April 25, 2011
I would like to thank all of the ambulance volunteers and the town police for their quick response to a 911 call that my daughter made on my behalf to our home at 316 Accabonac Road last week. I am now home and as good as new!
April 24, 2011
To the Editor,
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for the basket of fruit which they gave to me for Easter. It was nice to be remembered by my fellow comarades.
MILTON L. MILLER SR.
April 25, 2011
I am urging all residents of Springs to turn out and vote “yes” on the Springs School budget on May 17.
Local school budget votes too often provide voters with the only chance to give vent to the frustration felt over rising tax burdens. While that frustration is understandable, voting “no” on school budgets does little to control the mandated increases that cause school budgets to increase year after year. Make no mistake — the system of financing schools in New York is unfair and in need of reform; however, voting down your local school budget will do nothing to bring about that reform.
Voting down the Springs School budget will not reduce teacher salaries and benefits. Voting down the Springs School budget will not result in an objective and balanced board of education. Voting down the Springs School budget will not result in improved school ranking. Voting down the Springs School budget will result in the adoption of a contingency budget, which will result in the cutting of enrichment programs and extracurricular programs for our children.
For the average Springs taxpayer, the difference in cost between the proposed 5.8-percent tax increase and a 4.3-percent contingency budget increase would be $74 per year.
While we have seen property values fall in Springs, as they have across the nation, please understand that in districts where contingency budgets are in place, property values fall further and faster. Similarly, a contingency budget in Springs would see property values drop even further, taking many years to recover.
As a Springs taxpayer, and resident for over 18 years, I am concerned with the future of our school and the ability of our community to properly fund that school. Because of that concern, I am running for one of the two open seats on the Springs School Board.
As a board member I will continue the work that the present board has done to deal with the tuition issue and continue to bring openness and clarity to the fiscal operations of our district.
A special note to Springs residents 18 years of age and older and who are not registered in any other voting district: You are eligible to vote in the Springs district and may register with the district clerk on any business day up until May 12. Please register and vote.
April 25, 2011
I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve been through all kinds of inflation, stagflation, cold wars, hot wars, recessions, depressions, etc. I have also been fortunate enough to graduate from a few Ivy League schools with degrees in both physical sciences and liberal arts and humanities. I know the educational situation and salaries in Springs are evidence of collective madness.
The board of education needs to be told no to the $24.8 million budget.
Look at these 2010 salaries Newsday published on its Web site: Michael Hartner, superintendent: $190,000 ($20,000 of which represents a raise this year), Eric Casale, principal: $138,555, Kenneth Hamilton, district treasurer: $104,968. And some teachers, Maryjane Arceri: $129,903, Lisa Dragone: $125,870, Margaret Thompson: $124,779, Lucy Yardley: $123,403, Irene Tully: $122,964, Mark McKee: $122,054, Nancy Olson: $121,745, Sue O’Connor: $120,587, Annmarie Schuppe: $120,164, Terry Miller: $118,929, Maryellen Farrell: $118,763, Patricia Philipbar: $117,598, Valerie Policastro: $117,367, Karen McKee: $117,367, Joan Branche: $117,367, Jodie Hallman: $112,708, Colleen McGowan-Whelan: $112,640, Tracy Frazier: $108,997, Louann Ramsden: $108,997, Maria Goncalves: $106,769, Maritza Santos: $104,866, Geraldine Tapia: $103,614, Llaine Bickley: $102,754, Francis Cole: $101,084, Lisa Seff: $100,310.
Let’s not forget the generous benefits and pensions on top of these salaries, and the fact that they are not “one-shot” payments; they continue year after year. Plus there are 22 additional teachers making between $75,000 and $100,000, and 50 more teachers, aides, support staff, etc., receiving paychecks from the Springs taxpayers, taxpayers who never came close to making this kind of money.
How could this have happened? Manipulation of the public’s perception of reality and not voting no to the Springs School budgets, that’s how.
Get out and vote no on Tuesday, May 17, otherwise you will be compelled by law to perpetuate this madness. Voting will take place between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Springs School.
Enough Is Enough
April 23, 2011
I am very upset with the Springs School board and its budget. Because a tuition agreement was reached with the East Hampton High School, the Springs School Board believes it is off the hook and doesn’t need to find expenses that could be reduced (or eliminated, God forbid!) to save the very strapped taxpayers money.
There were cuts proposed by the superintendent (some $4 million worth), but once the tuition agreement was reached these all went out the window. Why the school board would not try and implement cost-reducing measures is just mind-boggling to me. It is also pure negligence on the part of the superintendent and school board’s fiduciary responsibility.
Montauk’s school superintendent, Jack Perna, and teachers stepped up to the plate when it was needed. What happened to Springs teachers? Why in Springs is it always at the expense of the children or taxpayer? Enough is enough. Please vote no to the Springs School budget on May 17.
