Letters to the Editor: 04.03.14

Our readers' comments

For Troubled Kids
    East Hampton
    March 27, 2014

     Thank you so much for your editorial “More Help Needed for Troubled Kids” in The Star today.
    As a community, we must find a way forward to provide mental health services for our troubled youngsters.
    Perhaps when your words reach the larger community, they too will understand the gravity of the situation.
    Please note the East Hampton School Board has budgeted $5,000 during last week’s budget workshop meeting to support this initiative. In a proposed budget in which over $1 million was cut, the board recognizes the need and urgency of this situation.
     Thank you again for your support and bringing this issue to the attention of our community.

    Superintendent of Schools
    East Hampton Union Free
    School District

O’Hara and Lady Day
    March 29, 2014

Dear David,
    Kurt Wenzel’s review of the Library of America’s “The Cool School: Writing From America’s Hip Underground” (March 27) takes a smart stance toward the idea of “hipness” or “cool‚” ideas that have shaped a great deal of American culture over the last 50 years.
    Therefore I was startled when Wenzel got around to a dismissive evaluation of Frank O’Hara’s much-loved poem “The Day Lady Died.” O’Hara, whose grave is a mile or so from my house in Springs, needs no defense. He’s not just a great American poet but one whose work has influenced poets all over the globe. O’Hara is safely canonical.
    Nonetheless, it’s painful to see Wenzel dismiss O’Hara’s elegy for Billie Holiday as “sweet but minor.” It’s not sweet in the least, but fraught with anxiety and grief.
    O’Hara’s describing a hectic afternoon in 1959, en route to Southampton, shopping for liquor, cigarettes, presents for friends out east, when suddenly he’s confronted with a headline blaring news of the death of Lady Day. She was an incomparable stylist, her songs wry and heartbroken, shattered and tough, voice worn to a whisper by years of heroin and the hard realities of being a black woman artist.
    She rose above it, at least when she sang, and made beauty out of a difficult life.
    For O’Hara, alcoholic, driven by a quest for sexual and romantic fulfillment, and like her committed to humor and style in his art‚ well, she had to be a hero, an ideal other, as great chanteuses have often been for gay men.
    The poem ends, just as the awful headline sinks in, with a memory of hearing Holiday perform:

and I am sweating a lot by now thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

    There’s hardly any punctuation in this poem; it’s a breathless scramble, suddenly stopped by shock. That song seemed outside of time, to rise above limitation. “Everyone and I” stopped breathing because all were entirely caught up in that song, as are O’Hara’s readers, at the end of a poem that preserves a moment, half a century ago, when an artist distilled feeling into one unforgettable, communal instant. A moment that’s still alive and ringing in O’Hara’s poem.
    Sweet and minor? I’d respectfully suggest the reviewer take another look.


In Memory of Jim
    March 31, 2014

To the Editor,
    The Rev. James Jeffrey also loved music. On April 12, there will be a free concert in memory of Jim at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton at 4 in the afternoon.
    This concert is the last in this season’s series of classical recitals in the third year of a program begun and funded by Jim at the church.
    Music was a central interest of James Jeffrey’s life. He was a longstanding supporter and friend of Pianofest, hosted two of that program’s students each summer, and frequently attended concerts in New York, subscribing to several series at Carnegie Hall each year that he frequently shared with Pianofest graduates.
    The concert will feature 10 former Pianofest students who were hosted by Jim over the years: Scott Cuellar, Ilya Filshtinsky, Matthew Graybil, Igor Lovchinsky, William McNally (music director of the series), Zahari Mech­kov, Keith Miller, Daria Rabotkina, Konstantin Soukhovestski, and Katha Zinn.
    I can assure your readers that this will be an exceptional musical event.
    I hope that all of James Jeffrey’s friends and admirers as well as music lovers in our community will join us on April 12 at 4 p.m.


