Letters to the Editor - 04.21.11

Durell Godfrey

Amazing Event
    North Haven
    April 12, 2011
Dear Editor,
    To all of the many sponsors, participants, volunteers, and organizers of the First Annual Katy’s Courage 5K, Tom O’Donoghue, Andrea Pizzanelli, Sean Kiely, Lisa Rana, and Richard Plotkin, we would like to thank you for the many ways you gave and the action you took to support the first Katy’s Courage 5K and ensure that it became a reality.
    Saturday, April 9, was a beautiful day for an amazing event. We are appreciative for the kindness and love you have shown Katy. Our hearts are warmed by seeing you extend kindness and love to each other. Through your efforts we will be able to provide a scholarship to worthy students, help support the research and eventual discovery that will provide new methods of treatment and control of cancer, especially for children. We would like to shake your hands and give hugs to each and every one of you. We will when we see you.
    We congratulate the runners who ran and the walkers who walked and those who did a little of both. And again, thank you to our wonderful sponsors. You are the best.
    JIM, BRIGID, and
    ROBERT STEWART

Show Their Love
    North Haven
    April 13, 2011
Dear David,
    I would like to sincerely thank the student council of the Montauk School for organizing a contingent of teachers and students to represent the school in the Katy’s Courage 5K that took place in Sag Harbor on Saturday, April 9, 2011.  The event was a huge success, and I was very touched and proud to have a group of supporters from my own school there to show their love and to so beautifully honor my little girl, Katy Stewart, who passed away in December. What made it particularly special is that they wore T-shirts they had made up for the event that read “Katy’s Courage, Montauk School.” It felt great to see them all participating in such a positive community event.
    I want to thank all of them sincerely and let them know how lucky I feel to be part of this generous and thoughtful community. 
    Very truly yours,
    BRIGID COLLINS
    Assistant Principal
    Montauk School

Happy Birthday
    East Hampton
    April 15, 2011
Dear David,
    Happy birthday to Ron Fleming from the Amagansett Presbyterian Church members and friends. Your helpfulness is very much appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    CONNIE ANDERSON
    For church members and friends

Larger Than Life
    Amagansett
    April 17, 2011
To the Editor,
    As I sit down tonight to write this thank-you to an incredible community that we live and work in, I must admit I’m lost for words. It began with a thought to help our friend Susan Mannes, then was transformed into a benefit larger than life.
    I want to thank everyone who participated, donated, and attended the benefit on April 10. To have Susan attend with the help of a beautiful nurse, in an amazing ambulance service, made this day extraordinary. Words cannot explain. The benefit would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of her loving friends and family members.
    The past week has made us all remember how blessed we all are. We were able to present Susan with a check of $7,310 to help her with her continued fight to come home.
    May God bless you all, and please keep Susan in your prayers.
    With much love and gratitude,
    ALLISON LUPO
    For the Stipanov and Parisi Families

Leaf Pickup
    Amagansett
    April 18, 2011
Dear David,
    The East Hampton Town Board is considering the permanent termination of the long-running leaf-pickup program by the East Hampton Town Highway Department at today’s scheduled town board meeting. The abandonment of this program has been of great concern to many residents who will be negatively impacted.
    Some who live in areas with no trees or those who live in the woods and are happy to let leaves biodegrade naturally are not distressed with the impact to their pocketbooks once the leaf program is stopped. The affluent have their leaves picked up by others. But many who work hard may even need two jobs and have families, or those who are infirm, or living on limited funds, cannot bear the extra expense of paying to have their leaves picked up. So, those who can least afford to pay more will not benefit from any sort of minimal tax relief from ending the leaf pickup program. In essence, the ending of this program is a tax benefit to the wealthy.
    Understandably, the town board must look at the best use of taxpayer monies. And, of course, those monies need to be put back into the community for the good of the taxpayers. Making the most vulnerable in our town or our working community of teachers, service pro­viders, business owners, or retirees on a fixed income ultimately pay more than the supposed tax relief is hardly worth the small amount, if any, that will be saved by taxpayers.
    The town board promised legions of volunteers to help pick up leaves for those in need of such services. The volunteers did not materialize. Indeed, many of our residents who volunteer for local programs now find their time limited because they must pick up their own leaves.
    The East Hampton Highway Department has been run with efficiency and because of good management has enjoyed a surplus in its accounts.  
    Under the circumstances, abolition of leaf pickup seems like an irrational and arbitrary way to save money with impacts that are unpredictable but may well favor the wealthy and hurt the needy most.
    Sincerely,
    SYLVIA OVERBY

