October 23, 2011
To the Editor,
I am writing you this letter to thank Joe Bloecker and Larry Penny for all their help with my daughter Dorothy’s Girl Scout silver project. He and Larry are what is good about our East Hampton government. They put people first as all our officials should.
On Election Day I hope the people in our community come out and vote for Joe Bloecker. All of us need someone as responsive as Joe serving our community.
I would also like to thank Victoria Bustamante and Warren’s Nursery for donating the plants for the Girl Scout silver project.
October 24, 2011
On behalf of the staff, volunteers, and the children and families enrolled at East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, I would like to thank Paddlers for Humanity for their recent grant to the center. Paddlers for Humanity has been a staunch supporter of our efforts to provide financial aid and scholarships to families in our community who need consistent, high-quality early care and education for their very young children, but who cannot afford the full tuition.
Many thanks to all of the paddlers who have participated in Paddlers for Humanity events this year — your efforts to raise money for the many important causes supported by the organization are greatly appreciated!
Paddlers for Humanity is a unique organization, dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth in our community, and beyond. East Hampton Day Care Learning Center is honored to be among the organizations supported by Paddlers for Humanity, and we are grateful for their steadfast support of the children and families in our community.
East Hampton Day Care
Handled the Fall
October, 20, 2011
I am missing something this fall. As the World Series gets under way, I can’t help but miss the Chin Music articles that appeared for a few years in the sports section of The Star. I certainly wonder how Jason Biondo handled the fall of the Bronx Bombers and the mediocre start of his Rex Ryan-led Jets.
I thought his articles were excellent commentaries on sports as well as parenting and other musings that struck his fancy (as well as I believe those of your readers). As an avid reader of your publication, I would welcome his return even if he roots for the wrong teams.
JOHN F. PEISER
Offer That Cat
October 18, 2011
To the Editor,
In regard to the story that ran a few weeks ago over the allegedly cat-napped purebred ragdoll, everyone knows if you find a lost animal in your neighborhood you should try to find the owner, and there is no excuse except utter selfishness and denial, especially if there are lost-cat fliers posted all over the streets, at both ends of your block, and at your favorite little Old Stone Market. (I saw all those posters in the neighborhood.)
This person doesn’t sound like a neighbor I would like to have living a few houses away from me; neighbors look out for each other where I come from. Supposedly absconding with the cat back to New York, never wondering how distraught or heartbroken the owner would be, is just not something an animal lover or good person would do. You should offer that cat back. I am sure Beth Eckhardt would forgive you. You should try to redeem yourself and not be so selfish. Don’t you think she would like to see her cat? Well, wouldn’t you?
SARAH PAUL LINDELL
October 24. 2011
To the Editor:
Last week I submitted a letter to the editor about the passing of Ted Dragon, an East Hampton luminary. It contained a poem, “Ode to Ted,” that I wrote and that was published in The Star years ago. I couldn’t find my original copy, so I spent over one hour at the library looking through the microfiche files of back issues of The Star until I found it. It was about the Christmas cookies that were made in his kitchen and distributed every year. I intended the poem to be a small tribute to a lovely man. Much to my dismay, you chose to edit my letter and omit my poem. I would rather that you had not published my letter at all.
October 21, 2011
Dear David Rattray,
All that was left were millions of Tarzans and millions of elephants.
October 23, 2011
To the Editor:
I was mildly surprised when I pulled in to the Jitney parking area in Montauk and saw the “Parking by Permit Only” signs. I was tempted to park there, but I was unsure if that meant that you needed a Hampton Jitney permit (such as they sell for $7 per day in Southampton) or a permit from the Chase Bank. Fortunately the taxicabs that utilize some of the remaining parking spots as their home base were out hustling fares, and I got a spot where no permit was required.
In the next issue of The East Hampton Star I read about the new signs in the article by Janis Hewitt “Honking Over Parking Plan.” My thanks go out to Hy Brodsky for pushing the sign issue, and to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Julia Prince for doing what she does best — getting the job done.
I was astounded that Pete Ferraro of Plaza Sports objected to the signs and had the nerve to complain. Perhaps he should remove the chain-link fence enclosing the dog houses, motor scooters, and other unsightly junk and reopen the 8 to 10 parking spaces that existed before Plaza Sports moved into town. If he is that concerned about the customers looking to spend time and money in local stores, restaurants, and other businesses, it would seem logical for him to remove the “Don’t Even Think About Parking Here” signs from the back of his junkyard.
I think the signs serve their purpose, but they should be amended to provide some clarification as to the “Permit” issue.
October 24, 2011
I received the press release from Councilman Dominick Stanzione dated Sept. 30 as a Freedom of Information Act request that describes the New York State Economic Impacts of Aviation report. I found the Department of Transportation report online after the town failed to respond to a F.O.I.A. request. The councilman’s characterization and description of the report is false to the extent, in my opinion, that it is fraudulent. Clearly this should be considered an intentional deception for political gain when East Hampton Airport is being hotly debated this election cycle.
The councilman begins by stating the report “concluded that East Hampton Airport generates 91 jobs and that it pours $12.6 million into our local economy.” Throughout the release he uses phrases such as “our local economy,” “our community,” and “local economic enterprises.” He characterizes the report as “important evidence of the economic contribution of the airport to every taxpayer in our community.” The first statement of the report defines the purpose and it is highlighted in its own box: “The purpose of this study is to highlight the impacts of the aviation sector — specifically the impacts derived from public-use airports — to the economy of the state.”
I don’t believe there is a community elsewhere that more clearly defines “local” than East Hampton. When the word “local” is used it refers to full-time residents and the local community of East Hampton. In fact, to many, the word “local” refers more specifically to those who trace their roots to the Mayflower. The report makes absolutely no reference to our community or our local economy. These are New York State jobs and money pouring into the state economy. In fact, when the report defines “local” in paragraph 2.5, Local Economic Context, it uses Wal-Mart stores as the example. There are no Wal-Mart stores in East Hampton; we can’t relate to such a context.
I was so taken back by the disparity between the councilman’s press release and the state report that I gave the councilman an opportunity to explain his statements. I filed a F.O.I.A. request asking him specifically to name the local jobs and give details on the $12.6 million pouring into our community. Since the report was released in May, he should have had sufficient time to substantiate his claims. No response was received.
The state report emphasizes Elmira/Corning Regional Airport; there is a helicopter manufacturing plant (Sikorsky) at the airport. That airport contributes $1.54 billion to New York State’s economy and is supporting 3,377 jobs in New York State.
This report makes it painfully clear that we are paying dearly for the degradation of peaceful enjoyment of our property, the assault from helicopters, jets, and seaplanes torturing our lives for the benefit of Elmira’s economy and filling the coffers of New York State. We are paying a huge price for a form of transportation that is not necessary for our economy or contributing to it.
I collected photo evidence of almost every helicopter landing in East Hampton Airport. I identified owners of each helicopter and where they originate from. The majority of helicopters are based in New York City, New Jersey, Dutchess County, and Westchester County. The majority of the corporate jets and seaplanes are based outside East Hampton as well.
One only has to drive by the airport now, during the week, to see the airport is empty. Where are the local jobs? Even the airport manager is not local. Show me the money. I bet the crumbs benefiting East Hampton’s economy don’t cover the loss of tax base from plummeting property values under the helicopter routes.
Why are East Hampton residents paying the price to support economies in New York City, New Jersey, Dutchess County, Westchester County, and Elmira? Why is deception required to support the increase in airport activities? Ask yourself these questions when you pull the lever on Election Day. This is your opportunity to send a message.
Quiet Skies Coalition
October 24, 2011
To the Editor,
Earlier this month (see The Star’s Oct. 13 issue) the Wilkinson team at Town Hall spent an untold amount of taxpayer money bringing their many-hundreds-of-dollars-an-hour aviation lawyer in from Denver for several days to further befog the airport noise discussion. Just in time for our town board election, he presented a carefully crafted political message in support of the Wilkinson team’s limited airport policies — carefully crafted but grossly misleading.
The path to real abatement of the ever-increasing community noise from jets, helicopters, seaplanes, and touch-and-gos is quite clear to everyone not beholden to jet and helicopter users and airport businesses and other interests. It requires potential nighttime and weekend curfews, limiting individual aircraft noise levels, and restrictions on overall numbers of landings, takeoffs, and touch-and-gos.
But in the past, East Hampton has accepted study subsidy money for airport construction from the Federal Aviation Administration. Those F.A.A. grants carry with them 39 contractual obligations, called grant assurances, that last for 20 years from the grant date. Four of the 39 prevent East Hampton from imposing the mandatory effective noise-abatement rules such as curfews. Those four grant assurances, however, expire in 2014.
The good news for us is that the federal court, having jurisdiction over East Hampton (the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals), has endorsed the power of the municipal airport proprietor not burdened by grant assurances to impose such noise-abatement measures in the total absence of approval by the F.A.A.
In other words, without grant assurances, there is no need for F.A.A. approval. And so, when East Hampton’s four restrictive grant assurances expire in 2014, East Hampton will be able to impose curfew and related mandatory noise abatement measures. It can take real control of airport noise in about three years.
