Job Well Done
August 3, 2012
Tom Prieato, East Hampton Town’s senior building inspector, deserves a huge round of applause for doing his job. Under most circumstances this might seem to be an odd congratulatory remark, but not today in our town.
Pressure to “look the other way” when it comes to business interests and development has been accelerating in East Hampton faster than the ice is melting in the Arctic.
To accept the multitude of misrepresentations surrounding the renovated Ronjo motel (Montauk Beach House) over the past six months, you needed an imagination out of the “Twilight Zone.” So high fives to Mr. Prieato for citing the Beach House for expanding certain uses without approval of the Building Department.
Quite understandably, Mr. Prieato recognized that a full service — cocktails, food, seating, music (but no music permit), wait staff — restaurant is not a service bar for motel guests only. Further proof of this is the prominently displayed sign facing the road advertising the restaurant’s name, No 50. Both the cocktail and meal menus provide further identity clarification: “No 50, at the Montauk Beach House.” And it’s most definitely open to the public — the iced coffee is excellent.
So Mr. Prieato got it right, as did Patrick Gunn, code enforcement czar, for agreeing with the senior building inspector. Mr. Prieato also recognized that a retail clothing store was not ever part of the Ronjo.
I suspect — no, I’m sure — there are many who will read this and wonder what the big deal is. Money has been spent, a property has been improved, and, hopefully, reassessed for a higher tax base.
It is understandable that most people fail to realize how the game is being scammed and at what price to the community. The character of East Hampton (and Montauk) has survived the last 30 years largely because we have a diligent planning process: planning department, planning board, public hearings, etc. Among other responsibilities, the intent of the process is to ensure that renovations (Ronjo), use changes (7-Eleven), expansions (Ruschmeyer’s) occur in such a way that they do not overburden the local road system, septic management, freshwater table, or impinge on the sanctity of homeowners’ rights to a safe and peaceful existence. After all, it’s the homeowners who pay over 80 percent of Montauk taxes.
But buried in the law are the unfortunate loopholes that provide a clear path for those who want to circumvent the site plan review process. And every lawyer east of Brooklyn knows what these shortcuts are. “Don’t touch the parking plan, you’ll trigger a site plan review” (7-Eleven); “Submit the new restaurant as a pre-existing service bar” (Ronjo); “Expand the deck and ignore the covered swimming pool” (Surf Lodge), “Build permanent bleachers for the volleyball court and hope no one notices” (Ruschmeyer’s).
This summer, people who have been here for more than few years are starting to realize that while change is inevitable, not all change is good. And a lot of that change, especially lately, is illegal.
So congratulations to Tom Prieato, he’s doing a job that really needs doing. These days it takes courage for a town employee to perform the duties assigned to him by the town code when recent administrations have made it clear that anything goes when it comes to expanding commercial operations. And finally, let’s stop calling the Beach House a resort. The Four Seasons at Punta Mita is a resort. The Beach House is a renovated motel.
Here’s to Tom
August 3, 2012
Here’s to East Hampton Town building inspector Tom Prieato for challenging the rather weasely Montauk hoteliers of The Beach House. I suspect with the imprimatur of our rather weasely town supervisor, Montauk club persons think they can do whatever suits their purses. Not.
All good things,
Missed the Story
August 6, 2012
Editor, The Star:
An article in Sunday’s New York Times fashion and style section (“Montauk’s Hipster Fatigue,” Aug. 5) has been making the rounds on Montauk e-mail servers, The Times reports that, somehow, Montauk has a problem with visitors who are “hipsters” — that it’s people with “artisanal tattoos, bespoke frontiersman beards and fedora hats that are sending some people around the bend.”
Blaming the fashion sense or personal attitudes of the visitors who come here is a con. The problem actually is: irresponsible operators and their official enablers who are working to attract crowds that overload our environmental, septic, traffic, parking, and security infrastructure.
Where are these visitors supposed to responsibly relieve themselves after their food and drink — no less safely walk, bike, run, or park? If their hosts don’t care enough to provide adequate facilities for their customers’ most basic needs, why shouldn’t some of Montauk’s visitors display an attitude of entitlement? They were promised better and they are entitled to it!
After all, if 70,000 people show up at a stadium to eat, drink, and be merry, it’s not a problem. That’s because the infrastructure — traffic, public transportation, parking, crowd control, septics — is in place to match the load.
Where are our bike lanes, shoulders, and sidewalks that would prevent lethal “accidents” that have become part of the body count this summer? Why are inadequate septic systems being pumped out so often? They aren’t holding tanks — they are designed to process waste in ground that percolates over time. This misuse of septic infrastructure is as advisable as using a hammer to drive a screw.
Again, people who are urged to come here and homeowners who live here have a right to expect that those who profit from attracting crowds can safely and sustainably host them in a way that is responsible to the visitors and the community. If they do not or cannot, why aren’t our public officials making sure that these operations do the right thing — or cease operations?
Of course, the East End is a seasonal economy, and there is reluctance to make the investment that properly handles peak loads because such a capital investment would be underutilized for most of the year. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that this high-risk business model relies on officials, the media, and the general public ignoring the violations, the hazards, the body count, the environmental degradation and the public health implications.
If we’ve learned anything from the movie “Jaws” and our own experience this summer, it’s not just a predator that can ruin a town’s tourist economy and quality of life. It’s more likely to come from the environmental, public safety, and public health irresponsibility we tolerate and ignore until predictably bad things happen.
