70 Christmas Trees
January 4, 2014
To the Editor:
I would like to thank Jimmy Daunt, Richie Daunt, Joseph Horton, and Cindy Dess for their tireless efforts decorating the 70 Christmas trees that line the downtown streets of Montauk for the past 12 years.
When I would see Richie and his crew replacing bulbs and fuses at night in the dark and cold, I knew firsthand what a tough job it was keeping those lights burning, especially in our Montauk winds and weather.
Thank you all for helping make Montauk the beautiful place we call home. If there are some new Santa helpers who are interested in next year’s decorations, on behalf of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce please contact me.
Montauk Post Office
January 6, 2014
To the Editor:
This past week, if you haven’t noticed, the Montauk Post Office has come under siege from all the unwanted mail and magazines from its customers. Along with the unsightly appearance of this mess, a trip hazard was created, leaving some our seniors with the difficulty of navigating through it. All trash cans were overflowing, with residents’ personal information strewn about the floor. Does anyone think about identity theft?
While the post office management has dropped the ball in maintaining this facility to an acceptable standard, you have to ask yourself why so many of you, the customer-residents, continue to overload the trash containers when you see this condition. Isn’t it time for everyone to take some personal and social responsibility? Take your own mail home, or at least cancel those unwanted publications and show a little respect for yourself and your neighbors!
The Legion’s Service
December 30, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
We, the clients, volunteers, staff, and board of directors of East Hampton Meals on Wheels do heartily thank the American Legion Post 419 in Amagansett for the wonderful holiday dinners which they created and prepared for our community on Christmas Day. We also thank them for the beautiful holiday gifts which they sent with every meal.
The legion’s generosity has added joy to the season for our homebound neighbors who otherwise would not have been able to enjoy a delicious, hot, holiday meal. Since many of these folks live alone, the dinner and gifts were especially meaningful. Indeed, we have received several calls, expressing delight and gratitude, from the recipients.
Once again, we praise the legion members for their diligence in time and effort necessary to expedite such a magnificent expression of love and fellowship within our community. We wish all who live in East Hampton Town to recognize the legion’s service to their neighbors.
Very truly yours,
EDWARD D. McLAUGHLIN
New York City
December 30, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
At this happy season, which coincides with the birthday of the late John (Red) White, I wish us not to forget his great merits in working to save the Sagaponack and East End farm country.
As a happy inhabitant, on and off, since 1941 of his original ancestral homestead, I have been aware of him since that time. He was always quietly around in his plane or on the road in his tractor or truck. I affectionately remember his parents, so outgoing and cheerful. They supplied my parents with milk and eggs from their chickens every day in the summer.
I would like to emphasize what Red accomplished, by saving the cause of “forever farmland.” As I look out on the unencumbered fields and skies from the bridge looking toward Sagg Main, I realize that he guaranteed our peace and tranquility.
He was a true “man of peace,” as mentioned in the divine service in his memory; in other words, he guaranteed the view (blessed word!) — what Harry Dodson called the scenic corridor. There are few places left of such value. This is a living lesson to the present landscapists and developers, before they get carried away by their own megalomania and greed for gain.
The richness of these fields gives us space to breathe, reflecting the adjacent seashore and the circumambient peace it wafts for the refreshment of the soul.
For this, in later years, he had to suffer from stifling vested interests.
Let us admire this man of peace and welcome the actions of his eldest son, John, and others in perpetuating a 300-year-old tradition of American rural values.
International Society for the Saving of Monuments and Landscapes
January 4, 2014
Tomorrow (Jan. 10) at 11 a.m., the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on the Maidstone Club Irrigation Improvement Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The public hearing will provide the village community their opportunity to address the Z.B.A. on the application’s proposal requesting 14 variances, including one for the installation of a 700,000-gallon reservoir, a pump house, and the expansion of an irrigation system to deliver up to 25 million gallons of water per year on their two golf courses.
Several years ago the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permitted the club a third well and an increase from pumping 9.5 million gallons of water per year from the Long Island sole-source aquifer to pumping 25 million gallons of water per year.
