Letters to the Editor: 11.01.12

Our readers' comments

Everything Changed
    October 29, 2012
Dear David,
    On Monday at 3 p.m. the wind started roaring through our home. My son was here with me, as the bus to his workshop in Westhampton Beach did not come because of Sandy.
    Many had called to urge me to leave our home. I called the Montauk police number in the morning to ask if there was any evacuation in Montauk. The lady could not have been nicer in taking my name and number after saying that there was not any ordered evacuation in Montauk, but she would call me if anything changed. We were comfortable with that response.
    When everything changed after three windows blew off my house almost simultaneously, it was necessary for me to call for help. I called the nonemergency number in Suffolk County reported on TV. I got through to East Hampton Town Police quickly.
    Within minutes, two policemen, Officer Lloyd and Officer Lamprecht, were here to help. I had tried to nail on some plastic but did not succeed; they nailed the three windows with some glass in place back on the frames. They picked up all the broken glass and put it in the garbage can. Everyone would be impressed and as grateful as we are for their quick and friendly help.
    We are so lucky to have this kind of service in our Town of East Hampton.

Twentieth HIFF
    October 27, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I wanted to take the opportunity to both congratulate everyone involved with this year’s 20th anniversary Hamptons International Film Festival and to thank our staff, the board of directors, our sponsors and supporters. Also, I want to thank our ticket holders, without whom we would not have been able to present another great season of both SummerDoc and regular festival programming.
    Additionally, I would like to reference a letter that you published from Linda Kaye in your Oct. 11 edition. Ms. Kaye lamented how “ordinary ticket-holders” were regularly squeezed out of screenings in favor of those with “V.I.P. passes.”
    This is an issue that I take very seriously and I will address this problem with the HIFF board at our next meeting.
    Again, my thanks to everyone in the community that helped to make our 20th festival a success.

Light Levels
    October 26, 2012
Dear David,
    Regarding the death of a pedestrian in Amagansett: The sidewalks and the areas where there is conflict with cars and pedestrians can certainly use better (low glare, fully shielded, at proper light levels) lighting. The town already has a document that was delivered to the previous board that outlines a policy for better street lighting that has not been implemented.
    Check the lighting on North Main Street: no-glare fixtures, lit at the proper light levels, and located where there cars are parked and where people are walking.
    Unless the car that hit the pedestrian had its headlights off, he or she should have seen him, since cars have headlights that illuminate the roadway. Often, glare from adjacent properties will blind drivers, but Amagansett Square has low-glare lighting. Once they find the driver, they may be able to figure out exactly what happened.
    There are plenty of streetlights in Amagansett that are not providing any public benefit, and money can be saved if streetlights are only used where they are needed for public safety. If the town would use the document prepared by the energy and light advisory committee, streetlights could be used more sensibly and safely, using tax dollars wisely. I could do a drive-around at night with anyone who wishes, to show them what I am talking about.
    Just to ramp up lighting without concern for placement, fixture type, and proper light levels will waste money and could actually increase problems. That is the common and unfortunate usual knee-jerk reaction to accidents. 

Continued Gridlock?
    East Hampton    
    October 26, 2012
Dear David:
    Springs overcrowding. Montauk night­life. Airport noise. Waste management. Deer proliferation. Beach drinking. Code enforcement. And the list goes on. Intractable problems or government gridlock? Can we reach solutions to our many problems or are we plagued with excessive partisanship, personality disputes, or a less than effective form of town government?
    Simply described, we have a town board with five members. The supervisor is not the chief executive officer, simply the chief financial officer of the town. Executive, as well as legislative responsibilities, lie with the entire town board. Each town board member has liaison responsibilities with a number of town departments. Each approaches those responsibilities differently.
    Salary and benefits for the town board members cost us over $450,000 per year. That’s more than the president makes, and he has 300 million people to govern. We have approximately 25,000 full-time residents that increases to perhaps 100,000 in the summer months. We have a budget approaching $70 million.
    Would it be more effective if the town resembled the village and we had a town manager/administrator exercising day-to-day executive authority and a town board exercising general policy making or legislative authority? In this overheated political environment affecting this town, if not our country, would we be better off with a nonpartisan election for town board?
    It’s the best time to begin this discussion because we have a very important local election in 2013, where we are going to elect a supervisor and two town board members. It’s not likely that either political party would support such a change in government, although it is strongly advocated by the local League of Women Voters.
    No, more than likely each party would look upon 2013 as an opportunity to gain or hold power.
    Do we want one-party rule or split government and continued gridlock? Let’s begin a discussion. A civil one that examines our current political process and explores alternatives. If we create a critical mass of an informed and interested electorate, we can shape the issues for the 2013 election.
    East Hampton Group for
    Good Government