The Times has missed the story. Montauk doesn’t have a problem that needs reporting in the style section. It needs to be reported in the science and health section.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk
Those Road Signs
August 3, 2012
To the Editor:
Re: Guilty! I did it. I confess. I put up most of those “Tour for the Shore” road signs. They’re all about stopping pollution in the ocean. Right now the battle lines are being drawn between big energy and the fisheries, and the Atlantic Ocean is up for grabs. I eat fish, not oil. I’m on the side of the fish and those who make their living catching them. I want an ocean where you and your kids can swim, surf, go sailing, and enjoy yourselves free of sewage, sludge, medical waste, toxic dredge spoils, and BP-type oil spills. I want an end to the acidification of our seas caused by burning carbon-based fuels. They’re cooking the life out of the planet. Half the coral reefs are dead or dying. The rest, I’m told, will be gone in 25 years. As they disappear so do the fish.
Creating a clean ocean zone from Cape May to Montauk Point and out to the continental shelf is a very complicated issue. We’re not Exxon/Mobil with unlimited budgets and virtually every politician in the country on our payroll. The only way to get our message across on a shoestring was to use these signs. I hope people visit cleanoceanzone.org and find out more and write their congressmen and senators and tell them they want the ocean protected! No drilling. No L.N.G. facilities. No dumping. No spills. No pollution, period. The only industrialization will be for clean, renewable energy.
A lot of work went into creating these signs. By themselves each one looks terrific. But in mass, it’s an eyesore. They’re visual pollution. I hate it — even if it’s for a good cause. For my money, all these signs should be banned. East Hampton Village has it right. Create a designated area for signs and that’s it. That goes for good causes and bad, for carnivals and politicians.
On Aug. 24, at noon, Margo Pellegrino and her kayak and Sean Dixon on his 10-speed will arrive at Turtle Cove under the Montauk Lighthouse and complete their 256-mile journey from Cape May. I urge you to come out and join them and show your support for the Clean Ocean Zone.
All the signs will be gone on Aug. 25. But the need to protect the ocean will still remain.
August 6, 2012
To the Editor,
People from Clean Ocean Action are gathering to bike and kayak from Cape May, N.J., to Montauk, starting tomorrow and finishing on Aug. 24 at the Montauk Lighthouse.
The purpose is to bring attention to the fight between the big energy companies and our Atlantic Ocean. The people of Montauk should turn out big time to support this cause and let our politicians know how important a clean ocean is to the East End. Visit Clean Ocean Action for all the details.
Nothing to Excess
August 6, 2012
I’m a happy new homeowner in Springs and have been visiting Amagansett, East Hampton, and the wonderful beaches of the Atlantic and the bays for years. My curiosity was stirred by the several articles and comments in The Star complaining about the goings-on at Indian Wells Beach on the weekends, so my wife and I made a point to stay there this past Saturday from early afternoon to the evening.
And here is what we observed: To the left of the entrance, couples and families enjoying the day undisturbed. To the right, young adults playing soccer, football, and kadima, standing and talking in nice tones and swimming. Some drinking but nothing to excess that was observable, and no yelling or rude behavior. The police presence was perfect — helpful and unobtrusive.
To those who think the town should evict these young people or charge them just to get on the beach, I say remember when you were young(er) and live and let live.
Regards to all,
JOHN P. FURFARO
August 6, 2012
I know that there has been much comment about the weekend crowds at Indian Wells Beach, but I am still puzzled by what seems to be the ability of bathers to park in clearly marked no-parking areas on Bluff Road and adjoining streets. Have parking regulations been suspended? Are violators ticketed? Am I missing something?
August 6, 2012
Noise! Noise! Noise! to paraphrase your Aug. 2 editorial, yes, the balance has been tipped too far in favor of the greedy rich and famous (read: publicity hounds).
Exhausted and silenced from years of responding and reaching out to mitigate aircraft noise, the adjacent property on my private road, nouveau upgraded, now is turned into a truck route accommodating multitudes of semi trailer trucks, earth movers with a constant beep-beep-beep noise, steel construction semis as well as equally large and noisy suppliers of sound systems, lighting, furniture, lavatories, kitchen equipment, merchandise, and food for the glory of the property’s owner and his erstwhile family, 190 diners, and the most elaborate, glitzy, glittering show . . .
For over 15 years, this annual ‘fund-raising’ for disadvantaged children of the inner city (N.Y.C.) has cost me the loss of my life as it is in East Hampton Village . . . taking away my ability to work, carry on business and live in peace in my own home, “a place that does not feel like home during what many consider the nicest part of the year.”
Last week I took refuge in Northwest. Returning home about 11:30 p.m., my private road was bedlam personified, the East Hampton Village police officers were working very hard to untangle traffic, assuring me that they got the music to stop at 11:00 p.m. . . .
My greatest respect and admiration and kudos to my East Hampton Village Police Department inspired by the very capable chief Gerry Larsen . . . but why did they need to unscramble our private road? They were working at bringing a semblance of order, unruly, and illegal, despite East Hampton Village codes and a vast army of private security — protecting whom from whom?
Nearly a full spread on page E7 of the Aug. 2 Sunday New York Times featured full color photos of “the party,” color bursts . . . basically to dazzle,” featured performers, the host’s good works and the article’s last sentence: “the color of money.” The noise continued until 10 minutes to 1 a.m.
