Letters to the Editor: 11.22.12

Our readers' comments

Cost of Litigating
    November 15, 2012
To the Editor,
    When I discuss my class in state and local government I have often joked that I don’t need a text, politicians give me ample material for my lectures. Sag Harbor is the latest example.
    The Star has covered the debate over the cost of police services to the village as well as the dispute between Janet Lehr and Vered on one side and the village over a pair of legs. Let’s think about this. The cost of maintaining a force of 13 officers and supervisors, who proved their worth during the hurricane and northeaster of this month, or the cost of litigating in the Supreme Court over a set of legs attached to a former church.
    If it were still a church and the congregants attached a cross the side of the building would the village require a building permit? I think not!
    Perhaps, so long as the village argues it cannot afford to maintain public safety, the elected officials, who have a fiduciary responsibility to preserve and protect the public purse, might review the costs of fighting frivolous lawsuits and put those funds to better use, such as public safety.
    Adjunct Professor of Political Science
    St. Joseph’s College

For Breezy Point
    November 13, 2012
To the Editor,
    The Montauk Fire Department would like to thank and commend the Citizens of East Hampton Town for their outpouring of support for the community of Breezy Point.
    The critical supplies and manpower donated were put to use immediately, easing the burden of those in dire need following the mass destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. The amount of material and supplies, the trucks donated by the Town of East Hampton, the local fire departments, Mickey’s Carting service, and personal vehicles allowed for delivery and distribution in a timely manner.
    Breezy Point was totally devastated and the arduous road to recovery is going to be both ongoing and difficult.
    A special note of thanks and admiration should be tendered to Fireman Dennis O’Reilly for the countless hours put forth in organizing and leading this extensive effort. His efforts and the efforts of members of the Montauk Fire Department, the ladies of the Community Church, and the cooperation of town officials symbolize the goodness of our community.
    Montauk Fire Department

Debt of Gratitude
    East Hampton
    November 19, 2012
To the Editor:
    For 11 of the 13 days I was without light or heat, I stayed at a local caravanserai (very nice), where most of the other guests were electric guys from all over — Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, I think Georgia — wow. When you think of the sacrifice they made, leaving their families and the comforts of home to drive giant trucks thousands of miles to help strangers, it’s pretty overwhelming.
    We owe these selfless people an immense debt of gratitude.
    Is this a great country, or what?

Business Threatened    
    November 9, 2012
Dear Editor,
    It is most unfortunate that Concerned Citizens of Montauk has targeted the Kalimnios family for taking emergency precautions in the face of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent northeaster.
    What stake does C.C.O.M. have in Montauk commercial waterfront? Has any C.C.O.M. member watched while his or her business was threatened by rising tides and destructive flooding? I think not.
    It’s easy to theorize how things should be when you have nothing to lose except aesthetics. When your livelihood is threatened by menacing seas, you do not (as some would profess) let your buildings wash away.

Courageous Decision
    November 18, 2012
    I would like to thank our Supervisor Bill Wilkinson for his intelligent and courageous decision shoring up the entrances to the beach in downtown Montauk during the hurricane and subsequent northeaster. His quick response spared our village from flooding and significant damage.
    I would also like to express my support for the Kalimnios family, who, at their own considerable expense, temporarily had to shore up their property while emergency repairs were made. Would any of us have done less?
    It is all well and good to go through the permit process and get things in writing, but when the patient is hemorrhaging you need a tourniquet. Our beloved Montauk was spared this time. I hope the powers that be will learn from this near-miss and find the solutions and have the courage to do the right thing before it’s too late.

