Letters to the Editor: 12.12.13

Our readers' comments

Ned’s Still With Us
    December 6, 2013

Dear Editor:
    I was delighted to see the town’s nature preserve committee is trying to preserve the remains and honor of “Ned, Faithful negro manservant of Capt. Jeremiah Osborn.”
    Back in 2009, the nature preserve committee was tasked with finding and documenting every known cemetery and gravesite in East Hampton Town. They did a tremendous job and we have Rick Whalen and especially Eileen Roaman to thank for it.
    The final report was then accepted as an official document of the Town of East Hampton so that when we’re all where Ned is now, we’ll still know where our forebears rest.
    From the beginning, the committee was concerned about Ned. Perhaps he was the base of a driveway, or lost to a house foundation. Thank God Ned’s still with us. He deserves the best we can give him.
    We may never know his true history. Local lore says he was once a slave, but there’s no doubt Capt. Osborn respected and perhaps loved Ned.
    Ned shouldn’t be reburied in a public place to be gawked at as a tourist attraction and his grave pissed on by their labradoodles. Ned should be reinterred in a place of honor. If we can find Capt. Osborn, he should have Ned at his side.
    None of us know Ned today and even if none of us are part of his blood he is our ancestor.


She Led by Example
    December 5, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I just returned to school after attending the memorial service for Ophelia Harris (Jan. 11, 1922-Nov. 29, 2013). I wanted to pay tribute to a teacher who impacted hundreds of students in the Springs community.
    She taught English (now known as Language Arts) to seventh and eighth graders, an age group that can try the patience of the most even of temperaments. Never once did I hear her raise her voice or even show displeasure. Her style was positive and reinforcing. She led by example and reminded us that she saw through our antics and had confidence in our abilities. Her manners, kindness, and generosity are the qualities I most associate with her. She maintained friendships with her students long after they graduated.
    Now a teacher myself for many years, I am even more amazed by her. She has inspired me, as well as many others who had the great fortune of knowing her.

    Springs School teacher

Lee Hayes, Pioneer
    East Hampton
    December 9, 2013

Dear David,
    Lee Hayes, a good, gracious, and strong man and a fellow veteran of World War II, was a pioneer on at least two fronts — as a Tuskegee Airman in the war and as one of the first African Americans to serve on the East Hampton Town Democratic Party committee. I am sad he is no longer with us.


Forty-Seven Dinners
    East Hampton
    December 2, 2013

Dear Mr. Rattray
    On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013, the Easy Hampton Presbyterian Church  once again made available delicious Thanksgiving dinners for clients of East Hampton Meals on Wheels, and their family members or caregivers, who were unable to attend the dinner at the church itself. In fact, Meals on Wheels received 47 dinners for delivery this year!
    This service, which has been diligently performed by this church for many years, filled a tremendous need in our community, because the clients who received these meals were homebound and unable to cook a Thanksgiving meal for themselves or for their guests.
    We heartily thank the faithful ladies and gentlemen who gave enormously of their time and energy to make Thanksgiving Day pleasurable for many lonely individuals.
    We are indeed fortunate to live in a community in which so many individuals and groups take such special care of their neighbors.

    Very truly yours,
    Meals on Wheels

Students and Teachers
    East Hampton
    December 9, 2013

Dear David,
    There are times when one becomes proud of their profession, which includes not only the people they work with but the students they work for as well. Last week was just such a week for me as a teacher at the East Hampton Middle School.
    The student association, with assistance of their homeroom teachers, collected over 1,100 nonperishable food items. The eighth graders put together 16 meals for families in the district under the guidance of the Bonac on Board faculty members.
    The East Hampton Teachers Association donated over $1,600 to the local food pantries, and to top the week off, the music department led the chorus, band, and orchestra in our annual seventh and eighth-grade holiday concert. The students’ performances that night made their family, friends, and school community proud and got us all in the holiday spirit.
    We are thankful for what this community means to us and we wish everyone a warm, peaceful, and safe holiday.

