Letters to the Editor: 05.31.12

Our readers' comments

Safe for All
    Sag Harbor
    May 27, 2012
Dear David:
    Your column, “Bad Mileage,” of May 17, seems to have anticipated something in today’s New York Times: “This Is How We Ride.”
    How we ride is of some concern to me as I am both a cyclist and a motorist and believe it is of utmost importance that our roads be safe for all. Back on my bike after seasonal sloth, I note with dismay that many of my fellow cyclists do not follow the rules of the road, to the annoyance of motorists and to the peril of all.
    Here are some suggested rules of the road for cyclists:
    • Ride with traffic and use hand signals when turning, attempting to make eye contact with drivers when at stop signs, intersections, etc.
    • Keep as far right as possible.
    • Use common sense if riding abreast. It is pleasant to have a companion to chat with, but important to get into single file when cars, or other cyclists, are approaching from the rear. A rearview mirror is indispensable.
    • Ride predictably.
    • Make yourself visible.
    • Ride defensively. Be alert.
    • Follow the rules. Cyclists are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists. If you need to be on the sidewalk, be a pedestrian and walk the bike.
    • Wear a helmet!
    I hope you will have at least the occasional opportunity to ride your bike to work. You will feel good!

    New York City
    May 27, 2012
Dear Editor:
    On behalf of the Max Cure Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charity, I messed up big time in placing ads in the local newspapers for the Memorial Day weekend editions. I am vice chairman of Max Cure and was excited when Luly Duke invited us to host a party at her house to watch the fireworks, which would resurrect what used to be an annual gala that benefited various charities. We jumped at the opportunity and were proud to accept Ms. Duke’s invitation.
    The net proceeds from the event on July 21 will benefit not only Max Cure but also the foundation started by Ms. Duke known as Fundacion Amistad. Max Cure’s share of the proceeds will be used to further its mission to fund research for pediatric cancers and to provide financial assistance to low-income families battling cancer in their children, including a family in Hampton Bays and a family in Medford.
    Max Cure was formed in December 2008 following my grandson Max’s diagnosis of cancer (he is now in remission). I retired as an attorney after practicing law for 40 years to devote my full-time efforts to the mission of Max Cure, and my son, David, the chairman of Max Cure, left his job as an equity trader on Wall Street to do the same. This is by way of background.
    The ads that were placed in the local papers for Memorial Day weekend, I am embarrassed to say, were unintentionally misleading and untrue. There could be no other interpretation other than that Max Cure was representing that it was paying for the fireworks being provided by Grucci.
    The ads, among other things, said, “Max Cure Fireworks, Saturday, July 21st.” Max Cure has nothing to do with the fireworks; I have since learned they are being provided by the Clamshell Foundation, a local charity. I take full responsibility for the misinformation in the ads.
    When I learned on Thursday that the ads were erroneous, I reached out to Ross Perchik, Clamshell’s founder and its executive director. I apologized and told him that if the roles were reversed I would be angry and “out for blood.” I told him that I had no idea about the Clamshell Foundation’s having taken over the Grucci fireworks display and as I revisited my own thinking, could only tell him that I naively did not think about who was paying for the fireworks display (knowing Max Cure was not) — that they would just appear in the sky on July 21.
    I asked my son who he thought was providing the fireworks through Grucci and he answered that he thought the town was hosting the display through Grucci. What we thought is irrelevant; I should have investigated the issue before writing the ads. I prided myself during my career as a lawyer as the quintessential “belt and suspenders” attorney, fixating on the smallest of details. I blew it here though and reiterate my apology to the Clamshell Foundation that I previously expressed to Mr. Perchik.
    Max Cure will take whatever steps are appropriate to make sure there is no confusion among the public that it is not disputed that the Clamshell Foundation is providing the fireworks through Grucci and is the host of all those enjoying the evening’s display, whether it be those attending the Max Cure fund-raiser or those members of the public watching from boats on the bay or at other private parties.
    Max Cure in all its future advertising, printing, and public dissemination of information about the July 21 event at the Dukes’ will give credit to the Clamshell Foundation as the host of the fireworks show. We will, where appropriate, attach its logo to written documentation, including a reference to its Web site. The Max Cure Web site will link to the Clamshell Foundation Web site regarding the event. Whenever we speak publicly of the July 21 event we will acknowledge that the Clamshell Foundation is the host.
    In conclusion, I would be remiss if I did not personally thank Ross Perchik and his colleagues for the manner in which the Clamshell Foundation responded to this unfortunate incident for which I am fully responsible.
    Very truly yours,

