Letters to the Editor: 06.27.13

Our readers' comments

Wonderful Program
    East Hampton
    June 20, 2013
Dear Editor:
    The preschool at the Neighborhood House, located on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton, is a wonderful program for 3 and 4-year-olds. It runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. There is a wide variety of activities planned throughout the year and they have delightful creative performances where the little tots really belt out a tune. It is absolutely adorable to watch them.
    Thank you Frances Graham, Annmarie Field, Marcia Schenck, and Michelle Miller for making our grandson, Jackson Trelease, want to go to school with a smile on his face and providing him with a pleasant introduction to the following school years ahead.
    Sincerely,
    SUSAN and JOHN FLAHERTY


Early Learning
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    Each June we look forward to bringing together the families and friends of our prekindergarten class for a graduation ceremony, and this past Friday was a joyous occasion. Over 70 children came forth to receive their diplomas and move on to the next phase of their academic lives.
    The prekindergarten graduation is the culmination of 20 months of work between the children and their teachers, wherein the children experience critical growth and development in their social skills and early learning.
    On behalf of the staff and the board of directors of the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, I would like to thank those who attended and participated in this year’s ceremony.
    In addition, I would like to thank those who support us throughout the year, including the attendees at our spring benefit, which took place earlier this month.
    Sincerely,
    MAUREEN WIKANE
    Program director


All-Star Dinner
    East Hampton
    June 20, 2013
To the Editor,
    The students of East Hampton High School, along with their parents, myself, and our guidance counselor Candace Stafford, were thrilled by last week’s All-Star Dinner. Carissa Katz, you were heartfelt and well-spoken during your presentation, and it was such a great opportunity to recognize our own rising seniors and to meet, and hear about, the terrific kids attending our neighboring schools — Ross, Pierson, and Bridgehampton. What a truly amazing bunch of students we have on the South Fork!
    Thank you again for carrying on this tradition. It was a wonderful, intimate event that meant so much to all of us in the midst of end-of-year chaos.
    Best wishes,
    ADAM FINE
    Principal
    East Hampton High School


Education = Success
    Montauk
    June 24, 2013
Dear Editor,
    The education and well-being of our children, not busy seasons, are the true measure of our success. Thank you, residents of Montauk, for your trust and support through the years.
    Sincerely,
    THERESE WATSON


The Rock
For Wayne R. (Skeeter) Vorpahl
You may have fished right above me, you may have been anchored right beside me, but we both know, with the sweet, salty taste on your lips, and the early sun in your eyes, we both knew this was here.
To Billy, Mary, and Tommy, and the extended family, that I truly love, stay as tight as the nets that you mend.
    KARL JOHANSON

Protect Our Cyclists
    Sag Harbor
    June 24, 2013
Dear Editor,
    On Saturday, June 15, the collective negligence of our elected officials, administrators, and the general public claimed another life. In recent years, we established the tragic tradition of killing at least one cyclist annually on the East End. Let the death of a 14-year-old girl not be in vain. We must break this wave of violence and protect our most vulnerable road users: cyclists and pedestrians.
    Lower speed limits, stricter and more rigorous enforcement, and infrastructure designed to guarantee user safety, and not vehicle speeds, would even save motorists’ lives, besides making us healthier and more social.
    Recent initiatives like Safe Routes to School in Springs and efforts to establish a cycling network in East Hampton are steps in the right direction; let’s build on these examples, making sure they are well implemented and have community support, and help them spread throughout the area.
    To do anything else would be criminal.
    Sincerely,
    JONAS HAGEN


A Gauntlet of Dangers
    East Hampton
    June 19, 2013
To the Editor:
    To say nothing of the cost in human terms, the tragedy of the 14-year-old bicyclist dragged to her death beneath an S.U.V. at the intersection of Pantigo Road and Gay Lane on June 15 was an accident waiting to happen.
    There is no intersection in East Hampton more dangerous. Cars coming from the east (from Amagansett and Montauk) going to CVS, the post office, the Amaden Gay Agency, or a house on the lane, run a gauntlet of dangers.
    To begin with, vehicles make a left-hand turn from a left-turning lane on Pantigo Road, avoiding the traffic coming from the other direction. They turn at either a 90-degree angle into the roadway leading to the CVS parking lot, without running over pedestrians who are walking to or from town, or they make a sharper left-hand turn, doing their best to avoid banging into both the vehicles exiting from the CVS lot and the pedestrians who are crossing from the post office to their cars parked across the street, in order to continue down Gay Road.
    Vehicles coming from the west, that is from the center of town, travel down a hill, around a curve, and bear right rather than make a turn into Gay Road. But once there they face the same obstacle course faced by those vehicles coming from the east.
    Adding to the problem is the fact that although the lanes on Pantigo Road are very clearly marked, if there is considerable traffic on Pantigo coming from the west (as there is every weekend — the accident occurred on a Saturday afternoon at about 1:25), impatient drivers wishing to make a left turn on to Accabonac Road will move into the left-hand turning lane for cars coming from the east in order to gain a few yards and avoid several moments’ wait, the same lane that drivers from the east are moving into to make their left-hand turn into CVS and the post office.
    There is no light; there is no warning sign; there is no policeman; there isn’t even a  zebra stripe crossing (as there is in the village) at the intersection to alert vehicles. Pedestrians coming from the post office tend to be distracted by their mail and those walking into or from town have neither a light nor a sign that there is any danger.
    If a red light at the intersection of Pantigo and Gay Roads is impossible, perhaps a yellow light to alert drivers that there is potential danger and they need to proceed with caution would be a good idea. In addition, the stop sign for cars exiting the CVS parking lot is located too far back. It should be placed just before a car turns onto the lane, making clear that the traffic turning into Gay Road from Pantigo Road has the right of way over those exiting from the parking lot. Zebra stripes on the pedestrian walks might help. Perhaps at a time of very heavy traffic there should be a policeman at the intersection. There certainly are numbers of policemen in town where the crossings are very clearly marked, where there are lights, and where there are signs.
    Everything must be done to ensure that our most vulnerable — those who bike and those who walk — as well as careful drivers, should not be at risk.
    Sincerely,
    RUTH MILBERG-KAYE