    E.H.M.S. faculty member

People and Deer
    East Hampton
    December 7, 2013

To the Editor:
    One of my favorite images of life in East Hampton is our returning early on a Christmas morning from midnight Mass and seeing a family of deer on our front lawn! It was absolutely the perfect picture at the perfect time.
    One of our more disturbing conversations in East Hampton was that of my wife talking with six friends on the porch of our house, and six of the seven people had suffered from Lyme disease. How horrible!
    Life is choices. When weighing the beauty of the deer around us against the dangers to human beings from Lyme disease, vehicle collision, lost jobs in the landscaping business, etc., I honestly can’t see any debate on the statement: People are more important than deer.


No Habitat for Deer
    December 8, 2013

Dear David,
    Not mentioned in last week’s article on page 1 concerning the deer reduction plan is the fact that we were here first.
    I have in my home a poster sold by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk showing a panoramic photo of Montauk taken in 1957. It contains a few large trees and small homes, many low areas of brush, and a lot of sand.
    There is no habitat suitable for deer!


Nobody Will Know
    December 6, 2013

Dear David,
    Oh yummy!
    Night stalkers with bright lights and silencers slaughtering deer in our backyards while we sleep. Nourishment for the poor! May I order up a few head for the Springs Church food pantry?
    And while we are at it, what about that other overpopulation problem — people? Maybe a few choice drone strikes of an evening. Nobody will ever know. Push a button in North Dakota.
    A few head of those, too.


Feral Cat Poem #66
east end outdoor cats
rarely become road-kill

hence my gasp to find
a feline corpse resting
on the shoulder by my mailbox

the driver who did it was upset,
said the village was too bright
at night to see the stars

so she’d headed out to Louse Point
but the unlit roads were so dark

she couldn’t see a living thing.


In Our Best Interest
    December 7, 2013

To the Editor:
    Regarding the 555 project, shame on this lame-duck board for attempting to rush through zoning changes that will permanently affect our town on their last day. Changes of this magnitude should be considered, slowly, with a broad consensus from the citizens of Amagansett. These proposals should be weighed by all interested parties and should align with the town’s comprehensive plan.
    It is our town, not the board’s, not the developer’s, not the special interests’, and we should decide as a town what is in our own best interest. We elect the board to do our work, and when they act in this cynical, self-interested manner, we are obligated to stop them.
    It is ironic to me that conservatism is about advocating for change to happen slowly; to “conserve” what we have against changes that cannot be undone. The only thing being conserved with this proposal is this board using political clout in the service of those that will profit from this project, even ones from out of state.
    I hope this board retires quietly and allows the next board to deliberately consider whether this proposal has merit.


Bad Governance
    East Hampton
    December 5, 2013

Dear David,     
    The East Hampton Group for Good Government is a nonpartisan group which encourages civil and respectful discourse and education on important policy issues.
    Many issues face the town and, at the town board’s meeting on Dec. 19, a resolution creating a new senior citizens overlay district is on the calendar. In and of itself, the creation of a senior citizens overlay district is not bad governance; it may actually be good public policy. Whether this proposal is good public policy remains to be determined and that can only happen when there is a full and complete hearing eliciting testimony from the public and planning experts to determine the need and the general applicability for such a district.
    But it is bad governance to schedule a public hearing on the creation of a new zoning district and then, at the same meeting, follow that hearing with one to apply that new zoning to a particular parcel, known as 555‚ the three Amagansett parcels purchased by Putnam Amagansett Farm Holdings LLL. It gives the appearance that the administration is not interested in permitting public input or seeking expert advice to consider a new public policy in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. And that is not what any administration that prides itself on good governance wants to achieve.
    Such scheduling is further complicated by the legal question of whether a new zoning classification, if adopted by the board on the 19th, becomes effective immediately. If further action with the state is needed before effectiveness, then applying it to 555 on the 19th may not be legal. The Wilkinson administration, which has been recognized by the state for its efforts to achieve financial stability and decrease needless expenses, should not saddle the town with unnecessary legal fees to fight over such an issue.
    To summarize, decouple these resolutions. Open the public hearing on the 19th on the resolution for the need and scope of a senior citizens overlay district. Begin to make a record of public comments and expert testimony and opinions on such a new district. When that is complete, then, and only then, should the town board make a determination on a new district. In the interim, the 555 resolution should be tabled as premature.
    Respectfully, good governance does not permit a complete record on two complex resolutions to be made at a single public hearing.
    If it could help the process, the Group for Good Government could be asked to hold a public forum on this issue. Consideration could be given to demographic needs, the economics of development, and the full range of community values and environmental issues. Knowledgeable advocates on all sides could present their data and arguments with an opportunity for civil response and counterpoints. Data on demographic changes, an aging population, affordable housing, available prime agricultural land, the comprehensive plan, senior housing needs, and the parcels that could accommodate such senior housing could be examined against the full range of environmental and community issues.
    The goal would be to try to seek a consensus on reconciling environmental protection with smart development and perhaps broaden the range of choices for the town board.
    Such a forum would take up the challenge that 555 gave us in its recent full-page ad: to “create a workable forum for discussing how the town addresses difficult issues.”


