Letters to the Editor: 03.29.12

Fishing Business
    Amagansett
    March 26, 2012
To the Editor,
     Fifty local fishermen left the Viking Dock at 5 a.m., March 21, to join some 2,000 other fishermen from all coastal states for the United We Fish Rally in Washington, D.C. We went to encourage some 20 senators and congressmen to push through pending legislation (already over two years in process) aimed at providing relief from onerous regulations resulting from alleged mismanagement of the Magnuson Act.
    To put things in perspective: The rally was not just a conservation issue — fish conservation is essential to keeping both sides in business and fishermen have worked responsibly to meet conservation objectives; it was not an over-regulation issue, although overregulation is killing off family-run fishing businesses and all they support ashore. It is not just a commercial fisheries issue either; it also impacts the sportfishing industry — witness representatives from both fisheries sponsoring the rally. It is essentially a privatization of our fisheries issue.
    Over the past decade the majority of commercial fishing boats (85 percent in New Bedford, Mass., for instance) have been forced out of business because they cannot fish enough to stay afloat financially. Now that the industry has been decimated, the survivors are being “encouraged” to sell their further reduced quotas or “catch shares” to the highest bidder. One needs to buy out the competitions’ catch shares to stay in business, or sell your own and get out. The net result is we are forcing a proud family-run fishing tradition to be sold to the highest bidder. If that is not the government’s intent, though it certainly appears that way, the unintended consequences are the same.
    This is not a new idea local to the U.S.A., but has been going on for decades in Europe and elsewhere around the globe, starting under the conservation banner (who could oppose conservation?) and concluding with allocating catch shares that are traded on exchanges and sold to the highest bidder — inevitably not the family-run fishing business whose resources have been depleted after a decade of arbitrary regulations.
    Fisheries conservation will continue to prosper when the storm subsides, but small businesses will belly up to make way for major corporations to farm our national fisheries resources working in concert with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Pew environmental groups, and the National Marine Fisheries council. This is akin to Exxon Mobil and the Department of Energy or Goldman Sachs working in concert with their regulatory agencies. The end result is a big government-big business relationship.
    The genocide of a fishing way of life is not a partisan issue. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents along the coasts are seeing their fishing communities decimated by overzealous regulation and are trying to get legislation through to rectify the overregulation issues. Senator Charles Schumer, sponsor of S632 in the Senate, called the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act, sounded positive from the podium. But when he met with our Montauk contingent after the rally he told us it was still difficult to get support needed from “ ‘freshwater’ states not having the problem.”
    All the fishing industry wants is a fair and honest partnership with NOAA so that it both survives and conservation thrives in everyone’s best interest. But allegations of deliberate inaccuracy in fisheries science, inordinate and indiscriminate fines, micromanagement paperwork, and overregulation may be the result of diversionary tactics designed to keep the fishing industry shaking its pragmatic head wondering why common sense does not apply — while NOAA marches on toward mission accomplished.
    Individual rights in the fishery are being replaced by “privilege,” and privilege ultimately belongs to the privileged class. One fisherman in Montauk cleverly renamed his vessel “Endangered Species.” He understands.
    During the interim, boatbuilders, marinas, tackle producers like Penn reels, and a host of other industries continue to shrink with the fleets. Fishing resources ashore are being reborn as waterfront condos, some fishermen will find corporate ship jobs, some will take government jobs, some will fade ashore, and as one fisherman said at the rally, “There is probably not much more we can do about it except continue to stand up for what used to be our rights,” hoping to avoid, or at least delay, what appears to be inevitable.
BOB COTE


Serious Questions
    Amagansett
    March 23, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Three items from the most recent East Hampton Village police log raise some serious questions.
    First, a man whose dogs had attacked a young deer was issued a number of summonses, among them one for “allowing dogs to roam in lands inhabited by deer.” That leaves only the Reutershan Parking Lot for unattended dogs to hang out. But will they get ticketed if they stay for more than two hours?
    Then we read that the Wildlife Rescue Center was unable to assist an officer who’d come across a wounded raccoon because “they did not have a license to handle raccoons.” If the Wildlife Rescue Center doesn’t have one, who does? Must we call Siegfried and Roy?
    Finally (and this one really deserved a front-page story), a police officer patrolling Two Mile Hollow Beach found “a small black duffel bag containing several adult erotic toys as well as erotic videos” — but no identification, unfortunately, so it was placed in lost and found. Did the officer even bother to look for footprints and other clues? Will there be surveillance tapes made of all the duffel bag claimants? Please keep us posted on this.
    Sincerely,
    PAULA DIAMOND


Spawning Season
    Amagansett
    March 26, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I had every intention of making this letter about horseshoe crabs and the assumption that they have no idea what they look like because they have no eyes — and what we could learn from that as humans. Upon further study, however, it turns out that horseshoe crabs actually do have eyes. They have 10 eyes, in fact, some of which are used for finding that “special” horseshoe crab. So, obviously, this letter has to be about something else, and I am digging a hole in the sand desperately trying to find that something.
    Okay, it was Mike Bottini, veteran naturalist and educator, who initially tipped me off at Rowdy Hall about horseshoe crabs having eyes. Sure I was disappointed, maybe resentful that someone had to correct my assumption. But I got over it, as a man should. Then I began digging some more.
    First, there are the two lateral compound eyes. These eyes adjust chemically for daylight as well as night vision, allowing the crabs to follow the lunar cycle and identify other horseshoe crabs in darkness. Behind each are three smaller eyes that detect ultraviolet light from the sun and reflected light from the moon. Then there are the two ventral eyes located near the mouth, but it is unclear what they are for. My guess would be that they allow the horseshoe crab to see who it is kissing. Or what it is eating. But you’d have to ask, Would it really want to know?
    The adult female is about 30 percent bigger than the male, which is why the boy crabs tiptoe around the ladies. Once the spawning season is on, horseshoe crabs are obsessed, though it is difficult to tell because of their lack of facial expressions. So how do they find the “right one”? As a young male told me over at Lazy Point two weeks ago, “Once you’re in shallow water they all look hot!”
    The facts seem to support that statement. When the females arrive on the spawning scene they release a chemical that attracts the males, not unlike Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle or Britney Spears’s Midnight Fantasy. Each female will lay up to 120,000 eggs during a spawning cycle, dropping them in batches of a few thousand at a time. Crazy. The males hook their pedipalps onto her opisthosoma while she’s heading to the beach. Sometimes additional males will hang on to the lead male — hey, there a lot of eggs to fertilize.
    Now, as the annual mating season for human primates draws closer on the East End, what can we learn from the time-tested rituals of the horseshoe crab? It should be obvious: 1) Ladies, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and 2) Gentlemen, never use your pedipalps unless asked — you’re probably already in over your head.
    I see you,
    LYLE GREENFIELD


For the Arts
    East Hampton
    March 22, 2012
Dear David,
    It is with sadness and a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Robert Greenbaum.
    Bob Greenbaum was a devoted member of Guild Hall as the respected chairman of the board of trustees for many years. Most recently, Mr. Greenbaum was also chairman of the building and grounds committee. His legacy is the beautiful new facility we have here at Guild Hall, which he, along with Ben Krupinski and Robert A.M. Stern, brilliantly created.
    His generosity to and love for the arts were undeniable. He was a great friend to so many in the community, and will be sorely missed by all.
    Fondly,
    RUTH APPELHOF


