October 8, 2012
To the Editor,
It’s always distressing to me to read about bullying, but so much worse to read when a kid is so hurt by the abuse that he kills himself to make the pain go away. Anybody who calls a kid a “fag” or a “queer” may have learned the hate at home from parents. When I was young, I was punished exactly twice by my father: once when I used the word “nigger” and once when I used the word “queer.” At the time, I had no idea at all what I was saying or the implications of it, but for sure I never did it again — ever.
So I strongly suggest that East Hampton High School and Middle School have a series of sessions for parents of all the kids in the school — the parents need to learn what is okay and what is not. The parents need to be made aware of what can happen when a kid is singled out. The parents need to know that if they are bigoted, it will not be tolerated in their kids.
Also, if the school systems in the United States focused more on the arts and less on athletics, maybe sensitive kids would be better understood and at least have a place to turn to where other sensitive kids can be found: in the closet, but safe, with fellow caring, accepting travelers on their difficult road.
What Is ‘Acceptable’
October 6, 2012
Thank you for your compassionate editorial and coverage of the tragic suicide of David Hernandez Barros, an East Hampton High School 16-year-old who apparently was or was perceived by others as gay — and was bullied for it.
And thank you, Andrew Bennett, for writing a gutsy and honest letter revealing your own suicidal thoughts when at East Hampton High School and for your cri de coeur to stop bullying and harassment of those who are different.
As bullying statistics indicate — and as I see reinforced as I speak around the country on the theme of acceptance of diversity — bullying is getting worse in American schools. It is becoming clearer to me and to others that the “bystander” to harassment is a critical player here: the bully usually needs an audience. There is much that the bystander can do to help, including reporting the bullying incident to authorities, anonymously if that feels safest. But in most incidents the bystander is either just relieved not to be the one who is bullied, or reluctant to confront the bully, or to come to the aid of the victim, for fear of standing out from the crowd.
I must admit that in the eighth grade I was a bully. Having picked the longest straw in a five-girl huddle in the junior high school playground, I instantly became president of the “I Hate Carole Club.” I was thrilled. I had never been president of anything before. I wanted to fit in with these four most-popular girls. It never occurred to me that our teasing of Carole was “bullying.” No one ever spoke to me of it; neither parent, teacher, friend, or clergy ever brought it up.
I never thought that what we did was unkind or how miserable it must have made Carole’s life at the time. I feel guilty to this day. I even tried (with no success), to find Carole on Facebook to apologize.
Everyone wants to fit in and be accepted by their peers. It can be so hard to stand up to the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world who call their targets “girly-men,” or to the self-appointed arbiters of who is a “slut,” which disability makes one “weird,” what is the “proper” weight and body type, which race or religion is the “right” one, what is “acceptable” on the continuum between the binaries masculinity and femininity.
My heart goes out to the family of David Hernandez Barros. I long for a time when diversity is truly celebrated.
Ms. Stein is the president of Have Art: Will Travel! for Gender Justice, a New York City organization. Ed.
A Real Shame
October 2, 2012
To the Editor:
Hamptons film fest: too cool for the locals.
For 18 years I have been a fan of the Hamptons International Film Festival, a wonderful event to look forward to as the seasons change. Over the years I’ve attended and enjoyed so much of its programming. I even screened a short film of my own there one year, and it was such an exciting experience to screen in my hometown.
But my favorite part of HIFF has always been the local “free day” it used to put on the day after the fest, a lovely gesture of good will to a community that welcomed the festival each fall. After the crowds had departed and empty parking spots reappeared, a group of friends and I would gather in the morning for breakfast in East Hampton, review the screenings for the day, and make our selections.
Between films, we’d grab a coffee or a snack, and at the end we’d all go for dinner and recap the day’s viewings. It was a real treat and seemed a fitting acknowledgement to the community, and a way for them to experience the enrichment of the programming — think of the people who were working all weekend pouring cocktails for the festival crowd at the local restaurants and bars. Sadly, for the second year, HIFF has abandoned their screening day for locals.
A film festival is more than a venue for filmmakers to share their work and draw industry crowds; it is a community affair, one where local businesses sponsor and support the arts, where local communities host the artists and audiences and show off their town. A film festival can be, at the best ones I’ve attended, a real coming together of community. The free day for locals at the culmination of Hamptons fest was a special part of that spirit, and the fact that I just called its office to see if it was happening this year and was told, “No, they stopped doing that. They want to charge for all screenings,” is a real shame.
It feels like so much of the Hamptons (including my part, Montauk) have been hijacked for the opportunity to squeeze a buck wherever possible, and the simple ways businesses and locals used to support each other are eroding rapidly.
I sincerely hope those in charge at the festival will rethink their decision and bring this tradition back to the community who helped them build their festival in the first place.
October 7, 2012
To the Editor,
Bravo to the Hamptons Film Festival for selling so many Founders passes and shutting out ordinary ticket holders. How wonderful to stand on line for over an hour as the V.I.P. ticket-holders pass you and enter the theater while you remain outside like you are invisible.
Farewell to you after 20 years of supporting this festival. Certainly I will not be missed, but I will not miss being mistreated.
October 6, 2012
To the Editor,
Regarding the Oct. 4 “Relay” by Janis Hewitt:
Whereas I make no case whatsoever for the hollow-eyed damsels on the train, perhaps this season could be glimpsed through the lens of those designers who seek to add charm, allure, pizzazz, that je ne sais quoi to the ingrained and steady diet of jeans and floppy cardigan.
Perhaps as well there’s an aspirational message over and above the need to sell (new, updated, revisited, call it what you will) clothing: dressing for an occasion. After all, if the adjacent ad is for, say, Louis Vuitton luggage — sported by the jeans-and-floppy-cardigan guy and gal and sophisticate alike — self-presentation is the evident message.
