Letters to the Editor: 11.28.13

Our readers' comments

Profound Loss and Love
    Barnes Landing
    November 25, 2013

Dear David,
    It is five months since our 14-year-old daughter, Anna Mirabai, was run over and killed on her bike near CVS in East Hampton. Not a day goes by, and rarely an hour, when she is not present in our thoughts and feelings, feelings of profound loss and great love. At this time of Thanksgiving we give thanks for Anna’s brief but full life, for the light she brought into our lives.

    We give heartfelt thanks to the men who bodily lifted an S.U.V. to pull Anna out, to the E.M.T.s, the East Hampton Village police, and the helicopter crew that airlifted her to Stony Brook, to the medical team there who tried heroically to save her.

    We thank all of you in this remarkable community who surrounded and embraced us in the midst of a traumatic death. So many of you bore us up and helped us get through and produce a memorial service. You know who you are, and our gratitude overflows, to Robby, Jenni, Carolyn, Job, Jonathan, Eric, Irene, Carol, Sara, and so many others, to Ken Yardley, Guild Hall, East Hampton Business Service, Hampton Chutney, The Bayberry, Whitmore’s, and all Anna’s classmates and community from Springs School who still place flowers at the accident site.

    Anna was born at home in Springs and she loved her life here, school at Hampton Day and Springs, the friends and their families she grew up with, exploring the landscape with her camera, harvesting in our garden and at Quail Hill Farm, walking her dog, swimming in the bay. We give thanks to all who nurtured and inspired her.

    We have started a nonprofit to support the creative arts and wellness programs that Anna so enjoyed, beginning with local schools. Contributions and ideas are welcome at the Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation, P.O. Box 625, Amagansett 11930.

    With deep gratitude,

Support Highway Safety
    East Hampton
    November 23, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Even though 16 percent of auto fatalities are pedestrians or bicyclists, the new federal transportation law does not establish safety performance measures to cover pedestrians and bicyclists. As a result you will have more unsafe highway improvement projects built with no consideration for pedestrian and bicycle safety.

    An amendment to the federal transportation law, HR 3494, has been introduced in the House. HR 3494 requires highway safety performance measurements for bicyclists and pedestrians. It will reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed on our roadways by forcing better highway design. It currently has six sponsors and neither Tim Bishop nor either of our Senators has signed on as sponsors.

    Please consider supporting this amendment with your voice. Our representatives need to hear from the editorial board of this newspaper and from you, the voters of East Hampton. Call them and ask them to step forward.

    This winter many of the highways in East Hampton, including Pantigo Road from Amagansett to Egypt Lane, will be repaved. In my correspondence with Fred Thiele, our state representative, I have heard of nothing that will be done to make it safer to cross Route 27 in front of the East Hampton Post Office. No crosswalk, no bike lane, nothing. Perhaps they are keeping it a secret. Or more likely, perhaps they are planning on doing nothing to increase our safety.

    Putting safety performance measures into the transportation bill, as HR 3494 does, will make it impossible to obtain federal highway funds for highway projects without doing something right. Take the time to support this legislation. Call your congressperson. With very little effort, you can make a difference.


Making a Difference
    East Hampton
    November 21, 2013

    As the year comes to an end we take stock of ourselves, our friends, and our families. We at the Clamshell Foundation do the same and have begun making our grants for 2013. We’ve committed to three book scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Also, we are buying 100 turkeys for the outreach programs of nine different churches. This is all the result of donations and proceeds from the Sandcastle Contest and the Great Bonac Fireworks Show!

    If you are considering making year-end donations, please go to our website and give what you can. It’s all about making a difference in our community and the lives of people here on the East End. A heartfelt thank-you to all those who have made this possible!


Timely Response
    Lancaster, Pa.
    November 25, 2013

Dear Editor,
    This is a thank-you note to the East Hampton Fire Department for their timely response to a fire at our guest residence early Sunday morning. They arrived in minutes and had the situation quickly under control in a professional manner. The fire marshal was on the scene as well and the parties stayed to offer counsel and advice regarding the event. Their quick action prevented a disaster with life-threatening implications.