Yet the Wilkinson team lawyer tells us that “we do not know” whether F.A.A. approval of curfews and other airport noise abatement rules would be necessary for East Hampton after the key grant assurances expire in 2014.
Glibly passing over the 1988 National Helicopter case, he reports that, since a 1990 Congressional act, only two municipalities of which he is aware have sought such approval, one succeeding and one failing. But so what? In both cases, those municipalities had themselves sought such approval because they had received and wanted to continue receiving F.A.A. money that unfortunately carried the restrictive grant assurances.
So much for “we do not know.”
The political argument limps on further, however, referring to general standards of law and the Constitution, such as reasonableness and nondiscrimination, that will apply even without grant assurances. But again, those relevant standards were applied by the court in the 1998 National Helicopter case and they did not prevent the court from allowing the noise abatement with no F.A.A. involvement.
On the basis of all that spin, the Wilkinson team and their lawyer want us to believe, according to The Star’s Oct. 13 report, that the possibilities for the town to gain a federal approval to enact restrictions such as curfews “will change slightly, but only slightly” after our key grant assurances expire in 2014. By this legerdemain, we should forget about the controlling law pronounced by our own federal appeals court.
Perhaps the most blatantly political aspect of this advocacy is the added assertion that the town’s current policies of voluntary noise limits, rerouting helicopters, and installing a control tower constitute a “scalpel approach” that can achieve “75, 80, 90 percent” of what real local control would do. That is pure hyperbole, with virtually no basis in fact.
While the community watches the scalpel approach, Town Hall wants to apply as soon as possible to the F.A.A. to subsidize repairs to airport deer fencing, this starting another 20-year period of grant assurances. Since such a minor project can well be funded out of existing airport surpluses of as much as $1.5 million, what could be the need for F.A.A. deer fencing money?
The Wilkinson team’s only need is to lock in all the grant assurances for another 20 years. That way, they and their successors can continue to hide behind federal rules and avoid local responsibility for protecting the public so they instead can protect their minuscule but big-money group of airport-interest political patrons.
This so-called scalpel really is more a sledgehammer over the heads of the public.
CHARLES A. EHREN JR.
Nothing Being Done
October 24, 2011
I reside on a street that is on the final approach to East Hampton Airport. Our neighborhood has experienced the decline in quality of life due to the tremendous increase in jet air traffic over our houses — sometimes as frequently as three minutes apart on summer weekends. I have reported these events to the airport-noise hotline during the past few years.
After reading about the newly approved airport layout plan, I called Jim Brundige, the airport manager. I was incredulous when he did not know the location of Wireless Road, even though it is on the final approach, and referred to the group opposing Federal Aviation Administration money as disingenuous.
His response to my concerns about noise and safety was that change is inevitable and we just have to accept it, just like the increase in vehicular traffic and new-home construction. Based on our conversation, he obviously is serving the special interests in our community, namely the pilots and the wealthy few who commute to their weekend residences.
Regarding the full-page ads by the East Hampton Aviation Association, nothing could be further from the truth. East Hampton has nothing to celebrate. Our airport will not be quieter, it will not be safer, and it will not have local control. So much for the deceptive headline. And it is telling to note that references in the ad are to helicopters, never to jets, and the logo of the association and photo features a small, recreational plane, leading one to believe that it represents what is taking off and landing at our airport.
The new plan to reroute the helicopters to the southern route is merely transferring the noise problem from one area to another. There is absolutely nothing being done to restrict the noise from jets, or the number and frequency of planes, or to enforce the voluntary curfews, or to monitor the emissions polluting our air and damaging our health, or even to review the calls to the complaint line. Mr. Brundige actually said that no one complains about jet noise! If that is the case, then what happened to my “recorded” calls?
I praise the Democratic candidates and Bill Mott of the Independence Party for their commitment not to take F.A.A. money until all airport-related issues have been thoroughly studied. Shame on the Republican candidates for dismissing resident concerns about noise and safety, and for bragging that they are all for accepting F.A.A. funds.
Frankly, this controversy over the airport has been going on far too long. The interests of a minority are being served to the detriment of the majority. I honestly thought that when the pilot was killed in a crash on Mill Hill Lane a few years ago, town officials would come to their senses. It looks like not even another tragedy will make a difference to this administration.
We have absolutely nothing to celebrate — unless those refusing F.A.A. money get elected.
Accept F.A.A. Funding
October 21, 2011
There are inconsistencies in what the Quiet Skies Coalition is telling the public. First, they are now opposed to a control tower. As recently as two weeks ago at an interview by Channel 12 they were in support of a control tower — a tower that would force helicopters to fly high, dramatically reducing noise.
Second, some of their founders and leaders have publicly stated that it is their intent to close our airport, ignoring the 91 jobs it creates and the $12.6 million it pours into the local economy.
Third, in 2007, those who now lead the Quiet Skies Coalition urged then-Supervisor Bill McGintee to hire the nationally renowned aviation attorney, Peter Kirsch. Now that Mr. Kirsch has advised the town that rejecting F.A.A. money would not increase local control of the airport, they claim that Mr. Kirsch was just recently hired by the Wilkinson administration.
Further, let’s not forget that in a local poll, only 4 percent of the town residents agree that F.A.A. funding should be rejected.
In the months ahead, we respectfully urge the town board to be fiscally responsible, accept F.A.A. funding, and help create a safer and quieter East Hampton Airport.
East Hampton Aviation
Likely to Increase
October 22, 2011
From the extended discussion of the aircraft-noise problem that has appeared in The Star, seven key points clearly emerge:
• The noise generated by aircraft coming to and leaving East Hampton Airport amounts to a heavy tax imposed by the few who fly on the many who suffer. It takes from many the quiet enjoyment of their homes and their leisure so that a few may get to and from their homes more swiftly.
• East Hampton’s most precious and distinctive asset is its tranquil beauty. No one comes here because the town is a transportation hub, an industrial center, or a cheap labor market. Noise pollution is an assault on our most valuable asset.
• Whether or not recent statements about the economic contribution of air traffic to the community are accurate, they completely fail to take account of the real but unquantified costs that airport activity impose on the community.
• Redirecting flight paths may redistribute the noise but it will not diminish the aggregate amount of noise or the harm it does to the community. Requiring planes to fly at specified altitudes will not solve the problem. Even high-flying helicopters produce a racket that prevents quiet conversation among those below. And, whatever altitude aircraft may come in at, they have to come down to ground level if they are going to land.
• It has not been shown that establishing a control tower at the airport would reduce the aggregate amount of noise. On the contrary, by making the airport more attractive to pilots and capable of handling more aircraft, a control tower is likely to increase the amount of noise.
• So far, it appears that the only practical way to reduce air-traffic noise, short of closing the airport, is to limit the number of flights — particularly on summer weekends when the traffic is heaviest and the adverse impact on outdoor rest and recreation is most severe. Restricting the types of aircraft that can use the airport (e.g., excluding private helicopters) could help. Further, a tolerable limit could be put on the number of landings and takeoffs per day and the specified number of landing permits could then be auctioned. It could be expected that those who will pay for airplanes in order to save a couple of hours on the Long Island Expressway or the railroad will bid up the price of landing permits to a level that would richly compensate the town.
• If the citizens of East Hampton want to gain control of their airport so as to protect themselves and their property from the damage done by air traffic noise pollution, it is imperative that the town decline to receive any more federal airport funding — whether for deer fencing, control towers, runway extensions, or anything else. Receiving such funding would mean that the policy for East Hampton Airport will be left in the hands of federal authorities whose mission is to encourage national air transportation. Accordingly, East Hampton should have a town board made up of members pledged to reject federal funds.
October 23, 2011
To the Editor:
East Hampton is already a shadow of its former self, which was a place of pastoral charm, natural beauty, social civility, and quiet. The expansion of the airport and the increase in aircraft noise are an affront. A politician who claims that the airport is good for the local economy is certainly under the spell (if not more) of those very few who directly benefit, the superrich who own or charter aircraft, fuel suppliers, airport services owners, and employees. Everyone else suffers.
The increase in air traffic and subsequent noise has become unbearable to those who would like to think of East Hampton as a great place. Every plane and every helicopter buzzarding overhead is a reminder of what’s been lost. Is East Hampton going to continue to roll over for the rich and for business interests, or is it going to wise up and try, wherever it can, to retain or possibly regain a measure of its former values?
Fifty-Six Year Summer Resident
Peace and Tranquillity
October 23, 2011
Enjoying East Hampton, whether daily or on weekends, includes the natural setting of peace and tranquillity. We all have special activities and leisure pursuits that we enjoy as residents of the town or village. That enjoyment does not include the annoying and obnoxious sound of jets flying at a very low altitude over our yards, beaches, and homes as they approach or leave East Hampton Airport.
While we know that some of our residents and guests have the luxury of flying in and out each weekend, do the rest of us really have to contend with this annoyance day and night? Why would anyone vote to allow this to be uncontrolled by the town and ruin the beauty and serenity we all enjoy?
Vote against Bill Wilkinson, who wants to sell our peace and tranquillity and allow the Federal Aviation Administration to leave the airport open day and night. Keep East Hampton beautiful, serene, and tranquil, as we all want it to be, for years to come.