Jane Bennett
    Southampton
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    The recent passing of 98-year-old Jane Bennett marks the closing of the era when vegetable stands could grow mostly all their produce here in town.
    Their farm was named Cedar Farm, with the original stand just east of Brent’s gas station and store. On this lot they grew mostly flowers.
    Her husband, Harvey, who died at age 47, built a much nicer farm stand and moved to Pantigo, with a small corn lot in back.
    The other farmlands were at the family homestead on Oak Lane, two houses down from our house and the fish market. The other larger sections were between Town Lane and the railroad tracks, just west of Windmill Lane, and the corner lot on Town Lane and Abraham’s Path.
    At the Oak Lane, Amagansett, house Harvey and Jane grew corn on the back half of Paul Cronin’s land (now the main parking lot for Stuart’s Fish Market), and right up to the side door of their house on Oak Lane.
    On the west end of this corn lot were a series of chicken coops. Sweet corn was the most valuable crop, with the whole family involved in the planting and tending the cornfields. The trees in the 1940s to ’50s were not very tall because of the 1938 Hurricane, so the corn grew very well.
    Harvey Bennett Jr. remembers well the day my father did damage to a portion of the cornfields on Oak Lane.
    My father — Stuart Vorpahl Sr. — could whistle through his teeth very loud. From the house on Oak Lane we could hear him calling us kids if we were over playing on Abraham’s Path or in Poseyville.
    On this day we were muxing around with Harvey and Jonathan in the chicken coops. Our father was whistling as loud as can be but Billy and I didn’t immediately head for home.
    Soon enough we saw the cornstalks shaking as our father was “headed north” to get us back home.
    He was carrying a 1-by-2-inch shingle lath, and as he emerged from the north side of the cornfield, Billy and I ran past him, just out of reach of the now-flailing shingle lath.
    Our father cut a path through both corn lots, trying to beat us because we did not come immediately home when he started whistling.
    To this day I can still see the corn tops and leaves flying through the air behind us.
    Fortunately for Billy and myself we didn’t get much of a thrashing because he was so pooped out from beating down so much corn.
    I don’t know how our father made amends to Harvey and Jane Bennett, but I do know they weren’t very happy with the damage he caused.
    The most prominent memory I have of Jane is that I (we) couldn’t understand her because her Polish accent was so strong.
    We would have to have everything translated by either Harvey or his sister Jane.
    When Harvey senior died, Jane tried to keep the farm going plus raising four kids, but it didn’t work out, so the farm was closed, and Jane became what is know as “land poor.”
    The farm stand building remains on Pantigo in back of the stores, which is an extremely sore point for Harvey Bennett Jr., as he wanted his tackle shop to be in the farm stand.
    Cheers,
    STUART VORPAHL


Indian Nation
    Amagansett
    March 26, 2012
To The Editor:
    As a supporter and advocate for the Montaukett Indian Nation in its bid for state recognition and for reaffirmation of their place as a historic New York Native American Indian entity, I would like to clear up several issues.
    Ninety-five percent of all Montaukett descendants are registered members of the over 1,000-member Montaukett Indian Nation, led by Robert Wyandance Pharaoh. Chief Pharoah is descended from the hereditary ruling family of Pharoahs who have ruled the tribe for many hundreds of years. The other 5 percent comprise the Montaukett Tribe of Long Island and are led by Robert Redfeather Stevenson, and Bob Cooper is the [ . . . ] chief of, maybe, 5 to 10 people. Mr. Cooper was expelled as chief by the Montaukett Tribe of Long Island.
    Leighton DelGado is the tribal spokesman of the Montaukett Nation. I am presently working with him, State Senator Ken LaValle, and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. to advance the New York State Montaukett recognition bill. Bob Cooper is not involved.
    Mr. Cooper, through his lawyer, John Ciarelli, “raises the possibility of Montaukett burial grounds and traditions being disrespected, if not desecrated, to support the museum.” That’s so ironic, because when I came to him years ago with the possibility that someone had leveled a Montaukett graveyard, he told me he couldn’t get involved if it was on private property. That’s when I knew he couldn’t be the real chief of the Montauketts, despite falling for his act around East Hampton Town and seeing him in his buckskins at the Hampton Classic.
    On the other hand as soon as I contacted the Montaukett Nation and Chief Pharoah, he immediately assigned representatives from his Matouwac Research Center to help. The Matouwac Research Center has worked with me for several years now to truly preserve Montaukett culture and artifacts. The Matouwac Research Center has evolved into the most comprehensive repository of Montaukett historical references on the Internet.
ALEXANDER PETERS


Preventable Deaths
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2012
Dear Editor,
    An anonymous response to my March 15 “Guestwords” article, “Hospital Homicides,” appeared on the Star Web site but not in the letters section, I assume because the writer preferred to conceal his or her identity.
    The response, as I read it, seems to be from a physician, medical academic, or hospital executive and urges the public to be “reasonable,” exercise “pragmatism,” and accept stunted safety objectives because hospitals are, among other things, businesses that must stay fiscally afloat.
    It also, somewhat desperately I feel, closes with a smack of McCarthyism-lite, an insinuation that I am motivated by “upper-class-lower-class warfare theories or right-left party politics,” when, in the article, I praise former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, a conservative, and in other writings, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a conservative Republican, as leaders in efforts to control health care errors and infections.
    As if 200,000 preventable deaths a year, plus my own near-death experiences, were not enough motivation. Republicans are dying too.
    I submit this letter to The Star in hope that Anonymous will come out of the closet and discuss this horrifying situation and the joint commission’s conflict of interest in accrediting health care providers for Medicare and Medicaid payments.
    Hospital errors and infections have become the third-largest cause of death in the country, after coronaries and cancer, and a wrecker of Medicare’s financial stability. Prestigious research and expert opinion suggest that an overwhelming number of these casualties are easily and inexpensively preventable.
     We have rightly sprung into action to reduce the death toll from drunken driving, which accounts for less than one-fifteenth of the fatalities caused by health care infections and errors. It is past time that the government and public confront health care deaths with the same sense of urgency.
    Sincerely,
    RICHARD ROSENTHAL


Rushed to Judgment
    Amagansett
    March 25, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I attended the forum by the Group for Good Government on the septic waste treatment plant located on Springs-Fireplace Road on Saturday, and left with more doubts than I already had. Unfortunately, I feel that the issue is so mired in politics that I cannot help but wonder if a rational decision can be made for the future of our groundwater in East Hampton. So many people at the meeting had their own agendas.
    As I heard different speakers talk there was one thought that kept going through my mind. How much money is it worth to keep our groundwater safe? When you talk about the cost of improving the present plant how much money is it worth to protect our groundwater?
     Should we privatize the plant and perhaps allow the new company to bring sewage from UpIsland to East Hampton? Some said it would not be feasible to bring it from UpIsland, but if the new owners don’t make enough for the present plant in the winter, of course they are going to bring it from UpIsland. They have indicated they would.
    I remember when growing up, there was the battle of building the bypass in East Hampton and people saying, “If we don’t build it, they won’t come.” Now some people are saying, “Oh no, it would not be feasible to drive trucks from UpIsland with sewage to East Hampton,” and somehow I don’t believe that at all.
    If we close the plant and send our sewage UpIsland what happens when those plants are filled to capacity and we have no place to go? Some say that won’t happen but we are talking about years down the road and anything is possible.  We need the experts to tell us what our options are, not those who can only guess.
    It is the present town board’s fault that there is no money to run the transfer station until these decisions are made? They put no money in the budget. Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley have once again rushed to judgment without informing the residents of East Hampton.
    I believe before we go any further East Hampton Town needs to draft a wastewater management policy and, if necessary, have a referendum on the cost and let the voters decide how much it is worth to protect our groundwater.
    Sincerely yours,
    ELAINE JONES


