Letters to the Editor: 05.17.12

Our readers' comments

Saved the Dock
    East Hampton
    May 14, 2012
Dear David,
    Our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful, amazing members of the Montauk Fire Department. They saved the dock area from what could have been an unimaginable disaster. The Montauk fish dock caught fire at 3 Friday morning. It was discovered by a young fisherman, Billy Carmen, and Kelly Lester, who were getting ready to set sail.
    Despite the devastation of the total destruction of the building, no one was injured in any way. Paul said Chief Schoen orchestrated his men with great precision and calm. We have received tremendous support from the good people of Montauk. May you all be blessed for your kindness. It is greatly appreciated.

Barney Rosset
    East Hampton
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    I took some notes during the memorial for Barney Rosset on May 9 at Cooper Union, at which there were about 600 people:
    Everybody kissing and hugging and then you sit down in special seats for family members. And more kissing and hugging.
    Meanwhile, two screens were rolled down on each side of the podium and great shots of Barney, his associates, and early photos of Barney and Joan Mitchell with baby shots appeared in front of us.
    Barney’s widow, Astrid, welcomed all to the celebration of Barney’s life, and then she introduced the first speaker, the filmmaker Haskell Wexler, who came up to the podium. Barney and Haskell met when they were each 7 years old, in Chicago. Barney was called Junior then. It was a struggle to hear Haskell as he reminisced about his and Barney’s being paid in Pepsi-Cola to set up bowling pins. Barney gave Haskell the book “Tropic of Cancer” when it was still taboo in the United States.
    It was a time, World War II, with women burning their stockings to protest Japan and students shook up about McCarthyism. Barney and Haskell were students at the Francis W. Parker School, a progressive school in Chicago, which Barney loved. (He left for school early in the morning and stayed very late.) He became president of his class in 1939. Haskell could have gone on forever and almost did, with tons of memories of Barney.
    Barney’s oldest daughter, Tansey, said her father was so energetic he “wore me out,” despite his being already in his 70s and having serious heart trouble. She was training to be a nurse and, according to her training, his condition should have killed him.
    The next speaker, Fred Jordan, one of Barney’s original editors at Grove, was wheeled in to the front of the stage. “Barney seemed to be running, even when he was sitting down,” he said. “I always thought of Grove Press as a wheel with Barney in the center. Finally Barney went broke. He either had to sell his publishing house or his land. ‘I couldn’t sell Grove Press,’ he said. So he sold all his oceanfront land in the Hamptons . . . I always assumed that Barney would be alive after I went, but here I am.”
    Mia Yun, a close and dear friend of Barney’s and an author, gave a brief talk. “I knew Barney as very loving and giving. He never looked down to anyone and he never looked up. He never thought anything impossible.”
    David Amram, a composer and musician, brought his flute and played “Amazing Grace,” which he had played years earlier at George Plimpton’s funeral, to Barney’s great admiration. He loved it and said, “Would you please play this for me sometime?”
    Finally, Peter Rosset, Barney’s oldest son, took the stage and summed things up: “My father was a rebel, full of anger, passion, and love. He was always trying to change things. He did exactly what he wanted, when he wanted.”
    He ended with, “Our family has come together to keep Barney’s legacy alive. We are dedicating the new relaunch of an online Evergreen Review to publish authors that cannot be published anywhere else.”
    The good work goes on.

    East Hampton
    May 14, 2012
Dear David,
    In last week’s Star, Vinicius Carmo described my challenging his lineup three years ago as “absurd.” What I find absurd is that the Ross School has drunk the Kool-Aid of success with its tennis program for the past three years and has turned its attention away from what is one of its primary athletic goals: “To provide an athletic program that will promote physical well-being and positive attitudes in leadership and sportsmanship for both the participant and the spectators.” This statement should have included its tennis coach.
    The tennis interscholastic program at the Ross School is successful but volleys, backhands, forehands, and serves don’t last forever. Character and sportsmanship do and someone should check the Ross boys tennis team’s sportsmanship record the past few years and see how many letters have been written to the various athletic directors of the Ross School by other schools in Suffolk County.
    The coach has wrongly challenged coaches and threatened to “punch a coach’s face in” and that’s just this season.
    That he still represents a fine institution such as Ross is absurd.
    Tennis and golf coach
    East Hampton High School