October 22, 2011
Att: Don Schrage
I don’t know who took your signs. I don’t even know what street you live on, and I don’t care what political persuasion you support. All I know is that you live in Clearwater Beach.
Displaying signs of any kind in Clearwater Beach is a violation of the rules and bylaws of the Clearwater Beach Property Owners Association, a fact of which you are very well aware, as past president of the C.B.P.O.A. The rule prohibits the display of all signs, not just real estate signs, as many people in Clearwater would like to think. There is no exception for political endorsement signs.
You and all the other people who live in Clearwater Beach who continue to display their political views on their front lawns have no right to do so in the first place and, by doing so, are defacing the property of all Clearwater Beach property owners. So stop your whining, and cease and desist violating the association’s rules. Buy a bumper sticker!
October 24, 2011
To the Editor:
My name is Sean McCaffrey and I am running for East Hampton Town trustee.
I’ve lived my whole life in East Hampton. I grew up in Wainscott with my parents, Jim and Nancy McCaffrey, and siblings, Mary Ann, Kate, and Jay. I attended school at Most Holy Trinity and East Hampton High. When I returned home from college, I joined my family’s landscaping business, where I still work today. My wife, Karen, and I live in Springs, where we are happy to be raising two daughters, Megan and Kerrie.
Throughout my lifetime in East Hampton I have been fortunate to be able to fish, hunt, clam, boat, and drive on the beach. As an East Hampton Town trustee, I will be able to work to see that my children will enjoy the same kind of life I have had in East Hampton. It is important that our heritage endures for all to enjoy. The continuation of these activities is not only important to me and my family, but must be there for all our residents to take pleasure in. I want to work with other trustees to ensure that East Hampton’s next generations of residents will find local waters and surrounding areas that have been protected for their use and enjoyment.
I have served on the harbor management committee for almost six years. We are an advisory committee to the trustees on matters of dealing with East Hampton’s harbors and ponds, including the dredging plans for the town and the winter flounder program. My work with past and present trustees gives me the experience I need to hit the ground running on day one, if I am elected as an East Hampton Town trustee.
I am a full and firm believer in upholding all trustee rights and powers. I, like a great many of East Hampton’s residents, support the town and trustees in their defense of our rights regarding the Napeague beach lawsuits.
The beaches are for driving, walking (dogs included), fishing, and days spent relaxing and enjoying our families. To my mind, it is imperative that East Hampton’s waters and beaches continue to be for all residents. I want to help in the work that the trustees do to preserve our resources, including our local water, beaches, roads, and bottomlands. My life in East Hampton, together with my experience working with the trustees on and around our waters, gives me a knowledgeable understanding of the work that remains to be done.
East Hampton is home to my family. There is no better way that I can spend my time than being a part of the process to protect it for my children and yours. On Nov. 8, please vote for me on the Republican, Independence, Conservative, or Opportunity Party lines.
Work to Preserve
October 19, 2011
To the Editor:
My name is Nathaniel H. Miller, but Nat is fine. I am 32 years old and live in Springs. I am running for East Hampton Town trustee on the Republican and Independence Party lines.
On my father’s side, Millers from East Hampton, I am a 13th-generation Miller, and on my mother’s side, I am a 4th-generation Vorpahl from Amagansett. East Hampton is where my roots are and the place where my wife, Heather, and I want to raise our family.
My East Hampton family heritage has given me a great interest in history. I went to the State University at Oswego, where I earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in early American history and a minor in Native American studies.
I am proud to say that I am a bayman — unfortunately a dying breed in East Hampton. Daily, I fish my pound traps, check my nets, and in their season, oyster, clam, and scallop.
Since I grew up on our local waters I have an extensive knowledge, understanding, and love for how I earn my living. I am one of those lucky people who gets up in the morning and goes off seven days a week to a job I enjoy and find great satisfaction in doing.
However, I worry about preserving our local habitat. As an East Hampton Town trustee I will be able to share with my town neighbors my experiences and hands-on knowledge of our local waterways. I will work with the other trustees to make sure that all that needs to be done to preserve our bays and harbors will be done.
I also worry that our local fishing traditions are being lost and this greatly saddens me. It is important for us as a community to work to see that those traditions are carried on for many more generations. It gives me hope that maybe there will be a continuation of this way of life. What makes it even more important is that the people of the older generation who would be our mentors are disappearing and their knowledge, experience, and wisdom will be gone if we don’t, both as individual baymen and as trustees, work to preserve our traditions for future generations.
I am on or around our local waters every day. I see firsthand how Mother Nature and people affect them. I know that if we fail to take a stand now, the environment we all love and treasure could be lost forever. In addition to protecting our waterways and traditions, it is important that as a trustee I fight to keep all town beaches open for public use, whether it’s four-wheel drive access to beaches or access to landings at all our harbors and bays.
Once all of the things I have written about are gone, they may never be recovered. We know we live here so we can feel the joy every day of what our local beaches and waters offer us. Your vote for me as East Hampton Town trustee on Nov. 8 will be a step forward in helping to preserve our East Hampton heritage, traditions, and beaches.
October 22, 2011
The Democrats for town board want to get rid of Len Bernard and hire an administrative assistant. They also want to hire a town manager. I believe these are two bad ideas.
Len Bernard has done an excellent job in getting the town finances in order. In his first stint as budget director, he found ways to put the town’s money to work instead of leaving it in holding accounts and brought a new standard to the work. This standard was abandoned by the last Democratic administration and resulted in a $30 million deficit. On his return, Len Bernard restored fiscal sanity to town finances. We cannot go back to the bad old days, and the state will not bail us out again.
The proposal to hire an administrative assistant to replace Len Bernard, and the proposal to hire a town manager, are both bad ideas because they come from the hyperpartisan atmosphere that has prevailed in East Hampton for some time. I cannot imagine turning administrative functions over to a town manager in this kind of hot-blooded political environment and we don’t need to introduce another bureaucratic layer into this political situation. So the Democrats for town board, Zach Cohen, in particular, lose my vote on this issue.
But that is not the end of the story. It is rumored widely that the Republicans under Bill Wilkinson want to get rid of Phil Gamble as chairman of the zoning board of appeals and replace him with someone who has proven to be wholly inadequate for the job. I know this is true and it’s the baddest of their bad ideas.
The Wilkinson team also wants to remove other members of various boards. This in itself is not new. But the people they want to remove are experienced and include Republican appointees who apparently won’t play ball.
I will know a mistake has been made if Bill Wilkinson is re-elected and Phil Gamble is forced out. I worked with Mr. Gamble and was the first appointed vice chairman of the zoning board of appeals. Mr. Gamble should leave the chairmanship when he is ready to leave and not before. He should not be pressured behind the scenes either to resign or to do his work differently. I’d rather have Phil Gamble as chairman of the zoning board of appeals than Bill Wilkinson as supervisor.
The Democrats are running with a highway superintendent candidate who has been openly accused by the people working in the department of many things that the party ignored in re-nominating him and the people running with him are running away from. Where there is smoke there is fire. After the last election, the winning highway superintendent proved that he was capable of the type of behavior he has been accused of and it’s clear it’s time to put Steve Lynch into that office.
We shouldn’t be forced to choose between Len Bernard and Phil Gamble in making our choice for supervisor, and the Republicans should assure us that Phil Gamble will remain as zoning board chairman and take that issue off the table.
The Democrats should not use seemingly benign — but bad — proposals in order to carry out a political vendetta against Len Bernard, who has done a good job.
The Democrats should also have found a different highway superintendent candidate because, if the accusations are proven to be true, it will show that the local Democrats care not one whit for minority members of this community or those working under oppressive conditions.
October 24, 2011
Why is Steven Gaines, a liberal author, running for town board on the Republican ticket? Some Democrats are resentful; some Republicans are scratching their heads. The simple answer is that the Republican Party asked him to run, but the more relevant question is: Would his participation improve the town board, or more simply, should we vote for him?
Although I am a registered Democrat, I will be voting for Steven. In part because we are friends, but a better reason is the unique nature of his candidacy and that it occurs in unusual and difficult times. One aspect of the times, that is unusual for me, is the recognition that the present town board, Republican-controlled, is doing a credible job of repairing the town’s finances. I have not always agreed with their approach to certain problems, but they are getting results.
Chief among my concerns is the idea that a town can or should be run like a business. The mandate of government is to serve the people rather than the bottom line, but government has to be funded. These are unusual times; the present town board has had to make up for past local mismanagement during a time of worldwide financial difficulty. Managing the town as though it were a business may be a legitimate choice in times such as they are, but the longer view also has to be considered. This is why I feel Steven Gaines should be on the town board — he will be as Jiminy Cricket was to Pinocchio — a conscience.
Steven loves East Hampton. He moved here shortly after the publication of his first book, and he does not like to leave. He is an environmentalist with an authoritative appreciation of the town’s heritage. One of the satisfying things about the environmental movement is that it brings together people from both sides of politics — it is the intersection of “conservative” and “conservation.” This has been true in East Hampton in particular, but it is an attitude that has suffered under the present board; Steven will bring that back.