F for Forget
    May 27, 2012
Dear Star,
    Oh, the deer are so pretty. And the little ones are sweet. But they carry ticks I hope never again to meet — and some plants for hungry deer are hard for them not to eat.
    From experience, some plants seem to lure deer as a special treat. Bayberry’s of Amagansett kindly gave me a list of more than 180 plants rated A, B, C, or F based on how much the deer want to eat them. Until the town figures out how to cull the deer herds, gardeners who are regularly visited by deer might want to give up entirely on the deer-candy plants, i.e., those marked with an F, for “forget.”
    As a public service, I have prepared new words to an old English yuletide hymn that makes it easy to remember the 13 “forget” plants on the list:
    The holly and the ivy won’t get to be full-grown.
    Of all the plants that are in your woods,
    These are food for deer, it’s known.

    Oh, the arborvitae and azaleas,
    Oh, the euonymus and the white hydrangeas
    Petunias are so useless to try to grow out here,
    They are all just like little Cracker Jacks,
    To our thriving herds of deer.

    Oh, the rhododendron hybrids, and the rosa as well,
    Forget about your spray protection, deer will eat in despite the smell.
    Say goodbye to geraniums, and to daylilies too,
    Abandon touch-me-not impatiens,
    And the hostas, sad but true.
    Oh, the deer are so pretty, and the little ones are sweet,
      But these plants for hungry deer are impossible not to eat.

Their Promise
    May 28, 2012
Dear David,
    I’m extremely happy to read about the Surf Lodge’s new team being concerned about the locals. Small businesses need to recognize that “at a certain point more customers do not equal more money.”
    The interview with Jayma Cardoso, the maitre d’hotel, was a refreshing reversal of how the previous owners of the Surf Lodge did business. Caring for the neighborhood, the environment, and instituting new plans to control the crowds are a step in the right direction.
    If the new management will hold to their promise of turning over a new leaf and being responsible for what happens in their establishment, it will be a benefit to all of Montauk. In the end it will be up to Michael Walrath, a Montauk homeowner and head of the new ownership group, to continue to demand conformity to the laws.

At a Loss
    East Hampton
    May 26, 2012
Dear David
    I am at a loss to understand why Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley are rushing to outsource information technology services (“Split on Outsourcing I.T. Needs,” May 24) in spite of expert advice to the contrary.
    The budget and finance advisory committee has studied this issue in depth and concluded that the town would reap financial benefits from increasing its commitment to in-house I.T. services, while at the same time providing additional employment opportunities to local people.
    Specific recommendations were spell­ed out in their report: Outsourcing means more job losses to town employees at a time when so many people are struggling financially. Fortunately, a majority of the town board voted to table the resolution (authorizing a request for proposals for outsourcing), thereby putting brakes on this runaway train. Tabling will allow the board to study the issue more thoroughly before making a final decision.
    Members of the advisory committee are no lightweights. Your article pointed out that Michael Deisenhaus served as head of technical services for the New York Stock Exchange — those credentials are as good as it gets. What is the point of establishing an advisory committee and ignoring its advice?

