August 19, 2012
To the Editor:
The bemoaning of the dirt, noise, and traffic by the couple in last week’s Star prompted me to take a drive down Daniel’s Lane in Sagaponack. Indeed, it is true. That street is a slum.
I recalled the time I first started work on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton. Across the street was a potato-sorting barn and every fall its machinery would crank up in the morning. Migrant workers would straggle down from the Foster Avenue barracks, and ancient trucks would come and go. Midday, the men would walk up the street and feed themselves at the I.G.A.
A few weekends ago, inside this lovingly renovated barn, a weekend-long tasting of a renowned sauterne was held. The price for two days of sipping was $17,500.
Good-bye, Mr. Potato.
Hello, Mr. Petrus.
East End Roads
August 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Regrettably I have been on the periphery of three of the six vehicular deaths this summer.
I was at work on Saturday, June 23, at the intersection of Town and Windmill Lanes when we heard the sirens start to scream. Soon, drivers who were being detoured away from Old Stone Highway were stopping to ask for directions and alternate routes to their lunches, dates, and appointments. Later that day I learned the grim news of Jeffrey Ahn’s death.
On Sunday, July 29, we were driving to Noyac along Route 114, and a detour placed us on a horseshoe path around yet another accident. On our return to Amagansett later that afternoon the road was still closed. Sadly I guessed correctly — another death — this time a tourist in one of America’s beautiful “playgrounds.”
Last Thursday I was driving north on Wainscott Woods Road on the drive from Sagaponack back to Amagansett. As I approached the stop sign at Montauk Highway and Georgica Pond there was a line of about 10 cars. Even for the busy summer season this seemed odd. Once on Montauk Highway, traffic crawled and approached yet another detour and my heart sank. Tuning my radio dial to find out some news yielded nothing.
When I got home the East Hampton Patch Web site bore the grim news — another fatality. A small move on one driver’s part wreaked tragedy.
We have been visiting, vacationing, and living on the East End for decades. I have grown continually more cautious and frightened of road traffic and rage.
This past Saturday my instincts kept me safely stopped at the traffic light at Collins and North Main as I waited to turn right onto North Main. Two cars and one motorcyclist behind me honked angrily as I would not turn right on red, as is legal. What they didn’t know was that I could not see any cars venturing from the south because of parked trucks in front of Lucy’s Whey. Once we rounded the corner, the man on the motorcycle screamed many expletives at me and told me to return to New York City where I belonged.
When our daughter was learning to drive in New York City she was always frightened of the traffic, yet seemed to feel safe driving out here. I would tell her (over and over) that the opposite was true — crawling up Third Avenue is no match for the challenge of our East End roads. I dread hearing more possible bad news; last night Town Lane was closed between Windmill and Cross Highway. What will the town do?
To Your Left
August 20, 2012
To the Editor:
Walking to your left on a road without sidewalks, facing the cars, is so much safer for pedestrians and vehicles alike. It is also legally required for people on foot under Section 1156 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law.
If everyone, including the police on patrol, would tell people they see to walk and run facing traffic as the law requires, the roads here would be a little safer.
August 20, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Three cheers for the Amagansett Fire Department!
On Sunday, the fire department made available delicious barbecue chicken dinners for delivery to clients of East Hampton Meals on Wheels, our homebound neighbors who were unable to attend the dinner at the firehouse.
These gallant men and women cooked wonderful dinners, which included chicken, sweet corn, potatoes, cole slaw, and watermelon, to raise money for their own much-needed community service.
Despite the heat, they took the time to prepare almost 60 extra dinners free of charge so that volunteers from East Hampton Meals on Wheels could take the meals to our clients.
This service filled a tremendous need in our community, because the people who received these meals are homebound and unable to cook special meals for themselves or their families.
We are thankful to live in a community in which so many organizations and individuals are concerned for the needs of their neighbors.
Thank you again, Amagansett Fire Department.
Very truly yours,
CYNTHIA P. KABACK
East Hampton Meals on Wheels
August 15, 2012
Today, Wednesday Aug. 15, 2012, I arrive home around noon. Right away I notice my wallet is missing. I figure it dropped out of my pants pocket as I got into my Ford pickup.
I glance at our answering machine, one message. It’s from the village police saying someone found my wallet in the Reutershan parking lot near Waldbaum’s (A&P) and turned it over to an officer in the lot.
I wanted to say thank you to the anonymous person who found my wallet and thank you to the police for promptly calling me and saving me extra stress.
Thank you very much. Only in a small town.
August 20, 2012
My compliments to Guild Hall for the shrubs that have been planted along the front facade of the building! Very appealing and handsome.
On the other hand, the benches and potted plants lining the path to Guild Hall’s main entrance seem more appropriate to the Adirondacks and Palm Beach than to East Hampton. My condolences to those of you at The Star that have to look at it across the street.
PETER V. HANDAL
August 18, 2012
I have lived on the Hook Pond shoreline since 1968, the last three years as a full-time resident. I am not a scientist, yet during this time I have witnessed the challenges to and degrading of the pond’s ecosystem, the wetlands, the flora and fauna. It is true. I have observed the algae blooms, the silting, the reduced water levels, the invasion of fragmities and other non-native species, in addition to the accumulating “muck” on the shoreline.
I do not fish (nor do I play golf), so I would not specifically contribute an opinion publicly on the pond’s fish population, as was attributed to me in The Star’s Aug. 16 front-page article “Maidstone Plan In the Rough?” I did tell your reporter by phone last weekend that the ospreys are no longer fishing Hook Pond, maybe because the muddy water is just too challenging for these fish hawks.
In March, after a discussion about the Maidstone Club irrigation project with a neighbor, I emailed the club about my Hook Pond existing shoreline concerns. The “dubious assumptions” from these communications, also attributed to me in The Star’s article, are my responses to statements the club continues to support on the infinite invulnerability of the Long Island aquifer and the current ecological and water quality conditions I see challenging Hook Pond.
