Letters to the Editor - 06.16.11

On the Money
    June 13, 2011
To the Editor,
    Regarding The Star’s “Welcome Surplus” editorial of June 9, not only was the editorial a well-deserved compliment to Bill Wilkinson and Len Bernard, it was right on the money.
    Whereas the feds are all in a mystifying dither as to what to do about the budget deficit, here we have two local folks who realized the seriousness of the town’s deficit problem and went to work immediately to effectuate a solution. It doesn’t get any better than that.
    The Star’s acknowledgement of a fiscal turnaround, as credited to Supervisor Wilkinson and Mr. Bernard, the town budget officer, was a welcome breath of fresh air, particularly the observation that “residents can enjoy lowered taxes and a much surer hand on town finances than in years past.”
    Two years ago most observers, including this resident, believed that we were in for a very rough patch financially. The dire predictions and the figures as published were absolutely mind-boggling. Some folks envisioned a situation similar to what Nassau County is undergoing or to what New York City experienced in the 1970s: massive layoffs, a bond-rating collapse, and, finally, a financial control board appointed to monitor finances.
    Mr. Wilkinson faced fiscal uncertainty and severe economic headwinds, but thanks to a quick, perceptive, and well-reasoned response to the impending debacle our town is now experiencing a soft landing.
    Some folks, as The Star observed, experienced inconvenience or hardship as a result of cost-cutting. It is difficult not to have empathy and compassion for their plight. Yet the thought of what actually could have happened financially in our town without Bill Wilkinson and Len Bernard’s intervention is almost beyond comprehension.
    Perhaps Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will take the time to study the fiscal turnaround occurring in East Hampton and take note of this evolving success story so as to be guided accordingly.

Simple Extortion
    East Hampton
    June 12, 2011
To the Editor:
    What’s happened to the so-called Independence Party? Twice they endorsed and worked for Bill Wilkinson. Now they have endorsed his opponent — a former Bill McGintee financial adviser. (Need I say more?)
    They were on course to again endorse the proven tax-cutter, Bill Wilkinson, until Mr. Behan’s wife screened for a town board nomination for both the Republican and Independence Parties.
    After disclosing that she has been a Democrat for years, she failed to win the G.O.P. nomination. The Republicans had several strong candidates to choose from. The selection was made by secret ballot without electioneering by party leaders. No one told me how to vote for any position.
    The only advocate who spoke for Ms. Behan was Mr. Behan. During his brief statement he angrily suggested that we had better nominate his wife if Mr. Wilkinson wanted the Independence Party endorsement, which somehow Ms. Behan could deliver or withhold.
    To myself and others, this sounded like pure and simple extortion. It lost her my vote and evidently others’ too.
    At a time when Democrats like Weiner and Edwards routinely betray their wives, it is a relief to see Mr. Behan stand by his. But loyalty to his wife’s ambitions is no justification for this kind of political maneuver.
    Let me understand this. If enough of us supported Mrs. Behan, her husband and his new party would nominate and work for Bill Wilkinson. If not, they would endorse and work for the Democrat. Can anyone trust any of their political endorsements now?
    This may serve the Behan family’s political objectives, but what about the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of East Hampton? And what about the real “independent” voters of East Hampton, few of whom are enrolled with the party that pretends to represent them?

    Mr. Wilkinson’s opponent, to whom Mr. Nash refers, is Zachary Cohen. Mr. Cohen volunteered as an unpaid assistant to the East Hampton Town comptroller, whose post was created after the McGintee administration’s financial mis­­management became known. Ed.