Just a thought as there’s room for all manner of dress and expression in clothing and ideas. All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
October 1, 2012
As the race directors for the Hamptons Marathon and half marathon (held on Sept. 29), we wanted to thank this most-incredible community for all of the help and support we received. From our neighbors in Springs who stood in their driveways to cheer the runners on, to the East Hampton Boy Scouts and the Springs Booster Club kids who manned water stations, to the Springs School Girl’s Tennis Team’s help the day before the race, everyone banded together to help make the day a huge success!
We’d love the opportunity to thank Lt. A.J. McGuire and the entire East Hampton police force for their terrific job in helping keep the runners safe with traffic open and flowing on our country roads.
This is an amazing community and we are so blessed to be a part of it. We look forward to November when we can present our donations to Project MOST, Southampton Hospital, and the East Hampton Day Care Center.
Cheers and happy running,
Into Our Aquifer
October 8, 2012
Please ask Kevin McAllister to stop wasting his breath. I don’t think that most of the East Hampton Town Board have any idea where he’s coming from. At a public hearing last month (quoted in today’s Newsday) Kevin “urged the board to upgrade the plant and operate it as a municipal facility, saying that while it might be the most costly option, any other alternative would add to the degradation of groundwater and the bays.”
He has to know that most members of the board haven’t considered or have no understanding about the link between the future being of our scavenger waste plant and probable degradation of our groundwater and our abutting ocean and bay and other waters.
No doubt that every member of our town board is concerned about the future of the scavenger waste plant, but how can they even consider whether to rebuild it or privatize its operation and thereby surely expand it?
This whole situation is frightening to me — and should be to this community. Any action, other than a very temporary solution as to how and where our cesspool waste is dumped, has to be put on hold until the Department of Environmental Conservation and all other agencies and experts give us the results of “futures” studies.
I’ve issued this same warning at several recent town board meetings, reminding the board that East Hampton is a very narrow slit of land where a major portion is less than three miles from ocean to bay. Indeed, when you reach the Napeague stretch and then easterly to Montauk you dwindle down to zero feet.
So, how can a leadership body consider any permanent action on the plant when no studies have been undertaken which would assure all of us that the land mass that’s being dumped upon by the wastewater discharge can absorb that wastewater? How much additional wastewater can be absorbed and adequately filtered on its long downward journey into our aquifer and along the surface on its very short journey into the ocean, into the bay, and into the ponds and streams?
It’s frightening when you consider all the ramifications of my concerns and recommendation for a futures study. As an example, what happens when a futures study shows that we are already at full volume capacity for wastewater discharge? Does that mean that development has to come to a halt? Does it mean that new filtration techniques must be put in place before we take another step to resolve the matter?
A piece of advice to our board, who despite the rhetoric of a couple who probably know less than I do about water matters, is that it get after the D.E.C. to give it data to answer the questions that I’ve presented.
September 30, 2012
My nephew, Clive, needs something to fill his time. Politics interests Clive. He is a registered Republican based on a fondness for the color red and elephants. Clive had a fish named Romney.
Clive is intrigued by volunteering as a “subordinate” to the Republican East Hampton Town supervisor, assuming a spiffy uniform.
Clive looked in the East Hampton 2012 Yellow Book. Under East Hampton for local government listing, there are none.
There is no listing in the 2012 East Hampton Yellow Book under East Hampton for its local government. You can find the town clerk’s number on the last page of the book.
Clive has recently decided to become a Democrat, newly drawn to the color blue, donkeys, and a fish named “Obama.” The bulb is brighter.
All good things,
October 9, 2012
Responsibility: being answerable or accountable involving duties or obligations.
In your excellent story headlined “Sturm and Drang,” concerning the Rte. 114 farmland drainage project (Oct. 4), Councilwoman Theresa Quigley is quoted as “demanding accountability at all levels” from town government, but then, together with Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, they back away from their own inclusion by throwing up the smokescreen of “political motivation,” questioning the performance of town staff, and calling — again — for the bureaucratic panacea of “restructuring.” This is despite creditable reporting that errors or failures in communicating were not those of staff.
So it was good to read that, in vivid contrast, Councilman Van Scoyoc, who inherited responsibility for this project when he took office in January, chose the high road when he refused to point fingers or blame individuals. Instead, he has accepted the responsibility of his elected office and is meeting — amicably, not in a hostile way — with the county and is working toward a compromise agreement, taking responsibility, saying, in effect, “the buck stops here.”
October 8, 2012
To the Editors,
I left the town board’s Sept. 20 public hearing on the traffic-reduction plan for our neighborhood feeling bewildered and frustrated. I wasn’t exactly sure why until I watched the video of the meeting. Then it became clear that my neighbors and I were wedged into the position of having to answer for that plan.
Let’s be clear on the background: Residents of Miller Lane, Indian Hill Road, and Miller Lanes East and West have complained to the town for decades about a worsening, three-fold problem: too much overall traffic, speeding vehicles of all kinds, and too many large trucks. Our neighborhood has narrow streets, no sidewalks, no shoulders in places, and poor site distance around the curves — a potentially dangerous situation made far worse by the neighborhood’s popularity as a shortcut around the traffic light at Cedar and North Main streets. Children from the Oakview trailer park and Whalebone Woods walk and bike through our neighborhood, as do the families living here. In the last couple of years, the problem has worsened to the point where we fear for the lives of residents and passing children.
Most recently, we approached Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the board’s committee on public safety, and asked for her help. We described the problem. Within several weeks, we were told the town engineer, with input from police and other town officials, had hit on a solution: a ban on through traffic and a second ban on trucks heavier than nine tons. The plan was scheduled for a public hearing by a unanimous vote of the board.
