Letters to the Editor: 01.26.12

What Happened?
    Sedona, Ariz.
    January, 17, 2012
East Hampton Star:
    I raised my family enjoying the summers and holidays in East Hampton for most of my life. It was a special place. We have just visited again after being away for 13 years.
    It was very sad to visit the shops and not see any evidence of Christmas, when they used to celebrate it so well.
    What happened, East Hampton, did the Spirit of Christmas blow out to sea?
JIM McCABE


Forward-Thinking
    Springs
    January 19, 2012
To the Editor,
    What a wonderful surprise to see my house (the Antler House) featured in your tribute to Andrew Geller, the architect and visionary, after his recent passing.
    I was lucky enough to meet this charming man several years ago. I think he would have been pleased to see the latest reincarnation of his forward-thinking design. The footprint of the house is unchanged yet the house is completely refreshed, surrounded by the woods and natural beauty that he so loved.
MARY BRAVERMAN

Unbelievably Gone
    Sag Harbor
    January 21, 2012
To the Editor,
    For the past two weeks I have been having a recurring nightmare that my longtime friend, gallerist, and art cohort and co-conspirator died in a freak accident at the moment we were to begin our latest and biggest project together. It has almost begun to feel real.
    John McWhinnie was a complex person, a visionary scholar, an alchemist of cultural media, a brilliant stream-of-consciousness idea generator, and for his artists, a loyal patron, facilitator, and sparring partner.
     He was also a very private person; when he died a lot of us who thought we knew him well realized we didn’t know that he swam, rode a bike, hiked, liked birds, or if he really surfed.
     He gave me and many others incredible opportunities to not only show but to advance our work, and my work would be substantially different without his influence and support. Doing what he did forced him to be something of a serial monogamist, deeply committed to and understanding of your work, etc., then moving on and doing something similar for his next artist.
    I don’t know if that was hard on him, but it could be tough for me, the anxiety that he had moved on and wouldn’t come back. Of course he always did — usually with a project more substantial because of the success he had with some of those other artists.
     Now that he is so suddenly and unbelievably gone it is unbearable that he won’t be coming back — for the next sparring session, partnership in the next collaboration, like a musician with whom you play intuitively, a telepathic connection, unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable — all of the incredible spectra he fused together in his mind and his shops will have to go back into their respective corners and put their dunce caps on.
JAMESON ELLIS


Enormous Help
    East Hampton
    January 23, 2012
Dear Editor:
    We would like to take time, in memory of past-Commander Lawrence P. Hamill, to thank the American Legion Post 419 for coordinating services, food donations, and getting together with fellow members to have a hot, late lunch for Dad’s family and friends on Jan. 15. Legion members, including Commander Fred Overton, Jill Baker, George O’Sullivan, Jack MacPherson, Pattie Bye, and many more, were an enormous help during a difficult time. We thank everyone for all their hard work!
    We ask that memorial donations be made to this wonderful organization: American Legion Post 41, P.O. Box 1343, East Hampton 11937.
    Thank you so very much.
    Respectfully,
    SUSIE GOETZ
    For the Family of Larry Hamill


Nice to Know
    Baltimore
    January 17, 2012
To the Editor,
    I would like to extend a big thank-you to the East Hampton Waldbaum’s team.
    After forgetting my wallet in the midst of bagging groceries, the Waldbaum’s staff called my office to report that they had found my wallet and it was being kept in a safe place.
    We all know the panic around losing credit cards and IDs, and it’s nice to know that people in this community are so conscientious and helpful.
EDWIN C. OLIVER


It’s Okay
    St. John, U.S.V.I.
    January 23, 2012
Dear Editor,
    It’s okay to incinerate them with napalm and white phosphorus, blow them apart with machine guns and hand grenades, bayonet them, and strangle them with your bare hands, but God forbid you should pee on them. Now that’s crossing the line.
GEORGE WATSON


