July 1, 2013
On Saturday night my husband and I attended the lobster dinner hosted by the Springs Community Presbyterian Church. For $35 we enjoyed the freshest and most perfectly cooked lobsters, along with wonderful homemade side dishes and strawberry shortcake for dessert. We were served outdoors under the evening sky, with a perfect view of Accabonac Harbor.
Best of all, we brought old friends and new friends, friends from Springs and friends from afar, and had an opportunity to catch up with our neighbors as well. It is a wonderful community event, and I want to thank the diligent cooks, friendly servers, and everyone else who worked so hard to make it such a gracious and welcoming event. It is definitely one of the highlights of our summer.
July 1, 2013
In the aftermath of the senseless loss of one of our cherished young persons here, in an accident between an S.U.V. and a bicyclist, I was looking for something to do with the angst and sorrow.
Many people for many years have called for safe, attractive, and well-thought-out bicycle paths on the South Fork. People have tried to address this issue with limited success. Mike Bottini in particular comes to mind. Perhaps 15 years ago, he secured some $10 million in federal highway funds to design and build an improved bicycle path along the L.I.R.R. right-of-way connecting eastern Southampton and western East Hampton towns.
For no good reason really, that effort was frustrated and fell apart and the money went elsewhere. It appeared to have fallen victim to a lack of will and vision on the part of local politicians, opposition by some of the landowners along the way who feared a loss of privacy or worse, and perhaps a general apathy on the part of most people. A kind of “wouldn’t it be nice if we could afford it and there weren’t so many other really important issues to address” attitude.
Southampton and East Hampton, due to their unique location, natural resources, and diverse residents, have often been leaders in how we protect, design around, and provide for our people and our natural resources.
While one of our own South Fork residents, Jim Davidson, had the entrepreneurial mojo and brains to create the Hampton Jitney in the 1970s — a transportation advance it is hard to imagine us functioning without — and County Executive Peter Cohalan was able to start the county bus service in the 1980s, which many working people now rely upon, in general we have not been leaders in transportation. The recent public/private partnership in East Hampton Village which offers free rides from long-term parking to Main Beach, and Assemblyman Thiele’s work to have traffic circles and bike lanes added along State Route 114 on North Haven and in East Hampton, are welcome exceptions.
A safe, attractive, well-thought-out system of bicycle and pedestrian paths that offers alternatives to getting around in our cars simply does not exist here, and there are real and significant consequences, including loss of life, bodily injury, and significantly increased congestion on the roads and in our parking lots.
This needs to change. The town needs to significantly improve and invest in its transportation systems for pedestrians and bicyclists, not just on wooded trails, but so we can get to work, run errands, visit friends and family, go to the beach or the movies, walk a dog or a stroller, and get some exercise, without getting into our cars or risking our lives.
At a minimum, a four-foot shoulder beside the traffic lanes in both directions along a network of town roads should be set in motion. We can also look to places like Boulder, Colo., Stowe, Vt., Anchorage, and many other parts of the country, for examples of bicycle paths that are not just afterthoughts to paved roads. This will involve comprehensive planning, design, land acquisition, relocation of obstacles, paving, painting, and signage, but it needs to rise up as a priority in the current budget cycles as a long-term capital project. East Hampton Town already has a bicycle path committee in place. Perhaps some of the funds from the Community Preservation Fund could be used, but if they can’t, then municipal bonds should finance the work.
This investment also makes good sense economically. It adds another amenity to our second-home and tourist economy and helps protect and enhance the value of property here, both when it is rented and when it is sold.
Let the death of 14-year-old Anna Lytton as she did errands on her bike on a warm summer day spur us on.
Enough Is Enough
June 25, 2013
How many families will have their hearts broken in the future until the Town of East Hampton wakes up to the idea of sidewalks and bike paths in our busiest areas?
Each summer here the population explodes with bicyclists, pedestrians, and cars vying for the same space.
The tragic death of Anna Lytton, like the death last year of Jeffrey Ahn on Old Stone Highway, was avoidable and are but two recent accidents in a long history of injuries and deaths on our roadways. I pray that the town wakes up to the dangers our children face each day.
I have a daughter the age of Anna who loves to bike. We live on a busy Amagansett street where there are no sidewalks or bike lanes and speeding cars are the norm not the exception. When will the town allocate assets for bike lanes and educate motorists to share the road? These are our children we are talking about! Enough is enough.
Drop the Charge
July 1, 2013
Recently, I wrote a rather scathing letter regarding the mess at Pantigo, Egypt Lane, and the notorious hill at the windmill and CVS. I took a beating from some and got praise for the common-sense, easily implemented ideas I offered on how to clean up the deadly situation. Automobile traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists combine with excessive speed, poor planning, and lack of police presence to create a tornado of psychotic activity. That spot is completely out of control and has been for a decade or more. The fact that the village has chosen to turn a blind eye has caused the tragic death of a lovely, well-loved young girl.
In that letter I neglected to note that the driver involved in the accident has been charged. With the information provided by police, photos of the scene, and personally witnessing a motorcycle accident there two seasons ago, I have decided it is inappropriate to charge this woman for not stopping fast enough. Twenty feet shows she certainly stopped as quickly as any human being could be expected to. With conditions so helter-skelter and overly aggressive with frustration, I am amazed she was composed enough, aware enough, to attempt avoidance of the cyclist. Tragically, no one could have avoided this result.
Is this charge a way to divest the village of its responsibility? It seems an ugly way to cause further pain and suffering to the driver, who is also a victim. This situation could have been corrected and this girl would still be alive. It is an easy fix. The cyclist was victim. The driver is victim. I hope the charge is fought and dropped. This driver could have been any one of us. The young girl could have been any one of our children in the community.
Please do the appropriate and humane thing and drop the preposterous case against the driver in this case.
The driver was cited for a moving violation for “failure to exercise due care.” Ed.
June 29, 2013
Today while running on Further Lane I saw a Mercedes S.U.V., New Jersey license DEA 27, driven by a middle-age blond woman, speed by and cross the double yellow line in order to pass another vehicle. Someone else in a black jeep saw this happen as well, and when both cars were stopped at the stop sign, he stepped out of his car and told the woman that she shouldn’t do that.
Whereupon, the driver of the S.U.V. said, “But I was careful.”
I was certainly relieved to hear the woman say that, as I didn’t realize the traffic laws were only written to prevent uncareful people from breaking the law. There are many young children riding bikes on Further Lane. If that woman thinks it is okay for her to continue to speed and pass in no-passing zones, I suggest she read “Bonfire of the Vanities” to learn what can happen to arrogant people.
