Letters to the Editor: 09.13.12

Our readers' comments

Only a Dog’
    East Hampton
    September 4, 2012
To the Editor,
    On August 27 around 8 a.m. I called 911 to help me with a near-tragedy. They transferred my call to the East Hampton Police Department.
    I was hysterical on the phone. One of my dogs (who was adopted from ARF two years ago) was chasing something and dug under my shed. Once under the shed he was buried alive. I did my best to try and dig him out, move the shed, kick the floor out of the shed, etc.
    His furry paw somehow came to the top, but I still couldn’t get him. I ran back inside to call the police yet again, as over 20 minutes had passed. They assured me someone was on the way. Animal control then called and said they were minutes away. During this time I kept trying to dig and dig but Coco’s little bark and paw seemed very faint.
    Somehow one of my other dogs, Madison, dug under the shed and dragged Coco halfway out. I was able to pull what looked like his lifeless body out. His tongue was turning blue. As I picked him up he shook his head to let me know he was okay.
    As I was carrying Coco to the house, a man from Animal Control showed up, 40 minutes later. He came strolling down the driveway. I was covered in dirt and blood holding Coco, who was also covered in dirt and breathing slowly. He said, “I guess the dog is okay,” and left.
    A few minutes later, over 45 minutes from my emergency call, the police showed up. All the officer was initially concerned with was my personal information. Name, name, and name. I asked him where was he all this time — my dog was almost dead.
    He said, “Lady, you weren’t the only call,” and “it’s only a dog.” I’m sure the good, dog-loving people of the Hamptons wouldn’t be happy with this at all!
    I quickly sent him on his way so that I was able to take Coco to the vet.
    I can only thank my lucky stars for Madison, who saved her brother from near death.

Encourage Doris
    September 9, 2012
Dear Editor:
    Yesterday evening, many gathered at East Hampton High School to support Doris Quigley on her road to recovery. Numerous volunteers and many others made the Lifeguard Doris Quigley Fund-Raiser an uplifting and memorable event.
    Our family, including her cousins, Timothy, Faith, Nicholas, and Douglas, attended the affair. We were happy to see the genuine support and love for our niece. We are positive it will help to encourage Doris as she perseveres in her recovery.

Belong on Roads
    New York City
    September 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    Over Labor Day weekend, a friend who resides in East Hampton and I, along with three friendly dogs, were enjoying a late-afternoon walk on Napeague beach, close to a conservation area where no dogs or vehicles are allowed. We planned to double back to the parking area when we reached the turn-off to the conservation area. The tide was coming in, and areas of the beach were under water, requiring a bit of wading to cross from one sandy area to another.
    Our tranquility was disturbed first by a large sport-utility vehicle driving along the beach. It was cruising at a relatively slow speed but did not slow down or stop as it approached us. The beach was so narrow and the vehicle so wide that we had to scurry to reach an area that was wide enough for the vehicle to pass us (i.e., to avoid jumping in the water). I looked up at one point and thought one of the dogs was going to be run over. We noticed that the S.U.V. entered the conservation area.
    A little later, four motorcyclists, complete with goggles and other gear, whizzed past us at very close range and breakneck speeds, seemingly impervious to our presence, leaving behind churned up sand and noxious gasoline smells. We were literally shaken.
    Driving on beaches results in litter, noise, air pollution, and serious disruption to the ecosystem, as well as to aesthetics and the experience of nature. Are there any restrictions on beach driving by type of vehicle or speed? For that matter, why are motorized vehicles allowed on beaches at all? They belong on roads, not beaches.
    Certainly Napeague and surrounding beaches are of world-class scenic beauty and provide quiet enjoyment of nature to thousands of people. How is this compatible with oversize S.U.V.s and speeding motorcycles that disturb the environment, ignore conservation-area restrictions, and frighten pedestrians?

Need to Speak Out
    September 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    Whether it was Ira Rennert’s or Michael Bloomberg’s helicopter that flew over our house this afternoon, it was so loud that we had to stop our conversation and let it pass. It was a relatively quiet day today with only about 25 helicopters and jets flying over our house in Noyac. Usually, there are 50 or more flights — sometimes every five minutes. Some so low it’s frightening!
    At the beginning of August of this year, after years of “putting up” with the constant flyovers, I joined the ranks of the thousands of citizens who have had enough and are taking action.
    My neighbors and I started a petition. The petition has now gathered over 500 signatures in just a few weeks. The petition can be signed at: signon.org/sign/helicopter-noise-problem.
    It is time right now for all of us to act. If the noise doesn’t bother you now, it will in the future. There are more and more flights every day, and the number of uncontrolled flights will continue to grow. This is not a problem that will go away on its own. Whether or not you have acted before, you need to start now. As we know from the recent events around the world, officials are not willing to delve into political issues unless there is a great uproar from the public.
    Several representatives from our group, and from the Quiet Skies Coalition, have been invited to participate in a meeting with public officials at the Southampton Town Hall on Monday. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has told us that the meeting will be a work session and she feels that East Hampton officials, as well as Southampton officials, are committed to resolving this problem.
    She sees three pathways to amelioration of the problem: altitude, routes, and use restrictions. There is talk of an ongoing advisory committee to be set up. The Southampton Town Board members have been made aware that we will be there acting as representatives of not only our own area, but of all the people being affected by this terrible noise problem.
    We, including people from all of the communities on the East End of Long Island, need to speak out. The East Hampton Town Board’s policies of allowing the will of commercial aircraft enterprises to flourish at the expense of, and flagrant disregard for, the welfare of the public must cease. The commercial helicopter and jet charter companies are making money at the public’s expense and it seems to me that the East Hampton Town Board is playing along with them.
    The noise complaint line is a disaster. The owner of the company that was hired to monitor these calls is the head of a helicopter lobby. The airport authorities know how many flights there are in a day.
    All the flights bother us.
    Instead of East Hampton Airport serving the private pilots and recreational fliers it was originally meant to serve, it has become an amenity for the very wealthy few, who don’t care about the many residents’ lives below.
    East Hampton residents, who elect their town board, and all of the citizens of Long Island’s East End need to tell the East Hampton Town Board to stop taking money from the Federal Aviation Administration and create an area-wide committee to work with the airport to demand that helicopters fly at 5,000 feet and jets fly as high as possible until they reach the airport — and to limit the number of flights and the hours of flights in and out of the airport.
    It can be done. The heliport at 34th Street in Manhattan has limited its hours of operation for take offs and landings because the residents near the heliport made their voices heard. So can we.

