November 9, 2012
To the Editor,
At a national and Congressional level, the nature of the debate was brutal, scarring, ugly, and personal to the extent that truth and decency were victims of the worst that we as human beings are capable of. It was all about winning, power, and money — really big money was spent and wasted in this example of a competitive, survival of the fittest and “winning is all that counts” mentality, the very antithesis of what our real nature can be.
I would like to think that we are more truly represented as a community, by the many really good folks who for no personal gain of their own, and in fact, for some, at great personal sacrifice, stepped up and did and are still doing so much to help the folks less fortunate then we have been, who lost it all in the hurricane. They also stepped up to honor one of our own, Deet Wright, who perished in the same storm.
The outpouring of genuine selfless concern for others represents the very best that we can be. What a world we can create if we can approach each day and every person, seeking out the best that is within them. It will make us all better people and the world less threatening. If we can do it in Montauk, why not in the town, the state, the country, and finally the world? Sounds naive? And sophomoric? I don’t think so. I’ve seen it all; it’s up to us. We are all part of this threatened species called humanity, and we can make a difference.
Anyway, thanks to all who make me very proud to call Montauk my home.
November 10, 2012
To the Editor,
The last two weeks have been trying for many. Between Sandy and the recent northeaster, the East Hampton Library stood tall as a very valuable resource to the residents of the East End. The library opened early most days after Sandy, the power never went off, and we were able to power up phones, flush toilets, our wireless network worked in the parking lot as well as inside, and residents came in to work and reconnect with their lives. At times it was like Grand Central Station.
Grateful patrons who looked like refugees streamed in and others streamed out after warming up and recharging their batteries. Dennis Fabiszak, our director, even turned up the heat as forlorn frozen patrons straggled into the library, unhappy and discouraged after several days of no power. We, the staff, heard about what areas were out, what areas were on, where electricity was flickering, how many days electricity had been off, the exact time the electricity went back on, what it was like to have the first shower, and the glee and thankfulness to get the power back, and depression when it did not come back after two, three, four days!
We also heard which gas stations had gas, how long the lines were, and what time was the best time to get gas. Movies were popular for those who had power, and books went out by those who read by flashlight before going to bed at 8 p.m.! There was even a late-fine amnesty due to Mother Nature and lack of gas.
Coffee at 8 a.m. from Starbucks was served the first morning the library was opened. I know I am prejudiced — I work at the library. I was a refugee myself for six days and used the library when I was not working. I also got a little cranky, crazy, exhausted, and exasperated. I know how valuable and important the comfort and welcoming attitude of the library became.
The library worked hard to make itself relevant. A place where people and technology could recharge. Once again, it became a focal point for the community. It is not just a library, it has became a community center and a refuge for residents during emergencies.
November 12, 2012
In the aftermath of the recent storms and power outages, we’d like to remind the community that the East Hampton Healthcare Center is here to meet the medical needs of our residents all year round, and is very well equipped to provide uninterrupted care during weather-related emergencies.
The center’s generator was well-fueled before and after Hurricane Sandy struck, providing our medical offices with unfailing power and enabling our physicians and medical professionals to serve patients during the subsequent days, while so many other medical offices and clinics were unable to open their doors.
Now celebrating our 10th anniversary, the East Hampton Healthcare Center has truly become a model health care facility for our community that benefits all the residents of our town.
East Hampton Healthcare
All Require Permits
November 2, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
The board of trustees is grateful our community, friends, and families are safe and well following Hurricane Sandy. However, we are also aware some residents have sustained property damage. For those along the shores of our bays and ocean, we wish to advise them that repair to bulkheads, docks and stairways as well as replacement of sand, fencing, and vegetation all require permits and this board is ready to expedite emergency applications for repair and/or protection.
Further, we would like to ask all homeowners and contractors involved in the stabilization of shorelines that debris and foreign materials; treated lumber, such as CCA and ACQ, and metal posts for sand fencing are detrimental to our already-compromised ecosystems. Please refrain from using inappropriate materials in haste to feel secure.
As we’ve just witnessed, our defenses against the forces of nature are not infallible. Let’s not further jeopardize our health and that of plants, animals, and fisheries who rely upon our coastal environment.