Feral Cat Poem #72

In “The Black-Eyed Blonde”
John Banville
Writing as
Benjamin Black
Writing as
Raymond Chandler
What is it cats know about us
that makes them deride us so?

Dear John:
Maybe it’s how we’re never
who we say we are.


You Can Have Both
    East Hampton
    March 31, 2014

Dear David,
    So,  landscapers and construction people are saying cutting down on noise will put people out of work. And I say, What? I can’t hear you since I’m now deaf from the leaf blowers and industrial mowers on my neighbor’s well-tended lawn deep in the woods.
    I’ve heard it before. The  airport managers said cutting back on helicopters would put people out of work as well.
    The question is, what’s more important. The quality of our life or keeping people employed?
    The answer, to me, is that you can have both. It’s not one or the other.
    Landscapers can convert to less noisy mowers and electric blowers and pass the cost along to well-heeled customers (and maybe they can even convince a few to convert to beautiful moss). Construction people can limit the hours they can do noisy construction and also pass any costs along to customers, and at the same time, convert to less noisy and better muffled equipment.
    The quality of life here in the Hamptons is going down, that’s for sure. And the increase of noise plays a significant role in that. And if fewer people want to live here, that hurts everyone.
    I remember automakers used to fight tooth and nail not to add government-mandated safety features to their cars because it would make the cars cost more. Then they had an aha! moment. If we add safety features to our cars, we can pass the costs along to customers and add some more profit. The government is happy, the customers are happy since they survive more accidents, and the auto makers are happy and richer. Happy, happy, happy.


Alcohol Does Not Mix
    East Hampton
    March 31, 2014

    Once again I would like to congratulate and thank Joan Tulp and the lovely ladies of Amagansett. While the papers continue to represent the issue of alcoholics and their dangerous behaviors at the beaches of Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue in Amagansett as having become a public nuisance over the past two summers, I can tell you it has been an ugly battle there for at least five.
    Having grown up on those beaches with Joan’s children, I understand how very aware the Amagansett mothers are of the violence, lewdness, and vulgarity that impacts their children. The real dangers from violence, sexual displays, and drunken driving as these masses leave the beach will one day claim a youngster dashing for an ice cream or a quick pee-pee at the comfort station. Some drunken frivolity will ultimately endanger the life of our lifeguard, as a panicking drunk is more likely to drag his or her rescuer down.
    Accidents happen. They happen more frequently when you add alcohol. These women have been fighting to preserve the “quiet enjoyment” promised each of us in our town bylaws.
    I am dumbfounded that the East Hampton Town Trustees have chosen to mount opposition to a protective expansion of powers at these beaches. They are elected to protect the well-being of our waterfronts. In this matter I am concerned that they forget they are elected to represent the community, preserve its safety, and help support the community in its efforts to protect and preserve.
    This is a problem the trustees should have become active in solving many years ago. I realize that many of the trustees like a cold beer at the seashore, but the community has spoken clearly. The trustees should get behind them instead of pressuring the town board with threats.
    Alcohol does not mix well with children, beaches, cars, or sun. Are you able to ensure your child’s safety in the water or on our roads if you yourself are drinking? It is hard enough to dodge a drunken fiasco or fight a sneaky surf when sober.
    I cannot count the number of children my dogs and I have ended up baby-sitting for so parents can have a beer or glass of wine. I have pulled many children to safety after the water claimed them. Parents tend not to pay full attention to their young due to the active influence alcohol has on them; not because of drunkenness but because of the socializing that goes along with the practice.
    Let’s just keep alcohol off the beaches from dusk to dawn, or, roughly, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    As regards this petty turf war between the trustees and the rest of the world, remember who elected you. As a community member, I expect you to support my old friend Joan and the lovely ladies of Amagansett. Get the alcohol off the beaches!


