July 6, 2011
Our town has become a place where people seem to be harboring more and more hate toward one another. I truly hope this story reaches all those who witnessed this incident, along with the individual that displayed such disgusting behavior. More important, we all should take the time to reflect on the ways that we treat each other. Perhaps we should also take the time to consider whether we have a civic responsibility to come to the aid of others, when the defenseless are under attack.
My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their second child, and my grandson was born on Friday. Last Saturday, my daughter-in-law called me from her car asking me whether we wanted a few bagels. She was with her 3-year-old daughter, as my son, the owner of a commercial fishing vessel, was away at sea.
I thanked her for calling and asked for a bialy, a cinnamon-raisin, and an everything bagel.
My daughter-in-law parked her car at a bagel place, and a man from the other side of the street began yelling at her saying she took his parking spot. As she left the car with her daughter to enter the store, the individual called this very pregnant woman a whore. Entering what she thought was the safety of the store, she got on what was a very long line to purchase bagels.
The same individual also entered the store and again continued to rant about how my daughter-in-law was a whore and that he was going beat up her husband. He continued that he would not be able to beat him up until her husband got out of jail.
Mr. Editor, I think we can all agree that acting out on a pregnant girl with her 3-year-old daughter is not only inappropriate but inexcusable. We all know there are bad people out there but for me this was the first time I had ever personally felt the ugliness of racial discrimination. You see, my beautiful daughter-in-law, though a citizen of the United States, also carries with her a proud Argentinean heritage. There was no doubt that the coward’s comments about my son were in fact racially motivated hate speech.
As I learned of the incident, at first I became angered with the event and individual, but as the day went on, I realized that there were a good number of patrons as well as the entire store staff who did absolutely nothing. Rather than getting involved, asking the individual to control himself, they chose to let my daughter-in-law and granddaughter be verbally attacked and abused.
There are two things that this event made me think about: Perhaps it is time for us to reflect on not only how we treat one another, but also consider whether we have a responsibility to help each other in a time of need.
East Hampton is a community that is divided by class, race, economics, and even the location of our homes. I do not pretend to have the answer on how East Hampton can become a more homogeneous community, but I will say that being middle class and white, this is the first time that I have felt the sting of racial hatred. Before we judge others, it might be wise to think about how we would feel about being judged.
My daughter-in-law brought us the bagels, told us the story and said, “We’re moving soon. It will be good to move from this place.”
Maybe we will too.
New York City
July 6, 2011
I want to bring up Tommy Mottola’s remark in the July 5 Wall Street Journal, “There’s never been a serious gallery out here in the Hamptons.” The comment was uneducated and uninformed with no sense of history of the community and region.
Nowadays, John McWhinnie, Edsel Williams’s Fireplace Project, and the Drawing Room all run great operations. Firestone in East Hampton Village is one to watch in the long run. I know all of these people personally; they all take their programs seriously.
Did Not Find
July 4, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I read in The Star that someone who had lost a pocketbook or some such accessory was told by the police (village? town?) that I had found the item and turned it over at the police station (Letters, June 23).
I am capable of lying under certain circumstances, I suppose. However, on this occasion, and in light of the fact that I am in a mood of elevated patriotism on the Fourth of July, I wish to emulate our first president: I cannot tell a lie. I did not find nor did I return a woman’s handbag, unless I did so in my sleep and don’t recall it.
Thank you for helping me clear this up.
Been 40 Years
July 11, 2011
Hard to believe, but true. It’s been 40 years since we graduated from East Hampton High School, the first senior class to do so from the then brand-new Long Lane building. To mark the occasion, our reunion committee has planned a festive evening in October, and we’re hoping to see many of our former classmates there.
It seems we’ve scattered from Maine to Minnesota, California to Florida, and all points in between — and there are some who have simply eluded us. We’re hoping that some of your readers might know the whereabouts of any of the following people, or how to contact them. If so, please call Nancy Seitz Nagel at 631-525-1132 or Michele Verderosa Trunzo at 631-324-1997. They are: Ted Albrecht, Fred Bahns, Robert Baker, Eric Bassler, Hollis Bedell, Michelle Corwin, Eleanor Dordelman, Barbara Green, Sharon Hicks, Doreen Keller, Deborah Knowland, Paulette Loris, Jeffrey Ramnes, Robert Romanow, Shaun Seese, Jerry Turner, JoAnn Viggiano, Janice Vrana, William Weis, and Kenneth Welker.
We are looking forward to reconnecting with longtime friends and reminiscing about those wild and crazy high school years. Thanks.
MICHELE VERDEROSA TRUNZO
NANCY SEITZ NAGEL
July 11, 2011
To the Editor,
Living is Springs for us is a sheer delight, especially the night Clearwater Beach Association has its annual beach party, this year July 9 and it was truly fine. An outstanding event commanding accolades and praise, we loved it and thank the board for its hard work and ability to amaze.