Please contact the local authorities, such as the trustees and the town’s Departments of Building, Natural Resources, and Planning for advice on how best to proceed with shoreline projects.
Thank you for the opportunity your paper affords to reach out to the community.
East Hampton Town Trustees
Would Do the Same
November 11, 2012
I read Joanne Pilgrim’s article relating to the emergency work being done to replenish the beaches in Montauk and took particular interest in Jeremy Samuleson’s concerns on the matter.
As a sitting member of the East Hampton Town Planning Board, I should probably refrain from commenting on these issues. My comments are not about if hardening structures on the shorelines should be allowed to be installed or not. I have watched each year as these two businesses in particular — the Kalimnios family and Vinnie from Ocean Surf — spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to replenish the beach every year, only to see it swept away again and again.
This money is not spent on capital improvements, upgrades, etc., it is spent just to keep the buildings protected. Well, imagine if they threw their hands up in the air and said, “We surrender” or “We can no longer afford this and let the sea take the buildings,” what then? Do you know what? All of the businesses in between the beach and Montauk’s Main Street would be flooded, and I believe Main Street to Fort Pond would flood as well. Then who comes to the rescue? The town and our tax dollars, of course.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk is entitled to comment on the way they are repairing this washout, but I totally support the business owners’ actions and would do the same if it was my property.
I thank Mr. Samuelson for pointing out to our supervisor that only “compatible” sand may be used to replenish the areas washed out and alerting the public that there may be a “public danger” with shoring up the beach in the matter that they are, but I look at it as a public service. The business community, as well as the community as a whole, should be in support of these actions.
November 12, 2012
Thank you for your front-page article on rising sea levels, “Renew Calls for Strategic Retreat.” Sandy has been able to do what 98 percent of the scientific community and numerous public and private agencies in the United States have not. The impact of a changing climate, global warming, and extreme weather events can no longer be denied.
This summer, the accelerated rate of the receding Arctic Ocean sea pack confirms a rising global temperature and is causing an accelerated melting of the land ice covering Greenland. Melting land ice and glaciers do raise global sea levels.
According to your article, a sea level rise of “about a foot” from a century ago accounted for Sandy’s increased ocean surge on the Northeast’s coastline. Ocean surges will continue to rise during more frequent coastal extreme weather events. (There have been two intense storms in the last three years, increasing damages to our local communities and natural resources.)
Climate change awareness has become part of a public dialogue and political agenda, at least here on the East Coast. Witness the cost of just one East Coast event: 100 lives lost and an estimated $50 billion of damages added to an already-struggling economy. Scott Mandia reflected on this in The Star article: “The debate over science is over now, and lawmakers must now think about policy.”
The time is now.
November 12, 2012
The other day I watched TV and saw the destruction of Long Island and Queens communities, Breezy Point, Far Rockaway, and other disaster areas caused by Sandy. The plight of these people made homeless, or trapped in their homes without power, heat, water, and even food, broke my heart.
My impulse was to immediately open my home to a family without shelter. Then I thought, East Hampton was relatively untouched. I lost power for two days — nothing compared to what these people have suffered. Can we, as a community, decide to help these people who are now without shelter? There are so many motels, inns, bed and breakfasts. Can’t they be opened in this off-season to the people from those towns that are just about destroyed?
We are so fortunate to have been on the periphery of the hurricane; they got the full force of the wind and water. We got a high wind and not much water. It didn’t even rain here! In this era of rising sea levels and destructive storms causing havoc, we need to take care of each other.
If anyone reading this has an idea toward this end please let me know.
With sadness and hope,
November 12, 2012
To the Editor,
Bill Wilkinson’s singular charitable effort on behalf of a citizen in need during our latest weather crisis is commendable — a good example of noblesse oblige. Would that this altruism be extended to the public at large, as homeowners await some form of clean-up help, especially those least able to afford any such action, physically or materially. In other words, folks, we need a suspension of those punishing rules prohibiting any sensible government program of leaf and brush cleanup.
The leaf and brush piles are mounting steadily at curbsides, a vivid reminder of Dollar Bill’s inaction. Too bad this didn’t happen before he received his mandate of 15 votes.