The above reasons for my support are predicated on the assumption that Bill Wilkinson will be re-elected as supervisor. This year I have had the opportunity to do a small amount of work for a town committee. I was a bit tentative as I approached the first session, but I found the Republican members to be sincere in their commitment to the town, and also very hard-working. As a Democrat, I would not be uncomfortable with two more years of Supervisor Wilkinson; but I will be much more at ease if Steven Gaines has his ear. On the other hand, if Mr. Cohen wins, he too will find a friend in Steven.
I’ve known Steven Gaines for over 40 years. He is articulate, insightful, diplomatic, and tremendously bright. He will be an asset to town government. Please give thoughtful consideration to his candidacy. He will be listed under the Opportunity Party line as well as the Republican line.
October 19, 2011
Regarding the mysterious disappearance of nearly a hundred “Scott King for Re-Election”signs from the streets of East Hampton, I am appalled. Surely the opposition had no hand in this, as I remember Stevie Lynch as a nice kid way back when both boys were small.
At 2, Scott was pushing giant Tonka trucks around the yard. Growing bored, he trundled next door to the newly laid gravel driveway, making away with a few loads. A phone call from the chuckling neighbor asked that Scott “return my driveway,” and it was quickly rectified, and the offending truck impounded for a while. I know he learned a lesson on what belongs to him, and what is right from wrong.
A romance with trucks and driveways ensued, and one snowy morning I awoke and to my amazement saw a huge road-grader parked in front of the house. Actually, it took up the whole front of the house! Scott had been riding “shotgun” with the driver, keeping Long Lane clear; his job was to keep the driver alert as they drove back and forth all night. They had made our nearby home a pit stop for coffee, etc. Is it any wonder Scott grew up to own his own driveway company and subsequently take charge of East Hampton’s highways? As his mom, I am proud of his work ethic and integrity. I hope the best qualified person wins the election, whoever the town residents deem that to be.
JUDITH KING EAMES
October 22, 2011
I analyzed the candidates’ responses to the questionnaire from the East Hampton Environmental Coalition on the dark-sky issue. I also responded directly to them since it appears that there are significant misunderstandings (or lack of familiarity) concerning the town zoning code as it applies to night lighting regulations. For one, our lighting code does not regulate streetlighting. Almost none of the streetlights in East Hampton fit the criteria for dark skies even though the town board has a set of guidelines that would help to implement them, providing for safer roadways as well as significant savings.
I am available to provide information to candidates that are interested in knowing what our code says and why it is important to us. The townspeople have already been educated on this issue in a number of ways, which is why there is such wide support.
First, the newspapers have had articles about the hearings and editorials (in support). The town’s energy and light advisory committee wrote and distributed a brochure to explain why we need to address excessive, misaimed, unshielded, or unnecessary night lighting. The committee also wrote and distributed two plain-language documents, one was sent to all commercial property owners to explain how to conform to the 2006 requirements (whose deadline was extended to Nov. 2011) and another to retailers to ask that they stock the dark-sky fixtures.
The Building Department attaches diagrams of acceptable fixtures to building permits, and the Planning Department has a set of guidelines for good lighting plans available for all applicants, along with a catalog of sample fixtures. I have been giving illustrated lectures on the topic and have delivered this lecture as part of the requirements for the town’s contractor’s license. LTV is now showing a 22-minute video titled “Dark Skies,” which was produced by the Accabonac Protection Committee and is now posted on the Dark Sky Society Web site under “Resources.”
Before anyone makes assumptions about what dark-sky lighting involves, they need to be educated as to what it means and what it does not mean: It does not mean “dark ground.” Professionally assessed light levels are met, debilitating glare is shielded, light trespass is controlled, and energy is used more wisely. As an added benefit, sky glow is reduced and more stars are visible in the night sky. Plus, lawsuits are averted, as proven over and over in court.
As to the specific candidates: Unfortunately, even though Bill Wilkinson signed a pledge to enforce the 2006 law, he has allowed his deputy, Theresa Quigley, to draft a law that throws out all the lighting regulations that have been in effect for decades. This is a big problem, since it only takes three people on our board to change our zoning codes.
Dark Sky Society
Raise Red Flags
New York City
October 21, 2011
I spent some time looking at the Democratic candidates’ platform on the group’s Web site to see why they think they deserve to be back in power after nearly driving the town to financial ruin just a couple of years ago. I wanted to run through a couple of points made in the platform that raise red flags for me and should for every other voter.
Statement from the airport section: “Most importantly, during this study period, do not take any F.A.A. money or do other actions that would extend the grant assurances . . . During the study period the Town must be able to pay for operation of the airport at no taxpayer expense. The current airport fee structure, while still very low for small and locally based planes, is sufficient to produce a surplus that should cover the additional cost of the control tower.”
Red flags: An expert attorney who has worked on cases regarding small airports has said there is no proof and, in fact, it’s pretty much impossible for a local municipality to wrest control from the Federal Aviation Administration, regardless of whether F.A.A. funds are accepted or not. Who are you going to believe, Zach Cohen (who I’m guessing has never actually been a lawyer dealing with this specific issue) or an attorney who has actually dealt with this specific issue? You cannot take these comments at face value because they are simply a wish list and have no basis in reality (which is where the Town of East Hampton operates). I’d lean toward believing the lawyer.
Also, Mr. Cohen and his team propose a study to assess the situation. Who is paying for the study? I would guess the taxpayers, though Mr. Cohen and his team don’t elaborate. But I thought taxpayers wouldn’t be burdened with costs related to the airport. Even saying that the current fee structure “is sufficient to produce a surplus that should cover the additional cost of the control tower” is admitting Mr. Cohen and his team have no proof that it would indeed, for certain, cover the cost. The word “should” is the most important word there. It’s used when someone makes an assumption because he or she cannot prove it as fact. If it were fact, why not just present the numbers saying it would definitively cover the costs?
Statement from the beach-access section: “The Town is also a party to the lawsuit, and we are upset because the East Hampton Town Board has done very little to defend our right to public beach access. We should mount a strong defense and offer assistance to the Trustees. . . . The Town has not contributed one penny to the Trustees to help them in this case.”
Red flag: The town has said it will fight the lawsuit and is doing so right now. The town has full-time attorneys on staff who can work to fight the lawsuit. Does using the resources of in-house attorneys that work for the town not count as trying to fight the lawsuit? Is Mr. Cohen discrediting the work done by the town’s attorneys by saying it is not good enough? Such statements degrade and disparage the work done by the town’s own attorneys on the matter. The town is relying on its staff of full-time attorneys to work with the attorney hired by the trustees to beat this lawsuit that everyone in the town (except maybe the plaintiffs) oppose.
Statement from leaf pickup program section: “Cohen, Overby, and Van Scoyoc believe that the public is well served when government can efficiently provide a service that helps a high percentage of taxpayers. . . . It’s certainly environmentally better than having leaves rot by the side of the road, or having uncollected mounds harboring rodents and ticks.”
Red flags: What is the high percentage? Once again the candidates are making statements as if they are fact without giving details. If you know it’s a high percentage, just tell us what the percentage is and then you don’t leave yourselves open to questions.
It’s true that composting leaves at the recycling center would not be a bad thing. But why not just take the advice of experts who study such things and mow the leaves back into your lawn (then you don’t have to worry about the piles of leaves being “uncollected mounds harboring rodents and ticks” as the Democrats say happens when they are not picked up)? Mowing them is probably even cheaper than reinstituting the leaf pickup program. If Larry Penny, easily the foremost expert on the environment of this town, says it’s a prudent thing to do and will help provide nutrients to lawns and is environmentally sound, then I’m going to believe him and not a group trying to win an election based on picking up leaves.
I hope that other voters in this town have looked closely at the platform and are asking the same questions as I. I’m sure there are even more red flags that I’ve missed, but I just wanted to point out a few of the glaring ones to make sure everyone else is aware of them.
I would have serious reservations about electing a supervisor who has already proven to make false and misleading statements about his experience (look up information about the cease and desist letter Mr. Cohen received from the State Comptroller’s office). Those reservations are amplified when compared to the fact that Mr. Wilkinson can say definitively that he has corrected the budget mess he inherited without breaking the backs of taxpayers and Mr. Cohen is running on statements that are not necessarily based on facts.
Bit of Liberty
October 24, 2011
Well, I must say that I’ve been called many things in my life, but I haven’t been called “nasty” since my hockey-playing days. However, Jeanne Frankl fixed all that with her misleading letter to you last week. Basically, she claimed that I misrepresented what her party’s candidate for town council, Sylvia Overby, a Democrat, had to say about our local farmers. Jeanne claims Sylvia and her supposed attempts to “help farmers” by setting up all sorts of restrictions on how they can build temporary hoop houses on their farms to extend their growing season were something I got wrong. Then she recommends everyone go watch Sylvia on LTV. Go right ahead and watch a true bureaucrat try to micromanage local farmers and the way they grow food. I heard Sylvia’s performance live and it doesn’t improve with age.
Sylvia starts off calling for all farmers to submit recent, full land surveys of their farms that show topographical levels. These surveys aren’t cheap. On average, a survey can cost $1,500. Then she wants them to submit a detailed report on how they will light the hoop house, how they will handle parking (?), and how they will control rain runoff from the roof and how will it be disposed of and also what if a neighbor objects to looking at the hoop house. If all this is supposed to be helpful to the farmer, then I’d hate to see Jeanne’s idea of what being a real hindrance looks like. Locusts couldn’t do more damage to a farmer than making them go first through the Planning Department (that takes months if not years), and then a full review and a public hearing by the planning board (that can take another year) as Sylvia wants them all to do.