The weather was perfect, the music divine, lovely gentle wind, and lots of sunshine. You bring your cooler and a table and chair or two, sit down, enjoy the magnificent view, see your neighbors all around, and drink a beer and share the good cheer.
It was so well organized and nicely done, everyone had fun. The food was superb. We had the usual summer fare, really good hamburgers and dogs, pulled pork (the best in New York), and salads of pasta galore — all terrific and everyone wanted more. We even had the ice cream man, who every year has lots and lots of fans.
I found Eric and Joan, saw Phyllis, Paula and the grandgirlies, and Hope, met Olga and Bob and Peter, and spent some time with Julie and Haim, saw Maud, a new neighbor, said a few words to Neil and Rose, spoke to Fred, and met Delores. Bar none, this was the best party under the sun.
I drank some prosecco and had a few beers and finally chose to navigate that crowded parking lot again and do takeout for a neighbor and friend, Amelia V., who could not be there due to a muscle tear.
And I understand as the sun set, Frank Sinatra played and the dancing began. It doesn’t get any better than that. The party was swell for me. The only thing missing was my fab Lab puppy, Belle.
Good show, Clearwater Beach Property Owners Association!
Feral Cat Poem #26
Usually I sing odes to the feral life,
to the freedoms of being unowned, untamed,
unencumbered with social and domestic obligations.
Usually I pity housecats
for having to play cute and sing for their suppers
in air-conditioned servitude.
But yesterday I saw a woman
reach across the line we think divides creation
and scratch her cat’s back for him.
When I itch, I rub under a branch.
But what good does that do the branch?
July 1, 2011
Powerful ad in the June 30 Star showing wall-to-wall parking on the Napeague beach in question. What gives? Looks like Daytona Beach at its worst!
Is this what we are “entitled” to?
July 8, 2011
The full-page ad in The East Hampton Star June 30 has an excellent color photo of the inhabitants of East Hampton Town enjoying their rights to use our beaches, thanks to the foresight of the trustees of the freeholders and commonalty of the Town of East Hampton placing reservations on these lands when they were sold in the 1880s.
STUART B. VORPAHL
Preserve Our Access
July 11, 2011
To the Editor,
Why would you buy a house next to a public use area if you did not like the public? This seems to be what is happening down at the Napeague family beach. This area is unique; there are no accessible parking lots on the stretch of beach, unless you call a parking lot that is at least a mile away accessible. Imagine, walking a full mile with 3-year-old and 6-year-old children. Now throw in a body board for each child and a surfboard for the parents. How about a cooler to keep some treats for those children? Really, is that beach access?
The residents of the Napeague Beach Owners Inc. know well that if you restrict the beach driving access for this beach, they will create a private beach all for themselves. If they do not like having people recreate near their houses, they should have thought about that prior to signing their closing papers for their beach house.
Yes, there are other people in this world and we should be able to tolerate one another. I believe that even those homeowners were read some Dr. Seuss books about getting along with everyone else in the world when they were children.
These homeowners have made many claims that are really more like fallacies. I would like to address their claims of beach safety. Sure, they can run an ad which costs several thousand dollars, but how about throwing in some real facts?
Have there really been any accidents down at that beach that involved a vehicle and a pedestrian? I have yet to see any record of this or have ever heard of any such instances. Now, on the other hand, has there ever been any instance of vehicles and pedestrians on the Napeague stretch of Route 27? Unfortunately, yes and they are documented in the police blotters. That stretch of 27 is definitely not a safe place for a family with young children to be. The Napeague Beach Owners is stating that the public should park up on the highway to access this stretch of beach. This definitely is not a safe solution.
The Nimbyism is clear in this case; unfortunately it is in their neighborhood. Again, I say, buyers beware. Those residents should not have purchased a beach house where the public rightfully recreates. It is not right to change the ways of the old, just because you don’t like it. Respect should be displayed for all, especially for those who recreate on these beaches and run the community that the homeowners inhabit for only the summer months of the year.
Citizens should familiarize themselves with the Dongan Patent, which gives the freeholders of the Town of East Hampton rights to beach access. For more information please check out citizensforaccessrights.com. All should continue to write letters and express how restricting the access to this beach will impact their lives. Also, the local community should continue to express to the East Hampton Town Board and Trustees how important this issue is to them. The East Hampton Town should vow to do whatever is necessary to protect this treasured access for its year-round residents, even if it means condemnation of the beach to preserve our access to the area.
July 5, 2011
To the Editor,
Yesterday I went to the beach to celebrate the freedom of our country with my 6-year-old daughter and a friend. It was July 4. My friend brought some fireworks, and I used the opportunity to teach my daughter the meaning of Independence Day, and why we were celebrating. The sun had just gone down, fireworks were splashing across the sky up and down the ocean beach in Amagansett, and I felt so glad to be an American. My friend lit off a couple of Roman candles and gave some sparklers to me and my daughter. It was a beautiful scene, one of those magic moments.