November 11, 2012
At the first budget hearing, Theresa Quigley said the board had proposed some good ideas which couldn’t be implemented because they couldn’t get them through the bureaucracy. The board needs to understand that programs are implemented from the bottom up, not from the top down. They need to show town employees how much their work is appreciated. Compliment them on a job well done. Ask their opinion on how to make programs work. They might be pleasantly surprised.
November 12, 2012
Important interim decisions have validated the time spent in hearing from experts and the public on options for updating the town’s distressed scavenger waste system. On a 3-2 vote with Councilpersons Sylvia Overby, Peter Van Scoyoc, and Dominick Stanzione in the majority, the East Hampton Town Board has decided to develop a comprehensive waste-management plan in order to determine whether or how the outdated septic waste processing plant should continue to be used. Meanwhile, the plant has provided an important service to the town’s small carters and their residential customers by remaining open as a transfer station that ships the waste mid-Island for processing.
Why then does the town board’s 2013 budget provide only enough money to operate the transfer station until some time in March? Could the whole idea be a political maneuver by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson to block a proper planning process and to force the board to sell the plant?
He and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley have stated repeatedly that they want to sell the plant. They have refused to participate in any discussion that considers other alternatives. Selling the plant has not received any community support, but the bad budgeting he did for this year has led to large deficits. Yet, he is stubbornly repeating the same mistake in the 2013 budget.
Supervisor Wilkinson and Councilwoman Quigley’s my-way-or-the-highway approach do not serve the town well, especially when it concerns an asset that is so important to the environmental and economic health of the town.
Councilman Stanzione recently announced his preference is to close that plant, which would explain why he accepts the inadequate funding to operate the plant in 2013. His preference seems inconsistent with his vote to have experts explore the options and then advise the town, a process that would not be completed until after the budget had run out of money to operate the plant. Could he really be using the comprehensive plan to simply appear environmentally conscious while in reality he is using the plan as a stall tactic so that the plant will be forced to close next year from lack of funding?
Playing politics with wastewater management is dirty, an assault against every citizen’s interest in an affordable program to dispose of septic waste and keep it from polluting our groundwater, bays, and oceans. The board needs to put politics aside and ensure that there are funds in the budget to operate the plant at some level while we develop a sound long-term policy.
November 11, 2012
The town budget presented by Supervisor Wilkinson does nothing to address the problems that have seriously affected the quality-of-life issues here. Why have he and his “deputy” so stubbornly resisted suggestions to hire additional code enforcement officers? I have recommended to the board, along with Town Councilmembers Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, that this be done.
When doing the math it seems it would be approximately $2 per household to hire four seasonal code enforcement officers. Many people in the town have requested this addition for the past three years in order to preserve the quality of life in our community. The town board has the ability to make East Hampton a better place to live by making this seasonal addition. Why are they not doing this? Is Supervisor Wilkinson paying too much attention to Theresa Quigley, who has stated that we could become a police state? Some things just don’t make sense.
The quality-of-life issues brought to this board are overcrowded houses in Springs, share houses in each hamlet, Indian Wells Beach problems, unruly partying and trash and fireworks in Beach Hampton, noise complaints in Montauk, and now the additional burden of monitoring the new contractor law.
The hiring of additional code enforcement personnel would allow the experienced Marine Patrol officers to be free to do their job elsewhere on the beaches instead of having to place a person at the beach on weekends. These additional code enforcers would be writing up fines, so their salaries might well be paid for. The board should be using our surplus monies to give these services back to the community.
Strict and Streamlined
November 10, 2012
The response to a letter about the town’s financial recovery in last week’s Star (“5.7 Million More”) can be summed up by saying the author of the letter seems to think he knows more than the town’s independent auditors, the town’s bond counsel, the town’s financial advisers, the state comptroller’s office, as well as town management — all of whom agreed at a February 2011 meeting on the need for a financial cushion created through deficit financing that would be important to the future financial well-being of the town.
Subsequent to that February 2011 meeting the state comptroller, working with the town’s independent auditors, set the year-end 2009 town deficit at $27.2 million — some $12 million more than many in the community insisted the deficit would actually be.