Nothing but Praise
    Sag Harbor
    October 27, 2012
To the Editor:
    I was shocked to learn recently that Linda Norris, supervisor of the Adult Day Care Center in East Hampton, had been suspended without pay for 30 days while awaiting a hearing for incompetence and misconduct for unspecified  charges. What a great way to ruin someone’s reputation for charges which, when ultimately disclosed, could prove totally false, erroneous, or baseless.
    I have been a volunteer at the center on a continuous basis for almost three years. In my opinion, Linda Norris is  not only extremely competent, she has amazing understanding and interaction with the clients, most of whom have severe difficulties and limitations. She is kind, considerate, good-natured, and compassionate. Given a small space with limited supplies, Linda has found  ways to make their time at the center stimulating and rewarding.
    I have seen the previous letters in The Star from family members of clients who have nothing but praise and gratitude for the extra work that Linda has done to help them cope with their situations. I have seen that, as well. I hope, when she can finally face these unspecified  charges  at the upcoming hearing, that this will all be sorted out fairly, and the proper course will follow.

For Linda Norris
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012

Dear Editor:
    This letter is in regard to the suspension of Linda Norris of the East Hampton Adult Day Center. The allegations against her are of incompetence and misconduct.  This is an outrage.
    Linda Norris is a deacon at her church for the past eight years, member of Montauk Youth Group for nine years, and she went to  India to volunteer at an orphanage in Chennai. Linda has also worked at the East Hampton Adult Day Care Center for the past 17 years. Are we to understand that it took 17 years for her superiors to allege that she is incompetent?
    The elderlies are the ones who stand to be the losers in this situation.  Hopefully someone will realize that an injustice has been done and will rectify these allegations.

Questions and Answers
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    From one journalist to another, I implore you to follow some basic tenets of reporting; mainly get your facts right or at least don’t completely ignore the information that obviously shoots holes in your arguments. I am, of course, referring to your latest hatchet-job editorial, Sweet Surplus, published on Oct. 25.
    There are many holes in your editorial that end up making you look bad, not the people you are trying to disparage. With just a little bit of effort (a couple of phone calls and maybe a quick look at the 2013 proposed budget would likely have sufficed) you could have discovered the following:
    You say the Schneiderman administration that left office in 2003 underfunded the 2004 budget. Why on earth would Len Bernard create a 2004 budget that was inadequate at the same time he was running for the office of supervisor that would have forced him to use that exact same 2004 budget?
    You say that the extra money borrowed to close the deficit should not stave off tax increases for political advantage. Did you check the 2013 proposed budget at all? For residents outside the incorporated villages, taxes are actually going up next year.
    You say the budgeting of extra money borrowed to finance the deficit left by the previous administration should be scrutinized, including by the state comptroller. Did you bother to check to SEE if the state comptroller, town bond counsel, or anyone else recommended borrowing excess funds? Did you call the comptroller or even the town budget office to see if the plan had already been discussed with state officials watching over the town’s finances? I am guessing you didn’t because you’d then know it was discussed and recommended.
    These are all questions and answers a journalist should ask before writing what you did. How many of these questions did you ask?
    You once spoke to my high school class when I was a student at East Hampton High School as part of a career day. You talked about how great journalism was, only to disparage students and teachers you encountered in an editorial the following week. That talk rings even more hollow as the years go by and your half-researched editorials pile up.
    One thing you are right about‚ and it wouldn’t be fair not to point out where you are accurate‚ is the sub-headline: history can be a guide. The overwhelming history is that you regularly choose to completely ignore the facts that don’t suit your beliefs. Or maybe you just don’t actually care to seek out the full story before getting on your soapbox and proclaiming your views?

