At No Cost
September 5, 2011
The Community Council of the Town of East Hampton would like to acknowledge the generosity of John Werwaiss for his generous gift of 1,400 gallons of fuel oil to eight families in need within our community. Delivery of the fuel oil was graciously facilitated by Andrew Jurkiewicz of East Hampton Fuel Oil Corporation. Mr. Jurkiewicz donated his time and the use of his equipment to deliver the fuel oil to the recipients at no cost to any of the parties involved.
It is with the help of people like these individuals that the Community Council is able to continue to serve our neighbors in need. We would like to thank them — and all our wonderful contributors — for their continued support.
SHARON A. BACON
Community Council of the
Town of East Hampton
September 6, 2011
We want to thank Roger Feit, Alice Houseknecht, and the many people who worked endlessly to make the Rell Sunn event possible this year. Words could never fully express the appreciation we feel for everyone who so generously contributed to the event.
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
HELEN, ALLISON, and
September 9, 2011
Recently, the cord on our floor lamp was chewed up by Spike, our dog.
A visit to the lamp hospital on Three Mile Harbor Road not only remedied the problem, but I got free advice about weathering Irene.
By the way, the service was also free! I highly recommend the lamp hospital and “Doctor” Russ for all things lamp.
September 10, 2011
To the Editor,
I want to thank the unknown person who found my wallet in a shopping cart outside Waldbaum’s and turned it in to the customer service desk.
I left my wallet in a shopping cart on Sunday evening and it was turned in on Monday evening.
My heartfelt thanks to the individual who safeguarded my wallet, all my cash, and credit cards.
Wiebke E. Sullivan
September 10, 2011
A few days ago, my good friend Thom Flemming asked me to come by the Montauk Firehouse to view the 9/11 memorial that was recently completed. I was anxious to see it, but felt I wanted to view it alone on my first visit.
It’s Saturday night, Sept. 10, 2011, 8:15. I just got home after reading all the names on the plaques and seeing the piece of steel from one of the towers that fell 10 years ago. Thank you, Montauk Fire Department. Your 9/11 memorial honoring the Fire Department of New York members we lost 10 years ago is absolutely fantastic! I think everyone should take the time to stop by the Montauk Firehouse and see this beautiful memorial and remember all those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 — firefighters, police officers, E.M.T.s, and civilians.
To the members of the Montauk Fire Department: I know many of you and I appreciate and respect all of you. Thank you for all you do.
September 12, 2011
Early last week, I called the town supervisor’s office to inquire if any ceremonies were planned for Montauk in observance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The young lady informed me that there were none as far as she knew.
When the Sept. 8 Star came out, I checked and found that the clergy in East Hampton were having an observance at the Presbyterian Church; Sag Harbor had a procession, and at Hook Mill there was a Fire Department ceremony. I did attend the observance at the Presbyterian Church and it was very moving and well done. I thank all those involved.
I have come to find that there was a dedication ceremony at the Montauk Fire Department yesterday. I asked several people this morning if they knew of it, and they said they did not and would have liked to have attended if they had known about it. I checked back with the supervisor’s office and was informed that they found out about it today.
Was this ceremony open to the public? Why was it not given some publicity? Perhaps in the future a little note could be placed at the post office or a blurb in The East Hampton Star would be appropriate letting the citizens and taxpayers know about an important observance.
September 12, 2011
To the Editor,
Each of us has a story about our Tropical Storm Irene experience. Ours is one of gratitude about some special people in the East Hampton community.
My husband and I have a home in the Northwest Woods. We were fortunate not to lose power during the storm. At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30, however, when the sun was shining and there was not a breeze in the trees, our electric power went out completely. The outage lasted until late Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3.
Our experience dealing with the Long Island Power Authority’s Customer Service Department was frustrating and infuriating. I first called LIPA Tuesday afternoon and was told that they were aware of the outage and that power would be restored within 24 hours.
The next morning I learned that 35 to 40 houses in our development had lost power. Each person who had called LIPA heard a different story about what was happening and when we could expect the power to be restored.
Hoping to clarify the problem and the expected time frame of repair, I called LIPA at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31. After following a series of prompts, I heard a recorded message stating that LIPA’s Customer Service Department was closed for the day.
Feeling as if we were in a Kafkaesque nightmare, my husband and I sought help from the town supervisor’s office. We met with Johnson Nordlinger, Bill Wilkinson’s assistant. We asked if she could ascertain when LIPA would send a repair crew and when we could expect the power to be restored. We conveyed to Johnson that, although we were inconvenienced by the outage, our primary concern was for the plight of some our neighbors, particularly a family with 4-month-old twins.
Shortly after this conversation, we saw a LIPA crew at work in our development. The men explained both the possible causes and solutions to the problem, as well as when we could expect the power to be restored. Over the next four days, one of those men, Ken Mucci, went above and beyond the call of duty. Time and again Mr. Mucci advised us of the nature of the problem and the obstacles that the linemen faced trying to make the repair. He took a personal interest in the plight of our community and, together with his supervisor, Bill Fidkinn, and the linemen, went to extraordinary lengths to get the job done as quickly as possible. At all times Mr. Mucci treated us with concern and respect.
Then there were the three LIPA linemen who worked tirelessly to restore our power — Larry Macholz, Hal Bejsevoc, and Tom DeVito. Although they had many more storm-related jobs awaiting them and had already been subjected to numerous comments and questions from frustrated and angry LIPA customers, these men took the time to inform us what the problems were and when we could expect power to be restored.
Ultimately, it turned out that the job was more complicated than expected. The linemen had to fix both fuse and transformer problems, including obtaining and installing a brand-new transformer.
Our story ends where it began. My husband and I are deeply grateful to Johnson, Ken, Bill, Larry, Hal, and Tom, individuals who extended themselves personally, each one making extraordinary efforts to help members of a community in distress.
September 7, 2011
My home was caught up in that dastardly conspiracy by the blue-collar workers to not restore electricity to the supa-rich. Is there a sticker or some sort of ID I can get to designate my home as a “middle-income residence”? We live so close, no more than a block away from the Hamptons. It was most inconvenient.
Another question, who supplied those Joplin, Mo., repair crews with the demographics to determine who got the spark and who got the dark? We must find out what they knew and when they knew it!
Last thought: Is paranoia contagious? Our propinquity is a concern, please advise.
On the Morgan
August 28, 2011
It was like a whiff of good salt air to read about your, and your children’s, adventures on the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport. I literally grew up on the Morgan when it was a tourist attraction on Colonel Green’s estate. (He was Hetty’s only son.) I am Charles W. Morgan’s great-great-granddaughter, and, as such, was always allowed the joy of having a rope bracelet woven onto my wrist. I was so pleased with this treasure that I wore it all summer until it was filthy dirty and my long-suffering mother, Morgan’s great-granddaughter, would have to cut it off my wrist before school began. I’m sorry they apparently don’t do the bracelets anymore, as your girls would have adored them!