CHARLES van der HORST
June 29, 2013
To the Editor,
A famous saying: Judy Hope and the Group for the South Fork proclaimed, “If the Hamptons bypass is not built, the people will not come.”
JOHN G. STRONG
June 27, 2013
I would like to express two strongly-felt pet peeves. Firstly, for 25 years I have dutifully separated my household trash, and for the same period of time I have observed two of the major carting companies dump all of it in one container!
Secondly, the traffic light on Montauk Highway in Water Mill: It consistently backs up traffic as much as a mile in both directions. It is my understanding that Citarella insisted on the light as part of its agreement to move to the mall; it is no longer there. Cannot we at least have a flashing orange light so that the infrequent auto entering Route 27 might have access?
June 30, 2013
I’m a solution-oriented person. I have been all my life. Where others see problems, I see only circumstances, and circumstances change; due to a) the dynamic nature of the electromagnetic space/time continuum that recreates our reality moment by moment from what it is to what it becomes, and b) human choice. Everything in our universe evolves logically and becomes what it does by virtue of its nature and its local environment. Something cannot become what circumstances won’t allow, but must become as circumstances dictate, and like I said, circumstances change. It’s a two-way street, this world of ours, whereby if we pay enough attention to anything and understand its true nature, we can by choice alter its state of existence from what it is to what it might become under different circumstances.
It is in that spirit of the absolute simplicity with which things can be altered to a higher level of existence that I question the choices that have made the efficient thoroughfare of large delivery and construction trucks virtually impossible in the town of East Hampton.
Almost daily one can see the results of the lack of proper signage and directions for the drivers of these vehicles as they tie up traffic on back roads making U-turns before the low overpasses or become fodder for Facebook and Patch. com. It’s practically a pastime around here, watching these incidents. If it was just the occasional occurrence one could blame an inattentive driver, but the recurring frequency of these incidents illustrates that a much better system of not only warning, but directions for drivers unfamiliar with the local streets as well, should be in place.
Certainly I could understand the use of the obstacle overpasses if one were trying to dissuade or inhibit the use of our roads as shortcuts to a farther destination by commercial vehicles a la Robert Moses, but obviously being at the end of Long Island on the fork with no ferry to anywhere but Block Island, this is clearly not the case. In fact, these delivery and construction trucks are summoned or sent to our area to be of service to our residents, and a clearly demarcated route would aid and assist in that goal. Area homeowners expecting deliveries and drivers inconvenienced by the all too frequent occurrences would surely agree.
And there would be money saved as well, in the form of reduced police attention to trucks involved in overpass accidents and property damage to the vehicles and overpasses, not to mention a few less stressful calls to bosses and fired drivers.
How about some real good signage on 27, well before the turns that lead to the low overpasses, and include arrows and suggested routes around them. Maybe an information board with a map of the area indicating low overpasses and suggested routes around them could be placed in the parking area by Georgica Pond and/or elsewhere, that drivers could stop and reference it to help them avoid trouble, or help direct them out of it.
Something should be done. It’s dangerous, it’s a terrible waste of time and money, and it adds lots of stress to lots of people’s lives. Ben Franklin, a gentleman known to have visited the East End and who liked to see things done correctly, would certainly agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Come on East Hampton, we can do better than this.
Let’s help these trucks reach their destination with our goods and services rather than shaking our heads and guffawing in disgust when we’re stuck behind them as they attempt a U-turn or view on our news feed that someone’s done it again.
It’s simple, folks: Possibility + Choice = Reality = Possibility + Choice.
RICHARD M. KOSTURA
555 Montauk Highway
June 26, 2013
I read Larry Penny’s piece “The Point of a View” in The East Hampton Star on June 20, 2013. The piece was well written, clear, and to the point. I have lived and worked on the East End for over 50 years, and I am as concerned, protective, and selfish about views as you are. I am also the architect/planner for what Mr. Penny referenced as “some developer’s folly,” a large previously cleared site on the north side of the Montauk Highway, east of the Amagansett fire station.
If you would take a look at some of the commercial “stuff” nearby or what the previous developer had started building, you would welcome what is now being proposed: socially responsible, well-designed homes for those over 55, in a true garden district. Not only will it look much better and be more cared for, but this green precinct will offer long-distance views over the fields and forests to the north. Moreover, it will be ecologically sound and sustainable, providing its own electricity and sewage treatment. In this time of serious global warming, the plan, and its buildings, rather than a “folly‚” is instead a carefully thought-out, ecologically sound, and regionally attuned project, which we believe will become a model for what comes after.
You should understand that those working on the project are professionals who care deeply about the environment. They are also good listeners and sensitive to local issues. As a result, the developer has been responding generously to the many concerns and ideas voiced at the initial planning board meeting and will continue to do so.
JAQUELIN T. ROBERTSON
Worse Than Ever
July 1, 2013
To the Editor:
What does it take for East Hampton Town to take notice? “The beach in Wainscott is worse than ever” is what I wrote last week. Nothing has been done. Summer is here. Since my last letter, believe it or not, the beach is even worse!
New signs were put up finally for this summer. No dogs between 10 and 6 from May 15 through Sept. 15. Good. That is a step in the right direction. However, there are still dogs on the beach during the day. There is no one to check on this, no one to give tickets, no one to issue fines. When I approached the people to tell them No Dogs, read the sign, they said casually, “Oh, I did not know.” And the very next day, the same people are there with the same dogs!
New fencing for the dunes was erected for this summer but lots of the old fencing remains scattered about. Unfortunately, people who make fires at night use the old wood, which they break into smaller pieces and leave after they have gone. One risks splinters and major cuts when walking barefoot on the beach. Can you imagine not being able to walk barefoot on the beach? Well, one should not.
Old Christmas trees and various debris litter the beach. A good cleanup would be helpful. If the town will not do it, then arrange for a community cleanup.
The parking situation is still a mess. The No Parking sign at the top is completely submerged in sand. Thus cars are parked at the very top, making a turn-around impossible.
The ruts along the road deepen with every rain. Where grass used to be is now all sand.
The village takes care of their beaches, why can’t the town do the same?