April 18, 2011
It is rare that I take the time to comment on such matters, but the time has come to speak out on what is happening to our community.
The Springs School budget, which accounts for over 70 percent of our taxes, needs to be brought into the real world. We have nonessential activities, nonessential busing, bloated salaries at both the administration and teacher levels, and it is destroying the value of both personal real estate and the community at large.
There is no need to have a district of one school supervised by both principal and superintendent. I question the need for teachers who are paid for personal education enhancements that have little to do with their position as a primary instructor, and I question why the community has to provide busing and pre-K when neither is mandated by the state.
I understand the passion of the parents and the school board to want the best, but there is a point where their desires outweigh that which the community can afford. We are at that point and beyond.
While a good school can be looked at as an added value in real estate, we are at the polar opposite. High taxes brought on by all the above-mentioned is having a negative impact on the district that houses the largest number of full-time residents and makes up the highest number of workers that keep our Town of East Hampton what it is. The downward spiral of home values, beyond an already “soft” market, has not only a negative impact on the residents of Springs, but will eventually impact the rest of town.
I strongly oppose the current budget and request there be considerable review of the school’s priorities that the majority of residents can no longer afford. It is also time to recognize the time has come for a more efficient school system in the entire Town of East Hampton. No corporation worth its salt would run an operation such as this and archaic reasons for having separate school districts are no longer valid.
April 24, 2011
To the Editor:
It’s that time of year again, when we the voters and taxpayers of East Hampton get an opportunity to let our school board and the administration know how we feel about the out-of-control spending they package and sell to us as a school budget.
This year, in addition to letting the powers that be know how we feel about their intolerable overspending, we can send two new board members into the lions’ den to fight for fiscal sanity. I, for one, will vote for Paul Fiondella for the school board.
I do not know him personally, but I have heard him speak at town and school events and always read his letters in the newspapers. He never fails to zero in on the heart of the matter and then to present solutions. He will not be cowed by those who currently run the show. I believe he will speak for the community and be part of the solution. I do not see Mr. Fiondella falling into the trap of continuing the willy-nilly spending that passes for fiscal competence in our schools.
A huge attribute Mr. Fiondella brings to the table is that he is not a part of the current school milieu. He brings fresh eyes and a new perspective. Anyone else I vote for in the school election will have to do the same. I do not want someone sitting on the board who is part of our current “education” system.
At the moment, I do not know enough about Mr. Fiondella’s fellow candidates. Hopefully, they will fill us in on not only their qualifications, but their ideas for stemming the financial folly that the current and past boards have continuously characterized as budgets fashioned in the best interests of the students. For me, before I pull the lever I want to know who and what I am supporting.
Are the people in control today actually telling us that running the East Hampton school district costs more than running the whole Town of East Hampton? How stupid do they think we are? I can’t blame them for counting on our continued non-involvement, since that is the history of East Hampton district voters.
I urge everyone to pay attention to this election in May so that together, we put people in office who truly can multitask, that is, control costs while providing the best education for our children.
To the Brink
April 24, 2011
I welcome the other five candidates into the East Hampton School Board race. The job of a board of education member is to make sure we are getting the best possible quality of education for our students out of every dollar we spend. Unfortunately, the current school superintendent has brought us to the brink of financial disaster.
Next year’s budget, 2012-13, the one my fellow candidates will be responsible for if elected, must confront a possible 2-percent budget cap on the tax levy. The tax levy, currently over $45.6 million, is the amount that must be raised in property taxes. This year’s tax levy is well over that cap. Next year’s tax levy with a 2-percent cap would allow us to spend $912,460 more.
On two occasions I demanded that the superintendent provide the board with a line-item analysis of the major expenses that will increase in 2012-13. On both occasions he refused.
Even lacking such information, one can easily conclude that we cannot meet the cap. Our revenues in 2012-13 from the state and the feeder districts will be lower. Our pension fees over which we have no control are estimated by Newsday to go up $1.6 million. Add to that the cost of a new teachers’ contract that must be negotiated. Without even looking at the other items in the budget, we are over the cap. Then there is the Sandpebble lawsuit claim against the school district for $3.5 million.
To my fellow candidates I say, I hope you are all fast learners because this is what you are up against. This is what the job amounts to.
Of course there are some people in the district who remain in denial; they ask why we have to cut the budget at all. Maybe the Legislature will not pass the cap, maybe the taxpayers will approve a budget that goes beyond the cap. After all, in nine years the district budget has doubled and it has never been voted down.
Then there is one long-serving board member who admitted at one of the budget sessions that if we get into this kind of crunch then we will have no choice but to lay off teachers to meet the cap. This is happening this year in school districts all over the state.
