Before I Knew
January 2, 2011
I just want to thank the person who found my pocketbook and gave it to a Waldbaum’s employee. I had it back even before I knew it was gone. You made my new year’s!
Praise the Legion
December 26, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
We, the clients, volunteers, staff, and board of directors of East Hampton Meals on Wheels, do heartily thank the American Legion Post 419 in Amagansett for the wonderful holiday dinners that they created and prepared for our community on Christmas Day. We also thank them for the beautiful holiday gifts that they sent with every meal.
The legion’s generosity has added joy to the season for our homebound neighbors who otherwise would not have been able to enjoy a delicious, hot holiday meal. Since many of these folks live alone, the dinners and gifts were especially meaningful. Indeed, we have received several calls expressing delight and gratitude from the recipients.
Once again, we praise the legion members for their diligence in time and effort necessary to expedite such a magnificent expression of love and fellowship within our community. We wish all who live in East Hampton Town to recognize the legion’s service to their neighbors.
Very truly yours,
CYNTHIA P. KABACK
December 27, 2011
To the Editor:
With all due respect, I would like to know to whom the responsibility goes for condoning a decorated garbage truck to be parked on Main Street at the green in Montauk. It appears to be a ludicrous incongruity, making a travesty of the Christmas decorations.
Okay, however, it is a fun idea. It’s even possible it was placed there for the convenience of the residents of Montauk because the recycling center was closed not just on Christmas Day but also on Christmas Eve day. In that case, thank you.
However, it’s just a suggestion, but next time, perhaps it should be parked
where it would be most useful — at the entrance to the recycling center.
Owes It to LTV
December 31, 2011
In the Dec. 22 paper, you wrote and suggested that the amount of money the town sends to LTV should be cut in the light of the town’s current fiscal reality. While that might come to pass I’d like to clarify a few things and offer some information about what LTV actually does for East Hampton.
You wrote, “By longstanding practice, nearly all the money the town gets annually from Cablevision goes to LTV. . . .” This didn’t just happen by chance. The percentage of the franchise fee that goes to LTV was negotiated as part of the public access service provider contract that LTV signed with the town in 1999. Under that contract, LTV was to launch a second channel and broadcast over 84 town meetings a year. We were to improve broadcast quality. We were to maintain a permanent record of the meetings that we taped. Those of us involved in those negotiations looked at what was going to be required and came up with an amount of money that would be needed. That translated to four-fifths of the then-franchise fee. The money given to LTV has been spent on equipment and services for the public access and E/G channels, and the town has gotten a lot of value for its dollar. We have upgraded not only equipment at LTV, but at Town Hall, Village Hall, the high school, and we have completed equipping the new Town Hall meeting room.
I hope everyone has noticed that the broadcast quality on LTV is professional and excellent. In 1998, one could rarely hear what was going on in a meeting. And, please remember that when the contract was signed the only live broadcast capability was from LTV, so all meetings were taped and broadcast later. Now we can watch live coverage of events in both the new and old Town Halls, Village Hall, and the high school.
We’ve built an emergency broadcast system for East Hampton. The information crawler on Channel 22 can be used to disseminate information on any subject. In an emergency the town can take over Channel 22 and broadcast from either Village or Town Hall. LTV has a backup generator, which allows officials to continue broadcasting even if the power is out. We post a copy of all the meetings we tape online, for free. (The town actually pays a vendor to do this for selected meetings; while we put up every meeting free.) And remember the original 84 meetings we were contracted to tape and broadcast? LTV currently provides coverage of over 180 town meetings per year in addition to village meetings, local sports games, parades, community events, cooperative programming for local not-for-profits, and outside educational programming.
You wrote “until a review of LTV’s finances was conducted earlier this year, the town board (and the public) had just about no idea how the money was spent.” As LTV’s current treasurer and a former chairman of the board, I really have to disagree with that. Each year since the inception of the contract LTV has made its annual audited financial statement available to the town. The truth of the matter is that no one ever took much interest in what we sent over.
Also, I’d like to point out that when the current administration did audit our books, nothing came up — no scandals, no missing funds, no shredding, no problems. The “clarifications” the board asked for were that we tighten sign-out procedures for equipment, that we establish a method of tracking what equipment is purchased with town money, and a discussion of whether LTV should be using town procurement policies. There was nothing in our contract about any of those issues, but I’m sure they will be discussed and resolved.
We at LTV are proud of what we have done over out 20-plus-year history. We are a service organization and our client is East Hampton. We are proud of both the quality and quantity of programming that we produce. We are proud of our staff and the professional job they do keeping two stations up and running 365 days a year. We are proud of our fiscal management and all that we have been able to accomplish together.
Perhaps the percentage of the Cablevision franchise fee that is passed through to LTV will be reduced. But the town board owes it to LTV to sit down and take a look at what we do, what it costs to do it, and what is going to be lost before it starts cutting funding.