What is with these people who want to micromanage every facet of someone’s else’s property? I have lived in East Hampton for nearly 50 years. I sail and fish and I love and respect our land and waters. If you dare say that you want to light your property to be able to see where the heck you are going at night or that you think farmers should be able to make decisions about their own land, you are called all sorts of names and accused of being an environmental Viking.
Voters, wake up before it is too late. Not only are East Hampton’s financial future and tax rates in jeopardy if Zach Cohen, Sylvia Overby, and Peter Van Scoyoc occupy Town Hall, but the little bit of liberty and freedom that you still have left will be totally taken away from you. These people are control freaks.
Vote for Bill Wilkinson and his terrific team, Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines for town board and Steve Lynch for highway superintendent. It is vital that we all get this right.
Mr. Schrage is a member of the East Hampton Republican Committee. Ed.
October 23, 2011
To The Star,
It is unfortunate that a town election can be hijacked with discussions about bogus issues and concepts. We all have opinions about leaf pickup, beach access, and airport noise, but at least they are issues (whether or not they deserve the attention they have received).
As a former fisherman, I am horrified that Democratic candidates for town board have seriously offered fishing and farming as economic engines for East Hampton. How expansive can these industries be and how many East Hampton children can choose them as a career? Does any parent actually believe their child should choose these fields in East Hampton?
The small groups of farmers and fishermen in the town can steer family and newcomers into the profitable niches remaining, but high costs, limited space, governmental regulations, and short seasons will dictate that the numbers employed in both groups will be relatively fixed. They will continue to be a valuable resource and deserve the town’s support and assistance for their contributions as a tangible return on the value of open space and preservation.
My dismay over the Democratic candidates’ positive mantra about fishing and farming is that it deflects from real decisions. The town has always been supportive of those industries. Why offer platitudes and ignore the real need to obtain good, nonmunicipal jobs? Is there a future in expanded farmers markets that will provide a real boost in useful employment?
The reason that fishing and farming is offered is because it harks back to simpler times that are seen as an ideal. We are not going back to shucking scallops and dumping the shells in driveways, or rendering down menhaden. It is time for the want-to-be group to offer something real for the future.
Mr. Knobel is a former East Hampton Town Republican Committee chairman and member of the East Hampton Town Board. Ed.
October 21. 2011
To the Editor,
It should come as no surprise that the New York State comptroller has ordered Zach Cohen, Democratic candidate for supervisor, to cease and desist from calling himself a financial analyst.
A letter written by the comptroller on Sept. 3 asks Mr. Cohen to cease using campaign material calling himself a financial analyst immediately and delete it from any future materials, “otherwise, this office will consider releasing a public statement to clear the record.”
I have long thought of Mr. Cohen as an empty suit, but now we know his campaign material contains bogus statements about his credentials.
Mr. Cohen takes enormous pride in being chairman of the town’s Nature Preserve Advisory Committee. I served on the town’s Nature Preserve Advisory Committee with Mr. Cohen while Terry Ganley chaired the committee. What I remember most about Mr. Cohen is whenever we voted on matters concerning beach driving or hunting, Mr. Cohen would sit with his hand half raised to see where the majority vote was on an issue before actually raising his hand to vote.
Mr. Cohen had a habit of going to landowners whose property abutted hunting areas and asking them not to permit hunting on their property as it was in an area where he walked his dog. I know this because he was my neighbor, and I walked my dogs on the same trails. This area was open to bow hunting and I knew all the hunters and the location of all the deer stands. They posed no threat to dog walkers.
While Mr. Cohen was chairman of the Nature Preserve Advisory committee, no new nature preserves were added. His major accomplishment was to go along with town board member Brad Loewen’s desire to no longer send the minutes of committee meetings to Larry Penny, director of the Natural Resources Department. The four previous chairpersons made sure Mr. Penny received copies.
Well, one can’t say his achievements on this committee were bogus. He achieved nothing but he did add to the Democratic attack on Larry Penny. One might call that a negative achievement.
Mr. Cohen says the budget director should be a certified public accountant. Rarely does one find a C.P.A. as budget director in municipal management. Our town budget director has a master’s in public administration from George Washington University and worked for the federal Government Accountability Office before becoming our town’s budget director. Len Bernard, as budget director, pulled Cathy Lester’s unfunded chestnuts out of the fire and did the same for the Town of Brookhaven before returning to East Hampton.
Whom would Mr. Cohen name as budget director? Can he find one with more achievements?
The folks I know who are friendly with Mr. Cohen tell me he never held a job in his life. Mr. Cohen says he is a developer. Just what did he develop? Or is he one of those UpIsland developers for whom Alec Baldwin and his fellow Democrats are always claiming the East Hampton Republicans act as front men?
Mr. Cohen seems to be advocating the hiring of a town manager, and I thought the last candidate, a former town justice whose name I cannot remember, got laughed out of town when he ran on that platform.
Mr. Cohen along with his Democratic running mates are blasting the town for borrowing long term to get our town out of its financial mess. Long-term borrowing by municipalities and towns is a standard financial technique to hold off bankruptcy while maintaining essential services. It was done in New York City and Nassau County.
Did we ever have an early warning signal from Mr. Cohen about the disastrous McGintee financial management of East Hampton? Not a word, thank you. He was afraid to be dumped from the Nature Preserve Advisory Committee which happened to Bill Lundin and myself when we dared to take the McGintee administration to task in our letters to the too-silent editors of some local papers.
Where is Mr. Cohen’s and the Democrats’ detailed financial plan? Can we have a detailed report of what work experience Mr. Cohen has, if any? Will the mystery candidate for supervisor please sign in.
Like the Docks Sold
October 18, 2011
What did I just read in the Republican political ad about Bill Wilkinson? He said what? That the Planning Department told him to sell the Montauk Docks? Come on Bill, this is just another example of misinforming the electorate.
Everyone knows that the Planning Department could not and would not tell him to sell anything. That was his decision and only his (and perhaps Theresa Quigley’s) call. He asked the Planning Department to assemble a list for him of town-owned parcels, and it did. Then Bill decided that he would like the docks sold.
The fisherman said, “Are you kidding? No way.” Bill then backtracked as quickly as he could in his best efforts at damage control.
Bill Wilkinson is still trying to blame others for his wrong and unpopular decision. Still trying to blame, in this case, defenseless town employees, who really can’t tell the true sequence of events that led the supervisor to his first but not last bungle of his administration. That is typically “corporate” thinking, but this is a town of neighbors and he owes us at least the honesty of admitting when he makes mistakes. Hey Bill, we are all human, you do not need scapegoats to take your blame.
This election will give us a new choice for real, open, and courageous leadership. Zach Cohen, Sylvia Overby, and Peter Van Scoyoc can and will lead our community to responsible, compassionate, and open town government.
LAWRENCE S. SMITH
October 20, 2011
For the past two years as supervisor of East Hampton, Bill Wilkinson has continually demonstrated by his actions and words how ineffectual he is as a leader:
• He remarked in an interview last week on LTV that upon assuming his position he had to go about “decimating Town Hall fiefdoms.” An outrageous letter was sent to town employees warning against insubordination and threatening discipline and termination. Intimidation needed by Mr. Wilkinson to assert power. This is paranoia and insecurity, not leadership.
• The community was blamed for the failure of the infamous summer-weekend rock festival — the same one the community was overwhelmingly against. The same one that the supervisor issued a permit for, without any public knowledge or input. This is back-room cronyism, not leadership.
• Mr. Wilkinson has spread his (and Theresa Quigley’s) “I don’t give a crap” actions to each hamlet, although his beloved Montauk appears to be most targeted: Fort Pond House, the town dock, Ditch Witch food truck, and nightclubs gone wild all night long. The supervisor’s response? Don’t worry, the summer will be over soon! This is arrogance, not leadership.
• The airport in Wainscott is another hot spot. The supervisor had a hissy fit at the Wainscott meet-the-candidates morning. He could not deal with men who were knowledgeable and passionate. His face turned bright red when told about Zach Cohen’s reasoned and thoughtful suggestion to review the issues before making decisions about the future of helicopters and jets descending on our rooftops. This is “I’ve made up my mind and do not care about your miserable quality of life,” not leadership.
• The supervisor does not display any people skills. He never smiles or greets residents at town board meetings with sincerity. Watch East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach run a meeting to see how it’s done right. Mr. Wilkinson actually looks as if he is in pain having to pretend to be interested. The only time I’ve noticed him shift his chair to face the speaker with focused interest was when Bonnie Bistrian Krupinski came to the podium. Otherwise he is face down, looking at papers, his watch, and adjusting his collar and cuffs incessantly. This is arrogant, disrespectful behavior, not leadership.
