Letters to the Editor: 03.22.12

All in Green
    Amagansett
    March 17, 2012
Dear David,
    We were entertained at the Senior Citizens Center on Friday, with a St. Patrick’s Day party, by Michelle and her staff. It was a wonderful party, with a beautiful room decorated all in green. Very pretty! Children from the Springs School entertained us with their songs relating to St. Patrick, St. Paddy’s Day, and leprechauns.
    They made and presented to us a decorated flower vase with a green carnation in it. So unique: a flower vase made out of a soda bottle for each and every one of us. They walked around and served a green cupcake for us to eat or take home.
    The chef and his staff served us with a very tasty corned beef and cabbage lunch with green pudding and homemade Irish soda bread.
    Senior citizens are well taken care of in this East Hampton Town. We are truly in appreciation of the care given to us and the love that is extended!
    Many, many thanks,
    JOSEPHINE CRASKY


Can’t Go Wrong
    East Hampton
    March 17, 2012
To the Editor,
    A friend of mine called it “synchronicity.” I had, seemingly out of the blue (green?) thought about colcannon recently several times, not, I will say at great length or any particular depth, but I once lived in Park Slope, many years before anyone even knew where it was, and it was a regular brunch item at a good pub-restaurant on Union Street, and it was excellent!
    I talked with the restaurant owner, whom I knew, about it, tried it at home, and made a success of it at a few brunches of my own. I’d like to offer my procedure as a kind of appendix to Laura Donnelly’s recipe for colcannon in your current issue:
    Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add cut-up cabbage and onions, in a proportion of about five to one, and slowly cook until they are basically soft but in no way browned. Salt and pepper would be fine at this point, or later. If you cover the pan to hasten the cooking process be sure to take the cover off in plenty of time for any accumulated water to evaporate.
    Probably prior to this make the mashed potatoes — and it would not spoil the dish if you skipped the Yukon Golds (I’m not so sure about skipping the butter).
    Then spoon the previously mashed potatoes into the skillet and mix them with the cabbage and onion mixture, about even amounts of each, perhaps slightly more potatoes. This is when you will definitely want the salt, “to taste,” as they say.
    Then arrange some single-serving-size, nice thick pieces of excellent baked ham in a baking dish, and spoon a portion of the cabbage-potato mixture over each piece individually. Put the baking dish into a hot oven, or under the broiler, and when just the peaks of the potatoes begin to brown slightly take it out and serve it immediately.
    This isn’t a proper recipe, as I can’t give any measured quantities, but you can’t go wrong if you use good butter.
    You don’t need to be Irish to enjoy this. In fact, if Ms. Donnelly’s article is evidence, it may even help if you are not.
    Enjoy,
    FRED KOLO


Irish Cuisine
    Bay Point
    March 19, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I always enjoy Laura Donnelly’s witty and delicious food columns. I was sorry, however, that she had trouble finding good Irish recipes on the Internet as noted in her March 15 column. I wish she might have discovered Margaret M. Johnson, an Irish cookbook author who has a house in Quogue. Margaret has presented several tasty Irish teas at our shop, as well as at local libraries.
    I’m happy to report the Irish have gone gourmet! But this is hardly news. Since the 1980s Irish cooking has evolved in sophistication. As a result of the international slow-food movement, today’s Irish dishes celebrate tradition, using fresh local ingredients, yet often add a contemporary and cosmopolitan sensibility.
    “Flavors of Ireland: Celebrating Grand Places and Glorious Food” is Margaret Johnson’s latest effort. It shows us how Irish cuisine has evolved in many appetizing ways. Try her Compsey Creamery mascarpone-stuffed French toast for breakfast. The Bere Island scallops with potato purée and sweet onion relish sound perfect for lunch, with our local scallops a suitable alternative to those from Bantry Bay, County Cork. Then there’s St. Tola goat cheese salad with balsamic-glazed strawberries to sample. Our local Catapano variety might serve instead of that from Inagh Farmhouse in County Clare. You’ll find recipes for traditional stews and shepherd’s pie as well. Desserts nod to tradition — oatmeal-stout cake with brown bread ice cream, and the Knappogue Castle lemon cheesecake, a contemporary version of a medieval “rastin.”
    In short, there’s lots cookin’ in Irish kitchens these days. Try Margaret M. Johnson’s “The New Irish Table” or “The Irish Heritage Cookbook” to start. Plenty of appealing Irish dishes await the tasting. Bain taitneamh as do bheile, or bon appetit!
    Sincerely,
    MARYANN CALENDRILLE
    Canio’s Books


