Delicious and Welcome
April 24, 2013
A personal thank you and a public commendation and respect to East Hampton Boy Scout Troop 298 for preparing those special spaghetti dinners delivered to St. Michael’s residents by the tireless Meals On Wheels volunteers.
Delicious and welcome.
Pretty Place to Poop
April 29, 2013
To the Editor,
Kudos to the village board for its patience in hearing dozens who came to decry tighter rules for dogs on village beaches. I hope the board was listening!
The first speaker, Jennifer Berkeley (co-founder of beachdogs11937), lauded her many years of tireless work with numerous organizations to keep our beaches clean, only to realize that the situation is getting worse. Her frustration was echoed by Sara Davison, executive director of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, who also spoke of beachdogs11937’s pamphlet distribution and community outreach that has shown to be equally fruitless.
I hope the board noticed that the overwhelming number of complainants were not residents and of those, none have the courtesy to buy a village parking permit as they chauffeur their dogs to a pretty place to poop. All of them affirmed that the only use they have for the beach is as a toilet for their pets because none of them are beachgoers. Every speaker dispelled the myth that dogs urinating and defecating was just incidental to a stroll on the beach. All the complainants said that 500 feet was too far to walk. Again, this was echoed by Sara Davison from ARF who stated that the first thing that a dog does when it goes to the beach is relieve itself.
Randy Slifka led the charge against a leash law because he, like others, has no control over his dog whether it’s on a leash or not. Jarvis Slade called controlling his dog “government overreach” and adopting the selfish, irresponsible, rude culture of New York City is more consistent with respecting the “bucolic, wonderful ways of East Hampton.”
One sometime resident suggested that dogs are just animals on the beach doing what animals do, that being attacked by a piping plover is akin to being attacked by a pit bull, and dog owners have no more responsibility for their dog peeing on someone than a seagull has for errant bird droppings.
Norbert Weissberg’s statement, “. . . We know the power you have” and, “you scare us” is why more people don’t call the police or publicly complain about the problem with dogs on the beach. It answers Kevin Reynolds’s (sounding more like the leader of a lynch mob than someone in search of facts) demand for the identity of people complaining about dogs. I hope it is clear that most of the speakers were comparing dog walking in East Hampton to their city-centric nostalgia for the sights, sounds, and smells of Central Park. They have the perspective that East Hampton should be compared with the poop-stained, urine-soaked sidewalks of Manhattan.
I hope the board realized the absurdity of the statement by Mr. Weissberg, who testified, “from my many years of experience,” that he is the only one who goes to the beach in the off-season.
I believe that the village board has more sense than to believe the definitive assertion, said by one and parroted by others, that with absolute certainty real estate values will plummet if our beaches are clean and safe.
I hope the East Hampton Village Board keeps listening!
No New Leash Law
April 29, 2013
At a village board meeting this past week, a large crowd of dog owners, represented by individual citizens, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, and beachdogs11937, demanded the democratic process be honored, by standing up and being publicly recognized in opposition to proposed changes in the manner which dog owners and their charming pets would be able to utilize village beaches in the future. With the written public support of Citizens for Access Rights and petitions, it is estimated that over 400 citizens had taken the time and responsibly voiced their opposition to ordinances and laws as they now stand.
Just this morning (April 23), on the Bill Fleming show on LTV, Mayor Rickenbach stated he was proud of implementing a more democratic process for some processes upon entering his office. During the aforementioned meeting this same assertion came up several times. There were references from both the audience and the mayor that this is “the democratic process in effect.” Some in the audience voiced the concern that the process is not being honored. One stated that in a democratic process, the majority traditionally rules. This has not proven true, and the process and concept of democracy has been trampled.
Not one person stood up and supported the proposed changes. Rather, the mayor had previously stated that he had only two complaints to his office last season regarding private parties that had been intruded upon. When pounded by one member of the audience for names and statistics, the mayor refused to discuss this and once again trampled the process and could not substantiate his original charge. He became flustered and befuddled, and then claimed the number of complaints was over 20 — an increase of over 900 percent!
With the powerful turnout against this dog leash proposal, after two discussions and this hearing turning out no show of opposition, it is my (our) position that a vote must be taken and the vote must define the public’s dictate: Enforcement is the issue. No effort has been made on the part of enforcement to punish the guilty. No new leash law! No change to the ordinances and laws as they now stand!
On the Streets
April 29, 2013
To the Editor,
Oh dear, I am taking a lovely stroll on Main Street in East Hampton yesterday, Sunday late morning. As is my habit, I always look down instead of looking ahead of me. Bad habit, I agree.
I cannot believe my eyes. Dog poop right on the sidewalk in front of me. It is beyond my comprehension how anyone could ignore this while walking one’s dog.
We have been going back and forth with the challenge of dogs on the beach leaving their waste products. How do we now address the problem of poop on the streets of our town?
Feral Cat Poem #50
The ungodly screeching
that wakes me at 3 a.m.
I hear as randy meowing
and think, Hey, the feral cats
But no, turns out
it was only me,
I used to smoke.
The ferals are still AWOL.
Time to Give Back
April 27, 2013
This year, after regularly attending East Hampton School District Board of Education meetings for many years, I have decided that it is time for me to seek a position on the board. I live in East Hampton Village. My family, the Parsons, was one of the founding families of East Hampton. I was brought up to help other people and give back to my community.