Repeat Offender
    September 10, 2012
Mr. Editor:
    Your Mast-Head column last week, “Leaving but Lingering,” was much appreciated by the many East End residents whose life quality, particularly on weekends, has been degraded by the incessant arriving and departing of helicopters into and out of East Hampton Airport.
    As you note, it is largely true that the vast majority of East Hampton residents simply don’t understand what the problem is. They live far enough east or north of the airport not to be impacted. Not true for thousands of Southampton residents in the arrival and departure paths, many of whom live far west or north of the airport (North Haven to North Sea), but still receive 80 percent of the noise generated. Many residents live as far as 14 miles from the airport but continue to be plagued throughout the weekend by the comings and goings of, as you describe, “a well-heeled few.”
    On Friday afternoon at 5:15 p.m., after numerous attempts, I was finally able to reach the noise hotline to leave a report on one of East Hampton Airport’s most egregious repeat offenders, a large, white, slow-moving, extremely noisy, low flying (300 feet if that) helicopter. It has a large dark, rectangular underside and it has been coming out here for two to three years. It is clearly the largest helicopter which visits HTO. I have complained about it repeatedly and also asked for information as to its ownership. It has never flown above 300 feet, to my knowledge, and you can hear it coming for about a half a minute, so it’s really easy to identify.
    Given the difficulty in getting through to the HTO hotline, clearly I am not the only one complaining, and after so many complaints I cannot see why Jim Brundige, the airport manager, can’t simply tell the pilot or owner that it is not welcome in our skies unless it follows the rules. A three-times-and-you’re-out policy would, and should, be the course of action for such a repeat offender.
    As a public facility, I don’t know why the records of ownership of aircraft using the airport are not a matter of public record and not available. If the airport management cannot rein in its users, then the complaining parties in the general public should have the right to address these usurpers of our quality of life directly. There would be no polite mincing of words to that end, I can assure you.
    Thank you,

All Night, All Week
    Sag Harbor
    September 7, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I understand that the Federal Aviation Administration and the current East Hampton Airport administration want to make East Hampton Airport a commercial airport, making certain that we have the horrific commuter corporate jet, seaplane, and helicopter noise over our property all day and all night, all week. I also understand that it was the decision of one East Hampton councilman (Stanzione), who directed airport personnel to change the northern helicopter transition route to fly directly, solely, over all our heads in Sag Harbor, Noyac, and much of the rest of Southampton, not to mention the North Fork.
    I read The Star’s editorial which reported Tim Bishop saying he would look for a compromise solution so that Southampton residents were not disproportionately affected by the drone and roar of the planes. I like Tim Bishop, but I don’t understand this. We are disproportionately affected by the sheer fact that the planes and helicopters are now shattering what had previously been years of quiet enjoyment of our property.
    We pay taxes for this right — in Southampton. Our neighbors are not allowed to run power blowers at 6 a.m., they have noise restrictions on parties, and noise restrictions in general, which we are all obliged to abide. Why should these private corporate planes and pricey helicopters at $2,000 per ride to go to Manhattan — used only by a small and rich minority — be allowed to cause such havoc on the rest of us? Where are our representatives? Who are they representing?
    The drone and roar of these planes now begins at 6 a.m. And since the route has been changed, it goes pretty much nonstop from Thursday afternoon until Tuesday morning. One jet roared by last Thursday night at 11 p.m. Anybody thinking of buying property here would think twice and maybe not at all if they knew they were subjected to this noise most of the week, and our property values will certainly reflect this.
    This transition route change should be absolutely non-negotiable and repealed. I can’t sit out on my deck and read during the invasion of noise, I can’t enjoy the outdoors at all, and neither can hundreds of my neighbors. I don’t think we want a commercial airport, and we certainly don’t want to be the patsies for people’s private commutes. East Hampton Town must refuse to accept additional F.A.A. money, and when the current contract runs out in December 2014, refuse to go along with the plan to make a busy, commercial airport, and, perhaps most important, refuse to vote for town councilpersons who don’t support residents, or blithely disregard us. Additionally, we should investigate the idea of curtailing the hours that private helicopters and corporate jets are allowed to take off and land.
    It is not a matter of sharing this preposterous noise, it is a matter of saying no altogether in a very loud voice when it so totally disrupts our lives.

‘Temporary’ Closure
    September 10, 2012
Dear David,
    Last Thursday, the town board invited public comment on whether the scavenger waste plant should be temporarily closed. Unfortunately, no one mentioned that the corrective action plan for the scavenger waste plant called for it to stay open as a transfer station while the town board determined — and implemented — a long-term solution.
    This corrective action plan was adopted by the town board in November, and was then accepted by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The steps outlined in this plan were a promise of action to the residents of East Hampton, to the carters who use the plant, and to the D.E.C.
    The idea of contravening the corrective plan with a temporary closing of the plant emerged this summer. The original impetus was the town budget officer’s announcement that the scavenger waste fund was going further into deficit because this year’s budget lacked money to operate the transfer station. This reason implies that the original meaning of “temporary closure” was a closure until Dec. 31. Next year’s budget could (and should) provide adequate funding so that no operating deficit would be produced.
    But it was evident at last week’s hearing that “temporary” is now undefined. The discussion at last week’s hearing lacked clarity because it was not known by the carters or other participants whether the closing would be for two months, six months, or some indeterminate time. No board member stated what “temporary” meant. This vagueness may be intentional on the part of those who prefer that the plant be permanently closed.
    Any property tax savings from a temporary closing that is longer than the weeks needed for deferred maintenance could be overwhelmed by increased user’s costs and other negative consequences. Since January, when the plant stopped processing waste and became a transfer station, the cost of waste disposal is up 17 percent. A complete closing will increase that again, especially for many residential and small-business customers.
    As the capacity of the plant was also reduced this year, carters have had to turn down both new customers and calls for emergency help because they have had nowhere to profitably take the waste. That problem will also worsen with a complete closing.
    A better way to save money would be to replace the $17,500-a-month outside operator with one full-time, plus, if and when needed, one part-time town employee until the town has at least completed the planning phase of the corrective action plan. Any privatization of the plant should only come after we can reasonably enunciate our goals for the plant.
    The lack of proper funding in this year’s budget should be rectified in next year’s budget (which should also include money to remove all of this year’s operating deficit). Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley both support keeping the plant open, as I do, so they should back up their policy preference with proper funding.