    Thank you, volunteers, for your sacrificial and dependable service to your community.


Latest and Best
    November 21, 2013

Dear David,
    I thought your readers would be interested to know that the photo that appeared on last week’s letters page was the first boat built by the East End Classic Boat Society and raffled off as a means of our supporting our organization.  That was 2005, three  years before we had our community boat shop. The Atkins Skiff was built at my house in Old Fireplace, out-of-doors. The skiff is currently owned by a Sag Harbor resident, Charles Clark, who goes for frequent rows about the harbor.

    Now, eight years later, and after building five other boats, we are ready to raffle off our latest and best boat to date. The Goeller dinghy is unique in that it has key elements from trees that grew right here on the East End, white oak for keel and steam-bent ribs, and sassafras for the seats. The trees were cut and hauled to the sawmill by Mica Marder, milled by Tom Matthews, and delivered to the boat shop at no cost to us. We are indebted to both for this outstanding donation. Another unique feature is that every plank and seat is book-matched, something that shows dramatically when viewing the stern seats.

    Your readers are invited to our community boat shop on Saturday, Dec, 7, from 3 to 5 for wine and cheese and the drawing of the winning raffle ticket. It will be a sad event for all of us who have spent the last 11 months putting the best of our boat-building skills to work. Whoever walks away with the boat on its own trailer will have one that can be rowed, sailed, or powered with a small outboard motor.

    East End Classic Boat Society

Scallops: 8,500 Taken
    November 25, 2013

To the Editor:
    I am writing to commend Christopher Walsh for his comprehensive work in last week’s article about the scallop sanctuary in Napeague Harbor (“Protected Scallop Oasis Destroyed‚” Nov. 21).  Thank you for taking the time to conduct so many interviews and write an articulate piece about the sanctuary project and the breach of its boundaries. Keep up the good work!

    As a follow-up on the issue I would like to state that we conducted a survival assessment dive of the sanctuary after the breach in order to truly quantify the losses. During this dive, I found less than one scallop per square meter inside the sanctuary area. Being generous, call it one scallop per square meter, in a 750-square-meter sanctuary — this comes to 750 scallops, compared to 12.3 scallops per square meter seen during the survival assessment on Oct. 31, which, extrapolated out to the total sanctuary area, comes to 9,225 scallops in the sanctuary before the harvest season opened.

    It should also be stated that this year’s final survival was the best we have seen since the establishment of this project in 2009. This means that approximately 8,500 scallops were taken from the sanctuary. Taken a little further, at 50 scallops per pound, shucked and sold for $20 a pound equals approximately $3,400 in final market value.

    Let’s hope that raised awareness about the scallop sanctuaries in town will make this kind of event a thing of the past. Thanks again to Chris Walsh for bringing attention to this issue and writing a comprehensive piece about it.

    Shellfish Hatchery Director

Feral Cat Poem #64
Billy Collins says it’s the poet’s job
to stand at the kitchen window in a bathrobe,
stirring tea and staring into the back yard.

I was doing that
when up out of the leaves under the Korean dogwood
exploded the Calico in full fall foliage, assuming her
Ninja Warrior attack stance.

Damn cat
near gave me a heart attack
tea upset down my front
me cursing her for the ambush and

worse: going away laughing, she flashes
me that wee heart of winter white butt fur,
tail erect as a middle finger.


The Missing List
    Sag Harbor
    November 22, 2013

Dear David and Helen,
    I would like to thank Helen, my co-singer at the Choral Society of the Hamptons, for taking the initiative to publish the story I told her about the Lipman-Wulf family connection with the art dealer Wolfgang Gurlitt (cousin of Hildebrand), which suddenly re-emerged within the realm of the shocking art-theft revelations. I must point out that it was my daughter, Ghilia, who first alerted me to the ever-increasing news. Recalling her father’s frequent talk of Wolfgang and his brother, Manfred Gurlitt — both of whom were early mentors in Peter’s artistic career and musical appreciation — Ghilia set me on the path in our efforts to reach out to various sources.