Of course, Russell Simmons has a party permit. Does that include a gargantuan structure that requires two full weeks to construct and deconstruct? Does that include immense truck traffic on our private road and a narrow driveway along my property line? Does that include using the length of my property for workmen to drive wheel barrows on my property? Does that include massive carbon footprints on my trees, field of dreams and window and door trims? Does that include having my property and rights of a law-abiding citizen violated? I won’t tell you how much worse it was lo these many earlier years . . .
“Not my problem,” most say, like airplane and helicopter noise! I admire and salute the many concerned citizens on their dedication to maintain the essence of America’s Most Beautiful Village. I am happy for the folks with money who have invested in our midst. Someone should tell them this is not N.Y.C. where you yell, honk, wheel spin the gravel, bring in bulldozers and whatever you want at anyone’s expense.
And, yes, “elected officials have dismissed complaints about noisy Noise! Noise! Noise!”
Warm breezes and best regards to you and the Star family.
May Be Some Hope
August 6, 2012
Several months ago I promised Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, as a result of his efforts at East Hampton Airport, if there is a reduction of helicopters flying directly over my house, I will write a letter thanking him. This is that letter. Thank you, Councilman Dominick Stanzione, for substantially reducing the number of helicopters flying directly over my house and giving us some relief to the constant torture and torment we experienced relentlessly since 2008. I am hoping this change is not temporary. I am hoping this will continue and the torture and torment stops completely.
In a conversation with the councilman this week, he stated a decision was made with the controllers at the newly installed seasonal control tower to change the arrival and departure routes of helicopters along the power lines to Jessup’s Neck. He stated the decision was based on increasing safety on the ground around the airport and choosing a route that provided the greatest safety by overflying the least number of homes. He further stated the helicopter pilots are being required to fly at 2,500 feet and then circle down within the airport property in an organized pattern. This is very good news since these steps are helpful in restoring order and safety at the airport. As a pilot, this was my number-one concern and what prompted me to become active in opposition to helicopter traffic in the first place.
I have often complained about the lack of enforcement of federal aviation regulations at and around the airport. In a conversation with a pilot friend this week, he saw an airplane land on Runway 4-22 without permission from the controllers. The controller yanked the pilot’s license. This is also very good news since there were questions about the controllers’ authority and their ability to enforce Federal Aviation Administration regulations. For many years some pilots ran roughshod over airport management and had no respect for folks on the ground.
Restoring respect from pilots and establishing law and order is a great achievement accomplished by installing the control tower. My hope is the town will recognize the wisdom of having the control tower remain operational at least from Friday to Monday in the off-season.
Credit needs to be given where credit is due, but not so fast, the noise problem is far from being addressed. This past Saturday I reported to the Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting that I finally received relief from helicopters flying directly over my house. Three members of the committee stated they were pleased that I received relief, however the noise at their homes increased substantially in the past few weeks. There is the rub and the reason noise abatement is a failed policy.
There may be some hope in the future. This week the town board adopted a resolution titled, “Intent to Pursue Use Restrictions at East Hampton Airport.” The resolution directs consultants and airport management to analyze data they are collecting and prepare a report on “whether the data can justify a restriction on operations by helicopters at the Airport.”
The resolution indicates the town board is willing to consider adopting restrictions on helicopters and other stage-2 aircraft. Thousands of folks on the East End will support such restrictions if they are implemented. So far this looks promising. Is it possible an opponent like me can turn into a proponent? Possibly, wonders never cease. Keep up the good work.
August 6, 2012
Unmitigated gall or stupidity?
The pilots want what?
Verbatim [Federal Aviation Administration] statement:
“We recommend the elimination of runway 4-22 from use as a runway and the plan designates runway 16-34 as the secondary runway. Runway 4-22 does not provide significant additional coverage based upon historical wind conditions. Its intersection with other runways are dangerous (confirmed by the manager). Runway 16-34 has marginally better crosswind coverage than runway 4-22.” Sixteen-34 goes out over a sandpit. No one is placed in harm’s way. Four-22 goes out over a densely built-out residential area. One mistake and catastrophe is the result.
“The F.A.A. will not share the cost of a tertiary runway, considering it unnecessary.” Of course, they still used an abandoned runway until McGintee closed it down. So much for their concern for safety. What part of this F.A.A. statement is not understood?
I assume the pilots can read what the F.A.A. stated and the majority on the town board should be able to understand as well and not burden the taxpayer.
It needs no further explanation. Abandoned, as in “not supposed to be there”! They often raise the F.A.A. banner as a cover but only when it suits them.
Nothing has changed except the gall exhibited by the pilots, most of whom are not residents of the town. Nowhere does it state that three runways are a mandate. This runway poses the greatest threat to residents. Although its heading is southwesterly, the pilots when using it often flew at dangerously low levels right over a built-out area. Often as low as 50 feet.
One of these planes clipped a tree on my property off the corner of my deck, causing the branches to fall into the pool. The then manager did nothing on my complaint. Of course the pilot didn’t report the incident either. I took the tree out at a cost of $1,400.
The town board majority took away a valued service from almost every resident, leaf pickup, that cost $18 a year per dwelling. For them to even consider bowing to a few privileged members of a special interest group and saddle us with paying for a project is headshaking. However, they are running true to form to hit us again with unnecessary expenditures. Clear avoidance of service for residents. “The town has no money for this” but it has it for special interest groups that they owe promises. See the Board of Elections contributor list.
The cost of realignment of Daniel’s Hole Road was $870,000 when first proposed, and that was without drainage and lighting. The clearing of 10 acres of a valuable watershed recharge area? No cost is attached. Yet our three board wizards are considering it. They are not required or mandated to do anything. All this for a few aging pilots? Where is this money coming from?