• Many of Mr. Wilkinson’s decisions are made behind closed doors, even leaving out fellow board members not on the “yes, sir” team. This devious maneuver was learned and/or refined at Disney. At the League of Women Voters debate this week, the supervisor looked at his opponent as if he were from outer space because he had actually bothered to read 300 pages on the airport issues. Mr. Wilkinson has frequently said that he is the C.E.O. of East Hampton, which is a very peculiar characterization of an elected position in government. Perhaps a fantasy never achieved? This is lazy and shallow behavior, not leadership.
•A résumé is Mr. Wilkinson’s claim to fame. His bio says that he worked at ABC in various human resources or personnel and administrative positions for 22 years. He was at Disney for 8 years (1996 to 2004), not 31 years as repeated ad nauseam. And, only 12 months after his arrival in Los Angeles in 1997, someone named Robert Johnson was promoted to senior vice president, Walt Disney Pictures and Television. He was given the same title, responsibility, and authority as Mr. Wilkinson and reported directly to the executive vice president of Disney Studios. This was not good news for Bill.
As anyone working in the corporate world knows, human resources is the bottom of the ladder. If you enter at a clerical level (with no connections), you go to them for an introductory interview. If hired, you go again the day you start to do paperwork, go to group orientation, and get a tour of the building. You meet with H.R. a third time when you retire or are forced out (before age 65), quit, or are fired. Human resources has no financial involvement or authority beyond H.R. employees. This aggrandized view of his career is not real and it is not leadership.
For those of you who voted for Mr. Wilkinson two years ago because of anger about the Bill McGintee debacle, do not buy the story that it’s the party affiliation, not the person. Do not buy the aggrandized story of great fiscal knowledge and experience.
I do not know what kind of degree Mr. Wilkinson received from Scranton College, but it was not a Master of Business Administration with honors from the University of Chicago, with concentrations in strategic management, economics, and analytic finance, as Zach Cohen had.
Zach Cohen is bright, reasonable, hard-working, actually likes people, wants to collaborate with the community, and is respectful of our desires and our needs. Zach Cohen is financially educated, financially experienced, and a financially successful guy.
October 24, 2011
Bill Wilkinson’s long experience in management scrutinized. Mr. Wilkinson touts his long business experience at Disney. So let’s examine it. Bill Wilkinson was director of human resources at Disney. He left Disney, according to a press release by his boss, Bob Iger, on March 7, 2002.
Disney is known for hiring large numbers of interns in their College Internship Program. As described online, “They’re like indentured slaves. . . . They must live on Disney property. They eat Disney food. They take Disney transportation.” They pay rent to Disney and fees for Internet access. After deductions for rent and fees there is little salary left over and some interns end up owing money to the company. Most college interns earn well below standard pay and do not receive pension or health care benefits.
There are restrictive conduct rules. No alcohol in the rooms if you are under 21, no girlfriends in the rooms, no visible tattoos, no hands in the pockets, no swearing, and special dress codes. One father of an intern warns, “They are not all good experiences, most especially with the ‘tattletale & CYA. mentality’ that management fosters, and the incidental weekly charges they hit the interns with.”
When Disney tried to replicate their model in Paris in the early 1990s, and it is said that Mr. Wilkinson was involved, it was reported that about 3,000 men and women resigned their jobs due to unacceptable working conditions.
Roger D. Hodge writes: “Although it is billed as an educational and career opportunity, the Disney internship offers little more than a menial service job. Most Disney interns spend their days flipping burgers, cleaning toilets and hotel rooms, parking cars, and stocking gift shops. In essence, the program provides a hugely profitable corporation with a transitional population of fresh-faced temps.”
More recently, Disney employment practices are in the news again. The Los Angeles Times reports on Oct 19, 2011, about an “electronic whip” system, “In the basements of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels in Anaheim, big flat-screen monitors hang from the walls in rooms where uniformed crews do laundry. The monitors are like scoreboards, where employees’ work speeds are compared to one another. Workers are listed by name, so their colleagues can see who is quickest at loading pillow cases, sheets, and other items into a laundry machine. It should come as no surprise that at the happiest place on Earth, not all the employees are smiling.”
To sum it up, “When Walt Disney ran the company in 1966, he made 108 times as much as one of his hotel housekeepers. Bob Iger, the current chief executive, makes 781 times as much as a housekeeper: $28 million in total compensation last year.” I wonder if there’s an electronic whip in Mr. Iger’s office.
Fast-forward to East Hampton. Mr. Wilkinson worked for Bob Iger. He clearly has tried to transfer Disney’s personnel management style to East Hampton Town. There are currently about 420 town employees in East Hampton. Letters to the editor of our local papers are rife with examples of how the town’s employees are mistreated. Verbal abuse is commonplace, including screaming fits, and you can witness it on the TV-recorded town meetings where the toxic and contemptuous demeanor of Mr. Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley are blatantly on display. This is also manifest in threatening internal memos (most of which are not public).
What is clear is that town workers and their families, with mortgages to pay, health care costs, and children in local schools, are not interns. The intent to treat them as such is symptomatic of a more far-reaching goal of the right: namely to strip all workers of their rights — their rights to organize and unionize, their rights to have medical insurance, Social Security, and other benefits. So far the news is mostly from places like Wisconsin, but the intent is clear across the country. Teachers, police, firefighters, and town employees better watch out. Wilkinson and Co. are not their friends. Ultimately this is about profits for businesses and that is exactly where Mr. Wilkinson’s support comes from.
DAVID POSNETT, M.D.
Decision to Mislead
October 24, 2011
Now that Zach Cohen has been ordered by the state comptroller to stop misleading voters in his campaign literature, the Democrats are scrambling on all the blogs and online chat rooms to make excuses for what was, no doubt, an intentional decision to puff up Mr. Cohen’s wanting résumé.
His résumé has been a real issue in this election. Rather than just be truthful about his lack of experience, Mr. Cohen made the decision to mislead.
I have read many excuses by Mr. Cohen’s supporters, from a misprint in the campaign flier, to he forgot one word, to it’s no big deal. But I think it is a big deal. Mr. Cohen himself has said the branch office of the comptroller did not tell the Albany office that he was working with them locally. I have been told there is documented evidence that shows this is also untrue. So, do we have one untruth on top of another?
Mr. Cohen just last week in a debate explained how important trust was in this campaign and that candidates needed to earn the trust of voters. He apparently has now been called on the carpet by the Democratic state comptroller. Mr. Cohen was ordered by the office of the state comptroller to cease and desist the use of misleading information in his campaign concerning his alleged association with that office or be subject to further action. Is that a way to earn a voter’s trust?
Ms. Duryea is the East Hampton Republican Committee Chairwoman. Ed.
They Kept Mum
October 23, 2011
To The Editor:
Instead of realistically addressing the debt tsunami caused by the previous administration, Mr. Cohen and his running mates have strenuously tried to make leaf pickup and an obscure lawsuit over beach rights into the overriding issues of the campaign.
They want us to forget that we wouldn’t even be talking about leaf pickup if it weren’t for the incompetence and cronyism of their fellow Democrats in the McGintee administration. And to see them now posturing as strong advocates of public access to our beaches is truly laughable. As any fisherman or piping plover can tell you, Democratic administrations have a long history of trying to keep people off the beach and boats out of the water.
If Mr. Cohen and his mates had really wanted to save us a lot of money and turmoil, they would have run a primary against Mr. McGintee back when it counted, pointing out the mismanagemnt that they had to be aware of. Instead they kept mum and allowed the mayhem to continue. They bring nothing to the table but a lot of petty partisan quibbling.
In contrast, Mr. Wilkinson has done an admirable job under very trying circumstances and under relentless, sometimes rabid, attack. I believe he and his team deserve our support.
Pat on the Back
October 24, 2011
To the Editor:
He wasn’t elected Mr. Congeniality or Mr. Personality. If anything, he was elected Disciplinarian-in-Chief, when in November 2009, Democrats, Republicans, Independence Party people, and blanks overwhelmingly elected Bill Wilkinson East Hampton Town supervisor.
Now, 22 months later, with our short memories and stubborn inability to break from political party lines, there is no pat on the back for Supervisor Wilkinson, with a hearty “job well done.” We apparently don’t like being told to tighten our belts and that we must operate government in a more efficient manner. Like little children, we rebel against the disciplinarian, while accepting all the good things he brings us without even a thank-you.
We are being told to throw out the messenger because some don’t like the message or, more accurately, the way it was delivered! The new criterion seems to be warm and fuzzy, in the person of Democratic supervisor candidate Zach Cohen. I’ve heard candidate Cohen in action and have watched his interviews on LTV. He probably could be elected Mr. Congeniality. But is that enough? Is that all it takes to be supervisor of a town with a $65 million budget and 20,000-plus permanent residents, whose numbers swell to close to, if not over, 100,000 in the season?
Before pulling the lever based on perceived amorphous personality traits, take the time to seek out candidate Cohen’s curriculum vitae — his background, education, experience (or more accurately, lack thereof) and then tell me if you see anything more than a personable dilettante (another word for amateur according to my dictionary) with charm.
Try matching Cohen’s scant experience against Supervisor Wilkinson’s 35 years of corporate and business acumen, and then add to that Wilkinson’s eye-popping success in pulling this town back from the brink of a more than $27 million all-Democrat deficit, and it becomes a no-brainer.
