Letters to the Editor 09.01.11

Our Heritage
    East Hampton
    August 23, 2011
To the Editor,
    Milton Miller was the guest speaker at the Springs Historical Society on Sunday, Aug. 21, and treated us with his accounts of growing up in Amagansett. Born 92 years ago, his memories of growing up back then were enlightening and entertaining.
    Hugh King, as the interviewer, sparked memories of Milt’s life and touched on his many memories of fishing, schooling, and making do, from the 1920s on. It was a lifestyle of strong community bonds and helpfulness. You knew your neighbors and helped one another. Life was hard, but most everyone was in the same boat.
    His stories of the Hurricane of 1938 and World War II in the Pacific were survival stories and also of hard times. He returned home to a life of fishing, though, a life he loved.
    The interview was taped, and these memories will be preserved thanks to our Springs Historical Society.
    Each community here, Montauk, Amagansett, Springs, East Hampton, Southampton, Westhampton, Sag Harbor, and others, have tried to preserve our heritage and deserve our support and gratitude.

Special Thank-You
    August 24, 2011
Dear Editor,
    I wish to thank all of the people who helped to make the Montauk Historical Society’s craft fairs on July 9 and 10 and Aug. 13 and 14 a huge success: the volunteers who helped at the food tables and hot dog wagon, especially the young people who ran the hot dog wagon and did various other jobs to help us out.
    I would also like to acknowledge all of those who baked so many delicious items for the bake sale in July. A special thank-you goes to the individual members of our board of directors, who not only worked long hours on the two days of each fair, but also spent many days of preparation leading up to the fairs. The men of the Town Parks Department were also very helpful in setting up the grounds and doing maintenance to prepare us for the fairs. We certainly appreciated their help.
    We are now in the process of planning events for 2012.
    Montauk Historical Society

Cleanest Town?
    August 23, 2011
    I think it was 1960, while working in the dining room at Gurney’s Inn with a new employee from Germany who walked out in the middle of the dinner rush because, he said, waiting on people was beneath his dignity. Unfortunately, I think most people feel that way when it comes to picking up trash.
    Is there anyone out there, be it a businessperson or resident, who would be against having Montauk called the cleanest town in America? Montauk Chamber take note. It would simply require two to three minutes of people’s time. We would soon be fighting to pick up the last piece of trash.
    Have you ever noticed in impoverished third-world countries how poor people will sweep the dirt in front of their corrugated shacks? It’s a sign of pride and human dignity and respect.
    It boggles my mind how a so-called businessperson can expect to do a profitable business when the exterior and the road in front of their shop is a mess. These are the same people who sit on their dead asses and moan about finances and the economy. The first thing that has to be done before they stick the key in the door is to spend two minutes policing up their area and if they are in a charitable mood and they want to do the right thing, police their neighbor’s property as well. Come on, folks, it’s contagious.
    You can’t just put up signs and expect people not to litter. Ignorant meathead maggots are going to litter regardless. I’m speaking to everyone who professes to love Montauk — the church people, the beachgoers, the artists, locals, the cool surfer dudes, the paddleboarders, the moms with expensive strollers, the joggers, fishermen, bicyclists, and walkers. It’s everyone’s job; you can’t expect the town to do it. And it can’t just be done on Earth Day.
    I’ll close by asking can anything be done about that open trash pit also known as the train station, since it hasn’t been cleaned all year? Apparently the money we pay to the political swine at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the form of the commuter tax isn’t enough for trash removal.
    Since I haven’t heard from Supervisor Wilkinson concerning my request for a pension, I can only assume I’m not getting one. I have to hope that the hours I’ve spent picking up trash will be applied to my community service the next time I get arrested.
About Our Jeff
Feather touches, swirling lights
So soft music in the night
Stars shining, ready to fly
I smile at all of them
And I say hi from all of us

Laws That Advance
    August 28, 2011
Dear David,
    I appreciated your thoughtful editorial on the refashioning of our town’s outdoor lighting code. Like you, I question why the original dark sky law was undone last year. Almost all homeowners and business owners have followed and actively supported the law since it came into effect in 2006.
    However, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s attempt should not surprise us. His administration has demonstrated a pattern of proposing poorly conceived laws. They flubbed the revision of the peddler law two years in a row. Their cobbled changes to the accessory apartment law horrified the residents of Springs, who wanted enforcement of the housing codes, not amnesty for scofflaw landlords.
    Mr. Wilkinson’s board has been forced to shelve the law to prohibit fueling from town docks, the contractor license law, and its revisions to the farm-structure law. In each case, they did not do their homework.
    There is a simple alternative to Mr. Wilkinson’s method: Make laws that advance the interests of the community. Laws should not lower the quality of life for the many simply to advance the interests of a favored few.

