Letters to the Editor: 09.19.13

Our readers' comments

 Good Will and Kindness
    September 16, 2013
Dear David:
    The other day I lost my wallet — a wallet that had belonged to my late mother — and everything in it.
    At the Buckskill Tennis Club, I had put it on the trunk of my husband’s car as we talked following an arduous workout, and were changing cars.
    When I remembered I’d put it there, he had pulled out of the driveway, on his way to do some errands in the village after stopping at The Star.
    Later, having retraced his route from Buckskill to The Star twice, I became resigned that it was indeed lost, cancelled all the cards that had been in it, and told him it wasn’t the end of the world. (As it might have been had we bombed Syria.)
    At about 6:45 that evening, Ellen Casciotta called to say she had my wallet! Someone had found it near Most Holy Trinity Church, she said, and had given it to her so that she could track me down.
    When Jack drove over to her house to pick it up, and offered her the money in it for her act of kindness, she demurred, as he said he thought she would.
    Ellen’s call reminded me why I feel so strongly connnected to this place and to its people — in this particular instance to two people I’ve not met. Their kindness evoked again that sense-of-place feeling in me.
    Here’s to all the people of good will and kindness. Knowing there are such people here means much more to me than my wallet.

Brooks-Park Property
    September 16, 2013
Dear David,
    I was glad to see the town take a pause before tearing down the James Brooks and Charlotte Park studios, on the 11-acre property on Neck Path recently purchased through the C.P.F. program, primarily for open space. While the town took an unduly long time to close the deal, the end result was positive for the Springs and town as a whole.
    It’s also good to see that private citizens are organizing to explore the options for public use, and the requisite public access. Properties with buildings to be maintained and managed need the active involvement of the community.
    To the question of whether some of the buildings on the Brooks-Park property are “historic,” I would say yes. The studio of any important Abstract Expressionist painter is, by definition, of interest to history. That I am aware of, only one studio is preserved, the Pollock-Krasner House.
    It’s fair to say that no single resident of our town, or group of people, has made a comparable contribution to American and global culture as did the men and women painting here in the late 1940s and 1950s.
    It’s worth saying that Jim and Charlotte were two of the nicest people one could come across, which makes the possible preservation of their studios all the sweeter.

Stronger Local Laws
    September 16, 2013

Dear David,
    In your editorial last week “Election 2013: Summer of Woe‚” I was disheartened and dismayed by your erroneous statement that “the fault lies not in East Hampton Town’s regulations themselves, or lack thereof; indeed more than a generation’s hard work went into crafting a town code that, while imperfect and sprawling, is actually up to the job of maintaining order and promoting neighborliness.”
    Certainly we need more and better trained code enforcement inspectors, as we have more residents and less inspectors than in years past. However, many of us have been advocating for years for new and stronger local laws to deal with new problems that threaten single-family residential zoning.
    For example, at this time we have no laws to control the number and type of vehicles that can be parked on a residential property. The East Hampton Ordinance Enforcement Department needs the necessary tools to do a much more effective job.  Our community deserves the same protections that other towns are giving their residents.

Hog-Tied Enforcement
    September 13, 2013
Dear Editor,
    The Dems went on a “listen in” tour and made a stop in Springs. They heard from residents about the lack of enforcement of housing codes involving illegally overcrowded homes. This lack of enforcement has lead to decreasing home values, increasing taxes, malfunctioning septics, home-site blight, and a significant decrease in the quality of life.
    The Dems now run a radio piece that blames our code enforcement staff for the problem. They are wrong! Dead wrong!
    The current town board has hog-tied code enforcement by decreasing their staff and discouraging attacking the landlords who own these homes, for who knows what reason (although we can guess).
    The Department of Public Safety is headed by Patrick Gunn, an extremely competent man, who developed a sophisticated yet simple procedure for handling complaints. His staff works hard and has the capability of effectively doing their job if properly staffed and encouraged to enforce the law.
    When a Democratic candidate goes on record to scapegoat code enforcement, it reveals a lack of knowledge of the issues.
    Our current town board, both Democrats and Republicans, never mandated cooperation with the community and other town departments to be responsive to Springs. The current Democratic candidates fail to reveal a working knowledge of the community. As a Democrat, I cannot support the party’s slate. Neither can most of my neighbors.