Always Ask
    East Hampton
    March 19, 2012
Dear David,
    Alert! All East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Southampton residents beware! A person or persons calling themselves an appliance repair and installation company in the Peconic Yellow Pages under the “Appliance” listing may be knowingly deceiving potential customers in our area. Listen to my story and decide for yourself.
    After the pilot light on our Garland professional oven didn’t light, I called every company in the Yellow Pages that I had ever heard of and then some. Many were to companies that we knew or had dealings with in the past but who did not repair Garland ovens. That is when I came across the number for “Fast Same Day Service — All Major Makes and Models — Free Service Call with Repair.” It was just what I wanted, and in desperation I called the number.
    Their “tech” just happened to be in the area and could come for a service charge of $95 applicable to any possible repair. A big, new pickup truck covered with status logos of appliance companies arrived within 20 minutes. It was easy to feel that this was a very successful and therefore knowledgeable repairman on the job. A seemingly affable young fellow examined our oven, tried to light it several times but failed, and then gave us an evaluation listing a part (flame switch assembly) that had to be replaced for a nice price of $399.95 plus tax. The order was written and agreed to.
    We gave him a deposit check of $100, as he required. We thought the price unusually high but as we had called every possible repairman in the area who turned out not to repair Garland stoves, we acquiesced and gave him the deposit. He promised to return the next day with the part and finish the repair.
    The next morning, we received a call from an appliance repairman who just got our message from the day before. He was a man who has been in business in this area for a long time. I asked him what he would have charged for the same call and the same repair. First, he said that he had never heard of that specific part even though he does repairs on Garlands. He had a service charge also, $79, and thought the part might cost $15. His quote was less than half the other company’s.
    It was a very embarrassing moment as I realized that we were probably being taken! We called the first company back immediately to cancel the order and demand our deposit back. After threatening to report them to the Better Business Bureau and county consumer affairs, we luckily got our deposit back in cash.
    I called the second repairman back and asked if he would fix the pilot. He asked me a few questions and then proceeded to instruct me by telephone how to find the ignition button and how to turn it on. Unbelievable! The thing lit right up. There was no problem after all. It was a simple action that the “tech” had faked. It turned out that there was no such thing as a “flame switch assembly,” as we had been told, and there was no missing or broken part!
     Quite angry, my husband and I decided to make some further inquires. After calling the East Hampton Building Department, we learned that the company has no license and is not listed as doing work in our area. The Consumer Affairs Bureau of Suffolk County was disappointing because, since the company has no license number and no address listed on their bill, nothing can be done to find and stop the abuse of area residents.
    The lesson is: Always ask for the company or workman’s registration and license number before having any work done or agreeing to an estimate. Check the building department to see that the number is authentic. Get the address and telephone number of anyone working in your home. Call the B.B.B. and consumer affairs if you have any doubt before any work is done.
    We were very lucky. I hope others will be too. Watch out and beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing!
    LINDA and FRANK ROTH


G.E. Crops
    Amagansett
    March 16, 2012
Dear David,
    I saw Carrie Ann Salvi’s piece in this week’s issue, and I enthusiastically support the movement to limit or eliminate genetically engineered, or G.E., crops. As a copy-editing point, however, I want to note that what Carrie meant was G.E., not G.M.O. Although widely used interchangeably, these two terms do in fact mean quite different things. I would like to refer you to the very recent release from the Home Garden Seed Association, which provides some accurate and useful definitions.
    As you know, plant breeders have been modifying plant genes for hundreds of years to improve productivity, quality, or performance. The plants that result can properly be called G.M.O.s., and just about every gardener and farmer grows them. Broccoli is a good example. I do not believe many people have a problem with this type of plant.
    What is rightly controversial is the use of recombinant DNA techniques to insert genes into plants that could not have gotten there by normal breeding methods. These plants are genetically engineered, and are usually called G.E. crops. I believe that future generations will rue the day G.E. crops were allowed, by federal regulatory agencies, to be sold and planted over thousands of acres in the U.S. I should note that currently no G.E. seeds are available to home gardeners; let’s hope it stays that way.
    I’m grateful for this opportunity to correct these usages. Opponents of G.E. crops lose credibility when we incorrectly malign G.M.O. plants by branding them with the notorious G.E. label.
    Best wishes,
    PETER GARNHAM


Connect With People
    Springs
    March 15, 2012
To the Editor,
    I wanted to take the time to talk about the great resource that LTV is for the community of East Hampton. I started a show, “Drinks with Denise” over three years ago. My show was started as a sort of spoof on talk shows. My background is that of a professional painter.
    After moving from the city, where you are always bombarded with people, it was very much of a shock to be alone, as artists always are, but to be really alone. I started to watch the local TV station and thought to myself, “This is something I can do. I can have a television talk show.”
    In the past three years my show has evolved from having funny and interesting people to sophisticated chefs from our local restaurants. I have some fantastic amateur cooks and wonderful local farmers on my show also. LTV has been a place for me to connect with people in the community in a way that I probably would not do just by frequenting the restaurants or the farmers markets. My viewers seem to agree with this also.
    The fact is that on the East End there is a history of rich culture in the arts, food, farming, and even comedy. This is a place that attracts the artistic, the bohemian, good food, and good chefs.
    Hopefully, shows like mine and other shows on LTV will continue, because there is no other television that reflects a community like East Hampton in such a truthful way.
    DENISE GALE


36 Scalps
    Montauk
    March 18, 2012
Dear David;
    Thank you for helping the Montauk community support our recent St. Baldrick’s event held at St. Therese School in Montauk.
    St. Baldrick’s is the world’s largest volunteer-driven fund-raising event for childhood cancer research, and Janis Hewitt’s article elevated our community’s awareness level, resulting in a record turnout of shavee participants (36) this past March 11. Volunteer “clippers” (Jane, Joanne, Nena, Pam, Rose, and Toni) assisted Father Mike and his staff shave 36 scalps, bringing in a record donation level exceeding $13,000. The ultimate goal is not to raise money; the goal is to cure childhood cancer. The Star’s story brought additional participants and with this help, the Montauk community has ensured that progress toward the ultimate goal continues.
    This is but another demonstration of how Montauk cares.
    SIMONE and DICK MONAHAN


Feral Cat Poem #35
the poet
in his regulation bathrobe
and cup of tea
looks out his kitchen window

and sees his first three feral cats of spring
all facing east,
taking the sun on his deck,
glad they all made it through
another winter.