No Safe Place
    East Hampton
    June 19, 2013
Editor,
    Heartbroken over the loss of young Anna Lytton, I am angry at myself and the system of failures that put her and Ms. Brennan in a situation which could only have led to injury or death eventually. Neither the driver nor the cyclist can be blamed for what transpired. It was a true “perfect storm” of factors that should have been addressed a decade ago and never was. Had the vortex of uncontrolled activity, the frustration, rage, and dangerous behaviors those factors inculcated over those years been appropriately dealt with, both victims in this case would still be whole.
    Ten years ago it became apparent that the village had chosen to shove this issue to the back burner. I am angry that I did not open my big fat mouth more aggressively and more consistently and follow up with concerns based on personal experiences and common sense. I wonder if battling this situation all those years might have made a difference.
    Cars back up into the highway. The circus procession leads to aggressive and life-threatening illegal moves by both pedestrians and vehicles. Traffic barrels off that hill and pedestrians are forced to cross in unsafe conditions. This death points to the constant frightful reality we now all must live with. There is no safe place on any of our village streets.
    Main Street is a disaster. Newtown Lane has become a park-like setting with pedestrians meandering aimlessly across streets with cigarettes, coffee, and cellphones. Children and adults ride bikes and skateboard with abandon. The foot patrol states, “I tell them all day long. They just don’t listen.”
    We have forgotten that the easterly exit from the business district is a dangerous off-ramp for frustrated drivers who have been restricted, inconvenienced, and left to their own devices.
    Here’s what needed to be done a decade ago and now must be done, without excuse or procrastination. No vehicle should ever enter the village at Town Pond at a speed of over 15 miles per hour. No vehicle should ever pass through the village at a speed greater than 15 miles per hour. No vehicle should exceed 15 miles per hour until past the light at Egypt Lane. Get it done!
    It is time to grow up, bite the bullet, and set a legitimate, effective crosswalk at Pantigo and Egypt Lane. Get it done!
    It is time for the village to stop making excuses, allocate a small portion of the green at the northwest corner of this intersection and create short-term parking of not more than half an hour. Get it done!
    The village must enforce cycling laws and force jaywalkers to cross at crosswalks. Every season the complete lack of structure, definition, and enforcement puts all of us at risk. I do not understand why we consistently choose not to use the tools created decades ago that are for the safety and betterment of this community. Just do it!
    Over the years, I have heard and begrudgingly accepted several excuses as to why there is no hope of making this situation better: “The state is at fault, they will not put a crosswalk there.” “Generosa Ammon set restrictions on the land when it was transferred to the village, it can’t be used for that.” “The speed limit in the village is set by the state.”
    I don’t know the truth. I do know that we can do anything and change anything that needs to be done to give dignity and honor to the passing of this young woman. There are no excuses legitimate or powerful enough not to get this done.
    Once again, I regret I did not fight harder about this problem. I am deeply saddened by your loss.
MICHAEL DICKERSON


Wrong-Headed Policy
    East Hampton
    June 19, 2013
To The Editor:
    One is at a loss to discover who in the village is responsible for the outrageously wrong-headed policy of dressing inept, illiterate schoolchildren in uniforms and authorizing them to molest the citizenry.
    These backward children roam parking lot and streets, indiscriminately handing out parking tickets at their ignorant whimsy. In one instance a parking lot ticket was issued for a parking tab being upside down, when in fact it was actually right side up but not facing in the boy’s line of sight. When shown his error, the poor child admitted he failed to read it but was unable to rescind the ticket, leading to considerable inconvenience and exasperation. In another instance, a boy went into frantic bewilderment when he saw two cars parked on Newtown Lane whose bumpers he imagined were in contact. He seemed to have no comprehension of the concept of bumpers.
    We pay school taxes for these children’s education, yet they remain simpletons. Then we pay more taxes to support these children for playing cops and robbers on village streets instead of in their playing fields.
    When one complains to a policeman he evades any knowledge and refers one to the justice department, where responsibility is disclaimed and referred to the police department. Both utter the evasive response: “They’re just following the rules‚” reminding one of a paraphrase of that with some very ugly connotations.
    Very truly yours,
    LESTER L. WEINDLING


Why Not a Cab Line?
    East Hampton
    June 21, 2013
Dear David,
    I counted no less that 13 taxis in front of the East Hampton railroad station this past Thursday night, awaiting the arrival of the Cannonball from New York at 6:25 pm. There were few if any parking spaces for me or other locals to pick up passengers. The entire left side of the station was two to three deep with cabs, with no traffic controllers in sight.
    May I suggest an alternative? Why not have the majority of cabs wait in a line at the long-term parking area to be summoned by traffic controllers as needed? As most of us know, this is done quite effectively at airports. Traffic controllers could also check to make sure that the taxis are legitimately registered to service East Hampton residents.
    Something needs to be done. For if this is the situation now on a Thursday, imagine what it will be like in July and August!
    Sincerely,
    JENNY MULLIGAN


Feral Cat Poem #54
A new shrink assures me that
ridding me of my fascination for outcasts
will cure me of the obsession to write
poems about feral cats.

I haul him off in a net, tick-bathe,
inoculate, sterilize and release him
in a strange neighborhood.