Comments to Voters
    New York City
    August 29, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    With the  election for East Hampton Town Board and supervisor approaching, I wanted to make a few comments to voters in our community.
    According to my sources at the East Hampton Conservators, your writer, Catherine Tandy, misreported the amount of money raised by the Conservators and did so by a significant amount. Although this issue has been, perhaps, already addressed by The Star and certain readers, let me restate that according to a July filing by the E.H.C., it had raised $59,425; Ms. Tandy reported that the group had raised $36.
    Although fund-raising that opposes us on specific issues may be robust in preparation for this election, I would hope that The Star would publish the most current and verifiable totals and do so soon. If fund-raising for the work done by the Conservators is lagging — or not — I think your readers deserve the most reliable information.
    Since 1987, East Hampton Town has been my legal residence, and I have been registered to vote there in every election since. As East Hampton reverts to a more small-town flavor after the summer, and surely as November arrives, it is difficult not to run into candidates from both parties here and there in the community.
    Whether at schools, parties, restaurants, galleries, houses of worship, or beaches, East Hampton puts your political favorites and opponents in your line of sight with some regularity. Some of the people who have run in the past or are running now are acquaintances and even very good friends — even one or two Republicans.
    In another letter, I would like to discuss the current board and supervisor. I believe there is an obvious need for change, and I believe that, as is often the case, Republicans, when they take control of the board, do some creative accounting in order to appear fiscally responsible. In the wake of the McGintee era, one might be tempted to think that the average 12-year-old is more fiscally competent than the previous administration. Therein lies part of the problem. With this mind-set, voters installed a group who really are running the same old offense, just doing it more cleverly, while people may be distracted from local issues by the larger problem of the overall U.S. economy.
    Bill Wilkinson is, basically, the Sam Zell of East Hampton Town politics. Mr. Zell, you may remember, is the real estate developer and investor who gained control of the Tribune Company and proceeded to run it into the ground with his unique style of management and ineptitude.
    The Tribune Company, once one of the great media giants in America, withered under Mr. Zell’s abrasive and non-collegial vision of how a major news operation should be run. At another time, I’d like to review the actual issues that have arisen during Mr. Zell’s — I mean Wilkinson’s — term and also point out the worthiness of Zachary Cohen and Peter Van Scoyoc.
    In the meantime I want to point out one great fact about this election and that is that someone who is, incontrovertibly, the best possible person who could run for office in our community is on the ticket. That person is Sylvia Overby.
    Sylvia is my friend, therefore I am prejudiced. But she brings to her candidacy for our town board more intelligence, dedication, experience, and decency than any 10 candidates combined. Her run is an opportunity for you and me, not Sylvia. She is doing this for all of the right reasons. She cares about our area more than you can imagine.
    Sylvia Overby would make not just a great board member. She would be the best.
    In my next letter, more on how the town board has been “Tribunized” by the current administration.

Do the Work
    East Hampton
    August 29, 2011
To the Editor:
    If Zach Cohen expects the voters of East Hampton to elect him then he needs to tell us more about himself. I want to know where he went to school, which degrees he has earned, what businesses or professions he has followed in his lifetime, if any, what relevant experience he has and what qualifies him to be East Hampton Town supervisor.
    What I don’t want to hear is a repeat of all the committees he has volunteered for in East Hampton. While that type of service is laudable and may have at one time qualified a volunteer to run this town, that is no longer true. For confirmation, just look back to the McGintee administration and see that it takes more than the skills of a hairdresser and a policeman to solve the many challenging problems our community faces day to day.
    Mr. Cohen has told us that he volunteered his help with Bill McGintee’s last budget. The result of the McGintee-Cohen 2010 budget is that the Wilkinson team actually underspent it by $8 million. — too late for the taxpayers, however, since we had already paid our taxes under the McGintee-Cohen budget.
    Can it be that Mr. Cohen wants to hire a professional town manager because he knows that he, himself, lacks the training, skills, and experience required to be supervisor? (By the way, Mr. Cohen, under New York law we are not a town that qualifies for a town manager.)
    If elected, it is Mr. Cohen who has to do the work of running the town. Election is not a mandate for Mr. Cohen to immediately hire someone else with added staff and additional salaries, benefits, and pensions to do the supervisor’s work.
    So tell us, Mr. Cohen, who are you?