Deficit Financing
    October 26, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    Your lead editorial last week addresses old, tired issues that have been presented and debunked on numerous occasions in the past, including at a press conference held by Jay Schneiderman in 2009.
    It also raises several new issues related to deficit financing and the 2013 tentative budget that displays a gross lack of any understanding of the law or what has occurred over the last several years. The town’s independent bond counsel described your editorial to me as “ridiculous‚” and in an e-mail the state comptroller’s office acknowledged everything you question was approved in advance of the 2013 budget being presented. So much for the “big question” you claim needs to be asked; the question was asked of bond counsel and the state comptroller and answered six weeks ago.
    My observations on the editorial:
    1. As explained ad nauseam, the 2004 budget contained adequate funding and surplus to settle and issue retro pay associated with the police contract settlement and make benefit payments. At the end of 2004 the general fund contained almost $6 million in surplus.
    When the issue of the 2004 budget is raised, how is it that you and others fail to mention things like how conservatively mortgage tax revenue was projected? The 2004 budget contained $2.95 million for mortgage tax revenue (very conservative), when over $7 million was actually received? The 2004 budget was more than adequate and allowed the town to end the year in excellent fiscal condition. What happened in subsequent years is an unfortunate period in the town’s history.
    2. The 2004 budget was not formulated to defer taxes to a new town board majority. I fully expected to win the 2003 election‚ an election in which you endorsed my candidacy (you’re not always wrong)‚ thus the 2004 budget would have been my budget. It was not a pass-off budget, as former Supervisor Jay Schneiderman can attest. If I was in charge at the end of 2004, that $6 million general fund surplus would have been more than enough to move the town forward on firm financial footing.
    3. Moving ahead nine years, the fact that in the 2013 tentative budget there is a moderate increase in the tax rate for outside village residents argues against your insinuation that we are playing some kind of game of pass along all tax increases to some nonspecific future town board majority.
    4. The decision to deficit borrow more than needed to totally close the previous administration’s  $27 million deficit was suggested by the town’s outside financial advisor at a meeting on Feb. 3, 2011, attended by the town’s financial advisor, town board counsel, the state comptroller’s office, the town’s independent auditor, Councilman Peter Hammerle, town chief auditor Charlene Kagel, town accountant Neide Valeira, and myself. It was unanimously agreed to borrow more to create some surplus to be available for various items. The town was able to borrow that extra amount while lowering its overall indebtedness due to the rapidity with which old debt was being retired without any new capital debt being created. We executed a well-thought-out plan.
    5. Part of the surplus you refer to in your editorial resulted from positive within-year operational performance in 2011, thanks to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson; over $2 million of the surplus you refer to had nothing to do with deficit financing, or borrowing. It had to do with strong within-year performance due to strong management from the top.
    6. The closing papers for the deficit borrowing were clear about the treatment of surplus created. The Use of Proceeds Certificate was explicit in its legal requirements for surplus use. It stated any surplus had to be used to fund the accrued liability reserve, the capital reserve, and the retirement reserve (we will add a debt service reserve already approved by bond counsel and the state comptroller) and that 5 percent could remain in an undedicated working reserve. In fact, during the period of deficit finance repayment the town can never have more than 5 percent in undedicated general fund surplus. We have adhered to all of the legal requirements related to deficit financing and surplus, and developed a plan to use surplus and reserves in the 2013 budget within the context of those legal requirements.
    7. The town’s outside bond counsel and the state comptroller’s operations and legal staff approved the way we are using the undedicated surplus and money to be placed in the dedicated reserves. The scrutiny you are calling for took place at three levels between Sept. 5 and Sept. 14 and has been re-acknowledged by bond counsel and the state comptroller’s  office since your editorial was published last week.
    8. If all reserve money budgeted for 2013 is used the town will still have, at a minimum, over $4.2 million in general fund undedicated surplus and dedicated reserves available for next year, the year after, and the year after that. The Wilkinson team has adeptly weaved together a budget that stabilizes taxes, for the first time creates reserves for future unfunded liabilities (like accrued benefit liability), and funds all programs while recognizing the good work of town managers and supervisors with a small pay increase.
    And, by the way, you also assume who will and will not be in the majority two and four years hence. I know that I plan on being where I am today, working for the people of the town, constructing reasonable budgets that will keep the town moving in a positive financial direction that does not repeat the gross errors that occurred between 2005 and 2009 and plunged the town into financial crisis. A crisis which, by the way, you refused to acknowledge on these editorial pages as it was happening and as I and others like Supervisor Bill Wilkinson repeatedly said was getting worse and worse.
    Budget Officer
    Town of East Hampton