Wasting a Million
    East Hampton
    May 27, 2012
Dear David,
    Some of your readers may have noticed the article last week in The New York Times about Michael Bloomberg improperly using New York City’s East 34th Street Heliport on weekends when it is closed (with his private helicopter, not on official business). He has announced that he will stop.
    The important part of the story is that the city heliport is closed on weekends. This is something that East Hampton could choose to do too, or limit hours, or exclude aircraft based on how noisy they are, if, that is, we stopped taking poisoned money from the Federal Aviation Administration for airport capital projects. With F.A.A. money comes F.A.A. control, and serious limitations on the ability of the town to control the use of its own airport.
    The current agreement with the F.A.A. expires Dec. 31, 2014. If we don’t take any more F.A.A. money (and, by taking money, enter into a new F.A.A. agreement that would tie the town’s hands for 20 more years), on that day the town will recover its full powers to control airport use and access.    How do we know this? Because the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in our jurisdiction short of the United States Supreme Court itself, has said so. The opinions of the Second Circuit are binding in East Hampton. The F.A.A., as a federal agency, is also subordinate to the Second Circuit. So, it doesn’t even matter whether the F.A.A. itself agrees.
    Councilman Dominick Stanzione and his pet aviation lawyer, Peter Kirsch, are doing their damnedest to obscure this simple truth, to make it appear that, even after F.A.A. grant assurances expire in December 2014, the town still has only a “very limited” ability to control airport use. This is complete nonsense! Indeed, it is a fabrication. In the absence of F.A.A. grant assurances, the town simply has no obligation whatsoever under any law, federal or state, to keep the airport open for certain hours or to make it available to all aircraft types without regard to how noisy they are.
    The town cannot unreasonably discriminate. For example, it cannot favor local users over users from elsewhere. Nor can it exclude some aircraft types as too noisy while allowing in others that are just as noisy. But, subject to those very modest limitations, the town would have all the authority it needs to regulate use and noise if it just stops taking F.A.A. money.
    Why do Councilman Stanzione and the airport users want the F.A.A. money? Not for the East Hampton taxpayers; F.A.A. subsidies don’t save the people of East Hampton 10 cents. What they do is make the airport cheaper for its users, who would otherwise have to pay its full costs, and give them a 900-pound gorilla, the F.A.A., to ensure that the airport users are free to come and go as they please, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and to hell with the community.
    Meanwhile, the town may finally be waking up to the fact that the proposed “seasonal tower” is a boondoggle, sold to the town by the local pilots, on the basis of absolutely no study whatsoever, as the solution to noise. Apparently, the cost is now rising into the million-dollar range and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson is having second thoughts. Just ask the pilots whether they would pay the million bucks based on their claim that it will solve the noise problem and watch how fast they run away.
    The reason the tower will not solve the problem is that the tower can only compel compliance with existing voluntary limits on approach altitudes, keeping planes higher as they come in. But the town’s airport environmental impact statement already reports a high level of compliance with the guidelines. So the gain from making the violators conform would be modest. The problem is not that some pilots violate guidelines, but that helicopters in particular are very noisy.
    It would be a simple matter to study the possible benefit of a seasonal tower without wasting a million dollars to find out the answer. Using the town’s existing airport noise computer model, one could determine how much the tower will reduce noise based on the expected changes a tower would impose on flight paths. The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion did its own study of this, using the town’s model, for just a couple of thousand dollars. The answer is that there is very little gain from a seasonal tower.
    The town could do this same desktop study at a very modest cost, but it prefers to peddle the fiction that it is safe to take F.A.A. money today because the tower will solve the noise problem tomorrow. “Tomorrow” meaning after we are already stuck with a new F.A.A. agreement that lasts for 20 years in reliance upon the fiction that a seasonal tower will save us.
    The only real solution is to regulate airport use, as New York City now does to the embarrassment and regret of Michael Bloomberg. Like our local billionaires, he too wants to come and go as he pleases without regard to the little people underneath him. But in New York City, they have rules, as Mayor Bloomberg surely should have known. In East Hampton, we don’t. If we stop taking F.A.A. money, we can regain local control and make the rules we need.
    Committee to Stop Airport

Little Serenity
    East Hampton
    May 26, 2012
To The Star,
    I’m (alas) only a visitor here these days — or very lucky to be a visitor —  but I wonder, am I the only one desperately seeking out a little serenity and quiet so often interrupted by power-driven machinery? And I wonder, has anyone ever considered forbidding the use of leaf blowers, lawn mowers, chain saws, and on and on, on weekends?

