May 7, 2012
Please accept this letter of thanks on behalf of my family to the many people who walked and ran in the Second Annual Katy’s Courage 5K. We appreciate their participation and smiles.
We thank all of Kate’s many friends. Nina Landi shared her expertise, calm demeanor, and time to organize and oversee the smooth running of the race day machinations. We thank the many volunteers who helped organize the race sign-up and served food, and those who helped set up the course and the water stations. Thank you to the teachers of Sag Harbor Elementary, the Montauk teachers, and the East Hampton teachers for helping out in a myriad of ways.
We thank Mimi Yardley and Margaret Brooks at the Sag Harbor Bakery for the special cookies and delectable treats in memory of Katy. We thank those who help keep the roads and lawns clean of race event debris. We extend special gratitude to Ben Krupinski and his staff and family who donated the oranges and bananas and for their generous financial support and to the Bagel Buoy for the before-and-after-race bagels.
Thanks to Mitch Ping and Starbucks for the many volunteers and the coffee. We thank Mickey’s Carting for the Dumpster. We thank Suburban Sanitation for the portable toilets. Thank you to the Sag Harbor police for the safe operation of the race through the intersections and roads of Sag Harbor. Thank you to the Sag Harbor Fire Department for the tables.
Thanks to Jack Mahoney for the medals and Romaine Gordon at B East for the water and the Be a Hero fund-raiser! A big thanks to Riverhead Building Supply for the use of the truck. Thanks to Tom O’Donoghue for his energy, scaffolding, and the transportation of volunteers to distant parts of the course. It takes a village to organize a 5K, and in our case, we benefited from the support of many people from the East End and beyond.
With our organization, we have goals and a desire to continue scholarships for local students, contribute to pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, and the creation of a children’s bereavement center on the East End. Funds donated and collected through the race will help to realize these goals.
It has been said many times, we live in a wonderful community. It is at once beautiful and generous, supportive, and caring. We experienced the evidence of this completely throughout our journey.
Thank you all again for your interest, participation, and love you have shown us. Thank you to all of our sponsors.
JIM, BRIGID, and
Goodbye to Mugsy
May 4, 2012
To the Editor:
Sixteen years ago we adopted a shy little tabby kitten from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. We took him to Dr. Jonathan Turetsky at the Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton, who checked him out thoroughly and confirmed what we already suspected: We had the best cat in the world.
This past week, when it was time to say goodbye to Mugsy, we turned to Dr. Turetsky again. Throughout the years, his compassion and common sense helped make us better “staff members” to our remarkable cat. At the end he treated Mugsy — and us — with tremendous respect and kindness. We are so grateful for his help at this profoundly sad time.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Dr. Turetsky, as well as to his colleague Bridget Behan, who has always dispensed so much good advice, warmth, and humor during our many visits.
JAMI, PAUL, THEO, and
Feral Cat Poem #37
about the ferals
my housecat, Max, is.
Semi-wild, they gambol
about the grounds we share,
dance, prance, stalk and pounce.
but Max, the epitome of ennui,
The ferals don’t care,
and neither does Max.
So why do I?
May 5, 2012
I have just read Richard Rosenthal’s “The Bridge, May 8, 1945.” Such a beautiful essay. More than any other memoir of the war, Richard captures the spirit of that place and time with telling detail. He is a terrific writer. I hope we hear more from him in your pages.
May 4, 2012
To the Editor,
Friday, May 18, at 11 a.m., there will be a public hearing of the East Hampton Village Board at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street (above the fire station) concerning the store windows in the village.
In June 2010, the village issued a pamphlet to commercial property owner and tenants, “Maintaining an Attractive Commercial District During the Off Season (Guidelines for Vacant and Closed Stores).” Recently, following meetings with commercial property owners and other interested community members, the board now found it was important to enact a requirement that owners and tenants in possession of empty storefronts erect displays, consistent with the guidelines.
As an artist living in East Hampton, I am one of the concerned community members. The public, driving down highway 27, would see artwork 25 inches or larger — beauty instead of blank windows. The walking public on Newtown Lane could see the world-famous East Hampton art center.
There are various matters concerning this proposal: choice of artists, insurance, and security, etc. One idea would be not to wait for the fall off-season but to follow the guidelines as soon as possible.
Artist or not, if you want to enter this hearing, please attend on May 18.
Her Name Was Edith
May 7, 2012
To the Editor,
My thanks to The East Hampton Star and to Janet Goleas for her wonderful review of “A Complicated Marriage.” I do, however, need to make a correction.
Ms. Goleas identified the young woman who was killed with Jackson Pollock in the 1956 car accident as Judith Metzger. In fact, her name was Edith Metzger — a small error had it not been that at the time of Edith’s death her name, age, occupation, etc., had been so garbled by the media that she might as well have been a Jane Doe — a point that I bring much heat to as I revisit that tragic night and the ensuing days in my memoir.
It is ironic — and sad — that after 56 years Edith’s mis-identity should continue. And I thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.
JANICE VAN HORNE
May 7, 2012
To the Editor:
There’s no question taxpayers, especially in this challenging economic climate, are overburdened, and the frustration that comes with that burden is certainly easy to understand.
But what’s not understandable is taking that frustration out on our children and their education, which is exactly what the state’s misguided property-tax cap threatens to do.
When going to the polls this year on May 15 to vote on our school budget, it’s important to realize any budget that does not win voter approval under the new law translates into a 0-percent cap. That means, if the budget in your district goes down once, your school board may choose to go directly to contingency and there will be no additional resources for the education of your children.