Would Back Up
    East Hampton
    September 10, 2012
Dear David,
    Under no circumstances should the town board temporarily or permanently close the scavenger waste plant. The plant receives pump-outs from cess­pools and septic tanks. A closing would cause extreme hardship and unnecessary added expenses to town residents.
    Local, small-truck carters who serve residential houses testified at a public town board hearing last week that they would be put out of business if the transfer station were closed. These carters said it would not be economically feasible for them to drive to the Bergen Point processing plant in Patchogue. Only large truck operators would drive that distance; however, large trucks cannot serve many small residents.
    If there are no small-truck operators then residents whose septic systems or cesspools back up would have no way of fixing their problem and the result would be catastrophic. Fecal material would back up into their kitchen sinks!
    The town board members are divided as to what to do. Prudence calls for the board to undertake studies to evolve a long-term solution to this problem, taking into account the increased population expected in our town and the protection of our environment.
    The shortsighted privatization approach is no way to go. Our government must be in charge and control of this vital service to assure the safety and welfare of our residents and the preservation of our land.

Should Be Closed
    East Hampton
    September 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am glad to see that our town finance department has done a good job this year. We are now going to work on the budget for 2013, which will require the input from all town departments.
    One area where we can save money is the scavenger waste plant. The cesspool companies are not even using it for a holding tank. They take their trucks to Riverhead. We have six or seven people working there who could be used in other departments. What do they do at a plant that is not working? The plant should be closed.

Two-Percent Cap
    September 9, 2012
Dear David,
    The educational system of New York is struggling under the 2-percent cap Governor Cuomo inflicted upon the state, a decree that was passed in the wee hours of the Legislature.
    In Springs, a group of parents had to work hard to gather enough funds to continue with a sports program that anyone with five brain cells knows benefits the minds and bodies of children. In East Hampton, the continuing education program serving the citizens at large has dwindled. Personally, I have taken a variety of classes at the high school since I first stepped foot in this district and will sorely miss the experience of the classroom.
    (And speaking of classrooms, never have I witnessed in all my 28 years as a teacher and school administrator such lavish, indulgent expansion of any school building, including a bizarre parking lot that warrants complaints from everyone. What was that school board thinking, lavishing my Springs tax dollars on such excesses, especially considering the inequities between the two districts?)
    These are the aspects of the local schools that are visible to outsiders. What we are not aware of, but can only guess at, are the other cuts that schools all over the state have been forced to endure due to the 2-percent cap: increased class size, art, music, and gym classes cut or diminished, loss of auxiliary teacher aides, and more, more, more. You can only imagine how the poorer, more vulnerable districts (like mine‚ Yonkers) are being hit. Increased class size is a deterrent to real learning. How does a teacher manage to give individual help to those who need a bit more or challenge those who are ready to fly with huge numbers of kids in the classroom?
    So are you wondering why this punishing 2-percent cap exists? Was it really to hold down our property taxes? Or was it actually designed by the governor in order to not raise taxes on the 1 percent — the rich? (Did we not hear this recently?) The governor believes if taxes on the rich are increased they will leave New York. That is a joke! Fat chance of that happening! Leave New York with all its amenities: theaters, restaurants, shops, the opera, private elite schools for their kids, their plush pads and summer homes in the Hamptons, and so on and so on?
    So kids suffer when we are most in need of having the best educational system and the best-educated students to respond to the increased demands of a global economy. Andrew is no apple off the Mario Cuomo tree. He is a politician looking to get re-elected, who needs to find another way to fund education in a more supportive, equitable way.  