Not Fit
    June 11, 2011
Dear David,
    I am conflicted as to whose local political basket to put my one voter egg in. Do I back the current East Hampton Town Supervisor, Willy Wilkinson, or the really smart guy, Zach Cohen, the contender?
    Mr. Cohen has a history of helping, feeding, housing, and saving people money. Mr. Wilkinson’s forte is firing.
    Mr. Wilkinson has racked up big legal bills by thinking he knows what he does not. Mr. Cohen will keep lawyers to a minimum.
    Mr. Cohen has received endorsements across the political spectrum. Mr. Wilkinson retains the support of a few rich, testy Republicans.
    I think I will put it to the Otis test. Otis is a brilliant vizsla-pit bull mix with impeccable judgment. If Otis pees on your leg, you are not fit for public office.
    All good things,

Need People
    East Hampton
    June 13, 2011
To the Editor,
    East Hampton Meals on Wheels needs volunteers now!
    With the program growing larger and a considerable number of our volunteers traveling during the summer, we urgently need people to pack and deliver meals Monday through Friday. These services require only about two hours each week during the morning. Our volunteers also derive enormous satisfaction from helping their neighbors.
    East Hampton Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit organization that receives no federal, state, or local funding, and although we employ two people in the office, volunteers make up the bulk of our program.
    If you are interested in joining this wonderful group of people who are helping the homebound remain in their homes, please call Meals on Wheels today. We look forward to hearing from you.

It Stinks
    June 13,2011
To the Editor,
    Imitation is said to be a sign of flattery but I see it as a total lack of one’s own creativity and imagination.
    My husband and I started our business, Eastender, in 1993 selling our original artwork of local fish at craft and fishing shows up and down the Northeast coast. The focal point of our display was a three-foot-long swordfish sign that read “Eastender Montauk NY.”
    For many years Gail Burkle, Justin Burkle’s mother, bought my shirts for her two sons and family at the Montauk craft fairs. (The Burkle home is two streets away from mine.) Justin has chosen to use the name East Ender by adding NY to it. He also chose to claim a swordfish too as his logo. Legally, it can be done, but ethically it stinks. There are many names to be had and many fish in the sea! He certainly didn’t ponder long over his choices.
    In 1999 Janis Hewitt featured my husband and me in a “Working” column about how we came up with the concept of our local fish T-shirts and forming our company, Eastender. Reading her article about Justin was like déja vu.

    June 13, 2011
To the Editor,
    I just read your article on a “Tale of Two T-Shirts” in this week’s Star and was shocked to read Justin Burkle’s quote, “Why don’t I start my own thing and catch the American Dream?”
    Any Montauker, as he is described in your article, who has been in town for 15 minutes already knows that Eastender T-shirts, mugs, etc., currently exist. The icing on this cake is the swordfish logo.
    I have a collection of East Ender T-shirts and mugs that I bought under the five-foot-long wooden swordfish logo that goes along with the Eastender name at local craft fairs over the years. Taking the name is wrong in itself, but adding the same swordfish as his idea is just a rip-off straight up!
    Thank you,

Made Their Movie
    New York City
    June 13, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    Thank you for sending me John Helmuth’s obituary.
    I feel I must object to the sentences that were added about John’s father: “The senior Mr. Helmuth was a frequent guest at Grey Gardens, the house of the Beale Bouviers, and was known to drive around town performing errands for Big and Little Edie.”
    The Star published Jack Helmuth’s obituary on Feb. 24, 1983. It said nothing about the Beales. What it did say was: “He was known as a kind and generous neighbor. Ralph Carpentier, director of the Marine Museum, recalls that in recent years Mr. Helmuth drove elderly friends and neighbors who could not drive to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, and other appointments.”
    In addition, when Jack knew the Beales (Bouvier was Big Edie’s maiden name), the house was not called Grey Gardens. The Maysles brothers gave the house that name when they made their movie. Maybe you can guess my opinion of the movie, which made Jack look like a weirdo. Would the brothers have made their movie had Little Edie not been Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’s first cousin? No. So, I’m sorry to see The Star name dropping the same way.

In the Details
    Water Mill
    June 6, 2011
To the Editor,
    Mies van der Rohe sold himself short when he said God is in the details. Man’s genius is in the details; God just used his brush to swipe the big picture.
     Ever since, man has been filling in the spaces — the bridges he builds, the buildings, the transportation, electronics. Man is most definitely in the details, which is probably the point. “Let’s see what man can do!”
    Good or bad, ugly or pretentious, an ego-driven statue or a humble straw hut, man excels in the details. The great architect missed this one. Glad he didn’t miss anything in his creations.