This bears repeating: The residents of my neighborhood didn’t propose these measures; we merely described the three-fold problem and took it on good faith that the town’s experts believed the measures would help.
Based on those assurances, 80 residents signed a petition in favor of enacting the dual bans. The petition noted that signs alone wouldn’t be sufficient; it asked for enforcement as well. Six more neighbors who were out of town during the petition drive came forward after the hearing to also express their support — that’s 86 in total.
Four people, who don’t live in the neighborhood, have publicly opposed the plan based on the argument that banning through traffic would be tantamount to privatizing taxpayer-funded roads.
At the hearing, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson asked my neighbors and me how we would respond to that. I essentially called it silly. But now, having looked at the video of that hearing, I realize I answered out of frustration when the question is, in fact, a legal one. I’m not a lawyer. Why didn’t Mr. Wilkinson ask the town attorney, John Jilnicki, to respond? Mr. Jilnicki was sitting right there.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione asked my neighbors and me what we would do if the dual bans didn’t work. I said we’d return with requests for additional measures. Again, I was answering out of frustration. I’m not a civil or traffic engineer. I can’t say with any expertise what the most effective solutions might be. Why wouldn’t Mr. Stanzione ask the town’s own engineer, police chief, or other experts why these two particular measures were proposed above all others and what the town should do if they were to fail?
Supervisor Wilkinson closed the hearing by suggesting we may be disappointed with whatever action the board eventually takes. Was he saying the board was now reconsidering its own proposal? Based on what?
If it is, what does the board now intend to do to address this dangerous situation in a meaningful way before someone is killed?
JULIA C. MEAD
October 4, 2012
To the Editor,
So far this year 167 people have died from West Nile virus. Neurotoxicity has affected more then half of those made ill. Those over 50, the very young, and those with impaired immune systems are most vulnerable.
Sue Avedon, in her letter to the editor (Oct. 4), states the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has confirmed a link between methoprene and resmethrin and a lobster die-off. I believe they made no such finding. This is untrue.
She states the virus causing West Nile is found in freshwater wetlands, not saltwater wetlands. The virus, in fact, comes from birds that mosquitoes feed on both in areas of freshwater and saltwater.
Ms. Avedon then asks the town board, based on her misinformation, to influence the Suffolk County Department of Health to prohibit spraying. It’s the inmates running the asylum. The Department of Health with its vastly wider knowledge should be making the decisions and giving us guidance. The trustees and town board shouldn’t be responding to misinformation and honestly felt but unfounded fears.
Side of Caution
October 1, 2012
To the Editor,
In response to Gerald Lutzer’s letter in last week’s Star regarding the spraying of a chemical called methoprene on our salt marshes by Suffolk County Vector Control, I must clarify a few of his misstatements and add some information that he and the general public might find of interest. This is a lengthy letter, so I apologize in advance.
Let me start by saying that I am currently an East Hampton Town Trustee. Dr. Lutzer was correct in saying that I was not speaking on behalf of the East Hampton Town Trustees when I spoke before the town board on September the 11th or when the article he referenced appeared in The Star. I can tell you that as of Sept. 18 I do speak on behalf of the trustees when I say that the 2012 board of East Hampton Town Trustees does not support or condone the use of methoprene for mosquito larva control on our marshlands, and will be notifying Suffolk County Vector Control of this fact.
We are not the only board that opposes the use of methoprene. The 2007 East Hampton Town Board passed a resolution informing Suffolk County that they opposed the use of methoprene in East Hampton. The 2008 board of trustees also notified Suffolk County of the same. In fact, the legislators for all five East End towns voted no to the Suffolk County Vector Control and Wetlands Management Long Term Plan, which includes methoprene as the main control for mosquito larvae. There was strong opposition to this plan, and four members of Suffolk’s Council on Environmental Quality resigned in 2007 after its adoption. In addition, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has proposed legislation (yearly) to ban the use of methoprene for larval mosquito control in New York.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not to misconstrue facts, or misquote and twist people’s words. Dr. Lutzer quoted me, from the Sept. 20 issue of The Star, as saying, “I don’t think a few cases of West Nile warrants spraying of our marshland,” but he left out the rest of the quote, “with a chemical that is potentially deadly to arthropods and beneficial insects. There’s a whole environmental question. It is deadly to the insects that it is targeting as well as lobsters and crabs. The biggest thing in my mind is alternatives, and why we are not using them.” He forgot those very important points. How rude and misleading of Dr. Lutzer. Why did he do that? Is it because he is a psychiatrist and likes to play head games, or does he just like methoprene?
I will reiterate: We should not use the chemical methoprene (trade name: Altosid) to control mosquito larvae in our marshlands, especially when there are highly effective alternatives, including integrated pest management and the biological control agent bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (BTi), which Suffolk County uses. BTi has been safely used worldwide for decades. It has no negative effects on the environment or its inhabitants, unless you are a mosquito or a black fly, that is.
BTi is one of the safest ways to control mosquito larvae. Methoprene, on the other hand, is a chemical hormone mimicker that regulates growth. It inhibits molting and progression to the next developmental life stage of mosquito larva. Methoprene is highly effective, in terms of cost and kill factor, in reducing the population of mosquitoes. It is also effective in killing a variety of insects and harming or killing many non-target species.
A Stony Brook University study states “greater persistence of methoprene in sediments suggests that chronic effects on infaunal organisms should also be assessed.” Shellfish are infaunal organisms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methoprene can be very highly acutely toxic to estuarine and marine invertebrates. Methoprene is moderately toxic or deadly to some fish, slightly toxic to others, and can accumulate in fish tissue. It is also toxic to amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Methoprene is moderately toxic to crustaceans such as shrimp and lobsters and may kill crabs. It is thought to be a factor in the 1999 lobster die-off. Lobsters, like mosquitoes, are arthropods, and share similar life-history traits. It stands to reason that what affects one arthropod affects the other. This past summer, methoprene was found in the tissue of sick lobsters in the Long Island Sound. Maine has a $200 million-plus lobster industry and does not allow the coastal use of methoprene.