    March 31, 2014

Dear Mr. Rattray:
    Your editorial last week made the suggestion that the trustees, the property owners in this case, should have been included in the discussions around banning drinking at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. You also asked that the trustees should now approve what you describe as a “reasonable proposal” to control rowdy crowds of young adults who come here to enjoy the beach as they may in “huge, if informal, gatherings” that include as a goal to “drink themselves into a happy glow.” I disagree and hope the trustees do as well, since without their consent, the ban is unenforceable.
    We currently have a number of applicable laws in our town code that can be used to regulate the kinds of obnoxious behavior to which many of our residents rightly object. But they do not prohibit residents or anyone else from drinking responsibly on any of the trustee beaches, nor should they.
    It has been suggested to me repeatedly that I’m smart enough to get around this rule should I choose, that it is not about us, but it is about them. But we, residents and taxpayers, are equally subject to these proposed rules. Our overburdened, expensive summer enforcement efforts should not rely on a wink and a nod for residents, nor should they target any one group of users, be they day trippers, young, or like myself, middle-aged.
    A significant portion of our town’s annual services budget is spent accommodating the influx of summer visitors. As taxpayers, residents who choose to drink responsibly during an afternoon’s beach outing should not be subject to a ban as they must be under this proposal. Further, efforts to ameliorate the situation that you have described as “half measures” have, by many accounts, improved the situation already. More resident parking has now been provided, and more effective traffic controls have been established and have relieved much of the congestion.
    Finally, the proposed ban will simply be the start of a game of alcohol-fueled Whac-a-Mole. The party may well be attenuated at Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue, but will most certainly rock on elsewhere, simply spreading the litter, noise, and danger elsewhere as well. Swift and effective enforcement of existing rules, including the authority of our lifeguards, and existing laws against tumultuous behavior, littering, and excessive noise can do the trick without curtailing residents’ time-honored prerogatives.


Montauk: Many More
    March 31, 2014

To the Editor:
    It has been most disappointing to watch the East Hampton Town Board leap into the fray to the defense of the Amagansett residents upset at the population “change” on their beaches. Disappointing because the complaints of many more Montauk residents have been ignored. And Montauk complaints have been flowing for years now.
    East Hampton Town Board of 2014, what does Montauk have to do to get your attention and respect? Montauk residents welcome new businesses that respect the town they have moved into. While some old sore spots have settled a bit, Montauk clearly had serious issues last summer, affecting the enjoyment of visitors and residents alike. The rowdiness was day and night. And trash flowed everywhere. Even our trash cans can use a refurbishment, should board members travel east and just check out our town-maintained areas.
    I can’t think of a reason for a handful of Amagan$ett re$idents to draw such attention. Anybody?


Safety at Issue
    March 31, 2014

Dear David,
    Drinking at East Hampton Town lifeguard beaches should be restricted. It is a safety issue: Could your cry for help be heard when people are noisily carousing? Maybe not.
    People do not have the right to tax local government’s resources — safety, sanitation, enforcement — just so they can party.
    Drinking is restricted on East Hampton Village beaches and no one appears to be suffering.
    Last summer East Hampton Town appeared to issue an open invitation to transients to endanger, disrupt, and disturb local beach enjoyment.
    We have a new police chief. A new supervisor, a new concerned government posse in town. Hopefully they will legislate the change that is overdue.
    Oddly, an East Hampton Town trustee’s nose appears out of joint on this issue. Arcane turf wars have no place at the table when public safety is at issue. I hope it gets sorted out.