Baby Beach, Maidstone
June 28, 2013
In 1961 when I was a mere slip of a girl, my sister brought me to Fire Island, a truly lovely place. When we wanted to go from our Fair Harbor to Ocean Beach for dinner, we went onto the beach and hailed a cab (jeep). Motor vehicles ran up and down the beach day and night. During the course of the 35 years my sister and brother-in-law and I went to Fire Island, one storm after another happened, and finally vehicles of any kind were no longer allowed on the beach. As the Fire Island National Seashore, established by the dedication of people like Murray Barbash and Irv Like, and the Army Corp of Engineers’ famous (or infamous) study went on, we were taught how to protect our beaches and dunes. Snow fencing and planting beach grasses became a way of life. We now also know that cars on the beach ruined the berm of the beach. Even the year-round residents realized that to protect their island and Long Island, they had to respect the beach. I will not mention that before the cars were banned from the beach, a car ran over one person, killing him, and another person was also run over and badly wounded, but I will mention that Lonelyville survived Sandy intact.
I am aware of the devotion of many folks out here who have a passion for beach driving. It is, as best I can understand, a link to their past, their culture, and their freedom. I get it, but what I don’t get is why these people who surely must love this place as much as I do and want to protect it, continue to insist on destroying what they love.
The most obscene demonstration of this foolhardy behavior are those who park on what we call the Baby Beach at Maidstone Park — now, really. They must hate that beach and want to destroy it, because that is what they are doing. Walking 30 feet with their stuff is too difficult and the next Sandy could do it for what is left of that small beach.
I would hope all of us want to preserve this precious place, including the trustees.
June 30, 2013
The town board majority just approved the Shark Attack event for 3,900 people on the Friday of Fourth of July weekend at the last minute, as it also approved an event for 350 people at the much-debated Beach House. The mass gathering process was rushed, giving the public and minority board members no chance to fully discuss the events, as required by the town code. This is reminiscent of the proposed major Amagansett concert that was ultimately denied after a great deal of unneeded public angst.
Montauk residents appreciate that their hamlet is a thriving tourist destination, part of its appeal since the 1950s. Many are asking whether it has become too much of a good thing‚ whether the redevelopment of nonconforming commercial properties and the late-night bar scene are hurting the image and quality of downtown businesses, not to mention residential neighborhoods.
The 3,900-person Shark Attack received approval for parking of 800 cars on the agricultural reserve at Rita Foster’s horse farm, a clear violation of the intent and restrictions of the easement. In 2004 the town invested $2 million of C.P.F. funds to protect the 17.7-acre farm, a project I was honored to guide through a long negotiation. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Foster for her cooperation and commitment to the kind of recreation that benefits, rather than detracts from, Montauk’s quality of life.
It is the responsibility of the town to assist landowners in the proper observance of easements, not to actively participate in a violation. This harkens back to the mess on Route 114, where the same board members illegally dug a pit and removed topsoil from farmland protected by a Suffolk County easement. No lessons learned?
In 2011, The New York Times asked, “Has Montauk lost its cool, or is it more fun?” Readers of The Star, what do you think?
Democratic and Working Families
Candidate for Town Board
At Star Island
June 30, 2013
Wriggling and sweating, Councilman Stanzione took his time before voting with Supervisor Wilkinson and Councilwoman Quigley Thursday night (June 30) to approve a mass gathering permit for a 3,900-person musical party at Star Island.
Three thousand nine hundred people! No wonder he huffed and puffed, audibly complaining‚ “I’d rather be watching the Miami game.” Thank you, Dominick, for at least considering the position of the board’s Democratic minority that the size and scope of this party would impose too much of a burden on neighbors hoping for a decent quality of life. But no thanks for hanging once again with a majority that will do anything for its business friends!
July 1, 2013
To the Editor:
I can’t help likening this latest boondoggle of Dollar Bill (concerning the forthcoming Star Island concert) to the actions of Saddam’s troops in retreat from Kuwait as they spitefully and maliciously destroyed all in its path homeward.
This music concert is badly conceived, but was cleverly manipulated, as t has successfully bypassed sufficient examination by town authorities. It seems that the only thing that Mr. Wilkinson has learned to do in his too-many years in office is getting his way through deception.
Was Snuck In
July 1, 2013
The Republican majority of the town board seems bent on favoring business interests over the interests of the general public and disregards the requirements of the law in order to do so. The latest example is their approval of a mass gathering permit at the Montauk Beach House for 350 people for a New York City charity.
Town law requires a 30-day public notice of a hearing regarding such an application. This application was submitted four days before the hearing without any notice to the public or the press.
On the face of it one might say, “Oh well, this is for charity.” In reality it is well known that the owner of the private space, here the Beach House, makes a profit by renting its facility — and, as I said, this is not even a local charity.
In this instance the application was snuck in at a special meeting of the town board on another subject and although objected to by the two Democrat town board members it was approved by the Republican majority. Local residents, who would be subjected to the congestion of traffic upon the gathering of 350 people, had no opportunity to object. The Republican majority took no time to discuss and consider the requirements of police supervision of traffic and parking and the resultant overtime costs for police personnel, the potential risks to public safety, and the effects of the noise and overcrowding upon the residents of Montauk.
The use of police personnel should be for the benefit of the public at large and used discriminately for individual businesses. The hamlet of Montauk belongs to its residents and their interests should be paramount. The Republican majority should be much more mindful of how it acts in ways that are usurping the public’s interests in favor of private business.
Could this action be related to campaign contributions to the Republican Party and to Dominick J. Stanzione, a town board member who approved the application and who will be running in the coming election? He has had continuous, very expensive advertisements in our local newspaper. Who is paying for them?
Hopefully, a new administration in 2014 will put an end to this irresponsible behavior.
DAVID J. WEINSTEIN
July 2, 2013
It sure is confusing to read in the same edition of The Star about two conflicting actions by a candidate for the town board. On page one, it is reported that Dominick Stanzione voted yes on granting a quick super-mass gathering permit — 3,900 guests — to the aptly named Shark Attack party to be held at the Montauk Yacht Club on the busiest weekend of the year. Before the vote began, he did some preliminary hand-wringing, and he expressed some superficial misgivings about the short review period for the board to review this application, but when push came to shove, he voted to grant the permit.
On page four, it was reported that in a separate action in the same week, Dominick wrote a lengthy missive on the subject of mass gathering events, apparently to soothe irate Montauk residents who have been overwhelmed by more and more activities in their hamlet. And, lo and behold, here he wrote that large events should receive special attention well in advance of their planned date since summer-season parties and such require more detailed review and the town board should require an application deadline of 60 days in advance.
What’s a reader to think? But wait, there’s more. At the Tuesday town board work session of June 25, that very same Dominick Stanzione voted yes to grant a mass gathering permit to Montauk’s own Beach House for an event to take place — are you ready? — on June 29! Did he raise any questions or objections to the short notice, four days? No. Whatever happened to the “special attention” and the “60-day notice” needed for large summer activities?
Oh well, guess it just depends on which way the wind is blowing.