There is no definitive science that proves methoprene to be safe for marine or freshwater inhabitants. We do not have a complete understanding of the effect of methoprene on non-target species, but new research is showing effects that are troublesome. There is potential for significant environmental impacts, and this is unacceptable. It is irresponsible and wrong to use methoprene on our marshlands, especially since there are alternatives that are effective and safe. Safe for both the environment and for the protection of public health.
Although Dr. Lutzer says he has researched this topic considerably, it is clear that he did not complete his research, because if he did, he would have known that there are readily available safe and effective alternatives to methoprene. His statement, “I will happily leave the decision making regarding what is the safest and most effective spray material to use to those charged with protecting the public health,” leads me to believe that he should be furious with Vector Control because it is not using the safest or most effective material available. Maybe they are using the most (short-term) cost-effective approach, but I don’t know.
Didn’t we once leave it to the so-called experts on public (and environmental) health, who chose to bombard the planet with DDT? The Suffolk County Mosquito Control Commission regularly sprayed DDT throughout Long Island. Thank goodness Rachel Carson opened the public’s eyes to the dangers of DDT It was the Suffolk County Legislature that first banned DDT, after a Long Island attorney filed suit. Question authority, especially those who are involved with massive chemical companies.
Some claim that methoprene is completely safe. I claim that there is an alarming lack of scientific agreement regarding the safety of methoprene in the aquatic and marine environments. Until we can be shown conclusively that methoprene is safe, we should not be using it. Best to err on the side of caution, one would think, especially since there are alternatives and also because we are a seaside fishing community, whose economy is largely centered on the health of the marine environment.
Another major issue I have with the application of methoprene to our salt marshes, to control the West Nile virus, is that although all mosquitoes are capable of transmitting disease, the mosquito that carries the West Nile virus is very, very rarely found in our salt marshes. Between 2000 and 2007 over 13,000 saltwater mosquito pools across the state were tested for the West Nile virus by the New York State Department of Health. They found only one instance of West Nile in the saltwater marshes. Therefore the use of methoprene to control West Nile is unwarranted, especially since there are alternatives.
In his letter, Dr. Lutzer states he is “appreciative and thankful of the vector control professionals” spraying methoprene on the Napeague marshlands abutting his home. But let’s be perfectly clear here, we are talking about nuisance control in tidal wetlands and not the protection of public health, and that is a distinction that must be acknowledged. Like Dr. Lutzer, I am all for spraying, but not methoprene. I even sort of, kind of, understand his desire to move into a marshland and then want to kill some of the inhabitants of the marshland because they are a nuisance. However, in order to protect the health of the environment and the people, I believe, as do countless others, that we should use the safest form of mosquito control possible. We should use methods that are safe and effective — while not detrimental to the environment or its inhabitants, including the human inhabitants who live in a salt marsh.
West Nile virus is a very serious disease that must be controlled. Dr. Lutzer is doing a disservice to our community by spreading misinformation and by stating that I believe otherwise. I think someone owes someone else an apology or at least a retraction. I wonder if Dr. Lutzer has heard of resistance. I’m sure, as a “physician,” he has. Mosquitoes can develop resistance to methoprene. Shall we ask the good doctor if we should increase the dosage? There are questions of misuse and persistence of methoprene in the environment as well. The burden of proof should be on the chemical manufacturers to prove its safety before we disperse it throughout the marshlands and elsewhere.
Dr. Lutzer ends his letter with, “The avoidance of inoculations against childhood diseases because of unsound fears of autism and other dangers are a sad example of what happens when well-meaning but not trained or knowledgeable people make public pronouncements that sometimes lead to poor public policy.” To set the record straight, I do not believe that inoculations cause autism, but I could be wrong as I know very little on the subject.
I do, however, know quite a bit about the environment, marine science and conservation, sustainability, public policy, and even methoprene. There are many, many other elected officials, state and county workers, environmentalists, conservationists, and inhabitants of East Hampton who are quite knowledgeable on this topic and who also oppose the use of methoprene for mosquito control. Some of our inhabitants cannot speak for themselves, so I hope I have done them justice. Hey, Doc, feel free to contact me if you need further clarification or other useful information.
Race in America
October 6, 2012
To the Editor,
Ah, the issue of race in America is so confusing. We have an African-American president and first lady, high-level African-Americans are scattered throughout our national and local governments and businesses, yet a New York Times 92-page advertising supplement of American law firms shows photos of hundreds of prominent lawyers but not one of them is an African-American. Not one.
JOSEPH D. POLICANO
October 8, 2012
I just read Rhoda Bation’s letter to the editor in the Oct. 4 East Hampton Star. I may not be able to disabuse her of the notion that the Affordable Care Act is “one of the worst things to hit this country in a long time,” but hopefully I will be able to correct several erroneous statements she presented as facts.
In the first paragraph she states that “doctors will be assigned to taking care of the 30 million previously uninsured.” The Affordable Care law creates a mechanism by which the previously uninsured will be able to obtain health insurance. It makes no provisions for assigning patients to doctors or assigning doctors to patients. In fact, the health law does nothing to change the relationship between doctors and their patients. Patients who obtain health insurance as a result of the act will have the latitude to select their own physicians.