I am afraid you are not correct in saying, “The Morgan was en route to Bedford, Mass., in 1913.” It was “Bedford” in 1776 but certainly not in August 1913! Bedford, Mass., is very inland, near Concord and Lexington. I think you meant New Bedford, Mass., where a lot of the whaling industry ended up after Nantucket. New Bedford is on Buzzard’s Bay and is known for its whaling ships.
Thank you for your “Mast-Head.” I shall save it!
EMILY MORGAN COBB
Not a Done Deal
September 12, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
News flash: The convenience store (also known as 7-Eleven?) at the Empire Gas station on North Main Street is not a done deal. Several months ago, New York State issued an injunction against proceedings until issues of zoning and occupancy are reviewed by the zoning board of appeals.
The case will be heard by the Z.B.A. on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Here are some of the many concerns surrounding this project:
• The bottleneck at Three Mile Harbor and Springs-Fireplace Roads becoming even worse. (Just leave for work a half-hour earlier?)
• Alcohol being available after hours. (Brace yourself for 24 hours!) Subsequent traffic accidents and sharp increase of stray trash, bottles, and cans around the station.
• Major traffic intensity, which is why the Bridgehampton National Bank branch was not approved to be built on North Main Street eight years ago (two traffic studies done). Springs is now the most densely populated hamlet in East Hampton. Traffic has increased exponentially since 2003.
• Actually being able to park while you shop.
• Driving past Empire Gas in less than 15 minutes, plus avoiding cars stopping, turning, pulling out, accidents just dying to happen, and a school bus route, too.
• Selling food on a property with gas pumps is expressly illegal in the East Hampton Town Code.
• Historic pollution to soil and groundwater in the area due to the high water table and habitual flouting of state disposal regulations.
• Supporting existing businesses; already on North Main Street are three convenience stores with food, drinks, milk, eggs, and basic staples for sale, plus the I.G.A., not to mention One-Stop, Barnes’, Brent’s, Hampton Market, Springs General Store, Maidstone Market, and Damark’s Deli.
It is the responsibility of town government to ensure that the pre-existing gas station at the Empire site does not expand its scope of use and, more important, that any changes adhere to the town code and support and further the goals of the comprehensive plan.
September 10, 2011
I am appalled at the character assassination being leveled against Edna Steck, who dedicated 25 years of her life to providing high quality social services to the East Hampton community.
I am a licensed psychologist with more than 30 years of professional experience and volunteered my services to the Department of Human Services after having retired from private practice. What impressed me most about the department was the high level of professionalism and dedication to the clients being served. Counseling was provided by New York State-licensed professional social workers or interns from training programs such as Stony Brook, Adelphi, Seton Hall, New York University, and Fordham under the direct supervision of licensed practitioners. There were weekly staff meetings during which problems would be addressed or speakers were invited to share their work. Edna required that we all keep careful records of our hours, client statistics, and clinical chart notes. The accusation of sloppy recordkeeping certainly did not jibe with my experience.
I am confident that Edna will be addressing all of the accusations in the report. Unfortunately, too many people incorrectly assume that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and a good woman with an unsullied reputation who has given so much to this town is paying a terrible price.
Man for the Job
September 7, 2011
To the Editor:
I have known Stephen Lynch and his family for many years. I want him to know that I fully support him in his quest to take on the job of superintendent of highways. We all know we need a good man in this position, and I strongly feel and know he is the right man for the job.
In these economic times, getting the whole department under control will be quite the task. This position belongs to a local, someone of his vast experience, who knows the roads of East Hampton, the flaws (and there are many), and what needs immediate attention. I know he is the kind of man that whether it be a snowstorm, flooding, or whatever the case may be, will be out on the road, assessing the roads and directing the crews to where they are needed most.
My only regret is that I no longer live in East Hampton, therefore I cannot vote for the right man for the job. I urge all East Hampton voters to get out of the house and vote for Stephen K. Lynch for East Hampton Town highway superintendent in November.
Good Luck, Steve.
PATRICK M. BENNETT
September 11, 2011
I watched with great interest the Town Highway Department’s efforts to clear roads after Irene. Superintendent Scott King had skillfully blended the town force with private contractors to immediately open roads after the storm. His efforts were praised by the town supervisor.
The rapid clearing was amazing considering that the highway work force has been cut by 35 percent. Scott King’s ability to manage this department while operating under the severe restrictions caused by budget cutbacks is clear testimony to his ability to operate our Highway Department.
Scott King has proven to be an able administrator and deserves our support on Election Day.
CHRISTOPHER L. RUSSO
East Hampton Town
September 10, 2011
To the Editor,
It seems we can never have an election campaign in East Hampton without being on the receiving end of political advice from Alec Baldwin.
The last time we heard from Baldwin, he was cheerleading for Mr. McGintee. Mr. Baldwin told us McGintee was a good supervisor who was going to be a great supervisor.
If Mr. McGintee, as supervisor, had a single blemish, Mr. Baldwin could not find it. He was not alone. Most of the newspapers in East Hampton could not find that one blemish.
Mr. Baldwin thinks Mr. Wilkinson is terrible and goes on to praise the Democratic ticket for the upcoming town elections.
What a ticket. Zach Cohen, whose professional career is a mystery. Ms. Overby, who tried to put her position on the planning board up for sale when she co-created the Conservators PAC and was an officer of the Conservators PAC. And the other guy. Who knows?
I would think by now, political opinion and praise from Mr. Baldwin would be the kiss of death. We all know guys who when they say buy this stock, it is a sell signal. Well that’s how it is with Mr. Baldwin’s political opinions.
That said, when it comes to movies and film, I am a big fan of Mr. Baldwin. I regularly watch Turner Classic Movies and Mr. Baldwin appears on the channel as guest co-host of “the essentials.” I find that Mr. Baldwin’s knowledge of movies and opinions about film have a great deal of merit.
My advice to Mr. Baldwin is to stick to his metier and stop broadcasting his foolish and ill-informed political opinions. If Cohen and Overby were stocks, based on Mr. Baldwin’s advice, I would increase my short position in Mr. Cohen and Ms. Overby.
September 5, 2011
Re: Alec Baldwin and Sam Zell
I have high regard for Alec Baldwin not only for his fine acting and comedic ability, but also for his overly generous contributions to East Hampton’s charities. However, I find his letter last week comparing Mr. Bill Wilkinson’s leadership to Sam Zell’s failure at the Tribune Company confusing. While both men were faced with difficult decisions and their objective was the same (to right the finances and the business of the enterprise by making tough decisions), that is where the comparison stops.
Mr. Zell realized that the assets of The Tribune were depleting and the business was a failing enterprise. The failure of The Tribune would most likely harm his business as a whole, and he decided to cut his losses. This is not an uncommon business tactic: Sacrifice a part to save a whole. Warren Buffet, the sage of Omaha, for example, liquidated the bulk of his holdings of newspaper companies to protect his shareholders from the losses the failing business would cause.
