Letters to the Editor: What became of the skeleton in Orient?

Southold
Why I am running for town justice

My entire adult life has been within the criminal justice system, since I first raised my hand and swore to support and defend our Constitution. I believe in law and order with equal justice for all. The Southold Town Justice Court is defined as a “local criminal court.” The criminal procedure laws apply. A small, core component of our criminal justice system, where proceedings for all offenses committed in Southold, with few exceptions, will begin.

I’ve studied, taught, practiced, applied and ruled on criminal justice issues. As a career prosecutor and defense attorney I have conducted and overseen hundreds of criminal trials. As a Southold Town justice, none of my decisions were overturned.

As a longtime resident, I assist people when my legal expertise can help. I have volunteered for groups such as:

• Justice in Drug Court helping those with substance abuse problems

• the development of the Southold Town Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative Report

• the Southold Town Ethics Committee

• counsel with the Suffolk County Assigned Counsel Felony Panel.

I have protected the rights of indigent defendants for almost two decades. Southold wants a justice with the education, training, experience and history to deal with increasing workloads and problems. These attributes are well recognized and have earned me endorsements from 15 premiere public safety and law enforcement organizations.

A few of the organizations are: Suffolk County PBA, Suffolk County Police Conference, Suffolk County Corrections Officers Association, Inc. and Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs PBA, PBA of the New York State Troopers and New York State Fraternal Order of Police.

This year I am the only candidate screened by the Judicial Screening Committee, Suffolk County Bar Association, which, after reviewing my “qualifications with respect to character and integrity, including candor, impartially, respect and adherence to ethical standards and conduct”, rated me Qualified for Judicial Office.

In 2015 The Suffolk Times endorsed me, stating: “… change is overdue … and we believe Mr. Hughes is the candidate best equipped to deliver real results.” To learn more, visit www.hughesforjustice.org. If elected, I promise to protect your rights. 

Brian Hughes
Mr. Hughes is the Republican candidate for Southold Town Justice.

Southold
I am running for town assessor

Southold Town is such a special place. When I came to Southold in 1998, I immediately knew this was the perfect place to raise a family. I wanted to give back to the town that gave me so much. I joined the Southold Fire Department in 2011. I have fought fires and been an EMT for 10 years, while now working at Peconic Landing caring for our community’s most vulnerable. Having resided in Southold for over 25 years, I am now running to continue my service to our community in the Assessor’s Office at Town Hall. Through my career, I have proven I can work well under even the most pressure-filled environments.

Mike Goscinski

Southold
Dems know forward is not backward

Anyone who attended the North Fork Civics Candidate Forum on Thursday, Oct. 19, and listened to the Democratic candidates had an eyewitness view into the definition of leadership and the word “forward.” It is clear forward is not backward, which is precisely where the Southold GOP wants to take our town. 

Forward is recognizing the challenges Southold Town faces and building partnerships to work on real and sustainable solutions. Forward means having a positive message and vision for our town. Forward is breaking the decades-long GOP gridlock in Town Hall to get things done and improving the morale of the employees who work there. Forward is being accountable to the people and to stop stalling on tough issues because you’re not able to tackle them.

Backward is to continue to keep your head in the sand and pretend that things haven’t already changed in Southold. Backward is taking your eye off the ball and letting outside big developers slip right by you. Backward is not having a hopeful plan or vision for our future, so instead you try to scare the voters. Backward is to keep kicking the can down the road because it gives the impression of moving, but you’re really at a standstill.

Further, Mr. Kiely, GOP Town Council candidate, thinks his use of the terms “ag” and “keep it rural” somehow qualifies him as a champion for agriculture. Yet he’s publicly advocated in the interest of the corporate ag-investor model that often includes significant development and rarely includes preservation options. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates are actual farmers, who are literally harvesting their crops during this fall election season. Our team is filled with respected environmental advocates. 

The GOP doesn’t get it. On Thursday, our candidates demonstrated they know exactly what “forward” means, and for the last seven months they’ve been listening to the residents of this town who say they agree with us. Democrats know the voters of Southold Town are thoughtful and engaged. And when we win this election, we will serve this town with competence and respect for all residents. Our opponents don’t understand that an effective and accountable government when you lead, you “lead forward.” And that’s precisely what Democrats intend to do. 

Sandra Benedetto
Ms. Benedetto is the acting chair of the Southold Town Democratic Committee.