One False Move
    Springs
    March 24, 2012
Dear David,
    I attended the Group for Good Government forum on wastewater today. The efforts of the group are appreciated, though I wish the G.G.G. were a little less biased. It is amazing how many people walked into the meeting with their minds made up. They had a readymade, rather cavalier solution for the most complex problem facing the Town of East Hampton: the future of potable water.
    Water is the new gold, diamonds, and oil. In 20 years it will be the most precious commodity in the world. People who have little understanding of science or the forces of nature that are brewing in the future, who are unwilling to say I don’t know or I’m not sure, will damn this community to extinction. Without water to drink, the Hamptons and our property will be valueless. And it all depends on how we treat our waste. One false move and we are doomed. What a time to have fools running our town.
    The supervisor was the first to walk out of the meeting (probably looking for some more numbers to pull out of the air), followed shortly by the deputy supervisor and the vice chairman of one of our boards. What a gang!
    There are so many questions still swirling around in my mind. We need to have more information before we act. Unfortunately, I am not sure the powers that be will have the tenacity, intelligence, or patience to seek a reasonable, workable solution.
    As Tim Bishop says, the economy is the environment, and the environment is the economy. Who’s gonna want to come to a place that doesn’t have pristine beaches and clear water to swim in, or to a dead town? Slow down; it’s our lives you are fooling with. I know Ms. Quigley wants, with her 30 years’ experience, to rush to judgment, but it is her judgment that scares the hell out of me.
    Maine, here I come.
    Sincerely,
    PHYLLIS I. MALLAH


Wastewater Management
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    Concerns about the East Hampton scavenger waste plant on Springs-Fireplace Road attracted a large turnout to the forum Exploring an Environmentally and Economically Sustainable Wastewater Management Policy for East Hampton, sponsored by the East Hampton Group for Good Government.
    The purpose of the forum was to start a meaningful public discussion about all of the problems affecting our water — and the development of a long-range plan to deal with them.
    Several speakers at Saturday’s G.G.G. forum illustrated the water cycle in vivid terms — most everything we put into our home cesspools and septic tanks makes its way back eventually to our drinking water. So do road runoff, agricultural fertilizers, and business wastewater.
    Besides the scavenger waste plant, the East Hampton wastewater system currently has over 20,000 uncoordinated parts — the cesspools or septic systems of all of our homes and businesses in the town. The scavenger waste plant is only one part of our town’s overall wastewater system.
    Many of these 20,000 parts are well maintained and functioning properly. But thousands of others are seriously substandard or in various states of disrepair. Still others are in soils or locations that we now understand will never let them properly function. About 25 percent of all wastewater systems in town are simple cesspools — holes in the ground. Incredibly we blithely rely upon the ground to “clean up” the wastewater. Some of these household systems are over 100 years old and adjacent to critical bodies of water.
    It’s certainly easier and cheaper to continue to pour this stuff in the ground — out of sight, out of mind. Moreover, the inadequacy of our town’s wastewater system has been used as an excuse to limit density in our town, and while we must continue to be watchful, that effort has largely succeeded through the community preservation fund and zoning.
    Unfortunately, as the forum panelists explained, all of our wastewater continues to travel underground into our drinking water aquifers, ponds, bays, and estuaries. These adjacent bodies of water are being adversely impacted by bacterial and carcinogenic contamination from our wastewater.
    Meanwhile, excessive nitrogen and phosphorus from the same wastewater, as well as from agricultural and landscaping fertilizers, have resulted in excessive growth of algae, producing brown or red tide and adversely affect sea life, especially in spawning areas.
    Except for preserving some of our groundwater recharge areas and limiting building density, we have done little to prevent continuing environmental damage to our water. Yet our local tourist economy depends on clean water — as do the long-term values of our homes and businesses.
    We all recognize that town resources are limited; however, as one member of the forum audience noted, we should allocate town resources in proportion to the importance of the issue. Few issues are more important than clean water — to our health and our economy.
    It is really time to develop an environmentally and economically sustainable wastewater management policy for East Hampton. This policy would include consideration of all 20,000 parts of our wastewater management system, including the scavenger waste plant
    Reportedly, the original proposal to simply sell the plant to a private operator for $300,000 or to lease it to the operator at a nominal rent for a 30-year term, with little town oversight, is no longer being considered. The general consensus of the town board, as well as the forum, appears to be that, before any long-term decision is made about the plant, the town should undertake the robust environmental study of both the plant itself and its surroundings as recommended in the budget and finance advisory committee report. The town board will focus further on the plant at a special Saturday session on April 21.
    The plant is on the groundwater divide directly over the Stony Hill aquifer, which provides accelerated access and greater dispersion to the groundwater supply and, as Bonnie Krupinski, a forum panelist, pointed out, is next to a large toxic plume of harmful chemicals from the neighboring capped landfill. All the more reason why meaningful consideration of the plant should be in the context of an overall wastewater management plan.
    If the board just decides now to simply close the plant forever, it could avoid any further study of the plant itself. However, Jeremy Samuelson of the Group for the East End and several other panelists were not ready to recommend this alternative without the more comprehensive environmental study and the development of an overall wastewater plan.
    If we act quickly, we might even have the opportunity to get some county, state, or federal funding to offset a portion of the cost of the needed studies and planning. 
    Why wait?
    ARTHUR MALMAN


Interests Can Trump
    Springs
    March 25, 2012
Dear David,
     With the votes of his two Republican cohorts, Supervisor Wilkinson recently passed a resolution to refund $2,600 in building permit fees to one of his supporters. I don’t know any property owner who would even have the gall to ask the town board for a refund. But if you are a friend of Bill’s, you can get it done.
    Then, with the support of his two Republican council members, Supervisor Wilkinson passed a resolution (brought up as a hasty, end-of-meeting walk-on three weeks ago), to sell a town-owned alley to the new owners of the Ronjo Motel. When Supervisor Wilkinson was asked how he arrived at the $35,000 sale price, he defiantly responded, “I plucked it out of the air.” Nor did it matter to Supervisor Wilkinson that the alley is important to the town for fire safety, utility easements, and access to other properties. If you donate money to Bill or his causes, your interests can trump the town’s.
    Remember the attempted quick sale of the Pantigo office condos? The bid process was open for just two weeks on $4 million worth of property. Not surprisingly, the only bidder, at $3 million, was a major contributor to Mr. Wilkinson and the Republican Party. And we now know that Mr. Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley improperly negotiated with the bidder both before and after the bid was received.
    Wake up, town! Pay-to-play has arrived in East Hampton and we — the taxpayers — are footing the bill. This abandonment of ethics will incur even greater costs for the long term unless we can come together as a community and demand that our government operate with honesty and integrity.
    Please, come to your town board’s work sessions and meetings. Get informed.
    Sincerely,
    PAMELA BICKET