On Jan. 1, 2010 Supervisor Bill Wilkinson took office, rolled up his sleeves, and instituted a management structure and approach that resulted in the town spending $7.6 million less in the general fund in 2010 than was budgeted by the previous administration (by making decisions such as not filling 18 funded, but vacant, positions contained in the 2010 budget).
Then, after developing a very strict and streamlined 2011 budget (just ask the department heads), Mr. Wilkinson produced an additional within-year surplus of $2 million. It was that financial leadership and discipline that resulted in the town not needing to borrow the full $27.2 million to close the deficit created between 2005 and 2009. That is the real story of a real recovery and the real display of real financial “prowess” that last week’s letter writer sarcastically ridicules.
The bottom line here is very simple. At the end of fiscal year 2004, the last year where the town had decent financial numbers, the general fund undedicated surplus was an ample $4,994,422. The 2011 independent audit issued in July 2012 showed the town’s 2011 year end general fund non-dedicated surplus was $6,000,336.
This means the nonpartisan recovery strategy developed in 2010 and 2011 and the results of Bill Wilkinson’s new management and operational approach to East Hampton government, which created close to $10 million of surplus during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, resulted in the need to borrow less and get more out of that borrowing. The $27.2 million deficit was eradicated and a surplus similar to what it was prior to 2005 was created — like I said above, the real story of a real recovery.
Another error in last week’s letter is the number cited for what was borrowed as part of deficit financing. The letter writer failed to recognize over a half-million dollars of principal paydown in 2010 on deficit notes. An explanation of the paydown of this note principal can be easily found on page 2 of the June 23, 2010, official town statement for those with an understanding of how to accurately read such documents.
In addition, the last three budgets developed by the Wilkinson administration have been reviewed and commented on by the state comptroller’s office in what can only be described as a positive manner. How the town financed its deficit or used deficit finance revenue was never raised as an issue by the state comptroller.
In fact, the state comptroller recently conducted an on-site review of the proposed budget for 2013 and had no negative comments. In the letter report to the town board dated November 1, 2012, the comptroller stated, “Based on the results of our review we found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget are reasonable.” During this period the town has reduced total indebtedness by almost $15 million despite the letter writer’s bemoaning the deficit borrowing that created a small “rainy day fund.”
The rainy day fund created by the Wilkinson administration’s financial management that last week’s letter writer seems so offended by is proving to be important in a number of ways by putting the town in a position to react responsibly to the financial strain and costs related to Hurricane Sandy. Since we have a rainy day fund again we are able to advance money to pay for damage repairs and cleanup now, while waiting for federal and state emergency funds to reimburse us sometime over the next several years. What does not get reimbursed will be borrowed over time (reducing the yearly burden on taxpayers) and the funding from such borrowing will be used to pay the advances made possible by having the rainy day fund.
Last week’s letter was just plain wrong and showed a lack of understanding of municipal management on a number of levels. If the letter writer’s often espoused plan for town operations over the last three years and approach to deficit financing had been followed, the town would find itself with close to an $8 million general fund deficit today and no available funds to advance against future aid reimbursement to pay for storm cleanup and repairs — certainly not where we want to be now or anytime in the future.
Town of East Hampton
November 12, 2012
The Republican administration is about to misuse some of the $5.78 million of surplus that was created in 2011 when it borrowed more than was needed to close the general fund deficits.
The Republican administration plans to take a chunk of the surplus and move it into an account called the Town Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund. The budget then calls for $1.2 million to be taken from this fund and used as revenue for the general fund.
Supervisor Wilkinson created this retirement fund in 2011. The fund has no money in it, nor any rules about how much and when money goes into or comes out of it. Without any guidelines, taking money from this retirement fund for operating revenue is the same as directly appropriating surplus to reduce next year’s taxes by $1.2 million. Moving and renaming the over-borrowed money only masks what is really happening.
The Republicans have over-borrowed enough general-fund surplus to “buy down” the tax rate through the 2014 election-year budget. When the surpluses and the retirement fund become low, then property taxes must go up to replace the revenue that they can no longer provide. In all likelihood, the next administration will be left with the problem of introducing a large tax increase.
This wizardry is standard procedure for the Republican administration. The 2009 town audit shows that the previous administration left the Wilkinson administration a combined $11 million in surpluses in highway, sanitation, airport, and the other smaller funds. Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley, and Dominick Stanzione have raided those surpluses for millions of dollars of tax breaks.