His Own Fleet
    East Hampton
    January 22, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I feel it is my duty to respond to the letter in last week’s Star from former Councilwoman Pat Mansir idolizing the harbormaster “for all the many things he has accomplished.” I am not sure that Pat lives here in East Hampton. One thing is for sure, she must not have spent much time at Gann Road to make the statement she did.
    I am a retired member of the East Hampton United States Coast Guard Auxiliary for 20 years and served with the U.S.C.G. for 6 years (most of the time in combat duty). As I served as the officer in charge for the Georgica U.S.C.G. Station in East Hampton Village and the Ditch Plain U.S.C.G. Station in Montauk, and as a member of other organizations here, such as the East Hampton Power Squadron and the East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad, Ms. Mansir’s statement is appalling to me.
    I must write this letter on behalf of all the ones that devote their lives to help save others. It is hard to believe that as councilwoman and liaison to the harbormasters, Ms. Mansir gave Edward Michels (a retired U.S.C.G. man) full control to buy his own fleet of play-toys.
    He got whatever he asked for: a new steel barge which not one of his men, or himself, knew how to operate. The harbormaster’s office looks like a shipyard of boats that are never used. Most of the vessels for rescue work had too deep a draft. Mr. Michels has spent more money to create a harbormaster operation than any other branch of town government in the shortest length of time.
    The harbormaster’s office consisted of a full staff of men on the town payroll, a fleet of four-wheel-drive trucks — all of this to replace a seasonal harbormaster (a local ex-U.S. Navy retired man, Ralph George) and one secondhand patrol boat. He never missed a call and was on patrol from East Hampton to Montauk and on standby in all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day. He also belonged to the East Hampton U.S.C.G. Auxiliary that has the same protocol as the regular U.S.C.G. In all the time that Ralph was on duty, I never knew of anyone who stayed overnight tied to a trap stake to keep from sinking or being stranded on the shoal overnight on his watch.
    East Hampton U.S.C.G. Auxiliary had its own radio station on duty 24 hours a day and was in communication with Montauk and Shinnecock U.S.C.G. base station. Many times, due to interference of high land, a distress call did not get through and the auxiliary would relay it to Montauk and Shinnecock. These places are called “dead spots” in radio.
    All rescue missions were entwined in one operation. In all kinds of weather, year round, night or day, the auxiliary men and women are all qualified to handle any kind of rescue, boats on fire or sinking. We, of the auxiliary, used our own boats. There was no overtime, as they did not receive any pay grade. This did not cost the taxpayer any money.
    There was the East Hampton U.S.C.G. Auxiliary, the East Hampton U.S. Power Squadron, the East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad, and the Montauk U.S.C.G. regular base. Only a short distance from the borderline of East Hampton, there was the Sag Harbor U.S.C.G. Auxiliary. Five units, within a 20-mile radius, that all took part in radio communications on a rescue mission.
    It is still good that the town has its own harbormaster. They should take the place of the bay constable that checked all the people on local waters to enforce the shellfish ordinances of a town that operates a shellfish hatchery at a cost of over $500,000 a year.
    Mr. Michels spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy equipment and boats — and a new steel barge that they never use. To save money, the supervisor moved the harbormasters to the police department. If the election had been reversed, as it nearly was, Mr. Michels would be back with an open checking account and another burden, a created job for Arnold Leo who still uses the East Hampton Baymen’s Association name.
    There are a lot of unanswered questions about the harbormaster that have been a mystery to me from the first day one was appointed. They will come to light some day.
    Sincerely,
    CAPT. MILTON MILLER


Springs Issues
    Springs
    January 23, 2012
Dear David,
    As a resident of Springs, I have been dismayed to learn that out of four vacant seats on the Town Planning Board, the current town board has appointed no one from the hamlet of Springs. We have many issues and interests that pertain particularly to Springs, and it would be useful to have someone who is familiar with Springs issues to work with the residents here. It is also my understanding that there is no one on the planning board who represents Amagansett, another hamlet with specific planning issues that would benefit from having planning board representation.
    With seven members on the planning board, it would be both prudent and efficient to have someone from each hamlet who is familiar with the particular planning concerns and planning history of his or her district. This shutting out of Springs and Amagansett may merely be a thoughtless oversight on the part of the town board.
    But I also wonder if the town board wants to diminish representation for the hamlets whose residents have actively opposed many of the town board’s initiatives that required planning board discussion. The town board wanted to put the MTK concert in the heart of Amagansett in the middle of August, and sought to broadly liberalize restrictions upon accessory apartment construction in Springs. Only vocal opposition from each hamlet’s residents managed to scuttle these ill-conceived plans.
    Sincerely,
    PAMELA BICKET