    All good things,

Plastics and Water
    March 30, 2014

Dear David,
    Thanks to the efforts of our outstanding trustee and litter committee member Deb Klughers, some 25 people, including two East Hampton Town Board members, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, witnessed a horror film titled “Bag It” at LTV Studios last Friday night. It is shocking to realize how plastics, since the ’70s, have taken over the planet. What is it the man says to Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”? “Plastics, Benjamin.” That’s the only word he wants to say to him. Plastics! (Fortunately, Benjamin didn’t listen to him.)
    Plastics and what they are made of, oil, have contaminated our oceans, our world, and ourselves, and, yes, the bodies of our children. Scenes of fish swimming in the ocean surrounded with plastic debris were so frightening I have had trouble sleeping. We are murdering our beloved planet so that greedy corporations can make money.
    I want to get plastic out of my life and the lives of all my family.  Let’s go back to bar soap and things packaged in glass. What good will money get you if the planet dies?
    Recently, at the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, I joined Brad Loew­en in voting against the proposal for the lesser amount of land being purchased by C.P.F. funds at 115 Neck Path. Another Earth decision, and quite immediate. For me, it’s all about water, the new gold, which we surely cannot live without. On Long Island, with its single-source aquifer, we must be ever so wary of what goes into septic systems. Springs is too densely populated, and anything that can rid us of one more septic system is worth doing, even if it means throwing down a house that is 11 years old and probably should never have been allowed to be built in the environmentally sensitive area.
    These two topics are really about the same thing, that we would rather have our comforts and put money before all else, and the hell with the future we hand to our children’s children. 
    There are some men who have no vision, who can never see around the corner. They vie for power and money, and suffer from Grinchitis, a heart too small. One of the wisest men, a Long Island planner I know of who did have vision, Lee Koppelman, once said, “If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought up every available acre.” I wish he had, too!


Light Trucks
    March 31, 2014

Dear Editor,
    A “light” truck should be defined so that it does not negatively impact a residential community — as the town code clearly states.
    When the code refers to light trucks, in no way does it suggest that 14,000-pound dump trucks, flatbeds, or lift-gates are acceptable. Furthermore, if those who support the presence or storing of commercial vehicles in a residential community are not willing to meet on this issue, they forfeit the validity of their objectives and motives.
    We who respect the sanctity of a residential community would like to engage in a dialogue with those who disagree in an effort to resolve this problem once and for all!
    In the event that the village and Amagansett are willing to accept 14,000-pound dump trucks, flatbeds, or lift-gates in their residential areas, the rest of us may reconsider.

    Attempting to light the way,

Barbarous Project
    East Hampton
    March 31, 2014

To the Editor,
    It still amazes me that the PSEG project has not been put on hold. Have any of the officials walked down McGuirk or King Streets?
    The “five corners” intersection is a disaster; many of us will live long enough to see the butchered trees recover.
    I have been part of East Hampton for 39 years and have never witnessed such a barbarous project. Our safety, health, and aesthetics have been severely compromised.


Alternate Routes
    East Hampton
    March 30, 2014

Der Editor:
    In response to the Newsday editorial of March 28 titled “Paying to Bury Power Lines‚” it was determined that there are valid reasons to put electric lines underground. Newsday indicated that studies show that the only legitimate justification is aesthetics. This is one of the many reasons that the citizens group Save East Hampton has been formed and is supported by over 2,500 East Hampton residents.
    The group is insisting that PSEG bury the lines that are carrying high-voltage lines on 60-foot poles through the Village and Town of East Hampton. The Southampton final environmental impact study stating that lines should be buried included areas protected because of their residential nature. Many of these once tree-lined streets where these lines are being mounted on 60-foot-plus poles qualify with the “residential nature” criteria.
    These poles are within 20 feet of some homes along the route and thereby present specific dangers to the homeowner and other residents on these streets if they fall during hurricane season, are run into by a car or truck, or a live wire becomes dislodged and is sparking at the tune of 32,000 volts.
    A number of years ago a line came down on one of these streets. Fortunately no one was hurt while waiting seven hours for LIPA to respond and shut off the power.
    There are alternate routes which PSEG chose not to run this high-voltage transmission line which would have been aesthetically not as offensive, would not have cluttered previously unspoiled views, would have prevented specific dangers, and would have made the system more reliable.
    Much of the East Hampton route qualifies for burial based on this criteria that the Southampton environmental impact study concluded. The study further concluded that for any lines that meet this criteria, the burial would be borne across the Long Island system. It would not burden just the Town and Village of East Hampton ratepayers.