Also in the first paragraph, she makes reference to “this idea of socialized medicine.” The law changes some of the rules surrounding the availability of health insurance. It does not change the current market for physician or hospital services. It makes no provision for government employment of physicians or government operation of hospitals, which is a typical element of socialized medicine as it exists in Great Britain, Canada, and some other countries. Our historic free market for physician and hospital services remains in place under the law. (It is noteworthy, however, that many countries with socialized medicine have healthier populations than we do in the U.S., as measured by such statistics as infant mortality, life expectancy, etc.)
In the second paragraph she stipulates that “there just aren’t enough hospital beds or doctors to go around now. . . .” In fact, most people involved with the delivery of health care services believe that we have more hospital beds than we need today. This is in part due to the fact that compared to 20 or 30 years ago, patients receive more of their care outside the hospital. There are fewer hospital admissions today per 100,000 people. Further, patients’ length of stay in hospitals is much shorter than it was two or three decades ago.
In fact, Southampton Hospital needs fewer hospital beds today than it did in the past, even though the population on the East End has increased in recent years. With respect to the comment about the number of doctors, many health care professionals believe that the problem is better described as a maldistribution of physicians. This maldistribution is both geographic in nature and specialty related, since many medical students chose more lucrative specialties over primary care and doctors generally prefer to practice in the affluent parts of urban centers.
In the third paragraph she mentions “the $716 billion that is being stolen from Medicare. . . .” To understand this transaction, one must first appreciate that Medicare pays a substantial portion of the cost associated with training residents after they have completed medical school. This Medicare payment goes to hospitals that train residents based in part upon the number of residents and Medicare patient days each hospital generates.
Years ago, when Medicare was revised to enable Medicare recipients to obtain Medicare coverage through health maintenance organizations and other insurance vehicles, Medicare calculated its payments to the H.M.O.s and insurance companies to include those resident training costs. However, the H.M.O.s and insurance companies did not pass those payments on to the teaching hospitals. Instead, those payments contribute to the profits generated by the H.M.O.s and insurance companies. Since those payments were never designed to cover the cost of patient care and since the H.M.O.s and insurance companies were not using that money to support the training of residents, it is appropriate that those payments to the H.M.O.s and insurance companies be discontinued. Discontinuation of those payments has nothing to do with payments that cover the health care costs of Medicare beneficiaries.
The $716 billion reduction in the Medicare budget will not affect the funds available to pay for the health care consumed by Medicare patients. (Many believe this subsidy of insurance company profits should have been eliminated years ago. However, the insurance lobby in Washington is so powerful, these payments remained in place. It was only with the prospect of insurance companies’ enrolling 30 million new patients that they were willing to forego this $716 billion payment without a political battle.)
In 1965, the U.S. enacted Medicare, which made health care available to millions of senior citizens. The Affordable Care Act will similarly make health insurance and health care available to millions of people who do not have health insurance today. Just as the health status of senior citizens has improved dramatically since 1965, as evidenced by improved mortality rates, we will see improved health status in people who previously did not have access to primary care and other health services. The law is the most important piece of health care legislation enacted in this country since 1965.
I have been an adviser to hospitals and medical schools for 30 years. For the past five years I have been a member of the board of directors of Southampton Hospital. I appreciate this opportunity to clear up several misconceptions regarding the Affordable Care Act.
Very truly yours,
October 2, 2012
Bill Fleming’s letter in The Star of Sept. 27 mentioned Paul Ryan running for both his House seat and the vice presidential office. Mr. Fleming stated, “Not since L.B.J. can I remember a vice presidential candidate running for his House or Senate seat while running for vice president.”
Joe Lieberman of Connecticut did it as a Democrat in 2000 for both his Senate seat and the vice presidency because his state’s constitution permitted it.
October 8, 2012
We all know the position the National Rifle Association takes with regard to the personal ownership of handguns: Every citizen should keep a handgun or something larger like an AR-15 or AK-47 at home to protect family, hearth, home, or anything else we think needs protecting.
What the N.R.A. really doesn’t want to discuss or acknowledge is the fact that there are three times more homicides in homes where there are guns and five times more suicides in gun-owning homes. Having had more than my fair share of exposure to weapons while serving our country a long time ago, my family will pass on gun ownership.
Separately, if you are, for example, a General Electric employee working in New Jersey, your New Jersey state withholding tax is given to G.E. Yes, it is. G.E. takes your New Jersey state tax deduction as a credit on its state income taxes. The result is that G.E. gets a free ride and, in effect, all other New Jersey residents have to make up the difference in the tax income shortfall. This is true in 18 other states as well. And G.E. is not the only multinational that gets this break. The typical corporate leverage, or incentive, is that if you want them to open an office or a new plant, then this is what they want — and they typically get it.
October 8, 2012
To the Editor,
Why not to vote against Tim Bishop: Many voters are upset that our congressman had his daughter ask for a campaign contribution from a voter who asked him to cut through red tape for his son’s birthday party. Hey, that’s not right, and though it is a mistake, it isn’t the major issue the press has made it out to be.
Other similar issues are old news by now — the family members on the Southampton College payroll, the rent-free school his wife ran on the campus, his poor management as head of our college that led to its closing, his blind loyalty to the most-left leadership of his party. More recent is his refusal to listen to his constituents who opposed replacing Medicare with a plan where the government can overrule the judgment of their doctors. No, as upsetting as these issues are, the most important reason to defeat Mr. Bishop and elect Randy Altschuler is what he has not done!
Suffolk County is suffering. Our major private employers have closed one by one — and we have not attracted new ones. Our fishing industry is harassed and curtailed by job-killing regulations similar to those that have sky-rocketed gas prices and put thousands out of work. Homebuilding and real estate are almost stagnant because banks are not free to make loans to encourage buyers, sellers, and builders. Other businesses from farming to retailing and tourism are hampered by increasing restrictions and threats of new taxation. Our sons and daughters finish their education and must leave our town and their families to pursue careers or even to get decent jobs. These are the issues Tim Bishop has ignored, and which justifies his defeat at the polls.