When Mr. Wilkinson took over as supervisor of East Hampton, he had to correct six years of mismanagement and lying. In this regard, Mr. Baldwin’s analogy to Mr. Zell is correct. Mr. Wilkinson did exactly what Mr. Buffett would recommend: He got East Hampton Town back on firm financial footing, reduced redundancies, cut back on unnecessary and overly expensive services, and liquidated some assets to free up capital. His actions prevented a large tax increase that would have been a huge burden on the residents of East Hampton. This restructuring helped many families stay here in our town.
This being an election year, the residents of East Hampton are going to hear a lot of promises from the challengers. We voters have to ask ourselves: Do we want to vote for unproven promises or for proven good management with real results? Which team will continue to keep East Hampton Town the town we can proudly call home? Sometimes the best decision isn’t always the easiest, but is it better than the alternative?
Doing the Same
New York City
September 11, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
In a letter to you from Carole Campolo that appeared in the Sept. 8 edition, Ms. Campolo writes:
“My real question and concern is as the financial crisis ripened, where were Mr. Baldwin and, more important, his friends Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, the current Democratic nominees for town board? Did not one of them even wonder if problems did exist? They are obsessive critics of the Wilkinson administration now and claim to have all of the answers for everything, but where were they during this crisis?”
Where was I? Hmm, let’s see. Do you mean when I wasn’t raising money to build the new children’s wing of the East Hampton Library or participating in benefit events for Guild Hall or the Hamptons International Film Festival or Quail Hill Farm or the Group for the East End, when I wasn’t trying to build the East Hampton Conservators into a strong and effective counterweight to the town Republican plans to suburbanize as much of our community as they possibly could or sell town property in order to enrich their friends? What was I doing when I wasn’t doing those things, Ms. Campolo?
I was doing the same thing that Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc were doing. I was wondering how Bill Wilkinson and the rest of you town Republicans got away with over-borrowing $6 million, ostensibly to cover McGintee-era debt, in order to give residents a disingenuous and perhaps even corrupt tax break.
Either that, or I was on my boat.
Hope I cleared that up for you.
Ghost of Sweeney
September 3, 2011
Our current East Hampton Town Hall inhabitants are fond of roosters, poles, and rich people, but not so much the leadership skills of the police and hairdressers.
“It takes more than the skills of a hairdresser and a policeman to solve the many challenging problems our community faces day to day!” (Beverly Bond, Republican operative, Letters Sept. 1. See Fort Pond House debacle.)
If I were Ms. Bond, I’d avoid telephone calls from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the ghost of Sweeney Todd.
If I were Ms. Bond, I’d think on Harry Truman, haberdasher, and Ronald Reagan, actor. For God’s sake, if I were Ms. Bond, I’d apologize.
All good things,
September 12, 2011
Citizens for Access Rights, the grassroots organization arguing that our beaches belong to the community, has again been rebuffed by the East Hampton Town Board. The group asks the board to support the trustees and “aggressively defend the present lawsuits pending against the Town of East Hampton‚” in which local property owners claim they, not the trustees, own the ocean beach on Napeague.
The Wilkinson-Quigley team has been sidestepping CfAR’s request since at least last April. Up against the wall on Sept. 9, Bill Wilkinson said the town board couldn’t take action because the matter was within the jurisdiction of the town trustees. And further that he didn’t like to comment on litigation. He made the same statements to members of the East Hampton Democratic Committee when we urged his support of the trustees in April.
As owners of the beach, the town trustees do have jurisdiction in this matter and that’s why they’re being sued. But ensuring public access is a fundamental responsibility of the town board. That’s why the town, too, is being sued, though you wouldn’t know it from Mr. Wilkinson’s comments.
It may make sense for a defendant to be discreet about litigation strategy. But East Hampton Town represents its citizens, and the citizens are the real defendants in this case. We’re entitled to demand and be assured that the town will do its darndest to see that we win. Instead, as Zach Cohen, the Democratic candidate for supervisor, pointed out in August, this town board has declined to hire an attorney and has not contributed one penny to the trustees to help them in the case.
Perhaps not surprisingly given the board’s silence, new private lawsuits claiming ownership of the beaches seem to be springing up every day.
Then why won’t the Wilkinson-Quigley town board assure the public that counts on them that they believe in their own case and plan to give it their all? What does their repeated stonewalling tell us about who they’re actually working for in the courtroom and behind the scenes?
Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.
September 12, 2011
To the readers: Let me ask you a few questions and then I will be happy to answer yours.
First, are you registered to vote locally? Second, do you know who is running in East Hampton Town and for what position? Third, do you know you are making a difference with your vote? Fourth, are you satisfied with the status quo, or do you see room for improvement?
Okay, now we have a dialogue started. Here are my answers to what I have been asked. I am running for East Hampton Town Trustee because I care about East Hampton. I changed my middle name in honor of town I love.
If you live in Montauk, you are a voter in East Hampton Town elections. We are all one big happy township!
The local election is in November.
A trustee is not the town board, not a councilperson. Trustees are not political, unlike the town board — separate entities. But political parties do endorse trustees.
There are nine trustees. They are voted in by you. Trustees make sure beach access is always public. Trustees keep our bays, harbors, and ponds safe and clean. They are supposed to keep the inlets open or see that the town board does. Trustees are in charge of certain roads in town. Trustees are in charge of the piping plover program. Trustees own, by decree going back to the 1600s and the Dongan Patent, bottomlands and beaches.
Your name does not have to be Miller, Lester, or Talmage to become a trustee, but that helps, or so I am told, or being related by marriage and such.
You can vote for whomever you choose — even for folks who weren’t born here but have been working here, living here, raising children here, and been involved in keeping East Hampton from becoming New York East or the Jersey Shore for years.
Your vote absolutely makes a difference. Get out and vote this November.
I have voter registration forms and so do the post offices.
You can vote by absentee ballot if you don’t live here full time. But you must be registered to vote. If you vote in school board elections, you’re registered. College students can vote while away by absentee ballot. Vote. It is uncool not to.
And lastly, across the board it is wiser and more sensible to have a mixture of Democrats and Republicans on any voted-in board — a true representation of the people, a balance of power; balance being the operative word. Trust is a word I respect, and if you know me, I live my talk. Thanks for the space.
NANCI E. LaGARENNE
Take the Long View
September 11, 2011
In an interview on LTV our congressman, Tim Bishop, a native of the East End, said some wise words. He believes our economy is our environment. Without pristine beaches, crystal-clear unpolluted water, vistas of open spaces, our fish and shellfish, and our fresh produce, who would want to be come here, he said.
Whether you say our environment is our economy or the other way around, the environment is what supports us and brings the second-home owners and tourists to our town. Plus, it is what those of us who have settled here came for in the first place. We call it quality of life.