Then some headlights approached along the beach. My friend picked up his remaining fireworks, just a couple of Roman candles and sparklers, to put them in his car. The headlights continued to approach, until they were right up to my daughter and me. The door opened and a man was glaring a strong flashlight in my eyes, blinding me.
“I have a complaint about fireworks being set off,” the man said. It was the police. He was glaring the flashlight in my eyes in a menacing manner. My daughter watched in silence.
“Are these your fireworks?” he said, finally taking the flashlight off my eyes and shining it on some spent sparklers and Roman candles near me.
“No, they aren’t,” I answered truthfully, “None of this stuff is mine, not even this towel.”
“Well, I don’t want to come back here a second time. If I do have to, I’m not going to be as nice as I’m being now. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand.” The cop was doing his job, and he did it well. He left and so did we.
The hard part was explaining to my 6-year-old daughter.
“Daddy, why was that policeman here?”
“They don’t like us shooting off the fireworks. Sometimes people get hurt.”
“But why? We were being careful, like you told me. Besides, they let us do it in New Hampshire.”
“Because sometimes people aren’t careful. They get hurt, then they sue the town.”
“What?” This was over her head. “But you told me that America was free. Aren’t we supposed to have freedom here?”
She had me.
Later that night when I thought about all this, I was disturbed. I put on the TV and watched a film called “Gladiator” about a battle fought by a cheated citizen who endorsed a free republic in ancient Rome. His opponent was a manipulative, lying emperor who would do anything to remain in absolute power. The show was interrupted every five minutes for commercials, most of which were for ambulance-chasing lawyers, eager to find any client willing to sue. They promised great rewards for this.
I thought about my friend who is the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. His landlord took a year’s rent up front, and had him sign a bizarre lease. Within five days of his moving in, his landlord began harassing him, and within a month was making moves to evict him on frivolous grounds (for example, he allegedly draped a towel over the rail of the deck, contrary to the lease). My friend’s life has been turned upside down because of this.
I thought about the big picture, where the forces of big government are fighting to control us by regulations and taxes. Up against them are forces that want the government to leave us alone, and stop taxing us to pay for all their projects.
I worry that on the Fourth of July in the future I will be explaining to my daughter how America used to be free, before the lawyers and politicians ruined it. And I worry that again the policeman will arrive, but this time he will be right on cue.
DAVID E. CALDWELL
July 13, 2011
What struck me in addition to the ludicrous and discriminatory policy of not issuing beach parking permits to homeowners who rent cars was Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s arrogant and rude response that the Krispels should “Buy a car; that’s what people around here do. They buy a car” (Letters, July 7).
I would like to remind Mr. Wilkinson that second-home owners are not second-class citizens. In fact, most of us are the kind of homeowners other towns would embrace. We pay property taxes, support school and library budgets, patronize local businesses, and contribute financially and physically to local organizations, yet we demand much less of community resources than full-time residents.
Obviously if we did not love the area, we would not be here, but we do expect respect from the town government and sensitivity to reasonable needs.
Therefore, I would like to remind the Krispels and other second-home owners who have encountered similar incidents that actually we do have a right to vote locally. In 2008 New York State gave owners of multiple residences the right to choose their voting location. This location does not have to be their principal residence, nor does it affect taxes or jury duty if they are still in a different jury pool, and they may vote by absentee ballot. Of course, they can only cast ballots in one location.
I suggest that the Krispels and other second-home owners consider voting locally, where their votes can have an immediate impact on their quality of life and they can participate in keeping the East End special.
JOAN N. LESSER
Only Real Service
July 3, 2011
I may be the only person in East Hampton who looks at the trees around me in the early spring dreading the sight of the those little yellowish green things known as leaves beginning to emerge. According to Larry Penny, each tree produces about 5,000 of these things. Counting the trees that surround my house in Springs, at the end of the summer, I will be inundated with 1.75 million of these little buggers.
It used to be in other years, before the Republican triumvirate smashed the leaf-pickup program, I was able to manage to clean up my little piece of East Hampton each fall, but this year I was stuck with all those leaves. Unfortunately, on my small pension and Social Security, there was little left to squander on paying someone else to take the place of the only real service the town provides for people like me.
When the town board first proposed the cessation of the leaf program, a public hearing was held and an overflowing crowd jammed Town Hall. One speaker after another pleaded for the continuation of the program. Scott King presented different and lower figures on the cost of the program than the triumvirate’s, but to no avail. The triumvirate couldn’t care less about the hardship their decision would impose on the people. May the public be damned, is the familiar Republican attitude.
So when the board held another hearing to permanently do away with the leaf program, the hall was populated by the regulars, but few others. Arthur French, who wrote some powerful letters to you dealing with the leaf program, which slammed the board, went toe to toe with the supervisor, offering to give back the money equal to the reduction in his taxes. The supervisor wondered where the rest of the people who were against the permanent eradication of the law were.
Well, Mr. French responded by telling the supervisor that he couldn’t get anyone to come to this meeting because everyone knew the board didn’t listen the first time around, so why would it heed the wishes of the townspeople now?