See how he likes it.
ED HANNIBAL


Candidates Day
    Amagansett
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    Appreciation to the Good Government Committee for hosting their generous, come one, come all, Meet the Candidates Day on Saturday. This has become an annual tradition, and it’s a good one. No speeches, just an occasion to see the candidates and have them introduce themselves, plus the opportunity for people to chat with them individually and talk with each other.
    Nothing could be more valuable or important in an election year than dialogue about the candidates and the issues. The lovely setting, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres create the right atmosphere for the civil discourse our town needs.
    Sincerely,
    JEANNE FRANKL


Two Talented Leaders
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    I want to acknowledge two talented leaders in our community.
    When Larry Cantwell gave his acceptance speech after being nominated to run for supervisor by the East Hampton Town Democrats, one of the first things he did was to welcome Zachary Cohen, who initially sought to run against him for the supervisor nomination, to be a part of his team. In doing so he displayed the kind of leadership that we need.
    Fortunately, Mr. Cohen has accepted that invitation. His letter to you, printed in the June 20 edition of The Star and captioned, “Demand for Sand,” reveals both the depth of his wisdom and his willingness to do the work necessary to garner important facts, both of which skills will be needed going forward to meet the many challenges ahead.
DAVID WEINSTEIN


The Political Game
    Amagansett
    June 17, 2013
Dear David,
    The local political game is on. The following is obvious.
    1. Democratic candidates are very tall. End to end vertically, the Democratic candidates could command a nice ocean view.
    2. Republican candidates must stop jaywalking!
    3. S-t-e-v-e-n Tekulsky for town justice. You would not call Chief Justice John Roberts, Johnnie, would you?
    4. The Republicans are screening my neighbor’s dog, Theodore Roosevelt, for supervisor. Teddy is formidably friendly, moderately disciplined, and cost-effective.
    5. Kathee Burke-Gonzalez for town board. Viva! Viva! Viva!
    6. The Wilkinson administration tidied up the town checkbook while making an absolute mess of interpersonal relationships.
    7. What do East Hampton town trustees do? Really? Or not?
    All good things,
    DIANA WALKER


Great Success
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    I know you are as delighted as I am that the taxpayers of East Hampton have been the beneficiaries of the great fiscal management of William J. Wilkinson, Supervisor of the Town of East Hampton since Jan. 1, 2010.
    Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Department of State have awarded the Town of East Hampton, under its Government Performance and Efficiency Program, $536,425 in recognition of the Wilkinson administration’s re-engineering of the town’s finances and government as a result of the financial shambles left to us all by Democrats. Of the 932 towns and 62 cities in New York State, East Hampton was the only municipality in Suffolk County and one of just two towns on Long Island to receive this award. In total, only 13 municipalities in the state were recipients of the award.
    In a press release, the state said that his program “rewards local governments for undertaking significant and innovative actions that reduce the property tax burden confronting residents.”
    “This program is an integral part of Governor Cuomo’s agenda to improve efficiency and reduce costs at all levels of government,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales.
    The press release specifically references East Hampton’s reduction of the number of departments through attrition and staff reductions that created a more “cost effective government model” and a concomitant 18 percent drop in the tax levy. Wow!
    This is what professional management looks like, and how fantastic it is, that a governor of the Democratic Party recognizes these stunning accomplishments. Apparently Governor Cuomo, whom your paper endorsed and supported, disagrees with your assessment about the worst supervisor in town history.
    So thank you, Bill, and all of the members of your team, Councilwoman Quigley, Len Bernard, Charlene Kagel, and of course, the rest of the town’s staff that continue to contribute to this great success.
    Sincerely,
    CAROLE CAMPOLO


The Truth Surfaces
    Wainscott
    June 20, 2013
Dear David,
    What fantastic news! The town is receiving a monetary award with “high praise” because of the great job this administration did in “righting the ship!” According to Newsday, and even reported in your own paper, the major accolades were for consolidating government operations and putting in place model financial practices.
    Really?
    You wouldn’t know of these accomplishments if you listen to the vicious critics spewing their venom from the audience at board meetings every week and at every opportunity, or even from reading your paper.
    Unfortunately, these malcontents prefer style over substance. Look at what a fiscal mess the Democratic administration left the town residents when they ran the town. You all covered up incompetence, whitewashed malfeasance, and basically let the board run amok, with no “alert citizen” oversight. You sure have been hyper-vigilant over this administration! We are so fortunate to have you on the case protecting the taxpayers. Tragically, you all weren’t so concerned when we truly needed you to use your power of the pen to uncover and report the wild fiscal mismanagement at Town Hall.
    It is unfortunate that the constant barrage of vituperative insults, innuendos, and outright untruths, hurled nonstop against this administration for almost four years, might give some uninformed residents a negative impression of this administration’s accomplishments. Thank God our reduced tax bills reflected just one of the very tangible truths of the matter.
    And then when you least expect it, on the heels of self-righteous demands for resignations from the usual suspects, the truth surfaces once again. Pesky facts and figures from experts in the real world, with no political agenda, are reported. They acknowledge and reinforce the amazing job that has been done to save East Hampton from the fiscal mess left behind by the Democrats and their ideological, ignorant, front-row sycophants. One cannot ignore the truth, no matter how many and how frequent the obfuscations and mendacities are hurled by the critics. The truth will always win.
    Congratulations and thank you to this administration for a job well done! I prefer the substance over the style myself.
DIANA WEIR


Time to Do More
    Amagansett
    June 18, 2013
To the Editor,
    It is great to see how the local community and politicians have highlighted issues in recent Star articles, such as “Indian Wells Beach Garbage a Disgrace” and “Gansett Hamlet Study.” I appreciate Sylvia Overby’s shot-across-the-bow solution and hope it’s a success.
    My guess, though, is that this is only a minor deterrent and won’t slow down the guest of a guest, brewsky-and-brosky,  spring break-type partying, gar­bage situation, lack of respect for others, and the environment at Indian Wells. I took a photo of garbage in the yard and street, typical on any given Sunday in front of a share house. This is not an issue, as was suggested, of socio-economic class, but an issue of lack of respect and class.
    To study the issue as proposed in the Gansett Hamlet article will create employment for consultants and most likely be irrelevant when reviewed by a changed administration. Committees can think of many reasons solutions won’t work, as opposed to taking action which is promptly required.
    One suggestion may be to adhere to and enforce the existing town codes on share houses. Many houses are rented to between 10 and 20 unrelated people. This may not be favored by our local real estate agents or investment-property owners, but would help lower the environmental impact, dangerous road traffic, garbage on the beaches and streets, etc., in Amagansett.
    It is time to do more than a shot over the bow!
MARK SCHULTZ