They took $1.1 million from the highway fund in 2011; took a combined $2.2 million from the highway, sanitation, and airport funds in 2012, and have proposed appropriating another $700,000 from these three funds for 2013, in addition to the $1.2 million in the general fund I described above. None of the appropriations have gone to capital improvements or to lower total debt — they all were simply added to total operating revenues. These appropriations were used to lower taxes below the 2-percent cap and to hide the true size of the increases in our town’s expenditures.
This administration has been admonished before for using one-time surpluses for recurring expenses. In late 2010, Supervisor Wilkinson put anticipated surplus from the sale of property into the 2011 budget. The office of the state comptroller made the following critical comment: “Revenue from the sale of property is a non-recurring (one-shot) revenue that will be received in one year, but will not necessarily recur in the following year. This type of revenue should not be used to fund recurring operating expenditures, but rather to reduce debt or to fund non-recurring expenditures, such as the purchase of equipment or construction of capital assets.”
Supervisor Wilkinson did not take this advice and the result was a deficit for that budget line. The board should follow that advice now and place all of the over-borrowed money in a reserve fund that follows the state comptroller’s guidelines: Money can be used in the operating budget only to pay for the approximately $650,000 of principal that the over-borrowing will cost us annually until 2021, or the money can be used to replace other capital borrowing.
The public should not confuse the Republican’s practice of acceptable finance with good finance. Good finance serves the taxpayer in the long term and not the politicians in power at the moment.
November 12, 2012
Thank you to everyone who attended our eighth annual quiz show, and thanks to the witty Stephen Tekulsky, the quizmaster who makes this benefit evening so much fun for everyone. The 50-50 draw with a large pot from tickets sold throughout the fall was won by Alexander M. Laughlin Jr. of East Hampton, who generously donated the $1,170 back to the Neighborhood House and our early-learning center, which raised over $4000 that night.
The Neighborhood House is an independent nonprofit organization that has been supporting this community for over 100 years! We depend solely on community support and donations to continue to provide exceptional and affordable day care for 3 and 4-year-olds and a needed community space for meetings, language classes, and elections.
On behalf of the Neighborhood House Board of Directors, I would like to thank the public for its continued interest in this important and historical community center right here on Three Mile Harbor Road. Please let us know if you have any special memories or photos for our archives.
November 7, 2012
This week in the midst of all the good reporting on Hurricane Sandy, I came upon Russell Drumm’s “Relay” column titled “Ashes to Embers,” writing of his memory of his dad. He wrote, “Memories are embers that fade to ash if not tended.” In this beautifully written piece, he tells of burying his father’s ashes and with this story, he does resurrect those ashes into embers.
My eye was caught initially because my son Steve also hunted pheasant with his dad and a hunting dog in the upstate fields near Syracuse. It is not useful for me to paraphrase the memories of his dad that Mr. Drumm wrote about: the hunting till nightfall, the exhaustion, the closeness with his dad that comes through, the poignant story of his father’s military service, and his father’s heartbreaking recital of a poem he loved, when he was near death, the burial of the ashes in a cardboard urn to match his dad’s frugality — he has done this in a finely written essay.
With all the storm and political news rightfully filling pages, I just hope that this lovely memory was read by many.
From the Heart
November 12, 2012
To the Editor,
This is the original obituary that was submitted to The East Hampton Star on Nov. 5. I was never made aware of the editors’ option to rewrite, revise, or to add or subtract information written in the original obituary without any verification that the changes were accurate or correct.
When I submitted the story of my mother’s life, I was able to have a sense of closure with the words I chose to use. When the story was dissected and rewritten, part of that peace was destroyed. Perhaps I did not write a grammatically perfect piece, but it was from the heart and should have been left alone.
Ms. Caputo referred to an obituary for Lottie Schaffer that appeared in last Thursday’s paper and provided a copy of her original draft with this letter. A correction appears on the obituary page of this issue. Ed.
Abused by the System
November 7, 2012
I was deeply disturbed by the article “Beating and Burglary” in last Thursday’s edition of The Star. I quote: “The most serious is the burglary charge, punishable by 5 to 25 years in a state prison.” A man is beaten savagely and over a sustained period of time. He is on the ground being kicked about the head, neck, and face. They dragged him into his home and continued beating and kicking him, “as he lay helpless on the floor.”