he senses they know
as he does
that we got off easy this time

and it ain’t over
til it’s over.
ED HANNIBAL


Plan Now
    Amagansett
    March 16, 2012
Dear David,
    I commend the East Hampton Town Zoning Board for turning down a rock revetment at the end of Mulford Lane on Napeague. They made the right call against armoring the shore, in sync with Local Waterfront Revitalization Program policy and the town’s erosion protection law for that area.
    The growing problem behind this and other shore-hardening applications is a receding shoreline. The causes are storm erosion and rising sea level. Storms have always been with us. In the past sea level rise was so small as to be inconsequential. That is no longer true. Sea level rise is now a slow motion emergency.
    Rising sea level will be a fact of life for East Hampton. Last century’s rise of an inch or two is accelerating to probably a foot over the next 40 years. As noted in a front-page article in the March 14 New York Times, global warming and rising sea level are not waiting for us to act.
    The Times article can be found on its Web site. You can see vulnerable areas on maps at climatecentral.org (click on New York City to bring up Long Island, then zoom in to East Hampton).
    The Times article discusses sea level rise of one to two feet by century’s end. No big deal? Flat sandy shorelines recede at a ratio of 75 to 100-to-1. For every vertical foot the sea rises, the shore retreats 75 to 100 feet. Think about it. Of course, shoreline change rarely occurs incrementally. Northeasters and hurricanes take big bites.
    Higher sea level will magnify storm surges, drown wetlands that buffer flooding and act as marine nurseries, and infiltrate shallow aquifers with salt water. The rising tide will affect us all, not just waterfront owners.
    As a coastal community we need to plan now to protect human and natural resources. Wetland buffers, increased setbacks, dune and beach nourishment, flood-proofing, closing breaches, insurance, and protecting critical infrastructure should all be on the table.
    Planning for sea level rise is a project of the L.W.R.P., which has been largely ignored by the Wilkinson administration. A scientist quoted by The Times says, “Sea level rise is like an invisible tsunami, building force while we do almost nothing.”
    For more, Check out a TED.com talk by James Hansen, a NASA employee who was an early and outspoken advocate of cleaning up our carbon footprint, and whom the Bush administration attempted to gag. 
    Regards,
    RAMESHWAR DAS


Napeague Harbor
    Lazy Point
    March 18, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am writing this letter to all of the residents of East Hampton Town. The east channel of Napeague Harbor is now completely closed. There is no more Goff Point. There is no more Hicks Island. What was once a pristine hatchery of fish and other aquatic life is well on its way toward becoming a brackish-water lake.
    In 1980 the scallops harvested from Napeague had shells that were as large as a man’s hand. The hard clams were as large as two fists put together. Unfortunately, we will never see this again. The harbor does not have enough tidal flow to support the growth of clams and scallops to this size. The eelgrass beds have been buried.
    Everyone has an opinion as to who is at fault for letting this harbor fall into such a sad state of disrepair. The trustees have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to try to keep the east channel open. Obviously, excavating a channel instead of dredging the channel did not work out too well.
    The East Hampton Town Trustees and the East Hampton Town Board now have to work together to find a solution to this issue before it is too late. I propose that the town sponsor a summit meeting of the appropriate state and county officials to work toward restoring the health of this harbor. Anything less is unacceptable.
    The restoration of Napeague Harbor now requires a big solution. I just hope that our local government is up to the task at hand.
    Sincerely,
    STEVE GRABOSKI


Approach to Protect
    Springs
    March 16, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    The members of the Accabonac Protection Committee believe that East Hampton needs a two-pronged approach to protect our drinking water and our harbors: reduction of overcrowding in Springs, and attention to our septic systems.
    Because of the long-term and ever-expanding overpopulation of Springs, our septic systems are dangerously over-used. In addition, we have no prescribed inspection of them or any means of pinpointing those that should be replaced.
    Our septic systems are out of sight, and so, as is said, out of mind. Too few of us know how they work and as long as they “seem” to be working, don’t check them. Our committee will be working on ways to educate the community about septics and the harm that inputting too much waste can do to our ecosystem.
    Southampton is working on a bill reuiring septic system inspections to ensure that they operate and “are maintained in a manner which will prevent hazards to the public health, to protect the drinking water supply, and to protect the integrity of the town’s fragile and diverse array of freshwater and marine ecosystems.”
    It is our hope that our town board will immediately work on ways to begin reducing the overcrowding in Springs. It is, day after day, infecting our harbors and our drinking water, while enriching a few landlords who pay taxes on single-family houses and rent those houses to multiple families for large sums. We need real code enforcement, additional affordable housing (not in Springs), and a town board that is seriously searching for solutions. It can no longer be ignored because there are no easy answers. The town must also address ways in which inspection of septic systems can be implemented.
    It’s too late for more talk. We need action.
    Very truly yours,
    ARLENE COULTER
    For the Steering Committee of the
    Accabonac Protection Committee


A Few Dollars
    East Hampton
    March 19, 2012
Dear David,
    It is with dismay that I watch our barely re-elected public officials as they try to offer more and more parts of our town to the private sector. They claim they are trying to rein in budgetary excess but propose giving away the property of the people for lengths of time approaching 20 years. This seems excessive and extremely shortsighted.
    Our town has always tried to provide amenities for its residents, from tennis courts to beach access to leaf pickup, etc.  We now seem to be governed by a group that thinks it can do as it pleases with public property and the public trust. For a few dollars now the supervisor and his crew are selling the future of our town.
    “Oh the shame! Oh the horror.”
    Yours truly,
    JEFFREY BECK