Already Exhausted
    August 20, 2011
Dear David,
    To keep you abreast, the designated mascot of the East Hampton Town Board is Gavia immer, or the common loon.
    The loon won in a runoff with the rooster (“I enjoy roosters,” Theresa Quigley), a pole (“I was occupied with the pole,” W. Wilkinson), and a rich person (“Only rich people live near the water,” Dominick Stanzione).
    The loon supports “Thinking outside the box” (W. Wilkinson), “outsider” projects including tithing music festivals, nonlocal food vendors, selling off town land, remaining mum on privatizing ocean beaches, and, of course, the never to be forgotten paintball contest in a nature preserve during deer rutting season.
    The loon is already exhausted and is planning a trip to the bin in Montauk, newly created between the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s.
    All good things,

Thanks We Get
    August 22, 2011
To the Editor,
    This letter is a response to Arnold Leo and Rusty Drumm’s attack on East Hampton Town’s fisheries committee in the Aug. 11 issue.
    Hey Arnold, if you’re wondering where the fisheries committee was while the meetings were going on in Virginia, I will tell you. In an effort to make our living in the 100-day season, we were all working. Some of us fish days and some nights, and some of us fish day and night. I would never expect one of our members to miss a payday because of a meeting. None of the committee members are paid by the town or anyone else. They donate their time because they believe that their effort will make East Hampton Town a better place to fish and, as a result, a better place to live. If you were ever a real fisherman you would understand this concept and not have thrown the committee under the bus.
    As for Erik Braun, our consultant, I take full responsibility for sending him to the meeting in Virginia this past spring. With our lobstermen facing a total moratorium, I put myself in their shoes. Loaded with data put together by Bonnie Brady, Erik, and Al Schaefer, a lobsterman, all of whom are committee members, he attended the meeting and addressed the council trying to convince them that there were other options. If their effort made a difference, we won’t know. But they were there, and the moratorium was postponed.
    Reading Rusty’s article would lead you to believe Arnold saved the day. We won’t know that either because we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of the council’s decision making. But we do know that East Hampton Town was represented and we did what we could given our budget.
    To address Rusty’s claim that local fishermen agree fish stocks and access to them had improved during Mr. Leo’s tenure: I don’t think he interviewed many fishermen. On the recreational side, access couldn’t be worse. Fluke are restored 100 percent to target level, and we are only allowed three fish at 201/2 inches. Black sea bass restored 103 percent to target level, and we have an increase in size limit and a closure for the best fishing month, October. Scup is restored 200 percent to the target level, and we can keep a meager 10 fish with, again, a closed season in the fall. Gee thanks, Arnold.
    Maybe Rusty should ask some of Arnold’s baymen if they’re happy with their 70-pound-a-day fluke limit or their meager scup limit. That doesn’t sound like improvement to me, sorry.
    Funny, 99 percent of the fisheries committee backed Arnold when he was trying to hold on to his position, including Erik, and this is the thanks we get.
    The fisheries committee is very much alive and we will keep doing what we can to make a difference despite criticisms from ex-members or consultants.
    East Hampton Town
    Fisheries Committee