In Some Doubt
    East Hampton
    May 22, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Don’t get me wrong; I always thought women were smart, capable, and accomplished. The female lawyers I came across during my years of practicing law were more than up to the task set before them. I have two daughters who are outstanding strong people and role models for their kids and relatives. So you women who read this letter, please don’t get your danders up as I tell you that the opinion I had is being eroded and questions are arising as I read some of the letters to this newspaper and a recent Op-Ed piece by Campbell Brown in The New York Times.
    Of course we can disregard Ms. Brown’s opinions and her anti-Obama stance since she reveals (way down in the body of her piece) that her husband is an adviser to Mitt Romney. But these other women must not be paying attention as women’s rights and status have been and are being attacked and demeaned across this nation. They are being relegated to a caste system, and their health and welfare is being totally disregarded.
    State legislatures controlled by Republicans, the Congress of the United States, and right-wing commentators, joined by Catholic bishops (whose interests in sex seems to have conjoined with their interests in proselytizing), have, with an unprecedented fervor, exhibited total disregard and disrespect for women, sought to legislatively invade their bodies, invade their medical records and lives, suborned their independence, reduced and interfered with their advancement in the workplace, and reduced their income, removed restraints that allowed them to prosecute those who physically violated them in domestic and real-life situations.
    Yet, with all this anti-feminine bias being documented as uncontroverted fact, I still see that some women have the stupidity to foster and abet their own demotion by voting for those who are their worst attackers. They totally ignore their pride and individuality while being relegated to a minority secondary caste of citizenry by men who control legislative bodies across the country.
    Are women “soccer moms,” prostitutes, sluts? Are their physical and mental health and well-being less important than mine? Are they to be described as oversexed users of contraceptives at the public’s expense? Are they to be described as having no sense of pride or judgment and incapable of making personal choices? Are women even aware of law after law being proposed, passed, and signed by these retrograde male simpletons?
    These nonsensical letters in The Star and Op-Ed pieces in The Times leave me in some doubt about the desire of women to step up and be heard on behalf of themselves and others on the issues of the day which affect them.
    President Obama has a 15-percent lead in polls on women’s support. We’ll see when Election Day comes around if women are still what I originally thought they were — outstanding and on an equal footing with their male counterparts.

    East Hampton
    May 28, 2012
To the Editor,
    Last week a bus wound its way outside the city center on its way to a small community 40 miles away. The men sat on one side of the bus the women on the other. A curtain ran down the center of the bus separating the two groups. Many of the men had come from a rally of 40,000 in a large stadium. Women weren’t permitted. The city wasn’t Kabul or Islamabad; it was New York. The people weren’t fundamentalist Muslims; they were ultra-orthodox Jews. Their interpretation of Jewish law separated the men and the women. At least the women weren’t put in the back of the bus.
    In the U.S. the extremes on the margins of Judaism have no impact on how the government functions. But in Israel, the impact is strong and essentially detrimental to the nation’s well-being. In Pakistan the extreme of Islam is even more damaging. Our own extreme, evangelical Christians, destabilizes the essential balance between faith and reason.
    Faith is wonderful in its place but has almost no basis in reality. Some word handed down from some power that is unidentifiable and overseen by men, mostly, who have proven themselves to be all too human, is not the root from which good governing grows. In fact, historically, it has never worked and has always turned out to be violent, destructive, and unfair.
    One of the many reasons my mother used to convince my brother and me to marry Jewish women was that you could never trust the Christians. It was the historical case that we couldn’t refute. We never listened.
    When faith determines life and knowledge becomes secondary, it renders us dumber than we can afford to be. So traveling through the heartland and listening to talk radio, the relentless pounding of the evils of communism and socialism and Islam and Sharia law overwhelms the sensibility. Communism exists in right-wing wet dreams, and Sharia law in our country is oxymoronic, given that 99.9 percent of U.S. Muslims came here to embrace our democracy and get away from Sharia-type oppression.
    If Sharia were a real concern, we would study and dissect its application and find out that it has as many interpretations and nuances as Christian laws, and changes from country to country, village to village, family to family. It was designed as a work in progress always open to interpretation. Twisted, deranged, and manipulated to meet specific needs but mostly ignored by the vast majority of Muslims, it is as disconnected from daily reality as the Catholic Church’s contraceptive debacle, given that 99 percent of Catholic women use contraception.
    There are many aspects of religion that run counter to democratic government. Most important is the concept of being chosen. Only one religion could be chosen. Who was the first? It’s not like Little League baseball, where every kid gets a trophy. Not about bragging rights. Obviously, no one was chosen despite protestations to the contrary. More important, how many people actually choose their religion? Study different options and make a choice. Demo­cracy is all about choice, and religion is something we are born into.
    Exceptionalism is another. We are Hindu; aren’t we great? Aren’t all the rest of you worse? Self-esteem becomes a function of connection, rather than performance.
    Why should the president have to be a good Christian? Is there such a creature? The idea is essentially benign, but when the extremes of a religion take hold it becomes the determining factor, which subverts the democratic process.
    So, the bus leaving Midtown with its curtain in the middle poses no problem to the rest of us, but if it were the Long Island Rail Road or the Jitney we would have opened our eyes. Governing is hard enough without religious input, but with it the task becomes impossible.