Springs the Stepchild
June 27, 2013
Last night at Ashawagh Hall the East Hampton Democrats presented their slate of candidates running in the upcoming election in November to the residents of Springs. Larry Cantwell, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and Job Potter listened and spoke to specific issues.
This is the summer of our discontent. I recognized many of my Springs neighbors as they spoke in frustration about issues that are bothering homeowners and residents of Springs. I also saw neighbors I do not know speaking to issues that they feel need to be addressed. There is no question that the quality of life in Springs has deteriorated. Many spoke eloquently on our history and our current reality.
Residents spoke to the issue of overcrowding in the hamlet, illegal renting by slum landlords, the lack of code enforcement, and enforcement of existing zoning laws. The slow erosion of neighborhoods, threats to the septic systems and the water supply, the traffic on Three Mile Harbor Road, the high property taxes, blight, and the general feeling that of all the hamlets The Springs is the most neglected. It’s the dump. Its the stepchild. It’s always last in line — period, full stop. The general deterioration manifests itself in many ways. It is not uncommon to see furniture left on the side of the road, in a front yard or in the woods. There is more crime, and we are seeing things we have never seen before.
Maidstone Park, or “the people’s park,” has turned into a beach parking lot, or at least Baby Beach has turned into a parking lot. Trucks and S.U.V.s arrive at the beach and stay parked on the beach for hours. I guess the drivers can’t be bothered to carry their beach paraphernalia from the road, and/or the car has become part of their beach experience.
This needs to change. It’s an accident waiting to happen. It is ruining the beach and denying normal beachgoers the view of the water and the use of the shallow cove which is a safe swimming area for tots. There are lots of parking spaces in this park. I don’t understand trucks and S.U.V.s on the beach during prime sun time.
The malaise, this general state of disrepair and “I will do anything I want” attitude did not start yesterday. Due to impotent code and law enforcement, and neglect over the last 10 years, we are experiencing the results. The more you ignore it, the worse it gets. These quality-of-life issues are very important. It is why we all love The Springs and why we live here. We have Accabonac Bay, Louse Point, Maidstone Park, Gardiner’s Bay, Gerard Point — beautiful natural resources north of the highway, we have the Springs General Store, and Barnes (local treasures both, and part of our collective consciousness) and a farmers market on Saturdays at Ashawagh Hall and the Springs Community Church that is very active in local affairs. We care, and we care a lot!
Since our population has doubled in the past 10 years and we have over 50 percent Hispanic enrollment in our expensive school, and the current population of Springs is 34 percent Latino, it is time to talk and work out some of the problems this increased population has created. This also means we need some affordable housing for all, and a planning and zoning board that creates and supports standards and current law. We need some new law written to deal with current unacceptable conditions that includes increases in penalties for slum landlords who break the law. We have been trying to get a law written for four years, defining a light truck, by the current town board, and to date, no success on that.
I listened to my neighbors and I listened to the responses by Larry Cantwell, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, and Job Potter. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez is a Springs resident, she sees and feels our reality. I hope she can act on it, and both Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Potter have experience in local government. They believe in the East Hampton Town Comprehensive Plan. They believe there is a social contract that exists between the elected and the governed and that government can be a force for good. I think most people believe that also. There was a willingness to listen — there was no combat or bile spewed, no shouting or divisiveness. Everyone was pretty civil, they certainly were vocal, and everyone was very interested in discussing community.
We also need an intelligent and cogent conversation about school consolidation. That issue, however, can be saved for another day.
No question, the act is the fact. We are grateful for additional C.P.F. land purchases by the town, but all you have to do is open your eyes, take a drive, and look around. Springs is a mess!
A Better Choice
July 1, 2013
To the Editor,
It’s too bad that Zach Cohen isn’t running for council. His thoughtful deliberation and dedicated volunteer work have earned him well deserved, broad support in East Hampton.
Instead the Democrats have chosen a recycled candidate from a previous tainted administration and a Springs School Board president who admitted to a lack of knowledge on critical issues and who is awash in controversy over the board’s hiring and support of the now-infamous school principal.
Zach Cohen is a far better choice and but for a few votes was almost a winner in the last election.
July 1, 2013
To the Editor:
I attended the recent meeting at Ashawagh Hall at which the Democratic candidates for the town board invited the public to attend what was billed as the first Listen-In‚ to meet and speak to the candidates.
It was a poor showing for the two council candidates who were challenged on their past judgment. Serious questions were asked and the answers were for the most part unsatisfactory and misleading. Regrettably, both Democratic candidates come with baggage. Job Potter served in the troubled McGintee administration and voted $3.8 million for the Keyes Island purchase, an amount which was substantially more than the tiny island’s asking price while it languished on the market unsold for years.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, soon-to-retire Springs School Board president, is currently involved in a crisis involving the ethics of the current school principal and the board’s vetting and hiring decisions. One local paper accused the board of holding illegal private meetings when the crisis ensued. The board delayed informing the public longer than many thought appropriate. There is now further conflict regarding Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s alleged comment that she hopes the current interim superintendent would resubmit his résumé, even though it is not permissible under New York State waiver procedure. After nine years on the school board, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez should be well aware of the open meetings laws and legal processes. In fact, the Springs School Board has been marked by controversy during the period in which she has served.
More troubling is that every Springs household received a first-class mailing at taxpayer expense from the board, defending both [Eric] Casale and the board’s action. The public has a right to evaluate all of the information afforded them and draw their own conclusions as to Mr. Casale’s integrity and the school board’s actions. Many people vehemently disapprove. The fact that the board members feel the need to defend themselves acknowledges a problem. To use taxpayer money for a first-class mailing to promote their point of view, with an election coming in which the school board president is running for council, seems a misuse of public funds. The letter could have been posted on the school Web site or funded by the campaign.
When asked specifically what the candidates would do, what legislation they would propose or support in order to effectively deal with illegal and overcrowded housing in East Hampton, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez replied that she was on a learning curve, not yet able to answer. We have a lot of problems in East Hampton Town and we need candidates with well-thought-out proposals who are ready to act.
What were the Democrats thinking when they chose these candidates over Zachary Cohen, who is a more qualified, deserving candidate with more experience and better judgment? The community seems to have lost control of a process which is in the hands of a very small group of people. They say that you get the government you deserve. Dominick Stanzione has a record to run on and one that he cannot run from. Hopefully, Fred Overton will participate in a similar forum to answer questions from the public.
Perhaps we should start a Draft Zachary movement? The community should be able to choose from the best candidates possible.