Economic Value
    October 25, 2012
    The Star’s recent article on how to address pollution in Georgica Pond underlines the importance of environmental issues in the extraordinarily beautiful area we are fortunate to live in. And of course, under the surface of our salty waters swim fish on which the local fishing and tourism industries depend for their livelihoods, and we all depend on for some of our favorite meals.
    In this election season, we need to keep these values in mind in selecting whom to vote for. Representative Tim Bishop recently spoke to a group of supporters in Sag Harbor about the importance of protecting the natural beauty and wildlife of our region from attacks by those who do not understand their value, including not understanding the value of nature to the economy. Local chef Sam Talbot similarly described the importance of maintaining sustainable fishing and agriculture right here on Long Island. On the other hand, challenger Randy Altschuler has the support of a group that has called for undercutting federal laws protecting the environment.
   As an East End resident who has spent my life writing about and working to protect the ocean’s beauty and resilience, I urge Star readers to vote for Representative Tim Bishop in the election next week. We need a representative who understands the economic value of environmental protection.

Lies and Distortions
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
Dear David,
    One of the many responsibilities of a member of Congress is to assist constituents in cutting through bureaucratic red tape. Such was the case when a constituent, Eric Semler, experienced difficulty in obtaining a permit for a fireworks display to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah. Mr. Semler asked Congressman Bishop to intervene and after the congressman assisted in obtaining the permit, Mr. Semler expressed his appreciation by contributing to Bishop’s campaign. This story was distorted by the Altschuler campaign, which claimed that the contribution was coerced; this was untrue.
    In the course of this campaign I met many people who told me that Congressman Bishop has gotten personally involved in order to assist them with a variety of problems; that’s what our congressional representatives are supposed to do! Altschuler, along with the national Republican Party, has waged a major smear campaign that is totally without merit.
    The negative ads have extended beyond television to the Internet. I’ve logged on to several Web sites that are unrelated to politics to discover a picture of Congressman Bishop with the heading “This man is a crook.” Tell a lie often enough and people will believe it.
    The fact is that while in Congress, Tim Bishop has fought to preserve Social Security and Medicare, has voted for tax cuts for small businesses, has twice supported the payroll tax cut, has voted to extend unemployment insurance, has played an integral role in preserving the Pell grant program, has secured over $35 million to protect and preserve Long Island beaches and waterways, and has championed programs that support our returning veterans. He has been a true representative of the ordinary people of the First Congressional District.
    Hopefully, the voters will see beyond the lies and distortions and send Mr. Bishop back to Washington.

Time For a Change    
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
To the Editor:
    Did you know that in the 10 years Tim Bishop has been in Congress, his personal wealth has increased by 74 percent, according to The Washington Post?  Seventy four percent!
    How did that happen? Obviously, Bishop has been concentrating on his own finances rather than those of his constituents, as both unemployment and taxes have soared in this district. 
    His disregard of his constituents’ wishes on Obamacare, his abandonment of the farming and fishing industries, his mediocre performance in the Congress, his pay-to-play bar mitzvah-gate scandal, his being named one of the 12 most corrupt members of Congress by a nonpartisan watchdog group, and now this revelation regarding his soaring private wealth, and one must conclude it is time for Bishop to go. 
    Voters have a chance this election, for effective and much needed professional change, and that is to vote for Randy Altschuler for the First Congressional District. And Long Island Newsday agrees. On Sunday, Oct. 28, Newsday endorsed Randy Altschuler for the First Congressional District.
    Randy will bring to Congress his incredible intelligence, hard work ethic, private-sector and job-creating business skills, and a fervor to make a real difference for the people of the First District. He is committed to starting a new committee in Congress that will seek to break the partisan gridlock that has gripped that body. 
    It is time for real change to come to our district.  That will happen when voters make Randy Altschuler the First District’s next Congressman.
    On Nov. 6, vote for Randy Altschuler on the Independence, Republican, or Conservative party lines.

