Letters to the Editor 08.18.11

Authors Night
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor,
    Thank you to all those involved who coordinated Authors Night, a Celebration of Books and 114 Years of Reading at the East Hampton Library. This was the first time I attended this event and found it to be educational and well organized with a wonderful selection of interesting books and authors.
    I look forward to attending this event next year, and once again thank you for all your dedication and hard work!

For Bobby Charles
let this bead
    stand for the galaxy,
and let this thimble
    be the grail,
and let this yellow curl
    be the lost boy
if things can stand
    for those which cannot
be reached, or found,
    or woken,
then —
    then —

Our Work
    August 10, 2011
Dear David,
    Once again, the Ashawagh Hall Writers’ Workshop wants to thank The East Hampton Star and the East Hampton Library for their generous gestures on our behalf. It is so gratifying to live in a community this welcoming to creative people.
    The Star has published many of our stories and encouraged us to keep sending them. As a result, New York agents have contacted me to learn more about individual writers, proving The Star’s popularity with visitors and second-home owners. In one case this resulted in a writer receiving a contract for a series of books, six of which appeared on The New York Times best-seller list. 
    Our East Hampton Library hosts us during the summer months, giving a chance for the community to hear us. These gatherings are well attended, and we are delighted to read our work to those who come. Thanks so much to everyone on behalf of the workshop.

A Beautiful Life
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor:
    Congratulations, Jack Graves, for sharing with us Max Bergmann’s eulogy of his father, Tom Bergmann.
    I did not know Tom Bergmann, but wish that I had. To earn the love and gratitude of a son is never easy. But Tom surely did — as Tom’s words attest.
    In this world of troubling events and difficult times, it is absolutely inspirational to read an appreciation of decency and good character. Truly, Tom had a beautiful life, and Max, in recognizing his father’s values, is on the same path.
    I recently read something by the poet Jack Gilbert: “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world.” How true this is with daily headlines of rioting, civilian massacres, starving children, unemployment, hapless government, financial chaos, tornados, floods, and droughts.
    To be sure, this poet isn’t advocating narcissistic pleasure-seeking. Instead he’s offering a way to make our own lives work and give our best to the world. As Max said of Tom, “The joy that emanated from him knew no boundaries, and made everyone around him feel loved and happy.” Truly, giving and getting this are the gifts of a beautiful life. Thank you, Jack and Max, for sharing this homage to a good man.

Up to My Axles
    East Hampton
    August 11, 2011
Dear David,
    You’ve heard it said, “You can’t find a harbormaster when you need one?” Well, the real wording is, “You can’t find a harbormaster unless you really need one.”
    Stuck almost up to my axles in soft sand on the ocean beach after crabbing was not what I had hoped for. The kids were just beginning to say,  “What do you mean, stuck?” I was looking around at the people. So embarrassing! And what to do?
    Heading my way — I still don’t believe it — was Harbormaster John Loscari’s truck. He opened his window and said, “Air down.”
    “Let some of the air out of those tires.”
    Of course. That’s what I forgot and probably would not have remembered until midnight. So embarrassing! He handed me a tire gauge and went on another call. I’m out there airing down when the kids said the two-way on the front seat was talking. I stuck my head in the window, to hear Chief Ed Michels say, “Air down.” Oh, so embarrassing! He knows, too. “Air down, air down.”
    “I’m stuck, chief.”
    “Air down.” Oh, just bury me in the sand.
    I can make light of it now, but driving on the beach is something I do about twice a year, and I was scared. It’s a helpless feeling. Harbormaster Loscari returned to check the tire pressure and say, “Not nearly enough.” So we let more out.
    I jumped into the passenger side and said, “I’m not driving off of this beach. I’ll ride. I’m scared.”
    Well, that worked. He got behind the wheel and got me out of there, up to the landing.
    I do not take this lightly, and fully realize the experience and training that these harbormasters have. Mr. Loscari and Mr. Michels would have been just as calm, cool, and collected performing C.P.R. or jumping into the cold, spring ocean to rescue a boater (and I have been a witness to that and will never forget it).
    Thank you, Harbormaster Loscari, Chief Michels, and the few men you have left for the real lifesaving work you do every day that no one ever hears about.

Dive Flags
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    A few weeks ago, I was scuba diving off the shore of Shelter Island with my dive buddy. I was in about 50 feet of water, 200 or so yards off the beach. It was a beautiful day. The water was warm. Visibility was good, fishes were doing fish stuff, and I found treasure. Everything was as perfect as a dive could be until I surfaced about 30 feet from the shore.
    Upon reaching a depth where I could stand, I popped my head above the surface and there was a Shelter Island Police boat, lights blazing, about 100 yards from shore. It seems the officer had witnessed a number of disturbing events while I was peacefully diving beneath the sea.
    He explained that he clearly saw our properly displayed red-and-white dive flag and observed at least three boats drive over or dangerously close to our flag. The officer could have written a number of tickets that day but instead he chose to guard us from boaters who either did not know what a dive flag was or chose to ignore it. The officer decided to stay with our flag and wait for us to surface, rather than apprehend the lawbreaking boaters.
    The purpose of this letter is twofold. First, I would like to thank the Shelter Island police officer for his decision to stay with us and ensure our safety, rather than chase down those who clearly broke the law. Second, I would like to inform the readers of what a dive flag signifies and the problems I have observed due to a lack of awareness or education regarding the dive-flag law, which happens to impose an insignificant $50 fine upon those found guilty of being in violation.
    In the early 1950s, a red flag  with a diagonal white bar was created by Denzel Dockery to inform those at the surface that divers are beneath the surface of the sea. This flag is the official warning sign of a diver down and is recognized as such by the federal government and almost every state. In New York, all boaters must stay at least 100 feet in all directions from a dive flag, and all divers are required to surface within 100 feet of said flag. These flags are square or rectangular, are at least 12 inches wide, and have a 3-inch diagonal white stripe. They can be found floating in the water (in the case of shore divers and those venturing away from dive boats) and are also atop boats that are conducting dive-related activities.
    You, when upon the water, should know that these flags mark the approximate position of a diver in the water. You should expect a diver to surface somewhere within a 100-foot radius of this flag or the boat at any time. And this is if everything goes well beneath the sea.
    Divers are responsible for following the law; however, divers may have trouble and have to make an emergency ascent. They might lose their dive buddy and, as per common dive protocol, ascend to the surface to find one another. They may experience an uncontrolled ascent. They may become disoriented and surface farther than the required 100 feet from the flag. They could get caught in a current and drift away or become separated from their dive flag. A myriad of events could occur while diving and the last thing anyone would ever want to see is a diver being hit by a boat that came too close to a dive flag.
    This letter is not being written because of this one event a few weeks ago. Far too many of my dives involved boats driving right over my flag or very close to it. The giant menacing shadows I see from beneath the sea are not marauding marine life but rather are the shadows of boats coming too close for comfort. I once surfaced to find a boat anchored only 20 feet from my boat. The boater ignored the dive flags as I assume they thought it was a good place to fish. Are you kidding me? We have an entire ocean to share and this boater thought it was a good idea to cast an anchor and fish beside a boat clearly displaying two dive flags. I have even witnessed one boater making, not one, but two passes over a group of dive flags; thank God none of the divers were surfacing when the boat was driving through the flags.
    All boaters should become familiar with the red-and-white diver-down flag. All marinas, bait-and-tackle shops, boat dealers, and anyone who may be riding in a boat or any other watercraft should know exactly what a dive flag signifies and how to keep in mind the safety of all divers.
    Thank you for reading. Please share this info with anyone you know who enjoys spending time on the sea.