Much Too Hastily
    Springs
    January 23, 2012
Dear David,
    The East Hampton Town Board is headed toward granting a 30-year lease to a for-profit business to operate our scavenger waste plant. Every business and homeowner in East Hampton needs to have septic waste removed from their property and taken to a plant that can break it down and dispose of it. Any major change to how the town provides this essential municipal service deserves a detailed public discussion. Yet the one time the board started a public discussion, at a March 24 work session, the discussion was cut off when people began mentioning and asking about the extensive Department of Environmental Conservation violations that the town has received.
    The taxpayers of East Hampton deserve to know about the 129 notices of violation that the plant received from October 2008 to March 2011. The public needs to see the corrective action plan made by the engineer-consultant it hired, and most important, find out why the board is not following the path of corrective action outlined in the engineer’s November 2011 report.
    Additionally, the board needs to finish the discussion begun at that March 2011 meeting. The budget and finance advisory committee had prepared a preliminary report on the options available to the town. Here are six questions raised in the policy considerations section of its excellent preliminary report:
    • Should the town try to be self-sufficient in disposing of its septic waste?
    • Should the town just send septic waste UpIsland to a “faraway land,” placing it in someone else’s backyard, which could cause 1,500 to 2,000 more truck round trips to clog the roads, waste tens of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, and pollute the atmosphere?
    • Should the town concentrate septic-plant effluent in the soil around the plant?
    • Should the town expend substantial money to upgrade the plant?
    • Do pump-out customers save money by having the scavenger plant operate in town, even if it takes a town tax subsidy?
    • Should the town encourage homeowners to pump out their septic systems on a regular basis every year or so and have the septic waste carted to the town’s plant?
    The town has put out a request for proposals to operate the plant, due today, that only includes the possibility of the bidder operating the plant for profit. There was no request for any proposal whereby the town would continue as the owner of the operation. There has been no financial analysis publicly discussed of how the different options will affect taxpayers. Any discussion of the environmental problems, if it has occurred, has only been done in executive session or private conversations with the engineer.
    Given the environmental importance of how the plant operates, as well as the importance of how the total cost for this service will rise or fall with each option, the town board is much too hastily and much too secretively heading toward “privatizing” another town asset. 
ZACHARY COHEN

    Mr. Cohen was an unsuccessful candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor in the November election. Ed.


True Debate?
    Springs
    January 22, 2012
Dear David,
    Here we go again! There is a place in this town called the scavenger waste facility where the contents of the septic systems of the town, both commercial and private homes, wind up. There presently exist violations against this facility that have been issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation, you remember that group. They are the people who are charged with the protection of our environment.
    The environment is our economy and is the mantra of the East End. There are so many questions that still remain unanswered on this problem. There has never been a public hearing on what should be done, what needs to be done, or what the Republican majority wants to be done, and time is running short.
    A request for proposal has been issued. Will the public be allowed a true debate? Will there be an open hearing at all? Will experts be brought in? Or will we be given the same old shaft in the belly we have experienced in the past, i.e.: the leaf program, the airport dilemma?
    The townspeople are tired of singing, “It seems to me I heard that song before” while they sing, “We did it before, and we can do it again.”
    Sincerely,
    PHYLLIS I. MALLAH