That’s a scenario that’s particularly troubling when you consider that, in New York state, there have been three consecutive years of cuts in education aid totaling more than $3.2 billion. Those cuts have already led to the widespread elimination of vital academic programs, increased class sizes, extracurricular activities such as sports and music, a reduction in transportation services, and the loss of 30,000 teaching and other education jobs statewide.
Now, the financial pressure on our schools stands to only increase under the tax-cap law, since it handcuffs the ability of districts to raise revenue locally to offset losses in state aid. And the ones who will suffer for that are our kids.
Teachers and other school-related employees are taxpayers, too, and they are sensitive to the economic conditions faced by our state and communities. Teachers, like other workers, have been hurt by the downturn. They’ve watched layoffs shrink their ranks by the thousands. They’ve seen their savings diminish, and their property values drop too, and those fortunate enough to escape the budget ax remain anxious about their jobs. Teachers and other school employees also have spouses who have found themselves unemployed.
While tough economic times require difficult decisions, such decisions should not be made without foresight. Problem-solving also requires a thoughtful approach, as well as consideration for the consequences of the actions that are taken.
Education is not a frivolous expense. It’s an investment in the future, not only in the future of our students, but the economic wellbeing of our state.
Investment in our public-school system must keep pace with the needs of our students so that they are able to meet the increasing educational standards required of them, as well as the demands and expectations of today’s high-tech job market.
When you go to the polls this year on May 15 to vote on your school budget, know what’s at stake.
Schools have been cut to the bone, and students have been repeatedly shortchanged.
Voting “yes” on Montauk’s district budget this year is an important step toward helping our school from the troubling fiscal constraints under which it will be operating. This is a critical investment in our children’s education and future.
Montauk Teachers’ Association
May 7, 2012
I was talking to a college friend the other day. He is a member of the school board in Martin County, Fla. He mentioned that the school superintendent was up for re-election.
“How many schools does he oversee?” I asked.
“How many students?”
“How many teachers?”
“One thousand two hundred and eighty, 2,400 employees over all, annual budget $238 million.”
“How much does he get paid?”
“One hundred and twenty thousand, plus health and retirement benefits.”
“Really, because our superintendent in Amagansett gets $188,000 plus $14,893 in benefits, plus a free house.”
“How many students?”
“About 120. She is also the principal but has an assistant principal to help.”
At this point my friend asked me a question, one I have been asking myself for years: “Are you people out of your minds?”
“Yes, Mike, ” I said, “we are definitely out of our minds. That is the only explanation I can come up with.”
Can anyone really say that the position in a district this small warrants this kind of compensation? I don’t have a problem with the current superintendent and the job she’s doing. I’m not saying she’s not worth the money, I’m saying no one is!
May 7, 2012
I urge all Amagansett residents to vote Tuesday in favor of the 2012-13 Amagansett School budget, the tuition agreement, the library budget, and to re-elect Mary Lownes to her 11th year as a school board member.
As a parent whose daughter and nieces have attended this school, I feel blessed. These children all benefit from the quality of education, the talented staff, and the programming that Amagansett school has offered to them since pre-K 3. I know that it is only through the hard work of our board of education in cooperation with our superintendent and the school staff that this level of education and high standards has been maintained over the years. I have seen the dedication and hard work that this leadership team has put forth to ensure that our district provides all of its children with a quality educational experience while being fiscally responsible.
Mary Lownes is an exceptional board member. Whenever I have any school board question I know that I can contact her for answers. She’s approachable, considerate, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. Her experience as a board member for the last 10 years shows her commitment to our school and community. She has been a champion of children’s causes since she moved into our district almost 20 years ago. She serves on the Amagansett Beach Safety Advisory Committee to help make our beaches safer for everyone, she was a longstanding PTA member. and is fund-raising chairwoman for the junior lifeguard program. For many years she taught Sunday school at St. Luke’s. She volunteers in the Amagansett and East Hampton communities, and she listens to her constituents to learn what issues are important to them education-wise.
I have no doubt that the reason our school has such a fine reputation and that our children perform at their highest level when they move on to East Hampton Middle School and High School is due to the hard work and efforts of Mary Lownes and her fellow board members. They have the backbone and knowledge to make those tough fiscal decisions but insist on maintain quality programming.
Last year pre-K 3 was in jeopardy due to budget constraints and the board, in cooperation with the superintendent and staff, came up with a viable solution to maintain it. These are the leaders our district needs and I want representing our children. We don’t want to cut services at the cost of our students. Studies show that early childhood education and intervention have a direct impact on student performance.
It is vital that we keep this board consistent, as there are so many important educational issues on the table. The new teacher evaluation system, new common curriculum standards, changes in testing, federally imposed requirements of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are just some of the issues that our board must deal with. Besides finding a way to pay for these costs and to meet these requirements these board members must be familiar with these ever-changing laws and work closely with our superintendent and administrative staff to ensure their compliance while still maintaining programming and support for each of our students. I have full confidence that Mary Lownes is the candidate that can meet these challenges successfully. She has my full support, and I urge you to re-elect her.
I ask that all Amagansett residents vote to re-elect Mary Lownes.
Additionally, vote “yes” to the Amagansett School budget and “yes” to the tuition agreement referendum the East Hampton School District.
May 4, 2012
This week we learn (“Also on the Logs,” May 3) that past and present members of the Town Highway Department have been flipping birds at each other while driving their trucks. This cruel and dangerous sport must be halted.
Parakeet Protection Society
May 4, 2012
To the Editor,
I am one of the taxpayers who lives on Hand’s Creek harbor. For as long as I have lived there (30-plus years), it has been quiet refuge, a place to sit in your car, watch the clammers, the birds, take a walk up and down the beach with your dog, take a leisurely swim, or even a paddleboard ride.
