Letters to the Editor - 05.05.11

Respect Teachers
    April 25, 2011
Dear David,
    Where did this denigration of the most honored profession, teaching, begin? When I was young and wanted to do something with my life that was worthwhile that contributed to the world, yet was intellectually challenging, I chose teaching.
    Children are the future of every country and the world. Through the education of our children we pass on our culture and our values. At the same time we also secure tomorrow’s economy by producing the next generation of proficient workers. The socialization of children fosters constructive communities. Teach­ers — and parents — create this. Parents do the job of raising their children in their family life, though sometimes the families can be dysfunctional. Sensitive teachers also serve as safety nets for children with special needs.
    Teachers in their daily work with children provide a safe, positive environment in which the accumulated knowledge of the world is presented for their learning. Besides the grueling work teachers diligently engage in, they are also the most-educated people in our society. All teachers in New York State must have at least one master’s degree to earn certification. Many have more than one master’s degree and all continue to take classes. It’s what we do. Educators continue to be educated.
    Though teachers have the summers off, which so many people begrudge them, the truth is that many teachers actually go to school for part of the summer and/or work. All I keep hearing from people who have never spent a minute in a classroom working to present a lesson to children who would rather be outside playing is that teachers make a lot of money.
    I know real estate agents with only a high school education who make scads more than teachers. Doctors and lawyers all make more money than any teacher with usually a lot less education. What about contractors, builders, electricians, plumbers, etc., and the money they make? An electrician came to my house recently and worked for about an hour. Do you know how much money he made for that hour? More than a teacher does, and he doesn’t have the life and future of a child in his hands.
    Is it because teachers are a solid group, members of a union, or maybe because they appear to be recession-proof or perhaps people have encountered a teacher they secretly resented? Or is it because most teachers are women?
    Whatever the reason, people should look to the real culprits in our present economic catastrophe: the Wall street robber barons and bankers who acted like cowboys. Anyone know a teacher who lives in a McMansion south of the highway?
    In other countries of the world people respect teachers and compensate them financially. In little old Finland, ranked the number-one educational system in the world, people who qualify to become teachers are given a stipend while they are attending school and their education is paid for by the state . . . just like the United States!
    We lose many teachers in their early years of teaching to the lure of jobs that pay more money or other reasons, like the workload, their own inadequacies, etc. Isn’t it time we learned to respect teachers and the work they do for us, even if we don’t have children in school. But then again somebody taught you while others paid for your education.

    Ms. Mallah is running for Springs School Board. Ed.

A Positive Approach
    April 28, 2011
Dear David,
    When I picked up The Star today I immediately read the article about Pete Hammerle withdrawing from the Demo­cratic ticket in November. Joanne Pilgrim wrote a deserving piece about a fine person.
    He was on the town board before I became a permanent resident of Montauk. Soon after moving here, Carol Morrison became my friend. She was more than a friend, she was a teacher who taught me about the environment, code, and zoning issues important to the town. Pete’s name came up often in many conversations. She respected highly his ability to understand the need for open space and work on projects to preserve hundreds of acres of land.
    In my time on the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, Pete supported the purchase of the Fort Pond house, the Montauk Playhouse community center, and the upgrade of Lions Field. When the committee presented an issue to be taken to the board, he always took a positive approach. He had knowledge about the code enforcements and followed through on letters its chairwoman, Lisa Grenci, wrote to the board.
    He worked as a collaborator in other parts of East Hampton on the Green Hollow subdivision and the Springs-Fireplace Road apartments. He expressed great concern about the condition of the beaches when people would walk away and leave their garbage.
    Pete should be congratulated for eagerly serving four terms as an official in the Town of East Hampton. As he graciously walked away, he said, “It is time for the Democratic Party to have a fresh start. I certainly hope that the Demo­crats take back the majority in this election, because I think they would be the best protectors for the good things that have been done for this town over the years.”