I Had Hopes
    Water Mill
    June 13, 2011
To the Editor,
    I can only begin this letter with the word: warning. I have just had probably the worst experience I have ever had in a restaurant, and I have frequented restaurants on the East End, in New York City, and literally all over the world six nights a week for 40 years, and have actually been an owner of one of the few four-star restaurants ever in New York.
    Agave, there, that gets it out right up front! Here is a new restaurant open but a few weeks. It is in the building where Almond was a big winner for many years. I heard it was going to be a Mexican place, and since living in Texas, I have really liked Mexican food, but rarely found great examples in this part of the country. I had hopes.
    On Saturday afternoon I stopped in there around 5 to see when they opened for dinner. On entering an empty room, I saw some guy at the bar with his back to me. I waited for him to turn around, but he didn’t. I then asked if they were open, and his answer over his shoulder was, “What does it look like?” I didn’t know that this little rude guy was, in fact, the owner. Well, we didn’t go there Saturday.
    Tonight, Sunday we did decide to try this place. Four of us arrived at about 8. There were maybe four or five tables occupied. We were seated and ordered drinks from a waitress. About 10 minutes later without drinks yet and not even to take our order, she returned to the table to warn us that there were only two bartenders and two waitresses and the kitchen was slow. We were told it could be 45 minutes for the appetizers.
    I looked around at a less-than-third-full place. Oh well, we said let’s have the drinks and maybe they could bring out some guacamole and chips and we’d wait. She hesitated, and the little rude guy showed up and kind of indicated no about advance guacamole.
    The place was sparsely occupied, and the acoustics are just awful, noisy. I asked if they could turn down the music, if you could call it that. Rude little guy answered in a very arrogant way that the music level was where he wanted it and it would always be that way in his restaurant. I asked if he was the owner, and was told he was.
    I was a bit taken aback by the statement and the really bad attitude by someone who had newly opened or had any time in a restaurant. I asked if that meant he would show us no accommodation, and his answer was, “It is not open to discussion. This is the level I want and that is all there is to it!” He then added to my wife that we are too old to come to his restaurant. The four of us left.
    We then went to Almond in its new place. Upon telling the lady up front there what had transpired at their old location, she said they had heard two similar complaints the same weekend. One couple had waited two hours, had not been served, and left. Later, our waiter had another story about the arrogant, rude little character. Anyway, the rest of the evening at Almond was just great as it always was — ambience, food, service, and attitude.
    Later in the evening I heard from another patron of Agave that the little rude guy’s wife gave him a very public dressing down and told him he should stay behind the bar or in the kitchen where he belongs so as not to sink the place before it gets going.
    There isn’t a restaurant on the East End we have not dined at. Most are good, some are excellent, a few have been disappointing, but never have we been faced with the abject stupidity, arrogance, and rudeness we found at Agave. Be warned. If the little rude guy is not out of sight in the kitchen, you could be in for it.

Such Indiscretions
    East Hampton
    June 6, 2011
To the Editor,
    So now Anthony Weiner has sent some highly inadvisable digital correspondence and lied about it to protect his job and his marriage. The puritan traditions of this country are now demanding that he leave his job and essentially void every good thing he happens to have done before.
    We can’t seem to understand that the inevitable offspring of puritanical posturing is hypocrisy and lies. Ah, but public life is different. Really? How many people in this country have committed minor (or major) sexual indiscretions and then lied about it, or simply covered it up? If everyone who has culpability in this area were to quit their jobs I think the unemployment rates would soar far beyond their current high levels. And now such indiscretions can happen without the parties ever having actually laid eyes upon each other — our brave new world. Isn’t there something about not throwing stones if you live in a glass house, or is it something about casting the first stone? 