I urge every resident to tell the board majority to cease this and not render us indentured servants to a federal agency or saddle us with an expenditure we cannot afford. If they cannot afford leaf pickup then we surely cannot afford this waste.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
August 3, 2012
At Thursday’s East Hampton Town Board meeting I was appalled by the high-handed activity of the three Republican members of the board. Two last-minute resolutions, not up for any discussion and “walked-on,” about the airport were rushed through and voted on by the Republican majority. This was in spite of the fact that during the public portion of the meeting, four community members expressed concerns about these very same issues: the noise abatement plan and airplane route changes that were authorized by Councilman Dominick Stanzione. In addition, a walk-on resolution was sped through and voted on to spend between $10,000 and $12,000 to hire an engineer to redesign the airport terminal.
These were not insignificant subjects, yet the majority board members refused to answer the reasonable questions raised by their Democratic minority colleagues, in what has become an irresponsible pattern of behavior.
The Republicans authorized these hasty resolutions by a 3-2 vote, turning their backs on anything resembling bipartisan cooperation or civil communication.
This is not responsible government!
Palm City, Fla.
July 27, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I was born, raised, and lived in East Hampton, continuously, until two years ago when I moved to Florida. Roughly two weeks ago, I visited my sister and her husband in Wainscott for 10 days.
I was absolutely astounded at the noise generated by the helicopters and other aircraft flying into and out of East Hampton Airport. There were numerous occasions when conversation ceased because of the noise, including two times that I remember very well, when we were attempting to eat in my sister’s kitchen with the door leading outside and the windows open. One other time sticks out in my mind: We were outside in the early evening having cocktails, and conversation again became impossible because of the racket generated by aircraft.
Wainscott has always been, in my mind, one of the special places in the Town of East Hampton. I fear that it no longer will be because of the noise generated by the airport. Indeed, I guess that the entire west end of East Hampton Town will be a lesser place because of the airport noise.
ROSE RANA LESTER
Free for All
August 6, 2012
The verdict is in, delivered not by the East Hampton Aviation Association, the East Hampton Town Republican Party, or Dominick Stanzione, but the thousands of East End residents whose quality of life has been continually degraded by the ever-increasing onslaught of aircraft noise from East Hampton’s airport. The new control tower operation is a colossal failure.
Those noted above should avoid the ever-increasing embarrassment of their positions in the face of a Waterloo-esque debacle. Based on her recent letter to The Star, the East Hampton Aviation Assocation vice president, Margie Saureman, is apparently living in a parallel universe, and The East Hampton Town Republican Party’s recent half-page ad in this paper touting safety, responsibility, and tax relief is misinformation 101.
I gave the new operation a wide berth, waiting first on its completion, then staffing, and finally the July 26 date of its official jurisdiction of controlled air space. If anything, the new operation appears to have rolled back the clock and provided the helicopter pilots with whatever altitude they wish in their arrivals and departures.
For the last two years we have seen some incremental improvements, but now we have a free-for-all in our skies with helicopters thundering across the landscape perhaps 150 feet above ground level. On a recent Sunday, in very poor visibility and a very low ceiling, these air jockeys were literally at tree-top level. Safety? Responsibility? I think not.
The rule of one way in and another way out also appears to have been discarded through Mr. Stanzione’s recent usurping of the designated arrival and departure routes. Who appointed him the King of the Skies? If there is a precedent please let us know as even the ever silent airport manager, Jim Brundige, recognized the need to spread this plague (and it is in fact a plague) throughout the area. Let Mr. Stanzione keep his beloved aircraft in the air space over East Hampton Town and see how long he keeps his job.
The recent letters of Patricia Currie and Dan Voorhees to you should be a wake-up call to all who think this issue will fade into obscurity. When Dan Voorhees writes as he did, so honestly, succinctly, and responsibly, it should be taken as a signal of a new and ever-increasing level of rejection of the policies at play. Dan is one of the most measured individuals on the East End and his inclusion in this fight should not be overlooked.
On a recent afternoon I visited the airport and had the good fortune to be there when one of the most egregious noise producers arrived, a reverse prop twin engine which one can hear for minutes before and after it passes. While it is above you, one must stop speaking even indoors as it sounds like a buzz-saw on your roof. I approached one of the passengers and the conversation went something like this:
Q: Is that your plane or is it a charter?
A: It’s my plane.
Q. Are you aware how noisy it is to those of us on the ground?
A: It’s really quiet inside.
Q: Those of us who hear it coming routinely have to complete our conversations or close the patio door until you pass over and even then we hear you for a minute or so in the distance.
A: Well, I like it.
Or in other words, “Let them eat cake.”
Perhaps the only option left to those of us who have for years tried to work through the system of noise complaint lines and noise abatement committees, and town board meetings is to just go out to the airport and confront the passengers and pilots directly. What is there to lose? Perhaps one might even find an audience that had no idea they were such a nuisance. Doubtful, but possible. Even one pilot or aircraft owner who is more respectful or responsible would be a step in the right direction. After all what we are talking about is the common courtesy of a very select minority in the best interests of a much larger community.
Or are we at a point where that is no longer important? Ms. Saureman, Mr. Stanzione, et al., should think in those terms for once and try to broker a solution before the only option for those of us on the ground is take matters into our own hands and to “Occupy East Hampton Airport.” While none of us knew what to expect from the new control tower operation, we certainly did not expect the situation to get worse.