Feral Cat Poem #28
Did you see it?
We saw it.
Early one morning last week:
moored close offshore in the Bay,
sharp-pointed and white as a Hollywood tooth,
huge as a house looking set to plug the mouth
of Accabonac Harbor.

If it had sails instead of twin pipes
we might have called it her and beautiful,
the same delusion the first feral red men fell for
before the first cannon shot ashore the first
eviction notice.
Ed Hannibal

Distinct Odor
    East Hampton
    August 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
    Let me begin by saying I love dogs, cats, and all animals. So please, all of you out there — no letters following this up about my lack of compassion for our four-legged friends.
    Our home has been in East Hampton Village since 1993. I enjoy the convenience of being able to walk to town. Often I found I returned home and had to clean my shoes. Rather than pleasant smells on Main Street or Newtown Lane  when passing all the lovely trees, I notice a distinct odor of urine and saw numerous dog droppings.
    I have spoken to the village authorities about this. We all know the dogs are not at fault; it is their families who are not being responsible and picking up after them. Even if there were no law, not cleaning up after your pet is unimaginable to me.
    Last week two incidents caused me to write this letter. We set out for a morning of crabbing at Georgica Pond. The crabbing was amazing, and two little 4  and 6-year-old boys were thrilled — except that every few inches around the pond and on the beach there were dog feces. It was terrible. This was Thursday.
    On Saturday the boys walked into the village with their sister and were sitting on a bench in front of the candy store near the movies on Main Street. They were enjoying ice cream when they smelled a foul odor coming from the area near one of the trees. Shortly thereafter one of the boys found dog feces all over his Crocs!
    Sitting there on one of this country’s most beautiful main streets and earlier at Georgica Beach, where we were surrounded by such incredible views, it just seemed so wrong, extremely unsanitary, and really something to mar perfect days. It is completely inexcusable!
    Bottom line: There is a law to pick up after your pets in the village. Do it! Be responsible and take care of your animals. They deserve it, as does everyone else who is here living in and visiting East Hampton.
    East Hampton Village, although we all appreciate your continuing to run such a very tight ship in these difficult economic times, if you are not going to enforce this law, please hire extra people with our tax money to pick up after the dogs — both on the beaches and on the village streets and walks.  The dogs don’t know any better; their families should.

Nothing Is Done
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    There are parts of this town government that simply do not work. I refer to the lack of enforcement of rules.
     Where I swim daily in Gardiner’s Bay near Maidstone Park and Camp Blue Bay, there is rampant disregard for the rights of others. Dogs roam when they are not supposed to. The four-wheel-drive vehicles’ drivers traverse right and left, though they are not suppose to go left at all, during the winter as well as summer, creating deep ruts in the beach. A Jet Ski tries to launch from the beach driving all swimmers, including children, out of the water. Rampant drinking and late-night parties are a common occurrence on many nights. The memorial bench that is on the side of the dune is repeatedly destroyed each year.
    Recently, someone dumped huge logs at the end of the street. The sign that posts the rules was painted over and never replaced. We have called the police, since marine patrol is almost nonexistent, and nothing is done. To my knowledge, no tickets have ever been given out to lawbreakers, though we have certainly attempted to enlist the help of the police. However, the presence of the boys in blue in town is pervasive. One young thing had the audacity to question if I had the right to park in a particular handicapped spot though my pass was dangling from my mirror.
    On the other hand, at the very same beach the comings and goings of the trucks and the shingling of a nearby house and the trucks that did the job caused a coating of sand two inches thick on the road. I told myself I would have to call the Highway Department to have it cleaned — of course, promptly forgot. But Superintendent Scott King must have heard my thoughts, because the very next day the street had been brushed clean.
    Oh, if only the Police Department could function one day like the Highway Department!

Want to Recycle
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    I was wondering why no passionate contributions to some pretty passionate subjects discussed in the July 28 editorial, basic subjects that affect the survival of life on Earth, as well as our pocketbooks.
    Debbie Klughers brought some very compelling information to the attention of East Hampton taxpayers. Debbie’s tenacious efforts began by first asking the town for public-place recycling. She then found an existing town code mandating recycling receptacles at recreational areas, and informed the town board of its existence, and again following up at a work session only to be misinformed by Pete Hammerle that the receptacles were currently in existence. (Crazy enough, but she seems to have proof to the contrary in photos.) She went on to explain the monetary losses, environmental detriments, and the embarrassment of being so out of sync with today’s culture.
    Recycling is the last effort after reducing and reusing, but the importance is vital, at the very least, to eliminate the need for mining and harvesting new resources. Sorry, children of all ages who are learning to recycle so eloquently in schools, for the confusion that the grown-ups of the Town of East Hampton are bestowing upon you every time you want to recycle in public recreational spaces. That is so uncool!
    In support of municipal composting of food waste, Peter Garnham’s letter claims a savings potential in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by diverting food waste. He should know, his firsthand knowledge of the composting facility back in the mid-’90s is vast and his experience in getting the participation of the local restaurants, farms, and groceries is to be learned from.
    Many restaurants in small towns of America proudly announce their participation in a composting program by placing stickers on their entrance doors to entice customers by showing their responsibility to the environment. That is so cool! East Hampton, in particular due to the organic farming phenomenon, seems a perfect candidate for that kind of town pride.
    I hope that readers will be inspired to learn more about the associated financial and environmental costs of these issues.
    On a separate note, it is admirable that East Hampton Village has banned plastic bags. The glitches (for some) of that should work out as residents and visitors adapt.