    I want to also thank Irene Silverman for turning the overwhelming material her interview made me pour out into a very well-written and cohesively presented article. I admired her patience. All the comments I heard are full of praise.

     Although I was not prepared and sufficiently groomed for a photographer, Durell Godfrey, whose lovely nature photographs I have always admired, by encompassing practically all our family pictures crowded on the piano, captured the wealth of stories I hope to still be  able to tell.

     Finally, I must make a few corrections, due to some of my factual errors:    1. My husband’s restitution correspondence with a Berlin lawyer was not destroyed in a fire, but in a basement flood.

    2. The suicide of my husband’s parents took place October 1941, not in 1942 as I thought.

    3. Our meeting with Gurlitt occurred in his Munich gallery in 1962, not in Linz 1961.

    Meanwhile, we continue searching for answers regarding the works believed lost, but we are first and foremost interested in getting the story out. Thus, we are combing through my husband’s correspondence, notes, and diaries housed at the Leo Baeck Institute, hoping for a hint at the missing list. After my request at the Berlin Restitution Ministry, they kindly sent copies of my husband’s applications, as required, focusing only on his own lost possessions, supported with an affidavit by none other than Wolfgang Gurlitt (and surely by others). Understandably, his parents’ collection, officially considered destroyed, as was their entire building on Keitstrasse 25, did not get into the picture. So I assume that he made this list perhaps just for himself and his brother, even after having written the whole thing off.

    Although we most likely cannot expect anything, it is certainly an intriguing story.

    BARBARA and

The Zweig Place
    Sag Harbor
    November 23, 2013

Hi, David Rattray,
    Thanks, East Hampton Star, for listing me as the deed owner to a sumptuous Georgica Beach property in your Nov. 14 editorial “Still Fighting for the Public’s Beaches.”

    In reality, I live quite modestly in Sag Harbor, without any water view. But I got to thinking, with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah approaching, if Mollie Zweig, the owner, decided she would like to be rid of the whole mess of rock revetment and shoring up her estate on Georgica Beach, and stop all the lawsuits that will be ongoing, messy, and costly, she could easily transfer the deed to me.

    I promise to give back the rocks and the sand to the trustees, the village, the town, the county. I would even rename the estate “the Zweig place,” and maybe with some funds from her foundation, I could find room enough in the house for just a few of the worthy causes who could use a little lift. That is, of course, after you all have made some cash donations. Here’s what I would do, if I ran the zoo, oops, I mean, the Zweig place.

    Set up a room to house the homeless of Maureen’s Haven, just one night a week, as do some of our local synagogues and churches. Even the homeless could do with a nice ocean night view.

    Set up a community outreach meeting room, for meetings, support groups, rehearsals, performances, and lectures for such groups as the Ellen Hermanson Breast Health Center Foundation, which offers psycho-social support to cancer patients and their families, as does Fighting Chance, which also offers restorative yoga classes. Yoga on a sun deck would be lovely, I think.

    Or, the Wellness Foundation,  which is trying to generate good health for us all, one vegetable at a time, by changing, educating, and retraining our eating habits; or the farmers from Eeco Farm who grow crops of fresh produce specifically designated for our local food pantries (pick one, pick them all, for your support), who could build a garden out back, hoop house included.

    And what about the kids? We would invite some of the schools that participate in the edible classroom (who grow food on school premises. There are some 27 schools on Long Island now part of this growing movement, pick one). They could set up under another hoop house out back, perhaps under the guidance of the Peconic Land Trust, which is at the epicenter of the local organic farm movement.

    Of course, if there’s any spare property left, beachside notwithstanding, it could be donated to the Nature Conservancy or the Group for the East End, which are stalwart protectors and champions of our environment.