Since this time, I have read the club’s application to the village zoning board of appeals for a total of 14 variances and special permits. I was in the June Z.B.A. audience for the detailed, two-and-a-half-hour presentation of the applicants’ supporting expert opinions on the viability of the natural resources involved in this application, including Hook Pond and the shoreline wetlands. I have also read the village master plan and the village code applicable to the East Hampton community’s responsibility in conserving its public natural resources.
Again, not as a lawyer, but just a concerned local community resident, I have found gaps in the club’s application information and confusion about the village code framework and the process it defines for village leadership on conservation issues.
According to the club, its project team (including the experts it has hired), has spent five years developing this project plan. I applaud the Z.B.A.’s diligence during its demanding, ongoing project application leadership. Without an environmental impact statement, under the leadership of the East Hampton Zoning Board of Appeals, the application is incomplete.
Hook Pond, the East Hampton Village wetlands, and the natural resources under the stewardship of East Hampton Village certainly deserve this consideration and additional effort by the applicant. An environmental impact statement will provide the community — and the Z.B.A., which represents us — with complete and coordinated records supporting our efforts to better understand the need to enhance an existing watering system for a private golf course at a time when water has become a precious commodity and natural resource.
August 19, 2012
Editor, The Star:
Last week’s letter to The Star signed by Kyle Paseka, operations manager at the Montauk Beach House (the renovated Ronjo), reads like a hit piece on Bill Akin, a longtime citizen of Montauk who has voluntarily done more for the health, quality of life, well-being, and sustainability of Montauk than Ms. Paseka’s bosses will ever do. Adding insult to injury, the letter also reads like a hit piece on the reputation and professionalism of Tom Preiato, East Hampton Town’s senior building inspector.
Now, I don’t know Ms. Paseka. Perhaps she truly believes that her personal financial well-being is dependent on letting code violations slide by for the Montauk Beach House. But it’s quite a leap for her to assert that the entire financial well-being of all of Montauk’s work force, local businesses, and charities depends on the town’s senior building inspector ignoring the code violations at her employers’ motel.
When Ms. Paseka goes on to generalize that code enforcement is what will turn Montauk into Riverhead, she has it exactly wrong. The miseries of Riverhead — and the people who work and live there —are precisely what you get when you don’t have proper code enforcement, site plan review, and community planning.
Ms. Paseka adds a touch of unselfconscious irony when she spins and dismisses citizen support for code enforcement as something that “everyone knows” is merely a toxic “political game.”
Interesting observation, as all in one letter Ms. Paseka has demonstrated how to demagogue, personalize, generalize, polarize, and politicize the issue, giving readers a perfect example of what she complains about.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk
August 20, 2012
To the Editor,
At the Aug. 14 East Hampton Town Board meeting in regard to the Sloppy Tuna issue, Councilwomen Theresa Quigley told Montaukers that: “We are a tourist community, and yes, we have to put up with it for three months . . . that’s who we are. Put up with it.”
And yet, at an Aug. 9 forum on aircraft noise sponsored by the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton, according to The Sag Harbor Express, Ms, Quigley stated, “Our community is a resort community. People come here for the peace and tranquillity, and the airport, we recognize, interferes with that quiet.”
My question is: As per her Aug. 9 statement, she can be upset about noise, peace, and tranquillity issues from the airport flight paths (near her neck of the woods), but we in Montauk have to “put up” with our loss of peace, quiet, and tranquillity.
Why the double standard, Ms. Quigley?
As a postscript: Used to be black Labs in the back of pickup trucks attending East Hampton Town Board meetings. Now it’s black Cadillac Escalades.
August 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Today’s my birthday, and among my junk mail was a birthday greeting from the American Red Cross thanking me for past donations and inviting me to give more. The greeting (and perhaps the “new” year in my accumulation of years!) prompted me to organize some recent thoughts. Upgrading of the road crossings here in Montauk added to the prompts. Letters to The East Hampton Star stirred up a few more as I recently sat on my back deck reading and listening to the sounds that drowned those of the ocean that I can no longer see. Here goes:
Last week when I saw the removal of the white lines of our pedestrian crossings, several thoughts surfaced. One was that we didn’t need them anyway because many people cross virtually anywhere with total indifference to the driver. (Came a vision of slow-moving folks either alone or in clusters and sometimes with kids in tow and often with cellphones jammed against their ears.) Another more optimistic thought was that our work crews out here were fixing some serious ruts on our main thoroughfare. (Another vision of holding the elbows of friends when crossing at certain points.) This led to an even more rosy thought: Perhaps we’re going to get those fancy flashers that now bejewel the main drag in East Hampton.
The sounds, the strolls, the letters contributed to some simple observations:
A letter from one Montauk resident took issue with the letter of another Montauk resident, and it made me wonder just what defines a “resident.” I suppose it is one whom you see for most of the year — an array of service personnel and some proprietors, all the tradespeople, persons you see standing behind the counters or on the lines of all the local businesses and offices (that can stay open) or next to the pumps or behind the wheels of varying commercial vehicles or school busses or attending Concerned Citizens meetings or political forums or manning the food pantry once in a while or volunteers for the ambulance or fire department or Maureen’s Haven or the St. Therese outreach program, and of course fishermen and crew. The degree of “resident” varies. Indeed, a resident can be the person who pays a neat sum for a night or two, having chosen to be in this beautiful place and pay for it.
Sadly, a “we” and a “them” thread is woven through a lot of the dialog concerning the quality of life out here. It’s not simply “locals” vs. “visitors.” It’s symptomatic of something else. The division is something that has been building up for years, maybe 30 of them.
I use that interesting number for two reasons.
Thirty years ago I walked down to the partially built site of the Montauk Beach Club. I had seen its encroachment of buildings (more than twice as high as the old cabanas and “surf club”) as they stretched east and west. I was a visitor then, visiting an elderly mother and aunt whose cottage used to have a view of the ocean — sun and moon rises and reflections, etc.