Last year all that changed. Every weekend, truckloads of paddleboarders, via a commercial paddleboard enterprise, invaded the premises, to the discontent of many homeowners in the area, parking their cars, blocking the jetty, and overwhelming those of us who live there. What is next, a hot dog stand and ice cream truck?
Small creeks and quiet beachfronts are not commercial properties where commercial business activities should be allowed to take place.
We must protect our quiet sanctuaries from commercial enterprises!
Lawn in the Dunes
May 7, 2012
To the Editor:
Kudos to the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, for, as reported by T.E. McMorrow in the May 3 Star, unanimously denying the applicant’s request for a 2,000-square-foot lawn in the dunes while approving the other components of the application. This was a clear and welcome demonstration of the Z.B.A’s commitment to preserving the natural, unique, and irreplaceable dune landscape, in the context of a thoughtful and balanced determination.
MARK N. BLOOM
May 5, 2012
To the Editor,
The news that East Hampton Town’s Community Preservation Fund has been restored is very exciting news.
Gratitude is owed to Len Bernard, the town’s budget director, and to the supervisor for appointing Mr. Bernard, who was clearly the obvious choice. This is very timely news, as there has been an attempt to dismiss Len Bernard as a political appointment.
Len Bernard has a long history of successful administration of municipal finances. He steered Jay Schneiderman’s successful effort to rescue the town finances from the mess left by the inept fiscal management of the Bullock and Lester administrations. He was then hired by Brookhaven Town to improve its fiscal health.
Len Bernard has a master’s in public administration from George Washington University and worked for the United States General Accounting Office. He served on the East Hampton Town Board with distinction. Having held elective office, in addition to a career in public finance, gives him a broad understanding of budgets and their political and fiscal impacts. Government budgets are not merely a fiscal tool but a political statement of where an administration’s priorities lie.
Len Bernard’s experience as a town board member and accomplished government budget director give him a unique perspective on the role of government finance and its impact on our community. His advice to our town board is invaluable although it may not always be accepted.
Fort Pond House
May 6, 2012
It is clear from last week’s front-page article “Finances Get A-Plus” that the current administration has done a great job putting East Hampton back on sound financial ground. The Community Preservation Fund has been made whole, the main operating budget finished 2011 with a $6.8 million surplus, and according to Len Bernard at the town budget office, revenues have turned the corner and are increasing. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley even questioned why it was “fair to tax people for a $63 million dollar budget when we have $20 million sitting in the bank.”
Certainly this is a world of difference from the situation back in 2010. Back then there were a number of proposals that needed to be considered to get us back to a strong financial position, one of which was the proposed sale of certain town-owned properties. And one of these, Fort Pond House in Montauk, was put on the market over the objection of many people and organizations.
Fort Pond House is a small house on the western shore of Fort Pond. It sits on almost four acres of land and has 1,500 feet of pond shoreline access. This public parkland was used by the Montauk School, the Boy Scouts, a writers group, the Hamptons Shakespeare organization, and a number of other community groups including an aid organization for autistic children. These were precisely the kind of town park activities the previous owner had envisioned when she sold the house to the town for a bargain price.
In 2010 the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and Third House Nature Center sued the town in state court to keep this small but valuable public park from being sold off as a private home. Third House Nature Center, which had been given a lease to use the park, found it necessary to bring a separate lawsuit in federal court. Since then the cases have been winding their way through the court system at considerable cost to all parties. It is estimated that the town has spent close to $40,000 and counting on outside counsel alone. In the meantime Fort Pond House has been locked up. There has been no maintenance, and the house is deteriorating.
Given the healthy financial reality of 2012, isn’t it time to say enough already? The administration has more than accomplished what it set out to do. Let’s put aside this burden from the past and return Fort Pond House Park to the people.
May 7, 2012
To the Editor,
In reference to Ms. Frankl’s theatrics at the town board meeting this past Thursday evening, I can only say that negotiating a lawsuit in public to somehow humiliate the other party is unbecoming for a lawyer/plaintiff, but unfortunately no surprise from a Democratic Party leader.
If Ms. Frankl is sincere in her urging of the town board to leave the town clerk, Fred Overton, swinging in the wind to save taxpayer money, then by the same reasoning, Ms. Frankl and her fellow party plaintiffs should withdraw their lawsuit so those same taxpayer funds will not have to be spent in defense of her action against the town clerk.
When one truly worries about spending taxpayer funds, they don’t bring lawsuits against the town or seek permissive referendums. It is illogical to do these things and not expect the board to exercise its responsibility to defend the town, its employees, and residents.
Ms. Frankl must see that in this case, what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.
Rescind the Original
May 7, 2012
Last Thursday the town board Republicans passed a resolution to pay an attorney $200 an hour to defend a nonexistent lawsuit. This Article 78 proceeding came about because the town clerk threw out a petition (on the flimsiest of grounds) requesting a referendum for a professional appraisal of the Ronjo alley.
As your readers may recall, the supervisor wanted to sell the property to the new Ronjo owners for $35,000, a number he admitted picking “out of the air.” The community was appalled, and the supervisor agreed to an appraisal.
At that point it was clear that there was no longer a need for the lawsuit and all that would be required was that the original resolution (to sell for $35,000) be rescinded; there would be no need for a referendum and therefore, no law suit. Town law clearly spells out the fact that such a resolution can legally be rescinded.
