Letters May 21, 2009

Posted on 22 May 2009

Protect Health Interests


To The Editor:

Karl Grossman’s column in last week’s Express tells of HR 676, the US National Health Care Act – the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. He asks if this “health care dream” will, “as it should”, become reality. This can only happen if we insist that our elected representatives do their jobs and accurately represent us. Last summer, the NY State Assembly passed a Resolution unanimously supporting HR 676 and sent it to all US Congresspersons in NY. Congressman Tim Bishop recently told me he was unaware of the Assembly’s Resolution, yet he totally dismissed it. He said that, if it was passed unanimously, it wasn’t read carefully enough to reveal the “language” by which the bill would provide health coverage for all “residents” of the US. Is he that much smarter than our State Assembly?

Congressman Bishop is playing politics with our health and not representing our best interests – or our stated (in polls) wishes. Since 2003, when HR 676 was first introduced, Mr. Bishop has offered different excuses to the not-so-few of us (representatives of League of Women Voters, NAACP, OLA, Suffolk Independent Living Organization, Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force, doctors, nurses, dieticians, and others – all his constituents) who have personally visited him asking him to co-sponsor the bill. First, he said we couldn’t afford this reform; then he said he thought a private-public partnership would work. Now he says he believes a single payer system is the way to go, but he won’t sign HR 676, the only single payer bill, because it covers all “residents”. This game of politics threatens the health and well-being of us all.

The Congressman admits to “co-mingling” the issue of health care with the issue of immigration. He knows this is wrong because they are two separate issues. My daughter sometimes takes the bus home from her summer job in Sag Harbor, sitting among day laborers, regularly employed workers, and anyone else using the County’s public transportation. If the “resident” sitting next to her didn’t seek treatment for his cough because not all “residents” have health coverage and he couldn’t afford it, then my daughter is at risk for exposure to TB or another infectious disease which she could then bring home to our family, our circle of friends and co-workers, even the public schools. This is purely a public health issue.

There are other reasons Tim Bishop is wrong. Residents who are immigrants – legal or otherwise - are not the problem with our health care system; they use LESS health care than native-born citizens. And, health care providers cannot act as immigration officers. Fifty million citizens are currently uninsured; for every 1% increase in unemployment, 1 million more lose their insurance. At any given time, 80 million people under 65 (one in three Americans) are uninsured; every year, 22,000 people DIE because of that. Many of us face financial ruin if we get sick or injured. A colleague put it like this, “When all is said and done, it’s so important not to give care to ‘illegal’ immigrants that it’s worth depriving 50 million citizens of health care.”

Recent polls show solid majorities support Medicare for All (62% general public, 59% physicians), but we’re a majority silenced by the health insurance industry while it robs us blind. That’s the real problem, not health care for all “residents”. Let’s not remain silent. Let’s say, “We’re angry and we’re not going to take it any more!” Tell Congressman Bishop to protect our best interests – our health – and co-sponsor HR 676. That’s what we elected him for.

Elaine Fox, M.D., MPH



Remember and Wear a Poppy


Dear Editor:

The measure of a man may be his willingness to serve his country. The measure of a country may be its willingness to honor those who served to protect the free world. Each year the American Legion Auxiliary reminds Americans of their debt to the veterans by offering memorial poppies made by disabled veterans as part of their therapy. Disabled and hospitalized veterans make the official American Legion Auxiliary poppy throughout the year in hospitals and special convalescent workshops maintained by Auxiliary volunteers. Working with their hands provides physical and psychological therapy as well as a small income for these veterans. Each poppy is painstakingly made and never sold but given in exchange for a contribution. Funds contributed for the Memorial Poppy are used exclusively for programs related to veterans and their families.

Since 1919, the poppy, a small symbol of great sacrifice, has been worn over the hearts of Americans who make a personal statement, “America We Remember.”

We remember and honor the sacrifices of men and women who died in defense of our nation. We remember our commitment to assist all veterans and their families.

The Chelberg & Battle American Legion Auxiliary of Sag Harbor will be distributing poppies along the parade route on Memorial Day and at the Legion Hall on Bay Street. 

Please support our veterans, and let us never forget our obligation to those who have given so much and served so gallantly to protect this great land of ours and those of us who live here. It’s a small way to show our respect. Remember and wear a poppy, for “Freedom isn’t Free.” 

God bless our troops.


Deborah Guerin, President

American Legion Auxiliary

Chelberg and Battle Unit #388


Volunteers Set Pace


Dear Editor:

Last Sunday’s meeting of 20 volunteer organizations at the Whaler’s Church, organized by Save Sag Harbor, was an inspiring reminder of our community’s extraordinary level of grass-roots activism, commitment, and capacity for innovation.

On a host of key issues, from “greening the Village,” feeding the poor, and helping cancer victims, to strengthening local businesses, protecting the Bay, and finding safer paths for walking and biking, Sag Harbor volunteers are setting the pace for the entire East End.

This kind of voluntarism is actually a very old tradition here, long observed, for example, by our many volunteer fire department members and ambulance corps members, as well as by century-old volunteer organizations like the John Jermain Library Fund and the Ladies Village Improvement Society.

As we move beyond the issue of code revision, grapple with the financial crisis and a host of other issues, it is great to know that we have all these private sector resources to call on. I hope this is just the first in a series of such meetings, and that the outcome is a new shared vision of Sag Harbor’s future.


James S. Henry, Esq.

Mayoral candidate

Sag Harbor


Lessons in the Cleanup


Dear Bryan,

I want to extend a huge thanks to all those who came out in the drizzle on Saturday and Sunday to clean up Town Line Road. An amazing group of volunteers mucked about for hours, picking up truckloads of trash (so much that large loads will have to be hauled away this week). Spokespeople and 725 Green both had volunteers out there, and BikeHampton and Summer Color gardens graciously lent us trucks.

For those who have never ventured up there, let me tell you, this is not just litter. The area has been turned into a dumping ground and a shooting range. We hauled sofas, beds, dressers, television sets, circuit boards, full garbage bags, clothing, mountains of cans, bottles and trash, along with hundreds of shotgun shells. This is an eyesore, of course, but more importantly, it means that enormous amounts of lead, mercury, cadmium and other toxins are getting into our water, soil and air. These materials cause cancer, nerve damage, fetal deformities, liver damage… need I go on? Clearly, this isn’t acceptable. Now that the area is cleaned up, I hope that East Hampton and Southampton will help keep the area clean and take steps to stop the dumping.

One other comment: We had a number of young people out there on Sunday, and it was interesting to see their reactions. They said it was sobering for them to see that amount of trash and to learn just how dangerous it is. At the end of the day, when they were dirty, tired and wet, several said they were glad to have done it, glad to have made a difference. Our schools need to be sure that our children are learning the lasting effects of their actions on the environment, pro and con.

Many thanks,

Gigi Morris

Sag Harbor

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