I also tried to rally people to attend this meeting. I was laughed at. The Republicans, along with Pete Hammerle, voted to officially end the program forever, much to the chagrin of us seniors. And, by the way, how many times have you gone to the dump on a Wednesday? Heavens, what next to hurt the people? Guess they never learned that it is government for the people.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
Marred by Garbage
July 7, 2011
Judging from the garbage on Montauk’s scenic roads, I can only conclude that there’s no hope for humanity. A couple of public beheadings on the village green would certainly bring the little problem to a screeching halt. We wouldn’t execute Americans, we could simply choose an Irishman, Muslim, person of color, or an illegal immigrant because they’re the only ones who do the littering. Americans don’t litter.
I pick up trash, not because I’m some sort of zealous nut job, but because I’m selfish. I don’t want my beautiful Montauk vistas marred by garbage.
The Montauk train yard is the gateway for many visitors to our town and is lovingly picturesque with the station building, the lights at night, and the track disappearing off to the west. Unfortunately, the yard is a pigsty of litter one might expect to see in some urban ghetto. As a garbage expert, I figure it would take one nonunion person about an hour to have the station totally pristine. Would it be too much the ask the Metropolitan Transit Authority employees to clean the yard before they retire to disability pensions?
I’d like to conclude by asking people to please pick up litter, at least within your own radius. But I can’t do that because that would imply I have hope for humanity and that would make me a hypocrite.
July 5, 2011
I believe congratulations are in order to the Wilkinson administration for the following achievements:
A reduction of the budget by $10 million, cutting the town departments from 26 to 13, reducing the town payroll by 50 jobs (some by buyout, others by attrition), a debt reduction of $11 million thus far, and the most visible to the taxpayers, a reduction of their real estate taxes by 17 percent — what do the complainers have to complain about? A suspension of leaf pickup, a closing of the recycling facility on Wednesdays, the elimination of nonessential jobs, and other minutae too minor to clutter up these pages.
Now we have Zachary Cohen, who would, if elected, hire a comptroller to oversee the town’s finances. He mentioned a certified public accountant. Could he do a better job than Len Bernard? And how would he do it more effectively? Frankly, judging from the recent past performances by the current board, he would have to create miracles to improve Bill Wilkinson’s results, and of course, let’s not forget the luxurious salary the town would have to pay this C.P.A. Additionally, I read that he would hire a town manager. Isn’t that what the supervisor’s job is? Obviously, he feels the job of supervisor would be too demanding for one person.
Mr. Cohen’s desire to hire bigger, better, and more brings to mind the failed administration of Bill McGintee and the many incompetents that he hired. Remember Ted Hults and that other guy whose sole experience was working on the floor at Home Depot, among others?
The Democratic Complaint Department has obviously forgotten very quickly the deep financial swamp that the town was drowning in until the current administration began its rescue efforts. How anyone can forget this baffles the mind.
Take New Jersey as an example. Gov. Chris Christie has done a fabulous job in reducing its budget. Our own governor has done a superb job also, in spite of the opposition he has faced from his own party. The huge entitlements enjoyed by public sector employees is coming to an end, and fiscal responsibility must take hold and be the order of the day.
In East Hampton, Mr. Wilkinson is incurring the wrath of petty individuals. I wonder how these same individuals ran their businesses when things got tough? Did they lay off employees, shorten the workweek, ask employees to cut benefits? Anybody want to make any bets on their answer?
Bill Wilkinson deserves everyone’s support and congratulations for a job well done.
View of the Ocean
July 10, 2011
To the Editor:
The opponents to the clearing of invasive trees and shrubs along Bluff Road
in Amagansett to restore the fine views of the ocean from that road seem to have fastened onto the idea that somehow this is basically being promoted by the residents of Bluff Road to increase their property values by opening up their view of the ocean.
But anyone who drives along the entire length of Bluff Road and looks carefully will see that the houses on the south side of the road generally already have clear views of the ocean, their owners probably having control of the land immediately to the south of the houses and likely having controlled invasive growth themselves for years.
On the north side, all the properties except a single house have extensive hedges, trees, and shrubbery that would effectively block their views of the ocean. I suspect they are meant to block the owners’ views of Bluff Road and its traffic, and I think it would be unlikely that many of these property owners would clear their properties to restore a view of the ocean.
I believe this objection to the proposed clearing is simply made up out of
whole cloth, as the saying goes. I repeat my strong support for this project.
July 11, 2011
To The Editor:
I am a member of East Hampton Group for Wildlife. When a friend recently asked me why we are so opposed to the Open Vista project, I replied, “It’s the wildlife, stupid!”
What I meant was that all the Open Vista discussions seem to be about invasive plants and native plants and how wonderful Bluff Road looked 60 years ago. Nobody seems to give a damn about how the wildlife will be affected.
A great many birds, squirrels, deer, rabbits, and opossums now make their home in the woods between Bluff Road and the ocean. They were driven to that relatively small area by a particularly invasive species — man.