The board majority voted against doing this and is moving forward on hiring this lawyer at great cost to the public. The only apparent motive for this decision is political; there is no other rational explanation. The Republicans can claim that the Democrats were responsible because it was they who initiated the lawsuit.
The chairwoman of the Democratic Party clearly stated that the suit is now moot and all the board has to do is go back to square 1 and rescind the original resolution. Rather than do this, they will be sticking the public with a huge legal bill.
This board majority has cut numerous programs in the name of saving money. They are now digging their heels in (and wasting taxpayer money) rather than admitting that they may have been wrong. Sad, isn’t it?
May 7, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
At the May 1 town board work session, Len Bernard and Charlene Kagen updated the board and the East Hampton community on the town’s fiscal condition. Enormous progress has been made since 2010. Len Bernard’s extraordinary professional skills and knowledge, together with the smart decisions made by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley, and Dominick Stanzione (the Wilkinson team), and Julia Prince and Pete Hammerle, rescued this near-bankrupt town from disaster.
Some highlights of their success as of the end of fiscal year 2011 are:
• The community preservation fund has been restored financially and all money owed has been repaid with interest. Wise management of the C.P.F. during this time allowed for continued land acquisitions.
• The Wilkinson administration and the former bipartisan town board adopted smaller and leaner budgets on time, with no new taxes. (In fact, that group reduced taxes for all East Hampton residents.)
• East Hampton Town government has been reduced by some 25 percent with no major townwide reduction in services.
• With one caveat, the town ended the last fiscal year without adding new debt even as it updated the capital plan, projecting needed infrastructure improvements. The caveat was borrowing to eliminate the $27 million deficit created between 2005 and 2009. Overall indebtedness actually declined from 2009 to 2010 and 2011.
• Fund balances are up for the first time in five years.
• Adequate budget surplus has been established satisfying requirements for the Wall Street rating agencies. Wall Street is reflecting a positive fiscal outlook for East Hampton.
The independent audit of the town’s finances for 2011 is projected to be completed no later than early June. Organized professional record-keeping practices, instituted by Mr. Bernard and Ms. Kagen, have resulted in an efficient audit process. In previous years, the audit process took up to two years to complete. This efficiency will save taxpayers even more money.
The Town of East Hampton stands as a fiscal model for the country, state, and other municipalities. Its extraordinary success is even more stunning since it has been accomplished in spite of a devastating national recession. The underpinnings of this success were established in 2010, through the hard work of a committed majority team and a bipartisan board.
Not so today. Taxpayers once again are held hostage, and government officials are threatened, by a Democratic political hit squad, interested more in getting political scalps than in doing what is right for the people of East Hampton. Projects, important to all East Hampton residents, are in limbo because of the weakening of what was once a strong, productive majority and the hyperactive partisan antics of the new council members.
An extraordinary recovery and a terrific story of a small town’s fiscal fall and brilliant rise is now jeopardized by an out-of-control political mob, creating and spreading its toxic message for all to see on the national and state level and on Wall Street. It is a very dangerous and destructive game, one that stands in stark contrast to the extraordinary success and recovery this town has enjoyed. And the people responsible for playing it owe it to the people of this beautiful town to stop it immediately.
Talk of the Town
May 7, 2012
Thursday’s town board meeting brought out a string of citizens all casting thumbs down on Theresa Quigley’s attempt at a new entertainment law. Led by Paul Monte, whose spa I am a devotee of, stakeholder after stakeholder affirmed what anyone with a brain would know: It was an absurd idea to begin with and completely unenforceable.
After many speakers, mostly from the business community, the supervisor, realizing that these were the people who are usually among his supporters, acquiesced, but not the “deputy.” Unable to listen and accept defeat gracefully, she went into one of her many tirades, attempting to blame others for her ill-conceived law. Of course, the supervisor was forced to waffle.
The Thursday night meetings have become the talk of the town. The behavior of the supervisor and Ms. Quigley is distasteful, to say the least. Arrogance, rudeness, and the reckless display of power have become the manner to which people are subjected, including other board members. They are certainly turning the stomachs and heads of reasonable people throughout the town. Respect is in order.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
What a Mess
May 4, 2012
Yesterday’s town board meeting was a real stunner. In some ways, it can be very entertaining to watch the proceedings, but it can also be quite depressing when you stop to realize what a mess this beautiful town has become, thanks to the local Democrats. They were all out and in rare form with their usual complaints that they are the only ones who are good, just, and fair. One party operative had the nerve to hand out copies of “Robert’s Rules of Order,” but she only gave them to the Republicans. This would be funny if it wasn’t so tacky and disgraceful.
Obviously, in her slanted opinion, the two Democratic newbies on the board are so well versed in parliamentary procedures and decorum that they need no further guidance. Never mind both Sylvia Overby’s and Peter Van Scoyoc’s tendency to constantly stonewall, talk out of turn, and play to the audience for guidance and applause, in that operative’s opinion, these two Democrats are always on the right side.
Then Zach Cohen got up to harangue Bill and Theresa. When he wasn’t busy apparently slandering all the town attorneys and the head of code enforcement (an offense worthy of a lawsuit), he was occupied with accusing the supervisor and his deputy of somehow abusing the power of their office to achieve the goal of harassing him personally. He threw an angry tantrum and then walked out of the meeting, literally yelling all the way that “he was right” about his baseless allegations of some sort of illegal collusion going on at Town Hall. Heaven help us if this [. . .] guy is ever elected to anything.