Down the Trail
    December 4, 2013

To the Editor:
    And so, after saving the town from disaster, the three amigos prepare to move on down the trail, leaving behind them one last steaming turd of an idea —the 555 project in Amagansett. Here’s their plan: Spot-zone 24 acres of beautiful farmland so out-of-town developers can build a cookie-cutter community for well-off elderly folks. In a community like Amagansett, which has a rich variety of home styles that reflect its long history, this Levittown for the later years is totally inappropriate.
    Landslide Bill and his gang are considering this major change in our lives on Dec. 19, their last meeting as the so-called majority‚ perhaps so that we will remember them as we move along Route 27.
    Sell the town docks? No problem. Music festivals in August? Sure. Saloon code violations? Drink up! Hipster’s pissing on your lawn? Man up, we’re a vacation community.
    Bad ideas? It seems they’ve had a million of ’em.


And Now This
    December 6, 2013

Dear David,
    The new owners of the 555 Montauk Highway project in Amagansett would like a zoning change. They would like to build an affluent citizen condo project to replace allowed affordable housing, limited commercial, three-acre parcels, and farmland.
    The condo plan has met with resistance. The Suffolk County Planning Commission has told them that it would take four out of five East Hampton Town Board votes to proceed. The local planning board is skeptical. East Hampton Town residents loathe the idea — and now this!
    The owners of 555 Montauk Highway bought full-page ads in local papers in which they solicited readers to “Be Progressive,” “Know the Facts,” “Respond Intelligently.” They included the following copy:
    “The population density of the proposed project is less than the current zoning for the property. Statistically the 42 [affordable] units would have 4-5 people per unit. The senior housing project would have less than 2 people per unit.”
    Is it “progressive” to displace four or five working people with one old rich one?
    I am trying to “respond intelligently.” But I’m so pissed off it’s really hard.

    All good things,

555: A Microcosm
    East Hampton
    December 9, 2013

Dear David:
    The public outcry against the 555 condominium development for wealthy
seniors on pristine farmland in Amagansett is huge. The voices in opposition come from all corners of our community: Republicans and Democrats, Amagansetites and East Hamptonites, and the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
    Only the developer and his hired experts are in favor of the development. And then there is the outgoing Republican majority on the town board, which
has set their final meeting on Dec. 19 for approving a rezoning to allow for the development. Such an action would epitomize prior short-term thinking consistent with their pro-business record; however, this one would be of much greater significance given its permanence.
    If this development were to come to reality it would be a monument to the
rift between the private interests of business for profit (of the very few) and those of the public: preservation of the precious rural nature of East Hampton, limitation of overcrowding from vehicular traffic and increase of demands for public services, and protection of the underground aquifer which supplies our drinking water, to name a few.
    I see what is happening as a microcosm for what is going on in America today: the preference of the interests of the so-called one-percenters over the rest of us. The last generation has seen a huge shift in favor of the former over the latter. Whether the consequences are the obliteration of a well-thought-out plan for land use, or a vibrant middle class and the safety net for the poor, the result is an assault on what I believe is the common good.
    I hope that the current Republican majority listens, reverses course, and declines to thumb its nose at the town’s comprehensive land-use plan and the majority of the people of East Hampton.