Right now, we are engaged in the same struggle that is pervasive throughout our land between the shortsighted, those who want the quick profit at the expense of the environment, and those who take the long view and can see past the moment into tomorrow.
There are so many serious issues confronting East Hampton that can make or break us. Those who came before most of us developed the safeguards to protect the land, sea, and water, especially the waters. These mechanisms have different titles, but they are our carefully constructive plans.
Presently, we have an administration that is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by subverting these plans, whether it be dark skies, the comprehensive plan, or any of the others, all in the name of “business,” because the present administration can’t comprehend tomorrow.
The dollar made today may mean pennies tomorrow. Allowing their cronies to run roughshod over the town for the sake of profit is wrong. Eliminating the leaf program is the classic example; they saved us a couple of dollars in taxes, but cost the homeowner hundreds and made landscapers, who may not even live in this town, richer.
The wool the Republicans are trying to pull over our eyes is 50 percent cotton. Is it a coincidence that Republican and rich both begin with R?
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
September 12, 2011
Last Friday morning, I snuggled up reading The Star with a cup of tea. David Gruber’s and Barry Raebeck’s letters about airport noise were of particular interest to me as I had been awakened a few nights earlier by a loud, low-flying jet at 2 a.m.
When I finished the paper, I went outside to dig the last potatoes from my garden. The ambient noise was incredible! My little handheld app gave a reading of 70 decibels. Gardening is no longer a peaceful activity here. The sky is no longer dark, so that knocks stargazing off the hobby list, too.
It seems we just have a problem with pollution out here: noise, light, and garbage. East Hampton Village has very agreeably, to my mind anyway, addressed the issue of dogs on the beach. The opposing camps somehow worked together to arrive at a livable solution for most of the population. The beach is much cleaner, and my dog is still happy to have a good walk there when he’s allowed.
The problems of noise and light pollution seem to be more complicated with lots of different interests pulling in their own directions. I’ve been complaining for years to village officials about the use of leaf-blowers. Landscapers of course think they’re better than sliced bread. Some progress has been made, as I seem to remember that I no longer have to listen to them all day Sunday, unless the homeowner is doing the polluting.
However, with the specific noise pollution from aircraft of all kinds, it seems as clear-cut as with dogs on the beach. There are the very few who use the airport, and the very many who are disturbed by the constant noise and some people I’ve yet to meet who don’t care.
My understanding is that the Town of East Hampton is now in a position to address this problem by making decisions that keep control of the airport local.
So, town officials and candidates, pledge local control of the airport by not accepting Federal Aviation Administration money, pledge to close the airport during night hours, pledge to support a situation where airport users pay completely for the existence of the airport.
Voters, make sure to know your favorite candidates’ positions on the airport. Personally, I’m willing to make this year a single-issue year for me and cross party lines to vote for the candidate who will pledge control of the airport by declining F.A.A. dollars.
In the Faces
September 11, 2011
Deja vu all over again, as the beloved Yogi Berra stated. Yesterday, Saturday, Sept. 10, there was an ad on WLNG from pilots who thanked the town board apparently for the news that the Federal Aviation Administration had approved East Hampton’s airport layout plan — such arrogance to stick it in the faces of every resident. This made it obvious that the tail shakes the dog. This is the crack that opens the door so the Republican majority can seek F.A.A. funding.
The last time the Republican majority was in place they illegally transformed that facility into a jet and helicopter operation by changing the load-bearing rating of the main runway from 45,000 to 65,000 pounds to accommodate larger planes. The 1989 airport master plan was violated by questionable documents that led to a federal grand jury investigation and ensuing lawsuits that cost the taxpayer money to defend.
Subsequently, the noise accelerated and thousands of residents were forced to endure disruptions of quality of life by late night and early morning violations of noise ordinances that knocked us out of bed, not to mention the dangerous low flying.
The years of fancy footwork by the following administrations did absolutely nothing to alleviate the monster they created except to blow smoke in our faces. None of them would dare touch the sacred special-interest cow: 65 pilots, almost all of whom do not even live in East Hampton versus thousands of residents as far away as eight miles who suffer.
The F.A.A grant assurances were set to expire in 2014 and allow the town to control what goes on and mitigate the constant disruptions. Early on, I sat down with the supervisor and addressed his campaign promises about federal funding. I explained the expiration date of 2014 for the grants so the town could take control. Funding is not needed as the airport is self-supporting and having the users pay the expenses.
His answer started off with an F-bomb. “I’m taking the F.A.A. money,” he said, and if he denies saying this I will call him a liar to his face.
So he figuratively gave the residents of this town the middle finger because he bows to a special interest group. They want to make us indentured servants for another 20 years. By 2034 they will be out of office and will leave us with this legacy.
They were not elected emperor, as they think, and have lost sight of the majority they were elected to serve. This, combined with all their other blunders too many to mention, and we see them for what they are.
Neither of the new Republican candidates will stand up and tell the residents of this town and surrounding areas that they will refuse funding to allow the town to take control and have the users foot the bill. They who create the problem but want us to pay for it.
God forbid we touch the sacred cow. Interestingly, we use a bridge or a major highway we pay a toll but those who disrupt our daily lives do not bear the brunt and pay for the use of their playground.
Maybe someone will have the courage to stand tall for what is best for the entire populace and not kiss the backside of the special interest groups. I think there is a Latin phrase for this.
May I suggest we return the middle digit gesture and see that they are voted out of office? Maybe then they will finally listen.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
September 12, 2011
What will it take? Airport noise has reached intolerable levels, particularly that of helicopters, but other fixed-wing aircraft continue to offend, especially during nighttime hours.
Federal Aviation Administration approval of the Town of East Hampton’s airport layout plan does not, as has been claimed by town officials, give East Hampton effective control of our airspace. It enables the process to allow an F.A.A. airport-traffic controller to direct traffic at our airport during hours of operation. It gives us a traffic cop, not effective control of our airspace. An improvement? Yes, but not effective control of our airport.
A seasonal control tower, an improvement I generally support, was put forward by the now-defunct town airport noise abatement advisory committee for many years. As noise mitigation, it was never expected that a control tower would do anything more than distribute flights more evenly. Spread the wealth, so to speak. There are three routes in and out of East Hampton Airport, but two of them are used far more than the third. It was the noise committee’s recommendation to try it for a season, experiment with this option.
There is no guarantee that a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controller working from a seasonal control tower will even be compelled to distribute the traffic more evenly. Some members of our group feared such an improvement would actually increase traffic to our airport. Actual noise mitigation through use of a seasonal control tower is uncertain.
Disturbingly, F.A.A. approval is the first step for the town to begin another 20-year obligation to the F.A.A. by engaging in the grant process established to expand and maintain all airports, abandoning, yet again, its opportunity for local control.
It is important for your readers to understand that F.A.A. money is not for operational expenses at the airport. The airport pays for itself through a variety of revenues, including landing fees, fuel flow charges, and leases. The money the F.A.A. offers is for large maintenance and capital improvement projects and comes with contractual obligations that eliminate the possibility of effective control of our airspace — an important distinction.