LTV provides a very important function in East Hampton. Anyone can tune in, watch government at work, learn about the town, and if they wish they can make their own program to voice their opinion about it all. You want to learn about East Hampton? Watch LTV (and of course read The Star)! Let us not hurt the organization that makes this possible.
January 2, 2012
To the Editor:
Monday is the opening day of East Hampton’s firearms deer-hunting season. For the fourth straight year, we will engage in a three-day hunger strike to protest hunting. We will begin our fast Monday and will stand in front of Town Hall from 11 a.m. to noon.
We have found that hunger strikes are difficult. They produce headaches and other symptoms. But we hope the hunger strikes express how seriously we oppose the killing. And the ill effects that we experience are nothing compared to the horror the deer go though.
Some residents tolerate hunting because they believe it will help control the deer population. Actually, there is no evidence that it does. Birth rates increase after a hunt. The town needs to try nonlethal alternatives that enable humans to co-exist with wildlife. Slower driving, deer-resistant plantings, and contraception are among the many approaches.
Some residents also assume that hunting is acceptable because the Department of Environment Conservation encourages it. After all, the D.E.C. seems to be a neutral scientific agency. It is not. A majority of D.E.C. funding comes from hunting licenses and taxes on hunting equipment. Without this funding, many D.E.C. officials would be out of work. So the D.E.C. enthusiastically supports hunting despite its cruelty and ineffectiveness.
We hope the East Hampton Town Board will finally exercise moral leadership and begin to scale back all hunting — of deer, birds, and other animals. It has the authority to do so on all town-owned land. Perhaps, with citizen support, the board will begin to protect the wildlife who inhabited this land long before we did.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
December 27, 2011
Let me get this straight: The town owns seven commercial condos that are valued by an appraiser at $4.4 million if sold individually and at $3.7 million if sold as a package. A potential buyer contacts the board and says that he wants to buy them immediately but recommends that the board seek other bids to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The buyer knows that two weeks is not enough time for other interested parties to make an offer, but he urges the board to protect its backside.
So the board issues a legal notice on Dec. 8 and gives other buyers two weeks to learn about the availability, to inspect them, to compare other like prices, and to come up with a firm bid. Brokers are not notified, but the anonymous buyer uses an old negotiating ploy of saying that he must close the deal before the end of the year.
So the board caves and might lose an estimated $1 million thereby.
If the buyer likes the deal in mid-December he will like it in January. Why panic, or is there more to it?
In the Shadows
December 27, 2011
I’m not certain whether to feel heartened or dismayed by the East Hampton Town board’s comments at a Dec. 15 public hearing concerning the proposal to unilaterally abandon the public’s interest in environmentally sensitive nature preserve lands within the Beach Plum Park subdivision on Napeague.
The board members, especially the supervisor, appeared to be nonplused by the spirited opposition the proposal engendered. That evening they could not unravel the enigma of who had requested this action and how it was advanced to be scheduled for a public hearing. The board did eventually get it right at the following work session meeting on Dec. 20. They decided to retain the subject parcels on the town’s register of nature preserves and to authorize the town attorney to pursue a legal action to quiet title.
But I retain a lingering apprehension about how the current town board sometimes operates in the shadows. Resolutions, and sometimes even a public hearing, inexplicably can appear on an agenda (that is, if there is an agenda published in advance of a board meeting) without all members of the board being fully cognizant of all relevant issues. Another disturbing example occurred at the end of the Dec. 20 work session. This time it was me that was nonplused.
The board adopted a resolution to use town money to hire an appraiser at a cost not to exceed $1,900 to establish a fair-market value for the anticipated sale of a “drainage easement” located at 82 Hand Lane, Amagansett.
I would think only emergency or time-sensitive resolutions should properly be considered for adoption at a work session meeting instead of at the bimonthly regular meetings. This proposal caused some board members to balk. Even Councilwoman Theresa Quigley initially pondered, “Why are we doing this?”
Councilman Dominick Stanzione then assured his colleagues that he and the supervisor had “walked the property.”
The resolution was eventually adopted 4 to 0, with Councilwoman Julia Prince abstaining because, as she said, “I don’t know anything about this.”
Why would the town board so cavalierly consider selling off its easement interest? Especially without discussing and understanding why the planning board’s 1972 subdivision approval required the low area of the easement to be “left in its natural state” to act as a drainage swale. This land area, most probably wetlands, was determined by planning experts to be a drainage basin required for the protection and benefit of nearby properties. When did the town board get in the business of overriding planning board decisions? The majority’s objective appears to be to facilitate a further subdivision to create an additional building lot for the benefit of a single property owner. It must feel good to have friends in high places.