Haphazard
    Amagansett
    March 12, 2012
Dear David,
    Is the town board majority unaware that sound government decision-making requires legal and factual research? Or are they deliberately ignoring inconvenient facts and law to reach decisions that favor their ideology or friends? The answer seems clear in their haphazard collection of information on projects up for action and the way they foreclose opportunities for reasoned debate.
    The majority would have sold the scavenger waste plant without research on either immediate or long-term environmental and economic consequences, except for a groundswell of concern by the public and the two new Democratic councilpersons.
    Relying on legal advice crafted to support their position that Federal Aviation Adminnistration restrictions would not appreciably change their control over the airport, they made a grant application that, if accepted by the F.A.A., would foreclose the town’s now-confirmed right to impose reasonable regulations.
    On the sketchiest legal research about an alleged “necessity to comply with state law,” and with pressure on public officials and council colleagues to belittle the serious issues of safety, overcrowding, and endorsement of illegal occupancy that such an initiative would raise, they proposed to repeal a longstanding town code prohibition of basement bedrooms.
    They actually passed, three to two, in a work session, with no research on the implications for the community, a resolution to sell part of an alleyway in Montauk to a hotel owner for a $35,000 price the supervisor “plucked out of the air.”
    The majority is not shy about its determination to keep inconvenient information under wraps. They resisted requests to hold forums on the scavenger waste problem and overcrowding in Springs. They left it to an advocacy group and Representative Tim Bishop to establish that they could retain reasonable control over the airport by declining F.A.A. support.
    Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley pride themselves on their many public meetings, but they spring their agendas on the public, as well as on board colleagues, at best the day before the first work session discussion. Walk-on resolutions, unjustified by emergency, deprive both the public and the minority council members of time to prepare comments, let alone do research. Voting follows public hearings immediately, leaving the members no time to reflect on what they have heard.
    The minority council members are the only members with experience in planning, zoning, and government administration, but the majority dismisses their views, and especially requests for time to develop relevant legal and factual information, with abusive comments about holding up the “pace of play.” The leadership makes clear that advice from its citizen advisory committees is only welcome if they don’t advocate for policy change.
    The town board majority’s know-nothing stance is not innocent. They hope to reshape our laws and sell off our heritage for the benefit of their ideology and the interests of their friends, quickly and without too much fuss. They don’t want themselves or anyone else confused by the facts. But all over East Hampton, the public is wide awake.
    Count on the people and our minority council members to bring the real stories out in the open. Only full inquiry can bring laws that work for everyone.
    Sincerely yours,
    JEANNE FRANKL



    Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.


Green Light
    Springs
    March 19, 2012
Dear David,
    Councilwoman Theresa Quigley has signaled her need for more information regarding the town’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration for deer fence planning. That is to be applauded.
    The town board was advised there would be no difference in their ability to limit access to our airport — or exercise the rights of the proprietor — whether they accepted grant money from the F.A.A. or not. The F.A.A. has clarified this issue, saying that we can limit access, but only if we take no more F.A.A. grant money. 
    Here are the important distinctions: When the town takes F.A.A. grant money, it enters into a contract with that agency. Like any contract, there are conditions that each party must meet: The F.A.A. gives the grant, the town offers unlimited access to its airport, among other assurances. It’s pretty simple.
    Some say that noise can be controlled at the airport through the F.A.A.’s own noise-abatement procedures, called a Part 161 study, even while under contractual obligation to the F.A.A.. But, there is no known case of the F.A.A. ever approving access limitations via its own protocols unless directed to do so by a court of law. This, in fact, is the expensive route to noise mitigation because it involves significant litigation. There is no question about that. And, no clear indication that such a legal challenge would succeed.
    On the other hand, if the town allowed the grant assurances to expire in 2014, in the F.A.A.’s own words, they would take no action against East Hampton. Absent a contract with the F.A.A., the rights of the proprietor to protect the community from noise have been tested and affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the law of the land, in this part of our country, unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court rules otherwise. The Second Circuit upheld the rights of the proprietor (the City of New York v. National Helicopter) to set nondiscriminatory limits on air traffic, particularly helicopters. This worked because the city had not taken F.A.A. funding. It can happen here too, but only if the town withdraws the deer fence application.
    And, in fact, if the town declined F.A.A. funding going forward, the F.A.A. asserts that the town could impose many access restrictions available to airport proprietors through the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, which is the green light for meaningful noise mitigation.
    To indicate the town can just as easily and successfully proceed with access limitations once it renews its contractual relationship with the F.A.A. is misleading. The Second Circuit ruled in favor of the city because it had not entered into a contractual relationship with the F.A.A.. There were no binding contractual obligations hanging over its right as proprietor to act in the best interests of the community to diminish noise impacts.
    The Town of East Hampton will have the same opportunity on Jan. 1, 2015; if it has the foresight to withdraw the F.A.A. deer fence application now.
    Thank you,
    KATHLEEN CUNNINGHAM