The Maidstone Club is the largest of the Hook Pond shoreline owners, in addition to the village and 19 shoreline homeowners. Hook Pond, its fragile wetlands and ecosystem, is the pride of East Hampton Village. Tomorrow’s public hearing will provide the community with a review of the proposed project’s environmental impact as defined in the Maidstone’s environmental impact statement and reviewed by the Z.B.A. and its consultants. The village has posted the statement online at easthamptonvillage.org.
As members of the East Hampton community and interested in the future of the village’s natural resources, it will be very important for the zoning board of appeals to also hear your comments.
January 6, 2014
At the end of the McGintee administration, the Town of East Hampton was thrust, rather quickly and irretrievably, into a financial morass, which will require nearly a decade to repair. The economic strain, eased by the implementation of budget fixes imposed by the New York State Comptroller, as well as dramatic reductions by the Wilkinson administration, has put every cent coming in and out of our town under close scrutiny. This is a necessary burden, and hopefully we will soon be in a position to move a bit more comfortably within the confines of our financial responsibilities. But the town’s financial difficulties have created a paradigm shift in how we view town finances, to be sure.
It is precisely this type of strict financial management — a paradigm shift in management — which needs to be applied to the East Hampton airport. Gone are the days when maintenance and repair projects were assumed to be paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration through matching grant monies, as that contract only surrenders the town’s right to control our airport for another 20 years. And we have learned, most painfully, F.A.A. grant assurances mean more and more, uncontrollable aircraft noise.
Residents have often been misled to believe that their tax dollars support the East Hampton airport. That is simply not true. The airport is financially self-sufficient and has not received subsidies from residents in more than a decade. In fact, all airport income is required by law to be spent on airport maintenance and improvements. The town cannot use airport revenue for anything other than airport expenses. What remains to be seen is whether airport revenue can cover larger maintenance projects, and we have good reason to believe that it can.
It is imperative that, as the town is being run on an austerity budget, so must East Hampton airport. Every penny spent on that facility must come under the same scrutiny as town finances. Additionally, as part of a business plan for the airport, new streams of revenue must be created to help ensure the town’s ongoing ability to run a safe and quiet airport. The Quiet Skies Coalition anticipates working with the new town board in exploring revenue streams that can fund needed maintenance and repair projects while maintaining our right as proprietor to run the airport as benefits both the aviation and noise-affected communities.
Integrated into such a business plan must be an assessment of the peaceful enjoyment of our homes and properties and the diminishment in property values caused by uncontrolled aircraft noise.
From my point of view, we have, from time to time, traded integral community values for the alleged expansion of our local economy. And the management of the East Hampton airport is such an example. Our plans for the future of this town facility will only be as strong as our sense of purpose to make it financially independent in recognition of the “tax” paid by the noise-affected in this and all East End communities, and how that financial independence can provide “tax” relief from aircraft noise.
The Cantwell administration gives the noise-affected hope. Legally imposed access limits at our airport promises aircraft noise relief for all East End communities. The Quiet Skies Coalition looks forward to working with the new board, in collaboration with the aviation community, to prepare to safely and appropriately re-accept local control of our airport on Dec. 31 of this year!
I wish you all the best for 2014.
December 30, 2013
If there is a silver lining to the 555 application and the response it has engendered, it is that it could signal the beginning of a new dialogue about the housing needs of seniors. And that is just what I think the new town board will be good at. So let me mention a few considerations that I think should be part of the dialogue.
My mother spent the last 40-plus years of her life in a moderately affluent beach community on Cape Cod that was not unlike Amagansett and East Hampton, and was determined to live in her own home for as long as possible. But by age 89 she had outlived two husbands, was functionally blind, was on a variety of meds for common side effects of aging, and required an increasing amount of assistance for daily tasks. Finally, she sold her house and moved into a senior living facility that was not a nursing home.
Unlike Peconic Landing, for example, there was no health care component, which meant it was more affordable. She was able to buy an apartment for one-third of the proceeds of her house sale and put the rest into a health care reserve.