Reduced Rate
    East Hampton
    March 25, 2012
Dear David:
    What would happen if a private citizen owed the town payment for about 687 citations? Would they be offered a reduced rate of $100,000 almost a year later? Doubtful. Unless they had a business (anywhere, including residential neighborhoods), but especially if they were pals of Supervisor Wilkinson.
    Mr. Wilkinson has proudly declared, “I want the newspapers to have a headline that says I encourage businesses to grow their businesses! We are in the hospitality business.” Theresa Quigley suggests a law that might permit even more customers on a half-acre!
    This is the solution they are offering nine months after the many complaints about the Montauk clubs. Ironically, the Republican board members are doing what they accuse the Dems of doing: stall, stall, stall. The enforcement employees of the town seem to be under orders not to do much, short of stepping in if there is a murder on the premises. Have detectives gone in to some of these clubs to see whether drugs are being sold? Why haven’t the police set up roadblocks to use Breathalyzer tests? Why are drunken drivers permitted? Obviously, town enforcers are not ordered or encouraged to.
    To those of you who foolishly voted for Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley, you now can clearly see the results. Residential areas, quality of life, enforcement by police, fire, and the department of health, community members, all mean nothing to the Republicans. They want to sell everything the town owns (at wonderfully reduced prices, too); they consistently ignore individual and group requests.
    Speak out now or Montauk may become Coney Island.
NAOMI SALZ


Learn Some Manners
    Montauk
    March 20, 2012
Dear David:
    Today I watched the town board meeting, and I must say that our two newest Democratic members of the board, both Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby, need to learn some manners and stop interrupting the proceedings. They constantly cut in and speak out of turn or go off on pointless tangents and tirades. Supervisor Wilkinson tried to maintain control, but I’m not sure that a soccer referee with a whistle could contain these two! Both of them deserve yellow cards.
    The new council members need to realize that they are no longer on the planning board, which they once operated like their private fiefdom. Back then, Mr. Van Scoyoc actually got out of his chair and physically threatened a speaker, while on more than one occasion, Ms. Overby shouted down others trying to talk.
    Here’s some advice for both Peter and Sylvia: You’re now both in the big leagues, not the farm team, so learn to follow proper protocol and stop being so rude. It is very unbecoming from elected officials who represent all of us. Next time, you two will deserve a red card!
    Sincerely,
    WALTER RELLA


Understands This Now
    East Hampton
    March 25, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Most of us have said things we wished we had not.
    I recall an occasion when was I writing letters to the editor objecting to the Planning Department (that included Marguerite Wolffsohn, then a planner) stonewalling my application for a building permit. My property was next to land owned by relatives of a town councilman and a former town supervisor. I was protesting the Planning Department’s obvious cronyism. It had reviewed and recommended approval of the neighbor’s project in three weeks, while my project had been reviewed for almost 20 years. 
    When writing one particular letter I had contemplated using the term “Nazi” immediately after the word “nature” to describe the mentality of some of the fringe elements of the environmental movement. Fortunately, prior to writing the letter, I asked my father (who had flown bombing raids over Nazi Germany and who was a historian with a Ph.D.), about the appropriateness of using that term. My father cautioned against doing so. He opined that so labeling any person or group of people would upset many, and would detract from the real point of my letter. I am certain Theresa Quigley understands this now and is sorry that she used the term as she did.
    It is ironic that the editor of The Independent, Rick Murphy, of all people, is calling for Theresa’s resignation as town councilwoman because she misspoke. Indeed, if Mr. Murphy is truly as righteous as he displays in his editorial last week, he would not be editor of this paper. He would have resigned after he used bigoted clichés in his satire published in The Independent four years ago about a fictitious conversation between President-elect Barack Obama and his wife while in bed. Mr. Murphy might take a cue from the other board members’ response to Theresa’s faux pas, which was one of understanding and pardon.
    Very truly yours,
    LAWRENCE J. KONCELIK JR.


Powerful Woman
    Montauk
    March 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    I may be exceeding the bounds of propriety, but after reading the recent letters to The Star, a reasonable person should be provoked to umbrage.
    Theresa Quigley is now being subjected to an onslaught of criticism and unveiled hostility  in reference to an off-the-cuff comment made to a fellow councilman after the conclusion of a particularly raucous town board meeting.
    So let’s be fair. Jerry Seinfeld had a Soup Nazi as a character on his show and it provoked laughter, not derision. The character controlled soup, period! No one believes Ms. Quigley endorses vile, contemptible, murderous conduct in any way, shape, or form.
    Of course, this is not to dismiss the pain and suffering endured by relatives. Many of us who have lived and worked with Jewish folks and heard stories of their anguish and torment were stunned to hear of man’s inhumanity to man. My family in Norway was subjected to cruelty, arrest, execution, and deportation to the camps because they served in the underground or for the mere fact that they were Norwegian.
    Who would not be moved to empathy and to place a gentle hand on a shoulder, to offer our feelings of concern when listening to the autobiographical and biographical stories of our families during that awful time period in history?
    But this situation with Ms Quigley is a red herring, plain and simple. Theresa Quigley’s comment, while unfortunate, is not the main issue.
    Those of us who have worked with her, one on one, or on a committee, know a decent, self-deprecating, intelligent, and powerful woman, an attorney with an amazing grasp of the facts on the subject being studied.
    Some folks are intimidated in the presence of a woman with her credentials and sense of self and this may be the real reason for the criticism.
    So let’s not get sidetracked and distracted from the real issues at hand and before the town board, i.e., housing, budgets, fiscal responsibility, tourism, overcrowded and underutilized schools, business, second-home owners’ concerns, adequate and safe lighting, and the maintenance and preservation of our rural environment, to highlight a few.
    These are not all mutually exclusive and can be positively addressed regardless of ideology and political persuasion, if we hold fast to civility.
    We might even remind ourselves, while involved in our political discourse, to never forget the stories of our forebears, who survived the ordeals in Europe. To honor them by not repeating the indignities and disrespect to our less-fortune residents and their children, legal or illegal. We’re better than that.
    Respectfully submitted,
    TOM MILNE