    This same indoor community room could accommodate small performance groups that could use a little rehearsal space, or the groups like Naked Stage that give delicious play readings.

    Many other groups would easily welcome the space for poetry readings, and art and craft shows always need some exhibit space, when Ashawagh Hall is overbooked.

    We shouldn’t forget the seniors, scholars, and artists. Let’s set up an elderhostel with just a few residencies artists and writers of the younger set. Who doesn’t like a room with a view? But who could afford it? Just imagine, in our community room, listening to a scholarly lecture from a visitor from afar — who just might be able to help us figure out how to resolve immigration inequities, save the piping plover, kill the deer tick, or even find ways to help us restore our local beaches.

    So please feel free to support the campaign to transfer the deed to me. It would make it a very happy Thanksgiving and happy Hanukkah for many of us. Until then, I guess individual donations to your favorite agency, foundation, food pantry, etc., will have to do.


Les Leaf Suckers
    East Hampton
    November 24, 2013

To the Editor,
    Jack Graves, I am sure you meant to say “Ou sont les leaf suckers d’antan?”(Yesteryear.)

    I do enjoy your columns.


Get With the Plan
    November 24, 2013

Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I’m writing to express my strong objection to the letter I wrote in last week’s Star. With its offensive tone and questionable assertions, I find it hard to believe you would publish the letter. On the other hand, it’s not that hard to believe.

    There was no excuse for me to suggest that the departing members of the East Hampton Town Board should be making plans for their Big Lame Duck Museum in Flanders. That bit is yet another example of my self-congratulatory cleverness at the expense of others. I’m sorry and I want to thank those folks for their hard work and service to our community. It’s a terribly difficult job and I know they gave it their all. So, all the best to you.

    Worse than that, Mr. Rattray, was my claim that the majority of senior citizens in East Hampton are incontinent. Why didn’t The Star’s fact checkers look more closely at that assertion? Surely you didn’t assume that I would be privy to such information? For all I know, I’m the only East Hampton senior afflicted with the condition. And I’m only pretending to be incontinent at certain social functions! (Could you excuse me for just a few moments . . .)

    I should have focused exclusively on the real point of my letter: the offense that many of us have taken at recent attempts by the town board majority to entertain rezoning of lands that would result in increased population density and reduced open space.

    Adding insult to robbery, the blatant propagandizing of age discrimination in the name of “senior housing” is a backhanded slur against those of a certain generation in this community. You think we’re looking for assisted living on a farm on Montauk Highway? You think we should hit the “Applause” button because you’re proposing a state-of-the-art septic system for the compound? Raise two fingers if you’re with me!

    It’s low tide for this “555” plan, and all that it’s really about is plain for our community to see: a handful of people — the “developers” — want to line their pockets with the gains from what we assumed were safeguarded lands.

    Mark these words from the 2005 vision statement of the Town of East Hampton Comprehensive Plan: “The Town treasures and is committed to sustaining this rich array of natural and cultural resources, authentic sense of place, rural character, and the people who make it unique. East Hampton is and will continue to be a “green” community, a leader in protecting the environment, saving energy, and preserving open space.”

    Ironically, many of our extraordinary neighbors who labored for years on their own time to create and memorialize that comprehensive plan are now seniors — who must fight yet again to save that which they’d already preserved! Let’s all join them in that fight and do what we can to protect our shared “vision” and our open spaces. In the context of what is most beautiful about our town there will always be ample opportunity for developers to profit. They just need to get with the plan, not around it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me. . . .

A Terrible Precedent
    November 21, 2013

To the Editor:
    I am writing to express my concern regarding actions taken at the Nov. 7 town board meeting with respect to zoning creations and zoning changes in Amagansett.  As a resident of Amagansett I am concerned about the process as well as the proposals themselves.

    I am dismayed at the rush job that appears to be happening. We are talking about a major zoning creation as well as other zoning changes that will forever impact the population density, demand for public services such as E.M.S. and fire, vistas and atmosphere of Amagansett. Such zoning changes should not be rushed through without a more thorough review including proper due diligence, evaluation of whether the changes adhere to the Comprehensive Plan, public comment, Planning Department review, and a true exploration of the impact of such changes on the community.