Empty Accusations
    East Hampton
    April 18, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
    The election season in East Hampton must be in full swing because political posturing has begun. The Democratic attack machine is warming up. I refer to last week’s article “Tempers Flare Over Beach Lawsuit” regarding the April 7 town board meeting.
    At that meeting, leaders of the Demo­cratic Party accused the Republican members of the town board of not showing “excitement” or “anxiety” or concern over a lawsuit brought in September 2009 against the town board and town trustees regarding beach access in Napeague. Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley correctly stated that this is an issue in litigation and the legal process is proceeding. Both were equally passionate and eloquent about their commitment to protecting everyone’s right to use East Hampton’s spectacular beaches. Indeed, defense of the town board’s actions was bipartisan with the Democratic council members weighing in affirmatively. (Your reporter happened to leave that fact out of her article.)
    The New York State Open Meetings Law correctly shields litigation from public view, thus ensuring everyone’s due process rights are protected. Like Jeanne Frankl, I too have been involved in litigation as a public official and my agency was very, very careful not to issue any public statements or discuss in open session at board meetings anything having to do with such litigation. To comply with what the Democratic leaders are asking the town board to do might prejudice the case and would be irresponsible and a dereliction of duty to the taxpaying public.
    But, this is an election season and wild accusations and personal attacks of incumbent officials, unfortunately, will become commonplace. Instead of personal invective, Democratic leaders should implore their benefactors, the East Hampton Conservators, to file an amicus brief, on behalf of the trustees and residents of East Hampton. If Demo­crats and the East Hampton Conservators could put politics aside and work together with the trustees, the town board, and Republicans, imagine what a formidable group that would be. East Hampton Town and its residents would be much better served by such a cooperative effort rather than with political posturing and empty accusations.
    Sincerely,
    CAROLE CAMPOLO

Isn’t It Strange?
    East Hampton
    April 17, 2011
Dear David,
    I have now watched the town board meeting regarding the stretch of Napeague beach twice. Since the litigation could be precedent-setting and does involve one of the “crown jewels” of East Hampton, I thought Jeanne Frankl and Betty Mazur spoke competently. However, I didn’t get the Wilkinson-Quigley response, which was defensive, almost as if they were being attacked. It seemed out of line substantively and emotionally.
    Then, after the Republican chairwoman scolded the Democratic chairwoman, Kenneth Silverman, one of the plaintiffs, rose to defend his position. Councilman Dominick Stanzione apologized to Mr. Silverman on behalf of the board — for what?
    Mr. Silverman then praised Supervisor Wilkinson. 
    Isn’t it strange that a plaintiff would come to a public meeting to thank the town supervisor, who is supposed to be the defendant in chief of the town? It just didn’t make sense to me until I read the Star’s article covering the meeting.
     You reported that according to board of election records, Mr. Silverman contributed $2,050 to the East Hampton Republican Committee in the last quarter of 2010, almost a quarter of the $8,535 total in donations that the Republican Committee received.
    Yours truly,
     LENI SALZ

Ambush by Innuendo
    Scottsdale, Ariz.
    April 17, 2011
To the Editor:
    I read Joanne Pilgrim’s “Tempers Flare Over Beach Lawsuit” (April 14). Is The Star serious when it suggests to its readers that town board members — the Republican majority — would sell East Hampton beaches for a $2,050 contribution to the Republican committee? Can The Star be so blinded by its politics?
    After all these years of reading The Star cover to cover, I do not know why it continues to amaze me as to how low the Star reporting will go in the name of journalism.  It saddens me to see that your brand of reporting has become ambush by innuendo. Is it any wonder that at a recent meeting, two board members “expressed the opinion that the information in news stories cannot be trusted”?
    It is only April and apparently the crazy political season has started. Once again, I plead with East Hampton residents to attend as many of the four work sessions and two board meetings each month as possible. Those not attended should be watched on LTV. If you want to know what is really going on in our town, watch it firsthand.  Sadly, reading The Star just won’t do it!
BEVERLY BOND   