No Safe Level
    Amagansett
    March 19, 2012
Dear David,
    I attended the meeting at Town Hall last Thursday to see what would be said about accepting money from the Federal Aviation Administration to replace deer fencing, an arrangement which, in effect, would give control over of our airport to the F.A.A.. This is not an issue of “not in my backyard” because I am an Amagansett resident, but I feel this is a serious matter that is in all of our backyards!
    Lately I have accidentally come across articles about other U.S. airports near and far that had to make similar decisions about F.A.A. funding. The serious issues that they encountered had not been mentioned by the any of the speakers or the town board at Thursday’s meeting, so I hope to share them here so that we are all aware of the full impact that F.A.A. funding could have.
    Since the Environmental Protection Agency phased out the lead additive from automobile fuel about 30 years ago and residential paints shortly after, we rarely hear of the toxic effects on the environment and on human health. The E.P.A. kept tons of lead out of the environment with those controls, but meanwhile most commercial and private airplanes are still using the leaded fuel.
    Our East Hampton Airport fuels the aircraft there with the avgas 100LL (for low lead, surprisingly), which has 2.2 grams of lead per gallon. A report from as far back as 10 years ago states that lead emissions from leaded aviation gasoline were 500 tons, or the largest-emitting source of air pollution from lead.
    You may ask just how much lead we could or will be getting over East Hampton, but you should know that more than 6,000 studies have been done since 1990, all of which show there is no safe level of lead in the human body. Although the Aircraft Owners Pilots Association claims that leaded fuel is a tiny fraction of total fuel in this country and that lead emission is so much less than it was 30 years ago, that is not a valid argument for those living either around the airport or on this narrow piece of land known as eastern Long Island.
    Although there has been work on a lead-free alternative since the 1990s because of the hazardous effects of lead on human health, engine modifications would be required and that thwarted further development.
    In 2010 the E.P.A. came up with 16 regions in the U.S. that failed to meet clean air standards for lead due to its airports. In 2011 a Duke University study found that the closer a child lived to an airport with avgas (what we have) the more lead was likely flowing through that child’s blood. This lead from planes does not go away. Lead emissions from planes eventually will settle on our playing fields, in ponds and waterways, on the produce grown in our fields, and in various levels of the food chain.
    There is no safe level of lead exposure, period. If you are not familiar with the effects of lead exposure on a child’s brain development, such as learning disabilities, reduced intelligence, and malfunction of the human (and pets) neurological system, there are resources available.
    So you see, this is something that is in everyone’s backyard. If our town board proceeds with the application to accept F.A.A. money, we will be at the mercy of federal requirements and will no longer have a say about the volume and frequency of the flights. As a matter of fact, residents of Garden City had a public meeting scheduled with F.A.A. officials to try and understand why the flights and noise from J.F.K. had dramatically increased in the last few months (Newsday, Feb. 28). There were 150 people filling the room, but F.A.A. officials had canceled just days before without reason.
    Our town board majority had approved and submitted an application for F.A.A. money, which many residents had asked them to please withdraw. There is no penalty for that, and we can reapply at a later date if need be. Should we give up our rights without further investigation? The fact that they have already widened and increased the weight capacity of the runway suggests bigger and more use there.
    The picture we are painting for the rest of the country is that East Hampton is now a town that allows its top 2 percent to fly their luxury aircraft at whim, while spewing out their toxins on the peasants below.
    We should be demanding more answers about all of these things before ever considering turning our control over to an unknown.  Do you think the F.A.A. will show up for us if J.F.K. wasn’t big enough for their time? I doubt it.
    Sincerely,
    JAMES MacMILLAN  


Ultimate Motive
    Wainscott
    March 12, 2012
Dear Editor
    Group Gruber, also known in East Hampton as the Quiet Skies Coalition, Committee Against Airport Expansion, and whatever new title it will soon adopt, has been screaming about the town accepting Federal Aviation Administration funds for the improvement of the airport.
    The town board, by a unanimous decision, voted to accept federal funds and go ahead with construction of the deer fence surrounding the airport. Of course, David Gruber and his minions are still fighting this application even though the court has twice rejected the temporary restraining order.
    For many years David Gruber has relentlessly opposed any type of improvements that would make the airport safer and more efficient. His arguments have usually dealt with expansion. This is and has always been false. An improvement, for example, the repair of an existing runway that today is in very poor condition, is not expansion, yet his followers blindly agree, knowing full well his arguments are specious and without merit. No expansion has ever been proposed. Any wonder that the courts have dismissed his lawsuits?
    In spite of his failed efforts, he has organized groups such as the Coalition to Stop Airport Expansion, Quiet Skies, and who knows what he’ll name his next crusade. The cost to East Hampton Town to defend his frivolous lawsuits has run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. This obviously doesn’t bother David Gruber or his disciples. The town board’s plan to install a seasonal control tower with an aim to alleviate traffic and noise problems has met with intense opposition by the Quiet Skies gang. Try as I may I cannot understand their objection to this move. I suspect that David Gruber harbors a zealous hate for the airport and, like the Pied Piper, his followers just tag along behind him listening to his music. Frankly, I believe his ultimate motive is to close the airport.
    Sincerely,
    I.H. PALER


First Skirmish
    New York City
    March 13, 2012
Editor:
    The people arguing against helicopter noise at East Hampton Airport are engaged in a first skirmish to close the airport entirely. Their ulterior motives and their economic interest to close the airport are shrouded in secrecy.
    If noise is the issue, that can be managed with a control tower. But noise is not the real issue, except the noise that is being made by the airport’s opponents. What is really called for is an investigation into the economic motivation of the people who want to close the airport.
    The impact on the resort economy of East Hampton if its wealthy benefactors have to crawl along Route 27 every Friday in the summer would be catastrophic.
    Best regards,
    DAVID REINBACH