July 1, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
In an otherwise funny letter in last week’s Star, Diana Walker’s last question deserves some serious attention. By asking, “What do East Hampton Town trustees do? Really? Or not?” she highlighted what may be a more widespread question throughout our community.
A conversation with Stuart Vorpahl, a noted bayman, East Hampton historian, and former long-serving trustee, and Mary Gifford, a journalist who once covered the trustee beat for this newspaper, at her brother Ed’s marine photography exhibit at Bruce Tait’s office and gallery in Sag Harbor provided a simple answer. Mr. Vorpahl said, “The Trustees of East Hampton are the original government of the Town. They were the deed-holders to it all starting in 1666 with the Nicoll’s Patent. The Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of East Hampton literally owned and managed pretty much everything within the town. Twenty years later Lord Dongan incorporated the Nicoll’s Patent into his grant, the Dongan Patent. Trustees managed hunting, hawking, fishing, orchards, harbors, bays, beaches, creeks, lakes, quarries, woodlands, farms, mills, meadows, mines, and more. Over time, they sold land to individuals for homes and farms, and later made grants to the state and county for roads and such, but they were still in charge of it all, managing for the benefit of property owners and the public. It continues to this day.”
In fact, before there was New York State and its government, before there was a United States and its government, there was East Hampton and its government — by the trustees. The trustees’ responsibilities and authority to manage the common resources and lands of the town on behalf of the public has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court, though our trustees’ governance predates their jurisdiction by over 120 years.
Certainly the Dongan Patent is on every history curriculum in the town’s hamlets’ schools, but with so many of us here as “local by choice,” the original four pages, which include verbatim the Nicoll’s Patent, are not common knowledge, though they are the beginning of the documented living heritage of East Hampton. There are literally tens of thousands of transcribed pages, and other commentary and decisions, describing the actions of the trustees in protecting the beach access rights of our citizens, management of resources, and championing our environment over the past 347 years.
Nine town trustees are elected every two years in a horse race election. No matter how many candidates run, the top nine vote-getters are elected. Two respected trustees, Lynn Mendelman and Joe Bloecker, are stepping down this year, but the seven incumbents, some with old East Hampton roots, like Steve Lester or eminently qualified environmentalists like Deb Klughers, are running for re-election. Each party is fielding a full slate of candidates with some names on two ballot lines or more. I am one of 18 candidates.
I believe that trustees serve as the conscience of East Hampton, charged through history with helping to ensure and protect residents’ and visitors’ rights of responsible, respectful access to our beaches, waterways, and to the bounty and preservation of our bottom lands. As a professional mariner and diver and former teacher I look forward to continuing that mission on the town’s behalf.
I urge you to pay attention to us all as our campaigns unfold because the trustees’ traditional role is still the same as it was, managing precious resources for the public benefit.
So, Ms. Walker, next time you or anyone else enjoys a day at the beach, a sail on our waters, or a walk along our many public trails and byways, a day’s fishing, clamming, or other local seafood, give a thought to the trustees who work to ensure the continuing viability of those irreplaceable treasures in this unique town. Or not. Really?
And please remember to vote for me to join them!
CAPT. IRA BAROCAS
‘A Sorry History’
July 1, 2013
To The Editor:
Well, as I write, it’s not even July 4 yet and our local Democratic Party has already shown what kind of campaign they’ll run this year. They’ve filled the radio waves with ad hominem attacks, personal invective, and a whole bagful of slime and bile.
One thing they haven’t focused on is their record, and no wonder. That record is a sorry history of incompetence, cronyism, fiscal mismanagement, extravagant spending, and a probably criminal misappropriation of Community Preservation Fund funds.
Lest we forget, Job Potter was a part of the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil board which responded to the misdeeds of the McGintee years with a deafening silence, putting party loyalty above principle as the town’s finances were wrecked. And I don’t recall Kathy Gonzalez having anything to say regarding that sad state of affairs either.
The squabbles among the current Republican board members have sometimes been uncomfortable to watch, but as a group they can point to a record of straightening out and streamlining the affairs of Town Hall, a record the state has recently recognized by giving them a $500,000 pat on the back.
A little internecine squabbling is preferable to the blind obedience to the party line we saw in the previous administration. Some principled disagreement between board members during the McGintee fiasco might have saved us a lot of grief.
Ban These Chemicals
June 29, 2013
I am sure you are aware of my resistance to the use of methoprene, sumithrin, and resmethrin by Suffolk County Vector Control to control mosquitoes in East Hampton. I can safely say, due to conversations I have had with a variety of people, that I believe many others feel the same way I do. In fact, on June 21, 2013, Connecticut passed Public Act 13-197 which prohibits the use or application of methoprene and resmethrin in any storm drain or conveyance for water within their coastal boundary. It passed their house earlier this month by a landslide vote of 140-1 and starting on Sept. 1, methoprene and resmethrin will be banned from use in their coastal boundary except in a city with at least 100,000 people and a documented death from West Nile virus.
They are not the first to enact such legislation, as Rhode Island and Massachusetts have passed similar laws.
I have read that a number of Connecticut senators plan to ask New York State to ban these chemicals as a way to preserve the ecology of coastal waters. Connecticut Representative [John] Shaban stated in an interview, “For several years we have listened to the experts who told us that these pesticides could not harm the lobster population. Last year, however, we learned that the experts may have been wrong.” These insecticides are meant to poison and kill biological organisms and I have maintained that there are safer ways to reduce mosquitoes, and now a neighboring state agrees!
Suffolk County has not changed its stance regarding their mosquito control methods. They have already sprayed East Hampton marshlands at least three times this year. Twice with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), which you can confirm by going to their press release Web site, and once on June 18 with methoprene, which is remarkably absent from their Web site. Why the switch from a safer product back to methoprene, and why is it not posted on their Web site? We should demand a vector control program that demonstrates transparency, accountability, and detailed record-keeping with public access to all reports.
I would like to see Suffolk County Vector Control work toward the goals stated in their 2007 mosquito plan of reducing their use of pesticides by 75 percent over a 10-year period. Does anyone know how much of this stuff they sprayed in 2007 vs. 2012?
We should work toward ecological management and restoration for mosquito control, not just spraying. We can restore habitat for native species that eat adult mosquitoes and their larva, like fathead minnows, bats, and birds. We can remove human-made sources of mosquito-breeding sites. Public education on how to reduce backyard mosquito-breeding sites and how to avoid mosquito bites should be disseminated. Since we must minimize both public health and environmental risks, East Hampton should adopt a sustainable approach to mosquito management that combines biological, physical, and as a last resort, chemical control.