I totally oppose laying off teachers and I totally oppose rubber-stamping inflated school budgets. Why should financial incompetence and mismanagement on the part of the superintendent and his rubber stampers jeopardize the quality of education in the East Hampton School District? We can do better than throw in the towel and follow him off the cliff, we can cut the budget in ways that avoid jeopardizing the quality of education in the district. It just takes leadership.
I don’t think there is anyone else in the school board race who knows enough about the budget to come up with the cuts that will prevent teacher layoffs in 2012-13. That is why I’m running for school board. I ask for your vote on May 17.
Most Important Work
April 24, 2011
To the Editor,
Dear Reader: My name is Patricia Hope, and I am running for a seat on the East Hampton School Board.
I have been a district parent, employee, and taxpayer. I understand the issues, and have respect for every stakeholder.
For 33 years, I worked in our classrooms as a science teacher, and I believe that our students are the most important population in the district. As an experienced educator, I can bring common sense and clarity to discussions and decision-making regarding our schools.
The most important work a public servant can do is to serve the public. We, as taxpayers, have questions about district costs and expenditures. I will not hesitate to ask those questions and will work toward eliminating waste and ratcheting back spending.
In public discourse, civility is a responsibility, and it is necessary for a school board member to be reasonable as well as informed. I will work to increase the community’s trust in their school board and in their schools.
If I am elected, I will practice the art of the possible, keeping students in the forefront of the district vision, and I will respect the burden on the taxpayer.
Please vote for me on Tuesday, May 17, at the high school. I can make a difference.
Option to Attend
April 20, 2011
I am writing this letter as a graduate of East Hampton High School and a current Elon University student in regard to the “alternative school” that is being run by Richard Hartnett within East Hampton High School. It has given students the option to attend school who have faced relative deprivation within their family life because they are forced to work days in order to help their families, or for those students who have fallen behind due illness or any family problems.
One of the most unique aspects of the alternative school is that it takes in students who are not morning learners, which was one of my greatest problems in school, because I felt as if I didn’t wake up until around third or fourth period during the traditional nine-period day. It allows students to attend school when their brain capacity is running at its best, which is what students can do at a higher level, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be the same in high school.
What I believe to be most important about the alternative school is that the application process maintains social organization and the social ties between the family support system and the school structure. This will help solidify the commitment to their schooling process and will help in the overall success rate of the alternative school.
Over all, the alternative school benefits our community economically as well, by potentially bringing in new revenue from students who would have normally gone to another district, and the savings you have by keeping a child in the district rather than sending them to the Board of Cooperative Education Services, for example.
The alternative school has already greatly benefited children in our school, and it is a true success story. I am happy to see the progress in educational opportunities within our community.
Up in Smoke
April 25, 2011
Southfork Kitchen is not sustainable! The Web site for Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton touts “sustainable seafood, local vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and wine,” but I guess its philosophy does not include local patrons.
Friday night at 6:30 p.m. after being coaxed to return via Southfork Kitchen’s own e-mail mailing, three of us “locals,” all successful business owners, decided to sample its new $55 price-fix dinner. As two of us arrived, only two tables in the vast space were filled. Informed by both the hostess and manager that walk-ins were not accepted (its posting on Open Table boasts otherwise), that the restaurant was fully booked, and that our only option was to eat at the bar (also empty, except for the restaurant’s owner, Bruce Buschel, and his wife).
We retreated to the bar to await our third party, ponder our dilemma, and have a cocktail. By 7 p.m., with only one new table of six in place and one other couple waiting for a table at the bar, the manager informed us she could seat us at 7:30 p.m. Gratefully, we accepted.
Although we were not seated in the still-empty main dining room but relegated to a side section with three tables near the kitchen, our spirits were not dampened, after all, it was Earth Day, and we were looking forward to a great locally harvested meal, as our previous visits had left us salivating for more.
Shortly, the evening began to go up in smoke — quite literally, as billows of thick smoke emerged from the kitchen and engulfed our table. Harried waitstaff descended on our lone corner table unfortunately situated in the direct line of the offending clouds.
As the distinct smell of charred toast choked our palates, a side door two feet from our corner table and surrounding windows were swept open as the thick smoke circled. Apparently a bread machine had caught fire, but discerning no need for alarm, we settled back in as locals do, trusting our evening, off to a precarious start, could not get any worse.
No one offered to move us into the now three-quarters-full main dining room, where other patrons had barely sustained a blip of the chaos we were swallowing. No management checked to see if we were all right (including Mr. Buschel, still comfortably seated at the bar, although well aware of the issue as we later learned).
As the smoke cleared, we requested the door and windows be shut as the 45-degree night and our spirits were quite chilled. Appetizers arrived — an amazing clam chowder, superb sardines, and delicious grilled squid — all impressive but all grossly oversalted.