As a victim of just such a crime I ask: At what point is this not considered attempted murder, which foot to the eye socket might drive bone fragments into the brain?
I asked this question at my assailant’s hearings and received no response from my assistant district attorney or the judge. I was told I had no “standing.” I heard this same story from several young women who had suffered similar beatings (often in violation of orders of protection) and together we decided that the justice system is dealing with violent, physical assaults in an inappropriate and ineffective manner.
The Retreat often assists these kinds of women. It is a personal insult to the humanity and dignity of victims to see their rights sold so cheaply by district attorneys and judges. The local police (who do a great job) are slapped in the face every day, all day with plea bargains and “deals of the century” by the upper levels at our courts.
The ability of the district attorney and our judges to practice without morals borders on sociopathic behavior. Imagine getting up every day, going off to work with forethought and intention to violate the most basic principals of law and justice. The wheeling and dealing that transpires inside our courthouses, before the bench, is an ugly perversion of justice. A defense attorney, with knowledge the defendant(s) beat a young girl repeatedly and in violation of orders of protection, chooses not only to attempt to free this client but to disparage and damage this young girl further. I sat with women like these. The victim is more often than not abused by the system created to protect them.
It is time to put our justices on panels prior to election day and grill them in the manner our supervisors and presidents are grilled. Why should they be allowed to hide behind cocktail party fund-raisers, turning their campaigns into shallow, deceptive popularity contests? They are the community’s last line of defense. They consistently accept illegitimate deals and fail to assess appropriate sentences and fines. If these justices and judges were exposed to public scrutiny and had to face us personally (as all candidates do), they would not be so cavalier and neglectful of the doctrines and dictates of their positions.
A Springs man was beaten nearly to death, and the most serious charge is the burglary! What is the imposed sentence for an assault (attempted murder) of this magnitude? We who have had experience with the justice system know that to charge assault in the second degree the beating had to be monstrous. I am really interested in knowing what these criminals face and how soon we can welcome them back in our neighborhoods. I am certain the answer will shock and dismay the community.
Neighbors and Friends
November 12, 2012
To the Editor,
Now that the election is over with an overwhelming victory for Democrats, I hope that the local Republicans come down from their high horses.
I have noticed all hatred in their letters to the editor. We are all neighbors and friends, and we do not paint our faces red or blue. But if they don’t like it here they can always move to a red state.
I just got back from Charleston, and trust me that there is no comparison to our beautiful blue state and beautiful blue East Hampton.
I can not understand why not one of the Republican board members who were invited to LTV to watch the returns on election night did not show up. I cooked platters of Italian sausage with red peppers and onions and baked penne Sorrentino.
I must thank Hampton Market Place, Stuart’s Sea Food, the Springs General Store, the One-Stop Market, various restaurants, and all who sent delicious platters of foods, cakes, and doughnuts. All the food was delicious. A big thanks to all who donated.
November 12, 2012
Tuesday, Nov. 6 — Election Day — was a great day for this country and for the First Congressional District of New York!
This letter is a public thank-you to the dedicated members of the East Hampton Democratic Committee and to our many, many devoted volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the summer and fall, registering new voters, manning phone banks, organizing fund-raisers, and reaching out to our community to bring home the message of the essential importance of re-electing President Barack Obama and Congressman Tim Bishop.
This tireless team did a terrific job of education and persuasion and getting out the vote. I am so grateful for their amazing, cooperative, cheerful, nonstop efforts. Thank you! Thank you! You are the best!
East Hampton Democratic
November 8, 2012
I am so impressed with the political advocacy of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. In their support of the newly re-elected Congressman Tim Bishop they were relentless, but never unduly disparaging in pushing back against his opponent.
I look forward to the East Hampton Democratic Committee shepherding the renovation of the East Hampton Town Board in 2013. Kudos to them!
All good things,
November 12, 2012
To the Editor:
After 16 months of bitter and partisan rhetoric the election of 2012 is already becoming a fading memory. After a divisive and, at times, bitter political conflict Barack Obama has emerged from the dust victorious but bloodied. Already, new issues are beginning to claw at his presidency, and his hopes in the second term are jeopardized by long-festering issues.