    By rushing this through in just a few weeks, such exploration and due diligence will not occur and the losers will be the community, I fear. Furthermore, I must ask, why spend the time and money on a thoughtfully developed Comprehensive Plan if the town supervisors can, willy-nilly, decide that it isn’t their comprehensive plan and make unilateral decisions that go directly against the plan that the taxpayers paid for?

    In my opinion the process is flawed and sets a terrible precedent for poor decision-making into eternity. With all due respect, the town board is not representing me or my fellow Amagansett citizens if they capriciously ram through the major zoning changes required to allow the 555 Montauk Highway and Balasses House projects.

    In addition to the poor precedent set by the actions taken by the town board, I am also concerned that the 555 development will impact negatively the entire community of Amagansett on multiple fronts, including overcrowding of a town that is already very overcrowded in the summer, excess strains on public services such as E.M.S. and fire department and public safety. Last summer there were many near-fatal traffic accidents in Amagansett that I believe were due to what are overcrowded roads. An additional 79 units and their residents certainly won’t help this problem.

    Finally, the Balasses House zoning changes also threaten our quaint town. Downtown is special because of the limited commercial development and its historic areas. We need to preserve this, not expand commercial zoning so a 7-Eleven, for example, can set up shop.

    These zoning changes should be considered and evaluated in a reasonable time frame and not rushed through before the end of the year. If this happens, not only will a bad precedent be set but significant negative impact on the community could result. What is the big rush? Good decisions are never made when they are rushed.


A New Benchmark
    New York City
    November 22, 2013

Dear Editor,
    In an age when developers are increasingly and rightfully under pressure to minimize negative environmental impacts, my firm, Local Office Landscape and Urban Design, was hired to work with the development design team for 555 Montauk Highway to create an enduring place that has a net positive environmental impact.

    The community’s concern over the future of this site is well founded. It is indeed a very special parcel, located geologically at the nexus of two prehistoric habitats, where the coastal forests of Long Island meet the glacial moraine that blanketed the upper extents of North America during the last Ice Age. This site is part of the band of grasslands that stitch together these two distinct habitats for flora and fauna, and as such the designers prioritized habitat creation and connectivity.

    The proposed reforested hedgerows at the community’s perimeter create a wooded connection between the two longstanding native forests. In this way the site provides a habitat corridor, expanding the protected terrain for birds and wildlife. The forestation strategy also improves the diversity of the regional landscape, so the plant community is better able to adapt and thrive after catastrophic disturbances such as a hurricane.

    The site is also particularly important to regionwide coastal health. Eutrophication, or nutrient loading from runoff, fertilizers, and wastewater has a critical impact on Long Island’s coastal ecology, deteriorating water quality, and ecosystem health, causing algal blooms, de-oxygenation, and ultimately habitat death, which can be seen as red tides. Additionally, the area’s porous soils do little to filter pollutants to the groundwater, so preventing pollution is critical to protecting the aquifer, our underground water supply.

    In the proposed development for 555 Montauk Highway, water is conserved, harvested, and reused in the community. The wastewater from buildings is collected, cleaned and stored underground. Rainwater runoff is also collected from rooftops, streets, and yards throughout the community and added to the underground storage tanks. These tanks provide the irrigation for lawns, plantings, and the town greens. By capturing and treating runoff and wastewater on site and reusing it for irrigation, this water is filtered multiple times before it flows back into the aquifer.

    Another objective of the development is “net zero” energy use; that is, the community is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes. To achieve net zero demand, a primary design goal is to minimize energy use for heating in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. The site is planned so that the cold winter winds from the north are buffered by the thick reforested perimeter hedgerow, while the streets and open spaces funnel cool summer breezes from the sea.