I have been very involved in education all my life. I attended school in East Hampton and graduated from East Hampton High School and went on to become a teacher and trainer of teachers for 28 years. As a retired educator I am involved in the New York State Retired Teachers Association on the local, Long Island, and state levels. Under my leadership a Hurricane Sandy fund has been established to aid retired educators.
I know that being a member of the school board is more than two meetings a month. I have the time to commit to doing the work of making school board decisions that positively affect the education of our youth. I want to see that students are ready to meet the challenges of the future by continuing to raise the academic expectations of all students, not just the ones who are high achievers. I also want to see that fiscally responsible decisions are made, while ensuring the highest quality of education. If I am elected I will represent all taxpayers and the entire community objectively, as I have done as a member of the audience regularly attending school board meetings since 1996.
MARY ELLA MOELLER
A First-Rate Education
April 28, 2013
To the Editor,
The move by Senator Ken LaValle to put a cap on Suffolk County property taxes, East Hampton’s schools now and in the future face daunting budget choices.
Mary Ella Moeller, candidate for the East Hampton School Board, is the candidate who can best assist the board in making those critical decisions.
Mrs. Moeller, a member of the East Hampton Parsons family and graduate of East Hampton High School, knows first-hand the importance of education to our town’s children.
Mrs. Moeller is a retired teacher and a member of the New York State Retired Teachers Association and knows firsthand the importance of education to a child’s future.
There have been complaints over the years that outstanding advanced placement students in East Hampton schools have received the most attention from our school administrators while the average student does not get the attention needed.
Mrs. Moeller has pledged to correct that situation.
As someone whose children attended John M. Marshall in the 1970s, I know firsthand how good education can be in East Hampton. My family remembers those teachers, Mrs. Delahanty and Mrs. Gilbert, among others who gave their best to educate our children.
To ensure a first-rate education for all our children, I urge East Hampton School District residents to elect Mary Ella Moeller to the school board.
Someone Who Cares
April 28, 2013
To the Editor,
I read with interest your reporter’s depiction of my father, Rich Wilson’s, background. While writing in detail about the other candidates’ history, you dismissed my father as a 73-year-old retired science teacher who “hopes to” improve the science program in our district.
It should be noted that my father has already gone well beyond “hoping” to improve the science program in the district. He actually already has and continues to do so.
Specifically, my father has:
1. Written an accepted proposal to a private benefactor for a plan to improve “hands-on” science instruction in all districts in the town.
2. Spent two years speaking to all the superintendents in East Hampton.
3. Spent countless hours arranging professional training sessions for teachers within seven different districts over a two-year period.
4. Spent countless hours surveying teachers’ requests for science modules and correlating their inter-district scheduled use, along with class sizes in each district.
5. Effectively implemented a program that covers all seven elementary schools in East Hampton, utilizing limited funds.
6. Loaded up, drove, and hand-delivered science kits to all the districts, over a two-year period.
7. Initiated talks between all the districts in the town to “join forces” (i.e., discuss options for working cooperatively).
That is what was missing from your article and that your readers and this town need to understand when deciding on who they will vote for. Someone with the proper knowledge, experience, and track record — someone who actually cares.
GEORGE J. WILSON
April 29, 2013
To the Editor,
“You can’t dig a new hole by digging the same one deeper.”
I have the above quote running through my head every time I think of our schools. The noose-tightening budget constraints inhibit innovation in our schools, especially in science, engineering, and technology, but we keep on approaching this by cutting something out here and shifting funds there. If we want our students to become creative problem-solvers, then we as educators must also become innovative, and collaboratively design and provide curricula to both engage and challenge them; at the same time we need to figure out how to provide funding. I have been involved in an initiative to provide elementary science resources to our East End schools for three years.
This initiative attracted the attention of Jay Fruin of Montauk, an entrepreneur who has been developing computer software for 35 years. Together, we have formed East End Science and Technology Initiative, a grassroots not-for-profit group dedicated to improving science technology, engineering, and math education on the East End of Long Island. EESTI has begun working with East End educators to identify programs that are not possible to implement in today’s budget situation.
One part of the initiative is to fund professional development that shifts the educational paradigm K-12, removing traditional subject-area thinking-barriers. The goal is to offer students the best opportunity to make sense of the world holistically, rather than in bits and pieces.
EESTI has presented a proposal to fund professional development that addresses this type of course development. More important, we have submitted a proposal to take advantage of that great reservoir of knowledge and experience that we are sitting on — namely, our teachers — a resource which has been overlooked for too long. We have presented a model of collaborative development in which teachers of different disciplines will have joint planning time to develop this type of curricula.
East Hampton District Superintendent Rich Burns has stated numerous times that he wants to move our educational system until it is the envy of Suffolk County and beyond. We may have found a way to begin moving.
School Board Candidate
Very Slippery Slope
April 28, 2013
Francis Jennings’s letter in the April 25 Star notes that the developers of the 555 project (housing for people 55 and over) are seeking feedback from local residents. This resident thinks it’s a bad idea!
It is true that there are many senior citizens in this community whose homes are too large for them because their children have moved and/or they are widowed, and I must admit that when I first heard about this project the idea was appealing. However, on further reflection, many problems jumped out. The most blatant is the fact that the comprehensive plan specifically restricts commercial and residential development in this area. Given this fact, 555 should be a nonstarter.
Further, its scale seems much too large for the location. The proposal calls for 89 units, although the present zoning (as Mr. Jenkins notes in his letter) allows only 43 units, 36 of which must be affordable. Changing zoning laws to accommodate a specific segment of the population would, I fear, lead us down a very slippery slope.