Frightening Precedent
    Amagansett
    April 17, 2011

Dear David,
    The citizens of East Hampton are being threatened with the loss of full public access to our beaches. The lawsuit against the town board and the town trustees brought by commercial property owners would ban the public from traversing a long stretch of beach in Napeague. Although they are particularly targeting four-wheel-drive vehicles, pedestrians would likewise be prevented from using that beach when the tide is up.
    Ironically, I, as an environmental activist, have always been concerned about the environmental threat posed by beach driving. However, the issue here is much larger. Private interests are being pitted against the public interest, and the right of public access to all beaches must remain sacrosanct. Should the plaintiffs win, a frightening precedent would be set.
    I was surprised to read that this lawsuit which has been pending since 2009 has been kept so quiet; there was virtually no publicity about it, effectively preventing public input. Further, your April 7 editorial suggests that there has been a lackluster defense waged by the town and trustees to protect this important public right.
    I’d venture to say that public awareness would have engendered considerable pressure on the town board and trustees to wage an aggressive defense sparing no effort or money for the most competent and experienced litigation attorneys to represent the people of East Hampton. We deserve no less!
SUE AVEDON

All the Promises
    Amagansett
    April 17, 2011
Dear David,
    Isn’t about time that the promoters and town board started dealing in hard cold facts and not elusive promises. Where is the $100,000 charitable donation that Supervisor Wilkinson has insisted will be in hand prior to the festival going forward? Where is the liability insurance and the money for the payment of police, emergency, and cleanup personnel overtime? In short, where is the backup to all the promises that have been made?
    The continuing irresponsible and reckless attitude shown by the board regarding the quality-of-life issues raised by the festival is appalling. When will they answer the Article 78 filing that has been made? The citizens of East Hampton deserve better.
    A thoughtful and deliberate study of all the issues involved with the festival should have been conducted prior to the issuance of the permit. In fact, town regulations require that studies of many of the issues be conducted prior to grant­ing a permit. Unfortunately our board, in their ultimate wisdom, chose not to comply with the regulations and issued the permit.
    At the very least, the board can now submit a response to the Article 78 filing so that the community can understand the basis for their actions. At the same time, the promoters should stop making seemingly empty promises and start putting up the money that they have assured us will be provided. Furthermore it would be nice if they stopped framing their arguments for the festival in economic terms. In fact, other than the six jobs that they have provided, the vast majority of the promised jobs will be in the middle of the summer, when jobs go wanting for lack of available candidates.
    It is no secret that there is no lack of jobs in East Hampton Town during the summer. The festival is, plain and simple, a commercial enterprise to make money for the promoters and their associates. To state otherwise is deceitful and misleading.
JEFFREY BRITZ

Impossible Picture
    Amagansett
    April 18, 2011
To the Editor,
    Now that the town board is nodding its approval for two permits for this proposed music festival in August (in the heart of Amagansett and at the airport), and have allowed the promoters to yo-yo between the two, by threatening us with a move to the original Amagansett site if the airport is refused, let’s ask some questions and do some math no one wants to do:
    The promoters say 2,600 cars minimum, of which half will park on-site, and half at remote locations such as local schools. That’s 1,300 cars off-site, which means a minimum of 2,600 audience members from those cars needing to get to and from the festival site. The promoters are proposing to shuttle those 2,600 people back and forth (vehicle type not mentioned).
    Let’s say, conservatively, 30 people per shuttle vehicle, which equates to 85 trips, or 170 round trips, to get them there in the daytime. And everyone might not arrive at the same time, but they will all be leaving at the same time, after the headline act finishes at 10 at night.
    So, on little, two-lane Daniel’s Hole Road, with no road shoulders, on an August Saturday night, you’ll have 1,300 cars trying to leave the site and another 2,600 people waiting for 85 shuttles to arrive at the site — really? Picture even 30 or 40 buses lined up end to end, and you’ll see the impossible picture.
    Oh and let’s not forget that those people paid for a two-day festival, so they all have to go somewhere overnight and run the same gauntlet the next day. The overnight aspect is the other elephant in the room no one wants to mention.
    The board hopes human nature will keep everyone in control overnight; unfortunately, any study of festivals of this type will show that hope is not a strategy, it’s an approach to disaster.
JOHN BRODERICK