You Own It
    East Hampton
    August 25, 2011
Dear Editor:
     Imagine if, as a homeowner, you have no control over your own home. Suppose that the terms of your mortgage dictate that your front door be left open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to anyone and everyone who can just drop in unannounced.
    Imagine they can make as much noise as they want and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Imagine they can park and rev the engines on their trucks, cars, and motorcycles in your driveway while you watch, powerless to do anything. And they keep coming — more and more and more — all kinds of people who really don’t care about your house. They heard it was a nice place to visit.
    Your neighborhood deteriorates. Your neighbors hate you, and it’s only a matter of time until something really bad happens at your house.
    East Hampton: This is your airport. You own it. But a faceless, careless, and unaccountable bureaucracy known as the Federal Aviation Administration controls every aspect of it. You can’t tell the jets and helicopters they can’t come no matter how noisy, dirty, or unsafe they are. You can’t stop them from coming at any hour of the day or night. You can’t tell them which route to take over land, or sea, or how high to fly. And, if they want to expand their agendas to, say, helicopter tours of the houses of the rich and famous or day trips to Block Island. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
    Back to your house. Suppose you have a chance to pay off the mortgage and limit the guests to only those who appreciate your hospitality. You could open and close the door whenever you want and you could even charge a fair price for board. You’d do it.
    On the last day of 2014 our current deal with the F.A.A. expires. It’s our chance to gain control of “our house.” This assumes that no new money is taken. This fall we’ll be electing our town supervisor and town board representatives, three of the five people charged with making that decision. In 2013 we’ll elect the other two and have an additional chance to vote for a supervisor who cares about his “house and family.”
    Ask the candidates now and continue to ask them why we shouldn’t control our own house.

Give People Peace
    East Hampton
    August 28, 2011
Dear David:
    It is said that only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. I would add two more to that list: Whenever public attention turns to the East Hampton Airport, misinformation and disinformation abound. And those who have the most are always looking for some way to have those who have less support them and their comforts.
    With an election pending, those who have been suffering airport noise see the opportunity for a democratic outcome in which the favored few who can afford to travel here by private jet and helicopter or own their own aircraft as a hobby aircraft cannot continue to do so at the expense of everyone else.
    According to the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the highest court in our jurisdiction, the town, as proprietor of the airport, has the power to impose curfews, exclude aircraft, such as helicopters, deemed too noisy, and even set an overall noise limit and ration landing spots to protect the community from aircraft noise and keep it within reasonable bounds. However, when the town takes money from the F.A.A. for airport capital projects, it must enter into an agreement with the F.A.A., so-called grant assurances, that cede our local control to the F.A.A. for 20 years. Under its interpretation of the grant assurances, the F.A.A. insists that all aircraft types must be granted access to the airport 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    Twice in the past, the Town of East Hampton has taken money from the F.A.A. on documents that it falsely represented to be the duly adopted airport plans of the town, 1998 and 2001. But for these improper actions, the F.A.A. grant assurances would already have expired and the town would have recovered local control over airport use.
    To settle lawsuits over these improprieties, the F.A.A. entered into a settlement agreement with the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion under which the assurances that control airport access are no longer enforceable on and after Dec. 31, 2014. On that day, we recover local control of our airport unless the town board takes more grant money and binds us again for 20 years.
    In a recent newspaper article, Jim Brundige, the airport manager, stated that the assurances remain in effect until 2021. This is incorrect. The settlement is a binding agreement. In fairness to Mr. Brundige, he is perhaps relying on the views of the town’s aviation lawyer, Peter Kirsch, that the settlement is unenforceable because federal courts will not force the federal government to perform a contract.
    Mr. Kirsch is confused. No one needs to go to court to force the F.A.A. to do anything or refrain from doing anything. The only manner in which the settlement agreement comes up would be if the F.A.A. tried to force the town to abide by the assurances after 2014. If that should occur, the town can raise the settlement agreement as a complete defense. It is in any case highly unlikely that the F.A.A. would try and breach the settlement as this would reopen the cases against it, for knowingly relying on false documents, that it very much wanted to settle.
    The second bit of misinformation, or more properly disinformation, is the claim that, if the town does not take money from the F.A.A. for airport capital projects (F.A.A. money cannot be used to support ongoing operations), then the taxpayers will have to support the airport. This is an effort to scare us into believing that if we stop taking poisoned F.A.A. money and exercise local control over the airport, we will have to pay for the right. This is nonsense.
    There is no reason at all why the airport users cannot be required to pay fees sufficient to support the airport. Why should the taxpayers of East Hampton reach into their pockets to support the luxuries of billionaires, millionaires, or the fortunate few who can afford private aircraft for recreation? If the airport users don’t want to pay the cost of the airport, then why should we?
    How much money are we talking about anyway? We cannot know for sure because the town has never done the airport cost-benefit analysis required by our own town code. It prefers to make its airport plans with its hands firmly covering its eyes and its fingers in its ears. We can, however, make some intelligent estimates.
    Based on the cost of the main runway reconstruction in 1998, a high but plausible estimate for all of the airport infrastructure, not including the rather grandiose terminal building that we lived without for decades, is $10 million. A bond for its full replacement over 30 years (not at all necessary at the present time) would have a cost of about $500,000 a year. Not including the helicopters that we should like to be rid of entirely, there are currently 11,000 to 12,000 landings a year. That means we could fully support the airport with an increase in the landing fee of $40 to $50.
Too much to pay for the privilege of landing smack-dab on the border of East Hampton and Southampton in the middle of our summer? I don’t think so, considering that aircraft based at East Hampton currently pay nothing. New Yorkers who come here by air pay that much to park a car for an hour. And that’s an average. If we increased the fees for jets by $200, we could keep it to $15 for the single-engines.
    Consider too that even a four-seat Cessna 172 can cost more than $250,000 new, with 30-year-old used models going for upward of $50,000. Operating costs are in the range of $8,000 to $18,000 per year. At the other end of the spectrum, a Gulfstream V will run you $10 million, and something like $1 million a year to operate.
    Private aviation is not exactly a working-class hobby. Why should people who can afford these playthings be subsidized by the rest of us? Is it really too much to ask of the 90 owners of East Hampton-based aircraft that they pay a minimum of $15 per landing so that the town can control airport access and give people peace in their homes?        