We related the chef’s heavy-handedness to the waitstaff, requesting he taper off for our entrees. With tepid smiles we laughed off the mishaps, confident that “stuff’ indeed happens; after all, we are seasoned locals, not some entitled summer interlopers. The night was young, our hearts filled with joy. We should have asked for the check.
Call the Bridgehampton Fire Department! Three additional bread machine malfunctions followed during our dinner with repeated drills of smoke, fumes, opening and closing of windows and doors as our lungs filled with more and more smoke and our appetites were doused. Were we being punked?
Entrees followed, a tasty trout, an adequate duck, but nothing really to cheer about and once again — all oversalted. Was no one hearing us, seeing us, caring about us? Before our prix fixe desserts arrived (if they hadn’t been we would have certainly been out the door by now), Mr. Buschel headed our way for what we assumed would be a major mea culpa — after all, we had read plenty of his rants about taking care of customers on his New York Times blog. A complimentary round of after-dinner drinks? Our tab adjusted? Surely some sort of major rectification was heading our way.
Mr. Buschel was not heading toward us but to the aforementioned side door; it was we who had to garner his attention. We reiterated our concerns of repeated smoke outbreaks, only to have him not address our discomfort, but to tell us that he had just fired the waitress he deemed responsible. He spun a tale of her three-month training on the bread machine and his intolerance of three mistakes in one evening.
Now, even more uncomfortable learning someone had been fired, we began to pine for the exit door ourselves. We shared our observations that the restaurant seemed a little shortstaffed and “green” and that we had seen said now jobless waitress juggling as she assisted others, perhaps justifying her repeated misfire?
Mr. Buschel, after discerning that I was the owner of a public relations agency, responded, “Wasn’t it typical that a publicist would make up stories and position something in a more favorable light?” It was indeed time for the check! Injury? Insult? What would come next?
We again relayed our concerns to both the manager and the hostess, receiving nothing more than obligatory apologies as we exited.
I remember reading one of Mr. Buschel’s blog posts for The Times, “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do.” In it he states: “Never blame the chef or the busboy or the hostess or the weather for anything that goes wrong — just make it right, show a good table your appreciation with a free glass of port, a plate of biscotti,” and, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Mr. Buschel, when you start to get hungry, eat your own words.
Sustainable? Not Southfork Kitchen.
April 25, 2011
To the Editor,
Last year, 2010, saw the worst environmental disaster in United States history in the Gulf of Mexico, just as East Hampton continues with its worst environmental tragedy in its history with the unabated flow of dog feces and urine on our beaches. Even as cleanup efforts were under way in the gulf, it was evident that the Louisiana shores could not be clean until the oil spill was stopped. East Hampton beaches will not purge themselves of poop without stemming the flow of feces.
The gulf oil spill was an accident that happened while getting oil that we all want and need. Tragic and perhaps careless, it was an accident. Pollution of East Hampton beaches is the deliberate act of a few selfish, ignorant, insensitive citiots.
In 2010 surfers were hospitalized with infections when surfing after heavy rains. There was an outbreak of conjunctivitis. In 2011 let’s urge any one of our administrators to have the courage and integrity to step up and take a stand for the health, safety, and beauty of our community. Let us all have the strength to tell people that we don’t want their dogs on the beach and to take on the civic responsibility to report and demand the prosecution of the scofflaws.
Last week, hundreds of citiots celebrated Earth Day by chauffeuring dogs to the beach to use it as a toilet. A year after the gulf disaster that pipeline has been capped and cleanup continues while the effluence from the East Hampton poopline increases and cleanup is impossible.
April 25, 2011
Robert Burns said that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and, indeed, the plans of the Democrats to hold their annual Easter egg hunt almost floated away. The torrential rain storm of the Saturday morning before Easter brought an e-mail cancellation notice at 7:14 am. to all the Democrats who rose early, planning to be at Herrick Park by 8:30 to set up for the festivities. A sopping chairman and vice chairman were at the park by 8, posting word of the cancellation with a promise to disappointed children that we would see them next year.
East Hampton Democrats appreciate the generosity of Waldbaum’s and Phoenix House, which collaborated in this enterprise, as they have year after year: Waldbaum’s by donating and Phoenix House by coloring a case of eggs for the occasion. The many dozens of gaily colored eggs, which they and members of the Democratic Committee had prepared for the event, were not wasted; we took them to the Springs Food Pantry.
Thanks, too, to BookHampton, which once again contributed carefully selected and beautifully packaged books for prizes. They’ve promised a new selection for next year.
East Hampton Democratic Committee
April 24, 2011
To the Editor,
The robust turnout at last Thursday’s town board meeting in support of beach access rights was truly amazing! This was the largest turnout for a single agenda item, according to Supervisor Wilkinson. It was refreshing to see the unified position of the East Hampton Town Board and the East Hampton Town Trustees opposing the lawsuit filed by Ken Silverman, Bernard Kiembock, and a few other interested parties. This lawsuit at the very least wastes valuable town resources at a time when we are trying to balance the budget, keep local people working, and maintain services to our community.