Two Politicians
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
Dear David,
    As I read through the letters section of our town paper it seems that each week there is a concerted effort from a certain group of writers to bash Tim Bishop. They use similar phrasing, make the same points, spout the Republican/Tea Party line, and seem to be blind to the economic realities that our elected officials faced four years ago.
    We are, in fact, recovering from a massive recession.  The measures taken, not always with bipartisan support, were instrumental in staving off a much worse depression.  Make no mistake — many jobs were saved and many lives were supported so that today we stand in a better, more hopeful state than we were when President Obama took office. It is a sad fact that politics is about making impressions rather than applauding honest achievement.
    As a people, we honor the firemen who enter the burning building and save lives, but in this election cycle there is no similar sentiment for the politicians who saved our automobile industry, kept the banks from imploding, and made it possible for more Americans then ever to have basic health insurance.
    It is extremely amazing that one of the candidates for the highest office talks about creating 12 million jobs and yet cannot give us instances of how the company which made him extremely rich did so by creating even 500,000 jobs. His activities in business led to the loss of jobs, not their creation.
    The same is more starkly true of Mr. Altschuler. He openly admits to exporting thousands of American jobs overseas and making his fortune doing so. Mr. Romney was all for universal health care as governor of Massachusetts but is, very strangely, against it now.
    If our future actions can best be forecast by examining our past actions, then neither Mr. Altschuler nor Mr. Romney are reasonable hopes for job creation. Yet they and their supporters rant on as if their past actions are somehow not relevant to assessing the worth of their promises. As a voter and citizen of America I urge all who read this to assess what these people and their supporters say against their past actions.
    We may only be the 47 percent or the 99 percent, but we are smart enough to figure out the truth about these two politicians.

A Great Case
    October 28, 2012
Dear Editor,
    East End citizens, it’s so time for a change. Tim Bishop has helped a couple with their Medicaid — I think it’s his job —  but to help a man get permits for fireworks surrounding piping plovers that are nesting, then have your daughter ask for a $10,000 donation for your campaign, I’ve got a problem with that, and let’s not forget 10 members of his family working at the college.
    How many other underhanded, abom­inable transgressions has he perpetrated that we haven’t yet uncovered is he guilty of? Randy Altschuler holds an M.B.A. and makes a great case to win this election. He is co-founder of Office Tiger, a Manhattan-based business support company, in addition to his founding role at Cloud Blue. Randy has extraordinary business achievements which could prove excellent for Long Island jobs.
    We all seem to know where Tim Bishop stands, how high should I jump for Obama and Pelosi. Please Mr. Bishop, one question: How would you vote for an investigation into the Obama administration concerning the Benghazi attack? Would you tell your constituents definitely investigate this situation then sneak your vote noooo, hoping no one would notice, just like your Obamacare vote? Long Island needs jobs, Long Island needs to be able to keep our children here, Long Island needs an honest leader. Please look at Bishop’s record, all he thinks about is money for himself and his family.
    Thank you.
    In change for America,

Blatant Deception
    October 29, 2012
To the Editor:
    It is not too late for the voters in our electoral district to recall the use of blatant deception or outright lies in the race for election over the past 60 years as they select their congressional candidate.
    In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson, using “a girl picking petals slowly as mushroom clouds appear,” upended the Goldwater campaign.
    In 1988, President Bush, using the Willie Horton ad of a prisoner on a weekend furlough, wiped out a double digit lead by Dukakis. In South Carolina during the 2000 G.O.P. primary race, a whispering campaign that McCain had a “black baby” canceled McCain’s lead. In 2004, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, John Kerry, was swift-boated, with a severe impact on his race. In the 2008 Georgia Senate race, an ad questioning Max Cleland’s patriotism, a triple amputee Vietnam War veteran, caused his defeat.
    With the advent of the Supreme Court decision (Citizens United) where tens of millions of anonymous dollars are available, it is clear that the use of these distortions and outright lies, endlessly repeated on every media instrument, is our future. But can’t we try to be a little bit smarter this time? We are not talking about buying a car or a toaster, we are talking about our  and our children’s future. We have to be suspicious when this technique is being used. We have to ask ourselves, why not talk about the validity of their plans, what are they hiding, who is paying for the ad, are they in our district?
    In particular, I urge my neighbors to challenge the incessantly repeated lie that our congressman, Tim Bishop, is a “crook.” Linking conventional assistance to a constituent (we are talking about permission to use fireworks after all) to a subsequent unsolicited campaign contribution and calling it “crookedness” is the kind of deception I abhor.
    You can disagree with Tim Bishop’s philosophy, his positions, evaluate the program and experience of Tim and his opponent, Randy Altschuler, but it is not fair or smart to once again be taken in by an outright lie campaign paid for by “Manhattan financiers.”
    Maybe, if this approach is adopted country-wide, the $2 billion spent on this campaign can be drastically reduced and result in the election of candidates based on their merit — not their money.

