Letters to the Editor - 05.19.11

What Price?
    May 12, 2011
To the Editor,
    I would like to give thanks and praise to the work and commitment to teaching excellence that has been the mission of all the teachers, staff, school boards, and principals who have been serving our children at Stella Maris (originally St. Andrew’s) for well over 100 years.
    Since 2000, my two daughters attended school there. In December 2005 our family split up. We had to sell our house and move to Manorville. It was particularly difficult on my youngest. She was emotionally attached to  her friends and the nurturing environment at Stella Maris. With her life torn apart, she asked and needed to stay at that school.
    For more than three years we made the drive to school, which was 30 miles each way. The financial hardship was draining. We were only able to do it with the help of the diocesan program called Tomorrow’s Hope and the internal financial aid program run by the school board.
    Thanks to Jane Peters, the teachers, staff, and school board, Grace graduated with her closest friends and eighth-grade class in 2010 — as the valedictorian. I am positive that a financial accounting of what I personally paid in tuition those three years would be written in heavy red ink on the school ledger.
    To those in the community who are on the outside looking in, or who are judging people based only on the fiscal bottom line, I respectfully have one question. What price can you put on the kind of help that touches and changes a young girl’s life in such a positive and merciful way? I believe that your answer can be found in the sacred book of scripture, where Isaiah the prophet wrote, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
    Peace and thanks from a once-desperate friend.

In That Room
    May 16, 2011
Dear Editor:
    As you may know, this Saturday there was a fund-raiser for Liam Baum and his family. When Roseanne and I got to the Springs Firehouse the room was packed. I looked around and I didn’t see any high rollers or famous celebrities. What I saw was the people who make up the supporting base for this town. It was wonderful to go around and say hello to old friends.
    As I looked about me I thought that this in microcosm is the way it should be, where we reach out a helping and open hand to our neighbors near and far and accept their differences, but realizing we share a common mortality, a moment when we can listen, learn, greet the new without bitterness, personal invective, or pettifoggery.
    If only the energy in that room to pull together could spread like a welcome virus, we could stop worrying about becoming a second-class nation. We could become the true leader of a better world.

Good Wishes
    East Hampton
    May 11, 2011
To the Editor,
    I would like to thank everyone who acknowledged my retirement from the East Hampton Library children’s room with cards, gifts, and good wishes. Thank you all.
All Benefited
    May 16, 2011
Dear David:
    In October of last year, Carol Morrison passed away. She was 90 years old.
    Carol was one of the founders of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and she became the heart and soul of that organization until her death.
    Almost 70 percent of Montauk is preserved for the pleasure of generations to come, and we all have Carol to thank to a great degree for this amazing accomplishment. She was always in the forefront, making waves. She pushed and prodded us all, and we have a better community because of her prodding. At times she drove many of us to distraction, but we, in the end, all benefited from her tenacity.
    This past Saturday a memorial service was held for Carol at the Catholic Church in Montauk. What a disappointment it was that not a single member of the current East Hampton Town Board found it important enough to be in attendance. How is it possible that they did not appreciate all that Carol did, even when it was at times confrontational? If nothing else, she led the charge to keep Montauk green and by doing so we all benefited.

Chris Schiaffino
    May 11, 2011
To the Editor,
    Chris, I just know that you have already figured out a way to play ball in heaven. Knowing who you are, and the way the game touched you, I am sure you must be the starting shortstop on God’s greatest softball team. You’re part of the brethren, those of us who enjoy the game so much that we can’t seem to ever stop playing. It’s in your blood, the eternal Little Leaguer. (vintage Americana). You, my friend, are a ballplayer and will always be one, no matter where your spirit resides.
    In life you were not only a great ballplayer, you were also a great teammate, and in most recent years, a loving dad.
    We must have played hundreds of games together, and I’ll never forget your throws from shortstop. They were like heat-seeking missiles. I would actually feel badly for the poor first baseman that had to catch them.
    All those years we played together, it was so much fun to watch you do the things you did. Chris, I want to thank you for so many great memories, many of them shared on a softball diamond and many outside the lines as well. I will never forget you and will think of you every time I play ball.
    When you see Ernie Bahns, “Pump‚” give him my best. Finally, thanks so much for your generosity in sponsoring our team this year. Your spirit will be with us every game. To quote “The Sandlot‚” “Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.” You, my friend, are a legend round here. Your spirit will never die!
    God Bless Chris Schiaffino!