People are angry about noise. It’s changing our lives in ways we dislike. We cannot enjoy our yards, decks, and gardens without continual noise assaults from aircraft.
The only way for the Town of East Hampton to gain local control of its airport is to refuse to accept any more F.A.A. funding for improvement projects. Town board candidates, take note.
That’s what it takes.
Stop This Madness
September 8, 2011
To the Editor,
A visit to East Hampton Airport at the end of August opened my eyes to the big changes that have gone on there in recent years. The charming graphic on the sign at the entrance is an image from another age, having little to do with the ultramodern jets and helicopters now using the airport.
Once very small, servicing local residents with single-engine planes, the airport no longer has sufficient parking even for cars. On Thursday, Sept. 1, the parking lot was full and cars were parked on the entry road leading into the property, all the way to the terminal. Huge jets and helicopters were parked on the tarmac near the terminal, and smaller planes and seaplanes were crammed between hangars or sheds. Several large jets and a number of small ones roared over me as I watched helicopters and seaplanes coming or going.
East Hampton Airport is not a good neighbor, it is hyperactive from spring through fall, and commercial operators and fliers using it do not give a hoot about residents suffering the pollution caused by their flight paths. Aircraft emit known (benzene, 1,3-butadiene) or probable (formaldehyde) human carcinogens and deposit them right over our backyards!
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Cornell University, among others, have long studied possible effects of aircraft emissions on human health. Evidence now exists that there are many human health issues resulting from jet fuel emissions, such as those concluded in the final Report of the Environmental Protection Agency document PA420-R-99-013 on health and pollutants. These include ozone’s “lung function impairment, effects on exercise performance, increased airway responsiveness, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, pulmonary inflammation and lung structure damage.” Carbon monoxide’s cardiovascular effects and nitrogen oxides’ “lung irritation and lower resistance to respiratory infections, premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, changes in lung function and increased respiratory symptoms, changes to lung tissues and structure, and altered respiratory defense mechanisms.” Asthmatics are especially sensitive.
The time to stop this madness is now. The upcoming elections for town board members in East Hampton are vitally important. Unless board members focus on the safety and well-being of their constituents and the environment in which we live, they may vote to accept a new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration when the current agreement expires in December 2014.
If East Hampton Town accepts as little as $1 from the F.A.A., residents’ ability to bring about changes in number or type of aircraft using the airport will cease for 20 years. With F.A.A. approval, East Hampton Airport can continue to operate 24/7 and permit takeoff and landing of any aircraft able to be accommodated on its runways — at any hour, day or night. And if expansion plans proceed with F.A.A. funding, larger planes than those now using the airport could fly in and out at whim, weather permitting.
September 12, 2011
Last week, in his letter to The Star, David Gruber estimated that “aircraft using East Hampton Airport” violate “East Hampton’s own noise ordinance . . . 9.8 million times per year!” The Airport Noise Abatement Citizens Advisory Committee on which I served arrived at a similar conclusion without professional help. So we agree that aircraft noise is a major environmental problem for many East End residents. Our assessment of what to do about it, however, is quite different.
The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, of which David Gruber is a principal, is suing the Town of East Hampton over various alleged defects in the Environmental Impact Statement. As a result the town cannot obtain Federal Aviation Administration approval of a seasonal control tower, an automated weather station or much-needed runway repairs until the lawsuit is settled.
David called the impact statement “a work of fiction.” I called it “a good comb-over.” However, the town board’s resolution to adopt the so-called master plan (really just a pile of documents) affirms a “no-growth policy” unless improvements increase safety or reduce noise, and there are many other acknowledgements of helicopter noise in the so-called master plan.
Nevertheless, the master plan does not address noise abatement head-on, largely due to six years of neglect and ineptitude during the McGintee administration. But the current town board, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione in particular, has taken more initiative regarding noise abatement than any since Councilman Pat Trunzo left office.
Consider the ramifications of C.S.A.E.’s anti-F.A.A. strategy to take back control of the airport by never again accepting F.A.A. money and waiting for certain F.A.A. grant assurances to expire on Dec. 31, 2014, and the rest in 2021. At least until settled, C.S.A.E.’s lawsuit will prevent any noise-abatement initiatives except rerouting of helicopters to occur — no control tower and no weather system, not now, not ever.
Those who are afflicted by airport noise must wait until 2015 until they have their first opportunity for relief. And that relief will come only if and when the “formidable obstacle [that] is the lack of political will on the town board” (Mr. Gruber’s words) is removed.
Consider therefore what kind of political will will be required of a town board after F.A.A. grant assurances expire. How will such a board get elected if the local Democrats remain split on this issue? If elected, will they ban helicopters, impose curfews, eliminate runways? Can they do so without court-ordered injunctions by the F.A.A.? Who will pay the millions of dollars in legal fees that will almost surely result from any bans or curfews? Will the taxpayers also pay the cost of runway repairs or will future town boards starve the beast? Will the legitimate interests of local pilots, fixed-base operators, and air commuters be brushed aside by a town board with political will? How could such a board fairly represent the interests of all town residents?
Here is an alternative vision that could be taking place right now were it not for C.S.A.E.’s lawsuit. The town receives permission from the F.A.A. to operate a seasonal control tower in 2012, thereby exerting greater real-time control over flight patterns and other pilot behavior. The F.A.A. allows the airport to experiment with certain restrictions on helicopter traffic because: (a) the town has repaired relations with the F.A.A., which were badly damaged by C.S.A.E.’s previous lawsuit, and (b) there is growing recognition that the East End, and all of Long Island, is uniquely afflicted by helicopter noise and a growing chorus of politicians who support restrictions on helicopter traffic. By 2015, helicopter noise has been substantially reduced, Runway 4-22 is repaired, local pilots no longer oppose noise abatement, and the airport is safer and requires no taxpayer money.
So I ask under which scenario will you be better off in 10 years? And which scenario has a greater probability of success? Is it fair to voters for any candidate or officeholder to take a position on F.A.A. funding before he or she has consulted more than one legal expert and heard well-informed but differing points of view on noise abatement, F.A.A. regulation, and airport economics? You decide.
PETER A. WADSWORTH
September 9, 2011
Thank you for The Star’s coverage of those who are “tortured and tormented” by aircraft noise in and around East Hampton Airport. This description comes from Senator Charles E. Schumer. “These low-flying helicopters have tortured and tormented Long Island communities for far too long,” he said in a joint news release with Congressman Tim Bishop on Dec. 9, 2009. Two years later the problem is worse with no end in sight.
Thank you also for informing the public of the not-for-profit civic action organization, Quiet Skies Coalition, quietskiescoalition.org. Q.S.C. is organizing quickly and collaborating with other civic and environmental organizations. One of the immediate efforts of the group is to set the record straight about East Hampton Airport and aircraft operations, to dispel the misinformation being perpetrated by airport interests. A strong emphasis is being placed on the environmental impacts of the airport.