Will Be Trashed
    Amagansett
    April 17, 2011
Dear David:
    We are in spring. At last. Summer is around the corner. July will be glorious, but August still has a huge hole in its center.
    The town board has not yet rescinded the permit for the weekend day and night rock festival that is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14.
    How did this happen? The permit requirements were overlooked, and code safety issues were simply bypassed in the rush to hand a permit to the promoters.
    It turns out that one of the Principis, the owners of the festival field in Amagansett, had in the recent past been represented by the town attorney, John Jilnicki, who seems to have sidestepped any number of ethical questions and saw a fast deal made for his clients. Most people find this hard to believe; it’s true.
    The festival is a commercial enterprise. It is not a charitable enterprise. MTK, the festival group, is not a charity, it is a business just like other businesses.
    The two guys are in it to make money. They are, however, ringing every bell:
    Charitable donation? Supervisor Wil­kin­son is on tape (local TV) saying that he is absolutely going to require a bonded charitable donation. No bond has been written, and no charitable donation has been secured.
    Local hiring? They’ve hired a couple of “locals” and made a big deal of “jobs.” What jobs? Talking it up? Taking tickets? Running fencing? Sweeping stalls? Two weeks of short-term, cheap summer labor.
    There will be two days and two nights of nonstop amplified music.
    There will be two days and two nights of nonstop traffic.
    There will be two days and two nights of alcohol being served (wine and beer stalls!).
    They are selling 10,000 tickets and trying to park 3,000 cars.
    Where will everyone sleep? And yes (excuse me), where will they pee and puke after 12 hours of drinking in the sun?
    We are all smarter than this.
    The music men have come to town, and a handful of ladies seem to have swooned.
    Get over it.
    We are all being exploited.
    Our community will be trashed.
    Start writing letters. Hold the board accountable and make them stop the August rock festival.
    All good wishes,
    CHARLINE SPEKTOR

Sheer Mayhem
    Wainscott
    April 17, 2011
    Well, here we are, just four months before the dreaded music festival is supposed to take place, and we still know next to nothing about key details of this promised boondoggle, such as: who the principal music groups are, what the ticket prices will be, what accommodations have been organized, who or what is going to assure security and who will be paying for such a necessity, what plans (if any) exist for trash pickup, which charities are supposed to benefit and for how much, proof of whether the Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted for permission to use our airport in Wainscott and if any reply from this entity has been acknowledged.
    So it goes. Besides vague promises of the expected number of cars (only a few thousand for a so-called planned 9,500 spectators!) plus earnest-seeming messages from the promoters, we still have nothing to go by — nothing!
    East Hampton does not need this kind of festival, which augurs nothing less than mayhem — a series of brawls, bodies sleeping on the beach, out-of-town merchants flogging their tacky wares, the inevitable consequences of a lack of adequate toilet facilities, etc., etc.
    All I see is a heap of money going to the producers, and, of course, the property owner in Amagansett, should that be the ultimate venue. There is little else standing to benefit at this juncture. I do see sheer mayhem, with no one to blame but ourselves and our permissive leadership for allowing this to happen.
    Efforts are fortunately under way to kill this plot, based on legal grounds.  Let’s pray this effort succeeds.
    Faithfully yours,
    JOAN TRABULSI

Our Firm
    Huntington
    April 17, 2011
Dear David,
    I read with interest Carissa Katz’s article about the Maidstone litigation against the Village of East Hampton and sent in a comment for the online edition. In brief, she did a nice piece, but got the lawyers’ identities wrong. Our firm, Cahn & Cahn of Huntington, brought the suit, not Farrell, Fritz.
    Will Anderson of the latter firm represented Maidstone in the proceedings before the Village Design Review Board and Zoning Board and provided invaluable information and assistance to us, but we handled the litigation, as Judge Melvyn Tanenbaum’s published opinion reflects.
    Thank you,
    RICHARD CAHN