Trying to Plan
    East Hampton
    September 4, 2012
To the Editor:
    In “Bad News on Climate Change” (editorials, Aug. 30), The Star wondered what it would take “for our elected officials to wake up.” I would suggest that the real bad news on climate change is the supposedly bad news by rather short-sighted pronouncements about the subject. The Earth is over three billion years old and it has gone through quite a bit of climate change. Since Homo sapiens appeared it has gone through several Ice Ages and warming periods all of which until now cannot be blamed on the species.
    The 19th century saw long periods of climates that were much colder than today. In Everett Rattray’s book “The South Fork,” the former East Hampton Star editor alluded to the fact that earlier in the second millennium Napeague was under water and Montauk an island, apparently suggesting that much warmer times prevailed, of course pre-climatological reporting.
    The truth of the matter is we as a species are relatively clueless on what may be influencing the climate change we believe we are currently encountering. In fact, during the mid-1900s we didn’t have a clue on the age of the Earth or some of the very important underlying factors influencing life on the planet such as plate tectonics. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we stumble when we ask the question. Is it the natural variation in Earth’s climate or is it our species’ impact? My vote would be it is both.
    Clearly, the darkening of the Arctic Ice Cap from soot from coal power production, largely in Asia, is an established cause-and-effect relationship. The rise in carbon emissions has also been implicated and may also be reasonably assumed to have an impact, but let us not forget there were periods on Earth when carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are today and the planet survived nicely, albeit without Homo sapiens’ presence.
    The natural presumption that all of these changes will cause warming may be misplaced. As pointed out by Bill Bryson in his book “A Short History of Just About Everything,” he cites “experts” who would assert that a warming climate will cause more cloud formation because of the large scale evaporation of oceans and hence a cooler climate, not a warmer one. Further, the planet has undergone a period where the average temperature changed 7 degrees in 20 years well before man could have been the contributor. That would be like exchanging the East Hampton climate for Guyana.
    It would be wonderful if we as a global species could agree on steps to take that would minimize our species’ impact on climate, notwithstanding the Earth’s own very substantial role in ever-changing climate. Let’s face it, we can’t. The Princeton-based Carbon Mitigation Initiative has offered several examples on how ways to reduce our carbon footprint through enhanced use of nuclear, solar, and wind power generation. But while we are a global species, we aren’t globally oriented.
    I suggest that before we can deal with climate change we have to face the reality that we really don’t understand it. Further, there is no way we are going to understand it if we let the myriad of allconsuming global issues distract us. It would be easier to fix the problem if we knew what was broken and why. Until that time, then, local officials will need to take best guesses on how to plan for an uncertain eventuality.
    Our western neighbor, New York City, has tried to be visionary and has spent time and effort on trying to plan for the eventualities of a different climate. I suspect it would be easier for them if they truly knew what to plan for and if there was some sort of leadership at higher levels of government, either federally or internationally. Alas, that is not going to happen anytime soon. So The East Hampton Star’s wake-up call is a good one, even though the factual support is sketchier than the editorial would have you believe.
    It is with amusement that The Star referred to the McGintee town administration’s attention to climate-change planning during their financial comeuppance. Perhaps if we want the Town of East Hampton’s officials to focus on climate change, they need to be tainted in an imbroglio from which only obfuscation via another issue would suffice. Anybody for another good local financial management scandal?

    September 7, 2012
To The Editor:
    1. Yes, please, do limit the length of most letters to the editor.
    2. Peter Spacek’s cartoons are great, particularly those appearing during the last several weeks. This week, however, contained a mistake! Kooks are always to the left. Rarely do we find them to the right.
    Yours truly,

Missed Opportunity
    September 9, 2012
To the Editor:
    The League of Women Voters has always been (and remains) a trusted source of campaign information, and so I got on to vote411.org to create a “personalized” ballot that would give me highlights on the positions of the two women running for the New York State Senate on the Democratic ticket.
    What a disappointment that all the league’s several questions, timely and significant, were met consistently by both candidates with: “Candidate has not responded.”
    I assume the league’s Web site is up to date. If so, then one unanswered question is particularly ironic: Noting that New York has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, ranking 47 out of 50, the league asked what Bridget Fleming and Jennifer Maertz would do or support or introduce as legislation to increase voter turnout. Right! No candidate turnout here.
    Yes, each candidate has a Web site, including videos, but these contain summary descriptions and statements of concern, rather than concrete proposals on how to strengthen the state economy, reduce unemployment, manage high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, regulate or change procedures regarding campaign finance spending, among other issues.
    The league has a well-earned reputation for delivering information in a nonpartisan way and in a clear, succinct format. What a missed opportunity. Senator Kenneth P. LaValle must be having a field day.

    East Hampton
    September 8, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    Have you seen the latest Tim Bishop campaign commercial on TV? It’s a hoot. Tim Bishop channels Richard Nixon and in his finest Nixonian imitation looks at the camera and says he is not a criminal. Can you imagine?
    Mr. Bishop and his campaign look like they shook down a contributor, and he accuses his opponent of calling him a criminal? If Mr. Bishop’s false accusation is any indication of his character, then he might have to make more commercials to convince voters he really is not a crook. Methinks he doth protest too much, as a great writer once said, for no one has called Tim Bishop a crook. That’s for the federal prosecutors to do, if, after a full and complete investigation, he is found to be guilty.
    Perhaps the good congressman is feeling a wee bit guilty? Rather than spending his campaign contributors’ money on making commercials that say he is not a crook, it would be more honest for him to call for an investigation. If he is innocent, then he should want his name cleared.
    So, what will it be, Tim? More I-am-not-a-crook commercials? Or, armed with the virtue of knowing you are innocent, demand a full and impartial investigation of bar mitzvah-gate? The ball is in your court and the voters deserve the truth. Not spin.

Really True
    East Hampton
    August 24, 2012
To the Editor,
    Could a story such as giving out favors for a huge donation be true of Tim Bishop? Being that Mr. Bishop is in hiding, his daughter Molly is all of a sudden being quiet, and Eric Semler is regrouping, sounds like a really true story.
    I don’t understand the American public. Charlie “Wrangler” violated the ways­ and means commission  probably for years, lived high off the hog on American taxpayers’ money, was found guilty, and gets re-elected. The D.C. mayor gets caught with crack, goes to jail, serves time, comes out, runs for mayor again, and wins.
    To the taxpayers of Suffolk County: Please don’t let this happen out here, go to the polls, and vote for Randy Altschuler; he will work for us. The smear controversy from Mr. Bishop’s administrations is just that, smear. Randy is a self-made businessman with enough experience to clean up Washington. He has built two American companies from the ground up and has created over 1,000 American jobs.
    Do you really want an Obama puppet, who has abused his power and the system and handed the taxpayers the bill, while 10 members of his family get jobs and his daughter illegally runs his campaign and funnels money to her business? Think before you vote, let’s clean up the East End and get some new blood in office.
    Thank you,