The facility had a reception desk, dining room, library and other common rooms, nicely landscaped grounds, and a pool. All apartments were wheelchair-accessible and had call buttons and grab rails in the bathrooms. She made many new friends and lived there for almost six years before passing away. As a result, we never had to put her in a nursing home, which she feared more than death itself.
To the best of my knowledge the South Fork of Long Island does not have a comparable facility for aging seniors. In fact, density is a dirty word in our community. But if we do not come to grips with the lack of reasonably priced senior living arrangements on the East End, many of us will eventually be forced to leave the community we love.
I do not mean to suggest that the 555 proposal is the answer. But the vociferous opposition suggests that any senior living proposal would meet fierce resistance from the very people who might someday benefit from it. Hopefully, the incoming town board can promote a civil dialogue that will lead to better solutions for senior housing.
PETER A. WADSWORTH
January 3, 2014
I have absolutely nothing against people of Italian descent. I married two. I did find their relationship to the truth to be somewhat tenuous, which may explain Perry B. Duryea III’s statement, “Time and events will prove [former East Hampton Town supervisor] to be one of the best town supervisors East Hampton has ever had.” Mr. Duryea has, obviously, been spending time in Colorado.
East Hampton Town’s former supervisor reminds me of my paternal grandmother. She often raised expense money and paid off debt by pawning assets. Grandmama had a problematic personality, which, in later years, drove her to communicate by biting. In her care facility she was known as the Nipper.
Grandmama’s favorite expression, at her hotel, was “F.H.B. — family hold back.”
Tourists were indulged. The downside for grandmama was that almost every relative volunteered to drive her to the “home.”
I am sure that Perry B. Duryea III wants to burnish his power-broker credentials, but if I were Mr. Duryea, I’d downplay his last attempt.
Happy New Year!
All good things,
December 28, 2013
I find it fascinating that the woman, Wendy Chamberlin of Bridgehampton, mentioned in your recent article “Suit Aims to Stop Deer Harvest” is a landscaper. It is in her best interest to circulate a petition against this program, since she will profit mightily from all of us whose gardens are being decimated by being overrun by hungry deer due to their overpopulation in East Hampton.
Landscapers have little interest in crop damage incurred by farmers, who don’t use landscapers. Her stance smacks of blatant self-interest, not about a community that is suffering from people injured in deer collisions or farmers who are losing crops, nor the residents suffering from the increase in debilitating Lyme disease.
Those who claim to have the deers’ interest at heart need to be there when a deer is hit by a vehicle and see the animal writhing in pain, its body ripped open and dying a slow death by the side of the road. A culling program is more humane, not less.
Cancel the Cull
January 5, 2014
To the Editor:
The town board’s deer management plan describes our deer population as an “uncontrolled explosion.” A wide range of local officials share this view; they believe our deer numbers are rising by leaps and bounds. However, this view is based on anecdotal impressions and is not supported by the existing survey research.
In 2006, our organization, The East Hampton Group for Wildlife, commissioned a ground survey that estimated 3,293 deer in our town. In 2013, the town board paid for an aerial survey that counted 877 deer. Even considering differences in methodologies and measurement errors, the two surveys suggest a deer population in decline.
Dismissing the survey findings, East Hampton Village is planning a massive, three-year cull. Beginning in late February, the village will use federal sharpshooters to kill hundreds of deer in the nighttime hours. If the two surveys are at all accurate, the cull threatens to practically wipe out East Hampton’s deer population.
The issue is not just one of numbers. The thought of a cull is deeply disturbing to many residents. Nearly every day our organization receives emails from residents who say they are upset and sickened by the impending slaughter. The emails reflect an underlying empathy for the animals’ sense of the horror the cull will put the animals through. I believe that if the town or village held a referendum on the cull, the cull would be overwhelmingly defeated.
East Hampton officials must call off this looming nightmare. Our officials need to step back and to think more rationally about ways of living with the deer, giving the highest priority to non-lethal strategies. Examples include a slow-driving campaign to reduce auto-deer collisions; bait stations to reduce disease-bearing ticks; and a halt to the hunting of turkeys, which eat ticks.