But they have been safe there, protected by the Nature Conservancy, whose mission is “to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.” Signs all along Bluff Road say, “Please help us protect the plants and wildlife in this preserve. No motorized vehicles, camping, hunting, or specimen collecting.”
And now man, in the guise of operation Open Vista, is plotting to drive them from their homes once again. Only this time there is no place for them to go. And all because a handful of people want a nice view of the ocean.
Surely the East Hampton Town Board, the Nature Conservancy, and whatever other agencies are involved will not allow a few self-centered men and women to destroy the lives of many innocent creatures.
July 9, 2011
What are our priorities as far as preserving community, way of life, environmental integrity, and natural resources? Does anyone in public office give a damn about the overbuilding and disregard for polluting the drinking water sources? Why no purchase by the Town of East Hampton yet of the Webb property on Oakview and Middle Highways? What in heaven’s name is holding up this process of preservation and protecting the drinking water wells? This community deserves an answer after three long years. How about it, town board?
I have to wonder as I listen and read about improving “vistas” at beach mansions on Bluff Road and letting a person plant a vineyard off Cedar Street with disregard for wildlife and ingestion of toxic chemicals to go into the ground once again. I mean, really? Have we learned nothing from the recent past? Do I have to spell cancer cluster for you? Perhaps you need a refresher course, you folks who either forgot or don’t care that a young community member died in the 1990s and other East Hampton High School graduates got very ill with cancer, from the arsenic in the soil on the local farms. Are we going to ignore that? Where is your conscience?
Do we just let people do whatever they want so you can be re-elected? You can’t always be popular. You owe it to the community to protect all the constituents and preserve the resources, not placate one man or one stretch of mansion owners on a beach. Sometimes you have to put on your big girl and boy pants and say no.
For crying out loud, say no to the right people for a change. Not the ones who are working their asses off to make a few bob and enjoy a day on the public beaches. What genius thought it a good idea to listen to or encourage anyone who wants to stop beach access? Listen, you live on the ocean, you have a long season with no one in front of your houses: fall, winter, spring. It’s a short summer. Deal with it! However do not expect special treatment because you have a mansion on the ocean.
Truly we need to get our priorities straight, folks. Save the soil from poisons, save the water wells from the builder, and keep our beaches open to all.
Thanks for the space.
NANCI E. LaGARENNE
Ms. LaGarenne is a Democratic and Working Families Party candidate for East Hampton Town Trustee. Ed.
Need for Pesticides
Debbie Klughers’s argument for leasing a Cedar Street, East Hampton, property to a grass farmer, rather than Rick Principi, who would grow grapes there, was incisive, articulate, and well thought out (Letters to the Editor, July 7).
It’s surprising that the creation of a vineyard on this site was ever a serious consideration given the many problems associated with that use, particularly the need for pesticides and fungicides when growing grapes. Exposure to these toxic chemicals creates health problems and threatens to contaminate our drinking water.
Fortunately, the majority of the East Hampton Town Board made the correct decision, although Bill Wilkinson was the one hold-out in favor of leasing the property to Mr. Principi.
I agree with Ms. Klughers’s suggestion that the public be given the opportunity to weigh in on this type of issue. She is running for town trustee, and her observations in this instance suggest that she would be a responsible environmental steward.
July 11, 2011
I was getting coffee last week at Barnes Country Store (my favorite deli) and asked the owner, Lenny Weyerbacher, a question. I said, “Hey Lenny, would you please order wood coffee stirrers instead of the plastic ones?”
He looked at me for a few seconds, turned to Kathy, who was placing an order, and said, “Hey Kathy, could you put in an order for the wood coffee stirrers instead of the plastic ones?”
She replied, “We just ordered a whole case of the plastic ones.”
Lenny countered, “That’s okay, just order the wood ones and we can return the plastic ones.”
I then told Lenny, “You are a good person and the planet thanks you.”
He said, “My grandchildren will thank me.”
Well, Lenny, I sincerely thank you. You made my day.
This seemingly small act is an important one. It acknowledges that we need to change as business owners, consumers, and as a community in order to help chart a path toward a sustainable future for East Hampton. If all of the businesses in East Hampton would make this one small change from coffee stirrers made of plastic (made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource) that are used for about 10 seconds yet can last for decades in landfills or end up floating about in the marine environment, to wooden coffee stirrers, which also are used for 10 seconds but are made from a renewable resource that is biodegradable, it would be quite a powerful statement.
The next time I went in for my morning coffee, the new wooden coffee stirrers had already replaced the plastic ones. Lenny later said that if he hadn’t placed the order right then and there, he might not have made the change. It was not that he had to decide what the right thing to do was, he just had to decide to do the right thing. Change was simple, change was not costly, change was good.
I usually write about some of the environmental problems we face, and sometimes offer a solution. In this letter, I am offering a challenge. Please, deli owners, restaurants, anyone who serves coffee or hot beverages and uses plastic stirrers, make that change. Lenny’s fast decision and implementation of this made me happy and hopeful for the future. We can all make a difference if we all do. Simple things can help the environment and the future.