Rebuild Smarter
    East Hampton
    November 16, 2012
Dear Editor:
    In a post-Sandy world, there is no single solution to how the East End should prepare for the next storm.
    Healthy coastal systems — wetlands, beaches, dunes, and barrier islands — that are not impeded by structures or threatened by poor water quality can provide vital benefits not just during storms, but as a part of the day-to-day life of people who live along the coast.
    Before we rebuild, we must make sure that all options, both natural and built, are on the table.
    As Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, we must “rebuild smarter.”  Creating resilient coastal communities will require cost-effective and long-term investments in natural infrastructure, like restoring wetlands and preserving natural lands in low-lying coastal zones.
    We must understand and explore ways to keep our natural systems healthy and hardy in the face of storm surge and sea-level rise. Let’s actively protect wetland parcels and other areas upland of the coastal zone so that when seas do rise, our communities have a chance to withstand the flooding.
    It’s time to embrace nature’s protective and beneficial side — rather than fight it.
    Executive director
    Nature Conservancy on Long Island

The Difference
    November 19, 2012
Dear David,
    When I was a kid I asked my mother what was the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. A union rep at Macy’s, she told me that the Republicans were for the rich and the Democrats were for the working class.
    As I matured and my knowledge of history, government, and politics grew, I sort of outgrew that simplistic point of view, but, being a consummate educator, I did choose to follow my mother’s political point of view and became an active East Hampton Democrat. So I recently put up my signs around town, including four Obama signs that I paid for and eight Bishop signs. None lasted more than day, while the opposition just kept, I guess in their panic, adding more signs. I shook my head in disbelief. Is that the Republican way?
    I have often wondered what makes a Republican except for the fantasy they have believing they are the rich, which of course most of them are not.
    But Sandy brought it all into a sharp focus. After power in my area came on Saturday, it was discovered that my house was incorrectly reconnected by the Long Island Power Authority and I experienced a power surge in which I lost everything from light bulbs to my oil burner and hot water heater. A short occurred, the fire department responded promptly, but due to the smoke in the house I was forced out of my house yet again.
    When LIPA corrected its mistake and power was correctly flowing into my house on Monday evening, East End Fuel worked on the oil burner and hot water heater while I emptied any questionable food into an industrial trash bag, filling it, almost equal to 4 feet in height, and dragging it out to my car.
    The very next day, Tuesday, I went to the dump early with my Santa Claus-size bag only to see the gate closed‚ dump closed. “Wait‚ this is an emergency, a monster storm!” They can’t pay them the extra money, I was told, as a slew of cars turned away from the entrance, food rotting in my car till Thursday.
    I drove home and lifted that super-size bag into a receptacle. That very same day I went to vote and a friend told me that if I needed gas FEMA was giving out free gas at McCoy in Amagansett. As I waited for 20 minutes to gas up my Prius, it dawned on me that my mother was right. It is quite simple and basic. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is obvious. The Democrats are for the people, and the Republicans have hearts the size of an ant’s.

Leaking Faucet
    East Hampton
    November 12, 2012
To the Editor,
    Why are the portable toilets still at the Town Dock on Three Mile harbor?
    Yesterday, on my morning walk, I saw one lying on the ground. We, the taxpayers, pay for the use of these and they should be removed in October when the boats come out. Also, I saw a leaking faucet running for weeks. I think they may have turned off the water by now for the winter.
    We need a town manager who will see that the department heads get the work done.

Financial Stability
    November 18, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I want to thank all the department heads, town board members, and members of the public that contributed to the successful formulation of what is now the adopted 2013 operating budget. The success of the budget is attested to by the positive comments (based on an in-depth review) by the state comptroller’s office in a letter to the town board dated Nov. 1.
     No budgets have been more scrutinized over the last three years than those Supervisor Bill Wilkinson developed and proposed. In that Nov. 1 letter the state comptroller wrote, “We analyzed, verified and/or corroborated trend data and estimates. . . . We identified any significant new or unusually high revenue or expenditure estimates, made appropriate inquiries and reviewed supporting documentation to determine the nature of the items and to assess whether the estimate was realistic and reasonable. We also evaluated the amount of fund balance appropriated in the tentative budget to be used as a revenue source and determined if the amount of fund balance was available and sufficient. . . . Based on the results of our review we found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget are reasonable.”
    Through the strong and steady hand of Supervisor Wilkinson, which included a well-thought-out deficit finance plan and the use of surplus where available in some funds and the creation of surplus where it did not exist in others (a k a the $27 million general fund deficit created by a previous administration), the town has stabilized tax rates and created balanced reserves and fund balances in the town’s major funds.
    The town has achieved this financial stability while reducing indebtedness by almost $15 million over the last three years and turning a $20 million combined deficit (when including all funds) into a projected $15 million-plus combined surplus at the end of 2012 — a projection deemed reasonable by the state comptroller. These facts undermine those who imply the town has somehow borrowed its way out of deficit or has used surplus from some funds just to reduce taxes.
    I believe the town has reached the level of financial stability the public was seeking when electing Bill Wilkinson to lead the town government beginning in 2010. It has done so with minimal impact on programs and under the watchful eye of the state comptroller and the professional municipal financial community.
    Budget Officer
    Town of East Hampton

