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Letters July 23, 2009

Posted on 24 July 2009

Vampire Blue Cross/Blue Shield


Dear Editor:

I hope people took the time to read Karl Grossman’s excellent article in the Express last week (“Health Care Outrage”), about Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s savage attack on East Enders saying as of August 1st they will no longer be participating providers with Southampton Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport and Stony Brook University Hospital. You don’t have to be in the ocean to be thrown to these sharks who made a shameless $2.5 billion in profit last year. Wake up people. The Health Insurers and the Bankers on Wall Street own us—and, are killing us. The middle class who had decent and high-paying jobs are losing them, and with it their health insurance, and many are facing foreclosure (if they haven’t been foreclosed upon already).

Empire BlueCross BlueShield switched from being a “non-profit” to a “for-profit” venture five years ago. It should be called “Vampire” BlueCross/Blue Shield. Should we and our kids be at the mercy of these gangsters and banksters?—NO! But that’s the trend all over the U.S. Health insurers have everything to do about making money (their CEOs make tens of millions in profits each year) and nothing about our health. There administrative costs are 35-40% compared to 3-5% for Medicare. They exist to “grab 30-40 percent of the money they receive—and elsewhere focus on short-changing hospitals, doctors and patients to get their profits higher.”

Last year, 72 percent of Americans supported a “Single-Payer” system. That figure is higher now. Representative Anthony Weiner is introducing an important piece of legislation (HR 676) this week in the “Energy and Commerce Committee that abolishes private insurance and creates a national single-payer system that covers us all.

  • HR 676 expands and greatly improves Medicare for everyone residing in the U. S.
  • HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.
  • HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.
  • Single payer provides people with the maximum choice. They will no longer be limited by the insurance or HMO “approved” list but rather will be able to pick their doctor, their hospital and their treatment.

Call Rep Henry Waxman the chair of the Committee (202-225-3976) to say you “support HR 676.”

Julie Penny



Successful Sale


Dear Bryan,

The Breakwater Yacht Club would like to acknowledge and thank the local businesses that contributed to the success of our recent “Adventure Sail” Regatta for at-risk girls:

Corcoran Realty, Bridgehampton National Bank and Sag Harbor Variety store.

Their donations were appreciated by all, and very much enjoyed by the girls who participated.


Charlene Kagel,

Chair Adventure Sail Committee


25 Years Ago



Yes, my son was arrested on July 4th. My son was also born on July 4th. 25 years ago my son died.

Why print in the paper something that brings such memories to a family is beyond me. What happened to who got married, births, etc.? Happy 25 years ago.

I want to thank every friend and some people I don’t even know who have called me about this article, to support me, for the memories your paper has caused me.

Cindy, Steve and Pete, my living children, I love you.

Dot Florence North

Sag Harbor

P.S. Steven and Mike, you were doing your job.


We regret the choice of publishing the item and apologize to the North and Florence families. – ed.


Super Deserved Raise


Dear Editor:

The article in the July 9 issue of the Sag Harbor Express, “Sag Harbor School Superintendent Gets a Raise,” referring to the board of education meeting of June 22, is interesting. While the request for transparency may have some validation, the other criticisms of the process — size of the raise, economic times, message it sends, etc. — need to be answered. However, rather than addressing these complaints and the critics at this time, I choose to take the high road regarding Dr. John Gratto’s 13.5% raise of $25,000 annually.

According to the article, and from what I observed at the meeting, Dr. Gratto was given a detailed performance analysis in ten different areas of his duties by the board, who participated in this process on an individual basis, by rating his performance in hard copy on a form provided to them. This performance evaluation must have gone well beyond verbal dialogue and a vote. The evaluation rose to an extreme level of commitment to recognizing the value and accomplishments of his service by the board.

Dr. Gratto passed his first year performance analysis under the microscope of those who have worked closely with him over the past year and he did this with high praise from his constituents. In addition, his salary with the raise was compared to the earnings of other superintendents in the area. Further justification was realized when consideration of the offer was compared to larger school districts, Southampton and East Hampton, and the determination was made that both of these districts had assistant superintendents. This takes the analysis into a true benchmarking effort, justification beyond apparent costs.

As a community we should congratulate John Gratto on his raise and first year accomplishments as superintendent and commend the board of education on their professionalism in assessing the situation and approving his raise.

I would hope that some time in the near future the board would extend Gratto’s contract by an additional five years before it reaches a “lame duck” status. He is a valuable resource to this community and would be a welcome addition to any educational enterprise.


Ed Drohan



Grateful For Our Teachers


Dear Bryan,

 “Begin everyday with a grateful heart” is a motto many know I live by and I truly am grateful for so much, but recently I have become troubled with the events of the school board. I would like to thank Mr. Walter Tice for his letter last week which spoke about one issue, being the 13.9% or $25,000 raise to the superintendent. This has come as a shock to many; not only the amount, but the appearance that it was being hidden. 

The president of the school board, Walter Wilcoxen said “what a great job Dr.Gratto did and this was comparable.” I believe a great job would have included getting a contract signed where the teachers felt valued for the work they do with our children every day when they go above and beyond any contractual duty because they truly care for our children’s well-being. The most obvious way to rate the performance of the teachers is by test scores and Sag Harbor schools are at or near the top. Comparability is all the teachers have asked for, which is the going rate of other schools in the area. This is the way it is done and is fair. They do not compare their profession to another.

Our schools are great because of all the hard work that goes into them by the teachers. Having our teachers start another year without a contract of equality to others in the surrounding area is a double standard! If you have ever spent any time with a group of children, you know teaching is to be held in the highest regard. I teach Sunday school and was a Girl Scout leader for five years and in my mind the teachers are heroes and we are blessed to entrust our children in their care all day. I believe our community is better than these current affairs. I know we do not want to start the year with black t-shirts and a negative environment. We all know we thrive in a positive atmosphere and want to do our best when we feel appreciated! 

Please join me in letting our teachers know how much we really do value them. I thanked so many of them this year for my daughter’s great year with AP Chemistry, English honors, playing on a winning cross country team, playing her heart out in band, amongst many wonderful experiences, but want to do more now after hearing of this double standard and the negativity that is surmounting around these issues. I believe in this community and know we can come together and resolve this. Please let the school board, who we elected, know that you want them to settle this contract so our children can return to a positive environment where everyone is appreciated and valued and will, therefore, thrive in. We can’t afford not to do the right thing!

Barbara Kinnier,

Parent, taxpayer, business owner, and wife of a teacher

Sag Harbor

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2 Responses to “Letters July 23, 2009”

  1. Maureen Almeida says:

    I think the solution is for all of us to cancel our insurance policies (although I know that this option may be risky), but it’s like anything if we stop being held hostage to these insurance companies, they may then give us better options. We need to send these companies a clear message that we will not tolerate this! If we all cancelled think about all of the money they’d lose! And afterall, what will we lose? In most cases we pay more then we get to them anyway! I cancelled mine and I’m glad I did! What I was paying to them, I now put into a savings account and if I need to go for medical care, I just deduct it from my account! It’s better than relying on these insurance companies!

  2. this guy is a total joke

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