Is this election really going to come down to a congenial, personable, rank amateur, who dabbles at many things and masters none, versus our experienced, hard-working, well-versed, and on-top-of-the-issues supervisor, simply because some may see him as less congenial or personable than his opponent? I certainly hope not. Candidate Cohen may be charming to sit next to at a dinner party, but who’s to say Bill Wilkinson isn’t also? The point is that charm, glibness, and a desire to please everyone equally — all the time — are not the qualities East Hampton needs in a supervisor.
As for me, I will take the man with the experience and a proven record of restoring East Hampton to fiscal stability over a dilettante any day. Bill Wilkinson has delivered to the people of East Hampton these last 22 months what he promised — a turnaround in our finances and light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s not put all of that in jeopardy simply because someone comes along and promises us the moon — with a smile on his face. Bill Wilkinson should be re-elected East Hampton Town supervisor and deserves our vote on Nov. 8.
Over the Top
October 24, 2011
On the assumption that voters disregard total nonsense, I generally don’t answer electioneering trash-talk. But my sense of the absurd has overwhelmed me. The latest slander of the Democrats in the letters columns by Beverly Bond, a Republican spokeswoman, is really over the top! The “Democratic machine”? Its “puppet candidates”?
Hey, this is East Hampton. We’re a small town with 18,000 or so registered voters. Thirty-eight of those voters are the Democratic town committee, serving for no other reward than the satisfaction of community participation. A dozen or so volunteer for a screening committee that recommends candidates to the whole group. The committee then selects the nominees by majority vote. Any sign of a machine?
Often as not, the Democratic candidates, though knowledgeable about town government, are brand-new to running for office. That’s true this year of both Zachary Cohen and Peter Van Scoyoc running for supervisor and board, as well as of all but one of our trustee candidates. Far from puppets, the candidates develop our platform. You can see this for yourself if you read the jointly developed positions of Mr. Cohen, Sylvia Overby, and Mr. Van Scoyoc on the Democratic Web site easthamptondemocrats.org.
Democratic town committee members raise campaign money for ads and letters dollar by dollar. We work like heck to get the public to meet and vote for our candidates.
“Machine”? “Puppets”? Ms. Bond must be thinking of the experience of two of her colleagues, if not herself, working for their bosses in a New York City administration.
East Hampton Democratic Committee
October 23, 2011
Last week’s League of Women Voters debate-forum for supervisor was civil but the differences were glaring between Bill Wilkinson and Zach Cohen. Wilkie says the election is all about résumés and results. Not!
Democracy means you listen to people. Citizens need to be heard and respected, not just managed. Zach Cohen wins on this. Mr. Cohen is all about listening and learning from others.
Calvin Coolidge famously said, “The business of government is business.” Wilkie agrees. He touts his top-down management style, his C.E.O. complex from the corporate hierarchy. He talks about “voluntary separations” (firings) and hard decisions (hard on the Homework Club, Boy Scouts, fishermen, and seniors). He’s a tough boss: It’s his way or the highway.
Mr. Cohen, on the other hand, understands the job is about helping local folks with what’s happening in their backyards, basic human needs. He gets that town government exists for its citizens. He respects town employees who serve us day in and day out. He knows local government is not just about numbers but competence and compassion, too.
Enough. East Hampton needs no more Quilkinson slash-and-burn management or intimidation of employees. No more services cut to the bone or Tea Party voodoonomics. On Election Day, please send Wilkie back where his corporate supremacy model came from, Disneyworld.
Put the human back in charge of the resources. Make Zach Cohen supervisor. Man with heart.
Spend Our Money
October 23, 2011
This past week, I attended two debates for those wishing to hold office in the Town of East Hampton — the League of Women Voters at the LTV Studios in Wainscott and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk debate here at the Montauk Firehouse. Both debates were well run, and I thank them for their fairness.
At today’s debate, Zachary Cohen began his introduction stating that some people were invited to a gathering at the Shagwong Restaurant next weekend. He then proceeded to say that since Jimmy Hewitt was paying for it, why don’t all of you join us?
I began thinking, “If elected, would he spend our money as freely as he is spending Jimmy’s?” The words fiscal responsibility were used at various times during these debates, and I just have to wonder how fiscally responsible Mr. Cohen would be.
I do think that Bill Wilkinson has done a great job trying to straighten out the financial mess left by Bill McGintee. The Republican team, including Cornelius Kelly, the candidate for Suffolk Legislature, came across well, and I wish them all well.
October 19, 2011
To the Editor
We have a new candidate on the scene in Cornelius Kelly and he’s not a politician. This is his first run for office, and he’s dynamite! A devoted family man with tons of experience, morals, and drive who is running for county legislator, he has promised to vote against any further increases in our property taxes. This is a man who deserves our vote because it is time for fresh thoughts and energy, someone without the ties to lobbyists and compromising alliances.
Also, the Wilkinson tax cuts continue to be a big deal. This is no invention of Town Hall insiders but the end result of many hours of work and much criticism. While it is true that 140 people in Amagansett wanted higher taxes; this number is proportionally incredibly low, and clearly represents monied interests of expensive portions of a single fire district of an expensive part of town.
For the rest of us, we work to get by in these uncertain times. With no end to the recession in sight, every dollar saved is a dollar that we will have in our pockets, as economic uncertainty drags on. Onerous taxes from overspending will eventually kill the golden goose. It is a shame that the school boards and fire departments fail to make the sacrifices that the town has, the Highway Department has, and the Police Department has. If they would, every taxpayer would see a huge difference on their tax bill.
The Wilkinson team is doing what we elected them to do. They have earned the opportunity to continue their work of getting this town back in sound fiscal shape. The town has earned the right to straightforward officials without back-room deals and duplicitous double-speak.
I’m sure Mr. Wilkinson will continue to uphold these values and deserves another term as supervisor.
LYNDA A.W. EDWARDS
October 24, 2011
While Bill Wilkinson, everybody’s pal, is driving up and down Montauk’s beaches in his four-wheel-drive truck with his dog by his side and his fishing rod in the back seat, we who live here are scratching our heads wondering why in the name of all that is holy should we trust this man with the future of our town, a man of questionable judgment.
We hate to regurgitate the past, but some of his transgressions could and have, lest we forget, caused us enormous misery. To mention one, what would we have done back in August if those two wannabes had been successful with their Music to Know concert, though the name alone was a prediction of their talent? Imagine 10,000 to 12,000 people pouring into East Hampton for two days in the middle of the summer. What would we have done? Why would anyone, with a brain of more than 6 watts, even entertained, let alone promoted, this idiocy? Jobs? The only jobs it would have created were the jobs related to the cleanup after and that would have been massive.
The problem is that Bill is stage-struck and the years in Hollywood didn’t cure him of this malady. But thank God, nature has its way of solving problems, the self-styled promoters proved their ineptness by failing to put together a commodity that people wanted, so they just faded away. Now it’s Bill’s turn to keep driving west into the sunset, then we will all be safe.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
Ms. Mallah is a member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.
Tells Us More
October 20, 2011
To the Editor:
I love Alec Baldwin on the screen. When he plays the pompous, self-important know-it-all executive on “30 Rock,” he is brilliant. But when he puts on his political hat and adopts the same qualities, he doesn’t carry it off. Being misinformed and rude as part of a TV character is good. Showing the same attributes as a letter-writing political advocate, not so much.
I was stunned by the misinformed vitriol in Mr. Baldwin’s Oct. 13 screed. Mr. Baldwin, you went over the top. When you talked about the Democratic board that drove the town deep into debt just a few years back, you conceded the financial crisis was “poorly handled by the McGintee administration.” You described the McGintee team as “overwhelmingly unequipped” to deal with the town budget. Others have used much harsher language, but even you said the McGintee team “handled these problems about as badly as anyone could have.” Fair enough.
But you wrote about the McGintee failures as if they were ancient history. Mr. Baldwin, that was not 10 years ago; it was 2 years ago when Bill McGintee resigned amidst a welter of crimininal investigations into charges of financial mismanagement.
It was but two years ago when dyed-in-the-wool Democratic voters like me, in a landslide vote, installed a new leader, who stopped the bleeding, balanced the budget, and in the process borrowed some money to shore up the town’s credit rating in the aftermath of the McGintee administration’s financial malfeasance. In these circumstances, it would have been irresponsible for the newly elected supervisor not to inform the voters that the borrowings and the budget cuts that Bill Wilkinson applied were a result of the damage the McGintee administration had done to the town’s fragile financial condition.
It’s okay to bellow one’s disagreement, I guess, especially if one is contemplating running for elective office at a later time. You may dislike Mr. Wilkinson’s reminding the public that the town’s financial problems were caused, as you put it, by the “overwhelmingly unequipped” McGintee administration, but for that reason to call the supervisor “a cheap-shot artist and a coward” tells us more about you than it does about about Mr. Wilkinson.
Mr. Baldwin, I respect your right to hold and to voice your strongly held political views. And I still think you are a brilliant comedic actor, but if we are going to have an informed debate on real-life issues, surely you should consider an apology for the regrettable invective.
October 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
We are in the waning weeks of a very tough local campaign and the choices could not be more compelling.