Omitted the Specifics
    November 18, 2012
Dear David,
    The four-and-a-half-hour, agendaless work session of the East Hampton Town Board in Montauk, on Tuesday, made this observer wonder why the supervisor and his “deputy” seem so reluctant to do what is necessary to resolve important quality-of-life issues facing this community.
    Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley repeatedly voted “no” to any proposed changes to budget items. But fortunately, the two Democratic councilmembers and a third member voted for those changes in the budget in order to reflect community needs. Additional money was made available to hire more seasonal code enforcement officers, to begin the deer count for a deer-management plan, to develop a waste management plan, and to correct the violations at the scavenger waste plant cited by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
    But after these important corrections were made to the budget on Tuesday and passed by a 3-to-2 vote, the budget resolution presented to the board at Thursday’s meeting omitted the specifics for which the additional $135,000 was added. The resolution stated merely that “the Town Board adopts the Preliminary Budget with those changes agreed to at the Nov. 13 work session.”
    Why aren’t those changes spelled out? Could it be because the supervisor and “deputy” did not want them and did not vote for them? There is a definitive lack of transparency in the two leaders of this board.

Transcend Politics
    November 19,2012
Dear David,
    Starting with Campaign 2011 for East Hampton Town’s elected offices, the motto of the East Hampton Democratic Party has been “Leadership That Unites.” We take that responsibility seriously, and the past week has shown that we can put our motto into practice for the benefit of the entire town.
    Councilmembers Overby and Van Scoyoc have led a bipartisan renegotiation of the 2013 budget. Councilman Stanzione crossed party lines to provide the third vote on several changes. While the changes are small as a percent of the total budget, they were each important. What is more, they have been asked for, often repeatedly, by large segments of the taxpayers.
    The negotiations, and the success in securing the three votes, show that politicians in East Hampton can transcend party politics for the benefit of all residents. No matter which parties are represented on the town board, voters deserve “Leadership That Unites.”

Important Increments
    November 19, 2012
Dear David,
    The Democratic Councilmembers Overby and Van Scoyoc, by listening to the public and painstaking negotiation, have prompted modest but important increments to the supervisor’s budget. The revised budget includes funding for the deer count, which is the necessary first step in a sensible and sensitive deer management plan. More realistically than the supervisor’s version, it anticipates  needs of the septic waste program. And in another pro-environment initiative, it adds a budget line for planning the state-mandated MS4 [municipal separate stormwater system] management program.
    The new budget also provides needed additional funds for public schoolchildren’s after-school care through  Project Most. It affords welcome funding for additional code enforcement personnel, sought by residents throughout the town in the interest of enhanced public safety and quality of life. In addition, the minority councilpersons secured a third vote, against inexplicable  opposition,  to use a pittance of Community Preservation Fund money which has no effect on the tax rate, for management of  properties that have been acquired with C.P.F. funds.
    These achievements by the minority councilmembers emerged from study of the facts and patient negotiation. They were informed by a real concern for the public’s interest and needs. They exemplified the art and hard work of a government “of, by, and for the people.”
    The results will be appreciated in 2013. The process should stand as an example of how our town board should work.
    Sincerely yours,
    East Hampton Town
    Democratic Committee

