Letters to the Editor - 05.19.11


Likes ‘To Play’
     Shelter Island
    May 17, 2011
Dear David
    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.

Open Vistas
    May 15, 2011
Dear David,
    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.

Southampton Campus
    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.

Die Young
    East Hampton
    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
    East Hampton
    May 7, 2011
Dear Editor,
    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.

Hidden Tax
    East Hampton
    May 13, 2011
Dear David,
    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.