Rockwell World
    Montauk
    April 14, 2011
To the Editor,
    If you are lucky enough to have a malfunctioning lamp, go to the Lamp Hospital on Three Mile Harbor Road, entering a Norman Rockwell world: bearded electrician “doctor,” yapping midget dog, and thousands of collectibles worthy of an American Picker.
    Good service, too.
    Sincerely yours,
    JOHN EGAN
School Tax
    Montauk
    April 14, 2011
Dear Editor,
    The time has come for the Montauk taxpayers to take a hard look at the school budget. The cost to educate just one student attending the Montauk School is over $30,000. Yes, that is right: over $30,000.
    The average cost to educate a student in New York State is $10,200. In Suffolk County, the average is $23,500. There are a number of reasons for this huge cost per student. Teacher salaries are a big factor. Thirty teachers listed as professionals make over $100,000, up to $140,000.
    Another item of interest is teacher benefits. All teachers receive medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and long-term care insurance, which they contribute to.
    The district pays 95 percent of  medical and dental insurance, both as an active teacher and as a retired teacher. Upon retirement, immediate family members can be covered by paying 50 percent of the premium to include the family members.
    Montauk teachers have received an average total of a 20-percent salary increase every the last four years. How did you do in the last four years? How many people who pay taxes in Montauk have 95 percent of their health insurance and their dental insurance paid by their employer or their last employer if retired?
    Take a hard look at your tax bill. Note the percentage of the bill that is listed under school tax. Mine is 60 percent of the total bill, which includes the Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, Montauk Library, fire district, and special districts.
    Don’t complain about your Town of East Hampton tax, start complaining about your school tax.
    It is time to step up and vote down the Montauk School District budget this year.
    BOB LAMPARTER

Bloated Budget
    Springs
    April 18, 2011
Dear Editor:
    Springs homeowners can do it! We can vote no to the 2011-12 bloated bud­get for Springs School on Tuesday, May 17.
    Last year out of 3,900 qualified voters, only 680 people voted — 474 yes; 206 no — a pathetic turnout. There are a lot more than 206 unhappy homeowners in Springs, very unhappy. But they must make the effort to vote no to the irresponsible $24.8 million budget.
    The Springs HomeOwners Alliance at www.springshomeownersalliance.com has three nonnegotiable goals for Springs Public School. The board, parent teacher association, teachers, and parents need to listen to their neighbors’ raised voices. These are: an objective and balanced board of education, improved school ranking, and parity in salary, benefits, and pensions with other professions in East Hampton.
    LYNNE W. SCANLON
    Springs HomeOwners Alliance

    Details about the above-listed objectives can be found on the group’s Web site. Ed.

Voting ‘Yes’
    Springs
    April 18, 2011
Dear David:
    Having attended the budget workshops presented by the Springs School and watching the process unfold, I will be voting “yes” on the Springs School budget.
    Over the course of six weeks, the Springs School Board asked for input from the community, and the resounding response was, “save programs and save staff.” This means our children will be able to participate in Owen McCormack’s elementary science program, Mike Kelly’s elementary Spanish program, Sue Ellen O’Connor’s academic enrichment program, Ben Jones’s band, Margaret Thompson’s chorus, and Mark McKee’s sports programs, as well as Science Olympiad and the fourth grade opera.
    In addition, the proposed budget focuses on the needs of the district’s younger students with a universal pre-K program open to all age-eligible children and will maintain class sizes of 20 to 22 for kindergarten through grade three.
    Just last year, we were in the unenviable position of having to cut seven positions in order to fund the tuition for our high school students. The good news this year is that the board and Michael Hartner, the superintendent, have negotiated a new five-year tuition agreement with East Hampton. This new agreement should save Springs taxpayers $3.2 million over the next five years.
    So what it all boils down to is that a 5.8-percent tax-rate increase means no program or staff cuts (based on a property assessed at $6,000). The contingency budget, which calls for a 4.3-percent tax-rate increase, would mean program and staff cuts. The difference in cost to the average taxpayer between the proposed budget and the contingency budget is just $74, or $6 a month.
    Please mark your calendars and join us on May 17 and vote a resounding “yes” on the Springs School budget to save programs and save staff.
    Sincerely,
    NINA FRISCIA