July 8, 2011
Last week’s editorial on the newly enacted 2-percent real property tax alleges there is a “hole in the cap” with regard to the override process for local governments such as villages, towns, or counties. The real hole is in the logic of the editorial.
I have certainly voiced concerns with specific provisions of the property tax cap as the debate ensued in Albany. The law is not perfect. There are changes I would make. However, the override provisions for local governments do not render it ineffective, as the editorial argues.
As to the statement that the lack of the 60-percent referendum provision for local governments, unlike school districts, makes the bill unfair, current law does not provide for a referendum on local government budgets. Thus, the 60-percent vote referendum requirement could not be applied in the case of villages, towns, or counties.
Second, the governor has stated many times that the cap was necessary because the growth in property taxes between 1998 and 2008 was 73 percent, twice the rate of inflation. However, where has that tax growth occurred? Twenty years ago, when the tax bill came in December, between 60 percent to 65 percent of the tax bill went to schools, in most places. Now that percentage is between 70 percent to 75 percent. The proportion of the tax bill going to local governments has actually decreased.
I have received a steady drumbeat of complaints from constituents about property taxes over the past 16 years. While town assessment practices may come under fire, when it comes to tax levies, the complaints are overwhelming with regard to school taxes. The one exception was the financial meltdown in East Hampton. No tax cap was going to prevent that problem.
The editorial fails to mention that for a local government to override the cap, they must not just override it with a 60-percent vote of the governing board, it has to be done by local law. Local laws require public notice and a public hearing. A separate local law will be required each year a local government wants to override the cap.
Tax restraint will come not so much from the 60-percent voting requirement, but from the fact that elected officials will have to stand before the public and defend a local law that overrides the cap. Frequently, they will be doing so during the middle of an election campaign. The 2-percent cap creates a climate that will require them to think twice before increasing taxes and face the wrath of the public and political opponents if they cannot justify the override. I certainly would have no problem with making it a majority plus one as is the case with most bond resolutions or County Planning Commission overrides. However, I don’t remember many times when such a requirement made any difference. The 2-percent tax cap will be an issue in every budget discussion and every local political campaign from now on.
Also, just a fact check. The editorial urges the governor to veto his own bill in the July 7 editorial. He signed it on June 24.
Member of Assembly
Heads Would Roll
July 8, 2011
When I was a young boy, my brother and I used to fight over who got the largest piece of homemade cake when it came down to cutting the last piece in half. Mom would cut the cake and then it was up to us to fight over the largest piece. Finally at some point, my mother took a leadership role and told us, one brother would cut and the other would choose first. Well there were no lasers then but I must say that final piece of cake was cut with laser precision and all fighting stopped.
Years later, when I was running a very profitable business unit for a large United States company, all business unit heads were told by the C.E.O. they had to eliminate 20 percent of their expenses. I thought at the time that not only was it impossible to do this and since I was doing a good job by making such a nice profit, I would be excluded from this activity. I was wrong.
I was told that not only did I have to make the expense reduction of 20 percent, if I couldn’t do it, I would lose my job and someone else would do it for me.
Well, suffice to say, I got the message and told my management team the facts and the ultimatum that they had to do it, or else. By the time the deadline came, we did achieve the cuts without hurting our business. Many creative solutions came forward, some people were let go and operational efficiencies were introduced to reduce costs.
Looking at both situations, it is clear that leadership is key, as is commitment. Focus and recognition that there are serious consequences to be had if the job isn’t done properly are also important.
Let’s look at our government and the financial mess we are in. From a leadership position, our president is missing in action. He does not lead, as he doesn’t have a clue as to how to lead. His last press conference demonstrated that. Congress, on the other hand, is throwing stones and lies across the aisle in both directions and seems to think that legislation is the answer.
All the president has to do is what my former company did. Get all his cabinet members in to a meeting at the White House and tell them they have 30 days to find and start the execution of a 20-percent reduction in expenses or they will be replaced, and it is up to each cabinet member to pass this same message on to their direct reports, etc. The Congressional Budget Office could keep score of the results and oversee the completion of milestones. If milestones were not met, heads would roll. Congress could then draft legislation on the debt ceiling accordingly.
Now this may sound cruel to the uninitiated, but anyone who runs a business will understand and agree. Any normal American head of a household would understand this as well. Our elected officials for some reason have failed to even comprehend an approach like this, while continuing to cause our government to live beyond its means.
The financial crisis of the United States government is so bad now that approaches like this must be used. Just like my mother, our president must take a leadership role and start managing our government. Cabinet members, department heads, and managers in our government must take action or lose their jobs
This approach will work. New efficiencies will be discovered, fraud will be reduced, people will be more productive and responsible, and best of all, our deficit will decrease.