Not Their Role
    East Hampton
    March 16, 2012
To the Editor.
    The citizens advisory committees are appointed by the town board to advise the town board on issues and legislation which affect the community they represent. It is not their role to lobby state assemblymen or state senators to introduce legislation agreeing with their view, but to convince the town board of the correctness of their position.
    Members of the C.A.C. are not elected but appointed by the town board and the scope of their activities is limited to advising and even advocating for legislative action by the town board.
    To lobby the State Legislature, as the Montauk C.A.C. has done, is beyond the scope of their authority and demonstrates that they have not done enough to convince the town board of the correctness of the C.A.C.’s position or an admission that there is no broad support in the community for that position.
    However, if the C.A.C. members feel their position has broad support, it is within their right, as citizens, to lobby the town board in the hope that the C.A.C.’s advice might result in legislative action.
    The question is how can the C.A.C. prove there is broad support for its position?
    It is very easy to arouse folks to attend a town board meeting when they are against something and very difficult to rally people to attend town board meetings when they approve the town board’s actions or are happy with the status quo.
    It is very easy for a C.A.C. to contact those with sympathetic views to join them at town board meetings and ignore those who don’t. This means that every resident of each community should closely monitor the activities of their C.A.C..
    When I lived in Springs, I regularly attended C.A.C. meetings, and often the majority opinion of the members of the C.A.C. did not reflect the views of most people in Springs.
    I believe the Montauk C.A.C. overreached its authority by appealing to Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. to write legislation affecting the kind of stores suitable for East Hampton.
    Of course our assemblyman will sponsor any kind of legislation, no matter how frivolous or misplaced, so long as it appeals to some voters. This is an old game of our legislators: to sponsor legislation as a vote-getting tool, knowing it will never come to the vote in the State Legislature.
    All of the above should be obvious to the editor of this paper, as well as the members of all East Hampton’s C.A.C.s. I am sure it is obvious to the residents of East Hampton.
    The constant fulminations of this paper against Bill Wilkinson have become as tiresome and laughable as when The Star failed for years to shine its light on the fiscal debacle of the previous administration and its constant misuse of community preservation funds.
TIM SULLIVAN


Lectured Continually
    Springs
    March 17, 2012
Dear Editor;
    Good for you — I think you got your editorial titled “Citizens Committees in the Crossfire” just about right. However I have to say your statement that the C.A.C.s are a thorn in the side of elected officials is true for only some elected officials. But it does appear they are particularly thorny to Wilk-Quigley.
    I’m sure everyone knows the membership of such committees is an appointment of the town board and they take advantage to appoint those who will follow the rules, as they interpret them. They are lectured continually that the word “advisory” is the most important word in the title of the Citizen Advisory Committee, forgetting that eventually even the most partisan member will come to realize the most important word is “citizen.” And that’s where the thorn in the side really sticks.
    Politicians don’t fear advice, because they just make an excuse and ignore it. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s from their committee or how many signatures are on the petition. What they fear is citizen activism because that trumps ego, arrogance, and ideology.
    I know how much good work came from the C.A.C.s and from other citizen committees, like the anti-bias task force and disabilities committee. They not only advised but advocated and championed causes and laws that made our community better. They acted as watchdogs and were often the first to recognize that town board initiatives are sometimes for the town board and their pals’, not our, good. We need these people to be citizens, not toadies for the administration, and we need them in place as appointed committees of town government because that gives them legitimacy.
    They can’t give up. They should write more letters, redouble their efforts, be mad as hell and not take it anymore. They should be citizens first because we are more important then Wilk-Quigley.
BRAD LOEWEN



    Mr. Loewen is a former East Hampton Town councilman. Ed.    


Supervisor Scolds
    Amagansett
    March 13, 2012
Dear David,
    As a child, I was admonished by my parents not to “look for trouble” — useful advice and just plain good common sense.
    It seems as if our East Hampton supervisor was never so admonished. Case in point: his March 3 letter to the town citizen advisory committees in which he criticizes their traditional way of working. This letter is, unfortunately, very close in authoritarian tone to an earlier one he addressed to every town employee that contained many admonishments, raising the dreaded specter of “insubordination.”
    What precipitated this newest admonition to townspeople? Apparently our citizen advisory committees have been doing their job of advising (“giving advice to; recommending action,” Random House Dictionary) and doing so in ways that involve monitoring and attending public meetings, sending letters to town agencies, as well as communicating by mail with “sitting state legislators to obtain their opinion on how to enact certain legislation.” Such actions, the supervisor scolds, are beyond the scope of the authority of the C.A.C.s.
    But here’s where it gets troublesome: If it’s okay for the committees to advise, “to recommend an action,” why the displeasure by the supervisor when the C.A.C.s after the free exchange of ideas and discussion vote to attend meetings or write letters in favor of some issue important to that hamlet? This is advocacy, according to him, which is not allowed! But to advocate — again, see Random House — is to plead in favor of, or to urge publicly.
    The supervisor states positively that our C.A.C.s were organized to be the town board’s “eyes and ears” of the community. But, as citizens, we must ask what kind of advice can eyes and ears give without a mouth? Are these committees now supposed to be for show? What is the fear? Are these volunteers a threat to law and order?
    Perhaps it might be advantageous to the supervisor to lighten up.
    Sincerely,
    BETTY MAZUR


Already Frantic
    Wainscott
    March 19, 2012
To the Editor,
    Anyone wishing for a marvelous edition of a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods emporium in the Wainscott locale where Plitt Ford once stood should be aware of the calamitous traffic conditions surrounding the issue. Our powers-that-be seem determined to shove aside any concerns about the inherent dangers, from fender-bending to fatal, under present traffic rules and conditions.
    The property owner, Gregg Saunders, is understandably eager to consummate a deal with one of the big stores, drawing traffic hundreds of times that of a car dealer. Residents envision the joy from having an upscale market nearby, again understandable.
    Our town leaders may well give the go-ahead to such an establishment in the genuine hope that it will bring revenue and, most of all, jobs to the area. All commendable attitudes.
    But, please, oh please, do not ignore the dangers, and make a serious effort to remedy this already frantic corner of Wainscott with a sensible solution to the existing traffic pattern. Those coming from the east and wishing to return that way will have to cross a minefield of traffic lanes should they not care to go by way of a lengthy, circuitous — but safe — route back to Montauk Highway. I just don’t see many drivers choosing to do that, however.
    Yours in hope and trepidation,
JOAN TRABULSI


