/Core Capacity program. Then comes final design and engineering, property easements, land acquisition and utility relocation. This would be followed by $1.5-$2 billion in local MTA funding to leverage a similar amount in federal funding under a future FTA CIG Full Funding Grant Agreement. These actions would be spread out over several MTA Five Year Capital programs. As each new Five Year Capital program comes and goes without any dedicated project funding, it will delay any hope of seeing Port Jefferson Branch electrification in your lifetime. A completion date of 2040 continues to be a moving target.

You will know in December 2024 if Hochul and Lieber will be Scrooge and leave coal in your transit stocking or be Santa and leave some real cash under your transit tree.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

An issue of education vs. ignorance

In the past few weeks there have been the past few weeks there have been several antisemitic incidents in schools in Smithtown, Commack and Port Jefferson. Like most Jews I am appalled and disgusted by the spike in such incidents, and fearful about what the future holds for our community and our country. Demons we thought were laid to rest after World War II appear to be rising again, zombie-like. In truth antisemitism is a centuries-old scourge. It’s not so easy to eradicate. Even so, we must now redouble our efforts to oppose it. History has taught us where it leads.

Some may dismiss the appearance of a swastika in a school as a crude juvenile prank, in poor taste but essentially harmless. That’s wrong. Regardless if it was placed out of hateful malice, or out of simple ignorance or stupidity, to a Jewish person the message is the same: “You should be eliminated.” Not because of anything you do, say, or believe, but just because of who you are. A Jew. Over 180,000 American servicemen were killed in Europe in World War II fighting Nazism. Does “Never again” mean anything or is it just an empty slogan? As the war against Nazism passes from living memory are we doomed to just forget what it was?

The proliferation of antisemitic graffiti in schools is symptomatic of gross ignorance about the Holocaust among young people. A recent survey found that among Americans aged 18-39 one in 10 believe it never happened. Another 23% thought it was a myth or that the number of Jews murdered was greatly exaggerated and 12% never even heard of the Holocaust. You might think these numbers reflect ignorance elsewhere in the country, but you’d be wrong. One of the most disturbing findings was that 19% of New Yorkers in this age group think it was the Jews who caused the Holocaust. More than in any other state. The next generation is now in our elementary, middle, and high schools. Is this going to get worse or better?

This is not a political issue. It’s an issue of truth vs. lies. It’s an issue of moral clarity vs moral confusion. It’s an issue of critical thinking vs. uncritical acceptance of propaganda spewed forth from social media. And it’s certainly is an issue of education vs. ignorance. Not just the education children receive in school, although that’s real important. But even more important is what children are learning at home, from their parents. Even the best and most intelligently designed lessons children learn at school will be ineffective if children are taught bigotry, lies and hateful stereotypes at home. Words matter. It’s up to every single one of us to teach our children empathy, compassion, kindness and the value of life. Toward everyone.

David Friedman

St James

File photo by Raymond Janis

Café a special addition to Emma Clark Library

If you haven’t already, set aside some time to visit the new café at our beautiful Emma S. Clark Memorial Library [Level Up Kitchen Library Café]. I took some time out this morning to have a delicious breakfast with a dear friend. There are tables and chairs set up in the sunny hallway leading to the magazine room to enjoy the delicious food. This is a wonderful addition to an already spectacular library, especially now at holiday time. A perfect spot to take a break from our hectic schedules. I can’t wait to be able to sit outside on the terrace when spring rolls around.

Madeline Morris


Clarifying lawsuits against PJSD

An article in the Dec. 7 Port Times Record (“Suffolk school districts pay millions to settle child abuse lawsuits”) misstated that the Port Jefferson School District has settled seven lawsuits from former students. These cases, filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court in 2020 and 2021, are presently pending and have not been settled.

While the accusations made by these former students are certainly very disturbing, the behavior of the present Board of Education and the superintendent of schools needs to be closely examined by the taxpayers of this district since both were fully aware, since 2020, of these lawsuits and their possible financial implications.

Nonetheless, residents were asked on two occasions (in 2022 and 2023) to support multimillion dollar bonds as well as other questionable expenses (costly new bleachers and a ”security booth” at the high school, etc.), thereby depleting capital reserves, while a large legal cloud loomed overhead and was unknown to taxpayers.

The board and superintendent, understandably, could not disclose the specific details of the seven lawsuits. However, in the interest of both transparency as well as the responsibility to be diligent guardians of district funds, some indication of the possible financial implication of this situation should have been made known to taxpayers prior to costly undertakings since, ultimately, these taxpayers would have to pick up the tab. Instead, the superintendent and the board majority continued their ”heads in the sand” approach, with excessive spending despite declining student enrollment, dwindling LIPA revenue and seven pending lawsuits.

In their expose of child abuse lawsuits and settlements on Long Island, Newsday interviewed Ron Masera, of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, who stated (in a video interview posted on Newsday’s website), “This is the age of transparency. We’re in a place where this is not something you can or should hide from your community.”