While many village residents love the deer, others seem to feel especially burdened by them. In part, this feeling may stem from the increased time deer spend in the village to escape hunting (where hunting isn’t allowed). One strategy is to create wildlife sanctuaries in woodlands outside the village where deer could travel for safety.
Some strategies will prove more effective than others, but before East Hampton can pursue them, it must cancel the cull. East Hampton shouldn’t be a killing field. It should be a model of compassion and respect for all living beings.
Join a protest against the cull on Saturday, Jan. 18. We will gather at the windmill at 1 p.m. and march single-file with signs to Herrick Park.
January 3, 2014
In your lead editorial dated Dec. 26, “Taking Aim at Deer,” I think you might have perceived the fight to stop the bait-and-cull program as an emotional one. I believe it is a humane one. Whether it is deer on Long Island or bear in New Jersey, to shoot an animal at point-blank range while his or her head is buried in a pile of food is inhumane and unsporting.
It is illegal in most states to have bait stations set up for hunting, for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Placing pounds of food out in the wild creates other problems, too.
“By putting bait down, we are also concentrating populations of other wildlife species,” says Daryl DeJoy, executive director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine. “And some of those wildlife species are fox, raccoon, and skunk — all of which are rabies vectors. When you concentrate rabies-vector species, or any animal species, you quickly can spread disease.”
So I agree with you, David, that our town and village should study precedents from other communities and seriously study what science says, and yes, that a clearer total should be known before a long-term program is undertaken. I don’t agree with you that a public health crisis is under way here. I have lived here for close to 20 years and know many people, few of whom have or have had Lyme disease, and even fewer who have had a car collision with a deer.
I believe that fertility control can be effective, and one should study the program that took place on Fire Island a few years ago, and most recently in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where they were able to reduce their deer population by 50 percent with contraception. I truly think that this bait-and-cull program is wrong, and can create more problems than the one we are facing here. I hope you were not suggesting this Long Island Farm Bureau program when you said in your opinion that there is still no substitute for lethal management.
Also, David, I think everyone who is opposed to this heinous program, whether passionate or not, knows that the deer problem exists because we have taken their natural habitats away from them over the centuries, and most recent decades, by building big, bigger, and the biggest houses, clearing acres and acres away for vast lawns, massive pools, tennis courts, eight-car garages, etc. It just might be that some people out here don’t like the deer on their vast properties and estates because they are an inconvenience to the type of lifestyle that they think is important.
January 2, 2014
In her letter of Dec. 21, Betsy Petroski has written an unprecedented, inaccurate, and disrespectful diatribe against East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach. She has accused him of being “Mayor of Murder,” flippant, noncommunity-minded, dismissive, and condescending, among other insults. I strongly disagree.
The mayor has been elected and re-elected, without opposition, because the residents of the village recognize the superb professional manner with which he has conducted himself. The village runs smoothly and its citizens are treated with respect by knowledgeable, capable village personnel. Several years ago he took a pay cut as part of an effort to hold down any tax increases. I might add that that occurred at the same time as the McGintee debacle at Town Hall.
The mayor took a strong stand against the East Hampton School Board’s proposal to buy the former Verizon building as a new school bus depot, an acquisition that would have cost taxpayers over $4.5 million. By the way, after its overwhelming defeat by the voters, the site flooded with almost two feet of water the following March.
His office has always been open to me and the advice he has given has uniformly been considered, considerate, and intelligent. His counsel has always been to seek the high road. He has always tried to include varying points of view, and on the occasions when I have appeared before the village board, the meetings have been conducted in a collegial manner.
I hope that Mayor Rickenbach will continue to serve for many years to come. They say that no one is irreplaceable, but he certainly comes close.
STEVEN P. SCHWARTZ
West Orange, N.J.
January 6, 2014
The best “outcry” against East Hampton’s plan to kill thousands of deer scheduled in February was quoted in a Dec. 18 New York Times article by an eastern Long Island resident saying “It’s barbaric.” The farm representative cited in favor of this plan to kill deer thinks it’s a good idea for towns to spend up to a half-million dollars to kill 9,000 deer. East Hampton Village has budgeted $15,000 and the town $25,000 for this in 2014.