Way of Life
    May 1, 2011
To the Editor,
    Friends, and fellow Springsters, lend me your ear. It’s May and that time of year. The Springs School budget vote is upon us and almost here. Get off your boat, put down your tote, and go out and vote. If you are not here, but registered in Springs, don’t fear. Get your absentee ballot in. Let common sense win.
    The Springs school budget is up for approval. Its important to us and to the nation to discuss it at Barnes and the Springs Country Store. Listen to all opinions and discuss it some more.
    We love our hamlet; it’s unique. There’s Lions Head and Clearwater Beach, and within reach, Louse Point and Accabonac Harbor, Maidstone Park and Ashawagh Hall. We even have a dog park. That’s not all: Gardiner’s Bay, Gerard Point, Hog Creek. It’s north of the highway, far from Main Beach. There is Pussy’s Pond with its road-crossing ducks and lots of labs in pickup trucks.
    Not to forget Three Mile Harbor, those foolish flocks of wild turkeys that make your driving a little bit harder. The ospreys at Maidstone, the beach and the park. Sunning by day and barbecuing in the dark
    We love Springs a lot; you can’t live here and not. We want to persevere and keep it possible for all of us to live here.
    We agree our way of life is special. We are a salad bowl of people with many different occupations and professions. And it’s my impression we are all hurting from this awful recession and in a state of major depression — artists and fishermen, farmers and landscapers, teachers, firemen, second-home owners, retirees, and volunteers. We, and all moms and dads, must make a decision, and a revision, by doing some division.
    For perspective, we have a school superintendent who makes more money than the governor of New York State — how does he rate? Yes, a superintendent who makes more than the governor. On May 17 please go to the Springs School and vote. The hours are between 2 and 9 p.m. Just be clever, pull that lever.
    All you have to do is get on Fireplace Road, make a turn at Barnes Country Market and Springs Auto (School Street), and get to the school. Remember the issues. Don’t be a fool. It’s about salary increases, the additional bus, un-mandated programs, and Springs School Inc. It should be about the children and teaching them to think.
    At the school you will meet your neighbor. Think about our Garden of Eden. No need to remind you, we don’t live in Sweden!
    Get irate, educate, work to consolidate.

Vote Twice
    East Hampton
    May 2, 2011
Dear Editor:
    “If the budget is not approved by the voters on May 17th, the Board can put the same, a similar, or an entirely different budget up for a re-vote.” — Springs Public School
    True. We may well have to vote twice to kill the proposed 2011-12 Springs School budget of $24.8 million to educate 946 students. That’s the dirty little secret of voting down a school budget. No one benefiting from a bloated bud­get wants defeat of that budget made simple or easy.
    Let’s see how responsive the board of education is when the budget is not approved on May 17. If the board puts the same, or a similar, budget up for re-vote, that will send a loud, unprintable message to the community that voted down the budget. If the board puts up an entirely different budget — one that acknowledges the demands of the majority of the community — then we will know the board got our message and responded appropriately.
    Did you know the Springs School actually schedules a spring concert at 7 p.m. at the school on the night of the vote to bring parents out en masse, and, of course, to frog-march them to the voting machines before, during, and after the concert? So if you are wondering why you can’t find a parking space in front of 48 School Street after work when you want to vote, now you know.

Tax Bills
    May 1, 2011
To the Editor,
    My wife and I have owned a house in Springs for over 20 years and have purchased two more in the interim. When I pay our tax bills, I’m reminded how much of these taxes reflect the Springs School budget. The tax burden to fund the school’s operation has fallen disproportionately on Springs homeowners. Admittedly, every child deserves an education, but many families whose children attend the Springs School live “under the radar” and pay no taxes at all.
    This year’s school budget is bloated beyond reason. By paying my taxes, I am making my own sacrifice for the students. I think the people who drafted the proposed budget should sacrifice equally. They should neither seek nor approve large pay raises. This would certainly help in trimming several million from the ridiculous budget they propose now.
    Very truly,

Are in Question
    East Hampton
    May 1, 2011
Dear Editor,
    At its second budget work session, the Springs School Board provided all of the community members in attendance with current spreadsheet salary information for every school district employee. Why then, in a letter from last week’s Star, did Gerry Keating refer to outdated and inaccurate salary information?        Additionally, irrelevant information about a retiree and an employee of another district was included in the mix. Could it be that this multi-degree Ivy Leaguer did not attend this work session? It makes one question many of the underlying assumptions espoused by the Homeowners Alliance.
    At this same meeting, the Springs School Board spent four hours patiently listening to the thoughts and input of community members. Why then does the Springs Homeowners Alliance still demand that significant programs be cut? Could it be that they were not present or did not understand the community members’ concerns about the negative impact that these proposals would have on students?
    To learn more about the goals and perspectives of this group, I decided to visit the Web site, only to be highly offended by the language used by a number of the site’s bloggers. Once again the validity and reliability of the alliance’s positions are in question.
    Finally, it’s been said that too little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Could it be that representatives of the Springs Homeowners Alliance need to attend and participate in school meetings to gather as much information as possible before drawing conclusions about what is best for the students of Springs School?


