Letters to the Editor: 01.31.13

Our readers' comments

Captured the Spirit
    January 27, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I wanted to thank Helen S. Rattray for her wonderful commentary (“Bravissimo, Bonac,” Jan. 24) on our recent fourth-grade opera, “Cat Tales,” performed at Guild Hall.
    Her column provided an overview of the “creating original opera” program and its impact on Springs School, “the little school that could.” She absolutely captured the spirit of the 16-year tradition, and the special contribution of Kyril Bromley. We all felt confirmed by her optimism and recognition.
    Springs School Opera Program

The New Bridge
    January 28, 2013
To the Editor,
    Last Sunday at noon we held the dedication for the new Pussy’s Pond Bridge, followed by a reception at Ashawagh Hall.
    We wish to thank the Springs School fourth grade opera class who serenaded us from the new bridge; Russ Calemmo of the Lions Club, our hot dog chef par excellence; East Hampton Wines and Liquors for the donation of some wonderful red and white wines; and Kristi Hood of the Springs General Store, who created a veritable masterpiece of cake — a recreation of the bridge and pond in pastry — which was as delicious as it was beautiful.
    Also, thanks to Anita Baskind, Pamela Bicket, and the other kitchen helpers who kept the party going!

White’s Pharmacy
    East Hampton
    January 28, 2013
Dear David:
    The combination of modern medicine and pharmacology has, of course, added both quality and length to our lives. Unsung heroes of this equation are the pharmacists who deliver the medicines to us.
    I have my prescriptions filled at White’s Pharmacy. To be on the customer side of the counter is to observe a beehive of constant activity on the part of Vinnie Alibrandi and his staff. They have a very important responsibility properly filling prescriptions and they do so, from my experience, in a cordial and timely manner, notwithstanding the pressures that they are often under by virtue of the volume of medicines that they are asked to deliver. The residents of East Hampton are fortunate to have them.

Mailbox Vandalism
    East Hampton
    January 24, 2013
Dear Neighbors,
    Your child is going to jail for three years and is also liable for $250,000, per incident. Yes, my neighbors, according to the U.S. Postal Service, Title 18, Section 1705 Penal Code for vandalizing mailboxes. Not a prank, not a joke, when he also can’t get any state license or vote.
    Maybe you need to rethink that chuckle when they recount how they smashed up a row of mailboxes. Could be your kid caught next! The police are now vigilantly watching and waiting to collar them. Post Office wants them prosecuted.
    School principals and teachers, you also need to get on the wagon, get the word out that mailbox vandalism is not funny from a prison cell. Sensors can catch them in the act and record their vandalisms.
    Adults, you have been alerted, now be responsible. Act accordingly now or visit them in jail. Oh, and do not forget to bring the $250,000 fine that you will be expected to pay upon behalf of the minor.
    Vandalized in East Hampton,

Your Conumbra
    January 28, 2013
To the Editor,
    Mr. Dash, I lament your descent into this winter’s tundra, yet whither the cry of eternal-youth to self-abuse with which to relieve your conumbra.

Consolidate Now
    East Hampton
    January 26, 2013
To the Editor,
    Increases in the new budget for the East Hampton School District are for lawyers and staff. This calls for taking money from students’ programs. These programs will see decreases in money: Kindergarten, English as a Second Language, Technology, Music, Social Studies, and others. How are we preparing our students to compete in the real world?
    We have five school districts in East Hampton, with taxpayers paying for lawyers, superintendents, etc. Wake up. Now is the time to consolidate. Even our governor, Andrew Cuomo, has endorsed consolidation.
    Our students spend less time in school than most other countries’. I have no objection for paying school taxes when we are educating our children. I object to wasting our taxpayer money.
    Read Phyllis Mallah’s letter in The Star (Jan. 24).

Tax Bill Not Received
    East Hampton
    January 27, 2013
Dear Editor,
    We were among the many homeowners whose tax bills were never received. When we realized earlier this month that we had not received a tax bill, we went to the town office and paid the bill without penalty. However, because of the lack of notice, we were deprived of the option to pay half or all of our taxes in 2012 so that we could receive a tax deduction in our 2012 computation of taxes due.
    Depending on such variables as the difference in income between 2012 and 2013, the changes in the tax rates, and where and whether the alternative minimum tax kicks in, we and many other taxpayers may have to pay thousands of dollars in extra taxes for 2012 because of the town’s error. The taxpayers of this town deserve, as you say in your editorial (“Tax-Bill Snafu,” Jan. 17, 2013), an investigation. They also deserve an explanation and an apology.

