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
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.
HOWARD JOHN LEBWITH
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.
May 16, 2011
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.
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
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.
GREGORY S. PARKS
May 14, 2011
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.
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
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
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,
Likes ‘To Play’
May 17, 2011
The time has come to speak up about the fact that certain people should not be allowed to own a domestic pet, much less a dog. Dogs require a lot of the same things we all do: love, food, and commitment. They are not nifty accessories. They are animals.
This past weekend, I was gardening on Further Lane, my two small terrier-type dogs were with me. They were collared and tagged and minding their own business, which is pretty rare. It was a splendid day after so much grayness and rain and wind.
A young girl stopped to let me know that the wire-haired daschund was going into the road, but he was on the property, and I thanked her for the heads-up. I called him to come to me.
As he lumbered across the lawn, her female dog, a large, black pit-bull mix, named Chief, bolted through the window of the car being driven by the girl’s helper, and overpowered my 20-pound dog in a second. It was like watching an unbelievable act occur and being frozen. The adolescent did not understand the prey drive of her pet, nor was she able to control the dog, as it had no collar. It was only a slip-collar and lead, as it had spent the previous night at East Hampton Animal Control. The dog would not release my dog, who was squealing and terrified.
Somehow, he got free and ran for cover (under a car) but she got him again. Again he wriggled free, once under the car, she could not get to him. She turned and went for my other dog, a 12-year-old, almost-blind Jack Russell. She threw that dog around like a toy. Trying to break both of their necks, she was ruthless and determined. Finally, the dogs got separated.
The young girl begged me not to notify the Animal Control people, as the dog just likes “to play.” I was so upset, I demanded a phone number and name. She gave it. I told her about the law, destruction of a companion animal, a person, etc. I told her that this was very serious.
Her helpers told me that they were just “trying to get my dog back.” Evidently, the girl got nipped as she tried to separate the dogs. She had not been taught that you never get between two animals in a brawl. There was no mention of needing a doctor.
I was seriously worried, my dogs in shock. Later that night, I discovered several canine bites (nine) on my dogs. I scheduled a vet visit for Monday, as soon as they could get seen.
The dogs are mending. I then decided that Animal Control needed to know about this. I wanted to go on record for the event. I learned long ago that there is usually a trial for a dog like this.
There was. I could either attempt to get reimbursed by the dog’s owner or file a complaint through the town. I had told the child that I would let her know what I was going to do.
I asked the Animal Control officer to call the girl. I decided to move forward with letting the town take action — demand proper fencing, a tag, a collar, and a leash, and, most important, evidence of a completed dog-training course for the handlers of that dog.
Now I come to learn that the dog’s owner is claiming that my Jack Russell bit her daughter, which trumps the near destruction of my two companions. Wow! Drop the case, sure, go unheard, never!
Will life get so complicated that we will need a license to control our pets? Maybe.
May 15, 2011
Last Thursday, the architectural review board held a hearing on Project Open Vistas, whereby 33 (or more) selected areas of East Hampton Town will have vegetation trimmed, cleared, or cut back to allow the public to see views that are now blocked by the vegetation.
The hearing on Thursday night dealt specifically with Bluff Road in Amagansett between Atlantic Avenue and Indian Wells Highway. It appears that the A.R.B. will be holding hearings on all of the suggested sites. The Bluff Road area to be considered is in a historic district and guidelines exist that encourage maintenance of the vistas, or more important, the historic summer houses’ connection to the land and dunescape that lies south and terminates at the beach.
Given the historic nature of the area it is understandable that this area could be on the top of the open vistas program list. However, the cost of the clearing on this stretch alone, nearly $20,000, as stated at the A.R.B. meeting, is an expense that needs to be thoroughly examined. At a time when town employees are being laid off, the timing of an expensive project that deals mainly in aesthetics seems inappropriate.
When people are hurting from town layoffs with little or no notice of their firing, the open vista project’s desirability to the community is, at the very least, diminished and, at the most, a mockery, of the town board’s idea of a fiscal crisis.