Will Never Know
    East Hampton
    September 6, 2012
To the Editor,
    Each day the press and Internet publish stories which give our congressman, Nepotism Tim, more reasons to duck town hall-style events.
    First, he would have to face questions about the donation he accepted when his daughter solicited a campaign contribution from a constituent while Nepotism Tim was getting waivers to allow fireworks at the donor’s house.
    Second, Nepotism Tim would have to respond to questions about a possible House ethics committee investigation of those donations.
    More startling, he would have to face questions about why there was loud booing when the Democratic platform committee recommended supporting Israel’s desire to have Jerusalem as its capital.
    Anyone who read the story or saw the video knows it took two calls for voice votes because the boos were louder than the yeas. Even after the second vote, the chair of the platform committee looked over nonplussed at the chair of the convention before announcing the yeas have it.
    Why was that, Nepotism Tim?
    Now, anyone watching the Democratic convention did not hear a word about our deficits and how to bring them down.
    Why was there no mention of the deficits, Nepotism Tim?
    Do you have a plan to bring down the deficits, Nepotism Tim?
    The polls show Obamacare is widely unpopular.
    Nepotism Tim, do you support Obamacare? If so, why?
    Don’t want to answer that one, do you, Nepotism Tim?
    Tell us, Nepotism Tim, do you support Senators Feinstein and Lieberman who have called for an investigation of White House leaks of national security secrets?
    In case you are confused by the question, Nepotism Tim, the leaks about the cyber-attacks on Iran and the Pakistani doctor who found bin Laden?
    How do you feel, Nepotism Tim, about that doctor now being in prison for helping us find bin Laden?
    Nepotism Tim, do you agree with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, when asked on “Face the Nation,” are we better off today, who replied, “No, but that’s not the question.”
    We will never know what Nepotism Tim says about the question because he is in hiding.

Both Sides
    September 8, 2012
Dear David Rattray,
    I have recently conducted an exhaustive survey of the voting preference of four male friends who share similar traits. They are all in their 70s, upper middle class, well informed, and are Jewish. The other shared trait, the reason for this letter, is that they are all voting for Mitt Romney since it is “clear” to them that President Obama is “an enemy of Israel.”
    It is not the purpose of this letter to discuss the weird notion that it is necessary that this president must, like his predecessor, unquestionably support everything Israel does independent of the facts. Any unbiased review of the president’s record reveals a clear, rational, positive policy vis-a-vis Israel. Rather, I wondered what their feelings were on various important issues critical to our nation’s future.
    When I asked their position on Roe v. Wade, the need to prevent a recurrence of the immoral Wall Street skullduggery, the necessity to get out of Afghanistan A.S.A.P, immigration reform, the need to have a more flexible Congress, I found that they for the most part agreed with me, an unrepentant, unashamed liberal.
    So I said, “Look, you guys, remember that you are American citizens, not joint American-Israeli citizens. This country has been good to you and your fellow Jews. You have to vote for the man that will be right for America!”
    I tried to get them to understand that if ever there were to be peace for Israel and the Palestinians, it would have to be championed by a leader capable of understanding both sides.
    Following my passionate, obviously sound argument, I have to report that no one has changed their mind. Let’s hope that there will be an epiphany and they and other similar voters will cast their ballot for the man who is right for both America and Israel.

Obama’s Promise
    East Hampton
    September 9, 2012
To the Editor,
    It is only fitting that the Democratic convention was bracketed by two very significant numbers last week. Firstly, the day before the convention our debt broke the $16 trillion mark, an unprecedented sum. The poor debt policies of George W. Bush have spiraled out of control under the Obama administration. At one point Barack Obama chastised his predecessor for adding $4 trillion to the debt in eight years and calling it unpatriotic, yet Mr. Obama has added over $5 trillion in less than four years.
    The day after Mr. Obama’s acceptance of his party’s nomination saw the release of troubling economic data. The economy which Mr. Obama said is in recovery added only 96,000 jobs at a time when we need a minimum of 120,000 jobs just to keep up with population growth. Mr. Obama’s promise that his stimulus plan would lower unemployment is nothing of the kind. The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1 percent but not for a good reason; thousands of Americans are losing hope and giving up on finding a job.
    Since Barack Obama took the reins of power millions of our fellow Americans have left the workforce. In fact, workforce participation is at an all-time low, just 63.5 percent. The last time it was that low was in 1981 and just before the Reagan revolution began to turn the country around. If this country still had the labor participation rate it had when Mr. Obama took office unemployment would be 11.2 percent, a far truer reflection of how badly the country is suffering under the Obama regime.
    Our country is in dire straits. Barack Obama, our president, is out of his depth and lacks the leadership skills needed. He has a jobs council that he has not met with in almost nine months. It would not matter as he has ignored their advice for most of his term. Barack Obama formed the Simpson-Bowles Committee to develop a plan for fiscal reform. He praised the group for their work and their ideas and promptly ignored every one.
    America needs a leader, a person who knows how to work only with the very best to achieve tangible results. That leader is Mitt Romney, a man who has done the hard work in private industry, as governor of Massachusetts, and as head of the successful Utah Olympic games. The choice is clear, we can elect a man who became a millionaire helping create businesses and thousands of jobs or we can elect a man who got rich writing books about himself.