Although Mr. Jennings dangles the carrots of “zero-net energy” and “zero wastewater‚” the fact is that the area in question contains prime agricultural land with scenic vistas, and is located in a community that values its history and what is left of its rural quality.
The cost of the 555 units that start at $850,000 places them out of reach of many people. Even those who sell their larger homes in order to buy one of these units might not be able to afford the predictably high maintenance, which tends to go up on a regular basis. Although it might be argued that it will bring greater tax revenues, Amagansett, with its very small school population, is not the hamlet that most needs the tax money — Springs is. What about a middle-income housing development earmarked for senior citizens in Springs? This would bring much needed revenue to the Springs School District, and people over 55 are not likely to add to the school population.
I can’t help but wonder who advised these Connecticut-based developers that this town would be amenable to the creation of a large housing development in Amagansett when the zoning laws dictate otherwise.
A Cradle of Invention
April 29, 2013
To the Editor:
While your editorial “Big, Bad Idea for Amagansett” (18 April) took us slightly by surprise, almost all innovative new projects in old places are initially contentious; they take time to appreciate.
I’ve lived in East Hampton some 43 years, have grown to know and love the place, its people, and its customs. As an architect and town planner, I have used both its ingenious and changing layout and the richness of its evolving architectural styles as models for other places. Think for a moment of its mixed-use Main Street, the offshoot nature sanctuary of Hook Pond with its ducks and deer almost in the center of things, or the visual treatment of a portion of a private golf course as a public park. Or take a look at the fine public buildings, Guild Hall and the library, each being altered now. It’s as if the flagpole, the tallest and most elegant I can remember anywhere, encourages us to think high‚ and often.
That is, East Hampton and the other East End villages from Southampton to Amagansett, in one sense inheritors of the same Anglo/Dutch DNA, began to change at the end of the 19th century (enter the artists and Queen Anne!). These changing and invigorating settings, originally shaped in part by the Gulf Stream and ancient glacial activity, explain why so many architects, landscape architects, designers, artists, writers, actors, musicians, builders, and developers want to work here. It is at once both an old place and a cradle of invention and change; a characteristic of all memorable, creative, and popular places.
Let me explain who we are and what we propose to do in Amagansett.
Our firm, with offices both here and in New York City, has worked before with all of the consultants on our design team; all are first class and know the area well. We have also worked before with the developers, Putnam Bridge, who are the best; realistic, flexible, deeply committed, totally reliable; a pleasure to work with. Our land-use attorney is a well known and trusted local professional. This closely integrated team has done extensive research which confirms not only the need for this sort of facility but for its size and location.
Moreover, our advanced systems‚ both on-site generation of all electric power and underground water purification‚ make this the most advanced, sustainable, “green” project in this part of the country, a professional requirement in a world increasingly shaped by the realities of global warming.
Cooper, Robertson & Partners has done prize-winning projects nearby‚ numerous houses, clubs, gardens, as well as the Ross School master plan and St. Luke’s new Parish House‚ as well as work all over the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and China. Yet working on the East End always means the most to us . . . very simply, because it is our home‚ a place we want to enhance as well as protect.
It’s useful to know that a lot of people like the idea of this facility in this location not only because it serves a real need, but because it is financially viable and will strengthen the local businesses and land values. The layout optimizes public open spaces and encourages walking, starting with a landscaped path that runs from one end of the property to the other! There are three “greens‚” which shape the plan, one at each end which are smaller and a larger arrival area in the middle. The areas between these open greens are residential; a patchwork of cottages, gardens, small and large interwoven paths, each with different frontages and outlooks; where people live and move about. The large central green has a pond, a field house, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, and exercise facilities. The streets are tree-lined with grass curbs. They are placed so as to channel breezes and provide clear vistas to the beautiful open fields to the north. There are three existing and approved ungated public access roads, each with its own character, as well as one gated service road. The frontage along the highway will be handsomely landscaped with privet hedges and symmetrically placed deciduous trees.
Thus 555 will be an appropriate new enclave in an increasingly beautiful Garden District, which replaces McMansions with fresh new kinds of cottages, all of which provide ongoing care for an increasingly larger number of elderly people — a growing and important segment of our population who are energized, productive, and creative.
We would recommend that all who are interested in this important new precinct see the beautiful renderings in the 555 booklet. As they say, a picture is worth. . . .
JAQUELIN T. ROBERTSON
Cooper, Robertson & Partners
Rental and Hotel Taxes
April 29, 2013
To the Editor:
I recently read that the Long Island Rail Road experienced a 32-percent increase in year-over-year ridership to the East End last year. That was obviously good news for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bottom line. It was also a welcome boost to the many East End business owners and entrepreneurs, and their employees who cater to the seasonal crowd. Less of a boon to residents and visitors trying to make a left turn, or enjoy a quiet day at the beach. It is a fact of our lives that we live in an attractive and popular summer resort.
Whatever side of the unfortunate and in many ways counterproductive partisan divide we endorse, at whatever point we inhabit the bell curve between so-called tree-huggers and those who claim that piping plovers taste like chicken, it is primarily East Hampton property owners whose taxes for the most part fund the town, its operations, and schools throughout the year. And it is East Hampton year-round residents and property owners who help fund the necessary increase in town-provided services during the aptly named “long season,” when the summer population explodes, notwithstanding parking tickets and some nonresident fees.