    The buildings are engineered with solar energy systems to cleanly and independently produce all of the electricity that the community requires. Each building is also equipped with a solar-thermal system to generate hot water. Communitywide, the heat from wastewater, ponds, and the swimming pool is harnessed to improve the efficiency of a large-scale geothermal system that taps into the natural warmth of groundwater to provide additional heating.

    What makes the proposed development at 555 Montauk Highway unique in all of Long Island, and in some regards in all of North America, are the initiatives to look beyond sustainability and create resiliency — that is to say, to create an environment that can respond and adapt with the cultural and natural systems around it so that over time it changes with, and improves upon, its surroundings.

    At the communitywide scale, the potential for severe weather to disrupt the power supply is addressed through a first-of-its-kind, bi-directional solar electric system. Solar cells embedded in the roof tiles provide electricity to each building, as well as to hybrid-electric automobile charging stations, with excess power being delivered back to the local utility company.

    In the event of a power outage, garage charging stations can be reversed: the stored battery power from the cars can be used to power up circuits within the buildings. This development, unlike any other that has ever been built in the United States, uses this new technology which will allow it to function as a communitywide energy hub in the event of a large-scale outage like we saw last year in the aftermath of Sandy.

    We’ve designed the community at 555 Montauk Highway to address the cultural resilience of Long Island, as well. Multiuse paths for electric carts, biking, and walking can encourage a healthy lifestyle with connections to the nearby train station, grocery store, and other amenities. This autonomous mobility network can also reduce dependence on cars.

    At the detailed scale, every material chosen for the project provides an opportunity to support the local crafts and economy. For example, the buildings make use of local locust lumber, an abundant, native resource with natural rot resistance that ensures its durability without the need for toxic finishing and maintenance chemicals. Using locust wood boosts local forestry and sustains the oldest working sawmill on the Island, which is uniquely equipped to process this very hard wood.

    We see the 555 Montauk Highway community as a new benchmark for development on eastern Long Island: A demonstration that current renewable technologies can be incorporated seamlessly within a design that embraces local traditions and culture.


Unable to Debate
    November 20, 2013

Dear David,
    Last night I sat with a group of Amagansett and East Hampton neighbors, mostly between 50 and the hereafter, to become informed about the proposed 555 project.

    The developers would like a zoning change. If they can get a “senior housing overlay,” they can build a denser project, which could be replicated townwide.

    The young, snappish representative of the 555 project made an impassioned argument for its septic system but was unable to debate a need for an upscale senior citizens-housing condo complex. Condos pay less tax than other properties; of course town services will cost more.

    Irreplaceable farmland will be lost. As the zoning stands now, 70 percent of the farmland is protected.

    Aesthetically, if what is being currently built is any guide, it will look awful. (Fake windmills are planned.)

    If the lame-duck town board majority votes for this plan that the developers want, I suggest that it include a jail and that its first occupants include anyone who cares so little for their constituents.

    All good things,

Airport Noise Problem
    East Hampton
    November 24, 2013

To the Editor:
    The airport propagandists are at it again in your Nov. 21 letters to the editor column.

    One of them starts by recounting his amazement that “certain individuals seem to think that if you repeat the same line long enough and loud enough, misinformation can be made into fact.”

    He must be looking in the mirror because he goes on to restate again the airport propagandists’  misinformation that East HamptonTown’s “ability to control noise at the airport remains the same, with or without F.A.A. grants.” Of course, he correctly states what everyone agrees to, that, irrespective of funding, the legal standard for any future proposed East Hampton restriction on airport noise is that it must be reasonable, nonarbitrary, and nondiscriminatory.

     But the trick in his misinformation is that he omits the key issue: who decides whether the town’s airport noise restrictions are reasonable, nonarbitrary, and nondiscriminatory.

    If the town takes the F.A.A. subsidies, it contracts to let the F.A.A. decide. If the town is free from such contract terms (“grant assurances”), then the town decides what is reasonable, nonarbitrary, and nondiscriminatory. If anybody should sue the town to challenge the decision, a federal court would ultimately decide the issue.