Poppy Story
    May 11, 2012
To the Editor,
    My son Dennis Curles saw the can of poppies I took home after attending a meeting of the East Hampton American Legion Post 419 Ladies Auxiliary. He was interested to know what the poppies meant to the veterans so he went to the Internet and searched “poppy veteran” and found the “Poppy Story.”
    So everyone, when you see the cans of poppies at several business stores be sure to help the veterans.
    Thank you,

Memorial Day
    May 8, 2012
To the Editor:
    In response to Gene Beckwith’s letter regarding Memorial Day, I feel there is a misunderstanding of what is happening in Montauk for the Memorial weekend. There was no intention of diluting what was going on in our neighboring hamlets, but to expand, educate, and reaffirm as to what and why we have a Memorial Day, for so many had forgotten, young and old, why this is not just a barbecue holiday weekend.
    Initially, Memorial Day was designated as the 30th of May, which had fallen on a variety of days, i.e., a Tuesday, a Thursday, a Sunday, etc., later to be redesigned to fall on the last Monday of the month. Our committee’s philosophy was to develop a full weekend of events whereby all are welcome to take part. We are fully inclusive. Our committee is a combination of veterans and American patriots. This is not a Montauk Veterans Association group, as some have claimed or misconstrued.
    We begin on Saturday with the Boy Scouts and flag placement on the graves at Fort Hill Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. On Saturday you will also notice a sea of flags placed at the memorial site on the village green, to be candlelit in the evening. Also Saturday evening we are sponsoring a free fish and chips dinner at the Montauk Coast Guard Station. Sunday in Montauk, our parade will begin at 12 noon. The lineup will take place behind the Oceanside Beach Resort, where coffee, tea, refreshments, and pastries will be served. The parade route will take us east to circle past the post office with an ending at the memorial site on the village green, where remembrance and honor will be expressed by our local dignitaries. Monday morning we will honor our morning colors with the Coast Guard presentation at the village green, approximately 8 a.m. This will conclude early enough on Monday so that attendees can be present for the East Hampton parade (as last year). Monday evening we will conclude the weekend with the retirement of our flag and accept all worn flags that are in need of proper retirement by burning.
    Having our parade event on Sunday provides tourists and local families an opportunity to participate in a very worthwhile event along with the educational value for the children and young adults. This also lets everyone appreciate and view the parade rather than rushing home on a Monday, where they find other parades west of Montauk an inconvenience at the close to their holiday weekend.
    As far as comrades getting together, it was offered that our veterans can meet on Sunday at Fort Hill Cemetery at a specific time, i.e., 10 a.m., and not at an approximate non-specific time, for rifle fire over the graves, thereby still having time to be in the parade lineup. With all due respect, my understanding is that comrades work together, and this not only involves our veterans but the friends, families, and patriots who also are considered for all the support and suffering that they may have endured.
    Again, I mean no disrespect to Mr. Beckwith or any of our veterans, but please take a moment to understand that in the times we live in, we as Americans have chosen every opportunity to forget, and with the continuing wars and young soldiers returning in body bags, leaving their friends and families to mourn, I think it’s high time to start remembering and start thinking of ways we can do this, now and for the future. We have lost much ground over the years, let’s reverse this trend.
    Ken Walles

Act Now
    May 13, 2012
To the Editor,
    Finally! The article “Deer Are Now a ‘Dire Emergency’ ” in the May 3 issue of The Star highlights the critical importance of this issue. Thanks to Dominick Stanzione for heading this cause. I have been wondering for years why no one in the town, county, or state has dealt with this issue. While at my house in Montauk last weekend, there were herds of deer everywhere. I used to be worried about the plants, but now am more concerned about the threat to people from tick-borne diseases. I have seen friends and family members sickened by Lyme disease and it is a horrible and still very misunderstood and misdiagnosed illness.
    Let’s get rid of the deer already! I will also have to fence my property. Montauk is our favorite place, but I don’t even want to go into the garden or have my kids play outside. Should I sell my house? I hope the town will do whatever it takes to act now. And please continue to cover this story.
    Thank you,

‘Killing Mentality’
    May 10. 2012
To the Editor,
    As a member of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, I’d like to add my voice to that of Bob Silverstone, who delivered brilliant remarks regarding the escalation of the “killing mentality.” In the end, the only answer is contraception, which as he stated is very doable. I would add just one more point.
    Why would we want to teach our children to kill? We see bullying as such a huge issue and I would bet any money that those who are trained to kill animals would be a very large percentage of schoolyard bullies. If you control animals by killing them, surely controlling a classmate’s ability to fit in or not to is no big deal.