Unfortunate Choice
    Wainscott
    March 23, 2012
Dear David,
    After reading your article “Quigley in the Hot Seat” last week about Councilwoman Theresa Quigley’s unfortunate — and grammatically incorrect — statement regarding David Buda’s “Unoccupy” movement of quality-of-life-defenders in Springs, I couldn’t help thinking of Bill Maher’s recent Op-Ed in The New York Times titled “Please Stop Apologizing.” In the piece, Maher mentions that Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, made the mistake of calling Mitt Romney’s advertising barrage in the Illinois primary “Mittskrieg.” Stupid pun, right?
    Within a matter of seconds after Mr.  Axelrod uttered it, Jewish groups were demanding an apology and that Mr. Axelrod be fired. In a related post on the Huffington Post site last week defending Rush Limbaugh’s right to say the most disgusting things imaginable about women, a columnist concludes, “For all of our bluster about the lack of freedom of speech in other countries, we’re not doing a very good job here at home either.” Sometimes we don’t like what other people say. It can be hurtful, especially to be thin-skinned. Too bad. I count myself among those who wished that Limbaugh’s sad clown show had packed up and gone out of business years ago. But I wouldn’t want to live in a country where people are silenced for their speech, no matter how reprehensible.
    Forcing Ms. Quigley to resign for her unfortunate choice of words is ludicrous. People say stupid things, especially when under pressure. Instead of firing her for using a word that Fox News employs more than their “fair and balanced” slogan, the people of East Hampton should take advantage of this teachable moment and look into why she said it.
    She was obviously expressing frustration with a group that, although it has legitimate concerns, is perhaps a tad militant in its approach to resolving them. Making the leap from David Buda’s hit list of homes which his organization has no qualms about making public and the events leading up to Kristallnacht in 1930s Europe is a stretch by any standard (folks at home who don’t know what Kristallnacht is should Google it and learn), but it’s not surprising that particular shorthand slur might come to mind, especially among those of us who can see through the transparency of the Springs Concerned Citizens constant “quality of life” claims. Should we also be punished for even thinking it?
    Some people are uncomfortable living next to people who are different from them or don’t speak the same language. And they have every right to protest against certain behaviors, lawful or not, exhibited by said people. And Ms. Quigley has an equal right to call them out on it, even if she does get an F for grammar.
DAVID KOZATCH


Offended
    Montauk
    March 23, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
    I have been watching the town board meetings and I noticed an increase in the rhetoric coming out against Deputy Supervisor Quigley. The open hostility borders on hysteria. As a woman and a proud Republican I can say that I am offended by this on two levels: 1. If a man said and did the things Ms. Quigley has, he would be viewed by many as strong-willed and a leader, and 2. If Ms. Quigley were a Demo­crat, she would be supported for her independence and her quick mind. Instead, a handful of people, the same ones every time by the way, are trying to do to her what they did to Sarah Palin. It will not work.
    There are many of us who still support the Wilkinson team; we just don’t make as much noise as the complainers.
    Respectfully,
    FRANCES CARROLL


Biased Opinions
    East Hampton
    March 24, 2012
Dear David:
    I have been watching with some dismay the constant attacks on our deputy supervisor, Theresa Quigley, The barrage is quite amazing because if it is not biased opinions being passed off as objective letters to the editor then it is slanted reporting being palmed off as real news. One of your printed-ink rivals even went so far as to make her picture its entire front page and then included a story dedicated to the point that three people (every one of them a local agitator) were calling for her resignation.
    Three people complained about her! This is supposed to be some sort of news item?
    Of course, your paper fell for it too by also running a “story” with pictures. So, what about the 4,057 East Hampton citizens who voted for Ms. Quigley two years ago? What about what they want?
    In the meantime, the previous Dem­ocratic administration robbed the town blind and we taxpayers will be burdened with the $28 million debt that had to be bonded out and there was nary a word about the supervisor (or his board) at that time, all the while, this theft was going on under various reporters’ noses.
    This current Republican majority led by Bill Wilkinson is interested in changing things for the better. The positive changes Mr. Wilkinson has made in two short years are astonishing. Unfortunately, certain vested interests in this town do not like having their gravy train derailed. Instead, they are using Ms. Quigley as some sort of a lightning rod and are trying to turn her into something she clearly is not. She is an elected official who truly cares, not someone who is to be hated because her politics differ from yours.
    My advice to Ms. Quigley is simple: Stand your ground and stay in the council position we elected you to serve. Someone famous once said that he judged a person’s character by his or her enemies. If these people hate you, Ms. Quigley, then you are okay in my book. Keep hitting them!
    Cordially,
    DON SCHRAGE


Out of the Air
    Amagansett
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    Supervisor Wilkinson’s formula for the town’s business seems to be “sell now, consider laws later.” It is astonishing to town residents that the resolution to sell the 3,700-square-foot, town-owned access alleyway to the Ronjo in Montauk was passed when it came up a second time by the Republican majority — astonishing because the selling price of $35,000 was “plucked out of the air” by the supervisor without any appraisal.
    When questioned, Mr. Wilkinson replied, “What does having an appraisal have to do with the board’s action (in approving the sale)?” However, N.Y. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele made clear what the law requires: “You cannot make a gift of public property . . . you need an appraisal to be able to document the fact that officials have properly maintained their fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and their property.”
    It is understandable that some might feel discomfort about the relationship of the new owner of the Ronjo, the sponsor and advocate of last summer’s failed MTK concert, with the supervisor and his deputy. Theresa Quigley interviewed Bill Jones on her LTV show recently, and he seems to be able to readily text her (as evidenced at the March 20 town board meeting). And Mr. Wilkinson made his “out of the air” price arrangement before asking what is legally proper and right for the town and its taxpayers.
    Hmmmmm?
    Sincerely,
    LARRY MARCUS

Standard Procedure?
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2012
To The Editor:
    As an ordinary citizen, I find it perplexing and disturbing that Supervisor Wilkinson and the Republican majority would agree to sell the town-owned property in Montauk (the alley) to the new Ronjo owners for $35,000 without even obtaining an appraisal. Isn’t having an appraisal standard procedure in real estate transactions, not to mention common sense? The Town of East Hampton is not well served by the board in such an action, and we all should expect more responsible and careful deliberations.
ROBIN GLASSMAN