Will Reduce Noise
    August 29, 2011
Dear David:
    Much has been written about airport noise in your newspaper recently. Some of the invective is, in my opinion, inappropriate to the current situation, especially when one considers that we are on the cusp of two major breakthroughs that will reduce noise and improve safety as well.
    Having spent several years working with three different administrations to curb airport noise, perhaps I can lend some perspective to the current situation. In December 2002 the Schneiderman administration held a public hearing in preparation for approving an airport layout plan that delineated five years of construction projects but made no mention of noise or noise abatement. None of those projects could be implemented without Federal Aviation Authority approval, which in turn requires an approved airport master plan.
    Using F.A.A. measurement criteria, the environmental impact statement supporting the airport plan found no excessive noise outside the airport boundaries. This was a cruel joke for people living under a flight path or anywhere west of the airport, since helicopters were flying in low and loud on any flight path that was convenient to them.
    The room was filled with angry citizens, many of whom demanded a solution to airport noise by the town board. While the majority of attendees that night spoke with one voice against airport noise, three members of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, David Gruber, the late Ed Gorman, and Pat Trunzo, spoke about airport expansion abuses that had occurred in the 1990s. As a result, Citizens for a Quieter Airport was founded in early 2003 and in three to four months obtained 1,500 signatures on a petition demanding a moratorium on capital expenditures until the town had implemented an effective noise abatement program.
    Fast-forward to August. While there are still noise issues, much has been accomplished since early 2003 when a certain councilwoman declared “there aren’t five people in Wainscott who care about airport noise,” and 90 Wainscott residents subsequently signed the committee’s petition. Some highlights of the accomplishments include:
    An airport noise abatement advisory Committee consisting solely of affected residents of East Hampton, and, for the first time, Southampton was appointed in 2004. Many of the committee’s subsequent recommendations, e.g., minimum altitudes for helicopters and a seasonal control tower, have been implemented or are awaiting F.A.A. approval.
    The airport is now being managed in a far more professional manner than under the previous regime, although recent staff reductions have taken their toll. Jim Brundige, the airport manager hired in January 2005, has worked effectively with noise abatement committee members and other stakeholders in a proactive, nonconfrontational manner. As a result, many of the worst pilot abuses, such as low-altitude helicopter flights, have been curbed but not completely eliminated. It is now possible to obtain detailed information on flights, abusive or otherwise, as well as comprehensive monthly management reports.
    Local helicopter routing has undergone profound changes since 2003, when helicopter pilots were the cowboys of the sky, flying anywhere at any altitude due to a complete absence of F.A.A. regulation. Mr. Brundige has worked long and hard to establish route discipline consisting first of one route (over the power lines to Jessup’s Neck), then two and now three, as well as substantial compliance with a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet and steeper ascents and descents, all on a voluntary basis. He was responsible for experimenting with a route over Georgica Pond when others did not think it could be done.
    A new airport master plan has been completed and the resulting airport plan has been submitted to the F.A.A.. Although it is flawed, as are all such documents, the new master plan acknowledges that helicopter noise is a serious area-wide problem, reduces the airport from three runways to two, and pledges not to expand the airport in the future.
    Most important, as a result of an airport noise abatement advisory committee recommendation, the new airport master plan provides support for a seasonal control tower that will reduce noise, distribute the remaining noise more equitably and improve operational safety. Implementation of the control tower depends upon F.A.A. approval of the airport plan and F.A.A. designation of class D airspace within a 5-mile radius (10-mile diameter) of the airport. If the airport plan is approved in the near future, a seasonal control tower could be in place by next spring to control every flight arriving at or departing from East Hampton Airport subject only to staffing decisions by the town board. Without F.A.A. approval of an airport plan and class D airspace, a control tower would have no jurisdiction over air traffic.
    In addition, due in part to missionary work by Mr. Brundige, the airport manager, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who created a regional Multi-town Helicopter Noise Advisory Group, there is now an increasing likelihood that the F.A.A. will route all helicopter flights between Manhattan and the East End around Brooklyn and out over the Atlantic Ocean paralleling the South Shore of Long Island. This will profoundly reduce helicopter traffic traveling the Jessup’s Neck and Northwest Creek routes, thereby relieving East Hampton residents north of the airport as well as residents of Southampton, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island, and the North Fork of the noise burden they now bear.
    For the first time since the formation of Citizens for a Quieter Airport, we now have a town board that readily acknowledges that helicopter noise is a regional problem and it is actively seeking solutions.
    So I would counsel new critics of helicopter and other airport-related noise to take a somewhat longer view and work with town officials to solve problems that have been plaguing this community for years. The F.A.A. is a large and formidable obstacle to instant gratification. Yet those with a nuanced approach and some patience have found ways to achieve community objectives within the regulatory framework. If some of your writers would acknowledge the obstacles, as well as the rights and legitimate interests, of other airport stakeholders, they might be surprised at how much more they can accomplish.
    Citizens for a Quieter Airport