PRESTON T. PHILLIPS
Need Your Help
August 4, 2012
My name is Andrew Wilson and I am writing this letter to all the people in my town who might be able to help. Attention Alec Baldwin! And Mr. Stephen Spielberg. And many others. We need to ask you to help us bring back our sports.
I am an honor roll student, going into eighth grade at Springs School. My favorite subject is social studies, thank you, Mr. Wojtusiak and Ms. Turner. I’m in the East Hampton junior lifeguard program and working on Life Scout rank with Boy Scouts. I really like to play sports for my school.
This year, about 39 of my friends and I at Springs School will not be able to play some of our favorite sports, including track and field, cross-country, lacrosse, wrestling, tennis, and football. The budget cuts at our school eliminated all the money for these sports, so I won’t be able to try out for J.V. soccer and one of my friends will not be able to go out for varsity swimming.
As you can imagine, this is really terrible news. We love playing these sports and the best part is, these teams mean we get to combine with our friends from East Hampton to play together. Our school is not big enough to have these sports on our own, so for many years, we have gone to East Hampton to play with our friends there. This year, the money to allow us to do that was taken out of the budget so we have no funding to play.
A lot of kids won’t have any of their sports to play. We are trying to raise the money to bring these sports back. We need $35,000 to do that. It’s a lot of money, so we need to ask a lot of people for help. Springs PTA is accepting donations for the Springs Athletics Booster Club. If anyone is able to help, we could really use it now. We will be having tables set up at different events around our town to ask people for donations. Or you could just help by donating money to the Springs PTA — put “Athletics” in the memo. Its address is Springs PTA, Springs School, School Street, East Hampton.
We will also be having car washes, so if you see us around our town, please come get your car washed and make a donation.
I know people in East Hampton are really generous and now we really need your help.
Thanks to everyone . . . including all of the sports lovers.
August 3, 2012
Here is my account of the events of July 2011, when I was running for East Hampton Town Board on the Republican ticket and had angered many fellow Democrats.
One morning on Wiborg’s Beach a gentleman who offered to give me a dinner party for Authors Night to benefit the East Hampton Library said he was told by Sheila Rogers, the chairwoman of the event and a member of the library board, that I couldn’t participate because I might use the event as a “political platform.”
This was chilling to me. I’m an author, not a politician, and the library was sacrosanct. What did she think I would do, stand on a chair and make a speech? The library board was heavily populated by Democrats; was I going to be blacklisted because I was running as a Republican? More so, I love the East Hampton Library. I was even co-chairman of Authors Night for two years, the very event from which I was being excluded.
I also liked Sheila Rogers a great deal. We worked closely together on Authors Night. I went directly to her office on Pantigo Road, where at first she denied saying I couldn’t participate because I would use the event as a political platform, and when I asked if that meant the gentleman on the beach was a liar, she admitted she had “misspoken.”
Well, we all misspeak at times, so I assured her I would not use the library event to campaign. Was I invited to participate now? After all, the library is not privately held. It’s open to all.
Ms. Rogers said that I conditionally could participate in the upcoming Authors Night, but first I had to apologize to the librarian, Dennis Fabiszak, for something I wrote in a blog two summers before that still angered him. My complaint that Authors Night of that year, a “world class event,” had “the underpinnings of a bake sale.” Ms. Rogers also required that I remove the post from my blog, even though it was two years old.
I went directly to the library to see Mr. Fabiszak, who had been very jolly to me just a week before when I ran into him at a party, but now he was gruff and barely accepted my apology. You’d have thought I had run over his dog. Mr. Fabiszak is lucky his work doesn’t get reviewed in 200 newspapers like mine does; that teaches one how to man up to criticism. Then I went home and deleted the comment. I had never removed or changed anything I wrote at anyone’s demand in my entire career, but I caved in.
(I have the e-mails confirming that I was asked to change my blog.)
After I jumped through those hoops I was allowed to sign up for Authors Night, but strangely, nobody wanted to come to a dinner party for me — dinner parties that Sheila Rogers herself arranges. Not one soul. Odd. If she had asked me I could have easily whipped up a dozen or so people. So I dropped out of the event.
Ms. Rogers also attended several campaign events where I spoke, and sent me an e-mail asking that I stop using the word “moribund” to describe the way I first found Authors Night, then called Novel Night, before I helped revive this now extraordinary event with Sheila Rogers’s help.
Libraries should not tell a journalist what to say, what words to use, what to write, or to erase a criticism. I’m ashamed I deleted my observation.
Libraries should not ban writers because they don’t like the political party they’re running with.
Authors Night is without question one of the great events of the summer season. It’s incomparable. I encourage everyone to go. But don’t look for me there.
As a postscript, it’s true, as Ms. Rogers wrote in her letter to The Star as proof that the library is “bipartisan,” that Rudy Giuliani once gave a dinner party for Authors Night. I should know, it was in my honor.
August 2, 2012
After 17 years of coexisting with the Long Island Rail Road, which runs along the property line of our North Main Street home, I had my initiation by fire with the dark side of the railroad’s intention to be a friendly neighbor.
Our family has endured the railroad’s lack of forestry maintenance, neglect of its East Hampton station house, train whistles at 3 a.m., clanging track-maintenance vehicles, loud, over-crowded trains on weekends, and inconvenient time schedules to accommodate people getting where they want to go.