A Great Night
    November 18, 2012
Dear David,
    East Hampton Conservators would like to express our gratitude to our neighbors who attended, the local businesses that donated food and drink, and especially LTV for providing an excellent community space for the celebration of American democracy we sponsored on Election Night. We invited the entire town to attend and watch these historic elections unfold, on the largest TV screen in East Hampton, bringing together all our neighbors of all political viewpoints to spend a few hours to honor what makes this nation a light of freedom in the world.
    What a great night it was as local and national voters exercised their right to determine our common future! We were heartened that so many of our neighbors, just a week after the unwelcome arrival of Sandy, accepted the invitation, excited to share a sense of community and patriotism.
    Thanks go to the many individuals who helped spread the word before the event, prepared the tasty and filling food and drink, and produced an outstanding, fun evening. The numerous local businesses that contributed so generously made possible a memorable night that affirmed the deep sense of community spirit that makes East Hampton such a wonderful place to live, and an important place to preserve and protect.
    East Hampton Conservators

Feral Cat Poem #44
the first slant of sunshine
to pierce the gloom
after the storm
spot-lighted herself,
Ms. Calico,
perched upon my flipped kayak

a pretty sight
she washed her mottled self
with spit and paw
(the same as us
since The Tempest struck)

did she ride death out
up under my boat?
We’ll never know.

with the ferals
it’s don’t ask don’t tell
come hell or high water.

Terrible Offenses
    November 15, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am glad that Mr. McMorrow keeps us informed about the D.W.I./D.U.I. arrests in our town that seem to be occurring at an alarming rate. Could he possibly follow up and let your readers know how these cases are resolved?
    I have been told, perhaps inaccurately, that by hiring local attorneys at a cost of thousands of dollars, some of these defendants who have been charged with the more severe offense of driving while intoxicated are being allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of driving under the influence. (Again, if true, are their attorneys already, or do they become, contributors to local judicial campaigns?)
     Both D.W.I. and D.U.I are terrible offenses. They risk not only the driver’s life but severe injury or death to other innocent parties. I think it is time that these offenders should be treated by our courts as harshly as possible under existing law, without being allowed to plead to lesser charges.

The Power of Peace
    Sag Harbor
    November 15, 2012
To the Editor,
    In 2008 James Douglas wrote the book “J.F.K. the Unspeakable,” the most authentic version of the assassination of President Kennedy. I’ve known Jim for 30 years and spent time with him on retreat. Douglas called on Thomas Merton to be his guide through a story of deepening dialogue, assassination, and a hope for resurrection.
    According to Douglas, the commencement speech Kennedy gave at American University on June 10, 1963, caused his assassination. Brief excerpts from the speech:
    Self-examination, Kennedy said, was the foundation of peace. The first point in Kennedy’s theme was that of self-examination with respect to our opponent: Let us examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union.
    Let us re-examine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeming to pile up debating points.
    The final plea for self-examination: J.F.K. appealed to his American audience to examine the quality of life within our borders: Let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom at home. In too many cities today the peace is not secured because freedom is incomplete.
    The power of peace in the end of his life caused his death.
    In peace,