By contrast, a June 7 New York Times article states that The Humane Society of the United States this winter is joining with the New York town of Hastings-on-Hudson, spending about $30,000, to begin a deer contraception
plan to reduce deer population humanely, and safely to people and animals. A leading wildlife biologist, Dr. Allen Rutberg, was quoted in the article: “Deer have entered our backyards and essentially become our guests. We are bound by suburban rules in dealing with them, and violence is not how we deal with neighbors we don’t like.”
Dr. Rutberg’s scientific evidence reveals that the eastern Long Island towns of East Hampton, Southampton, and Sagaponack will be starting annual deer hunts for the next 40 years if this plan is implemented in February.
Dr. Rutberg [writes] in “The Science of Overabundance” that “the most visible weakness in the assertion that hunting (killing) is necessary to control deer populations is that it has largely failed to do so . . . since 1974, managers of the Great Swamp National Refuge in New Jersey have been holding a ‘management hunt’ to control the refuge’s white-tailed deer population . . . 1995 harvest was almost exactly twice the 1974 harvest.” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
The Great Swamp deer hunt is now in its 40th year. A [Newark] Star-Ledger Nov. 16, 2008, article stated a hunter “was recalling an autumn morning in 1973, the year the Great Swamp National Wildlife Service decided to hold its first hunt to control a growing deer population.”
Dr. Rutberg explains that these dates confirm the “biological fact: a well-documented population dynamic in deer and other mammals . . . with competition for food reduced by a sudden drop in herd density (by hunting-killing) younger fawns breed, and females give birth to twins instead of single fawns.”
The organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) opposes this Long Island deer-killing plan, stating in a well-documented paper, “Why Hunting (Killing) Is Cruel and Unnecessary,” that “sterilization is an effective long-term solution” to deer population reduction, used in Ithaca, N.Y.
This documented PETA article also states that “hunting accidents destroy property and injure or kill horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers.” The East Hampton February deer-killing plan wants deer killers to shoot deer “after dark” with “noise suppressors” on their weapons, making the plan dangerous to people and other animals.
This PETA article also documents, “A British study of deer hunting found that 11 percent of deer who’d been killed by hunters died only after being shot two or more times and that the wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying.”
There are no scientific, safety, ethical, or economic reasons for this eastern Long Island plan to cull deer, leaving only the “outcry” of the close-to-10,000 people who signed an online petition protesting this inexcusable barbarity.
Feral Cat Poem #67
used to be in Egypt
a zillion or so years ago.
Now scientists put it
even earlier, in China.
Crazy Earl claims he was
around then, says as kittens
they dug holes in the sand
all the way to Carolina.
Old Earl also believes aliens
powdered the earth with 3 to 5
inches of cocaine last week,
and went out to play in it.
The Nation’s Wealth
January 5, 2014
To the Editor:
Time outside the United States in Paris allows for a fresh perspective of how the world functions. There is virtually unanimous dislike and condemnation of the French president, Francois Holland. It’s hard to find any support, right or left, for his ineptitude and stupidity. Reality trumps fantasy and false dreams in Paris.
I pick up the novel “Sutton,” detailing the life of the famed bank robber Willie Sutton. Sutton robbed dozens of banks between 1920 and 1953 and was afforded folk hero status even though he was a major criminal. Yet it is not the criminality of Sutton that the public reacts to but his attack on the banking system, which the U.S. public abhors. Reality again trumping the dream that doesn’t feed starving people.
It would be simple to dismiss this hatred of the banking system as the cause of all our problems as uninformed naiveté if in fact it wasn’t true.
The relationship of wealth to power has always been the essential conundrum in our development as a nation. And logically, the banking system as the greatest source of wealth has exercised the most power.