Recent town board meetings and articles published in the local papers have made several points clear. Mr. Silverman is saying one thing yet doing another. For example, he maintains his lawsuit is not intended to keep people off the beach; however, his suit includes citing people for trespassing if they are on the beaches in question. This doubletalk is a ploy to appease the general public and to divert attention from the facts.
Mr. Kiembock was quoted as saying his Village Hardware store is not part of the lawsuit and his lawsuit has prompted hate. Good, hard-working people who have supported his business for years are deciding that his values as a businessman and a member of our community are not in line with theirs and are electing not to patronize his businesses any longer, myself included. The animosity Mr. Kiembock is referring to is simply profound shock at his blatant disregard for the sensibilities of the people in this community, including their love for the beaches, respect for their heritage, and beach access rights.
While future beach access hangs in the balance pending a decision from a New York State judge, we are hopeful the efforts and representation of our town government will prevail. Other options, including condemnation, are available, but will continue to increase the costs of this effort. I applaud our town leaders and their commitment to maintaining beach access rights.
CfAR, Citizens for Access Rights, is a grassroots organization working to protect beach access rights. Follow CfAR on Facebook or visit www.citizensforaccessrights.com to learn more about how you can help.
Need Your Support
April 25, 2011
Citizens for Access Rights is a nonpolitical, not-for-profit group that was formed as a result of the lawsuit on Napeague, which is an attempt to privatize the beach in this area. However, CfAR believes that other beaches on the East End of Long Island are currently or may potentially be at risk for limited public access or privatization.
We support public access to all beaches. Our group is raising money and would like to be able to donate on an annual basis to the East Hampton Town Trustees for the stewardship of the town beaches.
CfAR attended a town board meeting last Thursday to express to the town board and the town trustees the importance of the public’s right to access and use the beaches of East Hampton the way they have been enjoyed for generations. CfAR wanted to show our concern to the town board about how the privatization or the loss of access rights to the beach on Napeague will affect the residents of our town.
Our group introduced a resolution at the meeting asking the town board to support the trustees in defense of the lawsuit and to use any and all means necessary to protect the public’s right to access and use the beaches of East Hampton. We hope that this resolution will be introduced and voted on in the very near future. As the weather warms and the summer months near, CfAR asks the town board and the town trustees to continue to fight for our right to access and use the beach on Napeague this summer.
CfAR believes that the town board and the town trustees spoke clearly, powerfully, and with a unified voice in defense of the lawsuit on Napeague. Their position as it was presented was in defense of the public access and in favor of beach driving as a form of access. We appreciate and support the town board and trustees for their position. CfAR supports safe and environmentally conscious beach access for all and believes that our elected officials concur. Our group welcomes increased enforcement of the existing beach driving laws on Napeague, as well as on other beaches in East Hampton.
To find out more about our CfAR look for us on facebook.com, or to become a member visit our Web site, citizensforaccessrights.com. CfAR will be posting information about upcoming fund-raisers soon. East Hampton’s beaches and CfAR need your support.
Finally, CfAR believes that Supervisor Wilkinson summed it up best when he stated, “United speak is far more effective than divided speak.” United we stand!
Hope to see you all on the beach soon.
Citizens for Access Rights
On the Beach
April 17, 2011
I share with permission a recent conversation:
“You have to help me write a letter about those horrid people in trucks who drive on the beach in front of my multimillion-dollar country cottage.”
“I’m going to donate a few thousand to the local Republican Party. They like privatizing public land. My cute beach boys will take care of it. I don’t want those common people in front of my house.”
“I honestly don’t know if the local Republicans are for sale.”
“Oh, Diana, you are so naive!”
“Bits, the ocean beaches should be for everyone.”
“How much will it cost me to get rid of them? I’m going to call East Hampton Town Hall right now!”
“Let me know what they say.”
All good things,
April 24, 2011
Democrats are not thin-skinned. We don’t cringe when town board members or the chairwoman of the Republican Party call our statements at town board meetings “politicking” and deplore our lack of “decorum.” We presume The Star is just as tough. However, your readers should appreciate that these attacks are a calculated strategy to divert attention from legitimate concerns.
For example, Carole Campolo’s letter attacks as “political posturing” contentions by Betty Mazur and me at the April 7 town board meeting that the board should have publicized the private lawsuit to close off Napeague beach and told the public what they were doing to prevent that from happening. Instead of “personal invective,” she says, the Democratic leaders might have worked together with the trustees, the town board, and Republicans to arrange for filing an amicus brief with the court in support of the public position. But that was the very point I tried to make at a meeting where I was hardly allowed to speak.