Lighting: A Thin Line
    East Hampton
    December 7, 2013

Dear David,
    I wish to response to Susan Harder’s Nov. 28 letter.
    In all of her letters regarding my involvement in the lighting committee, which has been engaged in writing a new law (more on that later), Ms. Harder has referred to me as an advocate and a lobbyist for business, implying it was a bad thing. I am very proud to wear the hat of the executive director of the East Hampton Business Alliance. I am thankful that such an organization exists that truly is concerned about keeping jobs here and fights for the ability to make a living. The East Hampton Business Alliance is the only organization with this as their mission. We know the importance a healthy and vibrant business community is to the lifeline of this and any town. It is they who supply the donations, auction, and raffle prizes for all of the fund-raising events. It is they who donate money to and sponsor the Little Leagues, athletic races, Girl Scouts troops, school trips, and events.
    The East Hampton Business Alliance acts as the eyes, ears, and voice for the business community. We let the business voices be heard in government. We are the reminder, giving input when legislation is being considered and when laws are amended, for a better, fairer, and balanced outcome. Without this input government operates in a vacuum. The business alliance believes strongly in protecting our environment, because we know our environment is the economic engine of our beautiful town.
    As such, we have worked hard on righting the injustices in the smart lighting law. We all agree we need to protect our night sky; no one wants blinding glare on our roads or lights shinning in our neighbors’ windows. We all need to be more sensitive to our environment, and energy usage and waste.
    The lighting committee, eight local business people along with a town attorney and Mr. Michels, town harbormaster, has worked diligently for 20-plus months creating a fair, easy to understand and implement lighting law. We feel the current smart lighting law, which Ms. Harder co-authored, was not comprehensible; it is expensive for businesses to implement (once they could get it translated); had double standards — one for homeowners and one for business — and was not sufficient lighting, once implemented in several locations.
    I don’t know about your readers, David, but I do know my eyesight is not what it used to be. Our population is getting older, and eyesight diminishes with age and needs the help of proper lighting. With the litigious society we live in, the town’s law, as written, forces businesses to walk a thin line between compliance and safety.


    East Hampton
    December 7, 2013

Dear David,
    I am volunteering for the job advertised in your editorial of Dec. 5 as people’s advocate. Here goes.
    Citizens, read every book that you can get your hands on concerning our founding documents, including the Federalist Papers, the anti-Federalist papers, ratification, John Locke, Mr. Madison’s notes on the federal convention, our constitution’s original meaning and intent. It is our only weapon. In a reference to local history, read Judge Able Upshur’s commentaries on the Constitution at constitution.org/ups/upshur .htm.
    Judge Upshur was killed, along with New York State Senator David Gardiner, in the breach explosion of the “peacemaker” gun on Feb. 28, 1844. It is too bad Judge Upshur’s essay was not published until after the other Republican folly — the Civil War.
    Now to the original purpose of my letter.
    In his essays on radical Republican reconstruction‚ the Columbia political science professor William A. Dunning coined the entirely appropriate word to describe what we now incorrectly refer to as Progressives, Liberals, and Mercedes Marxists, (a k a citidiots). Such seems to be the case with two of this week’s letter-writers, Robert Barron and Susan G. (Dark Skies) Harder.
    The correct term Professor Dunning coined was “emotionalists.” It fits perfectly, since these people are neither progressive nor liberal in any sense. Our founding fathers were classical Liberals or Libertarians, and actually progressive thinkers. Any attempt to place any of these people (including Mr. Baldwin) anywhere near that group is a profound insult to their work, genius, and memory.
    Has anybody else noticed that as soon as emotionalism enters the picture common sense leaves? (Pun intended.) The hysterically funny thing is that Professor Dunning was referring to the radical Republican Party and their failed plan of reconstruction‚ which was merely the un-revolution. Try reading “The Tragic Era” by Claude Bowers, since it is apparent to me that we seem to be in another one.
    As to Robert Barron’s letter directly, are we really to believe that the payment of $1 million and the balance of a mortgage will purchase Mr. Baldwin’s absolution or respect? Who died and made you pope?
    But more to the point‚ what do you think was the basis of radical Republicanism but crony capitalism? It was the ability of Thomas C. Durant and other robber barons with familiar names to use Henry Clay’s “American system” to steal the general government lands known as the territories and give it to the railroads as repayment of their election? (Why do you suppose the radical left still loves the taxpayer-funded railroad boondoggle, a k a Credit Mobilier scandal. Ring any bells?)
    One of the emotionalists’ repeating themes is about fairness. What are other rampaging bullies and child abusers (calling your child a rude and thoughtless pig in public when you are a very public person qualifies, in my book) who are financially less fortunate than Mr. Baldwin to do?
    It is so unfair.

