Letters to the Editor: 04.10.14

Our readers' comments

En Route to Rome
    East Hampton
    April 7, 2014

To the Editor:
    By the time most of The Star’s readers see this letter, the East Hampton High School Camerata will be en route to Rome, where we will begin an eight-day performance tour with a performance in a Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica, followed by performances in Lucca and Venice.
    We, the members of the East Hampton High School Camerata, are writing to express our gratitude to this community for its tremendous support in our efforts to raise the money necessary for ensuring that the trip was possible.
    We have been preparing for this trip for over a year, rehearsing, organizing, and raising money, and all along we have been supported by people who have made generous contributions of time and money to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip possible.
    Our school, our families and friends, civic organizations, individuals who have stepped forward with support, and, most recently, the Rev. Msgr. Donald Hanson and Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which hosted a preview concert and fund-raiser, have all provided emotional and financial support that has sustained us in our efforts.
    Years from now we will of course remember this trip as a highlight of our years in East Hampton High School, but we will also remember that it was the generous community in which we live that made it possible for us to go.

    Thank you from all of us,
    DAVID DOUGLAS and the
    East Hampton High School Camerata

St. Baldrick’s Event
    April 7, 2014

Dear David,
    Just wanted to thank Janis Hewitt and The East Hampton Star for covering our St. Baldrick’s event, as well as those who participated in helping to raise funds for research focused on finding the cure for childhood cancer.
    Janis’s story relating to this event held on March 10 at the St. Therese School broadened community awareness and also contributed to our success in exceeding our fund-raising goal of $8,000.
    Thank you also to our shavees, shavers, the numerous volunteers who facilitated the smooth organizational programing, and to all our friends and families who came to cheer us all on — thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the top of our bald heads.

Simone Monahan

Obvious Waste
    April 7, 2014

Dear David,
    I am a retired teacher and school administrator living in the Town of East Hampton since my retirement. I am struck by number of small school districts that exist within this town. There are six: Springs, East Hampton, Montauk, Amagansett, Wainscott, and part of Sag Harbor. Each of these districts exists as a separate entity. Each has its own superintendent, also a principal, and some even an assistant principal, and a full complement of staff to support the school population, as it should be. Some of these so called “districts” are as small as Amagansett with 102 students and Wainscott with 19 students.
    As someone who has worked in a large district, the Yonkers Public Schools with 20,000 students, I am appalled at the obvious waste that occurs year after year at the expense of the taxpayers, which the 2-percent tax cap simply cannot erase or, for that matter, even affect. I know Yonkers has always collectively ordered supplies in enormous qualities and reaped the savings of such orders. Teachers and key personnel are shared among schools providing the student with an enriched choice of subjects and training. Teacher training is done districtwide, as with so many other initiatives. While an individual district consisting of one school might not be able to hire a Latin or an Italian teacher, schools working together certainly can.
    Two years ago when Michael Hartner was Springs’s superintendent I worked with several others on his attempt to secure a grant for the Springs district to study the consolidation of all the districts within the town. Alas, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the grant, leaving the study undone.
    Consolidation of these school districts is the goal of many citizens in the town, but it must be something that these small districts will have to do. Asking the people to vote for it would be a foolhardy way to achieve consolidation — Amagansett will never vote for it. After all, why would they want to give up their “private school” operation to become a small part of a larger whole, not to mention the lowest school taxes in East Hampton? Wainscott has a stash of accumulated money in its account, which is outrageous.
    Shared services is only the tip of the iceberg. As the leader of the educational system of the State of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, has the power to persuade these districts and the state legislative bodies that consolidation is imperative, desirable, and must be accomplished. Not consolidating these districts is almost unforgivable.
    Consolidation will need to be phased in slowly, as union contracts and other protocols must be respected and merged. Citizens must become aware that the advantage of consolidation is a richer education for all students and a truer tax system that does not burden any one area. In the governor’s last State of the State, he talked of the consolidation of small districts. I urge him take a bold and courageous step and begin the process of unifying the Town of East Hampton school districts.
    The Group for Good Government forum this past Saturday on shared services was but a baby step. We need more discussion and to organize to achieve this end.