Had we known about this lawsuit, we might have done just what Ms. Campolo suggests and filed a “friend of the court” brief adding to the public voice provided by the trustees in the lawsuit.
As I observed on April 7, the Open Meetings Law protects but does not prevent disclosing information about a litigation, and information about litigation is often revealed by litigants where openness can be useful. This town board uses the Open Meetings Law as a shield to keep the public out of the loop and meets justifiable complaints with the charge of politicking and lack of decorum.
Another example: Beverly Bond writes that The Star engaged in “low . . . reporting” and “is blinded by its politics” in writing that a major plaintiff in the Napeague lawsuit is also a major contributor to the Republican party. Not surprising — whining about the press is a standard Republican response to well-deserved criticism.
Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley slammed your articles on the Napeague situation at the town board meeting when Betty and I cited them as the source for our concerns. But, once again, the charge of “ambush by innuendo” won’t wash, since a $2,000 contribution by Ken Silverman, a key plaintiff in the suit, to the East Hampton Republicans last October, and at least as much in 2009, was reported on April 20 by The Independent.
Politics, according to the dictionary, is “the art or science of political government.” To politick is to “engage in or talk politics.” Politicking and political journalism — with candor and respect for other views and focused on issues — is crucial to good, democratic government. East Hampton faces an important election this November, and we hope everyone will politick with those criteria in mind.
Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.
Two Weeks’ Notice
April 25, 2011
Recently, another two employees were summarily fired by the supervisor. First, he informed the public (not the employees), on television, at a town board meeting that he was going to fire two people at the town recycling center.
The employees were then told their employment was over and they were to leave that day. One was a former fisherman who was working to support his family. The other was a single woman supporting her child in college.
Perhaps at Disneyland people were fired and told to immediately take their personal belongings and leave. Escorted out by security, they were probably dumped at the front door. This is the real world — a community of families. Shouldn’t they be treated with common courtesy? Shouldn’t they be given two weeks’ notice, as is standard in the business world?
Most of us were stunned when we heard about this at a town board meeting. Fortunately, Julia Prince, a Democratic board member, requested that the board vote to give the two dismissed employees two weeks’ notice. Since the recycling center is now closed one day to save money, one wonders why it was necessary to now fire two workers?
Mr. Wilkinson resembles Captain Hook more and more.
East Hampton Democratic Committee
Things in Order
April 17, 2011
We have a wonderful superintendent of highways: Scott King, who is knowledgeable and efficient. He responds rapidly to people who call him, and he is extremely helpful in solving problems. It is great to have a person like Scott working to keep things in order.
April 25, 2011
To the Editor,
Report from Coachella. An update to my letter of concern regarding the MTK festival in Amagansett, or East Hampton, as apparently there remain permits for the festival to occur in two locations.
This was the 11th year of the Coachella festival in Indio, Calif., and, despite the seasoned promoters running it, the issues that I raised as they relate to such an event in the Hamptons during the busy month of August remain in my mind and were again highlighted. They are worth restating as two permits are outstanding and, while no bands have been announced or tickets gone on sale, it appears that the town board is continuing to move forward in its support of such an event despite a large group of residents who remain concerned about the event as well as its timing in mid-August. My focus is on traffic and the related impact on safety and quality of life.
Despite the fact that Indio is blessed with large boulevards of six lanes leading to the festival, as well as multiple routes of ingress and egress, traffic remained snarled and often at a grinding halt as festivalgoers edged their way toward the venue.
This, despite the fact that they had shuttle buses, each holding over 100 passengers, running continuously from 16 different locations beginning at 11 a.m. and ending 90 minutes after the last band stopped playing. This, despite the fact that numerous festivalgoers camp on-site and thus are not driving to the venue each day.
This, despite the fact that the large team of traffic “organizers” (i.e., not policemen or firemen but outside security and other folks hired specifically for this festival) actively manage the traffic. This, despite the fact that no car is allowed near the venue without inhabitants displaying a wristband verifying that they have purchased the three-day ticket (and are not trying to get near the venue to sneak in or purchase a wrist band). Best case was 90 minutes and that was at 6 p.m. (festival starts at noon).
In contrast to Indio and the Coachella festival, the Hamptons do not possess the expansive and wide-open geography, or the multiple, large roadways leading to either venue location, needed to safely accommodate the traffic. Neither Route 27 nor Daniel’s Hole Road has the six lanes of Jefferson Boulevard in Indio, which is a main road leading to the venue.
Instead, we have one lane in either direction. Nor, unlike Indio and Coachella, are there multiple routes of ingress and egress. Instead, there is one road, one road that is already so overburdened with cars on busy August weekends that the ambulance and fire sirens ring continuously as they rush to traffic accidents all over the Hamptons and to people whose lives are dependent upon these emergency services arriving quickly. With the traffic that will result from this festival, emergency services will not be able to respond quickly if the roads are blocked.