Rectify This Travesty
    East Hampton
    March 30, 2014

Dear David,
    In regard to the PSEG transmission line project taking place between the East Hampton and Amagansett substations, after 50 days of inquiring we still have not gotten a consistent answer that makes any sense as to why the current six-mile route was chosen for this transmission line project versus alternatives, such as a shorter, more direct route along the L.I.R.R. or Route 27. 
    The current six-mile route that was approved by our local officials puts residents in a deadly, dangerous situation because these 50-foot to 63-foot utility poles with high-tension wires that have the capacity to transmit 33,000 volts of power were placed within striking distance of many homes. They were constructed next to sidewalks where children and adults walk and ride their bikes daily.
    When approving this six-mile route, did our elected officials consider the damage to the beauty and character of our village and town? Have the scenic vistas such as the fields and farms along Town Lane been changed for the worse by these massive utility poles and high-tension lines? Drivers are now at greater risk to be seriously harmed should they hit one of these gargantuan structures placed so close to one another, curbside on the roads. In addition to the possibility now of being struck by the poles and lines due to their placement so close to homes, residents’ health may be affected from the increased electric and magnetic fields being disseminated from the high-tension lines.
    So far, over 2,500 people have signed Save East Hampton’s petition asking for this six-mile transmission line project to be halted, the new poles removed, and the transmission lines buried along the L.I.R.R. or Route 27.  The L.V.I.S., the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the East Hampton Environmental Coalition, and the East Hampton/Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee, among others, have expressed support of Save East Hampton’s goals and our mission to rectify this travesty‚ as stated by Supervisor Larry Cantwell.
    PSEG was Governor Cuomo’s choice to run our power needs. This is only the beginning of PSEG’s 12-year contract to “harden” our utility system on Long Island. If we think things are bad now, just imagine what Long Island will look like after 12 years under PSEG’s control if we do not take a stand and make them consider alternatives. 
    The citizens of East Hampton deserve action and solutions from our elected officials. Let your voice and concerns be heard and demand answers before it is too late.


The Trees Outside
    East Hampton
    March 31, 2014

Dear David:
    Far from completing their work, it appears PSEG is just starting.
    The Ladies Village Improvement Society has learned of an aggressive pruning plan that will go on for the apparent future. When a tree limb is within 8 feet on any side of a wire running through the tree, or within 12 feet of any conductor, it will be given the ax.
    Please take a look at the trees outside. They give our streets their grandeur. Some are rare, some historical, many memorial, and all are meaningful beyond words. Though these trees may hinder a wire, the solution is not to destroy them but to prune them cautiously. The PSEG-planned path of destruction of cutting back countless trees in our town is definitely overkill, and needs oversight by our community.
    We ask all citizens throughout the Town of East Hampton and its villages to  insist that our villages and town not allow this project to happen. There are viable alternatives, and other municipalities have found them. Our elected officials must explore options, now, before our town is forever changed. We know it is possible.
    Please join us in pressing to protect our beautiful environment!

    President, L.V.I.S.

Equal Pay
    March 31, 2014

Dear David,
    Saturday marks the day in 2014 that the average woman’s earnings will catch up to what the average man earned during 2013. It’s shameful: The average woman works 15 months to make as much as the average man makes in one year. Women of color face an even larger discrepancy. In today’s economy, this gap is unconscionable. After all, women don’t pay a smaller price for groceries, rent, or gasoline. So this is the event we’ll celebrate on Equal Pay Day, April 8, 2014.
    A few facts:
    • Families headed by a working mother make up nearly 40 percent of low-income families. Pay equity could significantly cut the poverty rates for women.
    • While a pay gap exists in nearly every occupational field, jobs traditionally associated with men tend to pay better than traditionally female jobs for the same level of skill and responsibility.
    • According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, the wage gap results in a total loss of income of more than $23 billion for women in New York State every year, with an average wage gap of $8,275 between men and women.
    We need to create a workplace that is fair to women and minorities.
    Because for so many years women and minorities were only hired for certain jobs, such as retail clerk, child care worker, nurse, orderly, food care worker, cook, these jobs continue to be discriminated against in terms of pay. There is a societal bias that says, unconsciously, “if it can be done by women and minorities, it doesn’t require a lot of skill or responsibility.”
    We need to take steps to level the playing field. Employers need to use a gender-neutral job evaluation system. The Women’s Equality Act and the pay equity bills that the New York State Assembly has championed and will be passing again on Saturday are steps in the right direction. Please let your state senator know that you think women and minorities should be treated fairly in the workplace.