One of the most disturbing pieces of misinformation knowingly propagated by airport management and some East Hampton Town Board members is the claim of reduction of “total operations”: landings and takeoffs at the airport. The airport system that generates the data tracks only transponders on aircraft. It is not air traffic control-approved. It is not accurate in generating total operations data. Transponders have an off knob. Private aircraft flying with visual flight regulations are not required to have transponders on to fly into or out of East Hampton Airport. Helicopters have no minimum altitude to be V.F.R.; they must only have visual contact with ground.
Landing fees significantly increased this year. The folks living around the airport will tell you unequivocally airport traffic has increased this year. Airport personnel do not man the airport 24/7. The correct conclusion of the airport data is that more pilots are turning off their transponders. The town collects landing fees by this system that only tracks transponders when they are on. The town is not concerned about lost revenues from landing fees; it would rather take federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize operations at the airport and forfeit local control of the airport. This is preposterous. This is fiscal mismanagement.
Imagine we woke up one day to find East Hampton Town owning a huge marina. All local residents didn’t pay slip fees; operations were subsidized by local tax dollars and federal taxpayers. The visiting multimillion-dollar yachts’ fees are also subsidized by local and federal tax dollars. Because federal dollars were accepted to subsidize marine operations, the federal government has control over everything that goes on at the marina but it does not have a presence nor does it enforce things like speed limits, Jet Skis, or out-of-control teenagers terrorizing surrounding areas in boats. The town board just wrings its hands, shrugs its shoulders, and says, “There is nothing we can do.” Yet it pledges to take more federal taxpayer money and continue to cede control to the feds. That would be outrageous. That would be inconceivable. No, that would be East Hampton Airport!
Are you telling me that Ira Rennert, who owns two helicopters, one being a huge 19-passenger, $32 million Sikorsky S-92A Helibus‚ can’t pony up enough money to make sure the airport he uses doesn’t need to be on the federal taxpayer’s back? Why are the rich being subsidized by federal money? How about starting at East Hampton Airport for federal spending cuts?
If this upsets voters, then they will vote for candidates this year that support better fiscal management, the airport being self-sufficient and not taking one more dollar from the federal government. Perhaps The East Hampton Star can do an informative article to ferret out the positions of the candidates on this topic. It seems the Republican Party in East Hampton is upside down on this issue. The Republicans, who generally are more libertarian, wish to take F.A.A. money and cede control to the federal government; it seems counterintuitive.
Quiet Skies Coalition
September 9, 2011
To the Editor,
Regarding the Sept. 8 article “Board Debates New Teacher Salary,” in which I was quoted as saying, “I don’t get all this bickering. This is a $20,000 difference. Education is the most important thing. It’s why we’re all here.”
That is basically what I said, but it is not complete. It misses the point, and actually can give the district residents the wrong idea. Previous to what was quoted, I asked the board members if they had hired the most qualified administrators to serve the district, to which the response was “yes.” Then I stated that, if this is the case, “why not follow their recommendations,” referring to the hiring of the highly qualified bilingual teacher for a one year leave-replacement position.
My point was (maybe I was not clear) that why should we pay our administrators if their expertise is not going to be heeded? As far as the $20,000 or so difference in salary that was being discussed, I do not want the taxpayers to get the impression that I think that $20,000 doesn’t matter. As a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, whose charge it is to study the school budget and make recommendations to the school board, I take that charge very seriously.
However, I also take seriously that we as citizens, not only of this town but of this nation, must provide our students with the best possible education we can afford. Having studied last year’s budget, I know there are areas where we can save money that will not directly impact our children’s education. As I have stated previously, the school system is the town’s major business and the students’ education is the bottom line.
RICHARD C. WILSON
September 12, 2011
I would like to respond to a cheap shot taken against my paper, The Independent, in an article written by Bridget LeRoy. The article mentioned an ongoing debate about hiring “chaperones” (security guards) to police basketball games.
A bit of history is in order. Before Bridget came on the scene we published a front-page story about changes at the high school basketball games. It was the result of a meeting I had with a group of prominent parents and basketball fans complaining that in his zeal to control the passionate crowds at home games, dubbed the “bleacher creatures,” the athletic director, Joe Vas, had made for an uncomfortable atmosphere and, in effect, ruined school spirit. The term “Gestapo” was used by more than one parent — obviously in the context of overbearing security guards at the local basketball games.
These guards stood staring at the crowds, their backs to the game, waiting for a youngster to cheer in a manner Mr. Vas deemed inappropriate. In my 20 years of covering basketball (10 for The Star), I never ran into a school official who deemed it necessary to school passionate kids about the correct way to cheer. Nor did I (or any other fan) think our kids were anything but loyal and well behaved — and I’ve been in some pretty heated gyms.
Some of the parents fear our legendary coach hung up the cleats because he was no longer willing to put up with such a controlling, anal athletic director, but Coach is too classy to ever admit that, and I don’t know it to be true. The larger question about the debate of these “security” people should focus on the athletic director’s motives and why one of the most successful basketball programs in the state has gone completely down the tubes in the three years he’s been there.
Does the school board know all of the above facts, or does it function in a vacuum that doesn’t allow the whole truth to be presented to its members?
Mr. Vas was also accused of refusing to put all the championship banners up in the gym, as has been customary for oh, 50 years. I know for a fact he was ordered to put back the banners after our article came out, and that his overzealousness had been the source of prior complaints.
He meets criticism by ordering those opposed to his reign to come to his office, where, I was told, he attempts to intimidate and browbeat. He tried that on me, asking me to put off the article until after we met. But I graduated from high school and had gum on my nose enough then. Nowadays, people who want to meet with me make appointments with my secretary.
Treating people like 14-year-olds is a pervasive trait among more than a few school administrators. It’s not a very useful strategy when you consider their job is to prepare students for adulthood.
In our editorial we pointed out how Mr. Vas went through great pains to paint these chaperones as trained individuals fluent in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, who have earned some kind of certificate allowing them to stare at a 14-year-old and tell him to shut up whenever he opened his mouth at a basketball game. No wonder the parents who came to meet with me were upset.
Lo and behold, in your newspaper article, a man identified as a teacher in the school, Arthur Goldman, likens our criticism of Mr. Vas to “the extermination of the Jews.” This is such an outlandish cheap shot, so beyond the pale, that one has to wonder: Is this guy really in charge of our children? I would think his allegiance should be with the kids and their parents, who have been stifled, their enthusiasm drained.
Mr. Goldman said he was so upset when he read The Independent his “knees buckled.” Parents can only hope he gets similarly upset when the standardized test scores roll in.