My First Love
    Washington, D.C.
    May 10, 2011
To the Editor,
    If you were to ask my closest friends who my first love was, I’m sure those from childhood would say the names Paula or Heather. Those from college might say Jennifer. And I might have said, Latoya, my prekindergarten crush. Recent events, however, have put that phrase, first love, in better context for me.
    Just after 5 p.m., on Monday, April 11, I ended my workday at my law firm in Washington, D.C. I exited through the front door, turned left on 13th Street and made another immediate left on G Street. As I walked a bit and looked a block ahead, I noticed the Treasury Building. Just beyond it lies the White House. And in a series of loosely associated thoughts, I contemplated the monumental decisions that have emanated from that building, the awesome power of the city and nation in which I live, and the complexity of this world with its nearly seven billion people. “What’s the significance of just one of us?” I thought, to most, not much. But to a privileged few, one life can touch theirs in immeasurable ways. Five days later, I buried that person in my life — my first love — my mother, Queen Elizabeth Davis-Parks.
    On Sunday, April 4, as I sat in Howard University’s Chapel, I received a text from my sister Aleta, “Call me. It’s urgent!” I made my way outside and called, and she informed me that our mother had just a few days to live. That night, when we arrived at our parents’ home in East Hampton, we entered the house and went to the sunroom, where our mother rested. She was frail, semi-conscious, and breathed in a labored fashion. I held her hand and told her I loved her. Then I went outside, and behind my sister’s car, I fell to my knees and sobbed.
    During my mother’s last days, I stood by her bedside and watched her. I thought about how, several decades ago, she carried me for nine months, gave birth to me, and put me on her breast to nurse me to strength. I remembered how, as a child, I would follow her from room to room and sleep next to her on most nights up until the middle of elementary school. Y es, I was a momma’s boy. Even more, I thought about how much she sacrificed for her children and grandchildren.
    I was reminded of the song “No Charge” by Shirley Ceasar, the gospel great, that my mother listened to when I was small. In that song, a little boy hands his mother a bill for all the chores he had performed. As the mother looked at her son, she reflected on her years as his parent. She turned the bill over, and on the back listed all that she had done for him: carrying him for nine months, taking care of and praying for him when he was sick, the worry, the advice, the savings for college. After each, all she would say is, “no charge.” She concluded by saying, “When you add it all, the full cost of my love is no charge.” That song bears a striking resemblance to how my mother treated her offspring.
    In all of my years, I have known women who wouldn’t or couldn’t take care of their children. I’ve known women who didn’t or didn’t know how to love their children. Every mother isn’t a loving mother. But then there are those mothers whose love for their children abounds. Even still, with my mother, it was only in the days after her death that I came to understand the depth of her love for her children, especially me. She studied us and knew our needs. One needed more of a friend. Another needed a protector. A third needed to be free to pursue their dreams. The last needed to be babied. Whether or not it put her heart at ease, she did these things for us and to the best of her ability did the same for her grandchildren.
    Today, the day I write this, marks the first of many Mother’s Days that I will spend without my mother on this earth. I am heartened, however, to know that though I loved my mother with all my heart since I was a child, she always loved me more than I could have ever loved her. It’s with this knowledge that I know I have been blessed beyond measure and wish all women who have similarly mothered their children, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, and neph­ews a happy Mother’s Day.

West Drive
    East Hampton
    May 14, 2011
Dear Editor,
    I am truly frustrated! On May 3, after dealing with the previous town board for six years, my family and I approached the current town board to garner their assistance with completing the condemnation of the commercial section of West Drive out to Springs-Fireplace Road. To date, the town has taken six years to complete only half the process. We are truly discouraged and needed to bring that to their attention. Thank goodness Councilwoman Quigley understands our frustration and is trying to help us.
    At that meeting, the board asked why we couldn’t take access over the southern part of West Drive. The answer is that the town planning board directed us to use the commercial section of the road. We have spent the last six years trying to fulfill the board’s directive.
    Since the board’s order we have never sought access over the residential section of West Drive. Unfortunately our intentions and statements have been mischaracterized in the media and elsewhere, and this misinformation is inflaming others.
    The statement I made at the meeting about “drug dealers, dirt bikes, and dumping,” specifically illegal uses that are taking place on our vacant commercial property, had absolutely nothing to do with the residents of West Drive and was not intended to accuse them of any illegal activity. In fact, I believe they are just as upset as we are that those activities take place in their neighborhood.
    Hopefully, sight will not be lost of the fact that this is only an issue about roads and access for use of our own property. Something we have been trying to accomplish for 21 years.