This Is the Time
    East Hampton
    April 7, 2014

Dear David:
    The East Hampton Town initiative regarding the purchase of environmentally sensitive and erosion-prone land such as Lazy Point is exciting and forward thinking. We don’t have to look further than Dune Road in Westhampton Beach to see that attempting to rebuild waterfront homes is a losing battle. The fact that several sources of financing are available (C.P.F. funds and federal grant money) underscores the fact that this is the time to act.
    Coastal communities such as ours are particularly vulnerable to the ravishes of climate change. It is not a matter of if, but when, the land as well as waterfront houses on it will be returned to Mother Nature.
    I congratulate our town board on facing the inevitable and planning for the future.


Good News Indeed
    April 7, 2014

Dear David;
    As the days are getting longer, the good news is getting stronger. Last week’s front page story about 555 was good news indeed!
    The town board intends to acquire, through the community preservation fund, 19 acres of 555, the property that the Connecticut firm Putnam Bridge wanted to overdevelop into a luxury senior 79-unit houses-apartments condominium complex, a land use seriously out of sync with East Hampton’s comprehensive plan as well as its actual housing needs.
    These beautiful acres of farmland, open space, scenic vistas — plus the bonus of a handsome barn and apartment with many potential community uses — are an important purchase, the very kind of property that the community preservation fund was designed for. “Preserve for the community” are the operative words.
    Next Thursday, April 17, at 6:30 p.m., there will be a public hearing on the town’s proposal to purchase these 19 acres with C.P.F. money. If you are one of the many citizens who voiced your opposition to the 555 development project, please mark your calendar and plan to attend and speak out in support of this productive and protective legislation.


What the Money Is For
    April 3, 2014

Dear David,
    Let me get this straight. We in Springs have the opportunity to have the town buy 16.5 environmentally sensitive acres on Neck Path, which links to adjacent, town-owned, open space parcels, and this purchase would prevent future development and reduce current density and pollution by removal of a house, its septic system, pool, furnace, vehicles, and all that goes with it. And the town is ready and willing to buy it. And yet, my own Springs Citizens Advisory Committee wants to reject the offer and take something less — that leaving the existing house in place and allowing for two more lots to be developed, and having a smaller open-space parcel, is somehow better for Springs.
    I don’t know who these committee members purport to represent or what their agenda is, but they don’t represent my opinion or those of my neighbors. The reasoning against the full 16.5-acre purchase by the quoted Mr. Buda, the outspoken committee member, that we need to have the additional houses on the tax roll, is unbelievably shortsighted, to say the least, and would argue against any land preservation. He calls it a waste of money to tear down an existing house to create open space.
    Waste? This is exactly what the community preservation fund money is for. If not spent in Springs, it will be spent in another part of town.
    Springs is far too dense already. Do we really want more houses, more cars on the road, more pollution, and less open space for people and wildlife? To add a few dollars to the tax roll that no one will ever notice? Here is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create and preserve a large contiguous tract of important land forever, and the town is ready, willing, and able to buy it. I hope the town board will do more than just listen to these committee members, and does the right and lasting thing for Springs and the town.


Open and Shut
    April 7, 2014

Dear David,
    Reading the news in your paper the last few weeks was like seeing a window suddenly open into sunlight and then just as quickly snap shut. You reported that a wind energy company, already in construction with a demonstration project, is proposing a full-scale installation 30 miles off Montauk that will power 120,000 eastern Long Island homes. Developed with new protections for natural life, it will “defer the need for additional transmission lines for fossil-­fueled peaking plants on the East End.”
    You also reported that our town board had accepted proposals for local solar installations that will produce sustainable energy for the electric grid. In short, farsighted initiatives to address energy needs and protect the ozone.
    Yet in the same papers, you reported the unwillingness of our new power utility to temporarily halt or even talk to public officials about alternatives to its project to vastly enhance the current size and scope of transmission equipment with apparatus that despoils the environment and threatens the health and safety of our citizens.
    What a contrast! If PSEG’s overground wiring fits into a rational farsighted plan, we can’t know it because, as Supervisor Cantwell pointed out in last week’s town board meeting, the company has not communicated with the public about its plans. Are they taking account of impending climate changes in refusing to bury the lines? How are they gauging the impact of solar and wind development? What of new research on the toxicity in overhead installations?
    East Hampton’s representatives in the village, the town, the State Legislature, and Congress have opened a window to the future. They are governing for the long term. Their dealings with the public have been transparent, and they have listened and responded to public concerns. It is more than appropriate to demand that PSEG, a public utility, as well as our governor, who brought them into the state, use their decisive authority to the same ends.