As a professional reporter with a wall full of awards, I can’t for the life of me figure out how your reporter felt it germane to her story and you as editor felt it important enough to leave in. I hesitate to say this, but these kinds of tactics — eliminating dissent by attacking the bearer of bad news — is designed to stifle the press. It is precisely the tactic used in fascist countries.
The real point of the debate about hiring these people is that for decades volunteers, teachers, and prominent members of the community handled the chore of crowd management expertly. Off-duty teachers used to come to the games to help out and enjoy the excitement. Of course, they didn’t have to answer to some overzealous control freak. Hint to Bridget: There’s your story.
One other point: There used to be 500 people at the games. Since Mr. Vas arrived, fans have stopped coming. So why are we hiring security people — to control the empty seats?
September 12, 2011
To the Editor:
Oh yeah. Before I forget, we all know 9/11 just passed, even Jerry Lewis knows, sorry, Jerry.
Oh yeah, before I forget, don’t patronize the Montauk Manor any longer, I regretfully tell you how my 9/11 started. Of course it was my fault. I’m a bad kid? Midlife crisis, who knows? Who cares? I don’t. Have I made any enemies? Good. [ . . . ]
Back to the Manor, Montauk. A lady, young lady, my age, 24 or so, had just given away her daughter, she spent a fortune in Montauk at our (?) beloved Manor. Do any locals work there, or are they all from East Meadow? She said she and her friends worked harder than the people she thought she paid, she was hysterical, due to me being shy, somewhat autistic (not meant in a harmful way). I cry too. She bought a bench in a relative’s name and donated it to the Montauk Manor? Great lawn. Should belong to someone deserving of it. She wanted to set fire to the bench. I convinced her otherwise. A champagne toast the Manor staff forgot to get champagne, wanted a higher profit margin, on and on. It was 9/11 for her all over again. I waved goodbye.
Oh yeah. my real reason for writing is I would like to thank all the people that make this community a great place to live. People and businesses that donated to the beautifying of the new memorial in front of the Montauk Fire Department.
My hand is tired. I hate computers. They should have all been in the trade
center instead of human lives. We live in the Starship Galactica age. I’m backing up to Little House on the Prairie. I’ll miss my music.
Love to all,
Of the Times
September 5, 2011
To the Editor,
I read with amusement the vitriolic and often insulting rantings of Neil Hausig and Richard Higer (Sept. 1 Letters). What these angry gentlemen may not realize is the demographics of the times. The electorate at present is evenly divided between people calling themselves Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the latest Rasmussen poll. More important, those calling themselves Democrats have dropped from 42 percent to 33 percent since May 2008.
Additionally, in the most recent Gallup Poll, President Obama’s approval rating has gone from 65 percent to 40 percent. It’s the 33 percent of independents that will decide the election and they are angry with the current state of affairs, specifically Mr. Obama and Congress’s inability to accomplish anything relating to the economy except increasing the national debt by $3 trillion.
Mr. Obama, running as the anti-Bush, was elected with only 52 percent of the popular vote, and the college reflects, to a large extent, the popular vote. If unemployment remains at these levels, which is really 17 percent counting involuntary part-timers, whomever the Republicans choose will be a shoe-in running as the anti-Obama.
ARTHUR G. KROHN
September 10, 2011
To the Editor,
The eight years of the Bush presidency were undoubtedly the worst period politically and economically since the Great Depression. Operating behind strict conservative free market ideas of no regulation and no government intervention in the economy, George W. Bush stood by idly while the economy crumbled, deficits escalated, and U.S. exceptionalism turned to mediocrity. But Mr. Bush is not the sole proprietor of the situation Barack Obama inherited.
Beginning in the late 1970s our economy began its incremental decline into mediocrity and irresponsibility. It progressed through two financial crises, the dot-com and housing bubbles, the mortgage fiasco, and the collapse of America’s middle class.
The response to the crisis as it took place was negligible — didn’t exist. Mr. Obama’s response showed a minimal grasp of the problem with a few modest job Band-Aids with lots of prayer. The Republican candidates’ response, along with Paul Ryan’s, were so pathetic and unconscious that Mr. Obama’s feeble gestures actually looked reasonable. How could seven future presidential hopefuls disregard the gravity of the situation and dribble all over themselves about inducing businesses to hire more people by decreasing business taxes and regulations?
Every regulation that exists today is a product of extensive abuses in the past. Why workers don’t work 14-hour days, six days a week without benefits or vacations or overtimes is a function of labor laws, not the beneficence of ownership. Why our air is not polluted by chimneys and cars, why our paints don’t have lead, why our tuna cans don’t contain ptomaine or our fish and meats don’t have maggots are all results of regulations. Why when someone gets fired his family doesn’t go into the streets or the poorhouse but gets unemployment is about regulations. Why the elderly poor don’t simply die in their beds or in the streets but get Social Security and Medicare isn’t a function of corporate America but of government regulations. Enough about the regulation garbage. Look where deregulation got us.
Demand: It’s all in one word. Even Fox and The New York Times have figured that out. No demand means no jobs. Demand requires money and credit. Demand for goods and services is our exceptionalism manqué.
So, with no Democratic primary looming, the seven bobos need only to think about demand. Give Mr. Obama a rest. Getting elected doesn’t solve problems, as we learned this last election. Being true Americans means figuring out how to salvage the economy. Force the top 2 percent to give it up to the bottom 98 percent. Forget useless pledges and deficit obsessions and think demand. Mr. Obama isn’t the problem, and unfortunately they’re not yet the solution.
Take the Page
September 10, 2011
To the Editor,
Wow! A full-page ad in The Star. This one was in the second section and was clearly pro-Israel and anti-President Obama — or was it? Certainly anti-Obama, but pro-Israel? I doubt it. This reader was curious as to who had paid for the ad.
When you go to the Web site and follow the links, you will be able to satisfy your curiosity. There’s David Kristol, the man who discovered Sarah Palin on an Alaska river cruise, fell in love, and convinced Senator McCain to make her his running mate. Talk about political savvy! Gary Bauer is also on the board of this all-American team. Remember Gary? Gary is pro-everything. He is pro-life, pro-family, and pro-growth. That’s what the Web site said. My recollection is that he was part of the Jack Abramoff team as well.
And when one wanders around the ECI links, names like the illustrious Reverend Hagee, of Senator Lieberman fame, also pop up. How much more do you need to recognize his misleading drivel? Take the page with you when you walk your dog. That’s at least one constructive use for the ad.
September 9, 2011
To the Editor:
Along with some of your readers (and letter-writers), I was not very impressed by the ad in the Sept. 1 Star regarding President Obama’s support (or lack thereof) of Israel.
But an appropriate response to such right-wing rhetoric is not to attack Israel and its right to survival. For those truly interested in peace and justice for the Middle East there must be a realistic appraisal of the realities on the ground, not just what politicians say in public.