She’s Altered It
    Springs
    January 21, 2012
Dear David,
    Theresa Quigley is claiming that her law is modeled after the so-called Model Lighting Ordinance as a replacement for our current lighting code. She must think that we are too stupid to know that while she’s used some of the model ordinance’s terminology, she’s altered it so severely that it is unrecognizable.
    A member of the Model Lighting Ordinance committee wrote to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson that the Quigley law is not an accurate reflection of it. For example, there are no provisions whatsoever for dealing with pre-existing, nonconforming lighting. This is a very serious problem because it will be utterly impossible for code enforcement, the Building Department, and the Planning Department to figure out what is new and what is old, resulting in more and more lighting that will increase glare, up-light, light-trespass, and sky glow from unshielded fixtures. We can only surmise that this is her goal: She apparently wants no effective regulations at all.
    She complains about “unsafe” lighting in the current code, but is apparently unaware that our current “smart-lighting” code was checked for technical accuracy to assure better night vision by complying with professional light levels by a pre-eminent lighting designer (who is also an engineer), Nancy Clanton. Ms. Clanton was able to design prison lighting that complies with dark-sky criteria.
    Our current code was developed here, by a committee made up of residents and town employees, and written by our Planning Department, not by a committee of people from out of town, or by people, as described by Ms. Quigley, with “special interests.” By the way, Ms. Quigley makes references to people whom she has consulted with and people with problems with our lighting code, without providing their names or qualifications, or the specific issues that they have with our code. If we need to change something in our zoning code, we need to have specific and verifiable evidence of a need for that change.
    Our current lighting code takes into account the wishes of the vast number of residents and visitors to East Hampton. To throw it out and replace it with a law that will be ineffective benefits no one. Or, perhaps it benefits Ms. Quigley in some way — is that what we want and deserve?
    Sincerely,
    SUSAN HARDER
    Dark Sky Society


One Would Think
    Amagansett
    January 23, 2012
Dear David,
    Your editorial of last Thursday “Dim the Lights not the Law” was a most-welcome read.
    I’m one of many East Hampton residents who is questioning why Councilwoman Teresa Quigley is pushing the drafting of another lighting law. To hear her talk on the subject, one would think that hordes of irate citizens have been pounding on the front doors of Town Hall, pleading for relief from its onerous provisions.
    Is there really that much anxiety about our current lighting law that justifies the diversion and expenditure of so much time, energy, and taxpayer dollars into writing all this new legislation? The current 2006 dark-skies lighting code is the result of months and months of serious research and public discussion. Is it truly prudent to throw the whole thing out when a few adjustments might suffice?
    Sincerely,
    BETTY MAZUR

No Big Deal
    Springs
    January 22, 2012
Dear David,
    Well, for all of those who have been awaiting the big day for the Surf Lodge citations to be paid, Jan. 30 is the set date, after several postponements.
    One can only wonder at the negotiations under way as the Lodge gets the Wilkinson government to give them a break and cut the citations way down, this, six months after they were given.
    Why can’t the town be more like the village? When laws were being broken outright, the village simply got an injunction, and the issue was resolved. Navy Beach, Surf Lodge, and others like them just go their merry way. A couple of thousand in citations is no big deal to them. They know that as Bill Wilkinson drives by at 2 in the morning in summer, they just have to give a wave to assure him they’re both playing the same game.
    For those who wish to attend, the performance will be at the East Hampton Town Justice Court. Don’t be surprised if it gets delayed to this summer!
    Yours truly,
    NAOMI SALZ