There still was a portion of the view, and so I asked of the developer who was on the site at that time, if that view would remain for the people back on South Etna. He told me that 30 more units were to come, and that it “was time for someone else to share the view” because our old house “had had it long enough.” (Exact quotes, as that remark was repeated over and over through the years.) He was certainly philosophic, and may have crafted those altruistic thoughts from the deck of his own perhaps beautifully situated home.
And so it was that more and more “surf” resorts arose. They added jobs and revenue on many levels. Good things for all involved: workers, builders, proprietors, developers, and investors — locals and visitors. The range of those good things inspired the reference to the 30 years between the late ’70s and 2007. Keeping apace, resorts expanded and housing flourished, especially the McMansions. (If one is unfamiliar with these architectural specimens, look for large, multiroomed structures with many designer bedrooms and far-ranging decks usually sporting empty Adirondack chairs. They are usually found on lots where previous cottages stood, and I’d bet that you couldn’t find a single air bed or cot therein. You can’t miss them.)
That growth ran parallel to something else — an economic phenomenon occurred during that time span. Economic indicators reveal that among the higher percentile wage earners (the top 1 percent), salaries grew 156 percent. Among the top 0.1 percent, salaries grew 362 percent. For the vast majority of wage earners, however, the wage growth was but a tenth of those numbers — 34 percent. This disparity is undermining our nation’s spirit, our communal attitudes.
Surfacing along with this “growth” are increasing displays of negativity, snarliness, and lack of simple respect. The word “entitlement” is bandied about and actually does apply to many interactions. Added income on any level that allows the immediacy of acquisition may create an impatience in interpersonal dealings.
Attitudes of exasperation may arise when Hummers or liveried black Escalades flex their automotive powers either by their turns or their pulling up beside you as you make yours. Attitudes of annoyance (mine) at verbal bullying in the press and self-righteous indignation (often bogus) and posturing on the issue of social concerns when one may never have seen the author on an ambulance run or fire department call or at a blood drive up at the churches.
Life experiences, as mentioned at the outset, along with mean-spirited finger-pointing have pushed a few buttons in me. This is not a class issue of haves and have nots. As far as I’m concerned all are welcome — just as they were by the Native Americans 400 years ago, just as these borders and shores welcomed the masses through the centuries. It’s a look at attitudes and some conjecture at what may have led to them. Just be glad you’re here and take good care of it.
As I’ve sat on my deck these thoughts have swirled around in my head like the riptides that stalk our surf. They’re not as articulated as I would like. Ocean sounds used to help; the stereophonic wind-borne music from the Sloppy Tuna and the erstwhile Ronjo have intruded.
Asked for More
August 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Two letter writers in last week’s Star referred to the NBC segment about illegal overcrowding in Springs and East Hampton. Your readers should know that every photo shown in that segment was located in East Hampton — not Springs. Illegal overcrowding of single-family homes is a townwide problem both here and in many Long Island communities.
Last week’s home explosion in Brentwood should give every member of the East Hampton Town Board pause. This is what the Springs Concerned Citizens has been talking about for two years: the dangers and threats to our community from illegally overcrowded housing.
The complaints have nothing to do with bias despite what Ms. Quigley continues to suggest. Her comments are heinous, unfounded accusations that do not belong in public discourse. This board needs to wake up. Laws exist for a reason, to protect people and property. Board members are sworn to uphold our community’s laws. It’s time for this town board to start taking that job very seriously.
Referencing the home explosion, the Brentwood supervisor said that this was a single-family residential zone with an illegal multiple-family use in a house designed for a single family. There were locks on bedroom doors, people living in the basement, and illegal, non-permitted changes and additions to the house. The homeowner had been fined but was given time to comply. Meanwhile everyone involved was at risk.
An 18-month-old child died, quite a few first responders were injured, innocent passers-by were injured, and neighboring houses severely damaged.
We have many similar houses all over East Hampton. A similar incident could happen here at any time. Our communities and our volunteers are at risk.
We have asked for a meeting of all relevant department heads, and mandatory cross-reporting has been suggested. We have asked for a strengthening of the code, such as criteria to deal with owner-occupied houses with many, many vehicles. We have asked for more code enforcement officers and more vigilant and aggressive enforcement.
Each and every one of these houses should be brought into compliance as soon as possible.
Not to be melodramatic, but as Fred Weinberg opined at the recent town board meeting, each and every board member here faces the possibility of having “blood on their hands” should this happen here.
Enforcement Is a Joke
August 18, 2012
I was pleased to read several letters in last week’s Star showing other citizens’ concern with the reckless rhetoric used by a member of the town board when quoted nationally in The New York Times and on network television.
This irresponsible, inflamed language is certainly not helping the code enforcement problems in this town. To imply or infer that residents of Springs and/or the rest of East Hampton are fascists and/or racists because they would like zoning and current code enforcement law enforced is a cheap shot and a distraction from the real problem.
When one purchases a house in East Hampton, one cannot expect that current zoning laws will be enforced. In a residential neighborhood you could end up living next to a zoned single-family house that is a dormitory or a flop house or a boat yard or a parking lot or a garage or literally whatever! Best to really check out the neighbor and the neighborhood, because there is no guarantee that the town will enforce zoning laws protecting your property from blight and misuse.
Code enforcement is a joke. Some ordinance enforcement cases last year in Justice Court. Don’t expect any resolutions to your problems, because its not going to happen.
Springs, in particular, has many problems due to overpopulation and unenforced zoning laws. We have a school that is bursting at the seams, high property taxes, a stressed water and septic system, strains on social services, and blight down the street, and no one cares. This administration would rather demagogue the issue than deal with it.
I remember speaking with a resident of Northwest who was lamenting that he did not go to code enforcement, and the problem in his neighborhood just kept getting worse. I used to believe laws would be enforced, that is why we had them. I no longer believe most zoning laws are enforced, and if they are, it is on a selective basis.