We have Team Wilkinson 2011, comprised of experienced, accomplished, courageous, proven professionals. Their experience runs the gamut from corporate to government, military, publishing, and small business. The three town board candidates, Bill Wilkinson, Richard Haeg, and Steven Gaines have over 125 years combined professional work experience. Think about that. They have real, verifiable résumés and real world experience. Every one of them is a leader in his respective profession. The addition of Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines to the East Hampton Town Board, with its current outstanding members of Theresa Quigley, a brilliant lawyer, and Dominick Stanzione, a successful financial professional, will make East Hampton a model for professional town management throughout the country.
Moreover, Bill Wilkinson has been an extraordinary supervisor. He has saved East Hampton from financial ruin, cut spending, introduced best business practices into government thereby increasing efficiency, and has been able to do all of this while providing substantial tax cuts. Finally, there is someone in government that is returning to the taxpayers some of their own money.
Contrast these successes with Zach Cohen and his running mates. Not one of them has a résumé that in the real world could pass muster. In fact, Mr. Cohen’s résumé is so thin he has had to resort to exaggerating his experience and that has landed him in very hot water with a high-ranking Democrat.
In campaign literature that everyone received in the mail, Mr. Cohen claimed that among other things, he was a financial analyst for the Democratic New York State comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli. Mr. DiNapoli’s office says that is not true.
In a highly unusual and strongly worded letter from that office, Mr. Cohen has been ordered to cease and desist from making those untrue claims. Mr. DiNapoli’s surrogate, Steven J. Hancox, deputy comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability, admonishes Mr. Cohen to “cease using this campaign material immediately and delete this reference from any future campaign materials. . . .”
At yesterday’s Montauk debate, Mr. Cohen’s available campaign literature had been literally sliced and diced, and he removed the entire page that included the exaggerated claims. Like in the old Soviet Union, when one dictator has been replaced by another, history gets re-written.
Mr. Rattray, will you ask Mr. Cohen about this unfortunate incident before Election Day? Shouldn’t his conduct figure prominently in your endorsement consideration? Or will this be yet another Bill McGintee-type cover-up?
Moreover, Mr. Cohen’s running mates, Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc, with little verifiable experience between them, use their stints on the zoning and planning boards as reasons for them to be elected to town government. So let’s examine their conduct on those boards. They sat by and watched as illegal fiscal shenanigans drove East Hampton into bankruptcy. They presided over the up-zoning of their own neighborhoods and soaring property values, and that has resulted in overcrowded conditions, a tax nightmare, and a diminution of property values for the people of Springs. Their open hostility and unreasonable demands and regulations placed on small businesses and farmers have resulted in local businesses fleeing the area. Both of these candidates have been abusive to professionals and applicants that have come before them at the Planning Board. If you don’t believe me, watch the LTV sessions from Sept. 17 and Dec. 10, 2008. If experience and civility are not their strong suits, just what makes them qualified to sit on the town board? Nothing, really.
Lying and abusive behavior by local politicians are what got East Hampton in its desperate financial situation. If candidates are willing to lie and exaggerate during the campaign, what will they do if elected?
Voters have a very clear choice to make on Election Day. They can elect people with little verifiable experience, exaggerated claims, and terrible track records on the little experience they do have.
Or, voters can go with a proven, successful team headed by Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, whose promises made during the 2009 election were all kept. Bill has such a profound respect for the tough and resourceful people of East Hampton that he has made gutsy and hard decisions in order to save this town, even knowing those decisions might be unpopular. But, that’s what good leaders do and that’s honest government at work.
Bill’s team of Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines are men whose outstanding experience and accomplishments will be an extraordinary addition to the town board.
I urge all voters to think about this election, to think about where our town was just two short years ago, and to think about how far our town has come under Bill Wilkinson’s leadership. Vote for experience and success. Vote for the Wilkinson team.
Ms. Campolo is a member of the East Hampton Republican Committee. Ed.
October 17, 2011
To the Editor:
A few weeks ago I was at Zuccotti Park, part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration. While there someone handed me a copy of the “Occupied Wall Street Journal.” It was beautifully designed in color and well written. By now, well over 100,000 of these copies, some in Spanish, have spread across our nation. After reading the four-page document I was inspired to write a new version of the Ten Commandments:
1. We don’t have to accept the world imposed on us by banks, politicians, and police. We are the future.
2. Some tired, old left parties condemned the movement, saying it’s not focused on elections or minor reforms. Congress is forever gridlocked and our government dysfunctional.
3. For too long our minds have been chained by fear, division, and impotence. The thing that most terrifies the elite is a great awakening. That time is here.
4. Our failed system has allowed the 400 Americans at the top to hoard more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom. Nothing new here.
5. Democracy is built, not granted.
6. My daughter deserves a better future.
7. The one dollar in my pocket is more than G.E., BP, Exxon, and Mobil paid in taxes last year. Is greed really good? For whom?
8. The American Dream is a slogan created to work ourselves to death. Do you have two or three jobs, or none at all? Survival in the balance.
9. I’m sick of my faith being used to justify oppression, injustice, and war.
10. How many times in life do we get a chance to watch history unfold?
October 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I guess I owe myself an apology. By submitting a 1,600-plus-word letter to your newspaper I placed my train wreck of thought at the whim of your “editorial” discretion. The result was an amputation, performed by you, that left the letter crippled, completely bereft of its stammering eloquence. Hopefully, in time, I will forgive myself. I am resubmitting partial remains of last week’s letter in an attempt to begin the healing.
Where were we? Ah yes, the Fire Department. One of the most-beloved and respected institutions in the entire Town of East Hampton is the Amagansett Volunteer Fire Department. There is no better community group in America, and I can prove it. Still, I must admit that it is a mysterious and possibly magical process through which the community authorized the Fire Department’s acquisition of the property formerly occupied by Pacific East restaurant (and in ancient times by Martell’s).
Putting process aside, I applaud this move and regard it as simply good fortune that the property is contiguous with the existing fire station, which will make the expansion of our ambulance facilities and personnel that much easier to coordinate and manage. Good.
Now, in keeping with my well-documented efforts to merge social context with the core intended usage for the greater good of all (see Amagansett Life Saving Station history), I recommend that the new facility be designed with indoor-outdoor community space, in addition to whatever necessary office and garage housing will be required. The existing long-neglected building borders on acres of beautiful protected farmland — a setting that would be ideal for weddings and other gatherings deemed appropriate for the location (as it was in the restaurant’s bygone days). With a modest amount of foresight in the planning stages, this could become an important source of revenue and financing for the Fire Department’s expansion. You’re welcome.
What followed next was a digression that is even more relevant today than it was the day before yesterday. So let us digress: I never cared for the phrase “Arab Spring,” Mr. Rattray. To me it sounded like some kind of taxicab air freshener or a term conjured by Western commentators to sell the notion that gentle breezes are blowing throughout the dark, unknowable worlds distant from us. (Who doesn’t like spring? I’m already looking forward to it.) But words like upheaval, discontent, and revolution might more accurately characterize the movements that have been afoot around the globe. (The gruesome demise of Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi seems more cathartic than springlike, or am I just feeling autumnal?)
And now, the editorial seers are finding — perhaps inventing — parallels between those bloody revolutions and the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which have clearly evolved into a global first-world movement, the end result of which is unknown to all. Well, they do share this: a growing, viral demonstration of discontent with those who control the use and distribution of wealth and power.
At first, the Occupy movement had the appearance of a slipshod one-off, a handful of loosely organized malcontents railing against the billionaire bankers. Now, to me, it feels like the organic culmination of the nagging sores and lesions afflicting millions of people around the developed world. The unemployed, the unemployable students, the beaten-down unions, retirees on the brink, homeowners on the edge.
What will happen next? Hey, I’m just the guy at the other end of the bar.
But here’s what I like about this movement: It seems non-partisan. I don’t hear a hate-the-Democrats, hate-the-Republicans, hate-Obama message; it’s broader in message than that. However, I do believe that the president’s (and Warren Buffett’s) campaign for increased tax fairness could benefit from this movement. The argument that we “will not raise taxes on the job creators” seems hollow in a time when the so-called job creators are sitting on their cash reserves, waiting to see if demand turns around. The only things turning around are this planet on its axis, the second hand on your clock, and this bar stool. I think change is in the autumn wind.
Next week, the dramatic and unrelated conclusion of this letter. To Zach, my new reader, please accept this $15 gift certificate to Mary’s Marvelous with my gratitude.
October 24, 2011
As I watch Obama on TV pleading for even more spending, I can’t help comparing it with his fellow Democrats here in East Hampton.
Whether you call it a “Jobs Bill” or simply promise to keep the dump open an extra day, or refuse to sell off unneeded properties, it all adds up to the same thing — promise them anything today and then tax them tomorrow.
One wonders if Obama, McGintee, and Cohen went to Stupid U together, or if they all take the same irresponsibility pills. That kind of unthinking almost put East Hampton and the U.S.A. into the same kind of default as Greece is facing.
Street riots (as in Greece) or Occupy Meetings aren’t the answer. What’s needed is strong leadership that faces reality (and tells the truth to voters).
Thank God we have Wilkinson, and let’s pray that East Hampton voters don’t get fooled by his opponent’s clever lies and misleading ads.