To Be Commended
    Springs
    April 18, 2011
Dear David,
    The Springs School Board, the teachers, and the families who are part of this wonderful community are to be commended for the hard work they’ve undertaken for a long time now. We, as taxpayers and parents of a Springs School student, support this budget which has come through much conversation, communication, problem-solving, and the angst of looking a problem head on.
    As we move forward, continuing to work on financial dilemmas, we ask that we all continue to communicate respectfully, patiently, and remembering that we all have something positive to give in support of our students and those who work so hard to make the Springs School the unique place it is.
    A big thank-you goes to the Springs School Board for the hours they’ve put in. Let’s keep moving forward.
    Best,
    KATE MUETH
    JOSH GLADSTONE

Rightly Concerned
    Amagansett
    April 18, 2011
Dear David;
    I was somewhat disappointed with the way you characterized Tea Party concerns as a “hodgepodge of fiscal conservatism, blanket generalities, states rights ideas, and industry-friendly policies.” I think this smacked of a condescending attitude to a group of concerned citizens who are rightly concerned with the leadership and the direction of federal policy as instigated by the Obama administration and the Democratic leaders in the Congress.
    Fiscal conservatism, damn right! A $14 trillion projected debt and all the our president can come up with is “Tax the rich”! A slate of governors and state attorneys general suing the federal government over the Obamacare fiasco does not seem to be the province of a bunch of right-wing extremists, as the Tea Party people are usually referred to. Nor is the idea that reasonable and sensible approaches to greenhouse gas regulation, oil drilling, and the safe application of nuclear power are summarily to be dismissed as “industry-friendly.”
    Carbon dioxide, something every breathing creature exhales, is deemed a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Gulf fisherman and resort community is reporting the Gulf waters are safe, while drilling has come to a standstill due to regulatory delays and red tape, while Barack Obama journeys to Brazil and encourages them to drill, baby, drill. Meanwhile, the United States, with the most nuclear facilities in the Western world, double those in France, has one of the most proactive safety records on nuclear accidents, all the while being one of the most efficient industries in the U.S., according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
    What is bringing the Tea Party to the streets is the ideological mind-set of this president and the Democratic leaders in Congress who insist on promoting the idea that our fiscal policy can only be corrected by taxing the rich and by raising corporate tax rates, a proven negative growth agenda if there ever was one. We have a foreign policy that abdicates a U.S. leadership role, as demonstrated by the present Libya standoff, and shows undue deference to the United Nations, even as it continually demonstrates a consistent bias toward Israel. This is seemingly subscribed to by this administration by its constant insistence that Israel is required to make concessions, while the Palestinians are held to little account for attacking women and children in the West Bank. This is an administration that sides itself with the thuggish threats of government workers in Wisconsin against a duly elected governor and his administration.
    That’s what brings Tea Party people out in the streets, their willingness to care enough about the swamp we are being led to by the current president and his Congressional cohorts.
    Isn’t that what democracy in a republic is all about? Hodgepodge, I would think, applies more to the destructive and divisive policies of our current leaders. Your respect for their willingness to speak out is to be commended, although I think it might have come off as more sincere if you didn’t think it necessary to omit the date and time of the demonstration. That had to be gleaned from one of your contributors’ letters.
ROBERT CONTI