Ms. Overby is a former member of the East Hampton Town Planning Board and is a Democratic candidate for town board. Ed.
May 16, 2011
To the Editor
Is anyone following the closure or wondering about the future of the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University? The university has not been transparent and may have no intention to be transparent regarding its plans for the Southampton campus.
Why would a growing academic community that quickly drew in hundreds of students be closed so abruptly? Oh right, the budget. It suddenly became apparent after a new university president was appointed that there was a budget problem. They claim a savings of a couple of million dollars over the next few years if the campus is closed. Why then, are millions of taxpayer dollars allocated in the current budget to the Southampton campus? By the way, just a few years ago, taxpayers paid $78 million to help create the Southampton campus and now it sits mostly vacant.
How about the lawsuit brought against the president of Stony Brook University and some of his colleagues for said closure? A State Supreme Court judge ruled the closing to be illegal, annulled the University’s decision, and ordered against further closure. In response, the defendant offered to apologize and pay some of the plaintiffs’ legal fees. While refusing to reopen the Southampton campus, Stony Brook has offered to keep the displaced sustainability programs at Stony Brook for a few more years.
They plan to use the third floor of the chemistry building (after a $500,000 renovation) as a place to house the displaced sustainability program. They have also proposed a new Semester by the Sea program for 20 or so transient students this fall, and there is talk of a graduate program in creative arts coming next fall.
And if the plaintiffs don’t accept the offer? No worries: the defendant has already appealed the judge’s decision. The plaintiffs won the legal battle but lost the fight. If all parties agree to the proposed settlement, the students get an apology, the lawyers get paid, and the once-thriving environmentally focused, sustainability driven, one of a kind educational opportunity is gone. Oh, don’t forget: Stony Brook claims to have put back the undergraduate residential component by recruiting 20 students who will be studying by the sea in the fall. They will not have a library, support staff, access to health care, a cafeteria, or cooking facilities in the dorms. According to Stony Brook, it will be revenue neutral.
Why is a new public water well on the Southampton campus property currently under discussion? A May 2011 memo from the university’s chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, to members of the board of trustees reads, “Whereas such additional well shall benefit the surrounding community and may assist in future activities at the Southampton Campus.” So, what is the plan? Is there a plan? Has there been a plan all along? Just asking — for some transparency.
May 15, 2011
To the Editor,
If everyone in the United States died at 70 we would have no budget deficit and a great profitable health care system for those who can pay the freight. Die young or, if not young, sooner than later is the mantra of the health care industry and its Republican allies. There are two concepts that drive this thinking. One is the ahistorical belief that no debt exists to previous generations that built the country. The other is the utilitarian value of nonworking people in a capitalist system.
What do the elderly do for America besides drain its resources? Imagine how rich we would be if we didn’t have to pay out Medicare and Social Security? Why is the country paying such a high price for the social and medical innovations that we initiated?
Philosophically, we suck compared to the rest of the world. Something in our capitalist-Christian ethic has turned the country against its parents. It is a uniquely American phenomenon. A kind of Jesus on steroids or crack. Is it simply the money that drives us or some psychological disconnect that’s a function of too little breast-feeding and too much Coca-Cola?
Take any European single-payer universal health care system and implement it in America and we would have better care for less money and not worry about the deficit. Take the philosophies of Europe, Asia, or the Middle East in which the elderly are revered and respected and the question of usefulness disappears. Families accept responsibility for their parents, but these governments also understand the contributions of previous generations and celebrate their contributions rather than debating the debt.
Perception of obligations and debts are a function of a less-evolved people who live only in the present with no sense of the past. Universal health care and taking care of our parents is no different from food, shelter, and education. It’s a natural instinct when not blocked by dollar signs. If we thought differently there would be no deficit debate. It would flow naturally in some genetic human channel that the cost of caring for our parents is nonnegotiable.
So the question posed is who are these cretins that hold such deep animosity for their parents that they would not implement a just, all-encompassing health care system, would propose a plan like Paul Ryan’s that would seriously derange Medicare to save a few bucks, would insist on someone making a few dollars (or many dollars) even if it puts our parents at risk?