Misjudged the Needs
    Springs
    March 25, 2012
Dear David,
    The scavenger waste plant has been poorly managed, operationally and financially, through three town administrations. If the operational and financial issues had been dealt with properly, our only decision now would be when and how to upgrade the plant to the best modern standards. Herewith is some history.
    From the time the plant was built in the late 1980s until 2001, the plant was entirely owned and operated by the town. The plant made a profit while charging a low fee that kept costs low to the residents.
    There were management problems, mainly personality differences among employees, that led to a review of the plant’s operation in 2001. Rather than exercise the management oversight that a town board should, the board took the easy road and hired an outside company to run the plant. The town still retained the responsibility for owning the permit, setting prices, and taking any profit or loss.
    The town’s action created a recipe for conflicts of interest, and the badly drawn contract made it worse. There was no incentive for the operator to manage well, and the town provided hardly any oversight itself.
    Without good management from either the outside company or the town, cheating became common. Underreporting of the amount of waste being deposited cost the town huge amounts of revenue. Also, carters mixed restaurant grease into the other waste to avoid paying higher fees. This clogged the system and raised repair costs.
    By 2008 the plant was losing a lot of money, and to make matters worse, some carters had not paid their bills. Day-to-day oversight of the plant was almost nil. Supervisor McGintee did visit frequently but the scavenger waste department had no department head or town employee assigned to monitor the plant’s operations.
    The town board frequently increased the price to carters to use the plant, rising from 3.5 cents a gallon set in 2002 to 11.5 cents a gallon in 2009. Around the time of the last increase, the largest local carter stopped using the plant and began trucking waste UpIsland. This led to even greater losses for the town.
    Also, the town began to have numerous Department of Environmental Conservation discharge violations. One reason for the violations was that the D.E.C. standards changed and the town never addressed them. But another reason was the lax management, which was not strict enough in monitoring what was put into the plant.
    Supervisor Wilkinson inherited that scenario knowing that the operating agreement with the outside operator would end in November 2011. But during Supervisor Wilkinson’s first term there was actually less oversight, financially and operationally, than during the previous administration. There had been no board liaison to the plant until Councilwoman Sylvia Overby took it on this January.
    Against this history, the town boards have made one poor decision after another. First, financially, there must be a price, slightly higher than what the UpIsland competition charges but lower than our plant’s current fees, where it would make sense for all carters to use the East Hampton plant. In other words, in prior years the town took exactly the wrong action when it raised prices because it was losing money. If plant usage were priced properly, the plant would make money, the carters’ costs would go down, and the fees paid by residents would be lower.
    Fortunately, the town’s budget and finance advisory committee saw the need to investigate the situation. By the time of the presentation of the advisory committee report in March 2011, not only was the town losing a lot of money at the plant, but the town had been issued about 130 violations by the D.E.C.
    Unfortunately, the committee’s presentation to the town board  was halted because its chairman, Arthur Malman, began to talk about the D.E.C. violations. Council members Dominick Stan­zione and Theresa Quigley stated then and subsequently an opinion that their responsibility to the town precludes them from taking any action which might lead to finding existing environmental problems. They stated that public knowledge of environmental problems might lead to lawsuits and large remediation costs.
    The D.E.C. also made a formal demand for the town to produce a corrective action plan delineating how the town would renovate the plant so that the output would not exceed the D.E.C. limits. The town’s answer was due on June 23, 2011. Rather than work toward an answer, the Wilkinson administration asked for a six-month extension to Dec. 23 (you would be correct to notice that it moved the problem until after the election and after the 2012 budget was done).
    The plan was received by the town in November of 2011. That month, on Nov. 17, the town board voted to send the plan to the D.E.C. The plan was basically a nontechnical timetable of how to proceed. It did not provide any answers. It could easily have been produced by April 2011, seven months sooner.
    The plan clearly said that the town would close the operation of the plant in January 2012 but that it would then operate a transfer station until such time as the plant could reopen and meet D.E.C. specifications. A transfer station takes in septic waste, does not process it, and then sends it UpIsland in large trucks for processing. It would cost about $20,000 a month to operate. The fee to use the plant as a transfer station is now 13.5 cents a gallon.
    The plan also called on the town to do a technical design report, which would determine the standards to which the plant would operate and provide engineering analysis of how to rebuild it to reach those standards. The rough estimate of the costs for renovation presented in the plan was $400,000. That would be a one-time cost of $16 on an average tax bill. Subsequently, the engineer who prepared the report estimated that to upgrade the plant to be state-of-the-art would be an additional $1 million to $1.5 million.
    On the same night the plan was accepted, the board passed the 2012 bud­get. Even though the plan obligated the town to certain actions which required funding, there was no money in the 2012 scavenger waste budget to operate the plant in any capacity or to do any engineering studies.
    The 2012 budget also took $1.1 million of surplus money from the sanitation fund and used it solely for a tax reduction. No money was put into the scavenger waste fund for any repairs.
    The conclusions are obvious. Supervisor Wilkinson had decided that no matter what that plan said, he was going to find a way to get rid of the plant early in 2012. There were no financial provisions for any other option, and doing any other option would lead to deficits.
    The corrective action plan logically said that the town should first determine what level of operation the town wanted for the plant and draw specifications to achieve that goal. Only then, many months later, should the town seek an outside operator if it did not want to operate the plant itself. But Supervisor Wilkinson barged straight into looking for an outside person to lease or buy the plant, letting the for-profit bidder determine what he wanted to do.
    There was only one offer to take on operation of the plant. This for-profit operator basically said that he wanted to put as much septage through the plant as possible and with the least amount of D.E.C. and town oversight. That might be logical from the operator’s perspective but it presents severe conflicts with the town’s and taxpayers’ interests.
    But Supervisor Wilkinson and Councilwoman Quigley shocked everyone by saying they would accept the $300,000 offered for the plant and land even though this amount is far less than even the value of the three acres of land. The replacement cost of the plant and land has been estimated as high as $22 million by the town’s consulting engineer.
    The obvious conclusion is that the 2012 budget was unrealistic, and it was designed to force the 2012 town board to give the plant to an outside for-profit operator.
    Amazingly, Supervisor Wilkinson and Councilwoman Quigley are willing to make what would amount to a gift of public property just because they will not admit that they misjudged the needs of the 2012 budget. The future of the plant should not be determined either by the poor management of the last three administrations or by the poor fiscal planning in the 2012 budget.
ZACHARY COHEN


Of the People
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    I find the continued talk of “insubordination” and the use of “subordinates” as a descriptive term for town employees by members of our town board dismaying, not to mention statements like, “I believe the government should be made by us. That’s what we are here for.”
    Blood was shed more than 200 years ago to create a country with a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” — of, by, and for.
    I would hope it is becoming clear on a local, state, and federal level that effective top-down corporate management skills and style are really not relevant to the running of a bottom-up democracy — of the people, for the people, and by the people.
    The winning of an election does not void these principles.
FRED KOLO


Doing Fine
    Wainscott
    March 25, 2012
To the Editor,
    It’s really hard to imagine that Bill Wilkinson thinks he’s doing fine, that his programs and actions are made in the best interests of the East Hampton electorate. What does he make of all the objections being raised? Are we all “insubordinate?” Every single one of us, who dares to disagree with his policies?
    Judging by his reactions to all criticism, starting with his untimely and, thankfully aborted, rock music festival of last summer, through the myriad objectionable proposals of his creation since then, there are lots of people out there who refuse to sit back and let him have his way. Lately, he’s been seen yelling at town meetings! What next?
    I only hope that those who voted for him in the last election truly regret their decision, finally realizing that he has gone against all that East Hampton has stood for in its determination to maintain a high quality of life in all aspects — peace, fairness, safety, adherence to existing codes, and, above all, to want to be seriously listened to.
    In disgust and sadness,
    JOAN TRABULSI


Ignored Him
    Amagansett    
    March 17, 2012
Dear David,
    I have just returned from a meeting of the ecumenical group of East Hampton. It is strictly B.Y.O.B., and the entrance password alternates between “Just because you’re short, doesn’t mean you can’t wise up” and “Who is that on the roof of your car?”
    East Hampton Town’s temporary Supervisor Willy Something sent an e-mail protesting the gathering, but we ignored him and adopted the following bylaws:
    We acknowledge that the primary role of government is to protect public health and safety.
    We acknowledge that the primary role of East Hampton Town government is to listen to its constituents and ignore partisan influence (two-fifths do, three-fifths don’t).
    We acknowledge that it is dumb for any ruling body to think this is about them.
    We acknowledge that we are forming a CPAC known as Sack the Stupids.
    I hope to see you at our next meeting. Could you bring ice?
    All good things,
    DIANA WALKER