In many communities, chemical control is eliminated through integrated management approaches! I will work toward and promote partnerships and participation among stakeholders to achieve effective mosquito control, and am hoping to start a fathead minnow giveaway program for homeowners to place in ponds, rain barrels, unused pools, or any standing freshwater. In addition, stocking them in standing freshwater locations around our community, like storm drains and ditches, will reduce the number of mosquito larvae and thereby reduce adult mosquitoes!
Fresh water is, by the way, the breeding ground for the mosquito species that are the main transmitters of West Nile virus, not saltwater wetlands. The county and the State Department of Environmental Conservation are quite amenable to fathead minnow-stocking for mosquito control. It’s time to see what the town thinks.
Although I would like to believe that the county wants to do more to alert the community prior to spraying, they are falling short. Being notified by a Web site posting a day before (or, if you look at the dates on the posted notices, a few days after?!) is not adequate. I would like to see the county place ads in local papers and broadcast public service announcements to alert the public of the date, place, time, method, type, and amount of pesticides they plan to apply.
I have been told that the county cannot provide such detailed information to the public due to weather and other constraints, but I do not think that is appropriate. If they can figure out how to spray chemicals from helicopters according to their $4 million taxpayer-funded plan, they should be able to figure out how to alert us beforehand. At the very least, a few days’ notice with even tentative days could be quite useful to the public. The county chooses to apply these chemicals here, so it is their responsibility to alert us, in advance, before every application.
As I stated above, I am not the only person who is concerned about the use of these chemicals in East Hampton, or other northeast states, for that matter. The dichotomy between Connecticut’s rationale to ban these chemicals and New York’s insistence to use them is stark. What should be interesting is how these states will work out their differences when these chemicals are found in the Long Island Sound and its inhabitants in the future.
Thank you for the space,
East Hampton Town Trustee
July 1, 2013
To the Editor:
East Hampton Town has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. We have the second highest incidence of this and other tick-borne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and yet our elected officials do absolutely nothing to keep us safe. With approximately 1,000 human cases yearly and climbing and approximately 500 animal cases, one would think that they would be screaming for help, but no, they seem to know more than the experts.
Recently, the East Hampton Town Board voted to keep Lyme disease in the Deer Management Plan. I did not know that they were medical experts who knew something that the entire scientific community has yet to confirm. The problem is that they claim that Lyme disease is a non-environmental issue.
Anyone who has ever had Lyme or any other tick-borne disease knows it comes directly from our environment. To claim otherwise shows us just how misinformed they are.
There has NEVER been any scientific research done saying that Lyme is a non-environmental disease, but they know better than the experts. When politicians think that they know more than experts, the residents within their communities suffer, as we are now. Mr. Stanzione has led this charge with Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby following right behind.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, these experts on the town board turned down the same help that Shelter Island and Fire Island are now benefiting from, as their incidence of tick-borne diseases and the deer population are down 50 percent. I spoke to them directly and they were shocked that this FREE help was refused so easily. The residents of East Hampton must pay for our politicians’ severe neglect.
I also had the pleasure of sitting down with the head of Suffolk County Vector Control, Dr. Scott Campbell. For over an hour he put up with me and answered all of my questions. He was truly interested in listening to all of my concerns. He informed me that the Town of East Hampton has had minimal contact with both himself and his department, and the last time was over 18 months ago. All contact from the town was via e-mail, never bothering to meet or at the very least pick up a phone.
I have wonderful contacts at the C.D.C., one in Atlanta, and two currently conducting a major Lyme disease study in Fort Collins, Colo. These three epidemiologists are the tops in their field and are working to help small communities like us deal with these crippling diseases. Their preliminary findings are that when you remove a specific species from an environment, the tick-borne disease numbers skyrocket, mainly because ticks adapt quickly to change, usually thriving from it. Currently there are around 100 species of animals, including birds, which carry ticks in the town of East Hampton.
There are a limited number of ways to kill ticks. Field burning, which East Hampton used to do, is the most effective, but in this day and age is not safe for the community. Spraying pesticides is also highly effective, but can contaminate our water supplies, as is happening with mosquito spraying. Finally, using other species to control the overpopulation of ticks is the best scenario for East Hampton.
Turkeys and guinea hens are a major line of defense for the community, but in order to have a significant impact, we need to use the deer to get the tick population under control, using four-poster feeders. Until the town board realizes this, you and I, the members of the community, will continue to suffer.
So we now have to wonder who is advising these board members on our health issues, or are they the experts that they claim to be. Would you bring your child to them for a medical issue? No, because they are not doctors, yet you are allowing them to make decisions about your health, without consulting one expert in the field.
Last week, four of the five board members voted to enact the deer management plan. This plan will surely increase the number of Lyme disease patients in our wonderful town by up to 80 percent unless the ticks are dealt with first. I hope that when you or one of your family members get Lyme disease, you realize they are indirectly responsible for it and vote them out of office, sending the politicians of this town a clear message that the health and safety of the residents of East Hampton are of the utmost importance.
Airport Is an Asset
June 28, 2013
As an aviation professional with ties to East Hampton Airport dating back to the 1970s, I find it somewhat disturbing to hear from Pat Trunzo, an attorney with no apparent aviation background, that he takes credit for being the sole author of a document as important as an airport master plan that has drawn so much conflicting legal action and then involves himself in several organizations opposing the airport itself.
As far as my “assertion that we have never, never won in court,” what I actually said was:
“Mr. Gruber, in over 20 years of numerous frivolous lawsuits and appeals against East Hampton Town over the airport, using the same arguments he repeatedly uses here and in Town Hall, has never won in court. Never! Ever!”
Pat is now trying to put a spin on my statement by saying that although they lost, and he now includes himself with David Gruber, it was because everyone else lied to the court. Really?
I was under the impression it was against the law to lie in court, and that one could be prosecuted for doing so? Certainly the both of you as attorneys would have prevailed if that was the case?
But you didn’t, and I stand by my statement as written.
I’m very pleased to hear from David Gruber that I am clever and have “followers.” I was not aware of that since I make no claims of representing anyone but myself.
If I have followers as David suggests, perhaps I’m not alone in my belief that the airport serves the community and should be maintained and supported properly as any other town asset.
Once again I will state that accepting federal funds does not restrict the town from implementing reasonable, nonarbitrary, and nondiscriminatory noise mitigation measures.
The town had the perfect opportunity to do so in December 2011 when it voted unanimously to request Federal Aviation Administration funding and to request the noise study required to initiate noise reduction measures.
As usual, David Gruber and his supporters immediately opposed these initiatives, and had a lawsuit filed the following day.