Finally, the topper of the evening was the local Democratic Party chairwoman, who got up and tried to hold a gun to the head of the taxpayers by claiming she would drop her lawsuit against the town — but only if the board gave in to her “bribe” request and rescind the Ronjo alleyway sale. When the board flatly refused to be held hostage or blackmailed, she threatened to drag out the suit and “win.” Never mind the cost to us taxpayers. She further stated that the town clerk had “made a mistake” in doing his job.
Jeanne Frankl and Mr. Cohen (among others) are suing the town clerk, my friend, Fred Overton, for doing the job he was elected to do. Yes, despite all the errors in their petition, they feel a judge will allow their referendum request to proceed and the town clerk was therefore wrong to not accept their flawed signatures.
Now, if this action wasn’t enough of an insult to the taxpayers, and an unnecessary expense, it got worse. When it came time to vote to pay an outside attorney who will represent the town clerk (and thus the taxpayers), both of the new parliamentary experts, the same Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc, voted to deny Fred Overton the right to have counsel! I have been here a long time and never saw anything like that. We now have board members siding with party hacks, instead of the people.
The two Democratic town board members actually voted against the town clerk, in order to protect the head of their own political party. Yes, you heard right — these two elected officials actually refused to defend the town clerk, who was doing his job as advised by the town attorney. They chose their political party over the taxpayers. Their actions are just breathtaking in nerve and favoritism!
May 6, 2012
To the Editor,
I would like to comment on the new Draft Deer Management Plan (described in your May 3 issue).
The draft plan identifies our organization, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, as a member of the Deer Management Working Group that developed the plan. This is incorrect. It is true that Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who leads the working group, talked to us early on. But on Jan. 10, 2012, we wrote Mr. Stanzione that we could not join his working group until we knew more about its plans for expanded hunting. We heard nothing more on this topic, and we never joined his group.
The draft plan itself is inhumane. It not only urges expanded hunting, but wants to increase bow-hunting. Bow-hunting is especially cruel; it frequently wounds deer and leaves them to die slow, painful deaths. Moreover, the plan asks the town to consider periodic deer culls, which are horrendous slaughters. In addition, the plan wants to postpone a promising non-lethal alternative, contraception, until extensive killing has taken place. A more compassionate plan would make non-lethal approaches the priority.
To support its recommendations, the draft plan frequently cites the views of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. But the D.E.C. is hardly a neutral scientific agency. It promotes and glorifies hunting. It recently convinced the state to extend bow-hunting opportunities to youth who are only 12 years old. It also recently approved hunting with crossbows, which are dangerous to operate. The D.E.C.’s motivation is clear: Most of its funding comes from hunting licenses and taxes on the sale of hunting equipment. Without sufficient hunting, D.E.C. employees would be out of work.
Our group agrees with one option in the draft plan. The town should conduct a new study on the number of deer in East Hampton. In 2006, our group commissioned the town’s first deer census. The town should take responsibility for follow-up research. Without it, the draft plan’s statement that the deer population has reached an “emergency level” lacks scientific support.
Over all, the plan is a recipe for cruelty. Deer, like humans, are living beings. Like us, they have emotions, families, and social lives. They, too, want to live. By destroying much of their natural habitat, humans have caused most of the complaints we hear about. Now, in an effort to address the complaints, a group of people have come up with a plan to kill more deer. There are many humane, non-lethal approaches to explore, including contraception, the 4-Poster method of tick control, and a slow-driving campaign. I appeal to the East Hampton Town Board: Don’t support more killing. Explore compassionate alternatives.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
May 7, 2012
At a town board meeting on May 1, Councilman Dominick Stanzione said “We are in a deer emergency situation” and later commented that “the public health of the people is at stake.” (See The Star, May 3, article by Joanne Pilgrim.)
The deer problem is indeed an emergency, as collisions between automobiles and deer are commonplace, with scores of dangerous interactions on area roads every year. Over the past decade, encounters between deer and vehicles must number in the hundreds. Yet, despite the formation in 2010 of a working group headed by Councilman Stanzione to study the deer problem, since well before the last town board election, it appears the town has placed its primary emphasis not on protecting the public health of the people but on protecting the airport from deer. This despite the fact that at a town work session on April 17, neither the town attorney on aviation matters, Peter Kirsch, nor the airport manager, Jim Brundige, was able to confirm the number of animal strikes at the airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration Web site indicates that during an 11-year period, from 2001 to 2012, only five animal strikes (three deer strikes, two bird strikes — none resulting in serious injuries to people) occurred at the airport. While three deer strikes are too many, seriously endangering the lives of pilots and passengers, the number should be compared to the far greater number of automobile-deer collisions, some of which have resulted in grave injuries and even fatalities. Yet it is the airport that the majority on the town board apparently wishes to protect by requesting F.A.A. funding to build a fence around the airport property, thereby ensuring F.A.A. control of the airport for decades to come.
However, if, according to Councilman Stanzione, deer are now considered a dire emergency‚ why is the welfare of the majority of East Hampton residents not considered a priority and accorded at least the same importance as commercial aviation operators and the small number of people regularly using the airport? Of course the easiest way to protect the airport immediately from deer would be by limiting access — just close the gates!
May 7, 2012
I am shocked and appalled at Peter Wadsworth’s vicious attacks on Quiet Skies Coalition and the two ladies on its executive board in his letter last week to the editor of the The East Hampton Press. He condescendingly accuses the coalition of not educating one of the ladies, implying she is not capable of acquiring information on her own. Then he angrily attacks the former chairwoman of the Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee, not disclosing that he also served on the committee and actually wrote a report on behalf of the committee. There appears to be deep-rooted anger. I don’t know nor do I care where the anger comes from; however, I know the two ladies don’t deserve such a tirade, and an apology is in order.