Was Mistaken
    August 15, 2011
Dear David:
    East Hampton Conservators’ committed and generous donors have contributed $59,425 to the organization just since the beginning of this year. They have supported us with these substantial financial donations because they believe in our mission — to control development, protect the environment and pure drinking water, and preserve the open space and historic legacy that guarantee our quality of life and our property values in the Town of East Hampton.
    In your last issue, a front-page article titled “G.O.P. Is Ahead in Money Race,” by Catherine Tandy, erroneously reported that East Hampton Conservators had raised a “meager $36.” A simple check of our recent report to the New York State Board of Elections would have provided the accurate information, showing the reporter was mistaken by a “meager” $59,389. If the reporter didn’t base the numbers in her story on those state-mandated reports for the political action committees she was purportedly reporting on, where did they come from? Should your readers doubt the other numbers in that story as well?
    Furthermore, a simple check with your own advertising department would have revealed that the Conservators have taken a series of ads in your newspaper that have engaged the public in discussion about such critical issues as demanding the town board follow the town’s own laws and planning guidelines as well as calling on the town board to prevent the privatization of our most sacred common heritage, our beaches. Had we as repeat customers been able to spend only $36 on those ads, we would have gladly agreed. But we spent $2,867 for those ads in your newspaper during the period in question.
    We believe that the erroneous reporting in your last edition represents a serious misrepresentation of the facts, is unfair to our donors, and has done considerable harm to our organization. We expect you to publish your own correction of these errors and to provide us with an explanation of these mistakes including your reporter’s source of the misinformation.
    In the meantime, East Hampton Conservators again thanks its donors for their commitment to our common mission and assures them that our finances will provide them the opportunity to have a strong and full voice in this year’s coming town elections. They will see that their donations contribute to the support of those candidates whose values align with the preservation of what makes East Hampton special and whose platforms are built on policies that will protect our investments in our homes and property.
    East Hampton Conservators

Art of the Deal
    August 14, 2011
Dear David,
    The Montauk brown bag work sessions that are held the second Tuesday of the month are not shown on LTV live feed. One has to search on the LTV Web site for the day and time the tape is shown. Usually you have to go to Channel 22 at 8 a.m. Thursday, noon Friday, or 10 a.m. Saturday to watch this same meeting.
    We have a town board led by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley, who seem to place all problematic agenda items at this Montauk meeting. For example, in late December 2010 the MTK concert deal was presented in Montauk and pushed through. This past Tuesday’s Montauk meeting had an agenda consisting of 10 items. Several of these items dealt with changing the lighting law, farm hoop-house legislation doing away with Planning Department review, and a change in time limits for permits, among many other issues.
    Could it be that the town board uses the Montauk meetings as a means of slipping through their controversial agenda items without transparency? After all, no one can watch the Montauk meetings live. More residents of our town should begin to watch Supervisor Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Quigley’s art of the deal in Montauk.

    Ms. Klopman is the East Hampton Democratic Committee chairwoman. Ed.

Leave of Absence
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor,
    Is it a conflict of interest or an appearance of impropriety for an appointed board member to retain his or her seat on the board while running for political office? In my view, none of the comments, either at the work session when I first raised the issue or in the letters to the editor thereafter, speak to the actual ethics question.
    The question refers to people appointed to the planning, zoning, or architectural review boards. It does not apply to any citizen’s advisory committee member, since that position is advisory only, or to an elected member of the town board. By town code designation, members of the planning, zoning, and architectural review boards carry out the business of the town when it comes to implementing their respective areas under the code.
    Those who have answered my question in the negative never actually deal with the ethics side of the question. Instead, they refer to the invaluable experience an appointee gains while sitting on the board. I agree. However, that experience is not lessened in any way if the appointee steps down or takes a leave of absence during the campaign. By the time the campaign begins, the board member either has the valued experience or does not. Once such experience is gained, it is the appointee’s to use and to benefit from during the campaign.
    Another popular argument is that it has always been done this way — by far the weakest argument offered against a potential ethical violation. Continuation of the status quo does not wipe out any ethics violation that may exist while the actions complained of continue.
    It is understandable that a sitting board appointee would not want to relinquish the position on the chance that they may get elected to office. However, while sitting in judgment of applicants and simultaneously running for political office the lines may become blurred thus creating a circumstance unfair to both the applicant and the sitting board member. It opens up the board member to questioning about his or her decisions, by allowing the disgruntled applicant to add the political element to his complaint. It also muddies the waters when it comes to political contributions to a sitting board member, who is subject to the town’s ethics rules regarding a $100 limitation on gifts or gratuities.
    Opponents immediately accuse me of questioning the objectivity of the board member slash candidates and point out that they can easily wear two hats and assure us all that politics is checked at the door immediately upon board appointment. Is this truly possible in all cases? No such accusations are being made against any particular board member slash candidate. I do believe however, that wearing two hats, especially when one of them is political, is a situation fraught with the potential for creation of a conflict of interest or an appearance of impropriety. What happens, for example, if the board member is mandated to enforce the code on the one hand and as a candidate to support the party’s platform which may differ from or disagree with the very sections of the code the board member is mandated to uphold? Why should anyone be put in such a position when it can be avoided totally by stepping down or taking a leave of absence?
    The town is not without precedent for consideration of the question I raise. The current code of ethics mandates against an appointed board member holding the board seat and simultaneously participating in a political committee: “No person shall hold an appointive office on the town of East Hampton’s planning board, zoning board of appeals, architectural review board . . .  and at the same time hold a position as a committee member of the town . . . political party. . . .” Under the code, resignation from the political committee is required.
    My question is raised totally outside of any political context, and if an ethics rule were enacted, it would be applied to everyone equally. This is an idea I have been mulling over for a while. A quick review of my letters during the McGintee administration will reveal that I frequently wrote about ethics violations. The lack of ethical standards in government is a pet peeve of mine and I will continue to speak out about it when I believe something can be done to improve the situation. 
    If, under our ethics code, mere membership in a political committee gives rise to an ethics concern, then surely the question of simultaneously sitting and running is worthy of investigation. The question was raised to make people more aware of the need for ethics in government, and hopefully the town board and the community will continue the conversation.

    East Hampton
    August 14, 2011
To the Editor,
    The promoters of the canceled concert at the airport are, as the term goes, in denial. In their press release announcing the cancellation they say, “despite a world-class lineup,” etc., etc. Most of the bands wouldn’t rate a $10 cover at the Talkhouse. Can anyone of any age group name one Vampire Weekend song? Granted they are a “name,” as they say, but that’s about it. Then they plaster East Hampton with posters touting the addition of Ellen Goulding as a draw. Who? 
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not part of that elitist Amagansett crowd who envisioned an invasion of ruffians marching down Main Street. And speaking of world-class acts, why can’t the town rent that area of the airport to a real concert promoter and bring in the Rolling Stones or AC/DC or Kiss or the Who? Every motel room on the entire East End would be filled. In the past ten years I have seen all four of those bands more than once in various cities and countries. And I saw no trouble whatsoever — none, nada. Let’s bring some real rock ’n’ roll to East Hampton.