Since then, the town board, for reasons known only to themselves, has lost the initiative to address noise issues and failed to address the concerns of its constituents.
David’s claim that “if 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,” is going to be a big disappointment to his supporters when the F.A.A. asserts its authority to control air operations regardless of grant assurances.
I challenged David to list the airports that have successfully instituted restrictions to control noise after grant assurances have expired and his somewhat surprising answer is that East Hampton will be the first to do so!
Really? There are 3,500 public use airports in the U.S. and East Hampton is going to be the national test case?
More likely than not, when David’s magic date of December 2014 comes and goes, East Hampton will still be left with the issues that need to be resolved, airport noise concerns and long-overdue maintenance that the town cannot afford, in part due to the delaying tactics of airport opponents.
Hopefully before that date there will be a town board with the foresight to realize that the airport is an asset and a vital part of the town infrastructure and needs to be supported and properly maintained with the recognition that all parties are entitled to reasonable input in resolving the issues at hand.
I could not end this letter without addressing David’s statement that what I “never actually dare to do is state that he is wrong. . . .”
So here it is David, you are wrong, the town will not have any more powers to regulate the airport when grant assurances expire than it has now!
That’s not my opinion, that’s the F.A.A.’s position, and so far you and all your legal cohorts don’t seem to have been able to rewrite Federal aviation regulations as far as I know!
June 30, 2013
To the Editor:
Hooray for your 27 June editorial “Is It Just a Party?” in which you point out that protecting the community from excessive noise “is, in fact, enshrined in the East Hampton Town Code.”
Your editorial correctly challenges the right not only of commercial interests but also of “the pilots of helicopters and jets . . . to do whatever they want whenever they want.”
It is a bit more complicated for the town to control noise from jets and helicopters than from ground-based sources such as rowdy night clubs or extravaganzas like Shark Attack Sounds, in which case, as you point out, Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione cast the key vote to allow the excessive noise to continue. As the airport liaison for the East Hampton Town Board, Mr. Stanzione is in a key position regarding jet and helicopter noise as well.
While aviation noise may be more complicated, the town code, nevertheless, does also speak to aircraft noise. It requires that whenever airport-related actions are proposed that could have a significant effect on airport-related noise, the town first must measure single-event noise impacts, that is, the noise impact of each aircraft as its sounds actually impact people on the ground.
But would you believe that Councilman Stanzione’s supposed program to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the town to mitigate aircraft noise not only will not measure single-event noise impacts but will fail to measure any noise at all? That result is clearly foreshadowed by the noise analysis made public last week in the “Final Environment Assessment” for the newly reopened airport control tower. The “Noise Analysis” portion of that document was prepared by the town’s airport-noise consultants, Harris Miller Miller and Hanson, whom Mr. Stanzione has engaged also in his larger supposed F.A.A. noise-mitigation program.
In their recent noise analysis, the consultants advise that noise levels in and beyond the airport are “based on computer generated DNL estimates,” (“Noise Analysis” page B-9). Those estimates, in turn, are derived from “airfield geometry and operations data” such as runway layout and frequency of use, flight path locations, and numbers of landings and takeoffs,” (page 3). The consultants explain that actual noise measurement is impractical without “a permanently installed monitoring system” including a large number of monitoring points (page B-9).
Moreover, the “DNL estimates” thus derived follow the F.A.A.’s noise-averaging methodology, not the single-event noise standard required by the East Hampton Town Code. And, beyond the town code issue, it is patent that, even if noise were actually measured, averaging that noise over days, weeks, and months would never reflect reality for the East End, where air traffic is concentrated within the summer season and on weekends.
Guess what Mr. Stanzione’s professionals concluded from those formulaic methods? They found that there is no excessive aircraft noise beyond the airport perimeter, (“Final Environmental Assessment,” pages 3-15).
The applicable federal law will allow the town to impose, for community noise protection, only reasonable, nonarbitrary and nondiscriminatory restrictions on aircraft flying in and out of the airport. And that means that the town will have to build a record showing the actual pattern and levels of aircraft noise on the East End in order to reasonably regulate the sources of noise.
Obviously, if Mr. Stanzione’s expensive team again fails to measure the actual and single-event noise impacts and concludes that there is no excessive noise beyond the airport perimeter, the town will never satisfy the federal law standard and the East End will never get relief from the airport-caused noise plague. Perhaps that is what Mr. Stanzione and his supporters really want.
CHARLES A. EHREN JR.
Mind Those Data
June 28, 2013
To the Editor:
Your issue dated 20 June, Section B2, “Point of View.”
The headline in large dark letters.
If you check your dictionary, find that “data” is the plural of “datum.”
Therefore, your word “that” should be “those,” or perhaps “the.”
I know that “Mind Those Data” could sound awkward to some, but a newspaper does not need to participate in incorrect language just for the sake of sounding nice.
Purchase a Pigeon?
June 25, 2013
1. There is a sign on the door of East Hampton’s Bank of America: “Hi There.” Hi there? My bank account at Bank of America has not reached “Good morning, madam” status, but, “Hi there?”
2. AT&T has not figured out how to get a signal to my cellphone inside of my house. Verizon was similarly lousy. Is this not 2013? Must I purchase a pigeon?
3. Bad brokers rent to groups of 20 somethings whose idea of recreational behaviors can make life hell for the neighbors. I did, somewhat, appreciate the bouquet of flowers (out from my garden) that appeared last Sunday morning after I hosed off a green-faced young thing and lent her a clean robe.
4. Some women sport extreme décolletage at East Hampton events. I don’t mind unless they are seated close to me at dinner. I offer a napkin as a “bosom burka” so that conversation is not limited to dairy.
5. I am a skeptic when it comes to modern conveniences. My dear friend, a farmer, put it best, “Well, Diana, that’s all very well and good. But you can’t fax a cow!”
All good things,
July 4, 2013
I have to confess that I have never really understood the cheekiness of East Hampton’s elitists’ fund-raising celebration of Bastille Day with an elaborate fireworks display on the 14th of July or thereabouts over Three Mile Harbor.
Why celebrate the beginning of the French Thermidor when we had our own? It was called the U.S. Civil War.
By moving their fireworks display back to July 4, East Hampton’s progressive elites would then consolidate the proper recognition of elitists’ achievement with the proper day (and lessen the traffic congestion at Main Beach to boot!) The fourth is, also, the anniversary of the day our Constitution died — July 4, 1861, with Lincoln’s message to Congress in special session. This proclamation’s rendition of our founding is so sophomoric that it could only be loved and understood by true believers of Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story and the inaccurately cited ramblings of his commentaries on the history of American law.