Out-of-Date Studies
    January 28, 2013
To the Editor,
    With reference to Gene Oshrin’s glaring misinformation in his letter last week contesting Kathleen Cunningham’s comments about airport noise, please note the following: His cited noise studies were done according to F.A.A. guidelines, which stipulate that noise created by aircraft taking off and landing at the airport be averaged over the whole year; ear-splitting noise magically becomes a whisper. These noise studies never truthfully portrayed our experience of the airport. And, these noise studies cited by Mr. Oshrin are 10 years old, hardly reflecting today’s traffic. The East Hampton Town Code has stricter noise limits than the F.A.A. but the F.A.A. pulls rank over us local plebeians.
    So, the F.A.A. concludes there is no noise and, surprise, Gene Oshrin, former president of the East Hampton Aviation Association and pilot, agrees with these studies, however flawed and out of date. He is against any effort to limit aircraft activity at the airport. Others, having ears, probably disagree.
    There should be full disclosure of people’s interests in order to put the opinion of a speaker’s words in perspective (see Margie Saurenman’s complaint, also from last week’s letters to the editor). Arguments such as mine, for restricting activity of the noisiest aircraft, have tranquility and quiet as motivation.
    Reducing intrusive aircraft noise on our lives requires local control of the airport, which means the East Hampton Town Board should not request nor accept further F.A.A. funding. F.A.A. funding mandates compliance with their rules, not ours. At the end of 2014 East Hampton will have the right to establish reasonable limits on noisy aircraft and return peace to our community.

Collective Paranoia
    East Hampton
    January 25, 2013
To the Editor,
    Last week’s Star printed two letters from the local aviation interests attacking Kathleen Cunningham for her 14 January letter, “Airport Noise Study,” that you had printed the preceding week.
    Both aviation interest letters were stunningly disingenuous. But the second letter stands out as a vicious personal assault on Ms. Cunningham. It suggests that she may be being paid by some secret source to “represent” as a lobbyist the Quiet Skies Coalition’s airport noise abatement positions before the town government.
    I serve as vice chairman of Q.S.C. alongside Ms. Cunningham, who is its chairwoman. She does not “represent” the group as a lobbyist. As chairwoman, she speaks for it. And, as you have pointed out, she is not paid by Q.S.C. The coalition is a collection of citizen volunteers intending to fight the airport noise pollution that has been increasingly plaguing the East End over the last decade or more.
    To suggest, without any basis, that some behind-the-scenes source may be paying Ms. Cunningham to “represent” Q.S.C. as a lobbyist is despicable and, at the very least, illustrates the collective paranoia that characterizes much of the airport interests’ rhetoric.
    The author of such pronouncements should look in the mirror. It well may be asked who and what financial interests are behind a local airport association’s extraordinary efforts to deny the existence of the East End’s aviation noise plague and frustrate its mitigation.

Our Question
    January 24, 2013
Dear David,
    Thank you for printing my letter last week regarding Kathy Cunningham. We realize she is not paid by the coalition.
    But our question was not answered: Is Kathleen Cunningham paid by any organization or individual to serve as the representative of Quiet Skies Coalition?
    Thank you,
    Margie Saurenman
    Vice president
    East Hampton Aviation Association

   We checked again: Ms. Cunningham is not paid by any organization or individual to serve as a representative of the Quiet Skies Coalition, an entirely volunteer organization. Ed.

Volunteer Efforts
    East Hampton
    January 28, 2013
Dear David,
    East Hampton Aviation Association Vice President Margie Saurenman’s inquiry in her Jan. 24 letter “Full Disclosure,” wondering if I am a paid lobbyist, would be laughable if it wasn’t so insulting. The implication is intended to diminish my volunteer efforts on the issue of airport noise mitigation in our community.
    Let me put to rest the notion that I am paid by any individual or organization to promote an airport noise mitigation policy for the Quiet Skies Coalition. I am not. The work I do for the coalition, I do for free. In fact, it costs me money. There are no funds to reimburse me, or any of my Q.S.C. colleagues, for any expenses, incidental or otherwise. Should anyone wish to pay me for the work I do for the Quiet Skies Coalition, I would gladly accept financial remuneration and would be delighted to fully disclose such a relationship. 
    To pose a question in the local paper of record with no effort to ascertain the answer before submitting the letter for publication is disingenuous and irresponsible. It has a repressive effect on the important discourse which free speech guarantees and upon which our democracy depends. Rumor and innuendo are destructive to the good will that we need to better our community, regardless of political persuasion or personal position.
    Aircraft noise pollution has eroded property values and the quiet rural character of communities all over the East End. The lives of countless individuals, myself included, are consistently disrupted by overbearing and unhealthy noise from jets, helicopters, seaplanes, and other fixed-wing aircraft. This could easily be mitigated if the privileged few responsible for that noise valued, as we do, the peace and quiet that characterizes our communities. Apparently, they don’t.
    Protecting our right to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes, yards, and recreational areas, as well as environmentally sensitive species and vital ecosystems, from ever-increasing aircraft noise requires perseverance, extraordinary effort, and dedication.
    Apart from the ballot box, the time-honored tradition of volunteerism is the only tool available to preserve the identity of this community and the quality of life we hold dear. Volunteerism is an essential component of a healthy society and informed electorate. And, as any organization dependent upon volunteerism knows, there are shortages in manpower, time, and resources for all good causes.
    Quiet Skies needs all the help it can get. And, by the way, one needn’t own a plane or helicopter to join. Membership is free.
    Quiet Skies Coalition