By this standard of transparency, the Port Jefferson superintendent and the Board of Education deserve an “F.”

Charles G. Backfish

Port Jefferson

Thank you, voters

To the residents of the 12th Legislative District, both former and new.

Thank you for returning me to my fifth full term as your Suffolk County legislator. I am truly humbled and honored by the overwhelming measure of support you have provided. Having been reelected, the challenge now becomes how to govern wisely, fairly and equitably with our newly elected county executive [Ed Romaine (R)].

I look forward to continuing my efforts to preserve our suburban way of life, to keep an eye on affordability and to deliver services to our veterans and seniors and families as their needs continue to increase.

As many of you became aware, the lines of the 12th Legislative District shifted east from the Commack area, my hometown, all the way to the Centereach/Selden/Holbrook borders. I will miss my past constituents but look forward to the new opportunities and community issues to address in the upcoming legislative term. 

Please feel free to contact me at my office at 631-854-3735, or at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

I wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays to all. Remember those in need, and check on a neighbor.

With thanks and great regard,

Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset)

Suffolk County Legislator

12th District

Community vision for Jefferson Plaza

I was extremely proud of how the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville community turned out to voice their opinions at the Brookhaven Town Board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 30. It was an honor to represent the hamlet in a worthwhile discussion regarding the amount of multifamily rental units, building heights, architectural design and traffic issues along Route 112 and Terryville Road.

We are fortunate to have Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich [D] and Supervisor-elect Dan Panico [R] guiding us through the Staller redevelopment process of the Jefferson Shopping Plaza. Political leaders often do not get credit for the time and devotion they give to the constituents they represent. The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville community should be encouraged by the steady hand displayed on that long Thursday night by our elected officials who will make sure the project will be something exciting and something of which the residents will be proud.

By working with Staller Associates, our local civic association and the chamber of commerce, I have the utmost confidence the supervisor-elect and our councilmember will put in the hard work to bring quality revitalization all along the Route 112 corridor.

Carolyn Sagliocca, Vice President

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association

Concerning incident at Village Hall

At a recent Village board meeting, I found myself at the center of a concerning situation that raises questions about the responsible use of village resources, particularly regarding the village attorney, whose fees are paid by taxpayers.

As an engaged resident deeply invested in our community’s well-being, I’ve long upheld the principles of transparency, open communication and fairness. However, a recent incident at Village Hall has given rise to deep concerns about the potential misuse of village assets for personal and retaliatory purposes.

During a routine public board meeting, legal papers were hastily served to me as I exited, raising unsettling questions. I am concerned and disheartened, as it seems there’s an attempt to force me into surrendering control of a Facebook page, a demand that holds no merit, as I am not the page’s owner. The vindictive nature of this attempt to seize control of a Facebook page, raises significant doubts about the real motivations behind such actions and whether they align with the values we, as a community, hold dear.

The involvement of the village attorney in this matter is particularly distressing. The village attorney’s role is to serve the community’s best interests, not to be manipulated for personal vendettas. Using taxpayer-funded legal resources for what appears to be a personal matter is both ethically questionable and an inappropriate use of public funds. When I directly questioned the attorney if he was acting in his capacity as the village attorney, he stated that he was “acting at the direction of the mayor.”

How can we believe the mayor’s recent proposals for a new ethics code and professing transparency while this incident clearly lacks both. It’s disheartening when actions contradict the very principles being advocated.

Moreover, it’s crucial to note that this action was taken at the mayor’s direction without the knowledge of the trustees, further clouding the transparency and accountability of village affairs.

As a concerned resident, I question the motives behind this action and the appropriateness of utilizing village resources for such questionable purposes. I hope this incident sparks a much-needed dialogue within our community about the responsible use of public funds and the imperative of fostering an environment where disputes can be resolved through open communication rather than by weaponizing the village attorney.

Let’s collaborate to ensure our village resources are used judiciously and that our community stands as a shining example of fairness, true transparency and cooperation for all residents.

Kathianne Snaden

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer served as Port Jeff Village trustee from 2019-23.

The perils of bail reform

I would like to respond to Timothy Glynn’s letter of Nov. 23 regarding bail reform [“Why cashless bail is right”]. I take exception to his statement that “New York’s vision of bail reform was limited to misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies’” and we should “take the dangerous criminal argument off the table.” He probably did not hear about the Quogue woman accused of trying to burn multiple houses in Hampton Bays as reported by News 12 on Nov. 14. 

She was arrested and released without bail and less than two hours later tried to rob a Dollar store armed with a knife. I would hope Mr. Glynn would reconsider his position about what he considers a dangerous criminal. This incident was not a person arrested for shoplifting a loaf of bread. This was a person accused of three felony arson charges. I hope reasonable people can agree that is most certainly a dangerous criminal act. The “bail reform” law has been “tweaked” by lawmakers a couple of times already and still there are serious problems with it. It could be because the law was passed by one party with no stakeholder input from law enforcement or district attorneys. Passing a law with such serious implications to the safety and security of the entire state based on ideology alone is not proving to be a wise or successful endeavor. I have never seen data suggesting that a liberal state like New York had large numbers of petty criminals languishing in our jails. The one anecdote used by the more extreme proponents of bail reform cites a case about a person they say went to jail for merely stealing a backpack. Researching that case reveals misinformation. The person involved was charged with robbery, not larceny, and was held due to being on probation at the time of his arrest.