But, the ultimate insult happened on July 26, when we had a house full of children and grandchildren. That day, the train hit a deer and tossed it onto its right-of-way embankment adjacent to our home. The deer suffered while the odor permeated our grounds. So, being the naive neighbor who has endured the mystique of the L.I.R.R. for 17 years, I naturally called the main phone number for the railroad and connected to “public affairs” where someone took my information. I asked for a call-back number to verify that someone would be forthcoming to remove the decaying deer remains which by now were being decimated by the bugs, animals, and rodents on the railroad property.
I was told by the public service representative that they could only deliver my message and not give out any phone numbers. By then it was 4 p.m., and no one works after 4 p.m., so I began to leave messages for both the Town and Village of East Hampton urging that the carcass be removed the next day — hoping someone would save my damaged environment and return my home to its usual paradise.
Friday morning I heard back from the town and village that they may not go onto the railroad property. I then began to call at least 11 phone numbers at the L.I.R.R. — only two phones actually had a person at the other end to answer and tell me that the matter of a dead deer was not their department.
The entire day I had no callbacks, no help, total inertia from an agency that receives mountains of money from the taxpaying public. A call to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police revealed that they, the railroad police, can only deliver a message. They cannot “tell them what to do.”
Finally, a helpful hint came in a call to a New York State Wildlife group, which told us to get someone to drag the dead deer corpse to the village street. That would necessitate the village to remove it. We accomplished that by hiring two area day workers and, lo and behold, the deer remains were removed by the village from North Main Street within the hour.
As I completed this letter on Monday morning, four days after we reported the dead deer, three railroad right-of-way staff arrived to remove the dead deer. They assured us that they had just received the order to remove it that morning. Too late!
Thanks to the State of New York Wildlife Association and the East Hampton Village, we are again able to enjoy our grounds. But, we are still waiting for the railroad to call us back to apologize and send us back the $60 we paid to hire people to do their work.
My coexistence with the L.I.R.R. is over. I am appalled by its neglect, lack of responsibility, and mismanagement of a work force that cannot even answer a phone during the workday. Hopefully, this letter will bring some attention to its irresponsibility.
August 2, 2012
To the Editor,
The voters in the First Congressional District can no longer tolerate Tim Bishop as their congressman and must replace him with Randy Altschuler.
How do I dislike like Tim Bishop, let me count the ways.
Bishop has sent the hard-earned money of his contributors to his daughter Molly’s campaign consulting firm in the amount of $250,000 and still counting.
Bishop no longer has the stomach to face angry voters and holds town hall meetings via conference calls like the invitation to join one I received last week.
Bishop, it now appears, is only available for photo ops.
Bishop has remained silent while the Obama administration has outsourced manufacturing to foreign countries.
The Obama administration gave $529,000,000 in federal loans to Fisker Automotive, partially owned by Qatar, which used the money to build a luxury hybrid car in Finland.
Oh, yeah, this pricy $100,000 hybrid called the Karma had a faulty battery system. What about that, Tim Bishop?
In 2009, Obama went to China and promised his administration would assist China in developing its first domestically produced jetliner.
In 2011, just to put the icing on the cake, in the spirit of the president’s statement, G.E. C.E.O. Jeff Immelt, who also chairs the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, announced that G.E. will be merging its avionics division into a joint venture with China’s AVIC state-owned aircraft developer. So that means a transfer of technology and jobs from G.E.’s U.S. division to this new joint venture. What about that, Tim Bishop?
In 2009, a consortium of American and Chinese firms were given $450,000,000 in stimulus grants to build wind farms in Texas.
In 2010, the Obama administration gave a $179,000,000 payment to the now-bankrupt Australian firm of Babock and Brown to build another wind farm in Texas. What about that, Tim Bishop?
When President Obama facilitates the outsourcing of American jobs, Tim Bishop is silent.
When it comes to facing his constituents at town hall meetings, Tim Bishop goes into hiding.
August 6, 2012
Christmas came a little early this year for my family. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a rebate check for $128.37 from US Life, the insurance carrier for our catastrophic major medical plan. The accompanying letter explained that this rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act (yes‚ “Obamacare”), because more than 15 percent of premiums were spent on non-medical costs such as salaries, bonuses, and advertising.
I’ve since learned that more than $1.1 billion has been returned to consumers as a result of this law. It is no wonder that corporate America hates the new law: the C.E.O.s and other “1 percenters” might be forced to give up a few of their many perks.
Our congressman, Tim Bishop, has supported the Affordable Care Act from the start. His opponent, a right-wing Republican, has vowed to repeal it! Who do you think cares about the welfare of ordinary people?
Into the Tunnel
July 31, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
It has been three months since my last confession, I mean, letter. I do hope you’ve enjoyed my sabbatical, which has surely freed up valuable news and editorial space for the hard-hitting stories of the day. News of the plummeting plover population, for example, and the upheavals and unrest caused by the crowing of the roosters. No wonder we sleep with one eye open, in a jar by the nightstand. A provocative story raises provocative questions: Why do roosters crow, but crows caw? Why don’t roosters rooster and crows crow? Spank me out of it, Mr. Rattray. Thank you.
You could say I was pushed into action again, not unlike the Dark Knight. Two weeks ago reader number 26 approached me on Newtown Lane and said, “I take it you’ve been very busy. I haven’t seen any letters recently. Get on it!” And four days ago I met a woman who said (pinch yourself), “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. Greenfield, I’ve been reading your letters for years.” I told her the honor was mine, of course, and that she was officially now my 40th reader. She did request anonymity, and I promised that her wish would be respected. A person has to live in this special community, Mr. Rattray, and may not want to be associated with someone who drives a yellow Ford Focus with an Obama sticker on the back. I understand completely.