To add injury to insult, we have a town board that says everything is great, we are doing our job, and if you complain or show them a picture of multiple residential violations at a town meeting (Confucius says 1 picture equals 1,000 words, and we are way beyond 1,000 words on this issue) or if you beg to differ, they call you names. All a bunch of nonsense. And remember all of this just keeps costing us more money.
August 22, 2012
To The Star,
The Republican disarray and ignorance about airport issues is appalling (East Hampton Star, Aug. 15, “Old Route, New Problems From Helicopters”). Starting with Supervisor Wilkinson, they do not seem to understand the basics of Federal Aviation Administration funding and noise control at airports, and yet they are making a policy that can negatively affect our community for more than 20 years. This is political irresponsibility of the worst kind.
Councilman Stanzione has denied redirecting helicopter routing from East Hampton to Southampton, despite contradiction of three disinterested sources. Councilwoman Quigley doubts the veracity of Stanzione’s account and expresses displeasure at decision-making in private. Lying to the public is not a public service.
Supervisor Wilkinson blithely expresses the opinion that the town can close the airport, ignoring all the contrary evidence given by the town’s own “expert” aviation legal advice. “I have to start to understand what rights the town has,” the supervisor said. When does he start his education? And why does it have to be at our expense?
People have been complaining about the noxious presence of the airport for over 20 years. For 20 years people have been explaining the F.A.A.’s autocratic rules and regulations that come with accepting F.A.A. funding and the Republican component of the town board still does not get it. Or, maybe they do as accomplices with the aviation community, who will do anything to have federal welfare support their activity rather than paying for these amenities themselves.
August 19, 2012
If someone hadn’t clued me in, I might have missed Zachary Cohen’s important and informative letter of Aug. 16 regarding the town budget and the scavenger waste plant impasse. Mr. Cohen made clear the wheeling and dealing that led to a plan financially unfavorable to the town and to a budget that was not based on reality.
Since not everyone reads the letters to the editor, The Star, as the local newspaper of record, would be doing a substantial service to the community by exploring this subject. If Mr. Cohen’s facts are accurate, all the Star’s readers should be informed. In the meantime, I suggest that those who missed the letter check out page B3 of last week’s Star.
The Montauk Town Board work session this past Tuesday showed complete Republican dysfunction. It was filled with destructive criticism by the town board majority and focused on the theme of “I don’t want it!” rather than what is good for the taxpayers of East Hampton.
When Dominick Stanzione offered his draft plan for the scavenger waste plant and groundwater evaluation project, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley responded, “I don’t want it!” and the supervisor stated that his vote is what it is.
When David Buda wanted to speak in the public comment session, Theresa Quigley stated, “You will not speak, I won’t stand for this!” and she got up and walked out of the meeting without hearing what he had to say.
The supervisor and Ms. Quigley just can’t seem to respond to the complicated issues facing this town without having the answers come out “their” way. This makes the functioning of the board impossible because answers require teamwork, compromise, and consensus. If everything becomes a “political ploy,” as stated by both Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley, than all voices and viewpoints are not being heard.
This town board has two members who believe that their opinions on issues are automatically superior and correct and should override all others. This belief makes it hard for other citizens’ opinions to be heard at board meetings. In short, if you, Mr. or Ms. East Hampton Citizen, don’t agree with them, your ideas are not welcome. Is this a way to conduct public meetings?
Continue to Own
August 20, 2012
I need to made a correction to my letter of last week. I said that the 2012 budget only mentioned the possibility of leasing the East Hampton Town scavenger waste plant, not selling it, and that was correct. However, I also said that the corrective action plan did not mention the sale of the plant, and that was not correct.
While a sale was not mentioned in the privatization option itself (Option 3), the discussion of the privatization option within the corrective action plan did discuss the possibility of “a long-term lease or even the sale of the asset.” However, two sentences later the plan advised against a sale with the comment: “The Town may wish to continue to own the asset as its needs may change in the future and therefore retain the ability to reassume operational responsibility for the Facility.”
I apologize for any misunderstanding but I am glad to have found this other quote, which highlights that a major issue of privatization is resolving any conflicting interests between the profit-maximizing firm and the public policy of the town.
Ignore the Electorate
August 19, 2012
To the Editor,
How can our leaders continue to ignore the electorate’s constant objections to the way business is being done in this town? We have offenders not only flouting various quality of life laws already on the books, but smarmy business owners challenging the very legitimacy of these laws.
Laws are there to be enforced. Leaders are there to protect the public, not punish it.
We have every reason to expect proper law enforcement regarding, for example, unbridled noise emanating from bars and restaurants that is literally destroying, to borrow a phrase, one’s quiet enjoyment of a neighborhood. There is no “gray area” here in interpreting such laws.
Another example is obfuscation, if not deliberate misinformation, of proposals designed to protect us against excessive airport traffic, and the noise that goes with it. There are phony rationales offered to justify federal funding, and control, of airport management, and so on and on, ad nauseam. All for what? A cabal of pilots and various individuals out to elbow their way to prosperity, regardless of how downright offensive their behavior becomes?
For comic relief, however, we can go to the travails of our Police Department, God bless them, for their tact in dealing with petty complaints of keyed cars and pickle-stealing.
Of course we want business to flourish, but at what cost? As for the conduct of our leaders, as seen at a number of recent meetings, we would expect a decent amount of decorum to prevail, not nasty retorts.
August 17, 2012
You are possibly aware that I am being courted for the position of East Hampton Town nanny. I am totally qualified after decades of dealing with children, actors, and more than two ex-husbands.
My assignment is to shape up the current East Hampton Town Board. It is my belief that the supervisor and his supervisorette need a permanent “time out.” Their governance has been so much “Pooh-pooh Faber.”
Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc are not nanny constituents; they are grown-ups, and their mothers should be proud. Dominick Stanzione bears watching; loved his WWII dress-up escapade, but I question his airport game.
All good things,
August 19, 2012
To the Editor:
The old saying is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is unfortunate that the constituents of the First Congressional District are getting to witness this fact firsthand. Our congressman, the once-honorable Timothy Bishop, appears to have fallen victim of that saying with this most recent episode that speaks of corruption. Call it you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours, call it quid pro quo, or call it extortion, this ethical lapse by Mr. Bishop is too much to ignore.
One could forgive the crass nepotism he engaged in as provost of the now defunct Southampton College, steering jobs to family members. One could also understand that sentiment again as he funneled campaign cash to his daughter, what loving father would not try to help out a family member with hundreds of thousands of dollars. We can question whether it is appropriate to spend over $600,000 of taxpayer money over the last three years for his campaign but at some point the generosity of the people must stop and serious questions must be asked.
On the face of things it would appear that Tim Bishop and his campaign has engaged in an act that is a violation of the House ethics rules. This trespass will be covered in the media and, one would hope, by this paper, strongly and fairly. Unfortunately, fair or not, past history demonstrates that when actions such as this come to light it is not a lone event but merely the tip of the iceberg. We have to ask how many times in the past has Tim Bishop asked for money in return for a favor, how many Eric Semlers are out there who may not even realize that a potential crime was committed.
The time has come for new blood to represent the people of Long Island. It is time for Randy Altschuler to represent the First Congressional District.
Randy’s story is one very much like President Obama’s in that it demonstrates that a person from any background has the opportunity for success here, opportunity unmatched by any other country. At a time when our economy is faltering, unemployment is rising, and more Americans than ever have doubts about the American dream, we need a man with the business smarts to help put people back to work.
It is time to start the restoration of America and we can do that by sending Randy Altschuler to Washington.
MICHAEL D. BOUKER
August 20, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Tim Bishop must go. Last week he was caught in a scandal dubbed bar mitzvah-gate by the national media.
Bishop and his campaign “solicit” a constituent and a “one-per-center” hedge fund honcho, Eric Semler, for $10,000 in campaign contributions when Mr. Semler asks Mr. Bishop to speed up federal, state, and local approval processes so that Mr. Semler can have a fireworks bonanza for his son’s bar mitzvah in a federally protected piping plover nesting area, his backyard.
Mr. Semler makes the requested contribution, the amount of which is in dispute, and, within days, receives an approved permit. This required Mr. Bishop to contact the United States Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and local Southampton Town officials. Taxpayers, just how long do you think it would take you to receive such permit approvals from just one of these agencies, let alone all five? We all know the answer to that. It would take months, perhaps years, but certainly not days, if ever.
How about all you East End environmental groups, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the Nature Conservancy, the Group for the East End, the conservators, where is the concern for the fate of the piping plovers? Are you not outraged that a congressman used the full weight of his office to strong-arm government agencies to circumvent environmental laws? Will you demand that Tim Bishop be accountable for his actions?
And Mr. Bishop shreds campaign finance laws. Mr. Bishop’s primary fund-raiser, his daughter Molly, [allegedly] counsels Mr. Semler on how to manipulate campaign contribution limits advising him to make his contribution before June 26, Primary Day, thus doubling the $2,500 individual limit to $5,000. While this technically may be legal, it clearly shows the campaign has thought about how to maximize the solicitation. According to media reports, Federal Election Commission records show the Semlers contributing $5,000. As The East Hampton Press reported, in an e-mail exchange between Mr. Semler and a fireworks company official, Mr. Semler says he had to contribute $10,000 to the campaign. So, where is the other $5,000?
Did Mr. Semler make a contribution in another name? If so, that is a nominee contribution prohibited by state and federal law. Did Mr. Semler make a $5,000 cash contribution? If so, I believe, a whole bunch of people could go to jail. Or, is the Bishop campaign hiding the additional $5,000 and it will surface in a later F.E.C. filing, when he hopes voters will have forgotten about this scandal.
Mr. Bishop claims he donated the $5,000 contribution to charity out of an abundance of caution, whatever that means. But, what of the other $5,000, Tim? Will all the good-government groups on the East End demand that Mr. Bishop account for his actions?
This scandal is so meaty it could be made into a mini-series. But, it is no laughing matter. Newsday, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal have all reported on this scandal and demanded that the House Ethics Committee investigate Mr. Bishop and his campaign. Indeed, at the very least, this should happen.
In a more serious scenario, I believe, Mr. Bishop, his campaign, and perhaps the contributor, (depending on what happened to the other alleged $5,000) could face a criminal investigation.
It is time for Tim Bishop to go.
Needs More Help
August 16, 2012
So (self-made billionaire from insider trading, over-abuse of the armed forces when speaker to get on that huge plane to go wherever she wanted, regardless of taxpayer cost) Nancy Pelosi came to East Hampton to campaign for (“Make my daughter rich. I refuse to hold town hall meetings”) Tim Bishop.
He needs more help than that, as he is nothing but a puppet for the Obama administration, a true yes man. He voted for Obamacare, when Americans didn’t want it, stood by while President Obama outsourced manufacturing to foreign countries. A businessman generates billons vs. the president wasted trillions on campaign contributors, Solyndra, Ener 1, Beacon Power, Abound Solar, etc.; these companies are all bankrupt and all contributed to Mr. Obama’s campaign.
While Mr. Bishop voted for the health care, he didn’t pay attention, as the Congressional Budget Office states it will add $500 billion in taxes and adds slow growth of Medicare. Medicare as we know it, in 12 years or less, will end, and there will be no safety net.
Mr. Bishop continues to vote with the Obama administration even after three years of failed policies and dereliction of duties. Are the Democrats aware of the fact Mr. Obama has removed, or for a better word, raided Medicare to pay for the great health care plan? While Mr. Bishop stands quiet, America has a 45-percent increase in food stamps and 40 straight months of 8 percent unemployment.