A Little Compromise
    September 13, 2013
    I would like to thank Jay Blatt for taking the time and trouble to come to our neighborhood and report back to your readers what he observed at what was once the most popular beach in Maidstone Park. On the day I read his letter I drove on the beach to a remote surf break and shared it with three other people. Maybe he was one of them. I am the last person in this town who would be against beach driving or access.
    As stated in my previous letter about this particular beach, you can’t get more than 100 feet from the road and many folks park a lot closer than that. What I really don’t understand is, if you must park on the beach why not drive down the traditional access south of the jetty and drive right to the water’s edge if you want to. Why drive out on the little point and ruin the beach for everyone behind you? We are talking about distances of less than 100 feet.
    What Mr. Blatt didn’t see or report on are all the families who live in Maidstone Park who no longer use this beach. This problem of using the beach as a parking lot is only three or four years old. Before that there was no problem. I know this is true because I use this beach or pass by it a few days a week, either by land or on the water. I’ve done this for over three decades year-round.
    Following Mr. Blatt’s good example, I went and did some investigating on my own. At 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I went and took a look. Traditionally the road would be full on both sides, end to end, with vehicles of families enjoying the beach. There were a bunch of vehicles end to end on the sand across the point and three vehicles parked on the road.
    I fully understand the fears of beach drivers but just ask for a little, actually very little, compromise on this issue. Drive the 50 feet down the traditional access and park on that part of the beach. How hard is that? You still get to park on the beach and be as close to the water as you want. What you don’t do is selfishly ruin the beach for everyone else.

Without ‘Gotcha’
    September 16, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    There’s certainly been a lot of conjecture in last week’s paper, and others, about what Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said, or meant, or might have meant or said, or advocated or didn’t at our Duck Creek Farm Association meeting when she mentioned beach permits. Given that Zack Cohen described the meeting to me, the association’s president, as the East Hampton equivalent of the Iowa caucuses, I find that extremely gratifying.
    Without a recording of the event, it seems that the opinions offered are simply that, and largely fall along the partisan divide. I think that remarks reported out of context are also prone to misunderstanding. That said, I think we all heard the idea of beach permits as a revenue-raising device mentioned by Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, and Fred Overton, and many others in the room objected loudly and immediately, myself included. Not having had a chance to explain over the raucous response her remark generated, it is unfair to Ms. Burke-Gonzalez or any of us to make assumptions as to what was meant by that, whether it was to be for nonresidents, renters, or visitors.
    What is clear is that our town supports a large summer population, the great majority of whom are not part of the freeholders and commonalty of East Hampton, but instead visitors who only take advantage of our beautiful environment, more or less using it at their will and sticking us, the taxpayers and residents, with the bill for everything from beach and litter cleanup to traffic control, not to mention the general inconvenience of crowds everywhere, as recognized by last week’s editorial.
    The lasting lesson we need to have from Duck Creek Farm Association’s meeting is that most of us, especially in Springs, recognize that many of the changes we are seeing these last several years are seriously degrading our collective quality of life. Recognizing that fact, and that it is our obligation to preserve the environment we love in the place we choose to live, that we are local by choice, we need to have serious discussions about our future without the “gotcha” factor that passes for political discourse.
    Over the next few weeks there will be several opportunities closely to question the views of all of our candidates for all town offices, although regrettably less for trustee, the office I seek. This is a loss for all of our voters. Our town trustees more than any other of our elected officials are charged with protecting our collective right to access to our beaches, waterways, and the bounty of our bottomlands. The trustees are the original stewards of our environment, the conscience of East Hampton and the guardians of its future.  Whomever you elect should be able to participate fully in the essential discussions that will shape all of our futures. I hope you, the voters, agree that I can.

Nonresident Parking
    September 15, 2013
Dear David,
    If you live and work in East Hampton, as my husband Joe and I do, property taxes are a constant worry. We want the government we need, but at a price we can afford.
    At a recent public forum hosted by the Duck Creek Farm Association, I proposed that we review all non-tax revenue as a way to keep our taxes down. The example I cited was nonresident beach parking. As it is, East Hampton Village raises more than twice as much as the town from nonresident beach parking permits.
    Nonresident means the people who don’t live in East Hampton, but visit to enjoy our beaches and town. They are welcome, but it is appropriate that they contribute to the maintenance of the town they come to enjoy. 
    To my surprise, I opened last week’s Star to find the Republican candidate Fred Overton accusing me of proposing beach parking fees for our residents. I said no such thing. Fred must not have been paying close attention.
    If I am elected, residents will continue to park at our beaches for free — while I find ways to keep our taxes down.
    Democratic and Working Families
    Candidate for East Hampton
    Town Board

