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Retiree benefits, teacher removed over class assignment, Brookhaven animal shelter, organ donation priorities

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Retirees should not lose earned benefits

Health coverage for retirees is not the “gift” that Newsday’s editorial board seems to think was given to municipal workers “Shrink retiree health coverage,” Editorial, Sept. 18].

In most cases, this benefit was the result of hard-fought negotiations between the unions and the municipality. There was a give-and-take in these negotiations, and unions had to give back something to get this “gift.”

Municipal worker retirees are for the most part vulnerable to the municipalities’ efforts to take away benefits because we no longer have a voice in negotiations. We paid for this benefit in givebacks that were fairly negotiated for the health coverage we now have.

When the municipalities take away this benefit from an easy target, as they surely will, will they also repay the thousands of dollars that were given to the municipalities in paybacks for those who served and worked under contracts negotiated in good faith? I doubt it.

The editorial board seems to feel that the integrity of a fairly negotiated contract is not worth the paper it was written on. It’s just not right.

— Ed Mace, Deer Park

The writer is a former president of the Rockville Centre Police Benevolent Association.

I am appalled at the editorial board’s position on full health coverage in retirement for public employees.

As a retiree from the New York City Department of Education, I worked for 25 years to educate students with the promise that in retirement I would receive both a pension and full health care benefits. For the past 20-plus years, this promise has been kept.

Now, the editorial board is supporting the movement to change the health care portion. I find this deplorable. There must be other options to solve this problem so that the burden does not solely fall on public retirees.

— Marsha Feldman, Syosset

Teacher deserves kudos, not wrath

Unlike all too much of what goes on in our classrooms, the very assignment that removed the teacher from the classroom is actually a higher-level thinking task [“Teacher removed from class over assignment,” News, Sept. 14]. Fifth-graders were asked whom they would allow in a fallout shelter in case of a nuclear attack.

It’s more innovative and useful than much of the usual repeat-after-me rote classroom material. In this unusual assignment, the students would have to discuss, evaluate and likely disagree before reaching a consensus. That, in itself, is no mean feat. The exercise involves considering and evaluating the pros, cons and “worthiness” of the people seeking shelter.

I would offer congratulations, not punishment, to the teacher. Unfortunately, all too many administrators cave in to the slightest scent of pressure.

A story like this communicates one thing to Long Island teachers. Namely, don’t take a chance by innovating and be careful of what and how you teach.

— Bruce Stasiuk, Setauket

The writer was a public school teacher for 34 years.

Shelter’s bad rating an embarrassment

The latest report of continued problems at the Brookhaven Town animal shelter should prompt more embarrassment of town officials [“Shelter ‘unsatisfactory’ again,” Our Towns, Sept. 7].

Despite repeated efforts by committed volunteers to gain the town’s attention, the shelter has remained a low priority. It already had been cited by the county health department for violations. And volunteers have been muzzled: Speak out again and face dismissal.

Brookhaven Town leaders might do well to heed Mahatma Gandhi’s observation that “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

— Cynthia E. Parry,  Center Moriches

Give organ donors first chance at organs

The article “Pig kidney transplant sets record” [Nation, Sept. 15] again reminds us that more than 100,000 people are on the national organ transplant waiting list.

One way to increase the number of human donors would be to establish a two-tiered waiting list.

Those who have signed an irrevocable willingness to donate, if in need of an organ transplant themselves, would receive preference ahead of non-signers. A minimum number of years on the donation list could prevent last-minute signers from gaming the system.

Knowing that you’d be given preference when in need is a strong incentive to volunteer donating when you no longer need any organs, that is, when you yourself are gone.

— Charles Comer, Port Washington

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