Ban Bow and Arrow
    East Hampton
    May 14, 2012
Dear David,
    I have just read that bow hunting (this leaves out the crucial other half of the equation, the arrow) is being contemplated as a means of controlling the deer population in East Hampton. It is, of course, very cruel, inflicting terrible suffering on these harmless, pacific animals.
    Deer played an integral role in the foundation myth of our culture; the deer is the personification of Christ, and long before Christ, the deer was a mythical beast in many cultures. Its beauty and vulnerability are embedded in our cultural unconscious. The deer is one of the tenets of our emotional bedrock, our human legacy. Its image is one of the wellsprings of human compassion. I cannot look at the medieval tapestry “The Captured Unicorn” without seeing the deer transformed into the mythical animal with the single horn, trapped within the tight circle of a fence.
    I hope with all my heart that our board will ban bow and arrow hunting, which is an unforgivable violation of our need for that bond which for untold centuries has united us with the deer.

Been Culled
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    If deer were shingles and concrete, the herd would have been culled long ago.

Quite Different
    May 13, 2012
To the Editor,
    I read with dismay your editorial in the May 10 Star praising the draft deer management program proposed by the Deer Management Working Group.
    As a representative of East Hampton Group for Wildlife, I went before a work session of the Town Board on May 8 with a critique of the proposal.
    Our organization’s reactions were quite different from The Star’s.

Take a Poll?
    East Hampton
    May 13, 2012
To the Editor:
    The existence of a deer management plan for the town is indeed welcome news.  But progression from paper draft to effective action is the big challenge now. The whole matter could get bogged down interminably in controversy, committee studies, and bureaucratic delays — while our deer continue to multiply further out of control.
    All who live (and drive and garden) here can agree we have a problem that didn’t exist even 15 years ago. Solutions? From one opinion pole — bloodthirsty sport hunters seeking the thrill of the kill — to the other — bleeding hearts willing for the herd to run rampant as long as no one gets hurt in the peaceable kingdom — our citizens are anything but united on constructive steps to deal with deer. Like everyone else I have my own views, but venting them here accomplishes nothing. I do have one suggestion, though, for Councilman Dominick Stanzione’s working group:
    How about polling all East Hampton residents on this sensitive subject? A questionnaire with a postage-paid reply envelope could be mailed to every occupant and boxholder in the town. It could also be posted on the town government’s Web site for replies online. The survey would set forth all the deer-control measures being considered in the current plan, solicit additional policy ideas, and seek the public’s opinions and preferences. This shouldn’t take too long or cost too much money.
    Then, provided the questionnaire is thoughtful and thorough, the responses from residents should provide valuable guidance for the working group and a stronger mandate for the town to take decisive action — sooner rather than later.

Magic and Mystery
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor:
    Congratulations to Russell Drumm for his excellent (May 10) article on the vanishing horseshoe crabs, which are still sometimes seen on Long Island beaches. And thanks to John Tanacredi of Dowling College for keeping tabs on horseshoe crabs’ dwindling numbers and for making valiant efforts to replenish the species.
   Rachel Carson wrote about horseshoe crabs in 1958. She was at work on her pioneering book on pesticides, but took time off to write a piece on life at the seashore for Holiday magazine. She wanted people to appreciate how precious the seashore is, hoping that people would then want to protect it from further commercial and private development.
    Carson emphasized how horseshoe crabs provide us with a glimpse of an incredibly distant past, back to the Paleozoic period. In May and June, when the moon is full, the horseshoe crabs swim to the shore. The females lay their eggs in the wet sand, the males fertilize them, and the tides gradually pack the sand around the eggs. When the embryos are mature, the turbulent tides that accompany the moon’s cycles cause the eggs to split, releasing the young animals to their new life.
    Carson said that if we are lucky enough to see the horseshoe crabs swim in, we can feel the magic and mystery of watching an event that has occurred over an immense span of time: “Our thoughts become uncertain; is it really today? or is it a million — or 100 million years ago?”
    Carson’s 1958 article is reprinted in Linda Lear’s book “Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson.” In this article one learns how pressing Carson considered the protection of the seashore to be — a task that is very much with us today.
    East Hampton Group for Wildlife