Abuse of Power
    New York City
    August 24, 2011
Dear Editor:
    The memo from Don Cirillo, the vice chairman of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, criticizing the Planning Department for its unsubstantiated claims and reasonless conclusions, has independent corroboration in the form of a judicial opinion: In his Supreme Court of Suffolk County decision, relating to my wife’s and my challenging a Z.B.A. determination, Justice Paul S. Baisley wrote, “The Planner’s conclusory testimony as to the negative effects of petitioners’ planned construction and the mitigating effects of a scenic easement was uncorroborated by empirical data or expert opinion. . . .”
    Following further comments on the town planner’s statements and the Z.B.A.’s “bland and confusing conclusion,” Justice Baisley ruled that the Z.B.A.’s determination was “arbitrary and capricious and is not supported by substantial evidence in the record.”
    Criticism of the Cirillo memo based on his length of service on the Z.B.A. or his political affiliations exemplifies fallacious argumentem ad hominem. Equally fallacious is the assertion that only projects specifically prohibited by town code come before the Z.B.A.; in fact, applications that are in complete compliance with the town code — requiring no variance — are also reviewed by the Planning Department and the Z.B.A. if a natural resources special permit is required. As per New York State Town Law, applications meeting the standards for a natural resources permit are entitled to its issuance as a matter of law and are not subject to discretionary denial by the Z.B.A. (Juda Constr., Ltd v Spencer, 21, AD3d 898 [2nd Dept. 2005]).
    Nevertheless, in disregard of town law, upon the recommendation of the Planning Department, the Z.B.A. has exceeded its legal scope in its denials of such projects. Such overstepping on the part of the Planning Department and the Z.B.A. has led to multiple judicial decisions that have affirmed that the Z.B.A. does not have the discretionary power to deny code-conforming special permit applications; in these situations the Z.B.A.’s discretionary power is limited to imposing conditions that are “directly related to and incidental” to the proposed construction; e.g., that all roof runoff should be directed by leaders and gutters into subsurface drywells, all structures should be situated at least two feet above the seasonal high groundwater table, etc. Clearly this history of attempted abuse of power on the part of the Planning Department in tandem with the Z.B.A. compels  criticism of the process to be judged on its content, not on circumstantial sophistry.
    Protection of the natural features of our community and our entire planet is a serious and immediate issue. Mr. Cirillo’s criticizing the actions of individuals, employed by us the people to serve on the Planning Department, is not an attack on the Planning Department’s proper mission of environmental protection. Rather, it is a call to accountability for those who occupy those critical positions. Abuse of power, misuse of the lexicon of environmentalism, baseless attestations, and illogical arguments by any person charged with the public trust of protecting our environment only compromise the credibility and efficacy of all who authentically advocate for the environment. Sound environmental planning would be better served by more competent conservationism and less casuistry.