Channel Our Objections
    April 30, 2011
To the Editor,
    The music festival boondoggle continues: According to the latest East Hampton Star article, several actions have been taken to ensure the Music to Know festival will get clearance from the powers that be. If one reads between the lines, however, nothing at all has been resolved. In fact, the confusion has metastasized, at least according to my reading.
    It seems the Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted for permission to hold the festival at East Hampton Airport, following the failure of MTK management to secure support from people objecting to the Amagansett location. Good for Amagansett, I say. However, we are then informed to contact a certain person at the F.A.A. who, in turn, tells us no, he’s not the person.
    What we should do, this F.A.A. officer advises, is channel our objections to the town and airport, who will then refer these comments to the F.A.A. Are you following so far?
    Now I quote directly from the newspaper article: “Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and the members of the board did not reply this week to an e-mail asking if public comments had been solicited and submitted to the F.A.A., or if that would occur.” To continue, “Whether or not public opinion will actually be a factor in the federal agency’s decision is unclear, however.”
    Does that tell you something, other than that our elected leaders are abysmally slow to respond to a very basic, simple but crucial question?
    My own questions and objections continue, however. We should certainly have an outline of the preparations planned by our town. I guess I have to repeat these questions — those especially of concern being security arrangements. Do we use our own police, at a probable time-and-a-half rate for weekend duty, or an outside firm to supply the know-how and muscle required? And what, please, would that cost? Also, and equally important in terms of cost, who gets the job of cleaning up the mess left by the many thousands (a hoped-for 9,500 souls!), left all over town, the beaches, and venue grounds in particular?
    Would these and other costs related to the dreaded festival exceed the $600,000 estimated (and probably incorrect) costs “saved” by our leaders’ mean-spirited elimination of the fall leaf pickup? Huh? And the chopping off of one day at the dump, or God knows whatever other nickel-and-diming edicts are issued?
    And oh, does everyone realize that if the F.A.A. says no to the airport venue, guess where we go next? Back to Amagansett, that’s where.
    Regardless of the location, however, it’s the festival itself that should not be allowed to take place. It was approved by a skeleton town board, with one member absent and another abstaining. Is this a fair choice? And why have there not been any hearings where this issue was the headliner?

Pants on Fire
    April 28, 2011
Dear Editor;
    The current (Taliban) town board has stuck it to the residents of this town once again. The sheer arrogance of their agenda surfaces every day. One cannot fix stupid!
    Now they have become shills for the promoters of an ill-conceived concert and their harebrained scheme to allow it at the town-owned airport defies logic.
    When does a governing body make decisions that fly in the face of residents to facilitate a profit for promoters of a concert with the promise of a few pieces of silver? Has the promoters’ experience been vetted as to their qualifications to run such a venue?
    Once again, “ready, shoot, aim” and the bobble heads that rammed through the approval so quickly should be held to task. Of course the question is, why were their pants on fire to grant permits without even taking the residents’ concerns into account?
    First, the entire town-owned airport (625 acres) is unfenced, and there is no way to stop anyone from entering at any point on the compass to avoid entrance fees. One only has to use Google Earth to observe surrounding residential areas to park and walk through the woods, or across the railroad tracks, to gain entrance.
    All the streets are only a short walk from the airport, and they will be parked all over the place. I can just see them wandering in and running across runways as planes are trying to come in and out. This cannot be prevented!
    Second, the board said no environmental impact. Well, does clearing 2,000 feet of trees for a fire lane have no environmental impact? Replacing trees with ornamental grasses is not returning the land to what was there.
    Third, Route 27 at the intersection by the Wainscott Post Office is a traffic nightmare as it is. The summer months exacerbate this to a horrendous level. Now add thousands of cars. That will cause residents of Wainscott to be held hostage in their own neighborhoods, unable to get out. Emergency response time will be hampered.
    An Article 78 was filed by the residents of Amagansett, which the town will automatically lose. So this lame-brained scheme was devised behind closed doors? Why is the board acting as quasi-agent for the promoters, and will this pass the smell test?
    I urge all residents of this town to stand up for each other and send a message that this town is ours and we know what is good for us.
    Call the Federal Aviation Administration at 516-227-3860 and voice your objection.
    E-mail the F.A.A decision-maker at Andrew.Brooks@faa.gov and demand that he end this debacle immediately. Deny the request!
    Take back our town from the sheer arrogant town board who disrespects us daily!
    Yours truly,