Abused by Sound
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear Editor:
    It was unfortunate that my husband and I could not attend the town board meeting on Thursday evening, June 20. One of the topics included sound ordinances.
    We are being abused by sound in the Town of East Hampton from outdoor speakers, a couple of guys and/or gals getting together to jam, and music from boom boxes during the day and at night. Fortunately, we have considerate neighbors, to a point.
    It had stopped for a couple of years, and then it happened so infrequently that we just let it go. It’s summer. People are enjoying their time off. And we would like to as well.
    Right now an evening on our deck is almost impossible on the weekends, when we are not working. Going to sleep before 10 or 11 is not an option.
    I tried to contact code enforcement this morning and was told they no longer handle this, and yet the town charges us taxes for our deck. I need to call the police. Do I really want to bother the police? Well, the answer is I do. They informed me that when it is happening, we call them; they come out with a device to measure decibels and decide whether or not to issue a summons.
    We have a decibel device, but they assured me theirs is the only one that will work. So just call them. What is a proper decibel count when the music is right outside your bedroom window?? I still find it a waste of the police department’s time. They are professionals who should not be engaged in code enforcement.
    On top of which, we should have laws about when, where, how loud, and how often. A permit should be required for any live band performance in a residential area. If there is a party, get a permit to allow outdoor music at night, and let your neighbors know. They may make other plans for the evening, rather than listen to rock music and reverb!
    Please let’s take into account that there is a time and place for all forms of partying, and residential neighborhoods at night should not be one of them unless a permit is issued for an event.
    Sincerely,
    MAYA IDONE


Usual Noise, Catch-22
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
To the Editor:
    The proposed new noise code before the East Hampton Town Board defies logic, is seemingly unenforceable, and baffles even the people who are supposed to vote on it.
    The code requires noise to be above the range of the usual ambient noise before it can be deemed illegal. Here’s the catch-22: How does an enforcement officer responding to a complaint determine the usual ambient noise?
    According to the expert hired by the board, measurements must be taken by trained personnel before and after the complaint to determine if it is above the usual ambient noise. It doesn’t require a Ph.D. to see that this effectively makes any complaint moot unless the same homeowner has called in the same complaint often enough for a trained auditor to have been assigned to measure noise levels before and after the disturbing noise.
    Here’s the rest of the catch-22: If there is always loud music in one’s neighborhood, does that then become the usual ambient noise, and, therefore, not illegal?
    Thank you, Bill and Theresa. You’ve done it again.
JOAN LESSER


Hazard Mitigation
    East Hampton
    June 23, 2013
Dear David,
    Your editorial in the June 20 Star regarding the need for a hazard mitigation plan in East Hampton could not be more timely. This past week Larry Cantwell announced the creation of a New York State grant of more than $5 million to assist local governments in the preparation of hazard mitigation plans. He strongly urged the East Hampton Town Board to submit a grant application to fund the cost of professional consultation in developing such a plan.
    Sandy was a wake-up call in more ways than one. We experienced first-hand not only our vulnerability (we knew how lucky we were that we weren’t hit head-on) but became painfully aware of the inadequacies in communication regarding the availability and locations of shelters and warming centers. Although some places in town (like the library and health care center) had generators where people could refill water containers, charge phones, or merely hang out and stay warm, they were not widely publicized. The community was left in the dark — pun intended.
    We need to do better, and we need to do it now!
SUE AVEDON


The Ronjo Story
    Springs
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    Your article in last week’s paper regarding the Ronjo/Montauk Beach House saga (“Montauk Beach House Issued a C of O”) describes a new chapter in this alternate reality performance by our town government. The Ronjo story has now spiraled into one of the most blatant circumventions of our planning board and Zoning Board of Appeals processes, aided and abetted by the questionable determinations of our very own town attorneys.
    To summarize last season: Once the renovated Ronjo was up and running in its reincarnation as the Montauk Beach House, our building inspector declared that it needed site plan approval for the bar and retail store that the new owners were too distracted to have shown in their original remodeling plans. The zoning board decided that the businesses did not need any special-use permits as long as they were accessory to the motel, but they did state that the motel required site plan review by the planning board. For what was supposed to be the site plan review, the town planning department wrote a thorough memo about the need for extra parking and septic flow. But the planning board’s town attorney declared otherwise — those quality-of-life concerns did not apply in this particular case.
    Before this season’s opening, the building inspector declared that an “accessory bar” did not qualify the motel to be a nightclub, nor did the pool give the owners the right to operate a private membership club. The motel would need site plan review — a worrisome prospect for the Montauk Beach House, as a real site plan review might demonstrate the need for special-use permits.
    Again, enter the town attorney, who decided that since the Beach House has not yet been officially cited for those uses, it can have its certificate of occupancy and commence its activities. The buck has now been passed to our town’s code enforcement division.
    Apparently it does not matter that the motel advertises these unapproved uses on its Web site. The weekend nightclub operations, along with the private club, will be an alternate reality for now — we all know it’s happening, and we know it’s going to continue to happen, but unless code enforcement acknowledges these operations, the town will pretend that they do not exist.
    The precedents created by this farce are going to cost the town dearly down the line, either in the form of lawsuits filed against the town by motel operators who are not granted the same rights, or in the creation of a whole new cluster of “hybrid” motels whose accessory uses far exceed the defined limitations of a motel operation.
    Sincerely,
    PAMELA BICKET