If I lived next to me I would call Code Enforcement or the town trustees. “There’s a man talking to himself on his front porch wearing nothing but Old Navy rugby shorts and an orange crossing guard vest!” “Please stay on the line and don’t let him see you, sir. We have dispatched a van to your location.”
So why am I writing again? If we finish this letter we’ll both know, so grab your pipe and place one hand on your forehead.
But first, a digression: You missed my birthday again this year, Mr. Rattray. Sixty-five. Seven hundred eighty months. You should be ahsamed of yourself, and so should my 461 Facebook “friends” — though it’s hard to blame them since I left Facebook two weeks ago. I got sick of seeing notices like “You have nine friends with birthdays this week, Lyle!” and knowing maybe two of those people. Anyway, my T-shirt size is medium, and it’s P.O. Box 440 in Amagansett. Thank you.
My father died at 65, less than a year into his retirement. He smoked a pack of unfiltered Camels a day, had a few cocktails starting around 5 p.m. every night and basically sat around the house in Clearwater, Fla. I wince at the thought.
When he was gone, my mother moved back to Rochester, “for the weddings, the funerals, and the seasons,” she said. Brilliant. She kept smoking, remarried three years later and stayed married for 30 years before her husband, my stepfather, died at 86. She passed a few years after at 87.
“The 80s stink, honey, enjoy yourself,” Mom told me (and as I’ve shared in these pages previously). I’m down to one cigarette a day and still built like a brick comfort station, but you never know. I try to live each day like it’s the eve of my 40th, and so should you, readers. Do it for Mom.
Good lord, what a digression! Sorry for the downer. At least I’m not joining the chorus of idiots spewing their political viewpoints to no one in particular. Well, okay, if you insist.
A few weeks ago I was leaving New York, steering the Focus into the entrance of the Midtown Tunnel. Merging to my left was a black Mercedes-Benz 350. As it drew closer I could see the passenger side window roll down and the driver leaning in my direction. I rolled my window down and he said, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” I said, assuming he needed directions to somewhere. “How do you like Obama now, now that the country’s so screwed up?!” Feeling a bit ambushed I replied, “I love him.”
Now this was not the best circumstance for an intelligent discussion of the present state of the union, the world, or the presidency, though I continued it inside my head for many moments. The Mercedes sped into the tunnel, windows up, and behind it the yellow Focus.
Even with the mistakes he’s made, I’m not sure there has been a better president in my lifetime. But these times are difficult for many, so no excuses. You look to the leadership for solutions; it comes with the job. Yet whenever it appeared (to an uninformed yet interested citizen) that progress was being made — the auto industry rebounding, employment creeping upward, markets responding to “better than expected manufacturing news,” consumer optimism increasing — the doomsayers continued battering our senses with a half-billion-dollar ad and P.R. campaign that suggested the opposite. The U.S. was sinking, the president was waging class warfare (i.e., expecting the wealthiest Americans to pay more taxes), the debt load would drag us into another Great Depression, the end was near. (Yes, Mr. Rattray, the end of this letter is near.)
I’ve worked in advertising my entire career. When the chairman of Ringling Bros. Circus said to his public relations firm, “We’re the greatest show on Earth because we say we are,” he had a firm grasp of a simple truth: If you say something enough times, then say it again, it becomes the “truth,” whether it is or isn’t. A bit sad, but that’s life.
The ones who’ve pledged for over three years to make Mr. Obama a one-term president have been determined to convince us that this country is in a downward spiral. Don’t buy it. It’s a great country that’s taken far too much bad-mouthing from its own people.
And to the guy in the Mercedes: Buy an American car, then let’s talk. If you’d like to test drive my Ford Focus, drop me a line. The post office box is previously noted.
Crowing for Team U.S.A.,
August 6, 2012
To the Editor,
If you remember, we began the 21st century with the often repeated quote, “We are the last superpower on the face of the earth.” Could that have been a self-fulfilling prophecy of our demise?
Globalism from the top down fell to the ground influenced by corruption all around. The gap between the 99 percent and the 1 percent broke the economy. Our military near collapse. When J.P. Morgan Chase began recruiting more soldiers for an endless war on public television one could recognize the close link between Wall Street and the Pentagon, representing corporate power we have never witnessed since the birth of our nation. Although I have portrayed our dark side there is hope.
Our pre-emptive war against Iraq inspired demonstrations all over the globe. Their cry “enough of war” emerged from world public opinion, even our allies’. Certainly valid in contemporary war using weapons of mass destruction. Ninety percent of the deaths are innocent civilians and then children just like ours. Post-traumatic stress disorder lies close behind; we are all human.
We have entered a post-capitalism era. The so-called Just War Theory, over 2,000 years old, is obsolete but nevertheless applied to pre-emptive wars. Absurd. Ordinary people in the Middle East have confronted their corrupt governments somewhat like ours by taking to the streets, where democracy is being played out. The occupiers of Wall Street have spread across America and committed to a nonviolent revolution. There is no other way. The hope lies in all of us, we the people, 300 million.
Peace be with you,
August 2, 2012
Did you all know that rich people make charitable donations? Some do it for tax deductions, some to cloak themselves with celebrity, and others because they sincerely want to assist the charitable cause or causes they are donating to.
Rarely, if ever, are motives of the donors questioned, the mere fact of the giving being sufficient, and most wealthy donors usually avoid the publicity that goes with large donations.