Sigh of Relief
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor,
    Can you imagine the disappointment experienced by the rock concert promoters who had to cancel their grandiose plans? Their “vision” of fame and greatness denied? No clamoring crowds delighting in the flood of music enveloping one and all? Gone, gone, dashed hopes throughout! And think of the opportunity lost to the eager ticket-buyers, all 2,500 of them, forced to make other plans for that fateful weekend just passed.
    Then turn to the local residents and hear their collective sigh of relief that the weekend-long mayhem was not to be. Only 2,500 buyers, out of a hoped-for 9,500 souls, later reduced to a so-called break-even minimum of 5,000 or so.
    East Hampton cannot and should not try to accommodate crowds of that size on one of the busiest summer weekends. It was fortunate for us that we did not have to negotiate roads swollen with cars and buses beyond the normal seasonal peak. We regret that the designated charities will have to forgo the promised swag of $100,000, a tempting inducement, to put it delicately, for obtaining permission from our town leaders.
    But we applaud the common-sense decision of the promoters to give up their dreams of glory this time around.
    With thanks,

Blame the Community
    East Hampton
    August 14, 2011
Dear David,
    It is unfortunate that the Music to Know concert never happened, especially for the charities who were promised money. It is interesting to note that the town supervisor, Bill Wilkinson, has the nerve to blame the community for the promoter’s lack of ability to sell tickets. He is quoted as saying, “the outcry from Amagansett residents . . . put a damper on investment and contributed to the event’s failure.”
    Nowhere does the supervisor take any of the leadership responsibility. He met privately with the promoters (completely inexperienced) months before the announcement. He encouraged them to apply for their permit in December, in Montauk. And it was given! No one knew about it except the fish.
    Once the event was promoted, the community actually did have a right to complain and offer advice. None was taken. Shame on Mr. Wilkinson for using charities as a front for his “public-private partnership.” He must be delusional if he thinks the community could influence 9,500 teens from not coming out here to hear music. Gee, do we really have that much power?
    Yours truly,

Take It Elsewhere
    August 14, 2011
Dear Editor:
    In the Aug. 11 issue of The Star, front-page headline “Montauk Mayhem Rolls Merrily Along,” regarding the Surf Lodge with free condoms, I fully agree with Councilwoman Julia Prince. What have we come to? The Surf Lodge attracted a visit from the Trojan company’s Good Vibrations truck, from which free condoms and vibrating rings are distributed.
    We live in a very beautiful community. We can brag of our beautiful beaches, surfing, fishing, good restaurants, and a lovely downtown with great shops, a quaint dock area with good family-run restaurants that welcome families with young children. Take the kids out to our beautiful, historic Lighthouse. Visit the Depot Gallery. Visit our beautiful churches: the Community Church and St. Therese’s; view the beautiful stained-glass windows in both. Look at the sea from Shadmoor, swim, dance, sit and read a good book. Visit friends, share a dinner, just relax. This is the Montauk that my husband and I were attracted to more than 20 years ago. We have enjoyed meeting wonderful people in the last 12 years we have lived here.
    We do not need trash disrupting our beautiful town. Please, take it elsewhere. You are not welcome here with the noise, parking violations, people walking in the middle of the street ignoring the cars, and your condoms and vibrating rings being passed out.
    So again, thank you Julia, and may God bless America.

Skewed Priorities
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    The Wilkinson administration’s indulgence of repeated law violations by Montauk nightclubs is one more example of its skewed priorities for our town. Residents of once-comfortable middle-class neighborhoods are kept up all night by “people coming out to get really drunk and leave” in the words of Julia Prince, a Montauk resident and town councilwoman. They are confronted in the morning with “disgusting” roads and “naked people lying at the train station at 6 a.m.”
    Unable to add another private lawsuit to the roster of challenges that have so far blocked a sale of parklands and a huge rock concert in neighboring Amagansett, they are brushed off by the deputy supervisor. “I get the frustration of the community,” she says. “Having said that, it’s part of who we are.”
    Blatant exploitation of the tourist market is only part of “who we are,” because the government that says it allows it. As the town attorney admitted, after repeated violations, the town could sue for an injunction to shut the places down. (Note: The Village of East Hampton did not dither when faced with the potentially disruptive and illegal Gilt house enterprise; it took prompt action. It didn’t wait until the community was frustrated.)
    And why doesn’t the town? The supervisor says, “This is a tourism community.” It is going to “shut down after Labor Day.” The deputy supervisor complains, “You’re choosing families. I enjoy seeing young, single people.”
    It should be possible to take advantage of the tourism market in our community without dumping on our families. Democratic Councilwoman Prince is right: The administration’s strategy is “just not good enough.”
    Sincerely yours,

    Ms. Mazur is a member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.

Find Another Way
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    I am grateful to Julia Prince for asking the town board to seek stronger remedies against the scofflaw bars and restaurants that create disruptions and dangers to Montauk residents. She is doing what a town board member should do: seek to have laws enforced and represent the needs and desires of her constituents.
    Besides the legal and quality-of-life problems caused by these businesses, Ms. Prince pointed out that that the amount of time required by our police and ordinance enforcement officers in writing up summonses is creating a drain on our resources.
    The responses of Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley baffle me. Mr. Wilkinson acts like his role is to not interfere, as if once code enforcement is involved then he should stand on the sidelines. But if code enforcement is inadequate to stop illegal activity, it becomes his and the board’s obligation to find another way.
    This is not an issue of preferring one lifestyle over another. Stopping illegal activity is not about lifestyles, it is an obligation of the town leaders.
    Thank you, Julia, for being a sane voice for the people of Montauk.

