Put Students First
January 14, 2013
When that wise group of people sat down and devised the mighty Constitution, lo these many years ago, they knew that this nation could only flourish if it had an educated populace. Thus public education was conceived, and over the years it has been extended to all regardless of race, creed, or national origin.
This grand scheme of public education, open to all comers, would be free and paid for by taxes. So my parents, who received as much education as the circumstances of their lives allowed for, then paid, through taxes, for the education of children who went to schools, until they died. I will, in turn, do the same thing, because my education was paid for by others.
We all, as in all things, want the very best we can get for our tax dollars. School taxes can be burdensome for many. It’s the old bang-for-the-buck axiom.
So can someone please explain to me the logic of so many small school districts in the town of East Hampton? Am I missing something? What presently exists is downright wasteful, and these are not the times to cling to some separatist idea of them-versus-us nonsense.
Just take one item — paper. Do any of you have any idea how many reams of paper a single school consumes in a year? Of course you don’t. You have never run a school. Now can you imagine the monies that could be saved if all the schools physically located in East Hampton ordered paper, computers, and all their paraphernalia — books, art supplies, sports equipment, etc., etc., etc. —together in one huge order?
Jump to the next stage: sharing services, wherever possible, from buses to speech professionals to social workers, to dance teachers, to Latin teachers and other specialties. How much richer the schools would be? How much better the kids would be served? How much lower our taxes would become. And this metamorphosis would go on, bit by bit, gradually phasing into one East Hampton (truly Unified) School District.
This, folks, is called “consolidation.” It is the idea that has been lurking in the shadows whose time has come. Many people know this. Michael Hartner, formerly of the Springs School, knew it, saw the folly of the go-it-alone practice and tried to work for this goal.
But now THE man, with power of voodoo, knows it as well. I speak of Governor Cuomo, who has called for the pursuing of the consolidation of districts to increase educational opportunities for students. According to the good ole U.S. Constitution, he is in charge of education. So the time has come to cast provincialism out to sea and put students first.
PHYLLIS ITALIANO MALLAH
Shooting on the Pond
January 17, 2013
My family has owned two properties on the north shore of Fort Pond in Montauk since the 1940s. My grandfather was a year-round resident until a lack of work forced him to the city. I, while not being blessed to live in Montauk year round, due to similar financial constraints faced by my grandfather, am there during all seasons of the year including winter, which is hunting season for various species including waterfowl. My uncles, now deceased, hunted duck from our property and near the island and the LIPA (then LILCO) substation.
I am somewhat baffled by the magnitude and the viciousness of the recent opposition to hunting on Fort Pond. There are claims that the density of the shorefront homes has increased recently, which warrants a ban on hunting. This is not true. Most of the houses, 48 to my count this past weekend, have been present since I was a young man. Some have been refurbished, expanded, etc., but over the past 20 years there were maybe 10 new houses built. There is little room for many more.
I gather from news reports that the proponents say shooting anywhere on the pond is a danger. My opinion differs. I have some familiarity with firearms and can say that a shotgun shell with pellets used for waterfowl does not have great range. It has nothing near the range of a rifle. Actually, a rifle would be similar to one throwing a baseball, while a shotgun is similar to throwing a handful of pebbles or sand.
The hunters, because of pressure from this effort, have moved away from the LIPA station and Ruschmeyer’s closer to my house, much closer to my house than they were ever near the homes of the proponents of the ban. Yes, in the cold and the damp the hunters were there this past weekend, and I heard two shots at 7 a.m. It did not wake me, as the 4 a.m. Long Island Rail Road train, which idles until it leaves at about 7 a.m., had awakened me when it arrived and kept me awake, as it has done for about 10 years. There were a few more shots during the day, but not more than 10 total.
I went to see the hunters and saw three gentlemen, all year-round residents of Montauk. Two were young men and another an older gent near my age. One of the young men was in a motorized wheelchair and at that point I became very angry. I cannot understand why anyone would seek to ban an activity in which a young man who has such challenges in life is participating. He is not home in the warmth playing video games or saying woe is me! He is outside engaging in an activity that has been enjoyed by generations of locals before him.