Our real issues are a miniature of what the country faces as a whole. And the solution is the same. Professional politicians may know all the tricks of getting elected, but it take business experience to create jobs and attract revenue. Mr. Altschuler has it; Mr. Bishop doesn’t — and that’s reason enough to ignore party labels this year.
October 5, 2012
To the Editor,
We have been reading how Nepotism Tim Bishop has been manipulating constituent assistance to benefit his campaign fund-raising as well as his daughter’s company which is the fund-raising arm for his campaigns.
Now, thanks to Capt. Joe McBride’s letter in last week’s Star, we have learned how Nepotism Tim uses or misuses legislation to raise campaign funds.
Captain McBride’s enlightening letter tells how Nepotism Tim contacted the Montauk Boatmen in 2010, saying he would propose legislation to benefit the sportfishermen in Montauk and New York State.
Naturally, the association attended Nepotism Tim’s fund-raisers and donated to his campaigns thinking they had found a champion for their cause.
What Nepotism Tim was doing was giving the Montauk Boatmen, what is called in football, a head fake.
Nepotism Tim proposed the legislation, then let it die in committee. Clearly he had discovered a new campaign fund-raising target. And more work for his fund-raising arm.
After two years of silence, and with his election coming up, Nepotism Tim, knowing a good money-raising issue, contacted the Boatmen’s Association again, saying he was ready again to propose the legislation.
According to Captain McBride’s letter, Nepotism Tim added their legislation as a rider to some sportsmen’s legislation and when it came up for a vote, he withdrew the Montauk Boatmen’s bill. Then he voted against the sportsmen’s legislation. Excuse me for retelling the story but it is important.
The sportfishing industry is one of the economic mainstays of Montauk and East Hampton Town. This legislation could have had important economic benefits for our town. Yet, Nepotism Tim, who promised to support this legislation, killed it when it came to a vote.
If one reads Captain McBride’s letter carefully, one comes away with the conclusion that Nepotism Tim had no intention of supporting any sportsmen’s legislation but was only interested in milking our Montauk Boatmen for campaign contributions.
The question is obvious: Why did our Nepotism Tim do more to secure a fireworks permit for one individual contributor than for our charter boat captains who support a major industry in East Hampton?
Our congressman has done nothing to promote either the recreational or commercial fishing industry in our town or New York State. Montauk has been the sporting and commercial fishing capitol of New York State for many years and with all the difficulties those industries face, Nepotism Tim has done nothing to protect their interests.
Clearly, his only interest has been using the false promise of favorable legislation for our sportsfishing industry to raise campaign funds for his election.
It is shocking to discover that Nepotism Tim is a legislative scam artist using the interests of one of our town’s major industries to raise campaign funds for legislation he has no intention of seeing passed.
Off the Cliff
October 8, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
What is it with Democrats and campaign finance scandals? Democrats are the ones that always call for more campaign finance laws and regulations and prattle on about special-interest money influencing elections, yet, it is my experience they are the ones that routinely break the laws.
It is against federal law for campaigns to solicit and accept campaign contributions from foreign nationals. Remember Bill Clinton and Al Gore scooping up cash from the Buddhist monks? The Democratic National Committee was subsequently charged with violating this federal law and had to return all of the money. In Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, a fawning and complicit press looked the other way as foreign money poured into that campaign. Now, in 2012, an explosive report from the Government Accountability Institute shows clearly how Mr. Obama once again is aggressively soliciting and collecting foreign contributions in direct violation of federal law.
And right here on the East End, Tim Bishop, a Democrat, is embroiled in a pay-to-play scandal that has earned him the ranking of one of the most corrupt politicians in Congress by the nonpartisan ethics watch dog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The United States is at a tipping point, about to be driven off the cliff by Mr. Bishop and Mr. Obama. East End residents are reeling from soaring gas and food prices, high unemployment, policies that are devastating our fishing and farming businesses, and budget-busting health insurance rates courtesy of Obama-Bishop-care.
We don’t need scandal-ridden, corrupt politicians dictating economic and liberty-crushing policies. Our country is desperate for smart, successful, and principled representation in Washington. So, on Election Day, vote for real change and integrity. Vote for Randy Altschuler for Congress and Mitt Romney for president.
Tell Us, Mr. Bishop
October 5, 2012
To the Editor:
We know that Tim Bishop has voted for every wild spending scheme that Barack Obama has proposed. He voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program. He voted for the multi-trillion dollar stimulus bills that, in reality, are a gigantic political slush fund for Mr. Obama’s re-election effort. He supported Obamacare, even though he knew it takes over $700 billion out of Medicare. And on and on.
But what about Mr. Bishop’s taking on the innumerable executive orders and mandates issued by Mr. Obama and his dozen of czars? Does he support the Health and Human Services mandate that forces churches to provide abortion and contraception materials that violate their most deeply held beliefs? Does he support Mr. Obama’s executive order eliminating the work requirement from the welfare reform, or the one ordering border officials not to enforce the immigration laws?
Mr. Obama is supposed to present these moves to Congress as bills to be debated and voted on, but he doesn’t. He ignores Constitutional processes and issues dictate instead. So please tell us, Mr. Bishop, do you support these radical and unprecedented usurpations of power? Are you upset that Congress has been left out of the process, behavior that is technically an impeachable offense? Or should we take your silence to mean that you approve of these dictatorial actions?
We do know that your opponent, Randy Altschuler, is opposed to these power grabs and to the insane levels of spending and debt resulting from them. And we know that he has a track record of success in the real world, where budgets have to be met and promises kept. That, in brief, is why I’m voting for Mr. Altschuler and why I urge my fellow citizens to do the same.