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

Pesky Neighbors
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
Dear David:
    Two of last week’s front-page articles, “Montauk Mayhem” and “Punish Night Fliers,” provide a striking contrast in the Wilkinson-Quigley administration’s reaction to local problems. Neither the supervisor nor his deputy has shown any concern about Montauk residents who are being subjected to loud music and drunken behavior perpetrated by patrons of the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s.
    Bill Wilkinson doesn’t want to get involved (things will be better after Labor Day, he says, so who cares?), and Theresa Quigley dismisses the problem totally (“There are certain groups that like one thing, certain groups that like other things”). She thinks those pesky neighbors simply favor family life over young people having fun.
    On the other hand, when aircraft fly over her house at night, she and Mr. Wilkinson demand action. They want to close the airport at night, shut the lights there, and impose huge fines on pilots who don’t comply. Not only that, they talk about spending taxpayer money to hire expert aviation attorneys. (I’ve heard that the taxpayers are also paying for police presence at the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyers.)
    I, too, live in the flight path of the airport and am disturbed by airplane noise, but I’m equally disturbed by the idea that Montauk residents must unnecessarily suffer the effects of allowing these clubs, which are out of compliance with the town code, to continue to operate in residential neighborhoods.
    The town attorney has advised that the town can approach the State Supreme Court for an injunction to shut these places down. The one board member who seems to really care about helping Ruschmeyer’s neighbors is Julia Prince, and I congratulate her for her efforts. The message from the Wilkinson-Quigley team is “If it’s not about me, I don’t really care.”

Renew the Servitude
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor,
    What is in the air in East Hampton that makes The Star oblivious to the history and facts relating to the airport and the long history of complaints about its existence. “Looking to Punish Night Fliers” (Aug. 11) continues to promote the fictions that we, inhabitants of the East End of Long Island (and elsewhere), have any control over any activity at the airport.
    “I have constituents who are upset,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “I want to shut the airport down between 11 at night and 7 in the morning.”
    The board has absolutely no power to do that and Mr. Wilkinson knows or should know that. He is either lying or grossly ignorant. Which is he going to profess to?
    The town board took Federal Aviation Administration money and committed the town to 20 years of servitude. The latest term ends shortly. But, never fear, the lackeys are about to renew the servitude for another 20 years.
    The new plan which the town board is near accepting and putting into effect will fund (read F.A.A. dollars) “improvements” that will commit the area to increasing noise and pollution for 20 more years. If you think the airport now is annoying, just wait!

In Three Years
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
To the Editor:
    Your Aug. 11 report on last Tuesday’s town board meeting shows that when it comes to dealing with the continuing East Hampton Airport noise problems, Town Hall currently is nothing but political theater: plenty of rhetoric but no concrete action to control the excessive noise suffered by residents of our community and its environs.
    One actor demands a nighttime curfew. Another hides behind Federal Aviation Administration regulations as a shield for avoiding effective local airport noise control. A multitown helicopter discussion group is mentioned. It is even suggested that nighttime noise is not really that bad anymore. Then it is proposed that the town hire more expert lawyers. But no vote is taken.
    Examining last Tuesday’s reported discourse, it appears that little attention was given to the fact that major jet noise and weekend and other noise problems must be dealt with, as well as the specific helicopter issue. Nowhere was any comprehensive noise-control planning evident. Also, significantly, nobody asked how it is that the Village of Southampton for years has successfully imposed enforceable curfews and other restrictions on the air traffic at its heliport for noise limitation.
    The Southampton question, at least, has a very straightforward answer. That village never accepted F.A.A. grant money for building its facility and therefore never agreed to the contractual conditions that come with such money. Such conditions (the grant assurances) do include limitations effectively prohibiting local airport noise control for 20 years from the date of the grant. Where such money and contractual conditions are not accepted, the controlling federal law allows a municipal owner, or  “proprietor,” of an airport to impose reasonable, non-arbitrary, and nondiscriminatory restrictions on air traffic in and out of the facility for the protection of local residents from noise impacts. That is what Southampton has done.
    Unlike Southampton Village, however, the Town of East Hampton has taken F.A.A. grant money in the past for the airport and thus has accepted the accompanying contractual limitations. But, as your report mentioned for background, the relevant limitations for East Hampton presently are scheduled to expire in 2014.
    In other words, in three years, East Hampton can begin to enforce curfews and some other noise controls at the airport if it really has the will to do so, just as Southampton Village does. But if the town accepts new F.A.A. money for airport construction projects presently contemplated, then the local control will disappear again for a new 20-year period.
    Thus, whatever other direction the current actors at Town Hall may take to push the current F.A.A. envelope of contractual limitations, they should immediately declare their intention not to seek further F.A.A. subsidies. And it is essential that they promptly begin the comprehensive and transparent financial and business planning necessary to avoid the need for such subsidies for reasonable airport improvements.
    If they fail to do was, their pointless Off Broadway production can go on forever.