Just Knew
    Sagaponack
    March 15, 2012
To the Editor,
    Upon seeing the image of the projected “hub” I just knew the architect had to be Ellsworth Toohey’s favorite‚ Peter Keating — the same one who did the awful kitchen place in Water Mill. I wonder now if he is the architect on the four-square debacle in Sagaponack!
LOUIS MEISEL


Teacher Salaries
    Amagansett
    March 17, 2012
Dear Editor:
    It was recently brought to my attention that a relatively recent edition of The Star reported that the issue of teacher salaries was raised at the last East Hampton School District board meeting. According to the Star article, an attendee of that meeting pointed out that there are 150 people in the E.H.S.D. making over $100,000 a year, a comment to which a school board member replied that teacher salaries could not be discussed at the open meeting, that they had to be discussed in executive session because there are teachers in the district who are sensitive to this.
    When I read this my instantaneous thought was that I hope this board member takes care to show equal sensitivity to the East Hampton students — and taxpayers — taxpayers who, unlike teachers, have seen their incomes, savings, and retirement plans battered by this painful, protracted recession.
    The East Hampton School District’s resources are not unlimited. They are inite. Since they are finite, and since the total compensation package for East Hampton teachers approaches, if not surpasses, $220,000 for many teachers, it was good that this issue was raised. It was good because it is in this — teacher payroll — that the answers to the district’s seemingly confounding budgetary problems can be found simply and quickly — and with the greatest fairness. After all, how many of East Hampton’s taxpayers have jobs equal to that of teachers in terms of salary, health plan, work rules, job security, and time off?
    It should also be pointed out that this matter of teacher salaries was raised by the aforementioned attendee because of what that attendee stated were the implications of these $100,000-plus salaries for the district’s inevitable future pension costs, as teacher salaries are what teacher pensions are based on. That this issue was raised was also good. It was good, of course, unless one believes that it’s smart to kick the fiscal can down the road.
    Since no one does think this is smart, and since no one would honestly deny that, for the average East Hampton private sector taxpayer and worker, being able to purchase for him or herself a pension equivalent to a teacher’s pension is not even remotely affordable, East Hampton School District’s leadership should be able to confront this issue head-on. It should be able to confront it head-on, and with the conviction about the utter rectitude of its course of action.
    Sincerely
    FRANK LAGRASSA


Heaven
Who gets into heaven?
It’s clear, don’t you see?
All those devout people
Who worship just like me.
But as for those others,
Who hold my views at bay,
Why those unbelievers
Shall go the other way.
Down, down, down
And as they go, I cheer.
You ought to pray like me,
Don’t you hear? Don’t you hear?
MILLICENT BROWER


One More Victim
    Sag Harbor    
    March 22, 2012
To the Editor,
    I have written about victims of post-traumatic stress disorder so many times echoes are ringing in my mind. These are crimes against humanity to send soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder back to combat as many as six times — a new record. If our country ever signed on to the International Criminal Court, many of those who run our wars would be in jail.
    In one of my letters eight years ago I quoted Army doctors at the Pentagon: “This war is going to be about P.T.S.D. To send victims of P.T.S.D. back to a living hell will complicate their lives thereafter.” The early warning signs were there.
    I’m sure almost everyone in our country and around the world was aware of an unnamed 38-year-old Army staff sergeant, a married father of two children,­ who killed 16 civilians execution-style, including 9 children. The story is growing old; he was sent back to Iraq three times and lastly to Afghanistan, where the massacre took place.
    A summary of all the innocent victims. The one in Afghanistan who lost all 16 members of his family. Also include the Army staff sergeant and his family and all his Army comrades, who knew the story well. If this Army staff sergeant is ever punished he would be one more victim of crimes against humanity.
    In peace, not war,
    LARRY DARCEY


Horror Show
    North Sea
    March 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    The horror show continues. Our troops have been in Afghanistan too long, way too long — a decade — can you believe it? I cannot. We are there to produce a democracy, yet a G.I. kills Afghan villagers, 15 children among the dead. No, this is not the first such horror show we have produced and directed. Nor will it be the last, I fear. After a decade, life changes. This one-man slaughterer was probably a nutcase, at least I hope so.
    We have a major problem. Our people are killing civilians. Yes, that is major, major. We will not recover from such horror for a very long time. We are not the bad guys, much worse, we are the Nazis of our time.
    What happened?
    All the best and then some,
    BILL S­OKOLIN


Nighttime in Canada
    From the car roof poop slides off.
    The trees are just the right height.
    The dog is luggage.
MICHAEL O’NEILL