Hurrah! I say, and this is an activity which should be supported, not banned because a few shorefront owners have a misperception of danger or don’t like the few gunshots they may hear during the season. God knows that there is more danger on Second House Road and Industrial Road from speeding cars, and more noise from Ruschmeyer’s, the Surf Lodge, and the L.I.R.R. engines than all the shooting on Fort Pond during waterfowl season.
Finally, I would note that I was told that the main proponent of the ban was able to get LIPA to post “no trespassing” signs on its property. Whether this information I received is accurate or not, the fact is that LIPA posted the property, and so no one can any longer use that property, used for generations by people wanting to fish, bird-watch, wade in the lake, or anything else. Good going, you have almost been able to make Fort Pond your exclusive enclave.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion.
Fort Pond House
January 21, 2013
Willful. Contrary. Stubborn. Rigid. All of the above? Any of these adjectives describes the knee-jerk reaction from the supervisor and his deputy to the sensible suggestion by Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc to take the town-owned Fort Pond House off the market.
This valuable community asset has been languishing, abandoned and neglected, since it was singled out to be sacrificed for the “financial benefit” of the town. Needless to say, in the more than two years it’s been for sale, there have been no serious bites.
One disturbing aspect of this episode of town board behavior is the majority’s refusal to calmly talk about the proposal, before reverting to attack mode by painting it as “political” and nondiscussable because of litigation. That is precisely the point that Councilwoman Sylvia Overby spoke to, reminding the board that legal fees are piling up while this litigation is dragging on, thus eroding whatever financial gain might accrue from a sale.
Another important reminder from Ms. Overby is that because Fort Pond House is a town-owned asset, its sale could be subject to a permissive referendum (remember Ronjo?). And with strong public opinion against the sale in 2010, it is likely that such a vote would be negative.
By scoffing that “the people in Montauk didn’t even know where it was,” the supervisor reveals that he is out of touch. This facility has been a beloved, well-used part of the Montauk community and, as such, it should be returned to its rightful owners.
P.S. Why the silence from Montauk’s official liaison to the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, Councilman Dominick Stanzione?
January 19, 2013
To the Editor,
It was with no small measure of amusement that I read the latest shrill tome from Bill Crain, dated Jan. 13, and which appeared in The Star’s Jan. 17 edition, which always emerges around hunting season. Without addressing chapter and verse of Mr. Crain’s usual whiny appeal to pity, I would like to address just a few of his ridiculous claims.
To begin, let us all keep in mind that assuming arguendo that Mr. Crain’s attorney did plea-bargain him down to a violation, he still has a criminal arrest record for interfering with the recent New Jersey bear hunt, in clear derogation of both state and federal law, which proscribes interference with hunters engaging in lawful hunting activity. Mr. Crain fancies himself a dissident, engaging in these illegal acts of “civil disobedience.” His intentions and actions are misplaced, for he is no Thoreauvian, and only a shrill, officious intermeddler from the city who seeks to impose his will on country people who have been engaging in lawful hunting activity since time immemorial.
As to the “fast” he and his wife, Ellen, engage in each hunting season, interesting how they are willing to engage in only a three-day fast, stopping short of malnutrition. Gandhi would be ashamed of you both. Please, Mr. Crain, extend your fast all the way until you wither away to nothing, which is what your shrill complaints are doing each year, namely spiraling down to the vanishing point. Like the extremist whackos from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, those sanctimonious hypocrites who actually euthanize more animals than all of the shelters in this country combined, the public is beginning to see this ludicrous and extremist position for what it is, and the credibility of this organization and people like Mr. Crain is diminishing as each year passes.