    Even the town’s aviation lawyer says so.

    As recently as Oct. 13 this year, that lawyer, Peter Kirsch, advised the town in writing, “[W]hether the decision-maker is the town or is the F.A.A. would make a significant difference in the event of a court challenge.” That is the case, advised Mr. Kirsch, because, in the event of a challenge to an East Hampton-imposed restriction, “a court would apply the same standard of review and would uphold the decision unless it were arbitrary and capricious — a highly deferential review.”

    On the other hand, if the town is bound by an F.A.A. funding contract and the F.A.A. decides against the town’s proposed restriction, as it has done in every other known case (approximately 18 of them), the town would have to challenge the F.A.A. decision in federal court and the court’s “highly deferential review” would favor the F.A.A. That is, the town would have to prove the F.A.A. to be arbitrary and capricious. A municipal airport operator has won such a case against the F.A.A. only once in all of the known instances, but at a litigation cost of many millions of dollars.

    On Dec. 31, 2014, 13 months from now, East Hampton’s current F.A.A. funding contract provisions relating to airport noise control will expire. Taking any new F.A.A. money would renew those provisions for another 20 years.

    In other words, after Dec. 31 next year, absent new F.A.A. funding, East Hampton will be free to decide what airport noise restrictions are reasonable, non-arbitrary, and nondiscriminatory, subject only to a “highly deferential review” by the federal courts. And, in the leading case without F.A.A. funding, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which has jurisdiction over East Hampton, has upheld nighttime and evening curfews, numerical limits on numbers of flights, and the exclusion of the noisiest aircraft.

    If the town takes new F.A.A. money, it will virtually eliminate its chance to solve the airport noise problem for 20 more years.

    It is time for the airport propagandists to stop repeating their misinformation.


Smart Lighting Law
    November 25, 2013

Dear David,
    At the last town board work session in Montauk, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Margaret Turner, the East Hampton Business Alliance lobbyist, loudly disagreed with town board members and made at least 10 misstatements about their draft replacement for the current 2006 lighting code.

    The 2006 Smart Lighting Law only needs amendments per the recommendation of the town Planning Department, not repealed per the recommendation of Councilwoman Quigley’s “lighting committee.” The replacement law as drafted by Councilwoman Quigley’s unauthorized committee is rife with technical errors; it would be impossible to comply with, and it is not appropriate for East Hampton Town. (Or any other town, for that matter. It is the worst lighting law that I have ever read.)

    Councilman Dominick Stanzione had said that he’s in favor of the amendments (as outlined below), and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson stated at the last work session that this issue should be addressed in the new administration and not by the current lame-duck board.

    1. Update allowances for solid-state (L.E.D.) technologies.
    2. Allow the residential definition for motel doorway lighting.
    3. Allow extensions for those commercial properties that require longer time to comply with the sunset period.
    4. Adjust the definitions to allow for fixtures that meet the new I.E.S. designation.
    5. Eliminate approvals by the planning board for new lighting plans.
    6. Eliminate triggering full site plan reviews for new lighting.
    7. Allow a free administrative permit for new commercial lighting.
    8. Provide a user guide‚ in plain language, for those who require it.

    Dark Sky Society

Vile and Immoral
    Loveland, Ohio
    November 19, 2013

To the Editor:
    As a yearly visitor to your beautiful town, I felt compelled to write, as I see that Alec Baldwin is once again under siege by the photographers. Lately, I have been sickened by the continued  harassment of Mr. Baldwin and his family by the press. Photographers  yell obscenities at Mr. Baldwin and other public figures, anything for a good picture, correct? Vile and immoral, but that’s between you and your God. However, and this is where I strongly feel that laws need to be changed, if a public figure is with a child under 18, no one has the right to harass them, take their pictures, yell anything to them, follow them in vehicles, period.