Recover Full Control
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
Dear David:
    It is lovely that, faced with an election and an increasingly irate population, the majority Republican members of the East Hampton Town Board are suddenly expressing the desire to “do something” about airport noise. Wouldn’t it be even lovelier if they took the time to educate themselves to the fact that they do have the power to solve this problem if only they have the will to do so?
    According to your front-page article last week, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson asks why we cannot shut the airport from 11 p.m. to 7 p.m. Would he do so if he could? Councilwoman Quigley suggests charging prohibitive fees that would have that effect. Councilman Stanzione says, not so fast, we have limited authority over a general aviation airport. Confusion reigns.
    If the town board wants to know the root of the problem, it need look no further than the mirror. The town board’s own decisions are the only obstacle to controlling airport noise, shutting it at night if we choose to do so, even prohibiting helicopters completely. As the immortal Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and they are us.” But, before I explain in detail, let me outline briefly the magnitude of the problem.
    In the course of the preparation of the environmental impact statement for the airport master plan update, the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion hired its own aviation noise expert. Using the same computer noise modeling software used by the Federal Aviation Administration and by the author of the town’s environmental-impact study and analyzing the town’s own data on expected airport usage, including aircraft types, flight tracks, altitudes, and frequency of use, the expert asked and answered this question: How many times do aircraft using East Hampton Airport create what would be a violation of East Hampton’s own noise ordinance if aircraft were not specifically exempted?
    The noise ordinance makes it a violation, subject to fine, and, in the case of repeated violation, criminal prosecution, to project noise across a residential property line that exceeds 65 decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 50 decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The answer — 9.8 million times per year! Airport noise adversely impacts 114 square miles and a resident population of 39,000 (including residents of Southampton). That is the burden of noise imposed on this community by the out-of-control East Hampton Airport.
    But the study went further and actually counted the number of such incidents house by house. The areas most heavily impacted, with more than 1,000 noise events per year per household, include an area of 31 square miles with a population of more than 6,000. Households impacted between 6,000 and 25,000 times per year cover an area of 18 square miles with a population of more than 3,000.
    Contrary to what airport users claim, the problem of noise is not at all limited to people who bought a house near the airport.
    When Councilman Dominick Stanzione says we have limited authority over a general-aviation airport, that is true only if the airport were independently owned, such as the Montauk Airport. But the Town of East Hampton is the owner of the East Hampton Airport. As proprietor, it has the ability to control hours of use, the numbers of aircraft that can use the airport, and the aircraft types that can use the airport with the specific purpose of protecting the community from noise. We know this definitively because the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sitting in New York City, has said so in the 1998 case of National Helicopter v. the City of New York.
    The City of New York is the municipal owner of a heliport. It sought to impose a curfew on use, close its heliport on weekends, and limit the aircraft types using its heliport with the goal of cutting noise in half. The Second Circuit said that it could do all these things as long as it treated aircraft with a similar noise impact in the same manner.
    East Hampton is within the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit. There is no state or local government or agency and no federal agency, including the F.A.A., with the power to contradict the Second Circuit within this jurisdiction. Only two bodies have the power to do so, the Congress of the United States and the United States Supreme Court. Unless and until one of them should do so, the word of the Second Circuit is not merely an opinion in East Hampton, it is the law. The law might be different in San Francisco or Miami, but in East Hampton, the Second Circuit is the authority.
    Applying the opinion of the Second Circuit here, the Town of East Hampton, as airport proprietor, could even prohibit helicopters altogether so long as it treats any similarly noisy aircraft (of which there are a few but not many) in the same manner.
    There is one important hitch, however. Because it has accepted construction subsidies from the F.A.A. in the past, East Hampton Airport is subject to contractual covenants with the F.A.A. known as “grant assurances.” Under the grant assurances, as interpreted by the F.A.A., the recipient of a grant must, subject only to weather or emergency, keep the airport open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to any aircraft that choose, in the sole discretion of the pilot, to use the field. In short, we cannot have local control of the airport and take F.A.A. money too. It is one or the other.
    The grant assurances apply for 20 years from the date of the grant, even if the grant is as little as a dollar. There does not exist in federal law any mechanism for terminating a grant agreement early, even if the money were repaid. Thus, every time the town accepts an F.A.A. grant, it alienates for a period of 20 years its power to control airport access. In effect, taking a grant means adopting the F.A.A.’s policy of completely unrestricted access.
    Due to past misconduct of the Town of East Hampton, in which it twice took grant money illegally, the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion negotiated a judicially approved and binding reduction in the term of the grant assurances in East Hampton. If the town does not take any more grant money from the F.A.A., the relevant assurances will expire on Dec. 31, 2014, years before they otherwise would. On that date, the Town of East Hampton can recover full control over access to its own airport and can use that power to minimize airport noise, provided only that it treats comparably noisy aircraft in a like manner.
    Airport users claim that, if the town does not take F.A.A. subsidies for capital projects, it will cost the taxpayers money. This is complete nonsense. The benefit of the F.A.A. subsidies does not flow to the taxpayers, it flows to the airport users who would otherwise have to pay the full costs of the airport to keep it open and operating
    The airport provides no service that is essential to the well-being of East Hampton. It is not necessary for emergency medical evacuation. It serves a small group of hobby pilots, about 50 of whom actually live in East Hampton, and wealthy second-home owners who want to spare themselves an extra hour or so to get here. That is it. It is absolutely trivial in its contribution to transportation. At most, it takes about 25 cars per day off of the Long Island Expressway. That is statistically insignificant when we have thousands arriving here. It doesn’t even take cars off our local roads because, once people arrive at the airport, they don’t walk home. They get in cars.
    Naturally, the airport users want the airport to be as cheap for them as possible. Who doesn’t want the things they use to be cheap or free? Indeed, at present, aircraft based at East Hampton pay nothing, zero, to land at East Hampton. But in truth the airport is not free, not to us, because the community pays for F.A.A. subsidies with the loss of peace and the quiet enjoyment of our homes. Their cheap airport comes at our expense.
    The question the community needs to answer is this: If airport users do not feel it is worth it to them to pay the cost of their airport use, why should the community subsidize them either with taxes or by suffering from excessive noise? I cannot imagine any reason for thousands to suffer the loss of the enjoyment of their homes so that hobby pilots and those who ride in private jets and helicopters can save money. Can anyone?
    It is an election year indeed. If you are burdened by helicopter noise, by airport noise, ask the candidates, all of them, including Supervisor Wilkinson, and the members of the board who won’t be running again for two years, Mr. Stanzione and Theresa Quigley, this simple question:
    Will you pledge to stop taking F.A.A. money so that East Hampton can recover local control of its own airport and solve this problem once and for all, or will you take another poisoned F.A.A. dollar and subject all of us, irrevocably, to this growing burden for another 20 years? If you care about the answer, make that your reason to vote.
    David Gruber

Going Rogue
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
      Wasn’t that interesting when the issue of airport noise in Wainscott was brought up at the town board session in Montauk and some were all ears? Oh, what attention was paid: “Gee, what can we do?”
    “Is our responsibility on the ground at landing?”
    “We must find out,” and on and on went the dialogue, all three key players, Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley, and Dominick Stanzione (he, so very alert about it) offering an opinion and ultimately a solution. Wow.
    Earlier at that same meeting, Julia Prince couldn’t get a rise out of anyone to attack the unsolved problem of night-club noise and dangerous speeding and parking and drunks till all hours of the night in a residential neighborhood in Montauk. Nope, nothing. Next.
    I find that so telling, don’t you? Quite obvious where the priorities are. Montauk is the middle child for sure. How come the airport-noise complainers weren’t told what the Montauk neighborhood were: “Turn on the A.C. The summer is almost over?” Hmm.
    And whose fault was the Music to Know concert’s failure on Industrial Road — the townspeople? Wow. Throw us all under the bus, will you? That is not nice. Some of us had other obligations those three days. Some of us go out of town to visit relatives. Some of us are broke. Some of us have to work. There are so many nightly music gigs happening out here all the time. One gets exhausted. But still, it was a bummer for the planners, promoters, and, especially, the bands. That surely was disappointing. We are a musical community. Sorry for your troubles, really. Fact is, not all of us had it in for you.
    When is the town deer tick “summit?” We need one now. The ticks are our plague in paradise, lads. What are we going to do about it? Lyme disease is taking members of our community down, and it is a debilitating sickness if left unchecked, and often no tiny deer tick is ever found or seen on the body. It can develop into painful arthritis way before your time, with constant fatigue, headaches, and general malaise. Young and old are getting sick, new cases every week.
    We must address the overpopulation of deer, carrying the ticks everywhere, besides the fact they are running all over the roads and eating crops and gardens. Why can’t we find a type of birth control for deer? The short hunting season is not cutting it. And if that makes you cringe, I get it, but saying deer are beautiful is not helping the tick or deer overpopulation problem.
    The deer are starving because there are too many. Yes, they were here before us, and they are dream animals in Native American lore, and yes, quite graceful leaping and frolicking, but they are fornicating like crazy and out of control. We need an answer to this scourge of the deer tick now.
    Wearing long pants, staying out of the dunes and woods, is not enough. I had three ticks on me at the beach — all tiny, all digging right into my skin for a meal. One had to be removed (its head) by my doctor. I was put on doxycycline for three days.
    A friend had fatigue, arthritis-like pain, heart palpitations, and felt awful for weeks. She probably was bitten in the spring but never found a tick on herself or got a rash. Now she has full-blown Lyme disease. How can babies and children fight back? Yes, we check their scalps, armpit areas, legs, every freckle and mole, but still, the deer ticks thrive. Yes, we wear natural deer tick repellent. The ticks laugh at this. We need something to tackle the problem at the source: the deer.
    If my baby granddaughter gets one tick on her, I am telling you, the war-paint is going on, the camouflage is coming out, and this Gram is going rogue. A former pacifist is clicking her shotgun, drawing back her bow. Sorry, Bambi, I have had enough. Listen, you nasty ticks, the pearls are off. Anyone with me?
    Thanks for the space.