Thus, we need to have a community-wide conversation about increasing town revenue without adding to the residents’ tax burden.
Here’s a starting point. Our town board should devise a rental tax of at least 1.5 percent, if not more, on all East Hampton residential and commercial leases regardless of their length, payable by the property owner. This should be accompanied by an East Hampton Town hotel tax of, say, 5 percent.
Both of these taxes should be earmarked to maintaining our beaches, and providing the necessarily increased services our property taxes now provide to summer visitors.
Compliance issues abound, complaints resound, property agents are gnashing their teeth. Will people stop coming? Doubt it.
Additional revenue directly to the town from our summer visitors will free up resources for our schools and resident services, and defray the inevitable increases in taxes dictated by the ever-increasing costs for virtually everything. At least, we need to have the conversation.
IRA M. BAROCAS
Take It Off the Market
April 27, 2013
It was reported in The Star that some on the town board believe that the Fort Pond House property in Montauk was purchased as an investment, with the intention that it might be sold in the future. As the councilperson coordinating that acquisition in 2002, I can attest that there was no discussion or intention to do anything except keep it in the town’s holdings.
The funding source was not from a dedicated open space program, which makes a sale possible, only because the supervisor at the time wanted additional flexibility in future uses of the upland away from the pond.
Given that the financial crisis is behind us, as a friendly gesture toward his Montauk neighbors, it would be a conciliatory act for Supervisor Wilkinson to take it off the market.
Fort Pond House
April 28, 2013
To the Editor:
Once again Council members Overby and Van Scoyoc have revisited the sale of Fort Pond House (“Montauk’s Fort Pond House Still for Sale,” The Star, April 25). They want the house withdrawn from the market and given back to the community.
Whether or not the house should be sold is up to the town board. However, I strongly urge Council members Overby and Van Scoyoc to take a tour of the house, inside and out, and the grounds. I fear their position is a knee-jerk reaction that the house is safe for our residents, children, and grandchildren. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When Overby and Van Scoyoc campaigned for their seats, I asked them at the Montauk debate whether either of them had ever been to Fort Pond House. Each responded in the negative. With all due respect, in order for them, or anyone, to make a reasoned and intelligent decision about removal of the house from the market, it is an absolute must that they see first-hand what it is they are trying to “save.” Otherwise, they will be making a decision based solely on hearsay, void of facts.
In late June 2010, I took a trip to the house because everyone at town board meetings seemed to have an opinion about whether or not the house should be sold. I went to see for myself. On June 26, 2010, I presented my findings at a town board work session (available at the LTV archives).
My findings and presentation led to an inspection by the town fire marshal, because once put on notice of the horrendous conditions at the house, the town’s liability came to the forefront. I found appalling conditions at the house, including a roof in dire need of repair or replacement, broken concrete steps, uneven, warped floor boards, a musty damp smell permeating the inside, signs of roof leaks in the living room, exposed electric wires hanging from the ceiling, no apparent smoke detectors, smelly, moldy carpeting on the floor (where children might sit), and filthy, disgusting conditions in the bathroom with not much better care taken in the kitchen, refrigerator, or freezer — neither room would pass a health department inspection.
There may be access to Fort Pond from the house, but all of the trails and entryways — overgrown with brush, weeds, vegetation, and low-hanging branches — are in dire need of clearing and/or trimming. There was more, but I’m sure you get the idea. I have read that the fire marshal found 20 or so violations.
I believe that if the house were a private residence, it would be a candidate for condemnation. Who knows what is behind the walls or in the pipes?
My point is, if Fort Pond House is to be kept by the town for its residents, it must be made into a safe, clean environment. I would guess that tens of thousands of dollars will have to be spent to put the house in usable, sanitary condition. There is no question that on day one after a vote by the board to keep the house, it could not be turned over to the community as Council members Overby and Van Scoyoc seem to think. If they intend to continue their attempts to have Fort Pond House removed from the sale list, it is imperative that they take a trip to Montauk to get a firsthand view of what it will take to bring this property up to code and to meet all proper health standards so our residents may use and enjoy it safely. I suggest that Councilman Stanzione accompany his fellow council members to Fort Pond House so he will be able to make up his mind as to which side of the issue he wishes to support.
Dog in the Manger
April 29, 2013
It is high time that the Republican majority of the East Hampton Town Board stop behaving and barking like the proverbial dog in the manger and give Fort Pond House back to the public!
You remember the fable: The farm dog, snarling and snapping, appropriates the grain-filled manger, thus preventing the horse and cows from eating their food. In this modern iteration, the manger represents Fort Pond House with its sole access to the pond, its picnic grounds, its classrooms for Third House nature classes, Boy Scouts meetings, artists and writers sessions, tutoring classes for autistic children, and other community services. The dog represents the three Republican board members who just voted again to keep Fort Pond House on the disinterested real estate market and off-limits and out of bounds for the citizens of East Hampton, who own it.
For almost three years, this property is, as Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc notes, “in limbo,” unmaintained, unused, and continuing to amass legal bills — at least $30,000 so far. And, adds Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, yet another outside attorney has been hired to continue to shield the town against the charge that the property as municipal parkland cannot be sold without state legislative approval. So the costs to East Hampton taxpayers continue to mount.