Consumed With Hate
    September 10, 2012
Dear David,
    On Aug. 23, in letters to the editor, Reggie Cornelia seemed concerned about President Obama’s golf game. He also brought up the fact that the price of gas in 2008, when President Obama took office, was about $1.78 vs. $4 now, and he either thinks the president sets this price or can change it at will. What a fool! He also mentioned that the price of food has shot up. He stated that four years ago he was able to buy skirt steak for about $3.99 to $4.99 per pound and now it was $9.99 to $12.99 per pound. I guess Republicans can afford to eat steak; we Democrats just get by with chicken when we can afford it.
    When Wall Street, the big banks, and their bogus unsecured mortgage loans devastated this country’s finances, putting people out of work, creating homeless families, and worse, they promised to “never do it again.” Mind you, no one ever went to jail for that, and the only reason Bernie Madoff went to jail is because he robbed the 1 percent. Now the same Wall Street movers and shakers have decided to manipulate and play games with the oil prices. They are to blame, not the president, but this doesn’t­ matter to Reggie, because he is just so consumed with hate for all Demo­crats. He says we’re stupid, ignorant people, and we don’t know what we’re talking about. If you don’t believe me, just ask him. Reggie, wake up, it’s 2012, there are no more 25-cent beers!
    As for the current national debt, over two-thirds of the total national debt is from the last three Republican administrations, more then twice as much as all other presidents in history combined. A fact, and I think we all know who the last Republican president was and the financial condition he left us in. I also find it interesting that from the very first day that Barack Obama won the election, not the day he took office, the Republican Party’s agenda, and they stated it openly later on, was “we must get rid of Barack Obama!”
    Why? He had not yet tried to put into effect any of his campaign promises or ideas, nor could he at that point, and yet they hated and despised him. He was a Muslim, he wasn’t born here in these United States, he might be a terrorist. To put it plain and simple, I think it is just because he is black! Why else do these red states hate him so much? Why wouldn’t they work with him and help lift our country out of its fiscal crisis so that all Americans could look ahead and know that their children and their children’s children had some sort of a stable future? These last three years would turn out to be the worst Congress in American history, nothing would get done due to the fear that President Obama might get credit for it and be re-elected.
    Look at how many times John Boeh­ner and his cronies in Congress shot down President Obama’s American Jobs Act, and every time they voted against it, the jobs report just got worse, making them look good. Selfish bastards! Mitt Romney now has one of those very same congressmen running alongside him. You know him, the guy who can run a mile in just over two-and-a-half minutes! Oh, another mis-speak by someone on that side of the aisle. Mitt Romney also stated, this past Sunday morning on “Meet The Press,” if elected, he wouldn’t be able to balance the budget until his second term and yet he, Ryan, Boehner, and the rest of them demanded that the eight-year fiscal mess George Bush left behind should be repaired by President Obama in his first year in office!
    The real Republicans, who would have liked to and might have crossed over and worked with and alongside the president, fear this Grover Norquist and his hateful Tea Party movement, reminiscent of Hitler’s brown shirts in Nazi Germany prior to World War II. If they (Republicans) do not sign his pledge to never raise taxes, under any circumstances, they’re out of a job, plain and simple, and with all this power he is wielding, what else will he ask of them? God only knows. They are such a weak bunch of cowards, just looking to save their own jobs, not really caring about anyone else. If they really had a concern for this country they would all rise up against Norquist and that Nazi-inspired group and take back their pride and dignity! How can they live with themselves, face their friends and family every day? I couldn’t and wouldn’t under any circumstances.   
    “Give me liberty or give me death.” Patrick Henry: 1775. Dwight D. Eisenhower with great insight said it best in November of 1954:      
    “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman, and they are stupid.”
    And now, as if things aren’t bad enough, there seems to be another bigger, better Super PAC which can indirectly raise unlimited funds for the sole purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate, Republican or Demo­crat, and not disclose the amount or where that money came from. This means we can now have a country like China, North Korea, Iran, or any other hostile foreign country buy the president of their choice and place him in office, in our United States. Sound familiar? Can you say “Manchurian Candidate”?
    Finally. Yes, I’m sorry to say, I and many, many others in this country would like to know just how much money Mitt Romney has paid in taxes and the loop-holes he has used to avoid paying his fare share, and how much money is stashed in those offshore, non-taxable accounts. It does seem like there is something to hide.


Heartbeat Away
    East Hampton
    September 7, 2012
To the Editor:
    Attention, Romney fans: The Republican Party wants less government. However, they want to tell you what to do in your bedroom. Paul Ryan, who is a heartbeat away from being president if Romney wins, believes that under no circumstances should abortion be allowed, not even in cases of rape.
    Women, how would you like to carry a child for nine months, give birth, and have to rear the child of a rapist? Many of you are too young to remember life before Roe v. Wade when women had to go to back-alley abortionists, some not even doctors, because abortions were illegal. Many women were harmed, and some died at the hands of these butchers.
    Of concern to older Americans: Medicare and Social Security will be slashed.
    Romney says he has a plan to improve the economy. What is it? Please give us the particulars.
    On global terms, Romney raised hackles in England complaining there weren’t enough preparations for the Olympic Games. In Israel, trying to get the Jewish vote in America, he angered the whole Arab world by saying Israel was superior because of their cultural values. His gaffes show he has no political polish and certainly prove that he is no diplomat.
    How can anyone overlook his avoiding taxes by putting his money in offshore places like the Cayman Islands? Doesn’t sound very pro-American to me.
    What is he hiding in refusing to release his tax returns?
    Lest we forget, Obama inherited the economic debacle made by the Republican president, Bush. All Obama’s attempts at trying to improve the economy were thwarted by Republicans who see themselves as Republicans first and Americans second.