I think the solution is having a “dangerousness standard” like the other 49 states have, so a judge can ensure that dangerous criminals are held. I think reasonable people can agree to release petty criminals, but can we also agree that a shoplifter with 50 or 80 arrests is showing they don’t care about following the law. If not, we could end up like Washington, D.C., where you have to ring a bell in the store to buy a roll of toilet paper since it’s locked up to prevent theft.

Common sense should prevail.

Charles Tramontana


Photo by Raymond Janis

Thanking community for solidarity around farm animals

Dear Community,

I want to thank you, the community, for coming together to keep the animals at the historic Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Old Post Road in East Setauket.

A special thank you to those who stopped by on Nov, 8, while Preservation Long Island [the farm owner] was trying to take away the animals. There was no notice that they were coming that day. Your presence was deeply appreciated.

Even though the farm animals — the four sheep and Snowball the pony — will be removed at some time soon, your commitment to try to keep them at the farm brought our community together in a beautiful way. It was a deep disappointment that the director of Preservation Long Island hardened her heart to not let the animals live out their lives at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm.

No one knows when the director is planning to remove the animals. You may want to take some “Grandma Moses”-style photos before the animals are taken away.

Again, my sincere thanks.

Bonnie Dunbar


Three Village school board’s regressive decision on Regents exams

At the Nov. 29 meeting of the Three Village Central School District Board of Education, a decision was made to regress to the pre-COVID era in terms of how Regents exams will figure into our students’ grade point averages.

Instead of permanently instating the “do no harm” policy that has been in place since the pandemic, a slim majority voted to do away with it altogether. The “grading committee” apparently felt it was far more important to simply lower the percentage that the exams will count in a final course GPA from 12% to 10% rather than take into consideration the considerable damage these flawed exams can do to one’s final course grade.

The simple truth is that most students who will be taking Regents exams this year are either first timers or those who have not been tainted by the tests because of the policy that has been in place. I applaud the one board member, Karen Roughley, who delivered an extremely comprehensive argument for why the “do no harm” policy was the most advantageous opportunity for our students to be successful.

Students who excel all year and achieve mastery in their quarter grades should not have the average destroyed by one test. There are innumerable factors that can alter how students perform on their Regents, including test anxiety and/or other mental health issues, illness, outside distractions and so forth. Yet the board ignored the opportunity to ensure that our students do not suffer if they are unable to regurgitate information during a three-hour state exam.

New York State neither requires nor recommends that Regents exams be counted in a student’s final course grade. Several districts, including Jericho — that Three Village chooses to compare themselves to — do not count Regents exams in their final GPA.

Why then, with this information, does this district insist on continuing down this archaic rabbit hole? Is it not enough that the Chemistry Regents includes a downward curve or that the ELA and United States history exams have formats now that even the strongest students struggle with?

The grading committee’s claim that our students wouldn’t put forth the same effort if they knew the scores wouldn’t count was completely disproven by the data presentation at the meeting. The mere suggestion is insulting to our kids and those responsible for preparing them for the exams.

The board’s decision was one of cowardice and a disregard for our children’s success. To say I am disappointed, as a great many parents are, would be a huge understatement.

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Miller Place fire commissioner bid

Dear Residents of the Miller Place Fire District,

My name is Kyle Markott and I’m writing to ask for your support as I run for Miller Place Fire District commissioner. I believe my skills, knowledge and experience of fire district operations make me an ideal candidate for the position of fire commissioner.

I joined the Miller Place Fire Department as a .junior member in 1994 at the age of 14. After serving four years in the juniors, I was honored to be sworn in as an active member. As years went by, I rose through the ranks serving as chief driver, lieutenant and then captain of the Engine Company. In 2007 I was elected as 3rd assistant chief. I went on to serve eight years in the chief’s office attaining the rank of chief of department in 2013-14.

I believe what sets me apart is my experience with fire district operations. For the past four years I have served as a fire district manager. I handle all aspects of the fire district on a day-to-day basis including the management of a 20-person staff, creation of the annual budget, truck and building maintenance, overseeing a 24/7 dispatch and EMS operation, and daily interaction with all our vendors.

Having knowledge of what is happening in other fire districts and the county is also an important trait of an effective commissioner. For the past nine years I have served on the Suffolk County Fire Rescue & Emergency Services Commission, and I currently serve as chairman. This commission makes recommendations to the county executive and Legislature regarding fire and EMS services in the county.

I hope my over-26 years of experience in the fire and EMS service makes me the best candidate for the commissioner position.

The commissioner election is on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 4-9 p.m. at the Miller Place Fire Department headquarters located at 12 Miller Place Road.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Kyle Markott

Miller Place