And, in a remarkable knee-jerk negative reaction to Ms. Overby’s resolution to rescind the attempted sale of Fort Pond House, Councilwoman Quigley invents the fiction that this property was purchased “for the specific purpose of land-banking — to sell later for financial needs.” This is not the truth. The town board resolution of Sept. 10, 2002, authorizing the purchase of the Fort Pond property reads: “whereas the Town Board has been offered . . . a 4.4-acre improved parcel off land fronting on Fort Pond, Montauk, the acquisition of which would provide public access to the pond and could be used for a variety of municipal purposes . . . the purpose of the acquisition is general municipal use which may include park use such as a beach or picnic area on Fort Pond.”
It is now May 2013. The financial health of the town has improved. How much longer will community assets and services be held at bay by the barking dog in the manger?
April 22, 2013
I know that the Democratic Committee has yet to choose its candidate for town supervisor.
Zachary Cohen and Larry Cantwell are both campaigning for the nomination. It is times like this that renew my lifetime pride in being a political Democrat. Our party is so rich in qualified and dedicated candidates for all the offices that are up for re-election, that choosing any of the names that are under consideration would be providing our town with the leadership it deserves.
Who are the Republican candidates? They are scrambling for anyone capable or even willing to run. Why?
They are adrift in the results of their immaturity and ego-driven tantrums. They really blew it by abandoning the pledge of governing wisely, fairly, and maturely with the needs of our town coming before their own.
If I were still managing a multimillion-dollar enterprise (which East Hampton surely is) and had to put out the call for a new chief operating officer (supervisor), I would be fortunate and grateful that I had the choice of either Cantwell or Cohen, two candidates that were both so professionally qualified and worthy in character, to be the chief executive and spokesperson representing me and our town.
Whether Democrat or Republican, choose the best and most experienced person for the job. Don’t shortchange yourself with a mindless commitment by party alone.
We all deserve the best.
April 29, 2013
To the Editor,
Stephen Lynch has tackled the job of superintendent of highways, saved the town a bundle of money, improved working conditions for his men, made homeowners happy, and kept us rolling as well as possible during storms. When in a crowd, it’s hard to get him because people seem to gather quickly with “would you?” and “could you?” and “thank you” stories. Steve is so experienced and knowledgeable and pleasant we are confident in his future innovations.
Experienced, extreme experience: This year the trustee candidates from which to choose have been through the trials and tribulations known to the best of trustees. We have named Stephanie Talmage Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Nat Miller, Steven Lester, Tim Bock, and Diane McNally from those already on the job. And for their working everyday knowledge of the waters surrounding us, and the trustee-owned roads, creeks, and breeding estuaries, we have included the names Brian Pardini, Brian Byrnes, and Dennis Curles.
The Independence Party is committed to achieving the best government the town can possibly offer. That involves candidates from both parties working diligently together toward the best approach and innovations for our town. The Independence Party itself will work endlessly to achieve these goals.
Two Department Heads
April 29. 2013
The League of Women Voters, the Group for Good Government, and the East Hampton Business Alliance will sponsor a forum to explore if the Town of East Hampton should add a town manager to its staff. The forum will take place on May 4, at 3 p.m. at the East Hampton Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street. These groups have kindly asked me to be on the panel of the forum.
The sponsoring groups as well as the town’s budget and finance advisory committee have recommended that the town would be well served if it hired a town administrator (a commonly preferred name among towns in New York State). However, The East Hampton Star has voiced concern that a town administrator might remove too much control from the town board and would then vest too much power in one nonelected official.
I concur with our civic groups and the budget committee that the operations and the budget of the Town of East Hampton have become so vast and complex that we need professionals to lead our financial and operational activities. Town board members do not have enough time to do the best job of managing day-to-day operations when they also have to analyze the difficult policy decisions facing the town, attend numerous town and citizen meetings, and spend time addressing the concerns of individual constituents.
But I also share the concern about removing too much power from the town board and concentrating it in one individual. I solve that dilemma in two ways. First, my proposal splits the organizational structure into two equally important departments, one for finance and the other for administration. Each department will be led by the appropriate professional, and will serve the entire town board. Second, while much of the financial and administrative work of the board will transfer to these departments, the town board and supervisor will retain all the rights and responsibilities which are legally granted to them by New York State Town Law.
The finance department will be led by a finance professional, preferably a certified public accountant. The head of this department will act as the financial adviser to the supervisor. That guarantees that the supervisor, who by state law is the town’s treasurer, will receive the highest level of financial advice. The town’s present finance division will require only modest changes to enact the organizational structure I propose.
The town administrator will implement the policies established by the town board. He or she will be responsible for coordinating operations within and between town departments in order to most efficiently administer such policies. The town administrator will advise the town board on policy issues being discussed. The value of a town administrator will far exceed his or her cost.
Both department heads will be equal within the town’s organizational chart. There will be many times when the two department heads work together. There will be natural checks and balances to the decision-making powers of each department. The contracts for these two department heads should straddle election cycles, rather than beginning and ending each time a new supervisor is elected. Thus, the professional management of the town will transcend politics and will also provide institutional knowledge for incoming board members and the supervisor.
April 28, 2013
David Gruber, who lives beneath a key landing pattern to the airport, contends that East Hampton should unilaterally regulate air traffic with no regard for Federal Aviation Administration process or procedure.
That would expose the town to years of multimillion-dollar litigation from the aviation industry with very deep pockets. Since helicopter traffic is regulated by Congress, no local municipality in the country has been able to unilaterally restrict helicopter traffic at a public airport. To be successful, such regulation needs to be done in conjunction with the F.A.A.