Admired Champion
    East Hampton
    September 15, 2013
Dear Editor,
    As Kathee Burke-Gonzalez begins campaigning full time for town board, as a resident, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and relief that she’s chosen to pursue public service on behalf of East Hampton.
    After the bile and unprofessionalism  that have disrupted the ability of the current town board to govern and to earn the community’s respect, I’m excited to be able to vote for someone who will set the bar far higher.
    Kathee has proven her integrity over her nine-year commitment to the Springs School Board. Most recently, in her two years as its president she passed two budgets that won 76 percent and 77 percent citizen support, saving taxpayers over $4 million while simultaneously improving the quality of education for our children. By listening to what her community needed, and then following through, she became an admired champion of Springs, and now all of East Hampton Town could benefit from her leadership.
    Unlike the impoverished character we’ve grown accustomed to on our current town board, Kathee’s character has revealed her to be a person devoted not to political games, but to the community she loves. She’s intelligent, ethical, collaborative, analytic, and empathic, and if you don’t already know her, please take the time to meet her as she campaigns in the weeks leading up to the election.

What We Have Lost
    September 15, 2013
Dear David,
    Last week’s editorial says it all. I came to live in East Hampton 12 years ago because I fell in love with a town. What a silly thing to do! But when my friend Nora Ferrari invited me one July weekend in 2001, I moaned all the way out here, so far away. I could have been at the dock at Fire Island an hour and a half ago, I thought — and then I entered the town, making the turn by the pond with a pair of graceful swans basking in the sun, and said, wow! That was it.
    The following year, I bought my house in Springs. Within two years this educational administrator in Yonkers Public Schools, doing a job I loved and making damn good money, could no longer leave Springs. The peace and quiet, the clean, clear water to swim in, the lovely ocean beaches, the little stores in town, the lovely restaurants, the friendly, gracious people, the farmstands, the fresh fish, clamming, and on and on, were making it so that I cannot bring myself to leave the town since I retired in 2004 — even in the dead of winter.
    This year it fell apart. But the slippery slope didn’t start in 2013. It has been eroding since the mighty three took over. Look, McGintee degraded into an incompetent leader‚ a hairdresser hand­ling the finances of the town. Give me a break! I blame the Democrats who were in power then for not seeing that, without the support of smart people who probably guided him, this former cop could not handle the job. But the people who took over to make it better have taken this town to the point of lawlessness. Two are not in the fray this year and are leaving office in January‚ praise the Lord, but the one who is still vying for office, Dominick Stanzione, must be held accountable for the abject deterioration of this town.
    There was a precious quality to our life before Wilkinson declared he was for business, and we all know when a Republican says that it means damn the middle class and give the breaks to the big butter and egg people, a k a Ronjo. Wilkinson is yesterday’s news, but Stanzione, the airport tower man, must get his comeuppances. We may be powerless to be able to give Assad his just deserts, but Stanzione needs to lose no matter who he promises what to. Judge him on his record and what we have lost since he has been on the board. People in the Springs are having the wool pulled over their eyes once more, and the wool is 50 percent cotton. He was a contributing part of the emasculation of code enforcement. Stanzione likes to be the center of attraction, he should continue to advance his acting career and get out of politics.

Obvious Qualifications
    September 16, 2013
Dear David,
    Perhaps it’s naive of me, but I have this strange notion that if a candidate for public office — in this case, the East Hampton Town Board — is truly qualified, he doesn’t need to stoop to slyly distorting the facts about his opponent. I’m referring to Dominick Stanzione’s attempt, via a big newspaper ad, to falsify the solid record of accomplishments of Job Potter.
    Job served on the town board from 1998-2005 under three supervisors. During that time, he spearheaded East Hampton’s purchases of open space through the Community Preservation Fund, acquiring more than 120 separate properties, protecting over 2,000 acres of farmlands, woodlands, and beaches. Note: Job was not a member of the board when the C.P.F. was misused, and all the full-page ads in The Star from now until Election Day will not change that fact.
    And by the way, not only did Councilman Potter protect groundwater and increase the number of public trails and beach accesses, he helped complete the 50-unit Accabonac Affordable Apartments, created five historic districts in the town, initiated the Sag Harbor groundwater protection program, and fought successfully to bring a public health clinic to East Hampton.
    Job Potter’s qualifications for public service on the town board are obvious. He does not need to fool around with the facts.

One More Feather
    East Hampton
    September 15, 2013
To the Editor:
    Larry Cantwell’s refusal of the Republican Party’s cross-endorsement should not be taken as a rebuff by Republicans or the Party.
    His reasoned choice to be elected rather than anointed is just one more feather in his cap.