Personally, I’m not sure what the fuss is regarding the proposed United Nations vote to recognize an independent Palestinian state. It’s old news. That vote was taken decades ago, in November of 1947. The U.N. General Assembly called for a partition of the British mandate of Palestine‚ to allow for a Jewish state alongside an Arab state. Where were the Arabs then?
The historical record is clear: The Jews accepted the partition and within the allotted borders declared Israel’s independence in May 1948. The Arabs of Palestine could have done likewise, but didn’t. They refused to accept any Jewish presence in the Middle East (despite the fact that Jews had been living there for 4,000 years) and refused the opportunity for independence and statehood given to them.
Instead, the armies of five Arab countries attacked Israel with the openly stated intent of its destruction. (Had they succeeded, it is unlikely that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan would have allowed the creation of an independent country in Palestine, anyway, preferring instead to carve up the territory among themselves.) Failing to destroy Israel, their Arab brethren chose, instead, to occupy Gaza and the West Bank of the Jordan River for almost 20 years; keeping their populations in squalid refugee camps and allowing them neither citizenship nor independence.
In 1967, in a defensive war against a united Arab threat (most clearly, and so eloquently expressed by Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser) to “drive the Jews into the sea‚” Israel not only survived, but prevailed, capturing territory from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Forgotten, perhaps, by those who now demonize Israel as “occupiers” is that Israel was at that time ready and willing to give up that “land for peace.” Instead, meeting later that year in Khartoum, the Arab leaders proclaimed their three nos: No recognition of Israel, no negotiation with Israel, and no peace with Israel.
Since 1967, the Palestinian Arabs have had several more opportunities after the war in 1973 (again, started by the Arabs), the Oslo Accords, and the Camp David negotiations in 2000, to gain independence and establish their own country, every one of which has been squandered. To this day, Mahmoud Abbas and his negotiators refuse to utter the words “two states for two people‚” or to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. It is difficult (to say the least) for Israel to negotiate with a “peace partner” that is not willing to accept its existence.
It would be amusing, if it was not so pathetic, that one of your letter-writers refers to the U.N. Council on Human Rights for support of their attack on Israel. The council currently, and in recent years, has included delegates from Egypt (Mubarak’s Egypt), Lybia (Qaddafi’s Lybia), Russia (Putin’s Russia), Pakistan (Musharraf’s Pakistan), Saudi Arabia (the misogynistic, xenophobic, theocratic sheikdom), and China (what greater champion of human rights than China?). Forgive me, but I don’t consider approval, or disapproval, by the U.N. Human Rights Council to have any relevance at all to human rights.
To those who continue to see Israel as a violator of human rights and the sole obstacle to peace and justice in the Middle East, I would like to suggest a “thought experiment‚” a hypothetical scenario: Suppose Israel decided, tomorrow, to accept the criticism of Sylvia Tennenbaum and Joseph Policano (among others) to end the “oppression” of the Palestinian Arabs. Israel would immediately open all the checkpoints. Begin to tear down the separation fence. Remove roadblocks.
Lift the embargo of Gaza (to allow free entry of weapons). And, perhaps, even abandon all “settlements‚” in the West Bank and Gaza. (Oops! I forgot, Israel already left Gaza, five years ago, with the result that over 8,000 Qassam rockets have since been fired at civilian targets in Israel.)
Can Ms. Tennenbaum or Mr. Policano tell me (with a straight face) how, exactly, this is going to lead to peace? With Hamas? With Hezbollah? Syria? Iran? Do you think that Hamas and Hezbollah simply want Israel to return to the “1967” borders (which are actually the 1949 armistice lines) and will then accept it in the neighborhood? Would Ahmadinejad no longer want to wipe Israel off the map if the “settlements” are dismantled?
The day after these unilateral actions, would Israelis be more secure? Would it be a week, or a month, or two months later? I won’t even ask about a year later, because if Israel showed this weakness to its Arab neighbors, it would have already been destroyed. National suicide is not an option, for Israel or any rational state. Israel has a right to exist among the nations of the world, and it has a right to protect its citizens from those who would harm them.
September 12 2011
To the Editor
Well what do you know? The Israeli-Palestinian issue is alive again in the letters to the editor. Regarding J.D. Policano and Silvia Tennebaum, not in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that I would agree and go along with their opinions especially concerning the above. However in this recent episode I support their opinion 100 percent.
I am fully convinced that Israel, via Bibi Netanyahu, missed a golden opportunity of settling this long-festering conflict. When President Obama announced his belief — his suggestion — that the best way to settle this unresolved situation is for the Israelis to retreat back to the 1967 borders with some land swaps.
Prime Minister Netanyahu should have accepted this offer right away on the spot unconditionally, lock, stock, and barrel. Mr. President, let’s go immediately. Right now. Today.
I and the Jewish people are sure that your gesture and effort will settle this issue forever and certainly will reveal the true intentions of Hamas and the Palestinians in general.
Mr. President, run with it.
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL
September 11, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I understand that newspapers need revenue from advertisers. How unfortunate that some people with a lot of money have chosen to buy a full-page ad in your good paper to promote lies.
Clearly, they have no better way to attack President Obama than with a list of untrue accusations:
• He is “Attacking Israel at the U.N.”: The U.S. has always, including now, voted with Israel in the U.N. Currently the Obama administration is trying to stop the vote on Palestinian statehood, and if it is unable to stop it, it plans to veto it in the face of a positive vote from the rest of the world.
• “Telling Jews they cannot build in Jerusalem” and “Calling for a divided Jerusalem”: Every administration, including the Nixon, Reagan, Bush one, and Bush two administrations, has supported a two-state solution, with the proviso that Israel stop the illegal settlements inside the West Bank.
• “Joining Arab dictators on the Human Rights Council”: What does that even mean?
It uses an open-ended statement to suggest that the president is making underhanded commitments. All of this copies Hitler’s premise of the “big lie.” If you tell a lie often and strongly enough, people will begin to believe it. How pathetic that Bill Kristol is using this technique to appeal to the very people who suffered from the big lie.
Thank you so much for continuing to provide the venue for ordinary people to answer this kind of propaganda.
September 8, 2011
To the Editor,
There is an ugly war going on that no one seems to want to write about; I shall not remain silent. Our sacred cow, the Pentagon, and its corporate arms merchants are immune to criticism or opposition because we are dominated by fear.
As long as the world is armed to the teeth, war will be fought in the name of money and power. Just recently we have learned that $60 billion of our taxes have been unaccounted for. One-quarter of the cost of war has been lost in corruption. We spend more on war than the rest of the world combined. We have the most powerful military in human history, and we’re some of the most terrified people on the planet. Killing civilians and occupying countries only exacerbate terrorism. How does one put all this in perspective?
The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial will be dedicated on the National Mall in Washington in the near future — a time to remember a few of his prophetic quotes more true now than ever before. “We are the most violent nation on the face of the earth.” He called America a “sick society,” and warned the choice before us is nonviolence or nonexistence. This government heading toward self-destruction will not change until the American people demand it. How can we remain silent?