Bottled-Water Craze
    East Quogue
    May 11, 2012
To the Editor:
    Though it isn’t April Fool’s Day, I had to laugh at your story on the latest joke: the Hamptons Water Company, which bills its $3-a-bottle water as coming from a Catskill Mountain source.
    Surprise, folks! That’s the New York City water supply with a fancy label. Inject a few “electrolytes” for the jogging, biking, and health crowds, and presto, you have just made a bundle, using water coming into your own New York City home for free (or nearly so, since N.Y.C. has a water-sewage fee covering all water usage).
    So now eastern Suffolk patsies are mimicking those oh-so-sophisticated  New Yorkers who carry around bottled water from unregulated sources, including Dasani (Coca-Cola’s water brand, which in England comes from the oh-not-so-pure Thames River).
    True, some people’s wells are contaminated with farm chemicals, but many of us get the purest water in the world right out of our own wells in the ancient aquifer. Of course you wouldn’t know it if you drink it in restaurants, because the Suffolk County Health Department requires them to dump chlorine in it even if it is 100 percent pure of contaminants. (The only exception is the Hampton Bays Water Authority, which has its own wells.) Nothing like our own health department to suggest that our water supply isn’t clean.
    This bottled-water craze is proof that there are suckers — or, rather, demented drinkers — born every minute, who will complain about the high price of gasoline and then spend $3 for something they can get for free, with misleading labels to boot.

Unsightly Utilitites
    East Hampton
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    The town has spent much focus and taxpayer dollars to develop trails, purchase land, increase zoning requirements, etc., to keep Northwest a haven for naturalists, bicyclists, hikers, and residents. Additionally, during the last 35 years, residents have paid for underground utilities in keeping with the Northwest Woods plan. However, Northwest Woods is now beginning to look like Sayville, as utility companies increasingly deposit various size meters and equipment, above ground and in plain sight.
    Unlike years gone by where Northwest Woods remained clean of unsightly utilities, light boxes of assorted sizes, sometimes three in a row, are seen popping up everywhere.
    The town does have the power to control where these objects are placed. Case in point: Several years ago the Long Island Power Authority started putting its electric meters on the side of the roads rather than on the side of the houses. Turns out, audacious as it might sound, the Long Island Builders Association simply decided amongst themselves that it was okay to put private electric meters on town roads and easements in full sight of the public. I apprised the town board and the practices were immediately halted.
    My house was the first to install underground electric service on Swamp Road from Two Holes of Water in the ’70s. And of course, my transformer on Swamp Road is underground, in keeping with the program. We have no problems although we are practically across from the swamplands.
    Somehow LIPA decided that in underground areas, rather than using the below-grade transformers, it would be all right to use aboveground transformers in an underground area. Although there may be some sites that are problematic, generally speaking, it is just more convenient for the companies to place the boxes on the side of public roads; that is, disregarding how unsightly it may be for us or how trashy the town begins to look.
    I was told by Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc that utilities are placed above ground because of high-water problems. If this is true then the companies should be required to apply for a special accommodation permit to put an above-ground transformer or utility box in an underground-utility area. In other words they need to prove, to whoever is in charge of the integrity of our town, that there is indeed a high-water problem. We can not just accept blow-off, stakeholder sound bites. I am on Swamp Road right across, pretty much some swampland, and I have never had a problem. Though Peter promised to investigate, I felt he was too quick to defend the practices, which led me to believe that I need some pubic outreach.
    Who is TELCO? It is bad enough with all the funds that were spent on protecting Northwest land and trails that there are now helicopters flying at low altitudes over the woods, destroying the silent environment for hikers, bicyclists, and residents. To add insult to injury, TELCO, cable TV, Verizon, and whoever are randomly strewing their alien-light-green containers all over the public landscape. They don’t even care if they are straight or crooked or blend in to the environment. How did light green become the color way, considering the background of rusty-colored fallen leaves? Who is minding the store?
    It will only be a matter of years before our town administrators, if negligent to the matter, singularly subvert years of considerable planning.
    I suggest that the town administration put the utility companies on notice immediately for new construction, stopping the current unbridled practice of placing equipment in full view on the side of public roadways. Previously installed utility containments should replaced by underground containers with metal lids or, one by one, relocated above ground, if need be, off the town easements and roadways and onto the private property or in the rear of the town easements out of public view.
    If these utility companies are unable to install underground containment because of water problems, an exacting permit should be required for an accommodation and the town should consider the placement, size, and color.
    Particularly cheeky is the new monument on Two Holes of Water and Swamp. You can easily hit it with your car or collide with it while riding your bike. Mr. Van Scoyoc has mentioned that cars have hit some of the utility boxes numerous times over the years. Though he apparently thought it was acceptable for vehicles to collide with utility boxes from time to time, I wondered why the practical and safety problems were never addressed, never mind the aesthetics. Hopefully, this town board will act as quickly before the spaceships land with the little matching green men.
    Best regards,