Airport Opponents
    East Hampton
    January 22, 2013

Dear David,
    In last week’s Star, Kathleen Cunningham criticizes Councilman Stan­zione for not providing her fast enough with a proposal from Harris Miller, airport noise consultants, to mitigate noise at the airport. What chutzpah! Mr. Stanzione has done more to quiet airport noise in town than any elected official in decades.
    In 2003 when Ms. Cunningham was leading the town’s noise abatement committee, she and other airport opponents insisted the town hire the same Harris Miller firm to study airport noise. When the study results were not what the opponents on the town noise committee wanted, the report was never released to the public. It was suppressed by the opponents. Yet Harris Miller was paid $266,000 from fees collected from airport users.
    The helicopter route used last summer by the control tower was the one that Harris Miller recommended in 2004 as having the least impact on the community. Yet airport opponents are opposing this route recommended by the consultant they insisted the town hire.
    Of course, this is nothing new for the opponents. They insisted the town hire their airport environmental planner, then sued the town when they disagreed with the planner’s analysis — and lost. Then they insisted the town hire a nationally acclaimed airport lawyer — then attacked him when he did not agree with their meritless legal theories.
    The town has paid close to $1 million in consulting and legal fees for these and other firms hired at the insistence of the opponents. All paid from user fees at the airport.
    Yet no money has been spent on repairing the runway essential to the safety of local pilots, a runway which jets and helicopters cannot use, only our small planes.
    East Hampton Aviation Association

Not on the Same Page
    January 28, 2013
Dear David,
    Over the past two weeks three letters to the editor have purported to address the airport noise study that is under way, but about which very little is known. One letter suggests, illogically, that citizen participation “is the only way forward.” Another suggests that the Federal Aviation Administration would have paid for the noise study. And a third accuses Kathleen Cunningham of being a paid lobbyist. None of the letters offer any concrete solutions to the very complex problem of achieving airport noise abatement.
    Here are some truths about airport noise abatement in East Hampton. Approximately two-thirds of all aircraft-related noise events are caused by helicopters, which represent less than 20 percent of all airport traffic. No mandatory restrictions on aircraft can be enacted without an airport noise study that is so expertly crafted that it is bulletproof, as described below, when exposed to the inevitable litigation. And it will cost the town millions to defend any mandatory noise abatement initiatives in court.
    Regardless of the presence or absence of F.A.A. funding and grant assurances, there can be no restrictions on aircraft other than voluntary ones until the town completes a study that clearly demonstrates that (a) there is a noise problem and (b) the specific restrictions that are proposed will materially reduce the noise problem.
    Then, as surely as the sun will continue to rise in the east, litigation will delay the implementation of any proposed restrictions while attorneys and expert witnesses attempt to discredit the noise study. Any weaknesses or inconsistencies will be exposed and magnified in court. Consequently, if the study is poorly conceived, poorly executed, or poorly defended in court, the entire effort will fail, and the town will have to go back to the drawing boards several million dollars poorer and at least partially discredited. No prior noise abatement study comes close to meeting that test.
    The second issue is money. It cost Naples, Fla., approximately $3 million to defend its ban of two noisy old jets even though the procedure for enacting that ban followed aviation law and regulation to the letter. Since then no other airport proprietor has succeeded in accomplishing a ban although several have tried. If East Hampton were to try to ban or limit a whole fleet of helicopters, it might cost twice the amount it cost Naples to ban two jets. (The town’s lawyers will not give a public estimate for obvious reasons — it could compromise their defense.)
    If the town were to attempt to accomplish what the Quiet Skies Coalition has requested, a curfew and other restrictions on helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, that could triple the number of litigants, which might triple the cost of litigation from $6 million to $18 million. And the litigation cost would be incurred whether or not the town ever takes another dime of F.A.A. money.
    No airport noise opponent has ever made a serious proposal to pay for the cost of litigation. The airport has about $1.5 million in reserves (before paying for the noise study) and little or no net cash flow since the control tower became operational. The F.A.A. will not pay for a noise study it considers unnecessary, much less for litigation. So how do we pay for noise abatement? A proposed tax surcharge on East End residents adversely affected by airport noise has been met with deafening silence.
    So let’s review the bidding. An airport noise abatement study needs to be bulletproof and expertly defended in court to be successful. There is no evidence that civic involvement would improve the end product. The cost of litigation could easily exceed $6 million if mandatory restrictions apply only on helicopters and three times that much if restrictions on fixed-wing aircraft were attempted. No adequate source of funds has been identified to defend mandatory restrictions in what would surely be a long and costly court battle.
    So unless promulgated by the F.A.A. or Congress, mandatory airport noise abatement solutions appear out of reach for the Town of East Hampton and East End residents. Nevertheless, a negotiated settlement might be possible, as both sides would avoid the cost of litigation. It would help if the local aviation community and the Quiet Skies Coalition were on the same page. So far, the most vocal ones are not.
    Citizens for a Quieter Airport