New Approach
    Wainscott
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    According to last week’s article in The Star (“Repubs Split Over Grants”), it now seems that four of the five town board members are unconvinced that obtaining new Federal Aviation Administration grants will not pre-empt the airport noise abatement on the East End. In addition, some people on both sides of the issue are now asking for reconsideration. The same article stated, “Margie Saurenman, the vice president of the East Hampton Aviation Association, urged the board on Tuesday to have more public discussion about the issue.”
    Kudos to Tim Bishop for obtaining a written response from the F.A.A. concerning questions that the airport noise abatement advisory committee had been asking for years.
    I believe, therefore, that it is time for the town board to take an entirely new approach to resolving the differences, misunderstandings, and conflicting objectives of opposing sides of the airport issue. Instead of holding yet another public hearing with the attendant parade of repetitive, factually deprived pro and con arguments, I propose that the town board hold a modified moot court proceeding. Several important aspects of such a proceeding would make it more productive:
    Only lawyers (maximum of two) and expert witnesses would be permitted to testify for each team. The town board would have final say on who could testify. Briefs, evidence, and witness lists would be submitted in advance so that the town board and the opposing team(s) can review them in advance. In general, rules of evidence would be applied. Limited cross-examination would be permitted as would questions from board members. As in court, no audience participation of any kind would be permitted. However, questions submitted in advance might be considered by the town board.
    In addition, it would be productive if each side were to propose a noise-abatement program, including an estimate of the resulting reduction in noise together with a signed legal opinion that addresses the feasibility of the proposed noise abatement initiatives. Finally, a financial plan that takes into account and distinguishes between operating and capital expenditures, as well as litigation exposure, could be requested so that all taxpayers would be able to anticipate the tax implications with and without F.A.A. funding and noise abatement. Such an approach would give the town much more complete information than ever before on which to base a decision.
    After considering the information presented, the town board would propose a final noise abatement, airport repair, and financing plan to the public for comment, accompanied by a well-thought-out rationale that could put to rest much of the controversy that has surrounded East Hampton Airport for decades. Not everyone would be satisfied, but no one could then legitimately accuse the town board of making a decision behind closed doors, as so many past boards appear to have done.
    Sincerely,
    PETER A. WADSWORTH


Only Redirect
    Sagaponack
    March 24, 2012
To the Editor,
    What kind of logic do the members of the aviation community subscribe to that lets them continually state that a control tower is going to reduce the noise created by aircraft activity at the airport? All aircraft are noisy, some noisier than others. The only logical, irrefutable means of limiting this noise is to reduce the number and type of aircraft flying in our skies. A control tower will only redirect the paths of the aircraft, sparing few, annoying some, and making others more miserable. End of story.
STEPHEN LEVINE


Who Will Benefit
    Wainscott
    March 25, 2012
Dear David:
    I think it is terrific that the East Hampton Aviation Association is so concerned about properly regulating the airport — and so assured that the Federal Aviation Administration trailer, and the promised new flight paths and patterns, will make all the problems disappear this summer. Seaplanes, jets, and choppers will fly so high, and so far from homes, no one will be bothered by them. (Actually landing the thousands of aircraft may prove a tad more invasive, however.)
    We, the many beleaguered citizens, hope they are right about these silent and serene flight patterns — with aircraft that are essentially invisible, inaudible, and pose no hazard of any kind. We sincerely hope just that. But, if by some small chance they are not right — and people of this community are still suffering from the annual aerial assault this summer — then what? We are screwed in perpetuity. Why take the chance — when the F.A.A. itself says we can have definite local regulation in less than three years?
    The E.H.A.A.’s main concern is what it’s always been: maintaining their flying club without paying much for it. So, of course they want to “take the grants,” as they are the ones who will benefit. Yet, if they really are such community-minded citizens, they cannot possibly argue that it is unwise to simply wait a few months to see what happens this summer.
    What’s the rush, guys? What’s the rush?
    BARRY RAEBECK
    Quiet Skies Coalition


Federal Law
    Southampton
    March 26, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Airport opponents are widely quoted as saying that in the year 2014, the town will have the authority to ban helicopter traffic from our airport.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. The Federal Aviation Administration has recently stated that, despite three grant assurances expiring in 2014, there are many others that will remain in effect and federal law prohibits the town from discriminating against any kind of aircraft, including helicopters, without losing in court.
    The federal government developed the airport in 1936, and it has been funded with federal money ever since. It is part of the national transportation system, and, therefore, what can be done at the airport has been controlled for the last 80 years by federal law. Banning helicopters from the airport is wishful thinking.
    But requiring helicopters to fly at high altitudes by the creation of a federal control zone is the solution. It gives the town local control of the airspace above the town for the first time in its history. This requires close cooperation with the F.A.A. That is the best and fastest way to reduce helicopter noise and preserve our environment.  
    MARGIE SAURENMAN
    Vice president
    East Hampton Aviation Association


Stall and Delay
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    Some airport opponents ask why is the East Hampton Aviation Association urging the town to accept Federal Aviation Administration funding. The answer is simple.
    Since 1989 (more than 23 years ago) the association has been patiently seeking the repair of the most important runway at the airport for small, light planes.
    During these years, the airport opponents have used every device imaginable, including several lawsuits, to stall and delay the repair of this vital runway.
    The airport opponents are currently suing the town to set aside the new airport master plan and airport layout plan that the town adopted in 2010 after 10 years of public hearings.
    The opponents are challenging the repair of a critical runway. They are challenging the location of parking areas for aircraft. They are challenging the repair of taxiways, and even the installation of the control tower.
    None of these items have anything to do with helicopter noise or jets. Nor do these repair items expand the airport in any way.
    So, here’s a question for the airport opponents. Why don’t you withdraw your lawsuit so that the serious business of managing and repairing the airport can occur without further delay?
    Sincerely,
    PAUL SCHEERER


Bad for Night
    Springs
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    I noticed a very dangerous condition last night at the intersection of North Main, Springs-Fireplace, and Three Mile Harbor Roads. Driving home, I was unable to see well since the gas station installed new lighting.
    That gas station has excessively bright lighting. It is about eight times brighter than the light levels at the Hess gas station in Wainscott.
    Drivers’ eyes will adapt to the brightest areas instead of the surroundings when lighting is excessively high (over professional recommendations). This is called disability glare and it reduces our ability to see well. Too much light can be as bad for night vision as too little. 
    Had this new gas station been reviewed by the Planning Department prior to installation, they would have had to conform to good lighting practices, and the safety of their patrons and passers-by would benefit. They would also save money on energy.
    Our current lighting code provides safe light levels and a process for review by the Planning Department to prevent situations that jeopardize public safety.
    If the proposed Quigley lighting law is enacted, we can expect more situations like this; and you can expect dangerous lights like these to be grandfathered into perpetuity.
SUSAN HARDER


