Letters to the Editor - 06.02.11

Proudly Marched
    May 30, 2011
To the Editor,
    They are Dead. I’m alive.
    It has been 43 years since serving in Vietnam with the First Air Cavalry Division, Air Mobile, 2nd Battalion 12th Cavalry. On Sunday I marched in the first Montauk Memorial Day parade. My marching was in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice made by three people who lost their lives while conducting aerial recognizance during an engagement with the enemy on Jan. 7, 1968.
    I was supposed to go on that chopper.
    Lt. Col. Bob Gregory asked if I would like to take a ride on the Charlie Charlie (command and control) chopper. I said, “Sure, I’ll get my gun.”
    This was a big deal, going up with the “six” in his chopper. I was a sergeant (E5) working in the tactical operations center. Lieutenant Colonel Gregory was sort of my hero. He was an impressive man, knew his job and carried it out in the tradition of a cavalry officer.
    I got my gun; my hooch was only a few hundred feet from the Charlie Charlie pad. When I arrived, Colonel Gregory, Major Lawrence Malone, and Master Sgt. Richard Keefe were on board. Gregory motioned that there wasn’t any room. “Oh well, I’ll go next time,” I thought.
    I guessed the new major wanted to get involved. He had just arrived in the unit. Sergeant Keefe was rotating out in two weeks. He was “short”; he had my spot on the chopper. I was disappointed. I really would have liked to have gone up with the six, but there would be other times.
    I held onto my helmet and waved as they lifted off. I walked down the rutted path past a clump of trees. There was a Jeep on the side with its radio on. The Charlie Charlie was down. It had been seen receiving 50-caliber fire and falling into the treeline with smoke.
    We found out about a week later that it had crashed and burned, and all aboard lost their lives. We couldn’t get to it initially because the area was held by the North Vietnamese Army.
    I’m alive. They and the crew of the chopper are dead.
    This Sunday morning I put the three names on strips of leather and secured them to a bamboo pole with an American flag at the top. I put my Vietnam First Cavalry hat on and went to the parade and proudly marched, in their memory.
    For the first time in 43 years, as I walked along the parade route in Montauk, people were clapping, and saying, “Thanks for your service!” I was finally getting some recognition. I quietly cried, we’re all, finally, getting some recognition.

Such a Success
    May 24, 2011
Dear David,
    I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to the members of the East End Foundation, the Montauk Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, the Montauk Friends of Erin, and the staff of the Old Harbor House for making the Bobby Huser fund-raiser last week such a success. Thanks also go to the multitude of Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, and Springs businesses that donated their time, services, and in some cases, their food for the event.
    I’d like to particularly thank all the people who helped make Saturday so special.
    Thanks to all of you for making Saturday such a great day.
    Long Island Commercial Fishing  Association

Best Evidence
    East Hampton
    May 20, 2011
Dear David,
     It’s been quite a week. The oil companies fought hard against the repeal of the $4 billion in tax breaks they enjoy despite record profits. After all, Exxon only made $11 billion in profits last quarter; they could eat that $4 billion for this year themselves.
    Then the health insurance companies making record profits are demanding rate increases to hedge against possible losses in the future. A rate decrease would be more appropriate. They are providing the best evidence for a single-payer program.
    And finally, there is Massey Energy, which put profits before the lives of 29 miners. The verdict is in after an exhaustive study. Massey didn’t care and regulators fell asleep. There should be more indictments of high-level company managers and some firings of lazy bureaucrats.
    Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Moment of Candor
    East Hampton
    May 17, 2011
To the Editor,
    One can only applaud Newt Gingrich’s moment of candor when he said that Paul Ryan’s proposal for health care was “right-wing social engineering.” Bravo, Newt, certainly the brightest light in the dimly lit cubicle of conservative Republicans.
    Newt was vilified en masse by the party faithful, who should have breathed a sigh of relief and gotten on board with him. Because Newt knows that Mr. Ryan’s proposal was a quasi-demented sack of crap. Factually, philosophically, and socially it was pure garbage.
    In less than one week Newt exposed Republican conservatives as cowardly cretins trending toward fascism, also known as social engineering. Maybe Newt’s new-found Catholicism, not in vogue on C Street, inspired him to tell the truth in his first public declaration. Maybe he felt compelled by some higher power to dissociate himself from Mr. Ryan’s band of philistines. Maybe he was appalled by the self-righteous frig­id­ity of his sexually twisted cohorts and was using Mr. Ryan’s piece of junk as a means of distancing himself.
    Does it matter why he did it? Should we question his motives? Newt has the morality of a male hooker stuck under the 59th Street Bridge at 4 a.m. in mid-February. A strange bit of candor at a time when ideology trumps reason and blind stupidity trumps everything.