    Mr. Baldwin and other public figures are well aware of the price of stardom and to a certain degree, I believe they expect to have cameras documenting their every move. Their children did not give up their right to privacy, and I believe it is a safety issue, as well as a privacy issue.

    If a public figure wants to release a picture of their child or make a donation to a charity, etc., that is within their rights as parents. No photographer  should have the right to take a picture of someone, with the  purpose of making money off that picture, if that person is a minor. The laws need to be changed.

    I do not subscribe, nor will I subscribe to the rags that purchase said pictures, and frankly I am ill at ease seeing film of photographers yelling at young Suri Cruise. It truly is appalling. I would like to remind the photographers that they are adults.

    Politics aside, any public figure has the right to privacy for their children, safety is the issue at stake. I can assure you, had someone tried to take a picture of my child (he is 37 now), I would have made Alec Baldwin look like Mother Teresa.   

    Being a public figure does mean a certain loss of privacy, but why does this extend to minor children? The laws need to change to protect innocent children.


Ideology and Delusion
    East Hampton
    November 24, 2013

To the Editor:
    A friend asked why my language toward the Tea Party was so demeaning and disrespectful. A fair question deserving of some thought. It reminded me of a conversation with my father-in-law when I first moved to Paris in 1972. He had been a supporter of the Communist Party and believed in the ideals of Marx, as did many French workers, until confronted with the reality of Stalinism. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, word began to filter out of Russia about the brutality and repression of the Stalin era. The gulags, the concentration camps, the deaths of millions of Russian citizens. Faith in the Soviet Union took a huge hit (his included), and repudiation of communism as an alternate system was widespread.

    Except for the Communist Party in France.

    The Tea Party posed a less radical (than communism versus capitalism) yet intriguing possibility when it burst on the political scene after the 2010 elections. It appeared as a populist uprising against the corrupt nature of our two-party political establishment and the inefficiencies and excesses of government. Redressing the collapse of the middle class, corporate exceptionalism, the deficit, and our archaic tax code. The fact that it was 99 percent white and very Southern seemed less a factor than the energy and direction it was taking.

    Its idealism and willingness to take on the Republican establishment gave us hope that the entrenched politicians might be obligated to deal with real issues. With no left-wing or progressive movements (except for Occupy several years later) functioning, the Tea Party was the only new show in town.

    Yet it rapidly morphed into a group of deficit-obsessed obstructionists. Hating Obama, health care, women’s rights. Elevating Paul Ryan’s economic philosophy (sophomoric by any rational measure) to almost biblical stature. Sold its soul to corporate financiers. Bought into the old-boy gerrymandering process that caused much of our political stagnation.

    Refusing to recognize the economic transformation of the country and the collapse of the middle class. Rigid in its ideology when ideology and delusion have become inseparable. Willing to sacrifice the well-being of millions to achieve its goals of reducing the deficit. Willing to close down the government with no alternative programs to counterbalance the downside.

    It behaved like a new wonder drug that cured insomnia but caused liver failure, constipation, and erectile dysfunction.  But who reads the fine print?
    So, is the Tea Party viler and more repulsive then the Republicans and the Democrats? No, but I have no expectations of the other two. They hold no promise for a different approach to governing, little chance that they will ever relinquish the spoils of political power. No chance that they will lead us out of our current mess without enormous casualties.

    The flame of the Tea Party burned brightly before it went out. Before it became a group of political hacks. Pulling their puds, doing anything they can to get re-elected. Becoming just like everyone else while pretending to be something different.

    Disappointed, pissed off, sad that what seemed like something interesting and promising didn’t make it.


A Great Job
    November 25, 2013

To the Editor:
    The Iranian deal, a good deal. At worst, we lose six months — at the worst. Big deal. However, if it does not work out per promises and expectations, we  and the world will know exactly where we and the Iranians stand on the issue. Exactly.

    Certainly very worthwhile.

    In either case’s result, the road will be much clearer for the next move. Drastically.

    So what is all the excitement about?

    Kerry, you did a great job. Question: What are your plans for 2016?