Star Island Permit
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    There Wilkinson goes again. The Star Island venue for a 3,900-person commercial event was slipped into the agenda at last week’s town board meeting. What followed was a well-practiced, obvious strategy to obtain approval swiftly, with minimal discussion.
    First there was the phony rebuke of there not being enough time to do anything because the event is scheduled for July 7. This enables the proponents to steer the conversation away from serious community issues to a lengthy discussion about process. And that always results in Quigley’s lecture about how the process is the problem. No concern was expressed by the three board members who approved the permit about the enormity of the crowd, where the party-goers are going to sleep (lock your gates, Montauk), how emergency vehicles will get through (last year a medical emergency patient had to be transported from one vehicle to another waiting on Montauk Highway to get to the hospital), how many liquor sponsors are involved, how much security is being provided by the promoters.
    Then Dominick Stanzione jumps in with his very well-practiced good cop-bad cop persona. With a few words about the process, he declares that he will vote for approval of the permit if the music stops at 11 p.m., not at 2 a.m. as planned. Sounds like a pre-arranged deal to me. And while Wilkinson claimed he doesn’t know the promoters, never met them, he pumped his arm up in that “yes, yes we got it done” manner.
    At one point in the Star Island discussion, Wilkinson tried to catch his words. He boasted how well the Surf Lodge handled the Willie Nelson concert and that it was a great example of a public-private endeavor. Did you know that we, the taxpaying residents of East Hampton, were paying for some of the expenses for this commercial profit-maker?
    I do wish everyone a wonderful July 4 holiday. Hopefully none of us will need any kind of emergency assistance.
LENI SALZ


On the Topic of Deer
    Montauk
    June 23, 2013
To the Editor:
    “Don’t let scientific data interfere with your thinking.” This seems to be the motto of many town officials on the topic of deer.
    For two years, the town has been discussing a deer management plan, spearheaded by Councilman Dominick Stanzione. The plan says that our town’s deer population has exploded to “emergency” levels and recommends lethal measures to reduce it. But this month, an aerial study commissioned by the town reported a surprisingly low count: 877 deer. This number is substantially lower than the moderate 2006 estimate of 3,293 deer, based on ground-level sampling commissioned by the East Hampton Group for Wildlife.
    The aerial count was conducted by Vision Air, a reputable research firm, using an infrared sensor. The firm acknowledges that it probably missed a small percentage of deer, but its findings contradict the view that our town’s deer population has been dramatically rising. The results should have caused those who have held this view to pause and reflect. Indeed, we all need to consider possible explanations for the aerial results.
    But at the June 18 work session, most town board members immediately jumped to the conclusion that the aerial count was flawed. For her part, the town planning director, Marguerite Wolffsohn, called attention to other evidence of deer population growth, including vehicle/deer collisions and hunting statistics. But these indicators are very imprecise compared to the aerial and ground-level survey methods.
    Only Councilwoman Theresa Quig­ley had the good sense to say that people should give careful consideration to the aerial study’s findings even if people don’t like them.
    Two days later, the town board officially adopted the deer management plan that calls for expanded hunting and possible culls (massive killings). Only Ms. Quigley voted against the plan’s adoption.
    True, deer seem more present than ever in our neighborhoods. But the aerial count raises the possibility that deer may simply be more visible because they increasingly congregate in residential areas. They may have learned to go where hunting doesn’t occur.
    It also is true that the town must address problems that may be associated with deer, such as the loss of forest vegetation. But the town needs to conduct a careful study of all the contributing factors and remedies, not just begin killing more deer.
    It is possible, of course, that the aerial study did, in fact, significantly underestimate our deer population. But on this point, we need further research — not off-hand dismissals of the aerial study’s results.
    Ignoring a reasonable, research-based approach, the town board has adopted a cruel plan. To implement the plan, the board must vote on specific measures within it. I urge the board to think more fully before voting on any of them.
    BILL CRAIN
    President
    East Hampton Group for Wildlife