Perhaps the emergency that necessitated acting on this matter at the end-of-the year work session was in reality the imminent arrival on the board of two planning board veterans who would be more likely to demand a detailed public explanation and discussion, and insist on knowing the answer to the question “Why?” before voting to expend public money to undermine sound planning considerations.
More to Harm
December 31, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray
In his recent letter to The Star, David Gruber wraps himself in the environmental flag. Yet, in my opinion, Mr. Gruber has done more to harm the East Hampton environment than anyone in town.
As the financial adviser to Bill McGintee, he did nothing to stop the scandal involving the illegal transfer of community preservation funds for improper purposes, setting back the protection of our environment for many years.
He now attacks my friend Judith Hope’s record on the environment. In her three terms as town supervisor, Judith led the fights to preserve Hither Woods, Napeague, Three Mile Harbor, Northwest Woods, and the Grace Estate. Thousands of acres were purchased or zoned properly as a result of her work.
As supervisor, she introduced the concept of the 2-percent community preservation fund and, as New York State Democratic state chairwoman, secured its approval in Albany. That law has raised hundreds of millions of dollars that has been used on the East End to preserve the rural character of the community.
In contrast, David Gruber has done nothing to preserve the environment. When he ran for town supervisor on an anti-airport platform he was soundly trounced.
Ten More Years
December 30 2011,
In last week’s letters to The Star, David Gruber writes once again about East Hampton Airport.
For the 10 years prior to the current administration, David Gruber had been dictating town policy regarding the airport. Closing a vital runway and rejecting Federal Aviation Administration funding was his doing. As Bill McGintee’s financial adviser, he advocated airport funds being siphoned away from proper airport maintenance for other purposes.
As a result of going to law school, he now argues with great certainty that a franchise dispute between New York City and a sightseeing helicopter company on a tiny heliport on the East River will control the outcome of years of future airport litigation costing East Hampton residents millions of dollars.
By following his strategy, Mr. Gruber would condemn the taxpayers to 10 more years of intolerable helicopter noise and millions in legal expense. Yet, he makes no mention that his house is beneath an approach to the airport runway.
As a wealthy hedge fund operator, he should indemnify the taxpayers for the millions in legal expenses his irresponsible legal theories have so far cost the town.
East Hampton Aviation Association
December 31, 2011
December 1686 was a pivotal time for East Hampton (indeed, for this country). The Dongan Patent formalized East Hampton on Dec. 9, and, on the 26th, Edmund Andros arrived in Boston to govern the Dominion of New England.
I learned about the dominion when I was researching my book on the history of East Hampton. I had no idea before then that the first colonial revolution against the Brits began 86 years and one day before the revolution that we learned about in school. It was just as important, but for some unexplained reason, it receives scant recognition (if that) in history class.
If Boston and Saybrook and East Hampton and the other towns on the East Coast hadn’t revolted on their own after confirmation arrived of James’s abdication, I have no doubt that today’s map of this country would be quite different. And, maybe, the revolution that began in 1775 might not have taken place or might have erupted earlier. Pure guesswork.
(Yes, have written about five chapters, so far of “America’s Glorious Uprising of 1689.” No, I haven’t sold it yet. My agent died.)
NANCY HYDEN WOODWARD
December 29, 2011
Dear East Hampton Star,
Chronos at the lectern: through the window sounds of the shepherd’s whistle.
December 30, 2011
As the new year rings in we will have a new law intended to reduce phosphorous runoff into our water bodies and improve water quality in New York. According to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law will prohibit the use of phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizer unless establishing a new lawn or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer on impervious surfaces, and require pickup of fertilizer applied or spilled onto impervious surfaces, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer within 20 feet of any surface water except where there is a vegetative buffer of at least 10 feet or where the fertilizer is applied by a device with a spreader guard, deflector shield, or drop-spreader at least three feet from surface water, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer between Dec. 1 and April 1, and require retailers to display phosphorus-containing fertilizers separately from nonphosphorus fertilizers and to post an educational sign where the phosphorus-containing fertilizers are displayed.
This provision does not impact agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens.
When you purchase fertilizer, you will see three numbers on the package. They tell you the percentage of the macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash. The first number tells you the percentage of nitrogen, which generally helps plant foliage to grow. The middle number is the phosphorous, which helps roots and flowers grow and develop. The third is potash, which contributes to overall plant health. Under the new law, the percentage of phosphorous must be .67 or below.
We have heard a lot about nitrogen pollution wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems, but it is not the only nutrient that causes harm. Lakes and drinking water are negatively affected by excess phosphorus.