This festival, at this time in mid-August, is a disaster waiting to happen. How in the world will the close to 10,000 attendees hoped for by the promoters not clog up traffic, even if buses shuttle some of them? Unlike Coachella, there will be no one camping overnight, so the full 10,000 will need to get there each day. Not to mention that the intersection of Daniel’s Hole Road and 27 is notorious for traffic fatalities even in the absence of a two-day music festival.
The risk is clearly increased with the level of traffic that will occur due to the proposed festival. Traffic on 27 will be backed up from that intersection all the way to the other side of Bridgehampton.
How many of us have been in a traffic jam on 27 during the middle of the summer and had an impatient driver illegally speed past in the right median to either cut into someone, in front of someone, or exit to get out of the traffic? And how many bikers or joggers are injured or killed as a result of this?
Simply said, this festival at this time of year will create not only quality-of-life issues but also meaningful threats to the safety of the residents and visitors of the community. The economic benefits are negligible, as restaurants and hotels will be full, as they always are at that time of year. And merchants won’t reap the benefits if the festivalgoers do indeed attend the festival. There would be much greater economic benefit and safety if such an event were to occur when hotels, restaurants, and roadways were half full and jobs were needed. And, the potential for a charitable contribution would remain. When taking into account our community’s economy, safety, and quality of life, having a two-day music festival in the middle of August simply makes no sense. This is the wrong decision for the community.
Observance of Earth
April 25, 2011
“Earth Day celebrates the interdependence within the natural world of all living things, humanity’s utter dependence upon Earth, humankind’s only home — and in turn the vulnerability of this Earth of ours to the ravages of irresponsible technological exploitation. It celebrates our long past in which we have learned so much of the ways of this universe, and our long future, if only we apply what we know responsibly and wisely.”
It is not widely known that we owe the observance of Earth Day to the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. The quoted words are hers. She was inspired by John McConnell, a retired minister who annually lobbied journalists (including myself), at the United Nations with his idea for Earth Day.
It became Dr. Mead’s conviction that Earth Day must be an international holiday. She termed it a holy day that must transcend cultural, geographical, religious, and political borders, a holiday that would call upon and remind the world of the constant imperative to preserve nature’s harmony. Years before the polluting proliferation of modern weaponry and the positive and negative uses of electronic communication, she urged us to remember that the conveniences of the moment must not override provision for the future of the world’s children.
In the mid-’60s, when I was a broadcast correspondent and photographer covering the political upheaval in Indonesia, Dr. Mead contacted me for information about the role of the students. I began studying with her at Columbia when I returned to the States, then worked closely on several of her projects, including her plan to establish Earth Day as an international focus.
Margaret Mead rang the Peace Bell at the United Nations for the first celebration of Earth Day in 1970, to coincide with the spring equinox. She contacted heads of state, diplomats and politicians, academic administrators, international scientists, and other influential professionals to join her mission. She started using the symbol of the earth as a huge blue marble on Earth Day flags, to be distributed to schoolchildren, and started Earth Day as an inspiration for annual school projects around the world.
This past week Earth Day coincided with other holy holidays. To my surprise, when I Googled “Margaret Mead/Earth Day” on the Internet, it was there! I urge teachers and parents and idealists of all ages with access to the Internet to read and to listen to her voice and her words about Earth Day. And to add a tribute of gratitude to Margaret Mead every future Earth Day. She is a major reason we have been made aware of the necessity for respecting and caring for our planet.
Thank you, David, on behalf of Earth Day, and of the legacy of Margaret Mead, who was truly one of the influential giants (although physically petite) of the 20th century.
April 23, 2011
Thank you for Tom Twomey’s piece on the nuclear energy battles waged in the early ’70s on the eastern end of the Island. It was a Proustian moment for me, remembering well those days, particularly the Long Island Farm Bureau and Tom’s marshaling their courageous efforts against the proposed nuclear facilities out east.
Maybe the omission was one of memory or in the interest of space, but it is worthy of noting that our own Assemblyman Perry Duryea Jr. — minority leader, speaker, minority leader in the New York State Legislature — was hailed at the time (Long Island Press front-page lead story and Newsday) as the first Long Island politician to take a public stand against the construction of those facilities.
I still have his written testimony recited before the County Legislature. The nuclear energy proponents didn’t know whom they were starting with, Mr. Twomey and Mr. Duryea, independently covering both sides of the aisle, a formidable combination.
April 22, 2011
To the Editor,
Here is the lowdown on why Jerry Della Femina is selling his diner and scooting out of East Hampton: He has accepted Donald Trump’s offer and will be his vice presidential candidate in the 2012 election.