Mr. Gruber claims if East Hampton unilaterally restricted helicopters it would not threaten the town’s financial integrity. But Mr. Gruber, a wealthy hedge fund owner, was a financial adviser to former Supervisor Bill McGintee, who very nearly bankrupted the town.
Can the town afford to go back to taking financial advice from Mr. Gruber?
East Hampton Aviation Association
Lesser of Two Evils
April 29, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
In his letter published April 22, David Gruber essentially states, and I quote, “Let them [the airport users] pay for their own airport.”
And in the very same letter, “No more F.A.A. money. Local control.”
First, Federal Aviation Administration money. It does not grow on trees. It is tax money. It is financed by excise taxes, jet fuel, and Avgas taxes, as well as passenger-ticket taxes. Even Mr. Gruber pays into the fund when he flies to France, or any other place.
It is our money, we already paid it.
We all know that in this fiscal climate, Washington is not particularly inclined to write checks to municipalities. Nevertheless, the town should apply for the funds. The town should not simply forfeit them because of the continuous insistence of a single litigious and obsessive individual pursuing his own agenda.
Wasn’t there a unanimous vote of the town board, more than a year ago, to do just that? And I mean u-na-ni-mous. Or was I dreaming?
Second, local control. In principle there should no objection to reasonable restrictions. In a society, they are a necessary inconvenience, whether to counter aircraft noise or any other noise or annoyance. But reasonable as defined by David Gruber?
Thanks but no thanks. All of a sudden F.A.A. grant assurances became the obvious lesser of two evils, and by far.
East Hampton Aviation Association
Taking F.A.A. Money
April 24, 2013
Former Supervisor Judith Hope’s recent letter suggesting that we work cooperatively with the Federal Aviation Administration to enact airport restrictions ignores the essential issue: The acceptance of F.A.A. grants will immediately surrender the power to exercise independent local airport control. Why is taking F.A.A. money so important to her?
Ms. Hope’s self-interest is obvious. Her husband, Tom Twomey, pilots an airplane, reportedly to another home in the Nantucket-Martha’s Vineyard area. The Twomey office is the business address of the East Hampton Aviation Association, the airport-user lobbying group. There can be little doubt Ms. Hope no longer speaks as a disinterested public servant.
What she, Mr. Twomey, and the airport lobby all mean by not having an “adversarial relationship” with the F.A.A. is that the town should accept new F.A.A. grant money. That policy certainly makes airport use cheaper for users. If the F.A.A. pays, users do not have to contribute.
However, F.A.A. money comes with strings attached. The F.A.A. requires unlimited airport access for all aircraft, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Indeed, some years back the F.A.A. rejected a modest town proposal to limit airport hours and restrict touch-and-go landings. F.A.A. policy is no secret to the former supervisor.
No amount of “cooperation” will magically change F.A.A. rules. It has never voluntarily permitted local access restrictions at an airport under its control. Naples, Fla., won the right to impose local restriction only after protracted federal litigation, at a staggering cost of some $6 million.
Recently, Town of East Hampton consultants requested a down payment of $500,000 just to study the types of restrictions the F.A.A. might accept. It is a fool’s errand. The experts estimated that the cost for a full study would exceed $2 million. They conceded that it was unclear whether the F.A.A. would agree to restrictions, or if Naples-scale litigation would be required. How long would $2 million or $6 million fund a quiet, locally controlled airport?
In contrast, if we decline new F.A.A. grants, it is certain that we regain the power to enact local rules, without asking permission. When current F.A.A. obligations expire on Dec. 31, 2014, the town will recover the power to impose commonsense local restrictions. We can lawfully restrict airport hours, limit landings and takeoffs, and limit or ban helicopters as we see fit.
Why make a multimillion-dollar guess that the F.A.A. might consent to restrictions when it is certain that local control will become available if we just decline new F.A.A. money?
The United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, has explicitly upheld local control at non-F.A.A. airports. That decision is binding federal law in East Hampton, unless and until changed by the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress. The F.A.A. must obey the rulings of the Court of Appeals.
Declining F.A.A. money is not adversarial. It is a sensible act of independence. By doing so we regain the power the town now lacks to impose the “reasonable, enforceable restrictions” that Ms. Hope claims to want, but which Tom Twomey and the airport lobby bend every effort to make impossible.
JEFFREY L. BRAGMAN
Old Helicopter Route
April 29, 2013
David Gruber and Kathleen Cunningham are proposing to spread the agony of unending helicopter noise to residents of Northwest Woods. It is ill-advised, and, if I may be blunt, not smart, unless their goal is to create noise in Northwest Woods to gather more supporters to close the airport. Then, of course, it is a smart but cynical move on their part.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione has been tirelessly working to reduce helicopter noise in our neighborhoods by supporting the implementation of a $266,000 town study that recommended the old helicopter route west of the airport — not over Northwest.
I am a pilot and have flown over the old helicopter route, and I can tell you there are few houses there.
Why on earth would anyone want to increase noise level in Northwest Woods by changing that route? Okay. Now you fill in the blanks.
‘It Is Only Fair’
April 28, 2013
I make no apologies for joining dozens of my neighbors petitioning the town not to return helicopter traffic over Northwest Woods, East Hampton, this summer.
In 2003, after a thorough data-based field study that cost $266,000, the professional airport noise experts hired by the town recommended keeping the old route along the LIPA power line to the west of the airport. A few years after the study, the helicopter route was inexplicably changed to the Northwest Woods.