Almost Double
    May 30, 2011
Dear David,
    The article “Striped Bass Population Wavering” (May 26) gives the impression, perhaps unintended, that this fish is in some sort of trouble. The opposite is true, and striped bass continues to be a species that demonstrates how fishery management can work well (perhaps too well, as I’ll explain).
    The article leaves out important information about the population numbers. The last assessment of the population took place in 2009 and it revealed that the numbers of the fish are 185 percent above the level at which managers would become concerned about future reproductive success of the species. That means there are nearly twice as many adult striped bass as are needed to allow continuation of the landings currently made by both commercial and recreational fishermen — almost double what is needed.
    To put this in hard numbers, as of 2009 there were almost 53 million adult striped bass in Atlantic coastal waters. The number harvested by both commercial and recreational fishermen was recorded that year to be about 3 million fish. That left 50 million adults in the water to reproduce the next generation of the species.
    Another problem with the information in the Star article is that it fails to mention that the declines in annual recruitment (young born each year) were measured against the highest levels of recruitment ever recorded (2004) and that the declines in recreational landings were measured against the highest recreational landings ever recorded (2006).
    It is faulty science to expect a fish population to always be at the highest levels ever observed. Fish populations are cyclical: up and down, with some medium level actually the most desirable. This is because constant huge populations in the nursery habitats (our rivers and bays) are likely to cause disease (a natural mechanism to reduce overcrowding), and are also likely to cause excessive cannibalism of new offspring by the younger adults who don’t immediately leave the nursery areas to enter into the annual coastal migration.
Moreover, the striped bass, a skillful predator that is currently one of the most dominant species in coastal waters, has done serious damage to the stocks of weakfish, eels, and winter flounder, all of which are at historically low levels of population.
    Another factor that might help explain the reduction in recreational landings is economic; many charter boat captains along the coast have complained that they have had noticeably fewer customers during the past two or three years. Fewer fishermen means fewer fish landed, not fewer fish in the water.
    Commercial harvest, which accounts for about 25 percent of the total catch by weight, has stayed pretty much constant during these same two or three years.
    The next population assessment will be completed for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission later this year.
    East Hampton Baymen’s Association

Sense of Community
    May 23, 2011
Dear Editor,
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the Ditch Witch wagon during the bid process last week. All of those who texted, tweeted, Facebooked, and e-mailed proved that each one of us has a voice.
    I believe the outpouring of support for the Ditch Witch was only in part about the cart. It had more to do with the neighborhood we have helped create at Ditch Plain. This community is a crazy quilt of people, of all ages, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, professions, locals and nonlocals, surfers and those who don’t even swim. The Ditch Witch is just part of the fabric of this wonderful place. We all share a common love for Ditch Plain and Montauk. It goes far beyond a mere business opportunity. The sense of community one feels when sitting at one of the benches or on a rock by the jetty or standing looking out over that beach from the cliffs at Shadmoor is what people were afraid of losing when there was the idea of a change there.
    The town board deserves our respect and thanks for being receptive, investigating the request-for-proposals process, and in the end doing what they felt best served the community.
    I know that the two vendors who believed they had been awarded the sites at Ditch Plain must be very upset. There is nothing wrong with seeing and acting on the opportunity that was offered by the town for those two sites. When I started Ditch Witch in 1994, I too had hopes and dreams wrapped up in the cart. I understand your disappointment. The system was flawed, and I hope that we can all move on with respect for one another.
    Change is inevitable. It is my hope that all those who supported the local vendors will be respectful as the town again tries to work out this process.
    Sincerely yours,

Uproar Arises
    May 27, 2011
Dear Editor:
    Let me see if I have this straight. The town asks the vendors for proposals (of which many filled out in detail). Then the board awards the coveted spots to certain individuals according to the criteria established and then reverses its decision when an uproar arises on Facebook! Which means — what? That no matter what, some people are getting screwed and no one gave this much thought.
    No wonder the swans have left Town Pond. They can’t even believe what is going on!