Offshore Dredging
    January 26, 2013
To the Editor,
    First of all let me start by saying I commend the town board for creating [the erosion] committee. It was long overdue. However, after reading an article written by Joanne Pilgrim titled “Erosion Committee Buckles Down,” I became concerned with some of the ideas being discussed. Re the paragraph stating “Drafting an environmental impact statement for longer-term work in downtown Montauk, such as pumping sand onto the beach from offshore, will take a back seat,” I offer the following question:
    If not now, when? What exactly has to happen before we explore this avenue? When we are in this “emergency” do you think the federal government is going to send you a blank check to get a project started immediately? What type of environmental problem can be caused by pumping sand onto a beach? Is it not better than hard structure?
    In my opinion, pumping sand onto the beach from an offshore source is the best solution. Sand from the build-up in Montauk will drift west and nourish the beach. An environmental impact study should be drafted immediately recommending this action. Our tax dollars are spent on major dredging of this nature all up and down the eastern seaboard. I think it is time for our elected politicians to secure some of this money to see that a major project in Montauk such as an offshore dredging takes place. We have been ignored for too long in East Hampton.
    In closing, dredging sand offshore and pumping it on the beach should not take a “back seat,” it should be driving the car!

Hoofprints in the Snow
    East Hampton
    January 26, 2013
To the Editor:
    I used to love watching for deer signs, hoofprints in the mud in the spring (especially the tiny ones alongside the larger ones!) and in the fall; hoofprints in the snow during the winter. I used to love watching the two families of deer who roamed our neighborhood, one of the bucks, whose beautiful small rack grew slightly larger over the months, majestic, towering over his family.
    One family had two young ones, one family had one. When I’d walk my dog in the evening, I would look over in my neighbor’s yard and not 10 feet away there they’d be, peacefully grazing. Their heads would raise and look at me and we would make eye contact. They would know they were safe and continue eating. Sometimes I would wake in the morning and look out in my own front yard, and there they’d be, walking slowly, peacefully, across my front lawn, drinking from my birdbath. Or the first time I saw the doe eating crabapples, then suddenly signaling to her fawn to come and join her. Alive, safe. But it was consistent: snow would fall, deer prints would appear, all different sizes, across my lawn and my driveway.
    I wake up to the sound of gunshots in the early morning air. Each day I’d anxiously ask my husband, have you seen our deer? Have you seen signs of our deer? And he would say yes, I saw them just last night. The other Sunday morning, the staccato of gunshots, like machine guns, went off. I mean, how many shots does it take to bring down an animal, or are you taken over by the bloodlust of just (or unjust) killing, which seems so prevalent today?
    I drive home from work, and I see a young one, alone, running across the road, narrowly missing getting hit by the cars in both directions.
    And I realize: I haven’t seen hoofprints in the snow.

To Touch Bricks
Walking past bush, sand
beachplums, mallard pond, to touch
olive oil and bricks.