    Sincerely yours,

Running Roughshod
    East Hampton
    April 7, 2014

Dear David,
    All the citizens of East Hampton Town and all of Long Island really need to band together and demand that PSEG Long Island consider the needs of the ratepayers and not solely the profits of their stockholders.
    PSEG is running roughshod in several towns on Long Island with no apparent oversight. Their hubris is daunting. If they are allowed to continue in this manner, what will be happening in front of your house, tomorrow? We are all citizens of East Hampton Town and what happens to some of us affects us all; if not now, further down the road.
    We all need to support the burying of the proposed transmission line and the elimination of 60-foot-high transmission poles placed 20 feet away from bedrooms in people’s homes.
    The electrical grid has been neglected and needs to be updated. Any routine and normal upgrading should be paid for by PSEG, supplemented by state and federal grants. This upgrading needs to be done in a way that does not endanger nor have any adverse effects on the ratepayers.
    PSEG had been asked to let the citizens of Long Island know their long-term master plan for supplying adequate electrical service for Long Island. To date, they have refused to supply this information.
    Why were the generators in Montauk taken off line this year? From what I have been told, they supply much more power than the new transmission line proposed.
    How could Governor Cuomo let PSEG operate without any apparent oversight?
    History teaches us that if you are silent when injustice is happening to some, it only gets worse. If it doesn’t affect you now, it will affect you in the future. Support your fellow townspeople. We are all one.
    Come to a fund-raiser at Babette’s on Sunday, April 13, 5 to 7. Become informed about how PSEG is hurting the citizens of East Hampton and Long Island.


Keep the Heat On
    East Hampton
    April 6, 2014

To the Editor:
    In the ongoing battle to put a halt to PSEG Long Island’s continuing efforts to power up three lines carrying 32,000 volts of electricity through the residential streets and byways of the Village and Town of East Hampton, we are pleased that the chairwoman of the New York State Public Service Commission, Audrey Zibelman, and members of her staff made the trip down from Albany this past Friday to view firsthand the destruction to our neighborhoods and streets of our town and meet with our state and local officials.
    Trees that have lined these streets for decades have been cut down and removed from sight. In their places stand 60-foot-tall poles coated with preservatives that are seeping into our groundwater aquifer. The safety of residents’ homes that stand within 20 feet of these poles has been ignored by PSEG. The health concerns of the residents’ homes that these electromagnetic waves will bombard have been ignored by PSEG. The view down Long Lane and Old Stone Highway has been scarred by PSEG.
    PSEG has ignored our calls to halt this madness. They elected to take a six-mile route through the heart of our village and town while ignoring a two-mile shorter, more direct route along the M.T.A. railroad right of way that would minimize these concerns and provide long-term protection to our power supply.
    Thanks to the over 2,500 petition signers and the pressure that Save East Hampton and other groups from Port Washington, North Hempstead, Setauket, and Port Jefferson have put on our elected officials, the LIPA board of directors, and the governor’s office, we are seeing cracks in PSEG’s armor.
    Without these efforts and the efforts of some of our elected officials, this meeting with Audrey Zibelman would have never occurred! We must keep the pedal to the metal and keep the heat on the governor, the LIPA board of governors, and PSEG! Sign the petition and join in the fight to bury the lines!

Cuomo . . . Enough
    April 4, 2014

Dear David,
    I will not vote to re-elect Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York. Why should I? He has enabled the pillage of East Hampton by PSEG Long Island: The decimation of trees; the dangerous placement of 60-foot poles and high-voltage wires. He won’t even come to the table and talk reparation. Enough.
    I will support Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive who is looking to unseat “No no Cuomo.” Perhaps Mr. Astorino will have less hubris. We shall see.
    No no Cuomo’s constituent wrangler is underwhelmed by my defection. He shouldn’t be. I will not be alone.