From day one in our history as a nation, the struggle to develop and then to control a national banking system has been paramount. Banks fighting for total freedom and the government trying to regulate and moderate their behavior. The relationship between greed and moderation and the national well-being fluctuating in and out of balance. Bouncing from prosperity to recession and leaving a mass of broken bodies in its wake.
The depression to end all depressions spurred enormous banking reforms and regulated the speculative nature of commercial banks, limiting their ability to gamble with depositors’ savings for their own benefit. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created to guarantee savings and to support depositors from gross mismanagement and corruption. Control the constant fluctuations of the business cycle. Lessen the harshness of economic fluctuations on the general population. Demanding that the banking system represent the best interest of the country and not simply its own.
The Reagan revolution lessened bank regulation and immediately led to the collapse of hundreds of banks and the savings-and-loan disaster. Barely seven years later Clinton abolished Glass-Steagall in a moment of hallucinatory stupidity that finally buried the country.
That the banking system operates in the best interest of the public is evidenced by its reaction to the regulations of Dodd-Frank. The hiring of thousands of lawyers to circumvent the law and to strip it of its primary objectives. Dodd-Frank was a reaction to excess and greed, unfairness and avarice. To bailing out the banks and rewarding failure. To the devastation created by an unprecedented level of incompetence.
The reality for most Americans is that there is a never-ending struggle for the distribution of the nation’s wealth. Who benefits from our economic growth? Who does the government support and who are our politicians beholden to? The short end of the stick never gets any longer without a struggle.
So where is Willie Sutton when we need him to set our priorities straight? Why can’t we let go of our mindless political biases and call a spade a spade like the French do? In our economically crippled state the Bank of America is asking us if we can spare a dime and too many of us are willing to pony up. When do we accept that the dream is a nightmare and putting a pillow over our heads won’t make it go away?
Quotes Prove Nothing
December 30, 2013
In a recent letter to the editor, a writer, lamenting about “potty mouth” attacks on her credibility and her lack of factual substance, suggested that she was well versed in the issues of the day and formed her opinions based upon reading and listening to the various news and political sources available, then using her “brain” to form her opinions.
Hmm! Now there is a subject we can explore at a later date.
The writer then quoted Charles Krauthammer from a National Review article. She obviously knows very little about Krauthammer, who, although brilliant and probably one of the leading Conservatives in the country, has moved around so many times through the political spectrum that one cannot tell where he stands at any given moment. He is probably, being swayed by his strong attachment to Israel, concerned about our dealings with Iran. But one thing for sure, to quote Krauthammer at any given time in his excursion through reality is a laughable experience. For instance, while on the Bill O’Reilly TV show recently, Krauthammer uttered these ephemeral words in citing his “experience” meeting with Obama on two occasions and he said he found Obama to be “highly engaged and highly knowledgeable” on every issue. He further said that “the president is not the kind of guy who doesn’t care about his programs and the inner workings of his administration.”
That is as close a compliment as Krauthammer is going to give Obama. So I guess quotes are hardly indicative of anything except the quotee’s mood at the moment and prove nothing!
In closing, please, please, lady, let us know just what the president’s fault is in the Benghazi debacle, or Hillary’s for that matter. And by the way, the ambassador killed was not the ambassador to Benghazi, he was J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and the attack was a pre-planned, organized attack by jihadist Muslims, which was successful because the embassy was poorly secured, as are almost all of our embassies around the world. There was a coincidental hullabaloo about religious ferment and insult which confused even the interested media outlets.
Of course the ever-present Obama-haters like this letter writer and Congressman Darrell (Richer) Issa jumped at the chance to criticize the administration, all of which nonsense fell on its face! Issa has recently tried to destroy the Affordable Health Care Act, which effort also failed.
RICHARD P. HIGER
frozen rose garden guarded
snowdrift ice crawl
stick to wall God’s gift
white as snow nowhere to go
light dim gust wind air blow quick
the battled burden bear the brunt
every grunt trudge frozen blunt
twigs encased roots immersed
over girth of earth
footprints embedded steadily
smooth earth tone stones
entrap the heavy discovery verily
harness the energy —
a heartfelt empathy
the care you give to me
in wind wake majesty
east end reality