All You’ve Done
October 5, 2012
As I finished pumping gas into my vehicle today, the $63 numbers came into focus, and I thought, “Thank you, Mr. Bishop, for all you’ve done to make it easier to live on the East End. Oh, actually, that isn’t true, is it?”
As a military widow on a pension, I must rent my house out for two months each year so I can pay the huge taxes and continue to live in the house my husband built in his hometown and care for his 91-year-old mother.
My doctor has turned down Medicare and my military insurance because they pay pennies on the dollar, when his expenses, especially malpractice insurance, are continuing to rise. The grocery bill goes up each week, as does everything here, except job opportunities.
What exactly have you done for your constituents, Tim Bishop? You voted for Obamacare, which is causing many doctors to retire or move into another line of work, and our taxes are going to rise. You helped raid Medicare funds to the tune of $716 billion so that the administration would have money for Obamacare on the backs of the senior citizens! We had promises we could keep our insurance, but that wasn’t true either, was it?
Now under investigation and charged with being one of the 12 most corrupt members of Congress. After reading “Throw Them All Out,” which details insider trading and real estate finagling that congressmen can do with impunity (but would land the rest of us in jail), I question your ethics, too. And was spending $100 million in stimulus money (that we don’t have) to create 15 jobs in schools a good use of our tax dollars? Where are the jobs on the East End, where are our younger people? What, really, have you done to reduce our taxes, Mr. Bishop?
LYNDA A.W. EDWARDS
There is no active Congressional investigation of Mr. Bishop. The “most-corrupt” allegation comes from the Web site of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. Ed.
Making Stuff Up
October 8, 2012
Who won the debate is still an open question as far as I’m concerned, depending on your scoring parameters. If you consider truthfulness an important factor, President Obama walks away with the winner’s trophy, hands down.
If perceived energy levels are your main scoring criteria, then Mitt Romney looks a little better, until you ask yourself just what the heck is Mittens so jacked up on — coffee, cheesecake, or the joy of using his magic Etch A Sketch — to change all his previously stated positions?
Fact-checking Mr. Romney’s statements at the debate showed that he was just making stuff up. He sounded like a shady used-car salesman trying to get you to buy the car without checking the Car-Fax.
When you look at what Mitt was saying, with his own mouth, to that fat-cat Florida group about the slacker 47 percent and compare it to what he said at the Denver debate, you have to conclude that he is lying to someone or lying to everyone.
Vote for the truth. Vote Obama.
The Front Line
October 5, 2012
To the Editor:
In our current culture we live only in the moment. With 24/7 cable news, last week’s news is old hat. We discard and abhor historical perspective because it can’t fit into a sound bite and requires too much thought and analysis. So, because we are culturally deranged, we have little understanding about the derivation and continuation of our middle-class phenomena.
The battle between public service workers and their representatives and conservative Republicans is the front line for the struggle to maintain our middle class. Republicans have written the narrative that turned U.S. taxpayers against teachers, cops, etc., essentially turning them against themselves, making the case that these workers are the cause of our economic downturn and aren’t taxpayers as well.
Traditionally, Republicans represented big business and Democrats non-management workers. But they worked together, especially after World War II, to rebuild our economy and develop a middle class. Henry Ford promoted the theory that if you paid your workers a living wage they would soon be the market for your products. Wages were the agent of demand which created profits and investment. Developing a middle class was a brilliant engine for growth. Investment in workers guaranteed profits in the long run and served to stabilize the ups and downs of our business cycles. Unions played a major role and allowed workers to negotiate contracts to get better wages, health care, and retirement benefits. Capitalism at its absolute best.
While the private sector embraced the concept of the middle class, the government institutionalized it. On every level of government, federal, state, city, and town workers got salaries and benefits which allowed them to live. Teachers did well because the pool of brilliant women who were limited to teaching careers diminished with the women’s movement and increased opportunities in other fields. Police and firemen benefited similarly but even more from the dangers associated with their jobs due to the increased chaos of the 1960s. The market was the primary determinant of the deal these workers negotiated.
The growth model was smart and efficient. The middle class expanded with the growth of the economy, and the aspirations of the poorest segment of the population to move up were realitybased. In the late ’70s, barely 30 years after the war, we began exporting jobs outside the country and the relationship between wages, profits, and productivity began to change. (Median household net worth in 1983 was $73,000; in 2010 it dropped to $57,000.) The growth and eventual dominance of the financial sector supported the marginalization of our workers. While wages stagnated, credit and borrowing filled the income gap. A country that lived primarily on cash was beginning to live on debt.
Under President Reagan, the government advocated for a capital-based economic system to produce greater profits. As the economy shifted from production to services and finance, a huge number of workers lost relevance and were marginalized. The transition from middle class advocacy to financial experimentation enhanced the volatility in the business cycles, culminating in the housing and financial collapses.
The middle class was still the primary source of demand for our economy, but the stability of the system was compromised by the debt. When the housing bubble broke, and then the financial sector collapsed, the middle class was hung out to dry. The financial sector was bailed out because it was a relatively easy process and because it owned both parties. Popping $800 billion into the general population barely scratched the surface of the problem. Understanding that rebuilding the middle class could take 20 to 30 years, the only short-term solution for our politicians was to redefine the problem.
The Republicans focused on the deficit, the size of government, and public workers. The Democrats looked to reining in the financial sector, small stimulus, and social support programs. The ineptitude of both approaches reinforced the understanding that the middle class, outside of elections, was irrelevant to our economic system. Corporate profits and the stock market have never been higher, while investment, employment, and wages continue to stagnate.
The story of middle-class America is remarkably short; 65 years after it began it is on the verge of being obliterated — a short blip in a long history. The narrative from our political parties is twisted and distorted. The Republicans, with the Tea Party as its front-line storm troopers, are happy to let the middle class disappear as long as they can secure the position of their constituency and squeeze the remaining pennies out of the people. Some Democrats seem to understand, but they are powerless to influence the party narrative.