Take Back the Airport
    East Hampton
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    As a co-founder with Ed Gorman of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion and a prime mover of its original lawsuit against the town board, I must take issue with Gene Oshrin’s assertion that we have “never, never” won in court. Oshrin’s bald assertions aside, the actual court decisions and their results are very much to the contrary.
    In the original suit, Gorman v. East Hampton, the court ruled that the town’s main runway expansion project was in fact prohibited by the existing 1989 airport master plan. I knew this, because, as town councilman, I wrote the 1989 airport master plan. The town’s claim that it was consistent with the adopted master plan was shown to be false. The court also ruled, again contrary to the town’s claim, that the 1996 airport layout plan on which it was relying for legitimizing the runway expansion had, in fact, never been adopted (it was never meant to be by its author, but that’s another tale of airport intrigue, for another time).   
    Bizarrely, the court accepted the town’s patently false claim that it was not in fact implementing the 1996 layout plan by proceeding to expand the runway as provided for in that never-adopted plan. Thanks to the obfuscation of the town’s litigation counsel, the court somehow overlooked the fact that the town was obtaining money from the Federal Aviation Administration by telling the F.A.A. that it was implementing the very plan it told the New York Supreme Court it was not implementing.
    This preposterous lie came back to haunt, however, when we were able to use the court ruling that the 1996 layout plan had never been adopted to strip it of its acceptance by the F.A.A. Unfortunately, this was only after the 1998 main runway expansion had already taken place. Had we been able to accomplish this sooner, there would have been no main runway expansion.
    Because we were successful, the town had no duly adopted layout plan to rely on in 2003 when, to settle a lawsuit brought against it by Sound Aviation for rejecting Sound’s patently better offer for the former East Hampton Aire hangar (in order to award it instead to the Republican majority’s major campaign donor), it wanted to expand and strengthen Sound’s aircraft parking apron to jet standards. That project was inconsistent with the 1990 layout plan that was based on the 1989 airport master plan. Again, I ought to know, because I authored both.
    Incredibly, instead of proposing to amend the 1990 layout plan and doing the mandatory environmental analysis and conducting the public hearings required by law for adopting a properly amended layout plan for the jet apron, the town instead claimed it could not find the signed original of the 1990 plan. It then altered a copy of it in just the manner necessary to permit the apron project while falsely telling the public and the F.A.A. the “doctored” plan was the same as the signed original. In the face of this fraud, I wrote to the town board and the F.A.A. and went to Town Hall to address the town board, stating that, of my own certain knowledge, the document the town was submitting to the F.A.A had been altered. In response, the town attorney publicly called me a liar.
    For a second time the town had obtained money from the F.A.A. based on fraudulent documents. This led to a federal grand jury investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Remarkably, in response to a grand jury subpoena, Pat Ryan, the then airport manager (and who was airport manager when the 1990 layout plan was adopted) conducted a more thorough search and miraculously located the missing original 1990 plan in “the attic” of the airport terminal building. 
    The signed original, bearing my signature, proved that I spoke the truth when I said the duly adopted 1990 airport layout plan would not support the 2003 jet apron project.
    Once again the town was exposed by legal action taken by the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion to have obtained money from the F.A.A. based on false documents. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in stopping the then town board from profiting from its bad behavior as this revelation took place only after the project had been completed. The judicial process is slow and cumbersome and after the project got built, the judge had no remedy he could award us. History had repeated itself and our belated victory on the merits proved to be tragic affirmation of James Watt’s famous adage that “a lie can run around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”
    There was however a silver lining. Because the committee had shown in legal proceedings that the grant for the apron project had been obtained on false pretenses, the F.A.A.’s office of legal counsel, to its credit, subsequently agreed to shorten the term of the F.A.A. grant assurances from 2021 to 2014, by invalidating the extension that would have resulted from the apron project.
    Thus legal actions taken by the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion are the very reason why the town is now in a position to allow the grant assurances to expire at the end of 2014 and, by doing so, restore its proprietary rights as owner of the airport and regain local, town board control over the use and operation of East Hampton Airport. The airport can then be regulated for the benefit of the whole community, rather than the convenience of a privileged few. Although this might crimp the “freedom of the skies” for Mr. Oshrin and his cohorts, it will lift an oppressive burden from the lives of thousands who suffer from its noise.
    So Mr. Oshrin can protest all he wants that we “never, never” won in court.  The fact is that we have won something of great value — an opportunity for the Town of East Hampton to take back local control of our airport and, in doing so, design and implement a real solution to the airport noise problem — just as the City of New York did for its East 34th Street heliport. It is up to all of us to elect a town board that will seize the day and take advantage of this historic opportunity.
    Sincerely,
    PAT TRUNZO III
    Executive board member
    Committee to Stop Airport Expansion
    And the Quiet Skies Coalition


Town Regains Control
    East Hampton
    June 23, 2013
Dear David,
    I am delighted that Gene Oshrin has chosen to answer my letter to The Star. I hoped that he would.
    In the letter to which he was responding, I stated that, if the town allows the current grant assurances with the Federal Aviation Administration to expire as scheduled on Dec. 31, 2014, the town would then recover the power to: 1. control the hours of operation of its own airport, 2. impose curfews and restrict weekend operations, 3. restrict the number of operations in a given period, and 4. exclude particular aircraft based on how noisy they are, all for the purpose of protecting the community from noise.
    I didn’t just make this up. These are exactly the things that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in our jurisdiction, allowed the City of New York to do with respect to its municipal heliport. However, what is critical is that the city was not subject to F.A.A. grant assurances that give the F.A.A. control and take it away from the municipal proprietor. East Hampton is currently subject to such grant assurances. But the relevant assurances expire on Dec. 31, 2014, provided that the town does not take any more F.A.A. money. If it does, the grant assurances and the F.A.A.’s control over our airport would be extended 20 more years.
    What the court would not allow the city to do was to exclude helicopters based on size, saying, “In this case, the City places restrictions on aircraft because of their size — not the noise they make — despite evidence that larger helicopters are not necessarily noisier than smaller ones. A regulation purporting to reduce noise cannot bar an aircraft on any other basis.”
    The implication that the municipal proprietor of the airport can bar aircraft based on how noisy they are is both clear and ineluctable. Indeed, the Second Circuit also says, “[O]ur opinion . . . permits proprietors to reduce cumulative noise levels, as opposed to only targeting peak noise levels or the noise level produced by an individual aircraft.”
    Clearly, an airport proprietor that is not subject to F.A.A. grant assurances can adopt rules that target peak noise, noise produced by individual aircraft, and cumulative noise effects.
    Mr. Oshrin falsely states, dismissively, that the opinion of the Second Circuit merely eliminated some sightseeing flights. Not so. The court permitted the City of New York to cut use of its heliport in half in order to cut noise.
    Again dismissively, Mr. Oshrin declares that I “like to refer” to this opinion of the Second Circuit, as if it were a matter of personal taste. I refer to this opinion, Mr. Oshrin, because the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is the highest judicial and legal authority in East Hampton other than the United States Supreme Court. The F.A.A. is subordinate to the Second Circuit. What the Second Circuit says is the meaning of federal law in East Hampton, even if the F.A.A. should disagree.
    As if it somehow undermines the opinion of the Second Circuit, Mr. Oshrin then quotes at length from the letter written by the F.A.A. to Congressman Tim Bishop. The F.A.A. language quoted by Mr. Oshrin is a statement of the general legal principles, that rules adopted by the airport proprietor must be “reasonable, non-arbitrary, and non-discriminatory.” The F.A.A. does not disagree with the Second Circuit, not least because it cannot. The Second Circuit is the higher authority. However, it is precisely these very general principles that the Second Circuit was citing, quoting, and explicitly interpreting in the concrete case of regulation by a municipal airport owner of the use of its own airport to protect the community from noise.
    We have, therefore, a specific, definitive, concrete interpretation of the meaning of “reasonable, non-arbitrary, and non-discriminatory” by the highest federal authority in our jurisdiction. That interpretation is exactly as I state, that restricting hours, number of operations, and aircraft types in order to reduce noise are all acceptable.
    In a further bit of misdirection, Mr. Oshrin confirms what I said about Naples, Fla., the only jurisdiction ever to regulate aircraft while subject to F.A.A. grant assurances. It was hideously expensive, requiring Naples to win a $6 million lawsuit against the F.A.A.. But that’s just the point. As long as the F.A.A. assurances apply, it is prohibitively expensive or impossible for the airport owner to regulate airport use, because the F.A.A. has control.
    If the assurances are allowed to expire, the F.A.A. is out of the picture, the town regains control, and the town then has the same powers recognized by the Second Circuit.
    Mr. Oshrin concludes by challenging me to come up with a list of airports that have successfully regulated noise once the F.A.A. grant assurances have expired. Cute trick. For me to do that, however, Mr. Oshrin first has to come up with a list of airports that have stopped taking F.A.A. money and allowed grant assurances to expire, freeing themselves from F.A.A. control. As far as I know, East Hampton will be the first to do so.
    What Mr. Oshrin wants you to think, however, with his misleading proposition, is that the expiration of assurances will not put the town in exactly the same position as the City of New York with respect to its proprietary powers over the airport; it will. In the absence of the F.A.A. assurances, there are only the “general principles,” as already interpreted by the Second Circuit. There is no other source of relevant law.
    Mr. Oshrin’s letter is nothing but smoke and mirrors. He attacks me, he derides some unnamed group of people whom he calls my “followers,” he rattles on at length with irrelevancies. What he never actually dares to do is to state that I am wrong, that the town will not have exactly the powers that I say it will to regulate the airport once the F.A.A. grant assurances expire on Dec. 31, 2014 — unless, that is, the town takes more F.A.A. money. In that case, the F.A.A. grant assurances will be extended for another 20 years, and the town will lose this precious opportunity, near to hand, finally to take control over airport noise.
    Mr. Oshrin and his followers, private aircraft owners who use East Hampton Airport, would like nothing better than to induce the town to take more F.A.A. money so that they can remain free of local regulation. Don’t be fooled by his smoke and mirrors.
    Sincerely,
    DAVID GRUBER
    Committee to
    Stop Airport Expansion