The Supreme Court several years ago, in a case we’ll call “Citizens United,” further anointed rich people and big corporations with the same rights of anonymity and power while engaging in political donations. The only difference is that there is usually no tax deduction which these fat-cat donors and corporations gladly and gleefully exchanged for access and the expected quid pro quo (you know: something for something) while still retaining anonymity.
One such fat cat, Sheldon Adelson, bless his little, oily heart, has stated he will give $100 million to help elect Mitt Romney. Do you think the fact that he is under federal investigation for bribery and felonious conduct and desperately needs a change of administration and a new attorney general gives him a good motive for his political activity?
Now here in Southampton the other day a very, very rich entrepreneur named David Koch opened his Southampton estate to Mitt Romney for an expensive fund-raiser.
Some political activists who oppose Mr. Romney and despise the Koch brothers, David and Charles, picketed the fund-raiser, raising their voices and objecting to the motives and the identity of the attendees. I wasn’t present, so I can’t give a firsthand account of the proceedings.
Walter Donway says he was present, and while not overtly stating what relationship he has with the Koch brothers, as a friend, supporter, whatever, he chose to write to this paper and demonize the protesters, whom I am sure he never spoke to or even knows. Then the guy has the temerity to write again, challenging a writer who disagreed with him.
Mr. Donway characterizes the Kochs as wonderful-in-every-way individuals who champion life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (as long as those things come under their auspices and largess).
Liberals, progressives, gays, blacks, Hispanics, poor people, single mothers, children, food stamp users, the unemployed, and other such inconsequential anti-American groups would be exempted from receiving those benefits, as would be government workers, air traffic controllers, police, firemen, teachers, nurses, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, and any and all those socialists on welfare.
But don’t worry folks, the Koch brothers and the other “genuine liberals” will “cauterize” the bleeding hearts of these groups and expand the charitable tent to help keep those groups going but not too much, must watch that deficit!
Under Mr. Donway’s thesis and, I assume, the other “real” libertarian followers like Ron Paul, the needs of the people will be provided only as outlined in the Constitution (which was written, of course, more than 200 years ago).
I forget, we should ask them and the likes of Justice Scalia if there were slaves back then, cars, airplanes, trains, antibiotics, women’s suffrage, Brown vs. Board of Education, trains, asphalt and concrete roadways, the Right to Vote Act. Goodness, Mr. Donway, you and your “real” libertarians better be well versed in the ways of very small, inactive government to take up the work needed.
Anyway, thanks for the civics lesson, Mr. Donway, we all hope that our elitist, liberal, pro-big government theories won’t be too much of a bother for you as they continue for the next 20 years and you can spend those years happily trying to figure out why Mitt Romney got his ass kicked even with the largess of the fabulous Koch brothers.
RICHARD P. HIGER
August 5, 2012
To the Editor:
Last Tuesday night, Claude Imaz greeted her fans with music and a little wisdom, as she pronounced, “tonight is all the future, tomorrow will be the past.” After months of relentless preparations, crowds bustled outside of Guild Hall in East Hampton to attend the release of local singer-songwriter Claude Imaz’s new album “Oceans.” A French-Argentine native, Imaz enthralled the audience with an original blend of Latin bossa nova, tango, and a hint of pop-rock.
The concert was the culmination of a project by the dynamic father-daughter duo, Willy and Carol Fuentes, to record, produce, and arrange Imaz’s songs. In the process, the Fuentes’ developed Imaz’s sound from its acoustic origin to an arrangement including instruments ranging from the saxophone to the Argentine bandoneon.
Imaz was discovered by Deerfield Productions one year ago at Guild Hall. Seen by the producers as a diamond in the rough, they tirelessly strove to create a musical masterpiece that was bestowed upon eager listeners last Tuesday night. For those unable to attend this rambunctious release, “Oceans” is available on iTunes and CD Baby.
Opening for Imaz was Mr. No Shame, a fresh musical endeavor that fuses modern rock with funky Latin rhythm. Their raw talent and energy set the tone for the rest of the evening, as they gave the audience a sneak peek of their new musical direction, titled “Telar.”
Following Mr. No Shame was another local artist, Christopher Walsh, who serenaded concertgoers with original songs including “Three Mile Harbor” and “What Could You Gain.”
Imaz’s music enchanted the audience with her charming voice and incredibly talented band comprised of George Mesa, Rodrigo Bermudez, Fabian Rodriguez, Christopher Walsh, Adrian Mora, and Carol and Willy Fuentes.
On the concluding note of Imaz’s last song, the band received a resounding ovation from audience members. However, it was Imaz’s message to listeners that resonated the most throughout the crowd, to pursue those dreams that once were unimaginable.
August 1, 2012
To the Editor,
Where the class clown has become the class president — Boston Globe.
Re: From earth to the moon and carrying the light of American literature after 1961; P.T.S.D.; becoming a global leader circa 1947-1950.
Dear Student of The New Yorker, Oct. 10, 2011,
“Then comes the day of the Laodiceans.”
“Poor little Salvatore.”
“You’re thin, you’re thin; where have you been all this time?”
“Which was now finished and spread on my bedroom floor.”
“On the Road,” John Kerouac.
Finding Terri a Pearl; where cotton spools come from; the Jack Black you can’t win in the Barn peak; freedom and spiritual maturity; America that haunts foreign, citizen, native interest rate, and “The Ghosts of the Susquehanna” (Ibid.) and New York City streets; lifting a muster out veteran and that old “there you go again” Californian when 3B/day?
Your summer read,
P.S. Touch toe/Deep knee bend with ball or heel fitted into curve of the opposite foot; smaller base; planted feet head up.