Decry Such Activity
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
To the Editor:
Re: Randy Altschuler
    I have attended the Bishop-Altschuler debates in Bridgehampton and Westhampton Beach. Mr. Altchuler speaks and answers questions and makes statements, shakes hands, and then goes home and sends out unseemly offensive hate mail against his opponent! Such behavior is insulting, uncalled for, and should have no place in a political campaign.
    If the head of the ticket, such as Randy and Mitt Romney, cannot control the superpacs who formulate these mailings, then at least they should be man enough to publicly decry such activity. I for one have heard too many insulting statements from some politicians, statements which have not been refuted from the candidates themselves.
    My feeling applies to all such half-truths and innuendoes, irrespective of which party uses those tactics. Voters can educate themselves and vote according to their own dictates.
    I am deeply offended by the two latest mailings sent to my address by the Altschuler campaign.

Not the Stranger’s
    East Hampton
    October 26, 2012
To the Editor:
    Investigative journalism at its lowest, how could Newsday, The Independent, and The New York Post not even check Randy Altschuler’s so-called allegations about Tim Bishop.
    This is the lowest of all lows just to get elected. This election for this seat is no longer a local election. It has become national. Money is pouring in from Republicans in every rat hole in the nation. Let’s remember this is our Long Island and not the stranger’s who moved here a few years to become congressman.
     Please help keep this seat with Tim Bishop, our longtime neighbor and friend who knows the people and needs of Long Island.

An Empty Suit
    Sag Harbor
    October 29, 2012
Dear David,
    How in the world could anyone vote for Romney? I suppose some believe it just doesn’t matter what he says, retracts, repeats, and then declares is just the opposite of what he has publicly stated in print and on tape. He must believe people are so stupid, it just doesn’t matter how he goes about trying to win.
    He was for a woman’s right to choose . . . then declared termination of a pregnancy is a decision left to the woman and her doctor and government should not interfere. Now he has declared that he is in favor of Ryan’s oft-stated position as a believer in “personhood,” the principle now being proposed that the instant a sperm hits an egg, it becomes a person with all the Constitutional rights afforded a person, making abortion murder.
    If businesses are people, as Romney claims, I guess it follows that “people” can buy an election as if capital has no inherent power, no influence. An absurdity that denies even what medieval people in the 13th century codified into common law, the very basis of our jurisprudence. He was a hawk on the Iraqi invasion and now declares he was not. He said Obama should not have given Afghanistan a date for withdrawal of American troops as giving the Taliban the reason to hold on and lay low. He now says he is in favor of Obama’s decision to leave in 2014. He criticized Obama as being wrongheaded on pulling out our troops from Iraq, that he should have left a residual force of 30,000. Now he says that was not his position, and he agrees with Obama.
    He explicitly said, in a Wall Street Journal editorial at the height of the crisis in 2008, that the car industry should be allowed to fail and now he says Obama followed his lead by taking the automobile industry through bankruptcy. Well, he says, prevaricating, the government’s bailout of auto was a kind of bankruptcy. It was not and he knows it, however much he believes you don’t care what he believes. There are countless other examples just as stark, but they are too numerous to go through.
    Simply, he lies with premeditation. Romney, like our Randy Altschuler, is an empty suit. Corporate America, especially Wall Street and the financial industry, have strongly backed him with their bags of money, because they see it is for them only a personal means to make a greater profit from his election. It’s not in the civic decision, but personal advantage, merely a financial one.
    Forget about fairness, the commonweal, the community, the very idea of society and American civilization. Personal greed has overtaken any moderation by ethical decision, what is good for the community, what is good for our nation. They have upended the belief that we are our brother’s keepers. Thus, it’s quite okay to throw out good, hard-working Americans from their jobs to make a greater profit, no matter the effects to our economy, no matter how destructive is the consequence to American families. Randy Altschuler even has the audacity to claim he created more jobs, while personally making millions off outsourcing tens of thousands of jobs overseas. They will say anything, do anything to validate their queasy conviction they are superior beings, deserving of their rewards and their profits. Obama and Tim Bishop deserve our support and our votes.
    Michael O’Neill