I get totally confused reading Mr. Wadsworth’s other letter the same week to the editor of The East Hampton Star as he bloviates, lauding the accomplishments of ANAAC, appointing himself as the person that can simplify the issues. The two letters in juxtaposition appear to indicate two different personalities. In the letter to The Star, Mr. Wadsworth fancies himself an aviation expert, F.A.A. legal expert, and airport operations expert; he is not an expert in any of these areas. He states in his own biography he specialized in health care finance, which has no relevance to the subject matters addressed.
More disturbingly, Mr. Wadsworth was informed that the data he received from the town, used in his report for A.N.A.A.C., is flawed, thereby rendering his findings and conclusions false. In fact an F.A.A. investigator informed me the system used by the town to produce this data is not F.A.A. approved and they have no use for the data in enforcement proceedings. If the data cannot be accepted legally then how can it be used scientifically or analytically to produce reliable findings and conclusions? Mr. Wadsworth generously quotes these false conclusions and findings throughout his letters, thus being the originator of false and conflicting information.
Mr. Wadsworth used to live off the departure end of runway 28. He took the position to support grant assurances expiring in 2014. Now that he moved away from the airport to the Sammy’s Beach area, he takes a position to support East Hampton Town to take more money from the F.A.A. and lock into another 20 years under an F.A.A. agreement. The coalition believes no taxpayer, whether federal or local, should pay anything at East Hampton Airport. Let the people who use the airport pay for the airport. In the Hamptons, why should that be difficult to do?
Mr. Wadsworth accusingly questions what the former chairwoman of A.N.A.A.C. knew and when. Mr. Wadsworth knows full well that A.N.A.A.C. failed to acquire the 2008 Kirsch memorandum from the prior administration and the current administration while the coalition had it all along. The coalition was able to acquire the document that A.N.A.A.C. could not.
When Mr. Wadsworth finally found that document on the coalition Web site he should have read the paragraph that begins on the bottom of page 20 and ends on page 21. Here Mr. Kirsch advises the prior administration to deceive the public regarding its strategy at the airport. What kind of attorney advises a town board to deceive the public? Is it possible that an attorney that advises deception is capable of deceiving the current town board himself? Is it possible that Mr. Wadsworth is part of a deception strategy?
Mr. Wadsworth should consider that the next time he wishes to take on the coalition. For those who seek accurate and reliable information can see the coalition’s responses directly from the F.A.A. with the assistance of Representative Tim Bishop and a legal memo directly from Sheila Jones, an aviation expert, on quietskiescoalition.org. (Press the button on top, “Issues/Learn.”)
Here is Ms. Jones’s bottom line: “Who has the burden of proof? And what is the issue to be decided by the court? The answer depends on whether the F.A.A. initiated the litigation by commencing an administrative enforcement action based on an alleged violation of the grant agreement. If it did and all other things are equal, the airport proprietor-grant recipient’s litigation risk in federal court is higher than it would be if the F.A.A. forgoes the administrative enforcement action and sues the airport proprietor in federal court.”
This is simple enough even for me to understand.
Quiet Skies Coalition
So Much As a Dollar
May 7, 2012
The disinformation campaign by the East Hampton Town Board with respect to East Hampton Airport continues unabated. Let me cut to the chase with the critical, indisputable facts.
The people who use the airport or make money off of the airport want to take more money from the Federal Aviation Administration, most recently for what is being sold to the public as a deer-control fence that is actually a high security fence for which the airport has no need because there is no security threat.
When the town takes money from the F.A.A., it loses control over its own airport because it must, as a condition to receiving money from the F.A.A., agree by contract to so-called F.A.A. grant assurances. These bind the town for 20 years from the grant. The grant assurances eliminate the practical ability of the town to regulate airport access to protect the community from noise (of which more a bit later).
Currently, grant assurances that limit the town’s power to control airport access expire on Dec. 31, 2014, less than two and a half years from now, due to a settlement between the F.A.A. and the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion. The F.A.A., in a recent letter to Congressman Tim Bishop, confirmed this to be the case.
When the current grant assurances expire, there will be no other federal law restraining the power and authority of the town to control airport access to protect us from airport noise other than some very broad limits imposed by the Constitution itself. The constitutional limits impose little practical restriction on the power of the town to restrict airport access in order to protect the community from noise.
How do we know this? Because the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the highest federal court in our jurisdiction other than the United States Supreme Court, has already said so. In a case called National Helicopter v. City of New York, involving the city’s municipally-owned heliport, the Second Circuit confirmed that the city, as owner of the heliport and not subject to F.A.A. grant assurances, had the power to: (1) impose a curfew, (2) further restrict hours of operation on weekends, (3) restrict the number of airport operaions permitted in a given time period, (4) exclude particular airport types based on how noisy they are, and (5) do all these things with the goal of reducing noise by 50 percent.
In a 2008 memorandum to the town, Peter Kirsch, the town’s aviation counsel, outlined a long series of steps, of progressively tighter control, by which the town might hope to control helicopter noise while subject to F.A.A. control. Mr. Kirsch is still touting his 40-step weight loss plan to the town board, most recently in an appearance a couple of weeks ago. The plan is nothing more than a full employment for Peter Kirsch plan — and at very high fees. The simple point that Mr. Kirsch constantly evades is that his entire step-by-step approach, very expensive and highly unlikely ever actually to satisfy the F.A.A., is completely unnecessary if the town simply allows the grant assurances and F.A.A. control to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.