His Own Decisions
    East Hampton
    September 15, 2013
Dear David:
    I am soooo bored with Beverly Bond’s audacious letters. First she suggests Larry Cantwell should run on the Republican line (answer: No). Then she asks him to run on the Republican line (answer: No). Then she demands that he run on the Republican line (No). Finally, she just destroys his credibility in anger. She was hoping for a huge Republican write-in turnout and got 67 votes.
    Although Bev accuses the Democratic elites (whoever they are) of forcing Larry to take the position he did, the Democrats did not tie Larry to a chair and tell him he couldn’t leave the room until he agreed not to run on the Republican line. Larry is a mature, experienced government administrator and a long-time Democrat. He is fully capable of making his own decisions. Furthermore, Bev may call us names like “elite‚” but she sure can’t call us dumb. Why would the Democrats send their most popular candidate to put his name on the Republican line and pull in votes for their candidates running against ours?!
    Larry Cantwell will work for all citizens. If you listen to him speak and hear the respect he has for people and their needs, you can believe that he will do a good job.
    Lastly, Beverly Bond and Tim Sullivan can both take a bow for being among the Republican “elites” who encouraged, supported, and rallied around Wilkinson and Quigley. They were people who have given us four long years of brutal, non-caring, and evasive government. Don’t make us laugh, Beverly.
    Yours truly,

   Naomi Salz is a member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee.

Admirably Suited
    East Hampton
    September 16, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray:
    I am writing to support Steve Tekulsky for East Hampton Town Justice.
    I have known Steve both personally and professionally for several years. His breadth of legal knowledge and judicial temperament make him admirably suited for the position of town justice.
    Steve has given of himself extensively to this community for many years. His candidacy for town justice is a natural outgrowth of his community spirit. In his legal career, Steve has gained extensive knowledge of the very issues that will require resolution in the town court. He will need no on-the-job training.
     Every so often, a candidate for public office appears who is just a natural for the position. Steve’s candidacy for town justice is one of those times.
    The citizens of East Hampton are indeed fortunate that Steve has decided to forsake private practice and run for town justice. It is up to us to appreciate this opportunity and vote for him.
    Yours truly,

Essential Attributes
    September 14, 2013
Dear Editor:
    I am pleased to support Steven Tekulsky for East Hampton Town Justice.
    He is by far the most qualified candidate for that office, considering his extensive legal experience and his record of public service to the Town of East Hampton, exemplified by his 25 years as a member and former chief of the East Hampton Fire Department.
    Beyond that, anyone who has ever spent any time with Steven can attest to his strong character and sense of fairness, attributes that are essential in a town justice.
    Based upon my experience as a former town councilwoman, I believe that Steven is exactly the kind of person that East Hampton needs and deserves in office.
    I will be voting for Steven Tekulsky for town justice and encourage your readers to do the same.

The Common Whipper
    September 12, 2013
Dear David,
    I have been invited to a meeting of the East Hampton Town Trustees. I will go.
    I assume that at a meeting of the East Hampton Town Trustees they deal with the good stuff early on, such as bringing back the bay constables.
    If I am allowed to speak, as well as my support for the return of the bay constables, I will advocate for also returning the East Hampton Town Common Whipper.
    Common whipper — nothing elitist here. I want this job! I have the arm, the wardrobe, and a friend named Mavis who has whips.
    Seriously, our town’s natural resources must be policed. Protected. Guarded. I think the East Hampton Town Trustees get it, bless their underpaid hearts.
    All good things,