Cutchogue
Your ‘history’ is wrong

Your editorial “Our View” (“History is what really happened,” Oct. 12), in which Columbus Day is now also celebrated as Indigenous People’s Day, expresses a slanted historical opinion based on research of two present day historians. Let’s return to the Dutch and English settlements of the 1600s, who didn’t like each other. Specifically in the Connecticut area, the Pequot tribe was the dominant Indigenous tribe in the area, often warring with the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes. The Pequot and the Dutch settlers were allies. The English allied themselves with the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes. 

The Pequots, with Dutch approval, attacked English settlements. One in April 1637, Westerfield had six unarmed men and three women killed. In May, 200 Pequot warriors left Mystic to attack Hartford. During this time, Underhill, with a combined colonial and Indigenous allied force, attacked the Pequot fort at Mystic on May 26. In real terms it was a massacre. 

What is the point of your “View?” I see no reason to remove the historical marker. There were conflicts between the Indigenous tribes themselves and the Dutch and English. It was settled at that time in the way conflicts were settled, violently.

Did John Underhill help establish the town of Southold? Did he further kill the Indigenous tribes? In 1960 the civic association wanted to mark where John Underhill lived. Why, it might be in the town’s historical records. It would appear you want to rewrite history in your terms to fit your narrative. 

Yes, the Indigenous people were treated cruelly, but so were the settlers of that time. We as a nation and people are not perfect, never were. But I venture to say we are the most perfect nation on the planet at present. 

Bob Bittner

MATTITUCK
We should have received credit

I am writing in response to the opinion piece “Banned Books Week is Unhappily Upon Us” published in The Suffolk Times on Oct. 5, 2023. As a librarian with over 14 years of library experience, currently serving as the director of Mattituck-Laurel Library, I was naturally intrigued by the column’s title. However, my initial enthusiasm about Banned Books Week receiving some publicity in my local paper quickly faded when I realized that all three North Fork libraries were not credited for their dedication not only to participating in Banned Books Week but also for the daily work we do to uphold the freedom to read.

Every October, our North Fork libraries unite in recognizing, honoring, and actively engaging in Banned Books Week. During this month, we strive to educate our communities about books that have faced bans and challenges, sharing insights into their content. Simultaneously, we proudly showcase these books while advocating for the fundamental right to read without censorship.

In a continued commitment to preserving unrestricted access to information, Mattituck-Laurel Library’s board of trustees have adopted a collection development policy that incorporates the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statements. These policies, along with all other policies approved by the board, are readily accessible to the public on the library’s website (mattitucklaurellibrary.org/policies).

In the current climate, libraries and librarians across the nation are under heightened scrutiny as they steadfastly support the cause of opposing censorship. The Suffolk Times should champion our local libraries and their dedicated staff who exert relentless efforts to ensure books, information and resources remain accessible to our communities. I take great pride in collaborating with exceptional colleagues across the North Fork and I deeply appreciate the knowledgeable staff in my own library, who work tirelessly each day to ensure that our communities enjoy unrestricted access to information.

Shauna Scholl
Director, Mattituck-Laurel Library

Greenport
Don’t change the historical marker

Having grown up in Southold in the ’50s, I and most kids knew all about the conquests of Captain John Underhill, protector of colonists and killer of Natives. Yes, I understand that we now have a better perspective on the morality and actions of those hard men of the 1600s, but to apply retrospective morality judgements on the man who made us safe in Southold, Block Island and Connecticut is leading history in the wrong direction. 

Capt. John Underhill was a flawed man, not quite Puritan enough for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a talented military leader, and a real fighter who had the arrow wounds to prove it. He knew he did not want to be captured by the Natives and they knew they did not want to be captured by him. The Pequot Wars were fought till death, there was no quarter given, nor asked. 

When he was ordered to Block Island to avenge the death of John Oldham, he was under the command of John Endicott. His orders were to kill all male Natives on the island, capture and sell into slavery all women and children. They actually didn’t do that, but killed about 14 and returned to Mystic to lend his best to the war there.

He knew the Natives were “heathen” and God was on his side. That was his life in the 1600s. Don’t remove his name from our plaque, don’t laud his accomplishments. He achieved these accomplishments in the 1630s. Would we, today, solve our problems with mutually distrusting neighbors the same way he did? No. Today we would send an army of lawyers, not fighters. But he was a man of his times, and he did a heck of a job. Don’t mess with Capt. John Underhill.