As to Mr. Crain’s assertion that animals feel fear when hunted, I would only ask if he possesses the skills of a horse whisperer, who can communicate with deer who inform him that they feel fear. The last time I attempted to have a conversation with a deer, it looked at me wide-eyed and simply walked away. Perhaps Mr. Crain possesses a talent that none of us have: the ability to communicate with wild animals and have them convey their thoughts to him. Astounding indeed!
If Mr. Crain and his wife are truly in earnest in saving the poor deer that we barbaric and cruel hunters pursue to feed our families, taking our natural place in the food chain, then I suggest the following. Since loss of habitat is the leading cause of diminution of animal populations throughout the world, and as each yuppie from the city builds yet another ostentatious home on plots of land that have had truly ancient deer runways on them, here is what he and his wife should do: Raze your home here in the fabulous Hamptons, and clear your land completely. Next, deed it to the town, with a covenant which dictates that it shall be wild forever and that no hunting be allowed on it. That will truly be a proactive step, and Mr. Crain and his wife can sleep well at night safe and secure in the knowledge that they have created a Crain-Haven for the beleaguered deer. A few might actually live to a ripe old age without so much as seeing one of us barbaric hunters, a fine and noble aspiration indeed.
Then, Mr. Crain and his wife can while away their time in their pontificating ivory tower in Manhattan or wherever in the city they live. They can then direct their ill-conceived bunny-hugging activity and break the law in other jurisdictions, where one day they will have to plea as charged for interfering with lawful hunters, and then have criminal records, which they deserve to have.
Well, I’d like to go on, but I have to get ready for tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 21. Before I go to my law office, I will be nice and comfy in my tree stand waiting for a nice, tasty deer to stroll by.
Most sincerely and respectfully yours,
JOHN J. EBEL
Hit by a Deer
January 21, 2013
To the Editor,
I am commenting on the “Let the Deer Live” letter of Jan. 13 from the president of the Group for Wildlife.
I recommend the Group for Wildlife establish a monetary fund for the purpose of doling out money for those of us who have had to get auto body work on vehicles, pay for transportation while one’s vehicle is inoperable, pay for loss of work wages, cover insurance shortfall, pay for medical needs associated with Lyme disease and injuries related to being hit by a deer, subside deer carcass removal and trauma consoling, if needed, and regular property clean-up of deer excrement for the sake of your selfish lack of human life and quality-of-life issue we all face as a result of the rampant deer population.
My encounters with this out-of-control epidemic include being struck by a doe on Springs-Fireplace Road in the summer around 7 p.m. and after that, at the intersection of Three Mile Harbor Road and Springs-Fireplace Road, a buck prancing on the green; two bucks crossing Springs-Fireplace Road, less than 1/4 mile from the intersection of Springs-Fireplace Road and Three Mike Harbor Road around 9 p.m. last week; deer leaping out across Red Dirt Road anytime; deer congregating on Huntting Lane by the pond; deer, bucks leaping across Montauk Highway less than 1/4 mile from the entrance-exit of Montauk, and deer crossing Old Stone Highway by Quail Hill Farm.
Only the victim pays these unnecessary expenses, while the activists have no viable solution and are in denial of reality and should put their money where their mouths are. They can send me a check for $1,500 that I did not budget for and am out of work, for the doe that damaged my car, plus the $2,000 for my second round of deer fencing.
In addition to the people on the road who do not know the rules of the road, the cellphone usage and e-mailing while driving, the drunk driving, the drivers that coast through stop signs, don’t know what yielding means, do not pull aside for emergency vehicles, don’t stop for a bus with its flashers on, the lack of deer control is absolutely dangerous and unnecessary while driving, to constantly be looking for deer that may leap out at you, while trying to concentrate on the road and vehicles, or stop in the middle of the road with a deer encounter, hoping you don’t get rear-ended.
There will always be deer regardless of what is done. Constant fear of deer collisions should not have to be a way of life for us.
Feral Cat Poem #45
how did the Big-Fix go?
not the fiscal, the feral
the “Mass Trapping” last November
set to get 80 E.H. feral cats
trapped, neutered and
released in one day, a Sunday,
the Sabbath Day for some.