    All good things,

The Same Airport
    March 31, 2014

Dear David:
    On March 31 a New York Times front-page article by Justin Gillis led with: “Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans . . . and the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control.”
    How ironic that in the interest of saving our environment and generating clean energy, East Hampton Town just announced creation of a giant solar energy facility at the airport — the same airport whose helicopters and jets produce hugely harmful (and totally unnecessary) greenhouse gas emissions.
    If we really care about the environment, we should be insisting on creation of an efficient Route 27 and a high-speed electric rail link from New York City, while simultaneously eliminating hyper-polluting commuter aircraft.


Deer and Damage
    New York City
    April 3, 2014

Dear David,
    Last June the Town of East Hampton adopted a multipronged deer management plan to reduce the deer population, relying first and foremost on increased hunting. Lost in the outcry over culling is the fact that the town now has a deer management coordinator and a plan to help landowners. In fact, this past week, East Hampton’s deer management website went live, and it is worth a visit. 
    Marguerite Wolffsohn, town planning director and member of the deer management committee, is adamant that East Hampton needs to reduce its deer population by increasing hunting pressure. Deer mortality in East Hampton currently results primarily from hunting on a small percentage of town land and about an equal number from vehicle collisions.
    This is a bizarre divergence from the evolutionary history of deer. Deer are extraordinarily fertile and adaptable, a response to two million years of continual pressure from a wide range of predators, including, in the last 12,000 years, humans. Does become pregnant with a single fawn before their first birthday and, typically, give birth to two fawns per year thereafter over the course of their long life span. In the absence of predation, deer cannot regulate their own population. This spring alone, East Hampton’s deer will give birth to anywhere from 700 to 2,500 fawns (depending on the size of the current population, a figure hotly contested during the culling debate).
    What increasingly isn’t contested is the damage deer inflict on farms, forests, and other species. Last August, three program managers at the Nature Conservancy published an article in ScienceChronicles asserting that deer are a greater problem to forests than climate change. Their report cites a continent-wide study linking songbird declines to deer density, and notes other impacts on biodiversity and forest health.
    Deer forage acorns and nuts in the fall and browse tree seedlings and young saplings the rest of the year. As browsing pressure in forests intensifies, deer reduce populations of insect herbivores, many of which are specialists that feed only on the leaves of native plants that deer prefer. These insects are the key protein-rich food source for songbirds nesting and foraging in the forest understory. Birds rely on both an abundance and diversity of insects to breed successfully. Not only must they spend more time away from nests searching for food, but thinning of the understory also exposes their nests to predators, from feral and domestic cats to raccoons and foxes. Eventually, forests can’t regenerate the trees in the canopy layer. Invasive vines like bittersweet claim and damage the forest edge, while little is left on the forest floor for the many creatures it used to support. 
    Jim Ash, retired director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, participated in breeding-bird surveys done on the Grace Estate 20 years ago that documented a high diversity and abundance of birds. Ten years later, the decline was shocking — in the vicinity of 50 percent, Mr. Ash says. He says Hither Hills in Montauk is the now “the great birdless woods.” He believes this is due to the “huge overpopulation” of deer that has overwhelmed East Hampton since the 1990s.
    The botanist Tom Rawinski, manager of the U.S.D.A.’s forest health protection program for the Northeast and Long Island, insists that deer have devastated East Hampton’s forests. Naturalists, nurserymen, and gardeners observe deer eating plants such as holly, mountain laurel, azaleas, and juniper regularly, and even, this past winter, skunk cabbage. This a clear sign that there are more deer than the environment can support, Mr. Rawinski says, as these plants contain toxins to deter herbivory.
    Rather than rare and fleeting sightings of deer, residents today report herds that range in size from 56 (in last week’s letters to the editor) to 120 deer (on Cove Hollow Road).
    Andy Gaites, the town’s deer management coordinator, says a new law will allow bow-and-arrow hunting within 150 feet of occupied structures and will open up smaller town reserves to hunting for the first time. He hopes homeowners will call him to identify where herds are problematic, and that he can help neighbors work together to find solutions.
    For those who care about the health of the ecosystem as a whole, the deer management plan already has a responsible answer.