Yes, Randy Altschuler wants to repeal Obamacare, as it needs overhauling. It has some good qualities, but filled with lies. You can keep your doctor, really. Two of my doctors have opted out of Medicare, and a surgeon I wanted for my surgery takes cash or credit card only, absolutely no health care insurance at all. Well, we passed it, now the results are coming in. Can’t get excited over a check for $128.37.
Wait until all the illegals get their emergency health care card; have you seen those yet? And worse, businesses will be laying off employees as they will not be able to afford the payments for their health care — more unemployment.
August 19, 2012
To The Star,
The shady money dealings of Tim Bishop and his familial entourage cannot be swept under the rug. Multiple newspapers have given it prominent mention, including the editorial pages of Newsday and The Daily News.
For those still not aware, Congressman Bishop was providing a favor via permit facilitation as his daughter, who receives healthy chunks of money from Mr. Bishop’s campaign, was soliciting hefty donations from the recipient of the potential favor.
These are facts, agreed upon and reported by all flavors of the media, that cannot be construed in any manner other the selling of favors by Tim Bishop.
When caught in this blatant exchange of campaign money for his public work, our petulant congressman blamed those who brought up the impropriety! Mr. Bishop’s mask dropped and he appeared vindictive and angry. He then sheepishly gave back the improperly donated money.
The world has become aware of this one incident. How many more have there been during Mr. Bishop’s tenure? Obviously we can ensure no more if we do the right thing and turn this schemer out of office this November.
August 21, 2012
It is really sad, but not surprising, that Tim Sullivan is parroting those misleading national sound bites by the Romney campaign, those that are trying to convince senior citizens that the Affordable Care Act will somehow cut their Medicare. Mr. Sullivan is, of course, a Republican activist who is opposing the reelection of our exemplary Democratic congressman, Tim Bishop.
It is Congressman Bishop’s Democratic party which gave Medicare and Medicare Part D to our senior citizens, whereas it is the leadership of the Republican Party which strongly opposes those benefits and whose candidates are pushing for the replacement of Medicare with a voucher system that would cap benefits, regardless of the individual needs of senior citizens.
The Affordable Care Act targets waste in the implementation of Medicare. It does not, repeat, does not cut senior citizens’ Medicare benefits. The $750 billion in savings from some elements of the program, in fact, support added benefits to consumers, including lower payments for prescription drugs, reduced co-pays for preventive services, and free annual check-ups. The same cuts, though not the benefits, appeared in Paul Ryan’s proposed health care bill.
On health, and as on other important matters of local and national concern, Tim Bishop has worked constantly and consistently to protect East End interests, meeting with East End senior citizens and others to keep us up on developments and listen to our views while legislation was pending. He has a proven positive record. We should re-elect Congressman Bishop to continue to represent us in the First Congressional District.
Gone too Far
August 19, 2012
We all know that Tim Bishop, our representative in Congress, claims to pride himself in helping people in his district solve their problems, but has he gone too far this time?
On Aug. 15 Politico ran an article about how Eric Semler of Southampton wanted to have fireworks at a party at his house. It seems that where the fireworks would be set up was in an ecologically sensitive wetland area that included a nesting area of piping plover birds, which local, state, and federal officials had to sign off on in order to hold the event. The officials raised objections and did not seem willing to give the required permits. This is where the article gets interesting.
Mr. Semler contacts Bishop for help. Then Bishop’s campaign contacts Mr. Semler. Mr. Semler makes a large contribution to Bishop’s campaign. Suddenly all permits are in place, and the party and fireworks are a go. Does this have the appearance of impropriety? Well, the Newsday, Aug. 17, editorial “Probe Campaign Donation to Rep. Bishop” thought so and so do I.
One has to ask, do we really want a person representing us in Washington who abuses his power? This year we have an opportunity to send a new face to Washington, Randy Altschuler.
MARY ELLA MOELLER
August 17, 2012
To the Editor,
Our soon-to-be-former Congressman Tim (Nepotism) Bishop finds himself embroiled in a potential fund-raising scandal, according to the online journal Politico.com. According to Politico, Mr. Bishop is accused of soliciting funds from a Southampton homeowner who needed approval for fireworks to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah. Readers of The Star can find the article called ‘Tim Bishop’s bar mitzvah episode could spell trouble” on Politico.
The homeowner, Eric Semler, a hedge fund investor, and the fireworks company, Grucci Fireworks, were having trouble getting permits due to piping plover nesting and other environmental issues. Mr. Semler, according to Politico, asked Rep. Tim (Nepotism) Bishop for help in getting permits, and Mr. Bishop got the permits.
On May 23, before the permits were issued, Mr. Semler was contacted by Molly Bishop, according to documents obtained by Politico, saying she had been contacted by her father’s finance chairman saying Mr. Semler was interested in donating to Nepotism Tim’s campaign. However, according to Politico, Mr. Semler sent an e-mail on May 29 to the Grucci Fireworks company saying that Mr. Bishop contacted him in the heat of battle for a $10,000 contribution and called it really gross. The House ethics manual states, “a solicitation for campaign or political contributions may not be linked with an official action taken or to be taken by a House Member or employee, and a Member may not accept any contribution that is linked with an action that the Member has taken or is being asked to take.”
So Nepotism Tim is in hot water. Don’t take my word for it, visit the Politico Web site. Really smart elected officials and candidates have a wall of separation between their campaign and their fund-raising committee, but our Representative Bishop believes in keeping it all in the family, even his fund-raising effort, and wow, what a family. What bad judgment by father and daughter.
Molly Bishop has complained that the attacks on her and her father are “anti-woman.” The ill-informed Ms. Bishop is not aware that Diana Weir is Mr. Altschuler’s campaign manager. No wonder Nepotism Tim has gone into hiding and no longer holds town hall meetings. Time to say bye-bye to the Bishop family.