If anyone wants more background, go to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum website to see the Pequot Wars. Go to the Underhill Society of America. Read John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem entitled “Capt. John Underhill.”

John Kramer

Laurel
Watch out!

Residents of the North Fork should know of a new scam that I hadn’t been aware of. I received a call from an 800 number from a woman representing herself as calling from the PSEG-LI billing department. She stated that my electricity would be turned off within 40 minutes of the call. I asked her how I could prevent this from occurring and she transferred me to a manager in the billing department. That manager said they would check their records but I would have to pay $458 now to stop being cut off.

After hanging up on that call, I checked with customer service of PSEG-LI at a number that was on my printed PSEG-LI bill. They assured me that my account was up to date and the electricity was not going to be cut off.

Hope this helps others who might receive a similar call and give out private information that will be costly in the future, far in excess of the bogus $458.

Bob O’Brien

Orient
What became of the skeleton in Orient?

Ms. Folk is moving history on Captain John Underhill’s massacre of Native peoples. Underhill’s biography is lengthy. In the 1600s, there was no humanitarian law; no laws of war. Underhill, later a Quaker, helped Native people. With Captain Underhill’s massacre, the world also sees today’s massacres.

Laws are in letter and spirit. Is changing signage honoring heroes enough? Should Gov. Hochul sign legislation re-recognizing the Montauketts? Does overturning years of racism in the New York State Supreme Court, Pharaoh v. Benson (1910) satisfy? The Oysterponds Historical Society website states: “2019 Collection Plan — Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act. Federal government has a legal process in place for returning Native American materials to the tribes of origin. Because OHS has not applied for any federal grants, it’s in compliance with the letter of NAGPRA but not the spirit of NAGPRA.” 

The historical society once had a Native skeleton displayed behind glass. The skeleton is no longer mentioned. Where did it go? Drilling into OHS website, 1959 Historical Review OHS, page 22, “One of the features of the collection is the skeleton of a young Indian male, prepared for display, as found ….” In 1977, a New York Times writer, Theodore James, said: “In Orient … The Indian Room includes an ancient skeleton and artifacts.” 

The 1955 movie “Indian Fighter” with Kirk Douglas was popular when Underhill’s sign was placed. Douglas starts fighting with Indians and ends fighting for Indians! I pray Hochul restores the Montaukett and OHS adopts NAGPRA spirit. I worked at OHS years ago. The skeleton is not forgotten. 

Eric Bredemeyer 

Cutchogue
We are in serious climate trouble

How many canaries must die before we acknowledge the hazards of the climate change “coal mine?” This year saw devastating wildfires, heat waves, prolonged droughts, extreme rainfall and flooding worldwide. The summer of 2023 was earth’s hottest on record and this year will likely become the hottest year on record — 20 global weather stations have already set heat records. Additionally, sea surface temperatures were the highest ever recorded, and 40% of the world’s oceans experienced marine heat waves. A recent Nature article noted that extreme weather events attributed to climate change cost governments $143 billion every year. 

No rational person disputes the fact that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, cause global warming. Even the fossil fuel companies know this. A 1982 Exxon memo entitled “CO2 Greenhouse Effect” explains the physics concisely.

“Carbon dioxide and other trace gases contained in the atmosphere … absorb part of the infrared rays reradiated by the earth. This increase in absorbed energy warms the atmosphere inducing warming at the earth’s surface. This phenomenon is referred to as the ‘greenhouse effect’ … Fossil fuel combustion and the clearing of virgin forests (deforestation) are believed to be the primary anthropogenic contributors …”

How much warmer earth gets depends on how quickly we stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Scientists warn that we must become carbon neutral by 2050 to hold earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). But, according to ExxonMobil’s Global Outlook 2050, “…oil and natural gas are still projected to meet more than half (54%) of the world’s energy needs in 2050.” If so, we will exceed 2 degrees C of warming. Breaching 2 degrees C will dramatically increase the intensity of all extreme weather events causing unimaginable devastation. The World Health Organization warns that 2 degrees C of warming will cause a billion heat-related deaths.

Individuals can only do so much to cut emissions. To make significant inroads requires the commitment and the financial resources of businesses and governments at every level — local, state and federal. This November, only vote for candidates who acknowledge the dangers of climate change and prioritize strategies that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

John Gibbons

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