See Only Carping
    August 14, 2011
    Here we go again. Two years ago, the Town of East Hampton was deeply in debt, and we were sinking ever deeper into a hole. The town had to petition the State Legislature, itself a paragon of fiscal virtue, for permission to float a bond issue to cover the debt, which was between $10 million and $15 million, as I recall.
    There is no free lunch, and thus more of our town budget must now be diverted from providing services to the populace to paying interest on the new debt. The town supervisor was under criminal investigation for using land preservation money to pump into the general expense budget, his budget assistant incurred criminal charges, and the other four members of the board all said they had no idea what the supervisor was doing with town money — no idea. The result was fiscal chaos, and a massive tax increase seemed to be the only way to deal with the projected deficit in the next year’s budget.
    All five members of the town board were Democrats. It pains me to say this, but I had voted for the McGintee team in a prior election. Who knew? The best that can be said for the McGintee administration is that the supervisor was incompetent and the rest of the board was napping.
    Two years later, the Republicans won three board seats on the ballot by an overwhelming majority. I think the vote ratio was in the neighborhood of 2 to 1 — a landslide. So that you know my bias, I not only voted for the Republican slate in the last election, I made a modest contribution to their campaign. They were the first Republicans I had voted for since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
    The new team did what they promised to do. And without bloodletting, they turned the mess around. They produced a balanced budget — balanced budget — and without mass layoffs, without monster tax increases. The town’s credit rating was not downgraded.
    Yet when I read The East Hampton Star, I rarely see a word of recognition for what they have accomplished. I see only carping by people who object to the process by which the board majority balanced the budget, people who want more lifeguards, more leaves picked up, more code enforcement, people who object for one reason or another to any sale of unneeded town property, who want more restrictions on businesses that serve summer weekend visitors to Montauk, etc. What I do not see is any of these people asking for more taxes to be imposed or civil servants to be fired so we can pay for all the things each small group wants.
    I confess I do not follow each board meeting carefully, and I am sure there are things the board says and does that I would say and do differently, but really, how about some perspective? How about a look at the big picture? It pains me to say it, but I see the East Hampton Democrats behaving like the Republicans in Washington: “If the other side is for it, then we are against it.”
    Let’s face it: The local Democrats drove the town into a ditch, and the local Republicans pulled us out and set us back on the road to solvency. In my book, that buys of a lot of looking the other way when one disagrees with the board on some of the lesser issues.
    Where do I send my check?

Cirillo Memo
    East Hampton
    August 15, 2011
Dear David,
    Apparently Beverly Bond rushed to write her impassioned letter in defense of Don Cirillo’s, the zoning board of appeals vice chairman’s, “notorious” memo without seeing a copy of the correspondence. All it would have taken was a phone call to the board office to learn that the memo and the response to it were available — as they should have been — to the public. So, many people did read the memo, as well as the Planning Department director’s organized, informative, and specific response to it.
    I do agree with Ms. Bond’s suggestion that it would be useful for the press to print the memo, but I would ask why just the one? If she is really concerned with readers’ thorough understanding of the issue, then surely she would request that both the Cirillo memo and the director’s letter be widely circulated. Wouldn’t that be educational?

    Mr. Cirillo’s memo critical of the East Hampton Town Planning Department and a response from its director, Marguerite Wolffsohn, can be read online at easthamptonstar.com/cirillo-memo. Ed.

Perfect Site
    East Hampton
    August 11, 2011
To the Editor.
    The Bud Webb property off Oakview Highway was used by Waterfowl U.S.A. to raise ducks, pheasants, and quail. It is a sunken piece of land where Bud would also store topsoil he used when he was active in the construction business. It is really not suitable as a community preservation fund purchase.
    I was a member of East Hampton Waterfowl U.S.A. and was part of the team that raised those birds. I know the property very well. I am a former member of the nature preserve advisory committee and wrote five management plans for nature preserves.
    We have a great many nature preserves and about 19,000 acres of open space. Open space is best when it is a large area which can accommodate great varieties of wildlife and trail networks, hunters, and those who love seeing wildlife in their natural surroundings.
    East Hampton desperately  needs affordable housing and should encourage the private sector to build affordable housing where possible. The Webb property is a perfect site for affordable and cluster housing.
    This is a mid-scale neighborhood and not far from the town’s trailer park on Oakview Highway. Affordable housing, cluster development, and two-family housing can be very attractive, and the town has an architectural review board which can review Mr. Webb’s plans.
    The town board should not be intimidated by the usual Nimby crowd. Loud protests should never influence good public policy.
    So, I suggest the supervisor and town board members go out and visit the site and see what it looks like. Tour the area while you are at it. Then make up your minds.