Residents of Northwest, and the fragile ecology of Northwest Creek, have borne the brunt of helicopter noise for the past seven years. It is only fair for this neighborhood to get some relief until more comprehensive regulations can be achieved on a larger scale.
April 27, 2013
To the Editor:
Congratulations to the brave yeoman bowmen of the East End. The deer harvest is up. Such splendid news warrants an appropriate celebration.
I suggest an annual East Hampton Deer Harvest Festival. Think of the possibilities: a deer chili competition, Boy Scouts raising money at deer hot dog and burger stands, costumed L.V.I.S. ladies selling deerskin moccasins, gloves, and slippers. And games for adults and children! Mounted deer heads are perfect for ring toss and horseshoes; smaller children can pin the tail on Bambi. Rodeo games such as deer roping might also be fun.
The grand finale would be, of course, an archery exhibition, in which our brave local hunters show off their prowess killing a selection of bucks, antlerless deer, does, and fawns that have been reserved for the occasion. Barbecue to follow.
What It Really Is
April 29, 2013
I loved your headline “The Deer Harvest Was Up.” Like harvesting summer vegetables. Except that deer are living, gentle creatures who feel a great deal of pain, and die slowly when maimed but not killed by bow and arrow, sometimes walking around with an arrow in their bodies for days until they finally succumb. Why don’t you call it “The Deer Killing” or “Deer Wounding” instead, which is what it really is. The word harvest sounds so lovely. It most assuredly is not.
I do admire your he-man bow-and-arrow warriors, though records show that not so many of them hit their target (that’s the deer) squarely, sometimes hitting them in the eye and blinding them as they die in excruciating pain, or just hitting an artery where they bleed to death slowly. Your article mentions that in Suffolk, those hunting under the state’s regular big game license harvested 1,137 deer, 1,004 by bow hunters. Wow.
His Prison Buddies
April 28, 2013
I was thrilled to read about the split-second police action following the daring midnight theft of three Rubbermaid Seabreeze air fresheners from the Montauk Lighthouse restrooms. Visitors to the East End will breathe more easily knowing that the air fresheners were seized and returned to the restrooms.
On another matter, let’s pray that on every single day of Edward Orr’s regrettably short prison term, his prison buddies show him all the compassion he merits for his guilt in the hit-and-run death of John Judge.
Noted on the Record
April 29, 2013
I am the defense attorney for Melvin C. Smith of East Hampton. The following is based on information and belief provided by conversations with him and his witness, Brandon Albert, my personal knowledge, and official court documents filed in his case:
On April 10 at approximately 9 a.m. two members of the East Hampton Town Police Department went to Melvin’s home. The officers went there to investigate an incident that occurred the day before, a complaint of an alleged assault with a knife by Melvin against Mark Wesnofke of East Hampton.
On April 10 at 9:05 a.m. Melvin told the officers, “We had a fight. He was supposed to fix my car.” Melvin was not arrested. He was told to come to police headquarters that afternoon to give his version of what happened. The officers left. Then Melvin left to make a doctor’s appointment UpIsland.
On April 10 at 4:35 p.m. Melvin was arrested at his home by an officer different than those that came by earlier. He was taken to police headquarters, booked, and charged with assault in the second degree, a class-D felony, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a class-A misdemeanor. He was held overnight to be arraigned the following morning.
On April 11 Melvin was arraigned on the above charges. During his arraignment the assistant district attorney argued that Melvin had more than two prior felony convictions, that bail had to be set in a superior court. Melvin was held without bail pending grand jury action. At his arraignment he requested his right to testify before the grand jury. I also noted on the record that his witness, Mr. Albert, was in court.
On April 15 I served written grand jury notice on the district attorney, informing him that Melvin requested to testify before the grand jury hearing his case. He also requested the grand jury hear a witness on his behalf, Mr. Albert.
On April 16 Melvin testified before the grand jury that Mark Wesnofke started the fight, then lost. Mr. Albert was waiting in the district attorney’s office to testify on Melvin’s behalf; he was not called by the grand jury, unusual, but legal.
The grand jury dismissed the felony assault in the second degree and the criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. It did direct the district attorney to file, in our town court, a prosecutors information charging assault in the third degree, a class-A misdemeanor. It didn’t hear enough testimony to reasonably believe that Melvin possessed a knife.
The police did not arrest Melvin because he is black; he was arrested because an assault complaint was made against him. His past is being held against him, not by the police, but by an overzealous prosecution.
Melvin is still in jail in lieu of bail.
April 25, 2013
Because of political correctness, neither your reviewer, Ms. Natalie Naylor, nor the author, Ms. Kathleen Velsor, knows or understands (giving both the benefit of the doubt) that America’s creation of the infamous Middle Passage and the Triangle slave trade was begun by the Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, and continued, along with the opium trade, as a major source of New England’s revenue stream until the 1860s.
According to the Dec. 12, 1638, entry in Winthrop’s journal, Winthrop ordered the Salem ship captain William Pierce and America’s first slaver, “Desire‚” to take captured and enslaved Pequot Indian braves to the West Indies to trade them for Negroes, tobacco, salt, cotton, molasses, and rum. This was done to end their threat of revenge and insurrection. Thus was born the vast New England fortunes of names such as Cabot, Forbes, Royall, Faneuil, Brown, Bannister, and Waldo, a k a the Brahmin fortunes of the secret six, and many of those who would later fund America’s first white terrorist (as opposed to Nat Turner and Toussaint), John Brown.