Hopefully some influential reader of this fine newspaper will pass on this simple solution to our president, so he can no longer be missing in action and do something about fixing this critical problem and raise this proposed solution to his highest priority, rather than acting like a third world dictator as he did in his last press conference. What an embarrassment it was to watch this pathetic example of someone trying to be a leader.
THOMAS R. METZ
July 8, 2011
To the Editor,
Naomi Klein wrote a book called “Disaster Capitalism.” In it she describes the behavior of and solutions utilized to alleviate economic crisis.
The primary tool utilized in the process is privatization of the entire public sector. All industries run by the government and then all services. Next is the dissolution of the union system, coupled with the elimination or drastic lowering of the minimum wage.
Moving along, there is the elimination or substantial reduction of the public pension system and of the right of corporations to restructure their pension systems. Then there is austerity, which requires a diminution of government services from health care to public education to environmental protections to social services. Add a huge dose of government deregulation of banks and corporations. Mix up all the ingredients, and one is left with unfettered free-market capitalism.
Utilizing existing crises or fabricating them when necessary, the neocons, for lack of a better description, eviscerate the existing society and create a new one. They use terms like sharing the burden of austerity, and creating the right atmosphere for investing.
So, for example, raising the debt ceiling for the government is so simplistically obvious that it is oxymoronic to question its feasibility. Yet House Republicans have not only questioned it but are threatening to block it. The term oxymoron instead of fascist is applicable because fascists would never be so incredibly stupid.
Defaulting on our debts would destroy the United States’ credit and all of its companies for the next decade unless the entire world defaulted. Every nickel we owe would be called and we would become Botswana overnight. The debt ceiling, never before an issue, is an example of a fabricated crisis.
Disaster capitalism, or crisis intervention, is almost always one-dimensional in its effects. It is designed to protect the wealthy and puts the entire burden of austerity on the middle class and the poor. Take Citibank as an example. Citibank, or its former incarnation, was bailed out by the government in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, and in 2008. Once in every decade, and despite all these bailouts, it refuses to provide credit to help fuel the recovery. (It also never learns.) Citibank can screw up as many times as it has because it is protected by politicians who believe that it is more important than the rest of the country. Which translates to Citibank living in the internal organs of our politicians, where the rest of us are prohibited from going. Citibank was also a major cause of the current economic crisis.
Compare the banking bailout to the nonexistent bailout for the bottom 98 percent of Americans. It is a reflection of who counts and who doesn’t. Atmospheric job creation is always the key statistic to real economic growth. Under George Bush, job creation was at .5 percent, the lowest level since 1929. Under Jimmy Carter, it was 10.5 percent and Bill Clinton, 11.5 percent. Wages also dropped by 5 percent under Mr. Bush.
In real economic analysis, since 2001, the U.S. private sector disappeared as a job-creating entity in an incredibly free, unregulated economic climate. Yet, the government bailed out the private sector, even though it was the primary cause of the problem and showed substantial indifference in helping to resolve the problem. Profits, not jobs, are an essential element of disaster capitalism.
So, disaster capitalism, developed by Milton Friedman, once focused on developing countries, is now being utilized on us. We will sacrifice the bottom 98 percent of the country for the well being of the top 2 percent. “No new taxes,” swear the House Republicans. One wonders what the definition of fascism really is.
Were the Ones
President Obama still believes he has a gift of gab that can convince us all that we will believe his repeated attempts to play Americans against one another, based on who he calls the haves vs. the have-nots. This man who repeatedly vowed to bring us all together does all he can to promote hostility among us here at home and to weaken or destroy our allies while winking at our enemies as they kill and maim our soldiers and those of our allies.
We are in a useless war in Libya with a tin-horn dictator we have been unable to defeat. By O’s reasoning for this action, we should be in Syria, Iran, Sudan, and a dozen or so other countries.
He heard all of his commanders ask for another few months’ continuance of our forces in Afghanistan to fight through the fighting season to solidify our gains, caused by his months of delay in deciding on adding troops. He reduced the total requested, thus allowing us to fight in only one of the two main combat areas while fighting a holding action in the other. Now he cuts and runs at a needless cost of lives.
We hear O and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid cry out against what they say is an effort by Republicans to destroy Medicare. They were the ones who have taken away $500 billion from Medicare to help pay for Medicare, that plan Americans do not want. O, Nancy, and Harry spent almost two years getting Obamacare through Congress (by only four votes in the Senate). The now-14 million Americas out of work were — and are — ignored.
EARLE S. RYNSTON
Washington Green, Conn.
July 2, 2011
To the Editor,
Hundreds of thousands of New York public school children will now be taught that homosexual and lesbian marriages and acts are normal and ethical because these activities are legal. These innocent children will be indoctrinated by teachers who voted for and donated to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo zealously facilitated the legalization of homosexual and lesbian marriage.
The creator of the universe categorically condemns homosexual unions. In Leviticus 20:13 God declares: “The man who lies with a man in the same way as with a woman, they have done a hateful act together!” Mr. Cuomo and the legion of secular public school teachers scorn God’s declaration regarding homosexual acts.