Foreign Policy Setbacks
    East Hampton
    September 15, 2013
To the Editor;
    No American bombs will be dropping on Syria any time soon and the United States of America will not be drawn into another Mideast war thanks to Russia? In the mixed-up world we now live in, this is acceptable if that is what it takes to stop Barack Obama from blindly plunging this country into the midst of a brutal civil war in Syria. Having painted and boxed himself in the corner after drawing red lines, Barack Obama was desperate to find a way out of being commander in chief and the president of Russia was more than happy to help.
    To be fair, we all know that this course of action was not charted for altruistic reasons; Syria is a client state of the Russian federation and Mr. Putin was acting in his best interests and to preserve the investments that his country has made. The simple fact is that an opportunity was presented to Mr. Putin in which he could embarrass the president of the United States on the world stage and weaken the American presence abroad. Unfortunately, Barack Obama was an all-too-willing accomplice in this assault on American prestige and power.
    I think we all know how we got here, that the president’s foreign policy is in complete shambles and a complete joke. His foolish support of the so-called Arab Spring has seen the entire region destabilized. The rebels he helped in Benghazi repaid us for our help by slaughtering our ambassador just a year ago in an assault on our consulate. The president still clings to the fantasy that it was spontaneous and the result of an Internet video. The men who committed this act of terror on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 still walk free. They are available for interviews at cafes in Tripoli but somehow the Obama regime cannot bring them to justice.
    Obama’s hand-picked party of power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, has risen and fallen from power. Obama was determined to send money and F-16 fighters to the Muslim Brotherhood but he was silent as they targeted Christians, burned churches, and openly spoke of attacking our ally Israel. Obama did finally find time to be outraged but it was when the Egyptian military, the most respected institution in that country, stepped in to stop the country from sliding into complete collapse and disarray.
    For some reason Barack Obama thought, despite a continued series of foreign policy setbacks, Syria was going to be different, that everyone could get behind a good war, wave a few flags, and take the country’s mind off growing domestic issues. Barack Obama was wrong. Again? Still? Take your pick. The American people spoke loudly and overwhelmingly against military action in Syria. Even the president’s own party was having a hard time beating the war drum. The president waffled; he wavered and ultimately collapsed, like Jello left too long in the sun.
    Into the spotlight stepped one Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia and  an ex-K.G.B. member, who tasted blood in the water. In a series of moves and feints, Putin played rope-a-dope with Barack Obama, the smartest man to be president we have been told, and made the leader of the free world look like a rank amateur, a fool. It is hard to watch an American president be humbled on the world stage the way Obama was, but then again Obama did this to himself.
    Many Americans, probably a lot more now, think Barack Obama is a complete incompetent, in way over his head. His actions and his words over the past two weeks remove all doubt. This was our little secret though, our little “president in the attic‚” but this event has revealed the truth to the world. How his star has fallen from those dizzying heights on the night he won in 2008, when, like a god, he promised to cool the planet and lower the seas. To some extent Barack Obama was a victim of his own success, he started to believe the hype; that he could just give a speech, smile, wave, and everything would be just right.
    Just consider this: if the Russian plan works there is a very real possibility that Vladimir Putin could receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The sad thing is, he would have actually earned it, unlike Barack Obama, who was just given his like a party favor. Reality has a way of asserting itself; we have gone from Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” to Obama’s “Vladimir, can you help a brother out.” How low can this country be brought in the next three years before we have real leadership.

American Exceptionalism
    East Hampton
    September 15, 2013
To the Editor:
    Vladimir Putin’s op-ed piece in The New York Times was the usual garbage until he finished by chastising President Obama for raising the issue of American exceptionalism. Obama should know better than to use such mindless drivel in talking to the American people. Marie Antoinette said let them eat cake, Obama is saying let them eat bullshit.
    We knee-jerk to shooting the messenger, but only the most brain-dead buffoons in our twisted political universe throw out the “exceptionalism” crap. Maybe in the mindless masturbatory miasma of conservative dumb-dumb speak, but not to a national audience struggling with real things. Obama should sit in a corner and suck his thumb.
    Exceptionalism. Are we talking better than everyone else, super race (Deutschland uber alas), the yellow peril, the chosen people. What makes us so bloody exceptional? Our first settlers were mostly religious miscreants, vagrants, indentured servants and criminals. We never believed that someone was here before us so we eventually killed 5 to 10 million Indians, give or take some Mexicans. We used slaves for 160 years and didn’t let them vote for another 100. Our roots might be considered grotesque if we didn’t rewrite history every 50 years.
    Since World War II we have bombed almost two dozen countries, destroyed the drinking water in Iraq with depleted uranium, and supported countless numbers of dictators in every part of the world. We used to manufacture all kinds of goods, had a growing middle class, and set a standard for financial growth and efficiency. We once even had a functioning government.
    We aren’t worse than the rest of the world, despite our shortcomings, but exceptional, even a teeny-weeny exceptional, is a stretch. We could be the greatest country on earth but without a token we can’t ride the subway.
    The use of the term “exceptionalism” in a crisis situation reeks of obfuscation. It’s a sly, nasty card governments use to explain why it’s okay to steal your house, rape your daughter, and kill your wife. Revel in our greatness.
    George Carlin called the United States the greatest bombing nation in the world. Exceptional at bombing. No one can bomb like us. North Korea has pictures of its reverenced leader, Kim Suck II, in every kitchen to pacify the pain of empty cupboards. Almost 20 percent of our population are on food stamps.
    If we need Putin to help find our way in the world, we have a problem. The Syria conundrum is a small piece of a larger mess that identifies our impotence rather than our exceptionalism. Obama should know better.