Accurate Estimate
    May 28, 2011
Dear David,
    In an e-mail to The Star quoted in a story, “Spar over Independence Party Nod” last Thursday, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson criticized my financial ability based on a claim that I “predicted an $18 million deficit.” Unfortunately, the supervisor did not identify where I said or wrote this statement.
    One letter of mine that Supervisor Wilkinson may have misunderstood was written to The Star in June 2009. I wrote: “On June 2, Janet Verneuille, the East Hampton comptroller, presented to the town board a current assessment of the town’s finances. . . . Most of the financial attention to date has been given to the approximately $18.2 million in operating deficit that Ms. Verneuille projects through the end of 2009.”
    Unlike Supervisor Wilkinson, Ms. Verneuille — and I — were careful to differentiate the operating deficit from the capital deficit.
    Ms. Verneuille’s prediction of an $18.2 million operating deficit was a more accurate estimate of the operating deficit than was ever given by Supervisor Wilkinson or members of his administration.
    The 2009 town audit was released by the outside auditors in December 2010, 18 months after Ms. Verneuille’s financial presentation and my letter appeared. That 2009 town audit shows that the operating deficit we discussed was $17.7 million. It does take the ability to read a financial statement to see this “hidden” fact.    
     If the town’s finances were still run by a nonpartisan comptroller who answered to the entire board, I venture that Supervisor Wilkinson would have fewer of these misunderstandings.

    Mr. Cohen is the Democratic and Independence Party candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. Ed.

Becoming a Joke
    New Boston, N.H.
    May 24, 2011
Dear Editor:
     I was deeply saddened to hear of the meanspirited hoopla directed at my mother, Elaine Jones, after the Independence Party announced the candidate it would endorse for supervisor in the next election.
    One man, a so-called Republican operative, phoned my mother at home and called her an unprintable name. How nice. Words I can’t include in a letter to the newspaper. What sort of man says these words to a 69-year-old grandmother? He should be ashamed of himself, but my mother wasn’t overly concerned. She said it comes with the territory. For me, it’s this sort of behavior and sense of entitlement that makes me feel like the Republican Party is becoming a joke.
    At the very least, I think the moron needs a refresher on the definition of independence. It means “the state or quality of being independent” and therefore as in politics, “free from the authority, control, or domination of somebody or something else.”
    The Independence Party’s screening committee is not one person but a group, and in fact they poll other Independence Party members by telephone both before and after a screening.
    I had the privilege of attending the Independence Party screening and helped cater the event. Like actors at a casting call, many candidates attended and I assume they ran the gamut — Republican, Democrat, Independence, other. After the last candidate had left and I was cleaning up the venue, the committee decided they would have to table their discussion on supervisor until another meeting because it was getting late.
    This committee was thorough in its screening of each and every candidate, and it’s obvious the members care about the town where they live, work, and raise their families. To say that their selection of supervisor was solely my mother’s doing is ridiculous. Perhaps the Independence Party is simply concerned about the town and believes it is time for a change.
    I’d advise the Republican Party to think about its reputation and try to rein in its members and run a clean campaign with a token sliver of decorum (from the Latin, meaning “right or proper” or in this context “dignified behavior”).


Dear Tom Kaczmarek,


Most of the children in this country who lost their father in Vietnam were not allowed to grieve when their father’s were killed.  The anti-war sentiments were very strong in 1968, and for many years thereafter, as you well know.   We could not even talk about our father’s death.  I always felt so alone in this, wondering why it still bothered me after so many years; even 30+ years later, why did it bother me so. Why couldn’t I get over it, accept it and move on.  This delayed grieving is a shared phenomena.  I learned that so many other kids stories were so similar to mine.  In 1999, I found out about Sons and Daughter’s In Touch (SDIT), a national support group for kids whose father’s were KIA or MIA in Vietnam.  This group, along with the Internet, and many vets like you, has allowed me to heal and find closure. I have found so much information about my dad that I never knew; so many men like you have reached out and helped in any way they could. 


Who was my father you ask; he was MSGT Richard C. Keefe.  Thank you for marching proudly and remembering him on Memorial Day.  


Thank you for your service to our country.


God Bless,