It seems like we are back to 1770, except the oppression and subjugation comes from inside instead of outside the country. Our middle class is really Nicaragua in America. If it shuts up and doesn’t make a fuss, we can pretend that it doesn’t exist?
Tell You Later
October 3, 2012
Well, no doubt about it, Mitt Romney won the first debate. The consensus reports that the president was too low key, allowed his opponent to be aggressive, and looked distracted. How much that all matters in the run toward Nov. 6 is unknown. We’ll see what the post-debate polls show about Barack Obama’s lead in the various battleground states. Of course, 30 percent of the vote is already in because of early voting, and many voters may be acute and smart enough to realize that Mr. Romney went before 50 million people and lied his stentorian head off, but we’ll see.
Like, after campaigning for months and months and months, during which he stated over and over again that he would cut $5 million in taxes, and in particular, telling donors in Boca Raton in June that “47 percent of the voters won’t vote for me because I am going to cut taxes, and they don’t pay taxes, so there is no benefit to them,” Mr. Romney gets into the debate and says, with a straight face, “I will not cut taxes, it is not part of my plan!” I waited for the Pinocchio effect but his nose never got longer because of that whopper.
But at least he used the word “current” when saying Social Security recipients would not be affected by he and his budget man, Paul Ryan’s, plan to privatize the system. “Only” the 54- and 55-year-olds will be affected, he said. Only? What about their paying into the system now? What happens to them? Answer: He’ll tell you later.
As for Medicare, Mr. Romney downplayed his plan to turn it over to the states. Mmm, get it? A perfect system now in place, loved by all who benefit from it, turned over to the states. Great — 50 systems instead of 1, 50 expenses instead of 1, 50 controlling legislatures instead of 1. Yeah, man, terriffic! For whom? Insurance companies, sneaky, crooked state politicians? But don’t worry, senior citizens, it won’t be too painful, at least not for Mr. Romney and his millionaire friends.
So he won the debate, but hopefully his lies will come back to haunt him in days to come. We’ll see.
RICHARD P. HIGER
Most Grievous Sin
September 30, 2012
To the Editor,
You hear the word pride a lot these days. Especially since the attacks of Sept. 11, Americans as a people, it seems, have put additional emphasis on the need to be prideful. As a nation, our esteem was injured on that day, and ever since we’ve been trying to reaffirm our perceived place in the world as the moral, industrious, and ethical leader that is to be exemplified and idolized by the rest of the world. And we employ nationalistic pride as a way of rallying ourselves to the task.
“We Manufacture Pride!” is how one advertiser puts it in television ads, as if pride itself were something of great value and a harbinger of an inevitably associated quality. I find this particularly interesting because the demographic that this type of advertising is targeting is largely the patriotic group that believes in the sanctity of both God as well as country, and pride is considered one of, if not the worst of, the seven deadly sins. What’s up with that?
And although lust — another of the seven deadlies — is subtly inherent in all advertising, you don’t hear General Motors proclaiming, “We Manufacture Greed!” or General Electric boasting, “We Manufacture Sloth!” so what’s up with pride? How can we, the supposed God-loving/fearing people we claim to be, take the most grievous sin of all, the one that most of those that attend to this type of knowledge hold as being the original and most dangerous of all, the one from which it is thought that the other six sins derive, and use it as the cornerstone for building the future of our nation and our citizens? Is pride good, or is pride bad?
Although Gordon Gecko famously proclaimed in another economic time and place that “greed is good,” you wouldn’t find too many Wall Streeters tweeting that line today while trying to win shareholder support for a hostile takeover of a pension fund. Nor in the reality of an increasingly, morosely, obese society would a reasonable person promote that “gluttony is good,” so why pride?
The modern Roman Catholic catechism lists the seven deadly sins in their perceived order of importance these days thusly: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth. So why do we promote the sin of pride while we caution against all of the others? Does pride help us or hurt us? We encourage it in our children, our workforce, and our military, but it’s the worst of all of the sins. How can we justify this? Might it even be possible that our enamoring of a prideful mentality has led us to our current economic, moral, and ethical state as a nation?
What is a sin, and why is it important to avoid committing them? Does one need to believe in a judgmental god for the concept of sin to even have any effect on them? Does intention have any effect on an action being judged as sinful or not? That all, of course, would depend upon one’s definition of the word and the context within which that definition exists.
The word sin, in its most simple state, is defined as a wrongdoing. If one were to remove the concept of a judgmental god that defines right and wrong and were to instead apply that definition to the thoughts and actions of our daily lives and how the effect of our choices creates the substance and quality of our individual and collective life experiences, one would hold a more empirical and effective view of our world than most. The fact that certain aspects of human behavior have been categorized by different religions differently, and used as a tool to steer the masses down a path toward salvation from themselves aside, a sin is only problematic because it indicates a misstep on the way to a desired destination, something that knocks you off track from your ultimate goal.
So why do we promote so much pride? Could it be that doing so causes hubris within us that blinds us from the truth of our actions?
C.S. Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
Much of my work as a writer and inventor, including the Real Time Earth Clock, is geared toward helping people to see a bigger picture of the world around us so that the choices that we each make help to construct the world in a way that improves the quality of the life experience for all. The words sunrise and sunset, which we hear so often in our daily lives, are gateway words into a world of illusion and confusion, a world where pride is considered both sinful and a desirable personality trait.
I would caution that as we move forward as a nation and a people we consider more closely the cornerstones of our beliefs, for it is our beliefs that become manifest. It would be nice if the world we create with our thoughts were something we could all be proud of.
RICHARD M. KOSTURA