Mr. Cuomo is a Roman Catholic. He attends the Sunday Mass. This former Catholic seminarian assets that Mr. Cuomo desecrates God’s infallible moral law and contaminates the innocence of children by his advocacy of homosexual marriage. Mr. Cuomo is an apostate heretic and Catholic atheist.
The New York Catholic bishops have the pastoral obligation to declare the excommunication of Mr. Cuomo, who is also pro-abortion. Mr. Cuomo has arrogantly separated from the holy faith established by Jesus in his precious blood. Mr. Cuomo should be denied the sacraments, especially communion.
JOSEPH EDWARD VALLELY
July 11, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
As I write this letter there is a video camera mounted on the opposite side of the dining table focused directly on my bare torso, recording the mystery and magic of my creative process for all to see, for all time. As you will observe once the clip is posted on YouTube, I’m wearing nothing but bright blue boxers with colorful starfish and sea horses printed on them. You will also notice a small sheep sitting on my lap. I have duck-taped a razor to the sheep’s little front hoof, and I am making it shave my chest. It is not easy to type under the circumstances, of course, but I will persist. (Remember when these letters were hand-written? What did we do without delete?)
The sheep is not unhappy, let’s be clear. It is well fed and purring while we shave. So no hate mail from the animal wellness people, please. Oops, some shaving cream just squirted on my MacBook.
Mr. Rattray, I am not writing simply to cause embarrassment to a fellow mammal. Like you, I love and revere my fellow mammals. I am writing to establish beyond reasonable doubt the certainty that I will never be able to seek or attain elected office anywhere in the United States. The first paragraph of this letter should pretty much take care of it. The online edition of The Star will make the letter available to most of the people on earth, and I will be judged unfit for a leadership role in this or any other community. My hope is that this will spare my family future public scrutiny and humiliation and my friends and supporters disappointment from my betrayal of their trust. I wish I was in a position to return their money, but luckily I haven’t solicited nor received any, so it’s all good.
I know you will all find an appropriate way to thank me for not leading us down a path that ultimately was destined to end in tick and mosquito-infested wetlands. We shall remain on the high ground together, knowing that I have selflessly impaired my ambition. A special shout out to the sheep would be appreciated.
I was speaking with my business partner, Brian, in New York City last week and found myself reflecting on the impressive number of things I have failed to accomplish over the course of my 40-plus-year career. It was breathtaking, actually. The books, screenplays, and treatments I could have written if I’d been more focused, worked harder, put in the time. The clever clothing line idea I had but never followed through on. The songs I never finished writing. Brian agreed that the list of great things I’d failed to achieved was long indeed, and probably unlike anything anyone else had failed to achieve. Realizing that, I think we both felt better about me. I know I did.
It’s so easy for us to get down on ourselves for being just average, or below-average people, Mr. Rattray. But I feel absolutely certain that every one of us has a list of abandoned dreams and ideas that is completely unique to our selves. Think, for example, of the surfboard you never designed — so light yet stable, and able to be converted to a wind-powered snowboard. I say bravo. That’s part of what makes you you — what you failed to do. We should celebrate together. Just name the place.
A few days ago Mary and Anne went to see Ina Garten speak at Guild Hall. Mary asked me if I’d be interested in attending and I said, “Absolutely not.” Afterward, the ladies reported that Ms. Garten was amazing — funny and personable, and the packed crowd simply adored her. “Here’s this wonderful woman who taught herself to cook,” Mary gushed, “and her recipes are all so simple with no fancy ingredients. She said, ‘If the meal is a disaster, just turn up the music and drink more.’ ”
And I thought, “That is exactly the point.” Ina Garten is demonstrating that a cooking failure can be a totally unique and unforgettable experience. There are no recipes for disaster if we look at life with a lemon-fresh shine. Like the words printed on the back of my Kellogg’s Raisin Bran box: “Bursting with wholesome and hearty goodness.” Damn right.
Now we all know that great ideas are often inspired by other ideas. Stimuli ricochet off the irregular surfaces inside our cranium and collide with each other, occasionally joining and reforming, becoming something else. Look it up. Anyway, the whole Ina discussion got me thinking about what I would actually pay to see at Guild Hall (other than myself, of course). And here it is: Five of our favorite East End bartenders sitting on the stage in folding chairs. The moderator is me, or maybe Alec Baldwin. The name of the program is “What Can I Get You?” The guests will be: Joe from Rowdy Hall, J.J. from Cittanuova, Larry from the Talkhouse, Vinnie from the American Hotel, and who else?
The bartenders will tell the best war stories from their years of service: rudest asshole ever, worst tipper ever, biggest tipper ever, best pick-up sighting, most unforgettable fight and removal incident. You get the idea.
The panel will then open to questions from the audience, and be followed by a cocktail reception (naturally).
A portion of net proceeds will go to support Drink for the Cure, an as-yet to be incorporated foundation to benefit those with dependencies and delusions of underachievement.
You’re welcome. Cheers.