LTV Monster
    East Hampton
    January 20, 2012
Dear David,
    I wish to respond to Jim Shelly’s allegations about me concerning stories I’ve written about LTV, our local television provider in East Hampton.
    Mr. Shelly, an LTV board member, is proud of LTV’s work, and there is nothing wrong with that. But his impassioned defense of its inner workings fails to acknowledge that as a not-for-profit corporation in New York State, LTV is bound by law to operate in a certain legal manner, and it has not been in compliance. Nor does it reflect the fact that LTV officials refuse to go on the record and dispute anything we’ve written.
    Running LTV as a mom-and-pop operation may have been fine back in 1998 when LTV received a fraction of the public funds it receives now — over $600,000 annually.
    As I reported in The Independent, LTV has purchased, at a significant cost, furniture from its executive director’s parents’ company. The article is available in our Jan. 11 edition and can be found at our Web site ndyeastend.com under the archives tab.
    Mr. Shelly writes the cost “was less than the quote we got on our own.” From who? Did LTV get written bids from other entities? If so, produce them. Would a buyer from Raymour and Flanigan agree it was the best deal?
    The executive director worked at Williams-Sonoma for 10 years and then purchased a lot of equipment from that store. Mr. Shelly says, “We got a good deal.” Let us hope so — Williams-Sonoma is as high-end as it gets.
    The executive director’s brother holds the contract to clear snow. Mr. Shelly writes, “We got some prices.” We’d like to see the bids submitted, and we have every right to ask. Why does this request cause so much consternation?
    When a not-for-profit expends funds — particularly when the money belongs to taxpayers — it must be able to withstand the scrutiny it is now undergoing. Written bids should be solicited for all major expenditures. Perhaps it is just coincidence that a lot of money spent by LTV goes to the staff, family members of the executive director, and a friend of the general manager, etc.
    Mr. Shelly says we reported incorrectly that Bob Strada serves on the board despite the fact his term expired. Article IV, Section II of the LTV bylaws clearly state board members are limited to two-year terms. Eric Brown, an attorney and LTV board member, acknowledged both Mr. Shelly and Mr. Strada exceeded their limits and that the bylaws would have to be amended. The matter was also broached in an ongoing lawsuit between LTV and WVVH.
    Mr. Shelly said LTV is not under investigation. The district attorney never comments on ongoing investigations. The D.A. was investigating East Hampton Town for a year before anyone at Town Hall knew. They found out when four guys packing guns came in with a subpoena. We know for sure at least one complaint has been filed with the state attorney general’s office.
    The town, for one, is currently investigating LTV. As we exclusively reported, $12,000 was given to an electrical contractor who wasn’t licensed to do electrical work. We discovered the man in question is the fiancé of the station’s general manager — another insider deal. When does it end? Well, I can tell you The Independent isn’t done reporting on these types of deals at LTV.
    Mr. Shelly said Frazer Dougherty, the LTV founder, said the large upstairs space was built “to rent out.” We quoted Mr. Dougherty directly. Perhaps The Star would like to interview him about the space. Mr. Dougherty envisioned it as a place where the town could host its larger, well-attended board meetings or other community meetings could take place. What he didn’t envision was an exclusive long-term rental to a private company that precluded the space from being used by the public.
    The reason why full disclosure and transparency should be important to Mr. Shelly and the LTV board is because its contract is expiring. The town can do with it what it pleases.
    Let’s be honest, the LTV monster has grown. LTV spends almost $400,000 annually on employees. It buys state-of-the-art equipment well beyond what a small station needs that the staff takes out of the building at will with no oversight. This was documented in a recent town audit. What do they do with it?
    In his letter (Jan. 19), Mr. Shelly failed to address the executive director’s involvement with the local Democratic Party and the favoritism shown by him toward them. He did not bring up the flap over using an unlicensed electrician. He did not address the use of equipment by LTV employees.
    Mr. Shelly states LTV agreed to provide documents to The Independent but we never picked them up. That is not true. Mr. Strada personally told me he would send them over, and I’m still waiting. When asked last week he said, “I forgot, I’ve been very busy.”
    I again ask LTV to comply with our freedom of information request and furnish the documents we requested. I will be glad to resubmit the list and of course we will pay to have them copied. Guys, it’s been six months of evasion: Turn the documents over.
    I welcome Mr. Shelly to call The Independent so we can do a follow-up with his quotes prominently featured.
    The town has given LTV about $5 million of taxpayer money over the last decade. It is the obligation of a newspaper to make sure that money is expended lawfully and fully vetted by the public. The public has a right to ask: Can another entity out there do the same job better for less money? The town has an obligation to open the LTV contract up for bidding.
    Rick Murphy
    Editor in Chief
    The Independent