Do the Bidding
    Sag Harbor
    April 18, 2011
Dear David,
    Your editorial on the teabaggers missed the mark (April 14). They are not independent, they are not nonpartisan, they are not leaderless, as you would have it, and they certainly deserve little respect however much they have the right to speak, even lie. They have shown they are super-Republicans, out to take over the G.O.P. and hold no prisoners. Although it began as the upstart political arm of Dick Armey, the Republican Texas millionaire, it has subsequently been under written by David Koch and his brother, extreme-right billionaires.
    Teabaggers dutifully do the bidding of their very rich funders and corporate cheerleaders. Teabaggers scream about socialism, being overtaxed, a government oversized, blah, blah, but they are totally silent about unfair tax laws, the tax cheats and tax frauds protected by Republicans, who rake in contributions (unabashed bribes) from them.
    The janitors at the public schools in East Hampton are taxed at a higher rate than are millionaires. Teabaggers have distorted reality so badly they are willing to go off the cliff with Paul Ryan willing to end Medicare so the wealthy can have even more. These are but a few of the corporations that have been rewarded by their protectors and benefactors in the G.O.P. Just closing the loopholes on these traitorous tax cheats would completely end the deficits without slashing programs that benefit the many.
    Our nation should be ashamed and ought to loudly say no to cutting veterans benefits and the very successful government-run Veterans Administration hospitals. Teabaggers should be ashamed of cutting out child-nutrition programs, school lunches, women’s health programs, senior citizens’ lunch programs, and the myriad of other programs that show our nation is not yet a cruel, heartless, mean oligarchy of government for the rich, of the rich, by the rich.
MICHAEL O’NEILL
 

Borne the Burden
    East Hampton
    April 15, 2011
Dear Editor,
    Free spending is the way most describe the very difficult job that Congress has trying to make the money we have go to the people who need it most. I’m a Democrat; we believe that the middle class and below have borne the burden of supporting the needs of government through taxation long enough.
    The top 5 percent of the income earners pay about 45 percent of the taxes but account for over 75 percent of the taxable dollars. Doesn’t it stand to reason that perhaps these wealthy people should be asked to pay more of their income in taxes just to even the playing field? 
    Much of that high income is from investments that are taxed at 15 percent, when those of us who work on salary or commission pay twice that. Does that seem fair?
    Is it fair that Wall Street accounts for huge income dollars but very few of those dollars go to make jobs or to account for the needed taxes to run the country that affords them a lavish lifestyle? I don’t begrudge them their income. I do begrudge them the myriad ways they can hide their income from taxation. 
    The jobs that have gone from the United States are gone forever. The Bush tax cuts for the last 10 years were supposed to be the catalyst for making new jobs; they have not done so. The unemployment rate has doubled in those years, and the corporations who used to employ the people have learned how to increase production without people to fill those jobs.
    In my mind, the Tea Party has a bad case of misplaced priorities. Demand that the well-to-do pay their fair share. 
    Respectfully submitted,
    TOM FRIEDMAN

Major Decisions
    East Hampton
    April 11, 2011
To the Editor,
    The threatened government shutdown and Representative Paul Ryan’s new budget proposal are further proof of the mindless meandering of a political culture gone to seed. The Tea Party position on Planned Parenthood and other social issues wrapped into the deficit reduction requests show that whatever hope anyone had for the integrity and intellect of this group was completely misplaced.
    The Tea Party, sadly, has proven to be a bag of crap no different from our other political parties. Mr. Ryan, on the other hand, is simply a fraud. A snip brighter than his colleagues, which doesn’t say much, but clearly minimally versant in economic realities and clueless about health care. His premises are  absurd, and his conclusions delusional. What might have been a good starting point to discuss the role of government and tax policy will generate little more than a year of  mindless self-flagellation that will keep our politicians occupied until 2012.
    The deficit: Cutting spending without a context does nothing. Our deficit is a function of two wars and tax cuts — both by choice and both avoidable — on the spending side and the economic crash on the revenue side. Given these conditions any government, Barack Obama’s or John McCain’s or Ronald Reagan’s, would do the same thing: keep the country afloat until economic activity returns to some normal level. With the private sector, including banks, on the sidelines, what else can be done to stimulate the economy? Without the stimulus state governments go bust and unemployment goes to 11 percent. Not rocket science.
    Taxation and government: How much should we be taxed? What role should our government play? Do we want Social Security, universal health care, clean air, military dominance, good roads, safe streets, etc.? What are we willing to give up to lower our taxes? That’s a national debate that has to take place; if we are going to cut spending we have to make major decisions on the direction of the country.
    Timing: It is easier and more logical to make major policy decisions during periods of prosperity than in crisis. Mr. Ryan’s credibility evaporates with his belief that  lowering the deficit will create jobs. The economy has been structurally damaged and needs to be fixed. His plan is like fixing highways when the cars are too broken down to operate. We need to get our priorities straighter. Where are the jobs, Paul? Unfortunately, he doesn’t really care.
    Philosophically: My friend Alex uses a basic concept of someone who creates a business from scratch and then grows it. Why should the government take more of his money when his income grows. If he keeps the money he will continue to grow his business and hire more people. How would those tax dollars be better spent? (Alex doesn’t believe he can survive solely by his good looks.) As a nation we have embraced social evolution. Does that all have to be rethought?
    If the deficit is $1.3 trillion and our politicians are willing to shut it down over a pittance and some marginal social issues, we have obviously made the wrong choices once again. Somehow, having garnered 30 percent of the electorate they believe they have a mandate for their policies. What about the 70 percent who didn’t vote for you? Our politics go from the ridiculous to the absurd. Is it time to change systems? Would we be better off with a king?
NEIL HAUSIG  