It Doesn’t Add Up
    Springs
    June 24, 2013
Dear Editor,
    So now that Carol Campolo has voiced interest in politics in East Hampton, the gloves have certainly come off. Holy smokes, if you don’t agree with a liberal Democrat you need to go in a corner and punish yourself.
    We have in East Hampton citizens who retired from teaching, decided to retire here, ran for school board, lost, so decided to demoralize the election by writing letters week after week about any or mainly Republican Steve Lynch, not stopping to think about the situation with the ex-highway super and the allegations made against him, now week after week she writes about the present administration she doesn’t like (they are Republicans with some bad manners). To use her own phrase, if you don’t like what’s being said on LTV turn it off and don’t listen.
    To Mr. Nagel, I went to pay my taxes and was as shocked as they were, exactly the same, and I should for the first time received a discount as to the Star program. I also hired Mark Lewis to fight my taxes and won. For this there should have been a thousand-dollar deductable plus $250 Star discount. Guess what? The taxes were about the same, and I was told your taxes went up.
    How? There is a 2-percent cap. Oh, the school tax went around it. Teachers who earn six figures, pay what? into their pension and/or health insurance, superintendants and more supers earning huge salaries, newspaper editorals bring up cheating on tests. You can throw out all the figures you want, it doesn’t add up to the fact senior citizens and young couples cannot afford to live in the overcrowded Springs.
    It’s too bad other citizens don’t like Ms. Campolo’s pronunciation of her words or her credentials as a faithful supporter of the party. Could it be they have undivided and full support of their own party? Geez, I thought this was the United States of America and all have free speech, which by the looks of things that will be taken away pretty soon. Free speech doesn’t include put the person down and stepping on them.
    Sincerely,
    BEA DERRICO


Movement To End War
    Sag Harbor
    June 24, 2013
Dear David,
    War is about power, politics, and the military. War is a political institution. Somewhere behind every war there are always a few founding lies. Money, the bottom line.
    Warfare produces peace activists. A group of veterans is a likely place to find peace activists. The miracle is that despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values.
    The hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already begun, joined by 85 percent of the American people who are against war.
    Hope not fear,
    LARRY DARCEY


Ross School Experience
    East Hampton
    June 18, 2013
To the Editor:
    I was fortunate to attend the Ross School for eight years, and I could not have done so without the generosity of Mrs. Ross herself. The community of East Hampton has been integral to the lives of my family for three generations. We have lived here for six decades and even those of us who grew up and left to make lives elsewhere remain tethered to East Hampton by the weekly delivery of this very newspaper. We have all contributed to the life and spirit of this town as lifeguards, boy scout leaders, historical society volunteers, and members of village boards.
    I am an only child who was raised by a single parent, a woman who saw something special at the Ross School back in 1999 and made me apply. When I was accepted, I was upset: my 9-year-old self did not want to go to Ross, because to me, it felt like I would be leaving my life in East Hampton for another world.
    Yes, stepping into a building on the Ross School’s campus requires slippers, and, thanks to the replica statues and paintings that surround you, you might feel like you’re in a land far, far away. Yes, the special guest lecturers and performing artists who helped build the global reputation of the Ross School frequently inhabit spheres far removed from East Hampton. Yes, Mrs. Ross’s generosity enabled me to travel to three other continents, exploring cultures and learning from peoples who have little obvious connection to the East End.
    I submit that it is experiences like these that have shaped a generation of East Enders, preparing us to enter the real world outside our (albeit beautiful) bubble of Bonac. Most people my age in East Hampton will not be able to afford to live on the East End as adults unless we live with our parents. We will need to leave in order to return, in order to earn the financial resources to even maintain our family homes. There are few jobs for us here, outside the seasonal economy. The more than 3,000 students who have graduated from East End schools since I began studying at the Ross School cannot possibly earn enough from their summer jobs alone to subsist here year round.
    It is easy to look at the Ross School and feel anger at how it has altered the fabric of our community. It is easy to hear tabloid tales of the school’s founder and use that information, often about the way she earns and spends her money, against her in cruel ways. It is more difficult to take the long view. Many Americans choose to spend their time and money frivolously, whether they are wealthy beyond imagination or just barely scraping by. We, as a community, are fortunate that Mrs. Ross has chosen to spend so much of her time and finances on a school in our midst. What she does with the rest of her time or her money are entirely her business; there is no reason for the community to engage in middle-school-level gossip about the sale of a home or the purchase of a seafaring vessel. You are wasting your energy with criticism and filling the world with hateful banter. From Syria to Boston, Turkey to Mexico, Thailand to Santa Monica, our world has enough hate.
    Mrs. Ross built an institution that will be a fundamental pillar of our community for decades and for that, we owe her a big ol’ Bonac Thank You.
SHOLA FARBER