The Quakers were also major players in the slave trade (for the record, the Quakers did do a much better job of protesting Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan Roundheads’ ethnic cleansing and enslavement of the Irish and their removal to Barbados and Virginia), until the use of slaves proved to be unprofitable. The climate and the poor soil conditions of New England ended the practice in all but a few locations, such as the plantation region of Rhode Island.
The slave trade, however, remained highly profitable for New England, and she kept her hand in it until the bitter end. This was to come for the Maine ship’s captain Nathaniel Gordon at the end of a rope in 1862.
In other words, it is nice that New England Quakers and Puritans got religion and guilt (simultaneously?) and helped those that they had enslaved (at a profit) to later escape. But their hypocrisy is overwhelming. I will give them this — slaves both white and black were treated well here as compared to the West Indies. But I will not be buying any of these books anytime soon, because they are irrelevant. Q.E.D.
Instead, I will focus on dispelling the great myth which (again thanks to political correctness) destroyed Federalism, as the founders envisioned it — that the Republican Party began as a conservative organization.
It most decidedly did not.
The modern Republican Party was begun in Ripon, Wis., at the defunct Wisconsin Phalanx, by a group of Horace Greeley Fourierian socialists and Marxists. We can thank the Ripon, Wis., Chamber of Commerce’s history page for providing the truth in plain sight: “On May 27, 1844, the first settlers of the Ripon area reached their destination. They were members of the Wisconsin Phalanx — nineteen men and one boy — who were led by young Warren Chase. Inspired by Charles Fourier’s principles of social philosophy, the Phalanx set out from Kenosha to establish a community which was to be an experiment in what we today would call Socialism.”
“They named this community “Ceresco” after the Roman goddess of the harvest, and located it in a valley nestled between two hills. Before long, this was the home of more than 200 idealists. The members constructed several commonly-owned dwellings called long houses . . . one of which still stands on its original site. For five years the Fourierites prospered to an extent greater than those in most utopian socialist experiments. To this day, this area continues to be called Ceresco.”
“For two years, a rivalry flourished between Warren Chase and David P. Mapes, who arrived in 1849, over the future of their adjacent communities. It soon became apparent that Ceresco would not survive, and the Phalanx Corporation dissolved, disposing of its property and dividing up its substantial profits in 1851. The six-year experiment had been an economic success, but a social failure.” Source: riponmainst.com/riponmainst/hist.html.
This knowledge is why you haven’t heard from me for a while. I would rather take special delight reading your regular twin nattering nabobs of negativity, Higer and Hausig, in your letters section, knowing full well that they would have been radical Republicans in the 1850s, 1860s, and throughout radical reconstruction. Those wishing to argue about my characterization of John Brown should first read Brown confederate James Townsley’s confession as to the truth of the Pottawatomie Massacres.
To bring this discussion full circle, Lion Gardiner, who made his bones in the 1637 Pequod War and advised John Winthrop against his course of action mentioned above.
Oliver Cromwell’s statement following the purge of Drogheda in 1649 should forever haunt the radical abolitionist movement: “I am persuaded that this is righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood, and that it will tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future.”
OTIS A. GLAZEBROOK IV
Missing in Action
April 24, 2013
To the Editor,
The most useful and best pet carrier I owned sported a bumper sticker that stated “Artificial Intelligence is No Match for Natural Stupidity.” Examples of that statement are seen and experienced daily. ’Twas, ’tis, and ’twill always be a total act of natural stupidity to arrest a gentleman whose name is Paul Kevin Curtis and accuse him of mailing ricin to our Irish president, Mr. O’Bama. Damn it, he readily admitted to not even eating rice, or for that matter even liking rice. Clue?
Possibly, if Paul Kevin had removed his jacket he could have revealed a tee-shirt stating (as my favorite threadbare green one does), Cultivate peace and potatoes.
Probably, the nearest Paul Kevin ever came to a paddy field was giving or listening to a rendition of “McAlpine’s Fusiliers.”
Back to that pet carrier. Having studied Shakespeare ad nauseam, my own natural stupidity didn’t heed his words, neither a borrower, etc., so I lent the carrier. This carrier is now missing in action, or possibly, worse, missing and inactive. If you set eyes on this green pet carrier, immediately apprehend it, do not contact the F.B.I., C.I.A., or Homeland Security. Just give it to me.
I am P.L. (potato lover) and I totally approve this message.
P.S. Ricin. Howdo: ’Tis a long way from Ricin, or, indeed, rice, that Paul Kevin Curtis and meself were reared!
Cycle of Violence
April 29, 2013
To the Editor,
A blurb on the front page of The New York Times, “U.S. Plans Mideast Arms Sale.” Wary of Iran, the Pentagon will sell $10 billion in arms to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Emirates, our allies for the moment. Nevertheless, the bottom line is money.
My interpretation, based on our long history of war: Just create the climate of fear and the arms merchants will be there to profit from war. But will that further destabilize the Middle East? How many more multiple wars can we handle? The cost of these wars is expected to be estimated from $5 trillion to $7 trillion. I believe the cycle of violence is out of control, as well as our debt. Are we not using the credit cards of our children already in heavy debt for student loans? I almost forgot — one in four of our children live under the poverty line. No money for them either.
Finally, money rules. If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.