Must’ve worked, haven’t seen a blessed cat about here
in a dog’s age.
released them where, did they say?
January 19, 2013
To the Editor:
Glad to see that your Jan. 17 editorial showcased the town’s failure to deliver property-tax bills fully and promptly this year. I was among the “unknown” number who never received a thing in the mail — for the first time in my 37 years as an East Hampton homeowner.
I waited, and waited. Finally, four days before the New Year, I had to go to the tax receiver’s office and have a new bill printed up for me, then mail it in immediately with my payment, in order to benefit from a substantial deduction on my income tax for calendar year 2012. This advantage, which your editorial didn’t mention, is as important to many of us as avoiding penalties for late payment of local taxes.
We’ll never know for sure who was responsible for this inexcusably shoddy performance. But my money is on the “outside company” hired by the town to handle the mailings. Let’s hope town officials will replace it with a more competent agent next year. Isn’t that one of the services our taxes are paying for?
SUSAN M. SEIDMAN
January 8, 2013
After a public hearing last week, the town board voted to spend $2 million of Community Preservation Fund money to purchase from Barnett (Barry) Brown of East Hampton nearly four acres of vacant land in Wainscott (which, incidentally, also includes 12,000 square feet purchased from the town for $40,000). This 174,039-square-foot tract was subdivided nine years ago into four one-acre residential lots that have access only from Ardsley Road. The minor subdivision map is titled Wainscott North‚ and was filed as Map 11054 on Feb. 10, 2004.
The subject land lies south of Ardsley Road and extends to the north edge of the Montauk Highway right-of-way, and spans a distance of approximately 900 feet between Town Line Road and West Gate Road. Thus, this parcel forms part of the gateway into East Hampton Town for travelers traveling eastward on Montauk Highway.
This purchase was recommended by the C.P.F. advisory committee, the town’s land management specialist, and also the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee. Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson further explained that the intent was to establish a “greenbelt” of undeveloped land, to avoid looking like Southampton’s gateway‚ along County Road 39. The further example given by Mr. Wilkinson was to match the existing greenbelt corridor on parts of the southern side of Montauk Highway in Wainscott. In particular, there is a 50-foot-deep undisturbed reserve land area existing along the south side of the highway between the post office and Wainscott Stone Road.
The purpose of the Peconic Bay region C.P.F. is the preservation of community character. Preservation of open space in furtherance of the establishment of a greenbelt (a protective buffer between roads and abutting developed areas) which enhances the conservation of scenic resources at the entrance to a community is certainly a laudable and appropriate use of C.P.F. monies. However, because C.P.F. monies are a public trust, derived from a self-imposed tax on land transfers, the town’s C.P.F. expenditures must meet the statutory standard of being the best alternative for the protection of community character of all the reasonable alternatives available to the town.
Here’s the rub! The board’s action seemingly ignored the fact that as part and parcel of the granting of the four-lot subdivision, Mr. Brown was required to, and did, grant to the town a scenic and conservation easement that spans the entire width of the property, amounting to one full acre out of the total four acres in the subdivision, with a depth of not less than 50 feet along the entire Montauk Highway border of the property. The easement prohibits any buildings, fences, or any other structures, and requires the natural contours of the easement to remain undisturbed and in their natural state in order to maintain their present character and appearance.
Wow, that means that the town has already obtained its desired greenbelt, and it did not cost a dime!
Moreover, the amount of already preserved green and open space established by the scenic and conservation easement does not take into account the effect of the further limits on development imposed by our town code’s clearing restrictions‚ applied to these lots classified as a residence zone. The planning board’s subdivision approval also set as a condition of obtaining any certificate of occupancy for any of the four house lots that each lot owner must plant a dozen seven to eight-foot-high white pines along the southern side of the lot and north of the scenic easement boundary‚ so as to screen the constructed house(s) from Montauk Highway.