    Yours truly,
    Botanical Science Committee
    New York Botanical Garden

Finally Some Truth
    April 6, 2014

Dear David,
    Congrats to Mr. Osborne, great letter. If Democrats want and need all these things, let them put their hands in their pockets. Get out of my pocket and pay for it.
    Congress is finally doing something, finally some truth, and truth should be capitalized on hearings. It looks like Mike Morrell lied and Lois Lerner is the biggest liar. She should have by now been held in contempt. But there’s not a smidgeon of corruption going on, they are all false innuendos.
    As far as Chris Christie goes, I d4on’t know, but why did the liberals call him a fat liar? Name-calling. Amazing. I’m sure Dems are saying it was his friend lawyer that found him free of any wrongdoing. I wouldn’t put my reputation or license on the line for anyone, and I hope he feels the same.
    The military being cut to nothing and Putin, North Korea, Iran are all on the move, smart move, President Obama.

    Sincerely for God and our country,

Immanence, Imminence
    April 2, 2014

Dear David Rattray,
    Schism, fusion, declarations, deformation, immanence, imminence, reformations, liberty, conformity, ennui, delusion, disillusion: all in the singing room.


Money and Democracy
    East Hampton
    April 6, 2014

To the Editor:
    Democracy was never a simple concept to develop and sustain. It was based on two essential components, freedom of speech and one man, one vote. If people didn’t vote and didn’t have the right to express their ideas, it didn’t work.
    Challenges to democracy existed in virtually every country in the world, but democracy as an idea prevailed. Much of the world is now democratic, and most of it aspires to be so. Now the most difficult challenges are internal, not external, manipulating and distorting systems to give the appearance of democracy but really aren’t. Laws protecting the interests of the few at the expense of the majority limit rather than expand people’s ability to participate in the process.
    The most recent Supreme Court decision to alter the rules on campaign contributions in McCutchen v. F.E.C., on the heels of the Citizens United decision, is the most egregious example. Communism and fascism seem like flies on an elephant’s back when compared to these decisions. There is something anti-American, probably criminal, and definitely treasonous about them.
    What this court seems not to understand is that sanctioning behavior that is destructive to the national interest in the name of questionable constitutional correctness is tantamount to fascism. Questioning whether the five consenting justices are simply stupid (which isn’t the case, except for Thomas) or fascist.
    The McCutchen decision eliminates aggregate caps or limits on the amount anyone can contribute. It affects about 600 donors. It is the Supreme Court on cocaine, where enough is never enough is never enough. A treatise on Beyond Greed.
    Since our inception we have struggled with the relationship between money and democracy. Teddy Roosevelt in 1907 (Tillman Act) and McCain-Feingold in 2002 were part of a constant battle recognizing that the system was out of control. Our framers never anticipated a world like it exists today. The First Amendment guaranteed the expression of speech, not the distortion. Speech was never money. it was a mouth, a mind, and a pen. The pen was the imbalance in a non-literate world.
    If money determines what you say, democracy disappears. Democracy is about what you say, not how many times you say it. If corporations are people, and the system says one person one vote, where do corporations fit in?
    Common sense tells us what we already know. The electoral process no longer works well. Interpreting the constitution to enable its distortion is like using the Bible for science. A framework for ideas, a work in progress. The world wasn’t created 4,000 years ago.
    In the end, we have to ask ourselves who benefits most from Citizens United and McCutchen. Where does all their excess money come from? Why do 70 percent of U.S. jobs pay less than $20 an hour? Maybe we have to ban all campaign contributions and give candidates a travel allowance and obligate them to get on the road? No advertising, no PACs, no TV. Just like it was when the constitution was written.


Still the Man Denies
    East Hampton
    April 5, 2014

Dear Editor
    After the fact of the Vietnam War, then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wrote his memoirs and did a mea culpa about his involving the country in Vietnam. The man was courageous and repented a bad decision that cost American and Vietnamese lives.
    Now here comes Donald Rumsfeld with his biography and interviews using obvious lies, deceptions, and just plain stupidity and ignorance to deny his involving this country in Iraq.
    Rumsfeld was shown his statements, his remarks, his attitude, all on videotape where he supported the war, urged the war, destroyed thousands, and yet still the man denies, denies, denies. He is in the same category as the former vice president, Cheney, in this way and in his prevarication on torture and the war — two of the most despicable, disheartening. lying sons of bitches that ever graced the cabinets of any president in our history.
    And it is all fully documented on videotape. There is no wiggle room for these two bastards.