Could Compensate
    East Hampton
    August 29, 2011
Dear David,
    It was over a year ago that my 87-year-old neighbor, Gudula Mayer, took her cat, Monti, to Dr. Jennifer Katz of the Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton for emergency surgery. The bill was paid for by donations from generous animal lovers, and Monti lived another few months, but she had developed multiple health issues, including diabetes.
    Monti was treated over and over again by Dr. Katz on credit. I gave a donation of my own, but it didn’t begin to cover any of the medications, services, or special food that Dr. Katz supplied through a period of several weeks. She has been owed $1,200 for over a year now and has not asked for a penny. This is commendable, but it isn’t fair. I wish that I could compensate Dr. Katz for the professional services, medical supplies, and special food that Monti received under her care, but I too am a senior citizen with limited means and have two old, high-maintenance dogs of my own.
    If there are any animal lovers out there who can reward Dr. Katz for her loving generosity by paying part of Monti’s outstanding bill, please send your donations to: Dr. Jennifer Katz, The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton, 3 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton 11937. Please specify that your donation is for Monti, who is no longer with us at this time.
    Thank you for your generosity.

Feral Cat Poem #29
Where were you when the lights went out?
We were in the dark
Outside, oohing & aahing up at skies alive with dazzling stars
That come out only when something big blacks out the glare down here
Like Irene did.
Nature is feral.
Good night, Irene,
We’ll see you in our dreams.

Tomato Pretending?
    August 25, 2011
To the Editor,
    After reading Laura Donnelly’s column on the joys of home-grown tomatoes, I am stunned, either stunned by my own ignorance or that of Ms. Donnelly. Brandywine is my very favorite tomato, and I indulge this passion by planting more Brandywine than any other. But I have juicy red Brandywine tomatoes at almost every meal and have yet to see a “bright yellow Brandywine.”
    Does she mean there is a yellow Brandywine, or was her yellow Brandywine plucked in its infancy, or was it simply a red tomato pretending to be yellow?
    Help! My tomatoes want to know who they are. (Don’t we all?)

O Knows
    East Hampton
    August 29, 2011
Dear David,
    Has the national press gone deaf, dumb, and blind not to note that our basic rights are under attack from within? President Obama, on a new rant, now continually says that those who disagree with his policies, already proven failures but still being demanded by him and his party as nonnegotiable, are putting party before country. I say he has it reversed; he is the guilty one.
    His vice president, Joe Biden, calls the Tea Party people traitors, falsely denied, as said by Mr. Obama on his million-dollar, foreign-made bus tour to promote jobs. Right down the line those opposing O and the undemocratic Democrats are subjected to a national campaign aided by national commentators (Chris Matthews, et al. Do more people watch MSNBC’s prison documentaries than its commentators?) all the way down to our own Richard Higer who is a version of the loyal, junkyard guard dog barking away, right or wrong, factual or not, usually a gusher of unfounded expletives, in chorus with those others who exhibit a strange version of patriotism by attacking that of all who oppose O and Co.
    What do you say of a president who deliberately leaves out the words “under God” when he publicly recites our pledge of allegiance, who says our Constitution is a flawed document drawn up by rich white men who owned slaves (not true) and needs change, that our form of government is “messy” to lead because of the division of powers between the executive, Congressional, and court branches of our government, a system unlike any other in the world, achieving unique greatness and protection of its people? He and his court appointees have no respect for our laws, saying judges should regard them as living documents in constant change to be interpreted by judges. I would suppose he also would if he could revoke the two-term presidential limit to provide continuity.
    Let no one delude themselves, O knows what he does. It meets his mission to disassemble our country into just another European also-ran. Without us and our power both militarily and in commerce, the world, us included, will be at great risk against our enemies, all well known.