Needlessly expending two million C.P.F. dollars to acquire fee ownership of the entire four-acre parcel will also, obviously, eliminate the four building lots and their future stream of potential tax revenues, in a hamlet whose school district certainly can comfortably accommodate any additional schoolchildren to be generated by these four future households. Moreover, the cost to be paid in C.P.F. dollars is actually $666,666 per acre, for the three remaining acres of developable land.
In my opinion, at least, that is too extravagant a price to pay, especially when you realize the motoring visitors entering East Hampton really need to keep their eyes on the road for safety’s sake. Matching the existing standard of having a 50-foot-deep greenbelt along parts of Montauk Highway in Wainscott is more than sufficient.
What were they thinking?
Airport Noise Study
January 21, 2013
In response to Kathy Cunningham’s letter of Jan. 14, regarding East Hampton Airport, I would like to correct some glaring misinformation concerning airport noise mitigation efforts on behalf of the town.
A noise study was initiated by the Schneiderman administration by hiring Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson at a cost of $186,000 paid for out of the airport budget.
At the same time, an airport noise abatement committee was formed composed of an equal mix of airport users and airport neighbors, which met regularly in open session in the terminal building.
This comprehensive noise study was conducted over a period of many months and took noise readings from sensors placed around the airport and in many of the potentially sensitive areas.
In direct conflict with Ms. Cunningham’s claims of “the airport generating unacceptable and unhealthy levels of noise,” what the results of this noise study actually revealed was the fact that although there was indeed airport noise associated with normal airport operations, and certain areas were more affected than others, the excessive levels claimed by a number of airport neighbors could not be substantiated.
As a former member of the Schneiderman administration’s noise abatement committee, I can vouch for the fact that when Bill McGintee was elected, in part due to the considerable financial support of David Gruber, the committee was reformed by removing any members with ties to the airport and packed with mostly airport opponents.
The costly Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson noise study was subsequently “lost” and buried by the McGintee administration, no doubt because it did not support Mr. Gruber and Company’s agenda, not to show up again until the considerable efforts of Dominick Stanzione uncovered it hidden away in Town Hall. It is still a useful document with considerable information, if any one is willing to take the time to actually read it.
With the end of the McGintee administration, the new Wilkinson administration disbanded the entire committee for lack of focus on noise issues.
As for Councilwoman Theresa Quigley’s “intense sleuthing,” Ms. Cunningham would be well advised to put her claims in context and chronological order to find who did what, and when, since there have been endless studies by the current and previous town boards concerning airport noise, with little follow-up of any real action.
The town board had a perfect opportunity in December 2011 to take real steps to resolve the noise issue when it voted unanimously to request federal funds for airport maintenance projects and to pay for initial Federal Aviation Administration noise studies required before any restrictions could be imposed on aircraft traffic.
For reasons unknown to the public, in January 2012, the board reversed itself and failed to proceed with its previous resolution, and continues to avoid any real action other than to have, yet again, another study, with more money drained out of the airport budget.
January 21, 2013
Is Kathleen Cunningham paid by any organization or individual to serve as the representative of the Quiet Skies Coalition? If so, she is paid to affect the outcome of town policy and, as such, is a lobbyist.
While there is nothing wrong in her being a lobbyist, The Star should identify her as such when she is quoted in articles about the airport.
Those of us who are not paid for our civic volunteer work are rightly required by The Star to state our affiliation with a political party or civic organization so the reader understands a person has an affiliation. This is doubly correct when a person is paid to lobby the town board.
At the state level, individuals are required to register as lobbyists and reveal the amount they are paid and from whom. While we are not advocating such disclosure at the local level, at least The Star should provide full disclosure if someone is a paid professional.
East Hampton Aviation Association
The Quiet Skies Coalition does not pay Ms. Cunningham for her efforts. The organization is entirely comprised of volunteers and is operating at a considerable financial deficit, Ms. Cunningham said. Ed.