Morally Offensive
    Amagansett
    March 16, 2012
To the Editor,
    We are experiencing attacks on every side: monetizing the debt, overregulation, war on religious conscience, violating our moral standards, forcing us to pay for an over-2,000-page health care plan that includes morally offensive statutes. Our federal government is leading this country into socialism. Fact: Read history. We’re walking in the same incremental footsteps of those in the 20th century who took down their countries.
    Regulations are pouring out of Washington, D.C., that bypass Congress, dictating everything from the mandate that all bodies of water (i.e., swimming pools) must have elevators to allow disabled to access the water, to fishing rules that are bankrupting local fishermen, to farming. Small farmers will no longer be allowed to have their children work on the farm! Who will this hurt? Not BigAg or China, who are buying up all farmland, but the Amish, the black farmer, the small business family farm.
    Case in point, they say 113 teens are killed annually on farms, which is .00008 percent of the population. Car fatalities of teens account for about 5,500 a year, which is .0002 percent. They aren’t outlawing teen driving — yet.
    This isn’t about child labor, where the children learn work ethic and responsibility. This is about control. This administration’s recent regulations cost the taxpayers $46 billion; get ready for higher taxes. Historically, government controlled farms, in other countries, have resulted in millions of people starving under those dictators.
    Government health insurance? Now they report the cost will be triple what they said just a year ago: $945 billion is now $1.7 trillion. (Read larger deficit.) Health care is now more expensive and doctors aren’t accepting Medicare after $500 million was taken out of Social Security and used for Medicaid. They can’t stay in business if they don’t get paid a reasonable amount for services rendered. The Congressional Budget Office reported up to 20 million may lose health care coverage due to Obamacare.
    Attacks on oil and coal will reduce American-produced energy to the 1920s levels, as dozens of coal energy plants will be closing by the end of the decade. Then again, President Obama did say that energy prices “would necessarily skyrocket.” Do you find that statement astounding?
    Private property is under attack by the U.N. Agenda 21 sustainable development and Occupy spring; watch their platforms and quotes. I do.
    Meanwhile, gas prices are at $4 a gallon and heading higher. Heaven help the truckers bringing our food to the local grocery stores. Look at the 8 percent inflation rate, which does not include food or gas! Are we better than 3 years ago? No: 20 percent of white youths and 40 percent of black youths are unemployed. No reduction in spending as promised and all this administration’s numbers turn out to be untrue, like the unemployment numbers. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
    We are hard-working free men, not part of a machine, because we can work for what we get; we can have passion for our effort or do it out of rote, but we are free to choose.
    One man or woman can change the world, for good or for bad, so it is that our values, our freedoms that must be protected, fought for, and rewon often.
    Government isn’t the way, it is in the way. We are not servants to the government, it serves us in defending our sovereignty, not ruling over us. This is the road to serfdom. They cannot put out the fire of liberty in Americans.
    In liberty, I will not comply!
LYNDA A.W. EDWARDS


Alive and Well
    East Hampton
    March 14 2012
To the Editor,
    In the political arena there is no definition for lying. Everyone lies so egregiously that it is almost impossible to differentiate between lies and truths. When one adds the pathology of self-delusion into the equation the term lying no longer exists. Fraud on the other hand is a criminal offense punishable by prison and in some countries by death. Fraud in the U.S. political arena is the equivalent of lying in the rest of the world. It is unpunishable, or never punished, or simply bad manners.
    The price of gas is a great example. Every politician who isn’t totally brain-dead knows that the price of a barrel of oil is set on the international oil market. OPEC and associates have absolute control. So when Iran goes gaga and we threaten war, the price of gas goes up because of potential oil shortages in the market. Exxon, BP, etc., control the price of gasoline. We have 2 percent of the world’s oil resources and use 20 percent. Mathematically impossible. That our government has any influence in this pricing is fraudulent.
    When politicians tell people in Southern red states that their tax dollars are going toward contraception, abortion, and welfare, that is fraud. No Southern state except for Texas pays enough taxes to cover its own expenses and every one of them gets between $1.20 and $2.50 back for every dollar it pays in. So Alabama, Mississippi, etc., are all on the government nipple. In truth, taxpayers from New York and California pay additional sales, city, and state taxes to cover their bills. The eastern and western states are getting screwed financially, and then we have to listen to the mindless babble about entitlements, religion, and immigrants.
    Hating Barack Obama is perhaps our biggest item of collective fraud. Socialism, economic policies, etc., are all a total bag of crap. Mr. Obama is a middle-of-the-road conciliator. Not different from Clinton or the Bushes. Ask someone why they hate Mr. Obama enough times and they will eventually break out the “nigger” mantra. Better it be on the table than pretend that it’s about all the other bull. Racism is alive and well.
    Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion preventer in the world. Despite providing abortion counseling as part of its women’s health mandate (men don’t get abortions), it is responsible for preventing 10,000 times more abortions than its clients have undergone. The positives of the organization are so ridiculously overwhelming that negatively critiquing its counseling services is absurdly fraudulent, but, more important, severely retarded.
    Contraception proves the rule that in America every moron has his day. Democracy is great. America is exceptional. If we are to give female eggs personhood why not male sperms? Should it not be a crime to kill male sperms? Should masturbation, oral sex, and sex with contraceptives not be criminal acts? What about vasectomies? Should men be allowed to use erectile dysfunction medication without undergoing a battery of psychological tests (as ordered by the Wilmington, Del., City Council) to verify that the problem is really physical?
    The contraception debate would be hilariously goofy if it weren’t so insidious and dangerous to women. Excessive religious brainwashing aside, this is nastily fraudulent. A bag of crap. Ninety-eight percent of Americans use contraception, 100 percent masturbate, and 110 percent would like to enjoy the pleasures of oral sex. Does anyone really care about contraception?
    Abortion is only about nonviolence. Before anyone tells us their religious convictions don’t permit abortions they better show their nonviolent bona fides. No death penalty, no war, no selling arms, no killing. In U.S. Christendom only the Quakers and the Catholic Workers group have nonviolence in their doctrines. Jesus starts with nonviolence and ends as soon as it’s rejected. Christians with an asterisk? It’s really just a con; fraud in God’s name.
    So as our politicians fraudulently spin their politic babble the media genuflects and parrots their outpourings. We all know Mr. Obama favors abortion, high gas prices, and killing babies. He’s not white enough, Christian enough, or American enough. He’s not brain-dead like Mitt Romney, whorish like Newt Gingrich, or religiously demented like Rick Santorum. He really wants to be like them but the media won’t give him a break. He would lie, steal, cheat, and fantasize if it would get us to love him. But he’s a smart black guy and no amount of fraudulent fantasy can change that reality. It sucks, but we can always pretend it doesn’t.
NEIL HAUSIG