Lawn Signs
    October 29, 2012
Dear David,
    We were disappointed to see that our Obama lawn signs were missing when we arrived at our home on Friday evening. We had not been here for two weeks and sometime during that period the signs disappeared. One was a new sign and one was the one we had saved from the 2008 election. Republican candidate signs on the street remain in place.
    This seems like childish behavior by the culprits. They can steal our signs — but they can’t steal our votes.

We’ll Know on Tuesday
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
To the Editor;
    Next Tuesday we will witness a celebration of our Republic: the election of our next president.
    Every four years, be it at peace or at war, in good times or bad, our nation makes a choice as to who our leader will be. This year that choice comes down to two men, the incumbent Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. Both men have fought very hard and passionately for the job, both have made their arguments as to why we should vote for them and not the other.
    No matter what your political stripes, we can all marvel at how our system works despite any inadequacies, perceived or real. It is telling that the mightiest nation in history always sees a peaceful transition of power. There are no riots in the streets, there is no need to form a new government, and we see a people, our people, come together for one singular purpose in peace. We are the ones who will have the final say come Tuesday, Nov. 6.
    The choices we face are stark; you could not have two more different candidates. One is a scholar, book smart by all accounts but naive as to how the world works. He is well spoken, popular with the Hollywood crowd, and knows how to throw a party. The other man was a highly successful businessman, governor, and sterling member of his community, though not the best of speakers. One man is the shining exemplar of capitalism and how it benefits many across a broad spectrum while the other berates the business world, vilifies it, and would punish it for perceived trespasses.
    Tuesday will see this contest come to an end and we shall learn what kind of nation we have become. A nation that looks to greatness, that looks for big changes, real changes that will make a better and brighter future for our families. A nation that is as big as its promise, that is the envy of the world, and home to a great people. Or will it be a smaller nation, one that rewards failure, one that is broken, and that accepts as truth misrepresentations of fact; a nation of lowered expectations and diminished dreams? Will we be a weaker nation, beholden to foreign powers, and one which dines on falsehoods when the truth is too much to bear?
    We’ll know Tuesday night.

Questions on Libya
    October 29, 2012
To the Editor,
    For the last month we have been mourning the loss of four Americans, including an ambassador, in an attack on our embassy staff in Libya. While three calls for help were turned down, live streaming video from a drone above captured the seven-hour firefight that led to the death of our military volunteers, who rushed to the scene to help, and embassy staff. With distress calls being sent, live video of the events, and our ships and planes standing ready to assist, the answer came from Washington, D.C. to “stand down.”
    They didn’t have enough intel to respond to save our four Americans and embassy staff? How incompetent were these people?!
    There is never an excuse for doing nothing when people are being attacked. We don’t leave our warriors behind. Why didn’t the president stay up, stay involved in the Situation Room, and give the order to intervene? Was this situation truly an arms deal gone bad with militia or terrorist groups that don’t like America? Why did the president not heed Secretary of State Clinton’s request for more security around the Libyan embassy following dozens of attacks in the days and weeks prior to this massacre? Why did they allow security guards, with ties to terrorist organizations, to be hired to guard the embassy?
    This callous disregard for human life cannot stand. I cannot vote for a president who would go to bed while Americans are outnumbered and outgunned. I want a president who will stand for our national security, the defense of our embassies, who understands the danger of militant extremists, and won’t back down. Join me in voting for Mitt Romney, who will fight to protect American lives at home and abroad.