JOSEPH D. POLICANO
Of an Age
April 25, 2011
As I looked at the pictures of the Tea Partiers who demonstrated at Town Hall last week, it occurred to me that that many appeared to be of an age to qualify for Social Security or Medicare. If they really practice what they preach, they would refuse to accept these government entitlements and return any money they may have taken in the past. I have a hunch that these folks happily take what they can get while telling the government to “stay out of my Medicare.”
April 21, 2011
To the Editor,
April is the month we pay our taxes. Americans should be aware that 60 percent of their taxes are spent on the military (Department of Defense, war, veterans affairs, and nuclear weapons programs). Our taxes are building a corrupt warrior nation that is becoming a threat to our citizens, our soldiers fighting never-ending corporate wars in the Middle East.
But no description of war is complete unless we hear the silent scream of victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. their numbers are in the millions. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now, Pakistan. Their residual suffering will reach into decades yet to come, affecting the future of our culture. The soul of our nation has been damaged.
In peace, not war,
April 14, 2011
Unfortunately, schedule conflicts precluded my attending the Tea Party rally this past Friday. I really wanted to hear what they had to say. I am sure that one of their topics was going to be, rightfully so, our national debt. And they are right in their concern. It is a subject that must be addressed. The core disagreement most have is with their solutions. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there was a fascinating front-page article in the April 16 New York Times.
Britain elected a conservative government last year. They implemented a controversial austerity program to deal with their gaping fiscal hole. Their fiscal gap was about 10 percent of their gross domestic product, just about the same as ours. Their solution was to attack the programs focused on assisting their less fortunate citizens, virtually mirrored in Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed Republican plan. A big difference was that they did not reduce taxes on the wealthiest segment of their population.
Nonetheless, the results were devastating to their economy. Retail sales plunged 3.5 percent and real household income will fall by 2 percent this year. Now, their economy is in even bigger trouble, and they fear a double-dip recession. We should learn from their mistakes. In fact, it was a pretty good object lesson, of which we should all be aware.
Check it out on the Web or take a stroll to the library to read this April 16 New York times article.
April 24, 2011
To the Editor,
The debate about Barack Obama getting re-elected is, of course, the wrong one. It should be about whether or not he runs for office, and he probably shouldn’t.
Our political system is completely broken. Both parties do an absurd dance that guarantees that the status quo remains firmly in place, all the histrionics and hyperbole to the contrary. They are, in truth, a bag of crap designed to mask ineptitude and criminality on the part of our politicians. They should all resign immediately and we should start the debate about Barack Obama getting re-elected, which is, of course, the wrong one; it should be about going from scratch with a new set of pols and rules.
The emergence of the Tea Party in its Republican disguise serves to reinforce this idea and to underscore the urgency of immediate change. There are several remarkable budget and policy actions by the Republicans and the Democrats that make it easy to understand how incredibly useless they both are. The “new normal” is idiot-box politicians doing incredibly stupid things that harm the American people and are acceptable as business as usual.
About $100 million was cut from the federal Patent Office budget last week. The Patent Office actually makes a profit. It is also the engine that allows for newly created products to get to the marketplace. The more patents processed, the higher the fees and the more new jobs created. By cutting the patent budget, the approval and review processes, instead of being accelerated, are now severely retarded. Anyone who is claims to be pro-business has to be considered mentally challenged to have approved this cut.
The Environmental Protection Agency was almost eviscerated in the new budget. Every year there are hundreds of oil spills and other industrial miscues that threaten our environment that are avoided and remedied by the E.P.A. The BP spill would have never happened with proper regulation. The attempt to ruin the E.P.A. is an indication of profound psychological instability or criminality.
The Planned Parenthood debacle is one more nail in the proverbial asylum that our politicians should be inhabiting. This organization is the largest purveyor of contraception devices and policies in the country. It helps to avoid millions of unwanted pregnancies and abortions every year. The defunding of it by antiabortion politicians is so deeply demented and counterintuitive that one wishes that their parents had taken advantage of its contraception programs.
Ideology in a time of crisis, especially when it is unfounded, presents an enormous threat to the nation’s well-being. Unwillingness to compromise and work together to find solutions simply reinforce the obvious: that our system, as it is, no longer works. If we pretend that our two parties are competent and intelligent we are simply deluding ourselves. If we think that the country is not in crisis then we are living somewhere else.
President Obama is doing the best he can, given the circumstances, but the current group of Democrats are clueless and spineless. He will certainly get reelected, given the pathetic opposition he will face. But the system will remain the same. Nothing will change. We will go deeper into the crapper and blame it on China. Without short-term limits, public funding of all elections, and constant changing of the guard we will remain in the muck we are in. (As bad as the Tea Party is, we would find comfort in knowing that they would be gone before they could do too much damage.)