The Seven Dwarves
    East Hampton
    August 27, 2011
To the Editor,
    The United States has entered into a new phase of political economy. We have a diminished middle class, 60 million people living below the poverty rate, and a private sector that hasn’t created jobs in a decade. The economic crisis has reached a depression-level seriousness. President Obama inherited a broken economy due to conservative Republican policies and incompetence. He has kept us afloat but has done little more than that.
    While he has been derided by Republicans as a socialist (only a village idiot would mistake him for one), Mr. Obama has trended more and more toward the conservative side of the middle. His lack of toughness is matched by his timidity and lack of imagination in job creation policies. He seems oblivious of the need to revitalize the middle class and has even embraced the cretinous folly of deficit reduction.
    To fully understand the idiocy of deficit reduction, it’s important to understand that when the federal government cuts the states, and the states cut the cities, either of two things can happen: Services disappear, and they never affect the top 2 percent, or taxes on real estate, etc., are raised to pay for existing services. Some 500,000 people have lost their government jobs, which means revenues to pay for other services have also been lowered, requiring additional cuts in services. The downward cycle destroys the potential for growth and diminishes services while increasing taxes. Every government employee on every level who gives up cost of living increases or takes lower benefits is, in fact, paying higher taxes.
    Enter the alternatives to his presidency, seven Christian conservatives (which should automatically disqualify them on grounds of fraud) whose economic acumen is in negative numbers. One might call them the seven dwarfs but that would be grossly offensive to the little people. Six of the seven supported letting the country default on its debt — another reason to send them packing. They were all against the deficit reduction package because it didn’t cut enough spending, and they are against raising taxes on the top 2 percent of the country but can’t really explain why. But more important, they are so disposed to destroying Mr. Obama and changing the government that they are a security threat to the nation’s wellbeing.
    If any member of the government sees his primary role as making sure the presiding president fails, he or she is in violation of the Constitution and is committing treason. Even if God told them to behave that way they are committing treason. No matter how often they say the pledge, go to church, attend C Street meetings, praise Jesus, and grease up their hair, they are still committing treason.
    So we are looking ahead to the 2012 elections and the choices are grim. Do we give Mr. Obama a second chance and figure maybe he’s learned something or do we throw in the towel and go retard with one of the seven bobos? We have to remember who put us in the crapper and who has their heads in the sand while it was happening. The choices are lousy, but the decision is pretty simple.

Weren’t Budgeted
    East Hampton
    August 28, 2011
Dear Editor,
    Aside from having to live where the direction of our lives is dictated by what monied self-indulgent corporate interests beyond our control say it should be, we have to stand by and watch arrogant morons like Eric Cantor tell us we can’t assist those damaged by Hurricane Irene unless we budgeted for it.
    We weren’t budgeted for Iraq. We never paid for the Bush drug plan. We shortchanged on damages to Katrina victims. We failed to pay for a proper staff for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and on and on. Where were Mr. Cantor and his budget-cutters then? Now this pea-brained, insignificant, two-year congressman, angling for political gain at every turn, tells the world we can’t afford to care for our own at a time of crisis.
    So, add to conservative abandonment of the middle class, their attempts to destroy unions, their bald-faced lies, and plans to destroy the safety nets built to assist our elderly and sick and infirm and then whadda ya get? Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, et al., leaders of the pack.
    So we dodged a bullet with Hurricane Irene but continue to get blown away by narrow-minded, political operatives with power complexes.
    Just stop downgrading President Obama; he is just the perfect leader in a hot situation because he is cool-handed, levelheaded, and one smart cookie.