August 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Even though Barack Obama won’t release any of his college or law school or health records, Dems are obsessed with getting Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns than the standard two years he’s already released. Why are they so obsessed with Mr. Romney’s finances? Because there are other concerns they don’t want you to think about.
Gas is more than double what it was when Mr. Obama took over in January of ’09 ($1.78 vs. almost $4 now). Food prices are way up; four years ago I could buy skirt steak (my favorite) at the Amagansett I.G.A. for $3.99 to $5.99 a pound. Last time I looked, it was $9.99 to $12.99. But, oddly enough, the government no longer includes food and fuel prices in their published inflation data.
The debt? George W. Bush’s largest deficit in any given year was $161 billion. That’s way too high. But Mr. Obama has racked up $1.3 to 1.6 trillion every year. To use one of the left’s favorite buzzwords, that’s not sustainable. And senior citizens should be aware that Mr. Obama is cutting over $700 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare.
Mr. Obama hands out billions of taxpayer dollars to “green” energy companies which then go belly-up, but only after their executives have pocketed lots of green for themselves — minus what they donate to the Obama campaign. This level of crony capitalism and failure is unprecedented and stands in stark contrast to Mr. Romney’s rescue of the 2002 Olympics and his performance at Bain Capital, where over 80 percent of the companies acquired were turned into successful enterprises — using private funds, not taxpayers’.
One reason Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to have time to actually do his job is his love for golf. He has so far played over a hundred rounds, also an unprecedented number. But he’s apparently no better at golf than he is at governing, so let’s not give him any more mulligans.
We have serious problems and we need serious, competent people in the White House.
Vote for Romney-Ryan.
Screwed the Bottom
August 18, 2012
To the Editor,
There is a scary similarity between the election of 1980 and this year’s. In 1980 President Carter ran on a vision of the future that included oil independence, guaranteeing worker benefits, wages, and security, a plan to protect and grow the manufacturing sector of the economy, demand as the engine of growth, and the maximization of the free market. Ronald Reagan talked about the greatness of America, small government, privatization, supply-side economics, and the market as an end-all.
Since 1980 we’ve had two financial crises, the dot-com collapse, the housing collapse, and the current recession/depression.
What Mr. Reagan initiated and, remarkably, Bill Clinton enabled was the restructuring of the economy from a manufacturing, labor-centric base to a financial profit-centric base. Profits became the only thing that mattered and the overall well-being of the country was secondary. Companies stopped buying into the American dream because they no longer needed American workers (just consumers). Employing U.S. workers and growing the economy on the demand from wages became passé. In truth, the introduction of massive credit mechanisms made U.S. workers almost irrelevant.
President Carter looked to the future, understood globalization, energy independence, and environmental consequences. He believed that U.S. security was more about protecting workers and families at home than from foreign threats. He advocated for the middle class, not the financial community.
President Reagan won, and the economy exploded in the short term. But the long-term effects engendered a restructuring of the basic principles of our historical economic development. Short-term profit goals required little planning: no need to develop for the future, no plan to deal with crises and changes that threatened the economy. Turning a quick profit meant speculation and risk, betting on trends and behavior, rather than creating products. Tangible became a dirty word.
Mr. Reagan sold us “wolf papers” (on the streets of New York it was like selling heroin with strychnine) and until the bubble burst it was terrific. Mr. Clinton bought Mr. Reagan’s dream, and deregulated, balanced the budget, screwed the bottom 20 percent.
So, today we are making a choice between the bimbo and the black guy. Neither is extraordinary, but who is? The bimbo can’t walk and chew gum without tripping. He has no idea why we are where we are. The black guy, racism aside, gets what the problem is. And while he hasn’t figured out how to fix it, he at least recognizes its existence. Since 1980 we have operated without a plan, moving mindlessly from crisis to crisis, never anticipating, never preparing. This much the black guy gets.
Anyone who wants to understand the past 30 years should read Jeff Faux’s “The Servant Economy.”
August 12, 2012
Recently we have had the Hamptons used for a fund-raiser for Mitt Romney at the Southampton estate of David Koch.
David Koch and his brother, Charles, after some serious family litigation, took over control of Koch Industries, the first or second-largest privately held corporation in America, whose earnings were $100 billion in 2010.
Now, the Koch brothers began a series of actions in the political arena, aimed at protecting their company, their immense wealth, and its accompanying power and influence.
In other words, having gotten theirs, they now seek to ensure that their wealthy status and personal views of what life in America should be take hold across the nation.
How do they ensure the success of their vision of total laissez faire comes to pass? Use what they have an abundance of — money — spend it to get politicians they can dominate and influence and away they go. Label it libertarian. Assist disgruntled Americans to carry the ball; call them the Tea Party. That’s it, folks, they and other personally motivated billionaires are set on buying America. Giving money to suppress opposition voters. Cover themselves with the blanket of the Constitution. Donate money to charities to cover their real aims and get people like Walter Donway and Louis Meisel to swallow their false aims and defend them.
Well, we’ll see if these arrogant, greedy individuals get their way.
August 10, 2012
To the Editor:
In the Aug. 9 Star, Richard Higer attacks views I expressed in two letters. One criticized the rudeness and use of insults for arguments of demonstrators who harassed guests at a fund-raising party for Mitt Romney held by David Koch at his Southampton house. The other replied to criticisms of that letter.
Readers of Mr. Higer’s letter curious about the merits of his arguments must read my letters. Mr. Higer, a local political commentator, specializes in getting his facts wrong, misrepresenting positions he attacks, and using innuendo instead of argument. You would not know, from Mr. Higer’s characterization of it, what I really said.
For example, he says that I claimed to be present at the party and adds (here comes innuendo), “while not stating what relationships he has with the Koch brothers.” I said nothing about being at the party. I was not invited, was not there, and never met or had anything to do with either Charles Koch or David Koch. The few things I mentioned about the demonstrators — for example, their sign calling guests “Koch whores” — were all reported in The Star.