Pro-Obama Agenda
    East Hampton
    September 10, 2012
To the Editor:
    Thank you to The Star and Stephanie Wade for reviewing “The Book of Obama: From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt.” At a time when many newspapers have curtailed or eliminated literary criticism, it’s reassuring to find that my hometown paper has not followed suit.
    At the risk of churlishness, however, I write to express my disdain for this latest example of an unfortunate trend: the op-ed piece written in the form of a book review. Ms. Wade is entitled to her opinions and politics, and one should not be so naive as to assume that her biases and personal points of view don’t come into play in her writing. In that sense, there’s nothing wrong with a little disclosure. But when fully a third of her “book review” consists of a rant that takes issue, not with the contents of my book but rather her own personal (pro-Obama) agenda and take on current events, she betrays her readers.
    Readers of book reviews want and deserve to know: Is the book worth reading? Does it succeed on its own terms? Is it interesting?
    One understands the reviewer’s temptation to editorialize, especially in a discussion about politics during an election year. But it is always inappropriate. Having written numerous reviews, including about titles by authors whose political views are diametrically opposed to my own, I strive to consider each book on its own terms, not mine. Whether I think that, say, Francis Fukuyama is a pompous neo-con fool is of no interest to someone considering whether or not to buy his latest tome. Indeed, whether or not he is a pompous neo-con fool has little to do with whether many readers might find his work of interest, and so I should save those opinions for a better-suited venue, like an op-ed‚ or, even better, a political book of my own.
    Ms. Wade writes: “I believe that President Obama has done a better job than John McCain would have and that today President Obama offers a different vision of the future and different policies than those Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan propose. Because these differences will have concrete consequences on our lives, I will vote for Barack Obama.”
    She accuses me of faulty logic, yet these statements are inherently counterfactual and not provable. No one knows whether a McCain administration would have doled out $7.77 trillion to criminal bankers while not lifting a finger to help distressed homeowners and renters, whether it would have expanded the drone war in Pakistan, or closed Guantanamo. No one knows whether Romney will move to curtail abortion rights, provoke war with Iran, or, for that matter, close Guantanamo. More to the point, who cares who Ms. Wade plans to vote for?
    Then things get loopy.
    “Last autumn, harvest time,” Ms. Wade continues, “I kept expecting the Occupy protesters in New York to hack through the concrete sidewalks of downtown Manhattan and start planting vegetable gardens. That is how the revolution began in Starhawk’s 1993 novel, ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing,’ a work that helps me understand the limits of Mr. Rall’s argument for violent interventions. Creating gardens out of concrete is no longer a utopian dream, but rather part of a global movement of people finding power in their ability to feed themselves and their communities.”
    I haven’t read Starhawk’s novel (though I fail to see the relevance to my book, which argues that Obama was the unwitting midwife of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, and that the fact that he’s the best we can do under this system exposes the system‚ as Gorbachev did in the U.S.S.R.‚ as the problem, not one man’s personality). I do wonder, however, how many subway, utility, and steam pipes one would have to hack through before finding soil under Zuccotti Park. I also wonder why Ms. Wade would have to look 100 miles west to learn more about the movement, when we have Occupy the East End right here.
    Finally, I wonder how carefully she read my discussion of revolutionary violence, which clearly states that, though violence is always necessary in order to close the deal, to achieve fully revolutionary change of regime and a truly new political system with a new class structure (c.f. Egypt), nonviolence is the best and probably sole tactic available to us at this time, given the need to grow the movement and the overwhelming superiority of military power in the hands of the state.
    Ultimately, I wonder how Ms. Wade’s editor missed the logical gap between her assertion that I present “a false choice between incrementalism and revolution,” and her subsequent list of alternate nonrevolutionary suggestions for political action‚ voting, “creating gardens out of concrete,” “time banks,” and “transition towns,” all of which qualify as, well, incremental.
    The glaciers are melting, the oceans are rising, and the polar bears are drowning. The national debt is out of control, structural unemployment is staggering, real inflation is high, and there’s no sign of recovery in sight. Americans are starving and dying due to lack of medical care. Meanwhile, in between golfing more than 100 times, Ms. Wade’s favorite president is authorizing ever-expanding expenditures on extravagant weapons in order to slaughter innocent foreigners in illegal wars that create our next generation of enemies.
    We no longer have time for the denial-based logic of incrementalism.

Race Card
    East Hampton
    September 10, 2012
To the Editor,
    It is really disturbing to read Neil Hausig’s letter of Sept. 2 comparing Republicans to Nazis. “Like the Nazis, the Republicans go after the weakest and the defenseless.” Is he serious? Unfortunately, I believe he is. Has he no other way to disagree than to hurl such scurrilous remarks? So much for tolerance!
    His unveiled comparison in the following quote on the Republican convention to the Aryan adulation of Hitler is beyond contemptible. “Skip to America in 2012. See the people at the Republican convention, all white and blonde in a country that is almost 60 percent nonwhite. See the ecstasy and rapture on their faces during Paul Ryan’s speech and listen to the platform of the Republican Party.”
    Such discourse from civilized neighbors is disheartening to say the least. He also purposely ignored the number of Hispanic and black Republican elected officials who spoke at the convention, as well as Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, a first-generation American of Indian descent who is the Governor of South Carolina. I guess in his mind, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also does not count. His venomous characterization of the Republican Party is pure fantasy. It is way past time to stop playing the race card. Let’s discuss the issues facing this country on their merits.

Long-Term Needs
    East Hampton
    September 9, 2012
To the Editor,
    Today the stock market reached 13,300, while unemployment stayed at 8.3 percent. Separately they show an economy that is flourishing on one level and in pain on the other. If the market were only at 12,000 and unemployment at 7.5 percent, the economy would be perceived as moving in a different direction. Our economic reality is that parts of the economy do flourish while other parts stagnate. But in our new restructured economy only 20 percent works, while the other 80 percent doesn’t.­
    So in searching the differences in the platforms of our parties we try to figure out why the Republicans support the top 20 percent and the Democrats, the bottom 80 percent.
    Background and character probably matter. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, like the Bushes, are from the privileged class — wealthy, connected families that provided contacts, support, and sustenance for them. Both were spoon-fed and coddled. Neither ever knew a moment more difficult than choosing dinner on a restaurant menu.
    Mr. Ryan never worked outside of government, never had a payroll to make or a budget to live by. His plan, now defunct, reflected his detachment from reality.
    Barack Obama and Joe Biden came from the 80 percent — no wealth or connections, busted their butts for everything, lived through hard times without daddies’ bank accounts to sustain them. Like Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon, they came from a working class world.
    Regardless of their backgrounds, neither convention produced a plan to grow the economy and create jobs. Romney-Ryan doesn’t need to create jobs because their constituency, the top 20 percent, are doing okay. They also know that in 2016 the United States will be almost 60 percent nonwhite, and Republicans will disappear for 20 years. Obama-Biden is obligated to job creation by birth and constituency but they aren’t sure how to go about it.
    Getting elected is really all that matters to both parties, but then what? Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan; let the market slowly work things out for the 80 percent and in 15 or 20 years they will become the bottom 60 percent. The stock market at 13,300 is what really matters; their guys are covered. Lower the deficit, cut entitlements. Protect our guys. Redistribute a little more wealth to the top. Screw the many for the benefit of the few.
    The daily analysis of these numbers is generally imbecilic. The trends that have marginalized U.S. workers and our middle class are more than 35 years in the making. A drop in unemployment to even 5 percent has little value if the jobs created are low-wage and insufficient to feed a family. The structural changes in our system need to be repaired and the trends reversed. Quick fixes are only good for elections. The long-term needs have to be addressed.
    Restructuring the economy requires a redistribution of wealth down to the middle class in order to create demand, which will induce investment and create jobs. It will never happen.
    Rebuilding the economy actually starts with the government because the private sector has no reason to or benefit from investing in the country and creating good-paying jobs. It requires the same attitudinal sea change that took place under President Reagan in the 1980s. Except this time the mantra has to be about the value of U.S. workers, not about marginalizing them.
    Rebuilding our middle class won’t provide for short-term profits but it will guarantee our kids’ future.
    The next administration should be chosen because it has a plan. Ideological paralysis destroys our future. It ­doesn’t matter how gross and stupid our new leaders are or how much they love our country, their wives, or Jesus. It only matters that they have a plan and that it might work.