New York State has over 100 sub-watersheds that are impaired by phosphorus. It is the “limiting nutrient” in fresh-water bodies and can contribute to harmful algae blooms, which can cause problems due to high biomass, toxin production, or both. Some of the problems related to algae blooms that humans encounter are due to the consumption of shellfish or finfish exposed to the toxins, and include gastrointestinal or neurological problems, and even death. Wildlife is also affected by ingestion of these toxic food items. Algae blooms can cause respiratory problems due to inhalation of aerosols and skin irritations due to allergy-like reactions. Chronic exposure to low toxin levels are known to cause problems in humans as well.
Blooms of algae that do not produce toxins, but produce a high biomass, can cause ecological problems such as eutrophication, anoxia, community and food-web changes, and fish or other aquatic and wildlife sickness and mortality. Economic problems can result from excessive blooms due to deterioration of our inland and drinking waters.
In marine ecosystems, the loss of shellfish and finfish fisheries can be a significant byproduct of algae blooms. The brown tide of the 1980s and the subsequent disappearance of eelgrass and scallops from our waters are a local example of a harmful algae bloom in a marine ecosystem. Phosphorous can also degrade drinking water. Over all, one can see this new law as a very good thing for New Yorkers and the environment.
You can still use products purchased before Sunday, Jan. 1, but the best thing you can do for the environment is to stop the use of chemical fertilizers altogether. My lawn and garden flourish without the addition of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and so can yours! Aerating, composting, and using organic products are better for your lawn, garden, family, and the planet.
The first green revolution increased our global production of food through technology and the use of synthetic fertilizers. We need another revolution that will introduce the many readily available organic products as an alternative to chemicals and undoubtedly help the planet.
Remember: Everything we do on the land ends up in the sea eventually. The pressure on our sensitive coastal and inland water bodies is tremendous. Please help our environment by reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals on your property. In New York we will have a new law to help us help the planet in the new year. Just say no to phosphorous!
Happy and healthy new year to all!
Was a Mistake
December 29, 2011
To the Editor,
Finally we left Iraq, the war we were lied into, which was supported by The New York Times and the rest of the corporate-controlled media. After we were embedded in the war, The New York Times apologized for its poor coverage. At that point, most Americans realized the Iraq war was a mistake, a fraudulent war, a pre-emptive war that mainstream churches were against, the war that inspired millions to demonstrate around the world, their cry, enough of war. Even our so-called allies agreed.
America’s credibility sank to a new low. The war we lost nine years later. In fact, the United States has not won a war since World War II. Unfortunately, superpowers are blinded by their own arrogance and self-righteousness. We have the guns, they have the oil.
How could the powers-that-be hear these loud voices for peace, probably best said by Pope John Paul II: “Never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing, and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.”
Such a Pipeline
December 26, 2011
We seem to be getting hysterical nonsense from the Obama-haters. You don’t like President Obama? You write letters calling him a quasi-Marxist apologist, demean and slander his character, his person, his family, his patriotism? Well, that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. But you are not entitled to your own facts.
You say that the president is delaying any decision to go ahead with the Keystone TransCanada Pipeline to benefit his re-election campaign. That is almost as ridiculous as electing Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney president. Making such erroneous, off-the-cuff statements without facts is so typical of conservative ideologues, especially those who write this newspaper. Let us start with real, basic facts: The State Department has, with Canada, done and is doing the in-depth research necessary to approve a pipeline 1,700 miles long, affecting groundwater, surface water, plant and animal species, and the Ogallala Aquifer along the way and the effects such a pipeline would have on the 30 percent of total U.S. irrigation water involved, with the Ogallala Aquifer.
Eighty-two percent of the drinking water of 2.3 million people who live within that aquifer’s boundaries, 19 percent of the total U.S. wheat production, 19 percent of cotton production, 18 percent of cattle products, and 15 percent of corn production are all fed by the same Ogallala Aquifer. So, with serious questions of health, safety, and benefits at stake, as of Nov. 10, the decision was delayed until 2013 — and not by the president.
The president wants and needs jobs to get re-elected, so he would love a jump in the numbers, and he certainly doesn’t need money. He already has the largest war chest of any president in history. What he has, which these clowns on the right don’t seem to have, is a view toward the safety and health of the American people and the long-term health of the lands we live on.
But you know these laissez-faire Republicans! The ones who dropped oversight of banks and mortgages and caused us just a little economic tsunami, they would say, “Oh, just go ahead with it, man,” allowing possible benzene contamination, creating a possible disaster of immense proportions if there is a major leak. Even undetectable seepage would spread carcinogens through the drinking water; it will only affect the 1 percent.
Assurances of safeguards from project managers are already spewing in, just like those of the oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico. As for jobs, the pipeline will provide jobs in Canada, as well as in the U.S., but none of them, or very few of them, will be permanent jobs.
Oh, be my President Bush, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and make this decision out-of-hand. Don’t think it through. Don’t be careful. Give us what we have had every time you get in office: economic disaster, unnecessary wars, and chaos for the middle class.
Facts are bothersome, eh?
RICHARD P. HIGER