Into the Corner
    August 9, 2011
To the Editor:
    In nearly 60 years of voting (had to be 21 then) I have never been so disappointed with my choice for any candidate as I am with Barack Obama (not that the alternative was at all acceptable).
    If Mr. Obama continues to wait for Congress to act in the nation’s best interest, as he seems always to do, nothing useful will happen. He still can’t seem to believe that Mitch McConnell’s vow to make him a one-term president is what drives Congress to wreak their current damage on the nation regardless of the consequences to us all. Mr. Obama can’t seem to believe that his oratory isn’t enough to make people love him. Much urgently needs to be done for the nation, and Mr. Obama needs to get out in front and lead, instead of pushing from behind a day late and a dollar short.
    In his place (lawyer readers will laugh; enjoy the amusement), I would issue executive orders to immediately stop tax subsidies to oil companies, stop tax subsidies for corporate jets, stop tax discounts for hedge fund managers that all other taxpayers don’t receive, and immediately put all that money into tax credits to employers who hire jobless American citizens. The politicians who sold us out to those special interests would immediately scream and threaten lawsuits. Fine, we have plenty of lawyers on the federal payroll who could do useful work for a change by defending this action in court.
    The main result is that John Boehner, Mr. McConnell, and the others (no doubt including Democrats) would then be forced to defend openly in public — to a very disgusted public — why it is more important to give their tax dollars to those special interests than to spend it getting unemployed Americans back to work and back to paying income taxes. (Note to Tea Partiers and such: That isn’t a tax increase. It is transferring the same money from accounts where it doesn’t belong to accounts where it does belong.)
    With the momentum of popular support this action would generate, Mr. Obama could then move ahead with urgently needed infrastructure projects, thus putting more unemployed back to work. (Much of our infrastructure is collapsing because it has been neglected since the Works Progress Administration programs that built it.) An executive order that taxes energy polluters and immediately redirects that money into sustainable energy projects (more jobs) could also ride that wave of popular support, to the benefit all except the energy industry profiteers and their lobbyists.
    But I fear Mr. Obama hasn’t the intestinal fortitude to do any of this. He and his circle of advisers are too afraid of criticism that might damage his chances for re-election and are completely blind to the reality that, having let Congress paint him into the corner he now occupies, unless he does something like this, there won’t be any reelection.
    Personally, I would gladly vote for his opponent, except that all the likely opponents would be far worse for the nation than he is, so I can’t. The only solution for us all is for Mr. Obama to be a leader, not a preacher, and do his job.
    Dwight Eisenhower said it best: “Pull the string and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it and it will go nowhere at all.”

On Congress
    August 9, 2011
To the Editor,
    You hear some pretty funny stories in politics but truly I was most amused this week when I read the Dem talking points that the Tea Party was responsible for the economic downturn because we oppose further taxation. Somehow they cannot see that the fault lies squarely with Congress, since they will not stop the wanton spending on any program that comes across their desks. The Democrats feel the only solution is to increase taxes, never consider they could improve our country by liberating the citizens from overtaxation.
    The Tea Party cannot increase taxes, only Congress can — no wonder its disapproval rate is 83 percent. David Axelrod, et al., may think the Tea Party is being downgraded, but we’re here to tell them that Congress is about to be reorganized with representatives who will listen to we, the people.
    Most sincerely,

    East Hampton
    August 9, 2011
    Our government has lost all sight of its purpose. The operative phrase is “for the people.”
    Throughout our history one singular vision has provided great economic opportunity, for example, the building of waterways, railroads, the building of communication systems, the building of roads and bridges. To build a base of economic recovery as powerful as these former singular visions is the development of self-sustainable, wind-generated turbine electric power. It is within our great nation’s grasp to build such a system in less than 10 years that would supply us with inexpensive, plentiful electric power. Our government must initiate, formulate, and build such a system using the great resources readily available to it.
    Such a system would cost less than $200 billion nationwide and repower this country, affording low-cost energy to industries that need it, such as the automobile and health care industries — a single vision, satisfying a great need that can support the bulk of our economy and provide millions of jobs in less than 24 months. To my president and my Congress: Build it, we need it.
    This single vision will provide employment from technology and engineering to construction and day laborers. Take charge, take action. This single vision can support and be the foundation of a thrust for our economy to spawn stability, growth, and opportunity for the people who need it the most, our hard-working, dedicated, and loyal middle and working classes.
    Thank you,

Confined It
    East Hampton
    August 14, 2011
To the Editor,
    Rick Perry’s entry into the presidential race raises one of the ugliest issues in politics: the relationship between religion and politics. Like the recent debt ceiling debate, it’s a mindless, pointless, extremely dangerous issue, of which no good has ever been derived.
    When Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, et al., framed the Constitution, they did it from a learned historical perspective. They analyzed governments for the 1,000 preceding years and crafted a plan that didn’t condemn religion, but contained and confined it. Religion was to play no role in the Constitution, and in the governing of the country.
    How they arrived at that conclusion was relatively simple. They looked at the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Protestant-Catholic wars, etc., and concluded that the only way to eliminate God as a tool for killing and debasing people was to keep it out of the government. Virtually the entire world supports that conclusion. Religion was fine for everyone as long as it wasn’t a determining factor in how government functioned.
    The logic is difficult to refute. The existence of God was certainly put in question and then the verity and superiority of one religion over others became moot. (Besides, the Jews had already claimed the mantel of being chosen.) The issues of behavior and morality that some religions incorporated were already common to the secular world and added nothing to the discourse. The concept of democracy was so obviously incompatible with religion that codifying religious freedom relegated all religions as being equal.
    This didn’t, however, prevent the genocide committed against Native Americans or the brutality of slavery and the attenuating racism that American Christians happily embraced.
    Which raises the question of the conservative Christian movement and of Mr. Perry.
    First, he is a Christian with an asterisk; the asterisk is for sans Jesus. Anyone who heralds their Christianity and supports the death penalty, the abasement of the poor, the proliferation of arms, etc., gets the mark. Going to church and waving a symbol has little to do with Jesus and his beliefs.
    Religious beliefs are, in truth, a bag of crap if one’s behavior is incompatible. Mr. Perry is a pig by almost any standard except those of conservative Christians. He represents all the ugliness of past times when the church oppressed and abused the population for its own benefit when Jesus was paraded out on holidays and stashed away the rest of the time.
    Mr. Perry should be judged on his record. He vetoes a bill that makes texting while driving illegal but passes one that requires sonograms before abortions. His rationale on the texting question is that the government shouldn’t invade people’s privacy. His abortion rationale is . . . God knows.
    We are in a period of intense crisis. We need strong leaders and direction, not another brain-dead, phony Christian conservative who thinks the world is ending next week and all we need to do is pray.

No Limits
    East Hampton
    August 11, 2011
Dear Editor,
    How many of you would just love to hear any elected official in this fabulous country get on one of these TV talk shows and say the United States cannot be governed in the digital age by elected politicians who are bought and paid for?
    Why are we kidding ourselves out here in duped land that elected officials in Washington or Albany or any other capital of any state in the union can make unbiased and well-thought-out independent decisions? They even sign pledges not to do so.
    Every major decision is tainted by big bucks. Wisconsin has recall elections and $8 million is spent by outside people who want to eliminate free choice.
    Every U.S. senator, congressman, or even many judges are beholden to people who finance their campaigns. It is a joke, and, unfortunately, it is on us.
    And to finish it off the Supreme Court rules that corporations may make huge donations to candidates they favor with no limits.
    No candidate or elected official will ever make those kind of statements lest he be an ex-official or candidate immediately thereafter.