First there is the looming fiscal cliff that threatens our already-fragile economy. Before the end of the year the president needs to make a deal to avoid his own idea: sequestration. If no deal is reached, devastating cuts to our military and government programs will take effect. Also, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and taxes will go up for every American at a time of economic peril — a double-whammy of bad news.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has already made it quite clear that if no resolution is found our economy will be devastated and we will lurch back into recession. Unemployment will skyrocket to over 10 percent overnight as businesses will shed thousands of jobs. We already see that as major corporations are reducing the majority of their workforces to part-time status to avoid the punitive forces just in Obamacare.
Crises around the world are unfolding as we speak. Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive, having held huge war games in the Persian Gulf on the heels of trying to shoot down one of our aircraft. The civil war in Syria is beginning to spill over the borders and threatens a wider regional conflict. Already, Israel has had to return fire from unprovoked attacks from Syrian positions. The threat of radical jihadists seizing power, just as they did in Egypt, grows every day.
Couple this with the unresolved questions surrounding the president and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi and the assaults on our embassies around the world, along with the growing scandal regarding Gen. David Petraeus and the C.I.A., and the list just keeps growing. Who knew what and when did they know it are the questions being asked, yet the Obama administration continues to stonewall and cover up huge failings in national security and foreign policy.
Add to that unresolved issues such as tax reform, immigration reform, the Fast and Furious scandal, entitlement reform, and it is a wonder we can hope for anything to get done before the 2014 midterm elections.
We can only hope that Barack Obama understood what he was getting himself into when he won on election night and that he has the moral fortitude and leadership skills necessary to perform his duties as president. Three hundred million Americans are counting on him, and if he fails, the country fails and he will be undeserving of any kindness.
MICHAEL D. BOUKER
Moment of Celebration
November 12, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I want to thank you and my other 62,088,846 fellow Americans for voting with me to finish the work we began four years ago. I promise to do everything in my power to repay your trust with tangible results that will strengthen our economy, fortify and grow our middle class, and assure that the promise of a great American future is within the grasp of every man, woman, and child willing to work to achieve it.
And to my 58,783,137 fellow Americans who did not vote along the same lines, please know that I heard you loud and clear, and that your strongly held beliefs will be in my thoughts through every phase of the decision-making process as we move forward. I will reach across the aisle, across the states, across Main Street and Wall Street, and across the bar to get us all another drink. I’m pretty sure we could use one about now.
Not to sound petty in a moment of celebration, Mr. Rattray, but I must express some annoyance with the disturbing demographic analysis of this victory. Sure, we did fine with blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, young voters, single women, and basketball players. But many political analysts are claiming that our esteemed opponent came out on top in the segment now known as “aging white males.” Excuse me?
First of all, as the chairman of the Coalition of Aging White Males for Obama (C.A.W.M.O.) I believe that I shepherded a strong, influential movement that brought several million aging white male voters to the polls who might otherwise have stayed at home reading AARP flyers, watching reruns of “Happy Days,” or checking their long-term care policies. Instead, they came out, joining their younger fellow citizens at voting places across our nation. Through driving rain, dangerous winds, buckled roads, and flooded streets they hobbled to make sure their feeble voices were heard in our great democratic process in this time of great import.
To my fellow aging white males who did not vote with C.A.W.M.O. I say this: Clip your nose hairs for god’s sake and let’s get a drink. And raise ’em to a great country‚ even for old white men.
Need to Rethink
November 11, 2012
To the Editor,
The ass kicking that the Democrats put on the Republicans had barely sunk in before the media was apoplectic about the “fiscal cliff.” If one bothered to read Nate Silver, whose analysis of the electoral polls gave President Obama a 90-percent chance of winning, one could easily conclude that the race was greatly over-hyped by the media and the parties. The insane tension and relentless demands for money up to the final hours illustrate how the public was once again manipulated and scammed. Mickey Mouse would have garnered 47 or 48 percent of the vote. So much for Mitt Romney, the Republicans, and the $2 billion they wasted.