Diminished Capacity
    East Hampton
    June 22, 2013
To the Editor:
    It is Father’s Day and I am struck by the country’s inability to deal with any of its problems and face reality. I talk to my children and wonder if the abuses and excesses of my past have had a deleterious effect on their abilities to reflect and analyze stuff. They may be too young to show their diminished capacities as they both seem to cope with the world in rational, logical ways.
    My 6-year-old granddaughter, far more technically savvy then I will ever be, could solve most of the nation’s problems in a couple of well-focused days. She seems to absorb and process volumes of information that dwarf what was available to me growing up. The familial conversation that ensues is about whether the mass of information available and so rapidly attainable so overwhelms our intellects that it turns our brains to mush.
    Ronald Reagan was the poster boy for diminished capacity. Never the brightest light, but personable and charming, he led the country down the path to its current status of disfunctionality. Once shot, he gave up the reins of the country to the likes of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz, et al., whose lack of motherly love, or breast milk, elevated greed and power to a national pastime instead of a subtle subtext to the American dream.
    They believed that America wasn’t reaping enough of the benefits of being the world’s primary superpower, and in this accelerated process of rape and pillage included the U.S. population among the list of appropriate targets. As the technology of information grew, our ability to process it diminished. Morality was redesigned to mean difference of opinion and religion became a hammer rather than a welcoming hand. We obsess about abortion, gay marriage, gun control, immigration, and health care, bizarrely. A nation of immigrants and killers with a pathetic health care system whose moral sense is as light as the favor in a box of popcorn.
    We stand as a people incapable of adjusting to its democracy gone amok. Scammed into believing that the electoral processes render our political system valid without having to think about the options. With the ability to know 50 times more than our parents did in almost no time at all, we slog blindly into a black hole of delusion, refusing to believe that what Mr. Reagan began has infected our system and diminished our capacities.
NEIL HAUSIG


Throw in Some Slime
    East Hampton
    May 31, 2013
Dear Editor,
    In this day and age of “breaking news,” notices on TV and almost simultaneous revelations of various kinds of disasters and notoriety, political and otherwise from around the world, it behooves us all to keep a sharp eye and inquiring mind seeking accuracy and truth from the “source” and the agendas thereof.
    Headlines on the computer that entice us to listen to TV talking points and talking heads that allegedly inform us are often merely the wildly unsubstantiated opinions and false statements of individuals and organizations with both obvious and hidden purposes.
    It is well known that if one reads or listens to a broadcast by a Fox media outlet one must be aware of its reputation for accuracy and its very negative reputation. The same goes for a group called News Max which appears all over Yahoo and some of these so-called think tanks, which hire ex-politicos of one brand of politics or another to be standard bearers for their brand of propaganda.
    Many of those who read, listen, and follow these purveyors of inaccuracy come to be affected and motivated by them because they themselves have previously formed warped prejudices and eagerly latch on to the falsehoods and innuendo purposely set before them which they readily agree with.
    Take the recent spate of alleged scandals surrounding the White House, the State Department, and the Department of Justice. Almost all of these are, as the administration has tried to clarify, politically motivated, blown up, twisted fact controversies carried forth for the sole purpose of enhancing their chances of being re-elected while inflicting damage on their opponents and, of course, a president whom they still don’t believe was re-elected.
    In a recent edition of The Star we have seen examples of just this type of individual, who vent their seemingly inexhaustible supply of hatred of the President, and continue to spew their own distorted versions of the facts surrounding these alleged scandals.
    While doing so, they repeat distorted and wrong information rejected by the very Congressional investigators themselves, and while at it, these letter writers throw in some slime and malignant comments about our duly elected president and they do it in such harsh terms with insults and disrespect never before seen against a sitting president and all with not one iota of proof or scintilla of evidence of any wrongdoing.
    To respond to one such individual’s averring that there are those who wish them to shut up, no, sir, we do not! On the contrary! You are entitled to your opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts, so please don’t shut up. We all wait to see you exhibit a continued lack of objectivity, intelligence with all demonstrating your hatred of the man in the White House who, incidentally deserves all the praise and accolades he gets from most Americans and around the world.
    This president, this man of the age, epitomizes the American Dream but some refuse to acknowledge it, though history surely will. He is a president who is guiding our country with fierce determination while battling unprecedented and recurrent multiple crises at home and abroad and while having to face unprincipled demagoguery from those who have sought to deny his very existence.
    Lower unemployment, shrinking deficits, higher stock market, much-higher consumer confidence, recovering housing market with prices up 10 percent — it just feels better carrying the president’s job approval up and up.
    He continues to persevere and with the support of the majority of Americans, who re-elected him and stand with him, he will continue to do so and confound his critics and move the country ahead in spite of them.
    Criticize away, hound dogs, but at least get your facts straight.
    RICHARD P. HIGER