Town Manager
    May 16, 2011
To the Editor:
    The recently initiated discussion of a town manager presented by the League of Women Voters at a Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee meeting is timely and critically important for East Hampton. Our 2011 town budget exceeds $60 million. East Hampton employs hundreds of people who are organized into over 25 departments and divisions. Further, the town provides critically important services to residents and visitors spread over 70 square miles.
    Clearly, our town government is quite large and complex. However, the executive management of our town is in the hands of individuals who lack substantial experience and training in management of municipalities. Although these elected officials all have the best interests of East Hampton at heart, for the most part they lack managerial experience in municipal settings.
    It is time for our town to recognize the benefits that will accrue from the employment of professional management responsible for the day-to-day operations of our town under the watchful eye of our elected town board. After all, we hire a professional superintendent to manage our schools and we hire a professional police chief to manage our Police Department. It is time for East Hampton to recognize the complexities associated with managing our town and its large budget and take the steps necessary to begin the process of retaining a professional town manager.
    I hope all candidates running for town election this fall will clearly articulate their positions on this issue so that residents can elect officials who will endorse the employment of a professional and experienced town manager to oversee the complex day-to-day operations of the Town of East Hampton.

Most Hectic Time
    May 12, 2011
To the Editor,
    Alas, alack! The music festival is a-comin’ through. In August. With 9,500 bodies anticipated. Stop for a second and think about this number of souls heaped upon the swollen population during our busiest and most hectic time of year. Whether by train, plane, or parachute, the hordes will be coming, like it or not.
    One possible explanation for the apathy regarding this boondoggle is the current focus on school board business. Okay, that’s understandable but regrettable. The proposal for the festival was made on a gloomy day in December, in faraway Montauk, with a sparse audience, and approved within a week. No formal hearings whatever on the issue, a fait accompli, virtually dictated by our elected leaders — not a shining example of democracy.
    Our leaders don’t seem interested in listening. Objections are waved aside like so many pesky no-see-ums. Blame it on hubris: hubris, the eighth deadly sin.
    Let’s hope the perceived horror of the rock music blast will weigh in on the forthcoming town board elections. We’ve been hornswoggled, folks, by Bill’s Big Boondoggle. Rest in peace while ye may.
    With condolences to all,

    May 12, 2011
Dear Editor,
    It is beginning to seem that the MTK Festival will become a reality on the weekend of Aug. 13 and 14 at the East Hampton Airport. Has anyone considered the traumatic effects extremely loud, dissident noise along with (good?) vibrations would have on the dogs and cats at the nearby Animal Rescue Fund center? Are we to assume the howling that would result is eager participation in a sing-along with the music?
    How can it be that the one-hour annual July Fourth fireworks display at Main Beach has been postponed for several summers now in consideration of the plovers nesting on the beach, while no thought has been given to our canine and feline friends for this two-day event?
    If some charitable donation from this concert is going to ARF, might the funds be used consequently to rehabilitate frightened animals (not to mention staff workers)? Doesn’t this seem like a case where the risks far outweigh the benefits?

Little White Cat
    May 5, 2011
Dear David,
    The other day a little white cat with a twisted neck that made it appear fascinated with everything I said appeared at the door. It needed food and shelter and a trip to the vet. I called in backup.
    The combined actions of three advanced degrees (two doctorates) provided breast of chicken, nonfat half-and-half, and an old Ralph Lauren towel. Then we called East Hampton Animal Control.
    Max Leutters of Animal Control showed up promptly and with great care and discretion took the cat away with a promise to keep us informed about its future.
    Max called a few hours later to say that through the services of the Animal Rescue Fund the cat’s owner has been found. Bravo, Max! Bravo, ARF! Here’s to happy endings!
    All good things,