As long as the F.A.A. remains in control by application of grant assurances, Mr. Kirsch himself said, in a 2008 memo:
“[T]he Town’s authority is extremely limited and is subject to considerable federal regulatory supervision. If the Town were to attempt directly to impose restrictions on the use of HTO by limiting access to the Airport by helicopters, any such action would be subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration . . . The Town has limited authority to impose restrictions on whether helicopters can use HTO. . . . The path to a lawful regulation of helicopter operations is neither simple nor legally clear.”
In contrast, if the town lets the grant assurances expire in 2014 and doesn’t take more F.A.A. money, the town would again have all the powers recognized by the Second Circuit. While Peter Kirsch might say that these powers are “extremely limited,” his opinion is of no importance. The Second Circuit has spoken and it, not Peter Kirsch, declares the law in East Hampton.
If, however, the town takes more money from the F.A.A. for its so-called deer fence, then it will not recover the powers recognized by the Second Circuit. Here is Mr. Kirsch himself on that subject:
“While the National Helicopter case is important, it has often been misread and misinterpreted to provide greater authority for regulation of helicopters than for regulation of other aircraft. This misinterpretation is the result of certain factual peculiarities of the case which limit its applicability to the Town. First, neither the heliport at issue nor even the proprietor (New York City) was subject to federal grant assurance obligations. As a result, there was no need for the court to address questions of compliance with grant assurances. Pursuant to those grants, an airport operator like the Town commits to making its airport facilities available to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. The grant assurances allow the F.A.A. to make the determination in the first instance of whether a particular use restriction is nondiscriminatory and otherwise complies with a proprietor’s grant assurances. Since the proprietor in National Helicopter was not subject to grant assurances, the court did not need to address the considerable case law and F.A.A. legal opinions which severely limit the ability of an owner of a federally-assisted airport to impose use restrictions. The Town is subject to grant assurances.”
The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion agrees and so does the F.A.A. Indeed, when Burbank Airport tried to invoke the authority recognized by the Second Circuit, the F.A.A. said no and also specifically said that the Second Circuit’s opinion in National Helicopter does not apply to Burbank Airport because it is subject to grant assurances.
Therefore, as long as the town is subject to F.A.A. grant assurances, which it will be for another 20 years if takes so much as a dollar more from the F.A.A., the town will remain “severely limited” in its “ability as owner of a federally-assisted airport to impose use restrictions.” But we can get out of F.A.A. jail in Dec. 2014.
To be sure, despite his own written advice, Mr. Kirsch keeps telling the town board and the East Hampton public that it doesn’t matter whether we take F.A.A. money or not. First he told the town that, despite the settlement agreement with the F.A.A. under which the relevant assurances will expire on Dec. 31, 2014, the settlement was unenforceable and the existing assurances would remain in place until 2021. Kirsch was wrong. The F.A.A. has said so in its letter to Congressman Bishop.
Then Kirsch told the town board, at a board meeting in Montauk and again at a presentation I attended at Town Hall, that, even if the settlement is enforceable, the town would be unable to control airport use because it had taken F.A.A. money in the past and because the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act would still apply. Mr. Kirsch was wrong again (and the town is paying a fortune for this lousy advice).
The F.A.A. in its letter to Representative Bishop has agreed with the committee that, under the F.A.A.’s settlement agreement with the committee, the assurances that “severely limit” (Mr. Kirsch’s words) the town’s power to control airport use will in fact expire on Dec. 31, 2014, and that the applicability of ANCA will disappear with them. The F.A.A. acknowledges that the town will then have the full authority recognized by the Second Circuit.
Now that Mr. Kirsch can no longer claim that the town will still be subject to F.A.A. control after Dec. 2014, he has come up with a new justification for taking F.A.A. money. He now says the town has the same authority to control use of the airport even with the grant assurances, that the assurances have no material impact. Suffice to say that this latest opinion completely contradicts his own 2008 written memorandum.
Indeed, on any given day, you can find Peter Kirsch saying the opposite of what he was saying the day before (which is why I am having a transcript made by a court reporter of his latest appearance before the town board).
Monied interests, the people who can afford their own jets and thousand-dollar helicopter rides to the Hamptons, the people who pull Councilman Dominick Stanzione’s strings, want it that way. They want the F.A.A. money not only to make the airport cheaper for themselves, but precisely so that the town will remain powerless to restrict their use. Councilman Stanzione is determined to give them what they want and the rest of the community be damned. Hence, the Kirsch snow job. It is really that simple.
Committee to Stop Airport Expansion
May 7, 2012
To the Editor:
I have always voted for Tim Bishop, and will again, but I must express my personal displeasure with his “aye” vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, ostensibly an Internet security measure.
Although it is multifaceted and covers many other issues, CISPA would allow our government to enter into arrangements to acquire and share information, with few restraints, with other government agencies and private businesses. This could mean that government snooping prohibited by law can be bypassed by simply trading information with private entities not so bound. This could be the final step toward “1984.”
I cannot imagine that any of Mr. Bishop’s constituents would want him to support such a bill. Perhaps he can explain his position on this.
This is not the first time Bishop has done the unexpected. In 2008, Tim Bishop also voted in favor of the Troubled Assets Relief Program bailout that President Bush wanted. Yet he told me later that 80 percent of his constituents wanted him to vote against it.
Tim has done wonders in Washington for our beloved communities, but seems to be blind to the consequences of the bigger issues. Could this be the result of not reading and digesting the bills that go through Congress? If so, he’s not alone; our Patriot Act is still substantially secret many years after its adoption, and I’m sure TARP was pushed through Congress without much debate.
Will Change Come?