I mentioned in my first letter that it seemed especially churlish for demonstrators to insult and harass guests of Mr. Koch at his own home, given that Mr. Koch has been so generous to medical, cultural, and educational causes in New York. It was a minor point. Mr. Higer devotes several paragraphs to it, however, noting that philanthropists have various motives for their giving.
But notice that he then switches the grounds of the argument to discuss “fat cat” Sheldon Adelson, and adds “bless his little, oily heart” — Mr. Higer specializes in this drumbeat of insults — he “has stated he will give $100 million to elect Mitt Romney.” He asserts that Mr. Adelson is under federal investigation for bribery and felonious conduct and might be trying to buy political protection.
Notice how quickly we are off the subject of Mr. Koch and what I said about him. Mr. Koch is not under investigation for anything; but Mr. Higer has used association to link his political contributions with Mr. Adelson’s possible motives for giving. This approach ignores my essential point about Mr. Koch in the earlier letters, which was that his opposition to Barack Obama is rooted in decades of principled support for education, research, and policy development to advance understanding of limited Constitutional government, free markets, and liberty. His actions in the 2012 campaign arise out of intellectual conviction. But the reader of Mr. Higer’s letter is left with the impression that perhaps Mr. Koch’s motive is to buy political protection.
Mr. Higer writes that I characterized the Kochs as “wonderful in every way,” which, of course, I didn’t. I said nothing about Charles Koch and made the point that David Koch has had a lifelong commitment to political principles and shown it in his philanthropy. Not knowing and never having met either of the Kochs, I know little beyond that, but only that was relevant to answering the argument that David Koch is trying to “buy the election.”
Mr. Higer writes that in defending Mr. Koch’s principles I somehow imply that gays, blacks, Hispanics, and a dozen other groups he lumps together with them “would be exempted from receiving” the benefits of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the rights of man that Thomas Jefferson named in the Declaration of Independence.
As stated by Mr. Higer, this is a non sequitur. If David Koch, or I, advocate the Enlightenment political philosophy of Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution—based on the conviction that the power and scope of government must be strictly limited to prevent the gradual usurpation of the rights and liberties of citizens — then we protect the rights of all citizens. It is this philosophy that made the new country, in just a century, the most productive and innovative — and the wealthiest — in the world, a beacon to people who fled every type of statist government to seek freedom in America.
Mr. Higer’s philosophy, though, is the opposite of this genuine liberalism (an emphasis on liberty against government domination); he is a statist. Thus, he sees strict and principled limits on government power as a hindrance to all the projects, programs, and interventions that he believes serve the interests of the groups he enumerates. The more powerful the state, in Mr. Higer’s philosophy, the more good it can do. We see this philosophy being played out, now, in much of Europe as governments bankrupted by promises of endless entitlements struggle to convince their citizens that the money just isn’t there. Meanwhile, regulations and interventions, for example, erecting barriers to starting new businesses have sapped productivity of the economy. This is the philosophy of the interventionist-welfare state moving toward its climax. In the most recent election in Greece, the communist party and a neo-fascist party made big gains in the polls. (For readers not viscerally statist, but who honestly wonder if only the welfare state can yield social justice, I recommend a brilliant little book by David Kelley, “A Life of One’s Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State.”
Mr. Higer concludes his argument, as he must, by trying to discredit the U.S. Constitution’s limits on government. He trots out the argument, beloved of statists, that much has changed in 200-plus years. After all, now we have paved highways, airplanes, and antibiotics. The freedoms guaranteed to Americans by their Constitution might have been all right for farmers, shopkeepers, and merchants, but things have become more complex. Now, only the dictates of government bureaucrats can ensure that things work.
To my mind, this always has been a transparently false, and foolish, argument. As the choices we face become more diverse and complex, with the relationships among individuals, businesses, and civic institutions now multiplied many-fold, the notion that only bureaucrats in Washington or the state capital can manage our lives becomes (to say the very least) unconvincing. In practice, we have historical or present examples of the Soviet Union, communist East Germany versus West Germany, and North Korea versus South Korea. Of course, Mr. Higer would protest, no doubt, that he does not wish to go that far. But the argument that governments must improve the lives of all of the groups that Mr. Higer mentions and must not be restrained by an outdated Constitution already has led much of Europe down the road that ends in collapse of the welfare state, stagnation of the economy, bankruptcy of governments — and profound pain for all the vulnerable groups championed by Mr. Higer. The United States, of course, is not far behind.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution created it to restrain government power in order to preserve freedom. They made brilliant innovations in government’s structure to frustrate those who would release government from its restraints so that it could favor certain factions, what we call, today, interest groups or pressure groups. Mr. Higer has offered his list of such deserving factions.
Finally, Mr. Higer again twists my words by attributing to me the idea that strict limits on government would cauterize from the body politic the many groups he mentions (single mothers, public employees, etc.). I did use the word “cauterize,” but argued that only strict limits on government’s power to subsidize, regulate, and grant favors, to “help” or hinder in thousands of ways with billions of dollars, would cauterize from our economy the ugly oligarchy of wealthy individuals and corporations that have achieved success not by ability and production in a free market, but by political pull in Washington and the state capital. It is cronyism, sometimes called “crony capitalism,” that must be cauterized by limiting government’s power.
Mr. Higer’s letter ends on the grace note that Mr. Romney will get “his ass kicked” in the November election.” I have no idea. He is far from my ideal candidate. No candidate today offers a political platform of consistent principles. There are no advocates of laissez faire capitalism, only of variations on the interventionist-welfare state. Some, like Mr. Higer, would advance headlong; others, like Mr. Romney, might want to slow things down (although the government takeover of the medical care system that he engineered as governor of Massachusetts suggests otherwise). We need a candidate who is a principled opponent of statism and can explain to generations shaped by statist academics the true nature, history, and moral imperative of the free society.