    P.S. Richard Higer might be a good spokesman for Mr. Barron’s cause if his vocabulary wasn’t so limited to Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bush, Iraq, Bush, etc., repeated ad nausea.

Aunt Oralee
    December 9, 2013

Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I write with glad tidings: This letter is not about me. It’s about Aunt Oralee, who lives in my hometown of Rochester. I hadn’t spoken with her in a long, long time and thought I should call. It was Thanksgiving, after all.
    Aunt Oralee is 92. At 91 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery to remove it. The operation was successful, but she was told she would need chemotherapy as a follow-up to make sure that the cancer would not return. Oralee told them, “I’m way too old to start chemotherapy; how long have I got to live?” She was told she would likely have 6 to 12 months. I said, “Jesus, Oralee. Then what?”
    “Well, I thought I better sell the house so the kids wouldn’t have to be bothered with that when I’m gone.” So she sold the home she’d raised her family in and lived in for over 60 years. It went for about $120,000. (Real estate values are pretty depressed in our Rochester suburb.)
    “And now I’m in an apartment in a senior community. I hate it, really. The only people around me are old. A lot of them can’t get around. There are no children in the neighborhood.”
    And I said, “Good God, what a change that must be. Well you sound pretty good, I have to say.”
    Now I must mention that Aunt Oralee lost two of her beautiful daughters and one son-in-law to cancer, all at a very young age. She also outlived her husband, my uncle, by 20 years. She has taken all of these losses in stoic stride, relying on her faith and her sense of humor and a belief that God must have some unknowable sense of humor, too.
    “Well I went back to the hospital for my six-month check up. They told me the cancer’s gone and I can keep on living. Can you believe it?.”
    “So you were tricked into selling your house. That sucks, Oralee.” (She’s used to this sort of language from me.)
    “Yes, and I didn’t even have time to get all of my things out of the house,” she cried.
    “The kids [three living] couldn’t take most of it and didn’t want me to put furniture in storage for them. I can’t even find my Christmas decorations. I found someone’s name in the Yellow Pages and he came and emptied the house. He took everything that was left — for $600. Including the piano.”
    I was speechless. Well, for me. “Six hundred dollars. What the hell?”
    “Well you can’t take it with you, honey. At least I have a nice balcony I can look out from.”
    Oralee still drives, but only in the daylight now. She picks up the ladies for bridge once a week then drives them home.
    “Oralee, you were sent here to do God’s work. You are a living saint. By the way, are you excited about the new pope?” I asked.
    “I like him. He seems to be a man of the people and setting an example for the rest of the church. Although it really is time for women to be priests.”
    “You know, the pope drives a Ford Focus.”
    “Honest to God.”
    Oralee loves to chat so we talked for another half hour — world affairs, natural disasters, grandchildren getting bigger, crimes against humanity. I think we pretty much solved most of our planet’s vexing problems on that call.
    “I believe in heaven, but I don’t believe there’s a hell,” she proclaimed during our “crimes” segment.
    “You don’t? Well what happens to the bad guys, then?”
    “Everybody goes to heaven, that’s what I believe. Jesus died for the sins of all men. So we all go to heaven.”
    God bless Aunt Oralee. I had hoped there were certain people I wouldn’t have to see once I was dead. But I guess I can live with it as long as there’s a beach.
    I called our local florist in Rochester (the one we call for the funerals) and had a giant red poinsettia sent to Aunt Oralee’s apartment. She called me practically speechless with appreciation, though I couldn’t get her off the phone for a half-hour. (Hoard, was this really about me after all? Apologies to all and to all a good night.)
    Raise your spirits — and your glass.


Rainbows and Jewels
    December 6, 2013

Dear East Hampton Star,
    Holly candle light, sprung from clovers, orioles, rainbows and jewels.


The World’s Weapons
    Sag Harbor
    December 9, 2013

Dear David,
    It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous, but also and above all our hatred of ourselves, which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves. How else can we comprehend the following?
    We sell 80 percent of the world’s weapons to any nation that can pay for them, up from 60 percent since the arms race began in the Middle East. Profit before people’s lives, money has always been the root of all evil.
    Also, over 80 percent of the American people are against these multiple wars, but we are told to accept perpetual war, the root cause of our self-destruction. Finally, has the voice of America become collateral damage? A reality check.