Footing the Bill
    Springs
    March 12 2012
Dear David,
    On Monday, March 12, I again attended a meeting of the Springs School Board anticipating to hear what the school budget is projected to be next year. I may not be getting it, but all I heard was lamenting and fretting and some anger by parents and teachers who think that nothing should change. The school has so many, many needs, programs, and activities. There is a general feeling that nothing should be cut, and I am getting the feeling that the school might choose to pierce the 2-percent cap. I hope not.
    There are a whole bunch of residents, taxpayers, and voters who wish to keep within the 2-percent cap this year. Last year the school board increased the school budget by 5.8 percent in anticipation of this cap. Residents who pay the taxes are also questioning residency requirements for the school. The fact that the school’s population has increased 22 percent in the past 10 years kind of takes my breath away!
    I have heard many, many times at these meetings that if the hamlet does not have a great school it will affect real estate values adversely. There is big applause every time this point is mentioned by teachers and/or PTA members. Every year the school keeps costing more and more and more money. I maintain with the current situation in Springs, anyone looking to buy a house would flee to other areas. I would go to Amagansett, Northwest, or even Wainscott, where the property taxes are less. Better to pay a bit more up front for your home than pay the rest of your lifetime for a school that keeps on expanding and expanding and, at this point, is bursting. This expensive school, the most expensive on the East End, is not an asset that will promote real estate value for the community. That is a myth.
    I hope the school board knows we can not accept piercing this cap. I hope the school board understands the community angst and inability to take on another large increase. Every year those who pay taxes have been dealing with increases. Push has come to shove. I hope everything is on the table, teacher salaries, administrative costs, contracts, benefits, extracurricular activities, pre-K, transportation, you name it. If it is an expense it should be there.
    I hope the school is properly verifying residency and doing due diligence. We the taxpayers have a responsibility for the school, and the school has a responsibility to us.
    It is not pretty. It is a very complicated situation in Springs. Illegal renting and slum landlords who do not follow zoning laws have exacerbated the “population” problem and somehow we, the resident taxpayers, are footing the bill. We all are uncomfortable and tapped out. We are in the worst recession since the 1930s. Who has money?
    I hope those in the educational community will work toward school consolidation; we, the community, will. I hope those in the educational community will truly work with the community to keep this budget in check. Where are we going to get the money if the attitude of the school boards of the last 10 years prevails — certainly not from our pension plans and salaries. We are a modest community, a close-knit community, we support public education. As I mentioned before, no one is happy with what has to be done. No one.
    Thank you,
    BETSY RUTH


Soul of Our Nation
    Sag Harbor
    March 23, 2012
To the Editor,
    Staff Sgt. Bales has been identified as the killer of 16 innocent civilians, 9 of whom are children. Sergeant Bales was injured twice in combat, sent back to Iraq three times, and then deployed again to Afghanistan, where the massacre took place. How would you like to walk in his boots? These are crimes against humanity on both sides.
    Tens of thousand of our soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder have committed suicide. Their souls have been damaged. In these investigations the military never refers to the term soul; that would raise the question of conscience. The soul of our nation needs to be awakened.
    Finally, in perpetual war, where we have been taken, is also a war perperated upon the American people. In every war humanity loses. Is that not yet obvious?
    On the front page of The New York Times March 23, 2012: “Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is expected to be charged with 17 counts of murder and various other charges.” Those responsible for sending him back to combat four times should be standing alongside him on trial. Were these charges our way to pacify Karzai and Afghanistan? Where is the reverence for life, anyone’s life?
    In peace not war,
    LARRY DARCEY


Sordid Politics
    Amagansett
    March 26, 2012
Dear David,
    The decision of the Independence Party to endorse Randy Altschuler to run for Congress against Tim Bishop in the First Congressional District is typical of the sordid politics which have corrupted the electoral process locally and nationwide.
    Mr. Altschuler’s campaign manager said “we think an outsider is a good thing,” a Tea Party mantra, particularly absurd as applied to this race. Representative Bishop is a man with experience in governing, roots in the East End community, and a well-demonstrated commitment to East End values.
    Mr. Altschuler is a rich, young business retiree, who shopped around for a district in which he could get nominated to try out a second career and is just learning the issues.
    Representative Bishop is an extraordinary resource for the East End community. He’s smart and hard-working. Widespread respect in the Congress affords him clout. His interests span our own, and he holds himself accountable. He gets us results: for instance, on the health care needs of senior citizens, jobs and transportation for working people, economic growth, fishing rights, and dredging and environmental protection.
    Mr. Bishop is one of the few people in our current dysfunctional Congress who works in the old-fashioned bipartisan way for good government. He is committed to work for the compromises we need on spending, taxing, energy, health care, immigration, transportation, and care of the environment. He holds important committee positions on transportation and water, and his influence will be enhanced if he, other Demo­crats, and real independents are elected to Congress in November.
    Independence party leader Herb McKay’s endorsement of Mr. Altschuler can only be explained as a power trip, like his rejection of his local leader’s support for Zach Cohen in 2011. The members who followed his lead have seen the consequences, as our local government gets worse and worse. Members of all parties in East Hampton, who have been electing Tim Bishop for years because they know he brings us good government, will not make the same mistake.
    Sincerely yours,
    JEANNE FRANKL



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


State of Arizona
    East Hampton
    March 25, 2012
To the Editor,
    In the time of our most depressing political dysfunction the State of Arizona introduces two bills that remake the imagery of the country from democratic pluralism to neo-lunatic derangement. The problem lies less in the essential abuses fostered by the two bills than in the belief of their rightness by the bills’ initiators.
    The bill that is currently before the Arizona Senate requires that women get the approval of their bosses in order to have their contraception paid for by their health care providers. They will have to justify the usage on medical grounds and provide the supporting evidence.
    The second bill that has been passed into law prohibits the teaching of Mexican-American studies in public schools because of the anti-American content in the literature.
    The no-Mexican-American studies law is simple denial. White Christians predated Mexicans and Indians in Arizona and we never killed them or took away their land. Their claims of patrimony are false and they should be treated as miscreants. Who could possibly dispute it?
    The contraception bill is about making sure that horny bitches don’t have sex for any other reason than procreation, recycling an early church maneuver about controlling the savage Roman instincts.
    So the uproar about government (Obama) is bull crap. It’s what they’re intruding in that’s bad, not the intrusion.
    There is a twisted primitive animism that seems to overwhelm the logic and sense of many of the American people. It derives from a misbelief in American exceptionalism and the notion of being chosen. This misbelief is at the root of our exceptional racism, which is the guiding force of our military-industrial complex. The belief that color and religious persuasion make us superior to everyone else has been recycled for millenniums. It has always been proven wrong as the demise of empires ad infinitum has demonstrated throughout history.
    Being chosen and being exceptional are not permanent states. They only work in a transitory state. It’s like being chosen for a pickup game of basketball. You’re only chosen until the game is over. Exceptionalsim is no different. It’s how you play the game and what results you get. When you lose, you become ordinary. America as a nation is measured like a pickup basketball game. We seemed chosen religiously because our paperwork gave the rights of all religions to practice freely. No religion was chosen over the other, which is the only logical observation possible, because our founders understood the dangers and pitfalls of mixing religion and government.
    We were exceptional, not by a measurable standard, but by comparison to other countries. By any objective standard we actually sucked. Exceptionalism is not absolute but relative and fleeting. So humility is the primary ingredient for true exceptionalism.
    Arizona seems so out of whack with its self-righteous animism. Are they simply deranged? Is it their inner fascist that has overwhelmed their sensibilities? Has all this garbage about being exceptional and chosen gone to their heads?
NEIL HAUSIG