Many Treasures
    September 8, 2012
To the Editor,
    We are fired up and ready to go! I would like to let everyone know there is going to be a giant yard sale for the benefit of the Obama/Bishop campaigns on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 46 Alewife Road in East Hampton. Democrats and Obama/Bishop supporters have been collecting items for sale for the last several weeks.
    With the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and big money flowing into campaigns from big millionaires, many of us in East Hampton have been clearing out our basements and taking donations of antiques and collectibles, rugs, and pottery, and gathering many household items to sell for the benefit of the Obama/Bishop campaigns. We are going to have a bake-sale table with lots of homemade sweets, we shall have a table with election information and absentee ballot applications, we have bumper stickers and pins to sell, along with the many treasures donated.
    The sale will begin at 10 a.m. and last until 3 p.m. We encourage all to come and shop! Rain date is Sunday, Sept 16. Thank you.

Our Job
    September 7, 2012
To the Editor,
    After listening to President Obama’s speech last night, and knowing his opponents positions, I am deeply concerned about the lack of conversation regarding our environment. This is something that affects us all, yet why is it not the principal discussion from those hoping to lead our country into the future? As an East Hampton Town trustee and a resident of the planet, I believe the most important issue we face today is the health of our environment.
    At the top of my list of concerns is water quality. Clean, potable water will be the scarcest resource in the future if we do not act now to forcefully protect it. Surface and groundwater is being contaminated at an alarming rate. We are poisoning the planet with toxic pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals.
    A number of dangerous pesticides are found in our local drinking water. Nitrogen-laden wastewater effluent and pathogenic, polluted stormwater runoff are harming our waters as well. We are not alone, as similar chemicals and pathogens are polluting drinking and surface waters across the nation and planet.
    The Earth now has hundreds of “dead zones‚” which are water-bodies where next to nothing lives. We have our own dead zones close to East Hampton. Portions of the Long Island Sound and the Shinnecock Bay are home to dead zones. It is solely because of us and our nitrogenous wastewater, fertilizers, and fossil fuel-based emissions. Will East Hampton be the next to experience dead zones? I certainly hope not.
    Nationally, we continue to explore for dwindling hydrocarbon-based resources rather than utilize the unlimited power of the sun and wind. We are taking great risks, and are compromising entire communities and their health through hydrofracking and other harmful energy extraction practices. As we exploit the limited supply of hydrocarbon-based fuels, we are jeopardizing sensitive ecosystems, as well as the future ability to live on a healthy planet. The results of burning these polluting energy sources are staggering. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are being continually discharged into the atmosphere. Fossil fuel burning is not the only culprit. There are many other sources, such as cement production, commercial agriculture, and factory farming that are emitting harmful gasses (and polluting water and soil) every day. These practices are causing global climate changes at an alarming rate.
    Locally, we are not immune to these changes. A recent study predicted the northeastern United States as an epicenter of sea-level rise, which will encounter drastic effects of global climate change in the future. What can we do as a nation, or as a community, to solve these problems? Have we, as a community, started to plan for the effects of sea-level rise? Are we modeling and planning, or are we just sitting idly and waiting? Is our federal government planning for our future?
    Whatever we are doing, we must work harder and faster. We must work together. We are all in this together, and the time is now. We must act before it is too late, too costly, or too complicated to make necessary and substantial changes that will affect future generations. The future, in my opinion, has a right to enjoy what we have today. It would be best if we give them this town, and this planet, in better condition than when we arrived.
    It is our job to steward the environment and all of the natural resources of this planet for today and for the future. Not only for the future of East Hampton, but for the nation and the planet. This is a huge responsibility, I know, but I believe, because America is the greatest nation on this fine, blue planet, and because East Hampton is the greatest community in America, that it is our job to heal and protect our one and only home, this fine, blue planet that we all share.
    I hope we can swiftly move toward solutions, and that we can elect a president who will help us in this global struggle to save our future.

    New York City
    September 3, 2012
Dear Editors:
    I was astonished to read the anti-Israel ravings in “Enough,” a letter in your Aug. 30 issue. I find it hard to believe that such expressions of mindless hatred should be published. If they had been directed against another nation, would they have found room in your pages? The charges of “mendacity” and “insatiable greed” are the hallmarks of ethnic hatred traditionally leveled at Jews and, therefore, Israel.
    A free press is certainly one of our treasures, but there should be limitations imposed by rationality, judgment, and even print space. When a hatemonger rails against the only democracy and home of a free press in the vast Middle East, using terms like “liar and creep,” “hell bent on destroying us,” “most powerful person in our government [Benjamin Netanyahu],” doesn’t he go beyond the reasonableness that even the freest press should exercise? American Jews and Israelis certainly express their strong disagreements with Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, but those differences don’t call for this kind of deranged bombast.

Supposed to Read
    September 10, 2012
Editor dear,
    Drat! My Sept. 2 letter to you was supposed to read, “I support 100 percent” — not 10 percent, for heaven’s sake. Let me add, however, that even 10 percent of me is nothing to sneeze at.