May 7, 2012
To the Editor,
A hundred-sixty thousand American soldiers and private corporate armies like Blackwater have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan for over 10 years, a war we don’t know how to end. Sending guns has not brought democracy, only chaos and instability throughout the Middle East. We lost in Vietnam, apparently a syndrome that comes back to haunt us.
Here at home, the Wall Street occupiers have begun to change our country in less then nine months along with the 99 percent. Therein lies a cultural change from within. The poor, middle class, and many of the rich have suffered this time while the 1 percent accumulated even more wealth. The American dream or nightmare?
At least these occupiers have a strategy chanting in front of banks and corporate headquarters professing nonviolence, a real breakthrough. Their targets are more accurate than drones that kill innocent civilians. On May Day their themes remained the same opposition to big banks and government that bailed them out with our money after they helped cause the recession still not over. The end of the day at 9 p.m. a large group gathered near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. The demonstrations spread across our nation and other countries around the world buried on page 20 in The New York Times.
The paradox confronts all of us. Will change come from the top down or grassroots Americans united? The choice is ours.
Too Many Details
May 6, 2012
To the Editor,
The president has made a serious mistake by revealing too many details of the operation a year ago. President Clinton had bin Laden on three separate occasions and let him go, I guess Ms. Lewinsky was too important. Now Clinton is in a commercial suggesting Mitt Romney wouldn’t have made the call. What a joke.
President Obama has nothing to run on so let’s cause mayhem, war on women, class warfare, and totally divide this country. Remember Obama said he wouldn’t spike the football, but now that he admits he is campaigning he couldn’t wait to spike it. This man has gone back on every promise, except health care, he has ever made.
When you go to the polls this November, think what candidate will do the job to get this wonderful country out of debt, create jobs, get the economy back on track, and hopefully will look into Agenda 21.
Why does the United Nations have so much say-so in the United States of America? Politicians, wake up, this is our country, don’t give it away.
Hasn’t Created Jobs
May 4, 2012
To the Editor,
Sitting in a cafe or a pub on the other side of the Atlantic the perspective on solving the financial crisis is quite different than from our side. The collective consciousness that exists in Europe and not in the U.S. allows them to focus on government as the source of their problem and asks government to find a solution.
The social welfare nets that exist over here are so ingrained into daily life that looking away from government demands a radical restructuring of their systems. In the U.S. we go the opposite way, ridiculing government and demeaning its contribution in favor of the private sector — a modified form of hara-kiri, or collective suicide.
Our problem, very simply, is that our middle class is being destroyed. We have elucidated the reasons ad infinitum, with a certain abundance of irrefutable facts: wages dropping, debt increasing, jobs not being created, and profits of U.S. companies at their highest levels ever. If we had a collective logic it would say the private sector is doing quite well but hasn’t created jobs in 12 years.
Why would anyone (who is not braindead) look to the private sector for a solution? Corporate America is thriving and has no need to change its direction. It may care about our middle class, but capitalism is about profits not welfare.
So, like it or not, we are stuck with the government as the engine of middle-class growth. The small government, deficit reduction proponents are really supporting the status quo with no ideas about growing the economy. The only real solutions (lowering taxes, deregulation, etc., haven’t worked), are infrastructure projects that utilize the private sector that will put people to work. The government has to fill the space abdicated by the private sector until it becomes profitable enough to invest in the U.S.
The financial crisis pushed the U.S. middle class over the precipice, but we need to recognize that it was already hanging on the edge and would have gone over on its own. If we ask ourselves if we are better off now than we were 35 or even 12 years ago the answer and the data say a resounding no. We need to think about what really happened and stop drinking the same Kool-Aid that they drink on Wall Street.
Nothing to Offer
Over the past several days and weeks there has been a clear picture painted by the Mitt (Etch A Sketch) Romney camp to make it clear that the candidate they support has nothing to offer the American people to entice them to vote for him but an enforcement of the existing hatred of President Obama.
Basically their election strategy is to build on the hate of Barack Obama and with their overwhelming amount of super-PAC money to describe and then destroy a straw-man Obama they have been working to set up for the past three and a half years: deny him credit for Osama bin Laden, deny him accolades for General Motors and Chrysler rescue, deny him benefits of Affordable Health Care Act, just attack and destroy.
Well, I give up trying to convince die-hard Republican voters to look at the candidate they put out there, his statements, his flip-flopping, his ignorance, and unfamiliar role as a leader, and tell me he is in any way a better person, politician, or human being then Barack Obama.
The hatred of Mr. Obama, no matter what its source, built by years of right-wing propaganda and real or imagined allegations, whether political, racial, or just Aesop’s Tales, using the hope of the very short memories of the electorate is what the Republicans are relying on.
In 2010 the Republicans won the House and many governorships and state legislations basing their campaign slogans on the poor, the economy, the deficit, and smaller government. Look at the record! Not one jobs bill, no health care alternatives, only efforts to destroy the safety net of those relying on it, weakening education financing, obstructing voting rights, weakening abortion rights, undermining women’s health care and equal pay for equal work initiatives, and generally no economic help or ideas except austerity, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and safety net cuts.
They focus only on getting rid of Mr. Obama and installing someone, anyone, in his place, even an empty suit like Mr. Romney, whom they don’t even like.
They have obstructed every initiative proposed by the administration to create jobs and then campaign on the high unemployment rate. They make every effort to obscure their restrictive efforts on food stamps, children’s lunches, health insurance, and other scurrilous activities, but videotape and the modern spread of information make the efforts laughable.
Hatred isn’t enough boys, try facts and figures and, above all, truth.
RICHARD P. HIGER