Embracing the Industry
    May 12, 2012
Dear David,
    This letter is in response to an article featured in the May 3 issue of The East Hampton Star titled “Business on the Beach Gets the Business.” The good surf on the eastern end of Long Island is a gift to that area, an amazing natural resource, but it seems to be a nuisance to many people out there.
    The article and the editorial that went along with it places surf lessons in the same category as yoga, volleyball, weddings, and benefits for nonprofit organizations. The difference is all these activities and events can take place in other places besides the beach.
    People complain about the beach becoming more and more crowded in recent years and used for so many more things than just a quiet stroll along the shoreline. Like it or not, the area is growing immensely every year and people are coming this way for the surf. Surfing is not a secluded sport anymore, where only the lucky ones who grew up in the area are able to learn the skill. Everyone wants to learn to surf, people are coming from all over the world to learn to surf. Limiting the lessons only causes more and more people to learn the wrong way and in turn causes more accidents and quarrels in the water. Embracing the industry is what East Hampton Town needs to do.
    The article mentioned asking lifeguards to pick appropriate spots for surf lessons and surfing activities. Two years ago a lifeguard approached me about giving a surf lesson and told me, as long as we were around those rocks, where he didn’t see us, he would turn a blind eye. Around those rocks are a lot more rocks. He asked us to go into what is a very hazardous area, where pushing beginners into the rocks in front of the “dirt” parking lot at Ditch Plain could cause many accidents and injuries. Teaching people to surf in extremely rocky areas is not a professional area to teach, and just because various other surf companies do so does not make it right.
    Lifeguard certifications are not trained in surfing anywhere in the United States; they are two different fields entirely. The federal government currently recognizes the National Surf Schools and Instructors Association as its formal training organization for surf sports instruction. No surf school or camp on the East End is formally trained in surfing or stand-up paddling instruction or coaching.
    Permit schools that are formally trained and stop asking advice from people who are not trained professionals in the field. Just because a lifeguard says he surfs does not make him a qualified adviser in the field. East Hampton Town should embrace the gift of surfing and get it right, so that locals and visitors can enjoy coming to the East End for surfing in a safe environment. And if anyone seeks training, I can provide all the required information needed.

Far Beyond
    Bergen, Norway
    May 14, 2012
Dear David:
    While traveling in Norway and the Czech Republic for the last week or so I have been reminded of East Hampton many times and always keep current with the local papers online.
    I am traveling in Norway in part due to an interview of my uncle, Joe LaPorte, by Inez Whipple in her column “Meet Your Neighbor” done in 1942. In the interview, my uncle relates some information about his sisters in the Seychelles Islands and that one, Nellie, married a Norwegian seaman. He was killed in World War II in circumstances that were, and still are, unknown. I have a picture of him dressed in a British naval uniform that has driven me to try to find out more. Alas, I have had only partial success. But the search has been fun and has kept me thinking of East Hampton.
    In the Czech Republic, I spent several days with my best friends in the world. They are alumni of summer work in Montauk who have found good jobs, gotten married, and now are having children who may someday work in Montauk too. They did their usual more-than-stellar job of entertaining me in Prague. My friend Josef, his wife, Jana, and another friend, Vilem, paddled around the river in a four-seater “swan” eating sushi and drinking white wine we’d sampled at a wine tasting.
    My friend Charles took me for a visit to former President Havel’s grave. On a visit to Pilsen with Vilem, where we went to find the shrine of a saint, we discovered, quite to my surprise (don’t believe it), that they make some really good beer, Pilsner Urquell. At lunches and dinners I tried to explain in simple terms what is happening to Montauk and found that all I could say is that it’s being sold and changed forever. They were all very sad. So East Hampton was again front and center.
    But the oddest thing just happened. In Bergen, Norway, I happened to walk into a shopping center I had seen online before coming. As I wandered through, I saw a sign that said “Hampton Republic,” which is the brand of a clothing line. It said something about Long Island, so I went into the shop called “KappAhl” and there was a map of East Hampton Village that also included the Freetown area. I am only astonished that I happened to find it by accident. But it said something important to me.
     In the topsy-turvy world of current East Hampton politics, my experiences on this, and many other trips, have reminded me that our local politics and what we do to the town has repercussions not confined to our own backyard. “The Hamptons,” two words I cannot stand, have their own meaning, but those in power, or who hope to be, should realize that East Hampton has its own meaning that goes far beyond its boundaries. We should be very careful about what we are doing right now before it is too late.