January 18, 2013
I read with interest the article about the new physical therapy practice in Montauk (“A Bright Space for Therapy‚” Jan. 17). In this article, the author states, “Not long ago regulations went into effect requiring physical therapists to earn doctorate degrees for state licensing. ‘They’re trying to keep the respect going‚’ Ms. Lys said. ‘It also helps us with job security, because you can always find a job.’ ”
The Commission on the Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education accredits all physical therapy programs and the requirement is that accredited programs award a master’s degree or higher. Per New York State regulations, a master’s degree or higher from an accredited university is required for licensure (op.nysed.gov/prof/pt/ptlic.htm# educ). This is the case in essentially all states.
A doctorate in physical therapy is a recommendation by the American Physical Therapy Association, an organization that physical therapists can opt to join. Even if a member of A.P.T.A., a physical therapist is not required to have a D.P.T. A.P.T.A. would like all physical therapists to have a doctoral degree by 2020, also known as Vision 2020. Vision 2020 is an effort on the part of A.P.T.A. to advance physical therapy practice, ensure high-quality care, and gain parity with other doctoring professions.
As a result of Vision 2020, many entry-level physical therapy programs have opted to offer a D.P.T. rather than a master’s, although C.A.P.T.E. currently does not require it (although they will effective Dec. 31, 2015). Once C.A.P.T.E. does require it, states may or may not change licensure requirements. That remains to be seen.
I wish Mrs. Lys the best of luck with her practice.
(Born and raised in East Hampton)
January 20, 2013
What a pleasure it was to find a new communication this week from the estimable Lyle Greenfield.
Even though his letter dealt mostly with his periodontal woes, we should all be grateful to Mr. Greenfield for reminding us that even though half the world is swirling down the toilet, we must remain vigilant about gum control.
Disrupt and Derail
January 18, 2013
As a retiree I have the time to read about, and listen to others talk about, the important issues of the day. I vigorously supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and was gratified to see him prevail both times. The alternative was unthinkable.
Many see the neocons and the militant right wing as suppressed by Obama’s victory and unable to affect our lives in certain major ways. However, if we look around and pay attention to the political happenings around us, we can see that the subversive, alternative, right-wing conservatives are still hanging in there, seeking and using every occasion to disrupt and derail the will of the majority of the American people as expressed in the election of President Obama.
Unfortunately the Congress remains in Republican hands and thus a source of constant mischief and disruption in the business of the country.
There seems to be no holding these anti-compromise, anti-good of the country, outrageous right-wingers back. Public opinion is totally disregarded by them. The will of the majority is ignored by these centrally placed congressmen who flaunt their own leadership and mock the rest of us. They charge ahead in full belief, and they have no fear of being defeated in the next election because their election districts have been effectively gerrymandered in their favor.
Republican governors and state legislators are seeking to destroy the New Deal support needed by those citizens who come upon hard times. They use lame-duck sessions, legislative trickery, huge money for propaganda and lies to twist the country’s priorities to their favor.
But for the bastion of sanity represented by Barack Obama and the Democrats, the country would be in deeper trouble.
Look, six years have passed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms barely functioning without a permanent director, due to horrible legislative prohibitions passed in 2006. Gun sales are running rampant. No records are kept, no inventory recorded. Three hundred million weapons float around the U.S. and the N.R.A. proposes even more.
As for disrupting the president’s excellent picks for his cabinet and his light-handed presidential initiatives to start closing the loopholes in gun purchases, they are lied about, the president is vilified, and even his family and children are dragged into the gun control battle. They will stop at nothing. Money is no object.
Not one Republican can be heard condemning the tactics being used, to close gun sale loopholes especially in light of the horrible criminal use of guns in this country that caused the death of 20 6 and 7-year-olds. Shame on them!
We must stand up for gun control, for Roe v. Wade, for prosecution of those who violate the gun laws, and for strengthening the rights of the majority after an election.
RICHARD P. HIGER