One-Issue Voter
    East Hampton
    October 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am not a one-issue voter.
    I like it that issues that come before the court are decided by a 5 to 4 decision. It’s nice to not know the answer to what the finding of the court will be before it is announced.
    The next president may well appoint two new members to the court. It is unfortunate that those appointments may well be replacing more liberal judges. I don’t want there to be more Scalias, Alitos, Robertses, and Thomases, very conservative judges, to assure the conservative viewpoint be upheld for the foreseeable future.
    For that one reason alone I am a “One-Issue Voter.”
    Support Barack Obama on Nov. 6.

Before the Deluge
    East Hampton
    October 28, 2012
Dear David:
    Voting in this election the real conundrum for conservatives is Mitt Romney. Not because they don’t agree with him but because he is a soulless hack who has no core values and no idea of who he really is. Colin Powell got it right. He is all fluff and ooze and you can never really get a hold of him without having to wipe the guck off your hands.
    Conservatives, while claiming to be America’s soul, have become Mitt-like. From the 1950s to the 1990s they represented an alternative vision to the New Deal liberalism coming out of the Depression. Yet, they embraced the concept of the middle class and the government programs and taxes that enabled it. They were against an aggressive foreign policy and endless wars that typified the 20th century. They supported Johnson’s Medicare and civil rights agendas, Nixon’s creation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Religion was a Sunday event. Women were for sex and reproduction, not beating on.
    Yet despite this strong, vibrant history conservatism has turned to crap. A conglomeration of mindless drivel that serves only to beat on and depress everyone including themselves.
    Religion: Conservatives once understood that there is no God, never was, and never will be. (God would never have created a world this dysfunctional where so many fundamentalist groups are absolutely positive that they alone know the answer.) People could believe what they want but life was too short to deal with religion and the country’s well-being.
    Women: Yum, bodies, babies, and borscht. My body, my choice. Keep the government out of my bedroom and off my body. Pro life as oxymoronic for a country that loved to kill. The Constitution doesn’t mention abortion for or against.
    Global Warming: Science is all that mattered before the deluge. Conservatives used to be reality-based before they sold their butts to big oil. But the conservative response to global warming is almost imbecilic. There is no denying the reality. The question is what to do about it? Yet they insist on denial as a response. The disconnect is frightening.
    War: War was the most terrifying, destabilizing option that existed. Intellectually it never made sense. Until the neocons created the painless war concept. First, don’t pay for it with taxes. Second, use a volunteer army and lots of contractors to minimize the interest and effects on the general population. Third, create perpetual enemies that can’t defend themselves and are of little threat to our well-being. Fourth, make war seem so benign that we aren’t even aware that we are fighting one.
    Income Inequality: The equivalence of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. The most blitheringly stupid of concepts by definition. Numbers don’t lie. Not about getting rich but about getting poor. Gross Domestic Product at its highest, interest rates their lowest, and the stock market peaking, yet the general population is getting poorer. No conservative before Reagan would ever find this acceptable. Today they relish it.
    In the old days conservatives would have booted Mitt because he is a fraud with no core values. But conservatives once had core values. Today, Mitt is conservative to the core and that core is rotten. Barney Frank’s bumper sticker reads “Democrats may not be perfect but at least they aren’t crazy” — or is it brain-dead?

Phew Again
    East Hampton
    October 23, 2012
Dear Editor,
    So the debates are over — and our Republican entrant finished them off in a flurry of stupidity.
    1. “Iran needs Syria as its gateway to water.” . . . Phew. The two countries do not even share a common border, and Iran is surrounded by water. Oh, so what if the possible President doesn’t know geography.
    2. “We have fewer ships in our navy now than before Obama.” Phew again. This isn’t a bathtub war you jerk, it isn’t number of ships, it’s their strategic uses and post-1950 utilization of aircraft carriers, atomic subs, etc.
    3. “I know cars and love cars.” Of course, I never said that the car companies should be allowed to go bankrupt . . . that OpEd I wrote was written while I was under the influence of Paul Ryan’s Power Aid!
    4. July 2012: “Obama never should select a date certain to leave Afghani­stan.” Debate three: “As President I will enforce the 2014 withdrawal date!” Good job, Mr. President!
    By the way, could you buy your house without full financial revelations to the bank? No? So why does a presidential candidate not have to show his tax returns!