The Whole Picture
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    As I steadily advanced to voting age (I am now 85), I asked my mother how she decided who and what to vote for. “That’s easy,” she said, “I ask myself if it is good or bad for the Jews.”
    With all due respect for my mama, I strongly disagree with this notion, unfortunately shared today by millions of Americans of all classes, religions, and bank accounts.
    The concept of compromise, clearly absent in our Congress, is, sadly, also a problem on our town board. The board has and should always have a split nature to generate legislation that is balanced and fair. Reviewing the past, the ability of the majority to respect and consider the minority position and reach a sensible compromise has been demonstrated to be not only possible but, more important, effective. That is not the case today!
    I believe a large part of the electorate, in reviewing the first term of the Wilkinson era, clearly saw its inability to compromise, the lack of considering the minority view combined with their concept that the board’s function is to manage “a business,” and came very close to changing management. And yet, there has been no change!
    It is easy to shrug your shoulders and say it’s hopeless. But that is wrong. Failure of a major part of the electorate to participate will lead to real trouble now and, equally important, in the future. What we have to do is get involved, be informed, attend board meetings if possible, and take a hand in keeping our special town on track.
    So in conclusion, don’t listen to my mother. When you vote or form an opinion, look at the whole picture, both sides, and say to yourself, “Is it good or bad for my town?”

Watching Bad Theater
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor:
    It will be short, but not so sweet.
    Mr. Pat Gunn, the town’s Public Safety Division administrator, addressed the town board last Tuesday and advised that the town’s code ordinance department will be short two people and the majority on the town board do not think it is necessary to replace these two persons.
    Didn’t I hear the supervisor state that he valued department heads’ opinions and thoughts?
    Springs has a big need for code enforcement officers, we are sooooo overpopulated with illegal renting by slum landlords and summer is coming, which means more than a doubling of the year-round population and increased violations of all sorts, and this town board does not see a need for at least maintaining the current understaffed  level of code enforcement! Shame on them. All of East Hampton needs code enforcement officers.
    Watching this town board is like watching bad theater. It is disturbing, it is like listening to the Bickersons, watching Archie Bunker, or maybe Mo, Curley, and Larry. There is so much negative energy that goes into accusations, arguing, hysterics, growling, snide remarks, bomb-throwing, and misunderstandings.
    We shall remember how the people’s work is not being done.

Code Enforcement
    May 12, 2012
Dear David,
    There seems to be a malfunctioning of the parts needed to make sensible decisions at Town Hall.
    At last week’s work session of the town board, Pat Gunn, East Hampton’s code enforcement administrator, called attention to the short-staff existing now on the eve of the summer season. He brought his concerns to the board, warning that the loss of two employees — one due to injury and the other on maternity leave — will have a serious effect on the department’s ability to handle the heavier workload and increased code violations that occur in the summer.
    Mr. Gunn reported that there was no money in the budget for extra hires, that replacement of the two officers would cost $22,000 or less. The other numbers worth noting are three and a half — the number of workers remaining in code enforcement and one for animal control.
    So, given this situation, what did the board do to help this town administrator do his job?
    The prospect of possibly having to spend a little money for code enforcement during the busiest time of the year sparked a negative reaction from the supervisor and his deputy. “I’m not convinced of the shortcomings,” declared Mr. Wilkinson, citing the 680 code violations issued last summer. (What those have to do with needing extra help this summer is not clear.) And when council members Overby and Van Scoyac suggested giving more resources to code enforcement, the “discussion” left the realm of common sense, producing accusations like the Code Enforcement Department is “overburdened by obstructionist activity” from Ms. Quigley.
    What is the problem? Why can’t — or won’t — Mr. Wilkerson and Ms. Quigley just do the obvious and hire two replacements for the department? It won’t compromise the financial picture of the town. They had no problem spending $200 an hour for an attorney in an unnecessary prolongation of the Ronjo sales fiasco. What part of the word “priority” don’t they understand?