Highlight the Absurd
    East Hampton
    January 22, 2012
To the Editor,
    When the country’s founders insisted on the separation of church and state in the Constitution, they anticipated that 200 years later there would be a meeting of 150 evangelical leaders trying to put their support behind a candidate for president. They did this because they understood the innate fascism that is inherent in all religious institutions, especially fundamentalist groups (see Hindu, Muslim, Jewish fundamentalists for verification), and that their core beliefs, while valuable on a personnel level, were incompatible with democratic principles. That is not to say that evangelicals and God-spewing South Carolinians are anti-democratic and consequently anti-American, but they certainly make a good case for it.
    The desire to find an acceptable alternative to Mitt Romney serves to highlight the absurd, almost ridiculous, premise of their situation. From a religious-moral perspective Mr. Romney’s Mormon beliefs are viewed as heretical at worst and un-Christian at best. They cite aspects of the Mormon religion that seem preposterous yet have no problem with virgin births and seas opening and walking on water. They are always ready to proffer Jesus as the standard for their religious beliefs, while spewing hatred for Barack Obama (a devout Christian and our president, by the way), mostly because he is black and, in addition, because they claim he’s a socialist.
    It’s easy to understand their concern with black socialists, but Jesus was hardly a blond, blue-eyed Hebrew, probably a good bit darker than Mr. Obama, and economically and politically somewhat to the left of socialism. Playing the Christian card loses its credibility in the need to recreate Jesus as a compassionate, conservative capitalist when everything he ever said marks him as a pinko humanist. Add to this the essential fundamentalist issue of “not being chosen” (Jews copyrighted it first), and one can easily understand the inherent anger and envy in underlying church dogma. Consequently, there is a need to keep this kind of overzealous deviance far away from our political process.
    While Mr. Romney’s economic vision is simplistically idiotic, it is substantially more sophisticated and positive than his more conservative challengers. Yet our evangelical heroes embrace policies that will diminish the middle class, ruin­  the working poor, and insulate the very wealthy. Where is Jesus when we really need him? Associating God and deficit reduction makes as much sense as asking Roman Polanski to baby-sit for your 16-year-old daughters.
    Our churches don’t exist as impediments to war and violence, they don’t expound the virtues of civil rights and humanism, they aren’t in the forefront of advocating for the poor and the needy. If they were they would have little time and no taste for the vulgarity of our political process. We have learned that every time a politician mentions God he probably has his hands in your pocket or in your pants. We could fairly assume that every time a church leader mentions politics he is probably doing the same thing.
NEIL HAUSIG


Attacked
    Amagansett
    January 16, 2012
Dear David,
    I intensely dislike dog owners who appear to treat their charges as the flip side of their own insecurities.
    My docile, on-leash puppy was near Napeague Beach and was attacked by a large, white, unleashed, snarling dervish, owned by a tall, chic, white-garbed lady, “Oh, the dog is a nightmare!”
    I sincerely wish the woman a life in a crate.
    My docile, on-leash puppy was attacked by a snarling, tiny, black thing handled by a shortish gentleman obviously defended against being with his wife’s fashion accessory. I wish him a painful implant.
    Then, my dog met up with Buddha, a large pit bull, an obvious failure among fighting dogs. Buddha is a brilliant canine citizen. His owner should be cloned by 99 percent.
    There are no bad dogs, but there are certainly some awful owners.
    All good things,
DIANA WALKER


Black Bears
    Springs
    January 18, 2012
To the Editor,
    Black bears are beautiful and amazing animals. They are grossly sensationalized by the media by having their mouths wide open, their teeth showing and other ferocious poses, when, in fact, they are nothing like that at all.
    Biologists can gather information from the bear by pulling a tooth and telling their age, taking blood, etc. I have had the privilege of living by black bears for over 25 years. I’ve learned their true behavior by observing them in their natural habitat. I see how nurturing mother bears are and how they watch their curious cubs play. From what I see, bears are nothing like what the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife tells the public. It uses scare tactics, trying to manipulate people to gain their support for a hunt.
    The Division of Fish and Wildlife probably loathes what I do — educating the public about the true disposition of the black bear. And for that, I pay the price. It is my strong belief that the Division of Fish and Wildlife tries to keep me quiet by issuing me bogus summonses, etc. If I sneeze without covering my mouth (which I don’t do), the division would probably cite me for air pollution.
    I always say, what doesn’t kill me  makes me stronger. Many hunters do not like me. I know because of the death threats I receive. Maybe one day I will be shot by a hunter in my own backyard. The hunter will say it was an accident, and, guess what? He’ll probably get away with murder. My words may be strong, but so are my beliefs.
    I hope you will watch my video of a mother black bear with her three playful cubs. You can view this delightful video by going on YouTube; the video’s name is “Why I Love Bears.” This is what black bears are really like. If you can kill a bear after watching this video, I would be shocked. Hunters that murder these magnificent animals are probably sociopaths. Look up the characteristics of this personality disorder.
SUSAN KEHOE