The Constitution’s actual burial would take place at Appomattox Courthouse some four years later. Much to the glee of another Supreme Court justice, Salmon P. Chase, who exclaimed, “States’ rights died Appomattox!”
The act of revolution is defined by Webster’s First American Dictionary of 1828 as, “6. In politics, a material or entire change in the constitution of government.” Tell me again, just who were the real rebels?
These two major events were not unconnected. The father of modern Communism was Francois-Noel Babeuf, the French revolutionary also known as Gracchus Babeuf, Nov. 23, 1760 to May 27, 1797, when Babeuf lost his head. Babeuf would inspire Charles Fourier, the French utopian socialist and communitarian who thought himself to be on the same intellectual plane as Sir Isaac Newton. Fourier would in turn sell his collectivists theories to an American dilettante by the name of Albert Brisbane, who would in turn promote these concepts to Horace Greeley. Greeley, in turn, would fund experimental utopian socialist communes which were based on Fourier’s ridiculous theories. (Wiseacres of the day referred to it as Four-year-ism.) These communes would be called phalanxes. The modern Republican Party would be born on the ruins of his Wisconsin phalanx in 1854. Formerly, this had been Warren Chase’s (probably S.P.’s cousin) “free love” community known as Ceresco. Imagine that. The stodgy old Republican Party. Phalanxes. Did they have phalanx envy?
It gets better. Horace Greeley’s New York Daily Tribune would be the publisher of Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ essays for nine years prior to the Civil War. It was Horace Greely, a Marxist-Fourierian propagandist, who took the young Republican Party from oblivion to the White House in six years. Marx’s editor was Charles A. Dana, who would go on to become Edwin Stanton’s right-hand man at Lincoln’s War Department.
Greeley would accomplish this by exploiting the speaking talents of a lawyer from Illinois who would turn out to be one original conspirators of crony capitalism on a national scale. His accomplices were Oakes Ames, Oliver Ames, and Thomas C. Durant.
In 1856, Thomas C. Durant would hire Abraham Lincoln to maintain the use of a bridge needed by Durant and his partner Henry Farnam to link their new Mississippi and Missouri railroad with Farnam’s existing Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific railroad.
This association would later pay Durant’s partnership huge dividends in 1862. Because by then President Lincoln selected Durant’s next new company, the Union Pacific, as the starting point of the First Transcontinental Railroad.
That was the beginning of nationalized crony corruption. Congressman Oakes Ames, Honest Abe’s bagman, distributed Crédit Mobilier shares of stock to other congressmen, in addition to cash bribes. This corrupt bargain would eventually blow-up in President Grant’s face with the Crédit Mobilier scandal in 1872.
The story was broken by The New York Sun during the 1872 presidential campaign, thus threatening Grant’s re-election. The origin of scandal dated back to Lincoln’s presidency and the 1864 charter of the Union Pacific Railroad by the federal government and the associated Crédit Mobilier was established.
An originator of East Hampton’s Bastille Day celebration, George Plimpton’s mother, Pauline Ames’s, great-grandfather was Lincoln’s bagman, Oakes Ames, and, through her, Mr. Plimpton was also related to another hypocritical destroyer of states’ rights, Benjamin “Beast” Butler. Now you know the rest of that story.
Now, why don’t we go into similar details of some other offspring of East Hampton’s elitist and former citizens? Lyman Beecher comes to mind. Let’s start with his son Henry Ward’s “peaceful ministering” to the good flock of immigrants in Kansas in the 1850s using his Beecher Bibles. There is a vast array of others to choose from. Sometime in the future perhaps? Who knows, the antidote might be there, too.
Relax, elites. Be happy. Boy’s Harbor is dead, and the taxpayers bought the land. The Constitution is dead, too. Soon we will be in a resultant worldwide financial depression that will make the “Wiemaring” of Germany appear to have been a picnic. The political and cultural elites will have, once again, done for this country what Honest Abe did for the State of Illinois in the late 1830s. There is one word that has never been in the elites’ vocabulary — unsustainable.
“It’s the debt, stupid.” Sooner or later you run out of other peoples’ money.
Why not consolidate the Thermidorian celebrations back to July 4? They ended the same way for many of their perpetrators.
If these elites were really the patriots they pretend to be, they would have been celebrating June 21, the anniversary of day the federal contract sprang to life with New Hampshire’s ratification in 1788.
OTIS A. GLAZEBROOK IV
June 30, 2013
To the Editor:
In the world of mature democracies, politicians lying is an accepted and integrated norm. Bush about W.M.D.s, Obama about Benghazi, Darrell Issa about everything. The only difference is the aftershocks, but they somehow all fall into the same pot. Yet in Egypt, with its year-old democracy, the lies of President Morsi have brought the country to the brink of another revolution.
Morsi’s deception, not unlike Erduan’s in Turkey, is the integration and imposition of religious principles into a secular governmental process. Erduan was known as a conservative Islamist when he was elected 12 years ago but he bided his time before betraying his commitment to secular government. At this point he feels that he can reap the benefits of the prosperity that the country experienced under his leadership.
Morsi’s situation is far more perilous. The Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized groups apart from the old governing bureaucracy, won Egypt’s first Democratic election. Concerns about Morsi’s Islamist leanings were allayed by his declaration of support for secular government. But the nature and depths of Egypt’s economic malaise almost guaranteed that the newly elected democratic government would fail. Morsi, in truth, was a sacrificial pig (lamb) and, understanding the political reality, decided to take off the secular facade and go Islamist.
Morsi’s obvious lying has thrown the country into turmoil. Believing that democracy would instantly change their lives, Egyptian expectations were euphorically exaggerated. We are now a democracy, life is great. But democracy itself doesn’t create jobs, redistribute wealth, or create opportunities to grow a middle class. In truth, it is far less effective, in the short term, than a centralized autocratic system.
Overthrowing Mubarak was a major feat but only a small step in the creation of a functioning democracy and the potential for economic growth. When Egyptians returned home the day after Mubarak went down their real lives were not appreciably changed. The world applauded their effort, then returned to business as usual.
In fact, investment in Egypt took a precipitous drop due to the political uncertainty surrounding Morsi. Tourism, its leading industry, collapsed even more, and what was dire became disastrous. The West enthusiastically supported the revolution, then turned its back on the country. Money always trumps politics, especially those politics that it doesn’t own.
So Egyptians will need to understand that political change may eventually lead to economic prosperity, but it is a long, hard process. Lying, gross and crass as it is, is part of the process of governing. The only solution is turning the liars out. If our 200-year-old democracy still hasn’t figured that out, should Egypt’s democracy in its second year fare any better?