Need for Intervention
    East Hampton
    January 26, 2013
To the Editor:
    This week Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana castigated his fellow Republicans for being ideologically stupid, racist, negative, and on the road to irrelevance. All of which is absolutely true. The party of negativity whose electorate is white and aging is soon to become extinct if it doesn’t wake up and smell something. Mr. Jindal excoriated his party for believing that people of color are monosyllabic in their ideas and genetically stupid, a truism that is more representative of conservatives and Tea Party members than the nonwhites whom they have stupidly categorized.
    What is remarkable, in the light of the enormous transfiguring of the economy to a third-world model, is that the party refuses to discuss the essential problem that the country is facing. Having one party controlling our politics and another pulling its pud in absentia, leaves us down too many quarts to find solutions.
    For example, we spend more than a trillion dollars on the military and security, with almost 25 percent protecting foreign countries who could protect themselves. We borrow this money from somewhere and then want to reduce domestic programs. So Americans suffer and go into debt to provide welfare to countries that don’t need it. When we try to cut back on the military, lobbyists scream that we are betraying our interests, hurting the arms industry, and creating unemployment. States that earn millions off military expenditures fight against the reductions in spending, but scream for reductions in other areas that don’t affect them. But, more importantly, there is no discussion about the reality and substance of the policy.
    Virtually everything we do follows the same script. Why are our prisons filled with pot offenders that cost us $25,000 a year to house, and destroy their families that costs us even more. Why do we subsidize corporations, farms, oil companies, etc., when they haven’t hired anyone in a decade? The list is a mile long and the formula for continuing the policies is always the same.
    Yet, we are in crisis and we need a Republican party that deals with reality and accepts that the deficit is actually getting smaller as the economy expands. We need them because the Demo­crats are almost as lame as they are and don’t seem to grasp the need for an enormous public/private intervention in rebuilding our infrastructure. Both parties masturbate to the idiocy of American exceptionalism and world policeman (dead and buried), and refuse to deal with our economic dysfunction because they owe their butts to corporate America, who is doing very well the way things are.
    Bobby Jindal was never identified as a deep thinker, but he is young and ambitious and has tied his aspirations and future to a party whose time has come and is rapidly leaving. He thinks that reviving our economy will eventually revive the Republican Party and ideological dogmatism is not the answer. It is pathetic that we need the party of stupid to come to its senses and join the mix. But we are not who we used to be — or perhaps we never were who we think we used to be?

Benghazi Attack
    January 28, 2013
To The Editor:
    Well, another Clinton appearance before a Congressional committee has produced another tsunami of lies, feigned outrage, memory lapses, and chutzpah, this time concerning the disgraceful handling of the Benghazi attack. Members of her staff (and of Obama’s) watched the attack on a live feed and did nothing. They told the two former Navy SEALs who sought to aid in the rescue to stand down, a shameful order which they rightfully disobeyed. How could the Secretary of State not get on the horn to the Defense Department and the C.I.A. to see what assets they had available as soon as she knew of the attack (she finally has admitted that she knew almost immediately, after weeks of laughable denials and fables about “demonstrators”)? After all, these were her employees.
    Mrs. Clinton’s dishonesty was aided and abetted by the embarrassingly weak and timid questioning by most of the Republicans on the committees. And of course Mrs. Clinton knew she could count on her chief enablers, the lapdogs of the press. Where are their interviews with the survivors, their investigations into what actually happened both at the Mission and at the C.I.A. safe house? Where’s their curiosity about the origin of the stupid stories first put out by Obama’s spokesmen? Was this whole Benghazi operation really an international version of the Fast and Furious scandal, placing guns in the hands of our enemies?
    But the most outrageous disservice was that done to the heroism and dedication of the two Navy SEALs. Based on what we do know, their actions are worthy of consideration for a Medal of Honor. They held out for hours, killing scores of fanatical jihadis and enabling C.I.A. to rescue the rest of the staff. They should be household names by now, real American heroes. Instead, their deeds have been ignored or buried under a cloud of misinformation and lies.
    Four Americans are dead, we are not told how many wounded, an American ambassador has been beaten, raped, dragged through the streets, and murdered. An American installation destroyed. And the incredible bravery of two American heroes has been ignored. All of this, from Mrs. Clinton’s ineptitude and fabrications to the secrecy and lies that still surround the event, come under the purview of one man: the commander-in-chief, Barack Obama. Isn’t there anyone in the press with a conscience, with integrity enough to try to dig up the truth?


Reg has hit the nail squarely again. The weak sister performance by the supposed Republicans is inexcuseable. The simplest question, what were the rules of engagemement Mrs. Clinton ordered? We are still without knowledge in this affair, where's that "Open Government" the Dem's used to clain they needed? Well, 4 years more of song and dance cheered on by a complicite press, to steel a movie line "Ain't it grand?"
David, Mr. Hausig's remarks are rooted in ignorance and intollerance. The ignorance is cureable, the prejudice, less so. It is amazing that someone seems pleased to deprive himself of the full flower that a wide friendship with persons of all political backrounds give. I can only hope he sheds his sopohomoric way, opens up and lets a little sunshine in. Republicans do, I know, "I are one!"