Sets Us Back
    May 14, 2012
Dear David,
    Councilwoman Theresa Quigley has produced yet another piece of legislation that is very confusing, poorly worded, and does not meet in any way its stated purpose.
    For several years she has been trying to repeal our 2006 lighting code, a code that was supported by the vast majority of residents and organizations in East Hampton. Our current lighting code was reviewed by a nationally recognized, professional lighting consultant with no financial interest in the outcome of the code. Ms. Quigley has had no such support or independent technical advice. 
    At first she said that her code was modeled upon recommendations from the International Dark Sky Association; it was not. Then she said a famous architect helped her write it; he did not. Now she says that her hand-picked committee wrote it. But none of the members had any experience in writing zoning codes, received no independent technical advice, and the result is a code that will increase glare, sky-glow, energy waste, and light trespass from misaimed, excessive, and unshielded lighting that will result in safety issues on our roadways at night.  
    Ms. Quigley’s lighting code sets us back decades in our successful effort to protect our night sky and reduce intrusive glare and light trespass. No community has ever reduced protections, and this code is far worse than any lighting code ever enacted. Those who perceive that her code will “help” them by removing important protections for residents from light pollution (which Ms. Quigley incorrectly defines in her code) are mistaken.
    For those few adjustments that are justified (allowances for large businesses to retrofit fixtures and for technical updates), these can be added to the current code, per amendments developed by Councilwoman Sylvia Overby.
    Ms. Quigley’s new law is unnecessary, unjustified, and unconscionable. 
    International Dark Sky Association

Helicopter Noise
    May 14, 2012
Dear David,
    Those who read Frank Dalene’s letter attacking me in The Star last week would never guess that we agree that helicopter noise, even at today’s levels, is fundamentally unacceptable and must be substantially reduced. Where I disagree with Frank and the Quiet Skies Coalition is how to accomplish that objective.
    In the 10 years that I have been committed to noise abatement advocacy, no one has done more to advance the cause of actual noise abatement than the airport manager, Jim Brundige, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione with the able counsel of aviation attorney Peter Kirsch. For the first time, the town is spending substantial time and (non-F.A.A.) money on actual noise abatement initiatives.
    We are lucky to have them working on our behalf when so many of their predecessors turned their backs on airport problems.
    I prefer to support their efforts than to attack and demean them.
    Peter A. Wadsworth
    Citizens for a Quieter Airport

    Sag Harbor
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    There is a whiff of revolution in the air, not to be televised but rather in the hearts and minds of the American people. The promise of capitalism seems more and more hollow; as its benefits are ever more unevenly shared it has created a culture that cherishes much that is worse in human nature.
    We have to accept the painful reality that we can no longer rely on government policy to solve our most deep-seated and intractable problems. Instead, we need to look at ourselves for the necessary action.
    The occupiers of Wall Street, etc., represent the next generation and have involved the 99 percent — therein lies our only hope for change from within. We will be the change we have been waiting for. The only solution we all have is to get involved.
    In peace,

Rude Awakening
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    Trying to convince voters to re-elect President Obama is a lost cause. The American people have had a very rude awakening by this man’s politics. He has put this country in total ruins and continues to blame everyone but himself.
    By his own admission he drank heavily, tried all the drugs, and one day woke up and decided to be the president. Since his election he has put us on the wrong path. His socialist ideas are the reason for the dislike of this man.
    Liberals cannot understand we don’t want to live under full government rule. Any child knows if you have a credit card and max it out, you don’t apply for another card. He promised a new era and to save the country, but what has he done: more and more jobs lost, debt in the trillions, people still losing their homes, and nothing but new regulations every day. His promises are nothing but lies, as he believes himself to be a god.
    J.P. Morgan Chase just lost $2 billon, and guess what, it’s under Mr. Obama’s watch, so who will he blame for that one? The middle class is choking, and all the lies he spews while campaigning are not going to help us. Favors galore to his big donors, Solyndra, etc., have put us further into debt, and he still is strong-headed this is the way to go. He has no record to run on, but his campaign workers are very smart, they use every angle to trick the voters.
    With the economy in such disarray, he now chooses to satisfy the gays, and next will be the illegals, all for the love of their vote. The president has flip-flopped on his stand with gay marriage at least three times and it’s called evolving, but anyone else is called flip-flopping. Please stop using the race card; it doesn’t work. Same-sex marriage is not going to make a difference in his re-election, but his wishes are to take the focus off his record, as he has none.