Go Bananas
    East Hampton
    November 18, 2012
To the Editor,
    The sheer idiocy of the Petraeus- Benghazi fiasco underlines the quasi-dementia of our political parties and the incessant need of the media to create crisis and validate its existence.
    It is difficult to uncover a handful of diplomatic or military successes that the United States has initiated in the past 20 years. Our bullshit exceptionalism is only the emperor’s new clothes. The dearth of able, competent military leaders and diplomatic skill-sets is remarkable in a country of 330 million people. Yet, we throw David Petraeus under the bus because he was bonking his biographer — not selling secrets, stealing money, misrepresenting ideas and policies, but bonking for pleasure (or relief or whatever) his girlfriend.
    If we were not a slut nation (male and female) we might have a miniscule case on some obscure moral ground. But we are the world leaders in pornography, rape, divorce, child abuse, etc. Almost every product is represented by a half-naked, extra-buff male or female who is saying you can have me in the back seat if you buy my car. We have no sexual morality that has much validity.
    So, instead of handling the bonking issue quietly and efficiently, we go bananas and turn it into a scandal. Enter the media. With the election over and only the fiscal cliff (which no one understands or really cares about) to dramatize, the need for drama is accentuated. Mr. Petraeus plus the cliff makes for a more appetizing crisis package. In the end, we lose David Petraeus and all his competence and acumen for the sole purpose of keeping the country riveted to cable news.
    Benghazi is a different story; something actually happened there, something really bad. Libya is a difficult place. Without a real government, police force, army, and civil laws it is an unchartered war zone. Everyone is armed, and no one is sure who is running the show. That Al Qaeda might pull off a small coup in this climate is not miraculous. That we didn’t have the situation under control is absurd. We had no idea what was or is going on there. Nobody did.
    Enter our politicians and the media and we are at crisis central. The immediate response was incorrect. The story keeps changing. There has to be a cover-up by the administration. The presumption and pretense of diplomatic competence is mind-boggling. We share the same level of buffoonery as the rest of the world. But the media needed to know immediately what exactly, precisely, happened — who can we blame?
    We may not be in control of everything that happens around the world. We aren’t in control of everything that happens around the world. We never were. No one is. Reality doesn’t exist when your head is up your ass or your neighbor’s.
    We are not an intellectually wealthy nation. We can’t afford to lose Mr. Petraeus no matter whom he’s bonking. If we have Benghazi with him, what will we have without him? The media has to get its act together and stop propagating moral stupidities, stop pretending that we are better than we really are.

Get On Board
    East Hampton
    November 16, 2012
Dear Editor,
    With the election over and Obama’s historic and decisive win in the books, it now appears that his Republican opponents, together with their losing ticket, will test more of the public’s patience with the plaintive, ancient cry of the sore loser, “We wuz robbed!”
    Some of their more pathetic and weepy comments were:
    Obama “ ‘bought’ the election with gifts to his base‚” sez Romney; “Urban areas turned out in droves” (meaning Latinos and blacks), “surprising us,” sez Ryan; “People who want things” did it for the President, sez Bill O’Reilly; “300 million we spent kept it close‚” sez Rove, and on and on!
    There are no criticisms of the morons on the right who disrespected women, Latinos, gays, and lesbians; based their campaign on courting white men with disparaging personal statements about Obama, embraced Donald Trump, a total nonentity, never outlined just how they were going to accomplish the grandiose promises of 12 million jobs, reduce the deficit, etc. — just ephemeral words with no backup. No specifics. We’ll tell you later, they said!
    Then, great day in the morning, they got their asses kicked by the American people, who stood up and said “show us your tax returns‚” “we are the 47 percent plus 4 percent,” “we don’t want or need vaginal probes,” “rape is just that, rape‚” “we don’t want the Kochs, the Adelsons, the big corporations, and the big military suppliers to run this country‚” “we don’t like the idea of ‘self-deportation‚’ for immigrants‚” “we like our Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment support,” “we believe that slightly higher taxes on the rich will be good for the country‚” and we, the majority, prefer Barack Hussein Obama to lead us.
    These right-wing Tea Party players, whose power was feared and who dominated the Republican Party, kept saying they want their country back or “bring the country back.” Sorry guys, that train has left the station, we are no longer a 1950s country dominated by male white voters, and big bucks won’t change anything. We are a country in demographic transition and we will continue to be one. Fifty thousand Latinos come of voting age every month, women are fully in charge of their own bodies and minds; blacks are educated and aware of their constitutional rights including the right to vote; young people are as well. So with the train out of the station you either get on board or be left holding your you-know-whats on the platform.
    So stop this crybaby attitude and phony, easily-seen-through, sore-loser demeanor, and join us in an effort to make this country better.
    Start by recognizing John McCain for what he now is, an old man, still smarting from Sarah Palin syndrome and his own defeat. Tell Lindsay Graham he better not challenge a president now on a mandated mission or he will get run over. This is a dedicated Obama ready to battle for his legacy! Oh, and perhaps you all should just dump your overall pacifier fixation on Fox Media and get truthful unbiased opinion and polling for a change.
    Forget keeping your job and concentrate on keeping your country strong and healthy.