    League of Women Voters
    Of the Hamptons

Get Out the Vote
    East Hampton
    March 26, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Disheartening news seems to abound regarding the failures of progressives and liberals in the midterm elections, with the predicted success of conservative Republican and Tea Party candidates. 
    It seems that the political postures and positions of the right are totally rejected by voters in the polls. So why do these talking heads and prognosticators from both liberal and conservative groups predict probable loss of the House and Senate by the Democrats?
    The simplest and most direct answer seems to be suppression of the vote and poor voter turnout.
    Added to the huge amounts of money being spent by the likes of the Koch brothers to buy America, the continued activity of Republican-controlled legislatures across the country in closing and narrowing the entrance to the voting booths, all aimed at keeping voter participation low and the vote count down in poor and integrated neighborhoods, together with the historical record of midterm elections favoring the last losing presidential party, and you have the alleged key to the midterms.
    Liberals and progressives must find ways to get out the vote and make voters aware of the attempts to buy and lie their country from them. Isn’t it strange, though, that there are more Republicans in Congress than Democrats in spite of this nonsense of “voter fraud,” and how do they explain their present control of the Congress and more than 43 state legislatures and governors?
    Oh, I know, explanations spoil the lying game. But I can ask.
    Imagine Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and John Boehner in the majority in the House, being joined by Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, the ever-present Ron Paul, John McCain, and Lindsay Graham in the Senate? Goodbye safety net, hello Dronesville!


Russia and Ukraine
    East Hampton
    March 31, 2014

To the Editor:
    The disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality of Russia and Ukraine exacerbates a difficult situation and substantially weakens our role in resolving the problem. Russia’s behavior needs to be seen in the long rather than the short term. What happens now is as much a function of the last 60 years as it is of the present. The aggressive, chauvinistic behavior, breaking treaties, disrespecting national boundaries, are hardly isolated actions, nor are they particular to Russia. Dozens of examples of similar behavior have generated virtually no worldwide reaction. Nevertheless, the problem needs to be resolved in a way that allows everyone to move forward and to lessen the tension between all the parties.
    For the U.S. and Europe (Germany, in Russian eyes), there is no military solution. The massing of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, military in nature, has no military response. Our Army is beat to crap and we would never enter a land war over Ukraine. Providing defensive weapons to the Ukrainians would be a temporary buffer and would only exacerbate the proliferation of arms in the world. If Russia decides to attack Ukraine, the world is essentially powerless to prevent it.
    Except, of course, by some kind of universal condemnation with sanctions. Economic and financial sanctions, with which we could eviscerate the financial stability of the country and destroy its energy industry (its sole means of generating economic growth). But many European countries would have to find alternative sources for gas and oil, and certain large corporations, Exxon Mobil would have their investments in Russia at risk.
    The sanctions option is both viable and logical, yet opposition by corporations that have invested in Russia, real estate companies in New York worried about losing Russian buyers, toadies and businesses that suck up to and feed off the Russian oligarchs, have made our government and European governments think twice and almost blink before lowering the sanctions hammer. We get caught in the conundrum of corporate influence trumping national and world interests.
    The Russian economy, the size of Italy’s, depends on foreign investments to create wealth outside of its energy exports. With no viable military option, World War II was our last successful intervention. We have no choice but to impose economic sanctions.
    The real question is, does it matter? Do we care about the Ukrainians? Does it affect us in any real way?