David Cay Johnson, a conservative economist emeritus, makes the case that Mr. Ryan and the Republicans are incompetent boobs whose program would substantially raise health care costs while it tears apart the system. A nastier vision harkens back to 1930s Germany and its utilitarian purity obsession. A third perspective is that health care is a risk to the continued prosperity of America’s top 1 percent and every dollar for the cause helps.
Greed, lack of humanity, or stupidity — do we really want any of them in our government?
Over the Falls
May 7, 2011
Written in the Declaration of Independence is the exposition that people are entitled to certain “unalienable rights,” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no reference in that brilliantly written document or in any other that I know of, that declares that any defined group of people is entitled to have their taxes cut to the detriment of the undefined rest of us.
Yet our former astute and erudite President George W. Bush, in the service of his party’s ideology, added $2 trillion to the nation’s debt with just such tax cuts, the bulk of which went to a small group of affluent Americans.
Even though Mr. Bush said the tax cuts were temporary, they raise their ugly head again in the new Republican budget, covering their behinds with the spurious, proven-wrong claim that they create jobs. Yeah? Where are they?
In addition, Mr. Bush voluntarily chose to invade Iraq aided by a deceptive sales campaign to gain public support and then he was forced, finally, to fight a war in Afghanistan, thus adding another $1.2 trillion to the debt. After that, while crowning himself as a wartime president, this Shrub engineered a supplemental prescription drug bill that was never paid for in the budget. Add to those increases the advent of a Great Recession, and you get the picture of the massive debt facing the country.
So now we get to the blame game and, of course, it is always Barack Obama. Then we go to the fix-it game where it is never Republicans’ fault, always someone else’s. And finally we get to the supposed learning game and the fun begins. Politics as usual.
Tea Baggers take over the Republican party and rant, “We don’t want our grandkids to have to pay for our uncontrolled spending.” Therefore we should cut college grants and other education and health care funds for kids who are here and need it right now, thus making full use of the law of unintended consequences, i.e., under-educate, under-health provide, under-feed kids, and still expect them to be able to lead the country when they grow up. But, by all means, keep those tax cuts and subsidies for Big Oil! They do contribute all right, to campaign coffers.
They demagogue the stimulus package, which saved G.M., Chrysler, A.I.G., Citibank, and many, many others and thousands upon thousands of jobs, as well as resurrecting our investment accounts while accepting its money. They bemoan “big government” while making it bigger and more intrusive than ever with legislation to destroy a woman’s right to choose, wipe out collective bargaining, and decimate voter registration — all affecting the middle class and the poor and all with priority over creating jobs. John Boehner continually lies about the stimulus and everything and anything else he thinks will stimulate his base and here we go, over the falls in a barrel.
If we would stop blaming and punishing the victims and start getting rid of the tax breaks, oil subsidies and the like, raise taxes a bit, stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not cut money necessary to spur our future growth and prosperity, which further impoverish the least amongst us, and press more of the burden on those who can afford it, we will succeed in making sure those future grandkids live in as great a country as we have.
RICHARD P. HIGER
May 13, 2011
The dollar of one year ago valued at 100 cents is now worth only about 83 cents. This hidden tax on us is accompanied by price hikes on just about everything we buy for everyday purchases (and all the bigger ones,) and reduces our purchasing power, the ability of pension plans to keep their commitments, and the value of our savings. Notice how groceries often are now in smaller packages, same prices but for less product? Let’s not talk about gas and fuel, everyone knows about that.
O and Co. are a failure in one of their primary duties, to maintain the dollar’s value. By printing $650 billion and releasing it into the the economy, our dollar’s value is reduced. By borrowing 40 cents of every dollar O and Co. spend each day, it further reduces the value of our money. We will pay higher interest rates for future borrowings for those who buy our riskier paper.
The recent negative outlook released by one of the two major investment rating companies only confirms the seriousness of our finances. Yet O plays golf, vacations, and campaigns for re-election only halfway into his first term instead of at least trying to behave as a responsible president should, not to mention his unreliable information that all is well.
EARLE S. RYNSTON