The election related very much to the fiscal cliff that is threatening our demise, once again. In the economic crisis/depression, the Republicans went batshit and sold out the country in the name of crap. They will repeat the process in this new crisis and should be told to bugger off. They are done, irrelevant, screwed, and essentially useless. If they wish to return to relevance they need to rethink their fake conservatism and get real.
The crisis of the fiscal cliff is more fabrication than real in its urgency — problems we need to deal with but not stupidly and under duress. The Bush tax cuts can be reworked in a saner, more logical approach. The benefits for the top 1/10th of 1 percent are worth more than for the bottom 50 percent. Military cuts are more about the economy than security. Cut the military and then re-evaluate how the money is spent: a Romney idea. Subsidies to oil companies, farmers, etc., were once logical and smart for growth. Are they still? But all this is essentially bullshit and changes nothing.
The first and only question that determines all the actions that will follow the answer is: Do we want a middle class or not?
If the answer is no, we cut taxes for the top 10 percent, reduce financial regulation, abolish capital gains, eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, global warming initiatives, the minimum wage, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, balance the budget. Deficit obsessives are, in truth, America’s new white trash. Only the wealthy benefit from reducing the deficit. To 80 percent of the country it’s just piss.
If it’s yes, we rebuild our infrastructure, re-educate our workers, raise taxes on everyone above $750,000 by 15 percent, kick up estate taxes and capital gains. Since the private sector bailed on the middle class, creating a negative-19 million jobs since 2000, it would be absurd to expect it to lead the country’s economic revival. Mandate the government to fund enough projects that provide well-paying jobs that will create demand for goods and services.
For the purpose of rebuilding the economy it is not the level of wealth but its utilization that is critical. Corporate and individual wealth has not been part of the equation for the past 12 years. This wealth has remained on the sidelines or was invested in more profitable areas. If every middle-class family had an additional $20,000 to spend it would provide a huge jolt to demand and re-energize the markets. Allowing this wealth to remain on the sidelines and providing tax breaks to boot is oxymoronic.
The government is charged with providing for all of the people, not just the top 20 percent.
So what does the Democrats’ butt-kicking really mean? Was our vote an affirmative on the question of the middle class? If it was, we need to keep kicking ass and letting our politicians know who they really work for.
November 9, 2012
Dear David Rattray:
I just had a most interesting post-election talk with a remarkably well-informed dishwasher repairman from UpIsland. When he saw my “Obama” hat on the counter, he cynically said, “I guess you must be happy.”
“Yes I was,” I said cautiously. “What was your reaction to the election?” Well, out came a response that surprised me: “All the party has to do is get in touch with the country and then communicate better.”
I wondered if the problem was communication or the basic program of his party.
“Yeah, some things have to change — the hangup on abortion has to be dropped, catering to the rich is a loser . . . ” and on and on he went with a series of ideas which represented a return to the moderate Republicanism of the 1970s.
When I said to him that adopting his plan would result in the loss of millions of Koch-type dollars, the Tea Party House members (1/3 of their majority), the evangelicals, and the National Rifle Association as a minimum, he, after thinking about it, said, “You know, I agree with you, but without these changes, they will always be a minority party with nowhere to go but down. Maybe they have to change and start all over again to get somewhere.”
Not to be confused, he is still an opponent of the health care act, feels Medicare is wasteful, disagrees with President Obama’s bailout of the banks and Detroit, and all in all is unhappy with the role of government under the Democrats. Still, I was delighted to feel that there were people on the other side of the issues that were genuinely concerned with the party’s problem. He knew that it was not just a failure to communicate better. No, it was a failure to first responsibly address the county’s problems from their point of view, generate an understandable slogan-free agenda, and then communicate.
Did Not Help
November 8, 2012
To the Editor,
This was the most vicious election campaign I have ever seen since my first vote. The lies and name-calling did not help me to decide how I would vote. The millions of dollars spent did not help the candidates; it turned people off. We had fewer people voting in my district than in 2004. Think of how all this money could have helped the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
We elect people to run our country, not run for elective office for two years. This is why government doesn’t work. This has got to change so our country can prosper again.
November 6, 2012
To all the anti-Obama people with all their lies and big money — and especially to Mr. Always Wrong Bouker,
RICHARD P. HIGER