Evangelical Idiocy
    East Hampton
    May 13, 2012
To the Editor,
    Watching the French election result with friends from Switzerland, Germany, and France, the contrasts between Europe and the United States are frightening and disturbing. We are viewed as ignorant buffoons whose country has been turned on its head by ideological evangelical idiocy and conservative free-market ideology. A bizarre mixture of inflexible religious zeal and greed. The Taliban meets Wall Street.
    The win by the socialist Holland against conservative Nicholas Sarkozy was based more on his inability to recognize the economic problems than it was on the programs and values of Holland. Social issues like abortion, contraception, gay rights, etc., were never part of the discourse. In an economic crisis only the economy matters. Holland’s supporters were happy but reflective. Hopeful, not euphoric.
    Our problem is often an issue of ignorance and criminality. President Obama as a socialist, he would be considered right of conservative Mr. Sarkozy, is a prime example. The Tea Party boys on the bench don’t know what socialism is, say he is a socialist relative to the rest of the country. They’re simply dumb. Newt Gingrich’s (a historian by self-definition) use of the term socialist is criminal because he professes to tell the truth and knows he’s not.
    Many French people didn’t like Mr. Sarkozy’s manner, his gruffness, his pushiness, but the conversation was about his policies and ideas. His vision for the country and how he planned to achieve it. Mr. Obama’s major obstacle is race. Electing a black president was a miracle, a moment of temporary insanity for many Americans. His performance compared to the previous eight years is impressive, yet we focus on his color, birthrights, and childhood passions instead of the body of work in front of us.
    We refuse to deal with our reality for three reasons. First, the economy no longer works as it did before and no one is sure what to do about it. Second, money has overwhelmed the political discourse and everyone is for sale. Third, we are petrified about the future so we latch on to idiot-box social issues that distract and comfort us. (Anti-gay marriage legislation doesn’t put food on the table.)
    The boobery and criminality of the Republican Party, recognizable by the obstruction of virtually every Obama initiative to help grow the economy in favor of austerity and deficit reduction, which only support the rich, is the primary case in point. Unsubstantiated fantasies such as the rich create jobs, tax increases kill growth, and regulation is evil (see J.P. Morgan Chase) are substantially more seditious than misguided. If Republicans are willing to throw the country under the bus, because the black guy is driving, they need to be reminded that we live in the U.S., not South Africa.
    For Europeans, the U.S. is the land of opportunity and freedom, but that too has become an old wives’ tale. They always saw America as a place where ideas and creativity ruled the landscape. Now we show the world a dysfunctional society, filled with hatred and animosities, where the only value that really matters is the size of your bank account.

Sleazy Pledge
    East Hampton
    May 4, 2012
Dear Editor,
    With all the hullabaloo about dogs traveling on car roofs, there is a threat to our democracy seemingly ignored by public and press alike. A perfect storm has combined an ill-considered, politically motivated Supreme Court decision which empowered unnamed sources to use huge amounts of money to support candidates in our elections with a frustrated, ill-informed but vocally active reactionary political force calling itself the Tea Party. By reason of this consortium, an assault on our democracy has begun in earnest.
    Our Congress is no longer an independent body acting on behalf of those who elected its members. They have given up that independence and been corrupted by signing a pledge where they commit to vote, not their consciences, nor their personal beliefs. nor for the benefit of the country they swore to protect, they vote to keep their jobs, threatened by the purveyor of these pledges, the Americans for Tax Reform headed by arguably, the most powerful man in Washington, Grover Norquist.
    That’s right, every Republican congressman has signed and agreed, in advance, to honor this pledge and to never, ever vote to raise taxes. Every Republican Congress member has succumbed after being seduced, cajoled, and threatened by Americans For Tax Reform — political blackmail plain and simple. Your vote or your job! Want to see what happens when a congressman or senator refuses to sign this sleazy pledge?
    So what are the aims of this combined group of political terrorists? First, prevent and continue to oppose any increase of taxes of any kind, even an alleged increase caused by removing tax benefits for special interests, regardless of the fiscal needs of the country. Think major corporations wouldn’t invest in that prospect?
    Second, they could use this threat and the promise of campaign funds to either run opposition to those who won’t bend a knee and agree to vote just as this powerful group dictates, or have a primary opponent. Ain’t that a kick in the backside? And guess what? The present Republican nominee for president has admitted that he has signed this pledge, thus violating his oath of office before he even attains the office.
    This Grover Norquist has already said he believes we don’t even need a president, that the Congress (which he would have tied up) merely needed to have a president rubber-stamp its legislation and get out of the way. Mitt Romney, the weak-kneed, Etch A Sketch guy, is perfect! So much for fair and balanced elections.
    What do you think?

Suppresses an Ego
    May 14, 2012
To the Editor,
    Re: IPO’s, spin-offs and Friendship Hills. Dear student of Fort Necessity:
    While it’s not attempting to unload “T” or F.D.R.-New Dealing-common markets appreciation, speculation, income, presguation of a tiny-weeny republic suppresses an ego to work with personalities and their blogs. And real life negotiations.
    Queens — an omen of things to come.
    Happy memorial weekending.