An Ideal
    Sag Harbor
    June 9, 2011
To the Editor,
    In this age of weapons of mass destruction, millions have been killed in recent wars, most of whom have been innocent civilians just like us. One cannot remain morally neutral about military service or the institution of war. Conscience is demanded of us all.    
    Many people think they should follow the views of their nation or their religion or their family. Few people have ever seriously examined the issue of war and come to their own personal decision in regard to it. In the past national election, war was not even considered an issue.
    War for many is an abstraction, even an ideal, or is seen as a destiny or duty. Where has war taken us today?
    In peace,

    East Hampton
    June 11, 2011
To the Editor,
    If one looks at the Democratic Party as cowardly whiners and the Republican party as brain-dead trash, we can take the political component of reviving the economy out of the equation.
    Perhaps the most serious offense committed by both parties and by President Obama was lying about the depth of the economic crisis. Unwilling to tell the general public that we had entered into a depression and that the process for recovery was going to be long and hard, our politicians candy-coated the crisis and sent out a message that we were well out of the woods and on our way to recovery. This misrepresentation, or lie to be more exact, gave the public a distorted sense of economic realities and unrealistically raised expectations. The truth is sometimes difficult to swallow but it is the primary component in solving the problem.
    The current condition of the American people is massive debt, high unemployment, insufficient wages, and minimal demand. Ending a depression or recession necessitates an influx of money (ie., demand) into the system.
    Demand for products creates jobs, which creates more demand. Jobs are created by the public and private sectors. In the public sector governments on all levels infuse money into infrastructure, education, etc., by incurring debt or by transferring money from those who have it to those who don’t. In the private sector demand for products and profits is the motivating factor for creating jobs.
    The current crisis has seen government investment in the form of stimulus programs create a substantial number of jobs but barely a pittance with respect to the seriousness of the crisis. The private sector, however, despite the highest level of profits in the nation’s history, has categorically refused to increase hiring. In fact, it had stopped hiring five years before the crisis actually hit. Furthermore, the banking industry has refused to make credit available to the private sector, which further inhibits its ability to create jobs.
    In essence, the government stimulus was barely 25 percent of what the crisis demanded, and the private sector’s attitude of total self-absorption, or “screw America,” reflects the conundrum in resolving the problem. Without either sector’s genuine participation we remain deeply in the crapper.
    One solution lies in the essential socialistic nature of our tax structure. The federal government has always taken all federal income taxes, thrown them into a pool and doled the monies out as a function of need. Rich states helped out poor states and even enacted a wide range of local and sales taxes to accomplish the job. States like New York, California, New Jersey, and Connecticut get less than 75 cents for every dollar they pay. Almost every “red” state, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alaska, etc., gets between $1.40 and $2.50 for their $1 contribution.
    So if the rich states can pay for the poorer states, why can’t income be redistributed from the top 2 percent of the country to the bottom 98 percent, say $3 trillion as a round amount? This would create an enormous internal stimulus that would cost 98 percent of the taxpayers zero. The burden would fall on those taxpayers who have benefited the most (and disproportionately) over the past 30 years. Since most of the nation’s profits accrue to the top 2 percent, the $3 trillion would really be a temporary loan. In this case, banks like Goldman Sachs would be betting that the economy would succeed rather than being in favor of its failing.
    Deficit reduction, in its profound stupidity, could be junked since it would serve to extend the downturn even further and we could stop whining about regulation because it would be making even more money.
    So take the politicians out of the economic recovery, which seems beyond their comprehension, and provide all the necessary laxatives to flush corporate America from their colons and maybe they will have the courage to do the right thing and save the country for the 98 percent of us who are in the crapper and sinking rapidly.

Herd of Swine
    New York City
    June 10, 2011
To the Editor,
    The hogs are feeding. Especially after George W. Bush (43) entered office. That level of greed and opportunism was never seen before and it was out of control. The same herd of swine returned to gorge themselves repeatedly after George W. entered the Oval Office, with consequences that the nation will endure for at least a decade.
    Everything that happened in the Obama administration was the result of all of George W. Bush’s conniving. Yes, a very bad man. We have years to go on his horrible legacy. Do not blame Barack Obama; it’s like blaming Bill Clinton for his surplus.
    Praise the idiot (43) for his indebtedness, which will cost us money well after Mr. Obama has gone. Thank George W. Bush. He has made us all losers, much like himself.
    All the best,