Clearly Is Inept
    East Hampton
    April 10, 2011
Dear David,
    Isn’t it great to be able to fill up your car’s gas tank for only $102, give or take a few cents? If you feel shortchanged just be patient, as it is slated to rise up to $10 a gallon; this is not my prediction, but Stephen Chu’s. His task is not only to reach this mark but to do so under circumstances of improved mileage and other forms of cheaper power sources and electric cars that can go all of 200 miles before needing recharging, which could take hours, and only during designated hours so as not to overload whatever power grid is left after O wrecks our energy sources.
    This continuing price rise is hurting millions of Americans, employed or not. Saturday, O was attending a public meeting and was asked about the price of gas. He laughed and said, without knowing what vehicle he drove, that he couldn’t do anything in the next few weeks and he should trade in his sport utility vehicle for something with better mileage — a true man of the people. He did however invest three trillion of our dollars with Brazil to drill for oil off their shores and promise to be their first and best customer.
    Having seriously deteriorated our access to domestic energy resources (costing thousands of jobs), O & Co. jumped at his golden opportunity to raise the ire of our oil-rich allies and two other of our staunchest allies there in keeping peace in the Mideast. O called for President Mubarak of Egypt, an ally for some 30 years, to resign, stepping out front in hailing the demonstrators as proponents of democracy. It now looks like he helped place control in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and others who may change this delicate balance.
    Saudi Arabia’s leaders are angry at O & Co. for double-dealing with President Mubarak, and are reaching out to China and Russia as we are no longer regarded as a reliable ally. We now face a reawakened enemy, Ka Daffy, whom O demanded several times to give up power in Libya, and sent our armed forces to destroy his armor and air power in the name of protecting civilians. He loftily pronounced that we could never stand by with our power and allow a government to kill its citizens demanding freedom; a new philosophy taught him by a woman whose name escapes me at this moment, but has influenced him.
    We are now in a third war, which O promised was only for a few days’ duration, a truly empty promise, announcing in a national broadcast that NATO would take us out of it in two days. They promptly denied this, and we are 22 percent of NATO and will be a part regardless of what he says. Now we have what looks like a divided Libya, the rebels being in good part linked with Al Qaeda and others who were fighting and killing our troops in Iraq.    
    We will hear from Ka Daffy in ways we will not like. Iran, meanwhile, has been fielding its forces and money to gain influence in the gulf and Egypt and Jordan. Remember Iran’s shooting and beating demonstrators and how O refused help to them against the Iranian government, saying we should not side in a civil war? President Obama has failed in foreign relations, is wrecking our economy, and shut down our space program. He clearly is inept and not capable to be our leader.
EARLE S. RYNSTON

Just Like Us
    Sag Harbor
    April 7, 2011
To the Editor,
    War is about power, politics, and the military. War is a political institution. War is an addiction, Money is the bottom line. The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world and has 1.7 miles of corridors. Therein reside the arms merchants, known as the death lobby.
    War is unpredictable. In contemporary wars, 90 percent of the victims are innocent civilians, just like us. This is often the reason for post-traumatic stress disorder.
    War is not a solution, but a delusion. Redefining war is the best way to end it.
    In peace,
    LARRY DARCEY