Letters to the Editor: 05.08.14

Our readers' comments

Excitement of Art
    May 4, 2014

Dear Editor,
    We are proud to be members of the staff of the little school that could, Springs School. We recently were involved in the biggest fund-raiser the school or probably any school in this neighborhood has ever witnessed, the Mystery Art Show. It not only raised money for the Visiting Artist program, but it also energized an entire community around the excitement of art and its potential to inspire. The students’ work was exhibited alongside the professionals’ (about 1,100 pieces in all) in an anonymous interaction that captured the imagination of the many hundreds who bought art or participated in the event.
    Once again Springs refuses to be defined by its test scores (although they are very good). The school is a testament to the significance of the arts in the enrichment and education of children: the 17th year of the school’s Creating Original Opera program, the Visiting Artists Program, the High Tide literary magazine, the Journalism Club, the extensive film and animation  program (thanks to the Greater East Hampton Educational Foundation), to name a few.
    It takes a village to create an event on the scale and complexity of the Mystery Art Show. There are parents, staff, and community members who led with vision and commitment: Sema Mendelman, Sara Faulkner, Karen Pardini, Nancy Rowan, Irena Grant, Tammy Krahe, Cheryl Hartsough, Claire Condon, Andrea McCafferty, Alana Simms, and Anita Hopkins. There were those who stepped in at crucial stages in the process to lend their expertise: Scott Faulkner, Dan Hopkins, Paula Sarlo, Anita Wright, Sydney Albertini and Sharon Malloy. Many teachers, staff, and retirees volunteered to man the tables and art walls.
    And what about all the artists who generously stepped forward and donated their work for the benefit of children at Springs? We can’t thank them enough. We appreciate that LTV covered the opening on Wednesday.
    We have a supportive school board and administration that believe in the arts and are willing to commit to the effort.
    We are proud to be a part of the Springs School community.


Down the Lanes
    East Hampton
    May 5, 2014

Dear David,
    I just returned from a drive down Hedges Lane in Amagansett and then back up to Montauk Highway on Atlantic Avenue, inspired to do so after reading “Guestwords” by the Rev. Robert Stuart in this past week’s Star. All of the feelings invoked by Mr. Stuart’s words regarding the nature of the structure of the older homes and the new ones were felt by me after doing so. Not having lived there at the time, I couldn’t experience the sense of community that he described while driving down the lanes; however I certainly can imagine it. The older homes, mostly ranch houses and cottages, are softer and much less imposing on the landscape than the new McMansion-like structures which fill up the entire building lot and overwhelm it.
    I wonder if these new homes are in conformity with existing code regulations regarding setback from the road, square footage, or height.
    I have a friend who has lived in Amagansett from the early 1980s. She told me that many of the people who lived there then worked in the community and were neighbors and friends. They were in one way or another part of the fabric of the community of Amagansett and the town of East Hampton. They built homes in Amagansett and their children went to school here.
    It is unlikely that the new homes are occupied by local working people and more likely that the folks that occupy them live and work in New York City and weekend here. That combination is not one that fosters community involvement. In addition, when each home has its own swimming pool and sometimes a tennis court as well, the occupants tend to be cloistered from their neighbors. And so it is hard to create the kind of community that Mr. Stuart argues for.
    The 1960s are now half a century ago, and although it is nice to hark back to a different time it is important to recognize that times change and accept the reality that the people who originally owned the properties on the lanes are now benefiting from the ability to sell their properties for large sums to enhance their own well-being, and that the buyers who have this kind of money do not choose to live in the smaller homes and so raze them and build larger ones.
    We cannot stop this trend and can only ask our public officials to vigilantly enforce the building codes so that the new structures comply with the intention of the master plan created to maintain, as much as possible, the small-town nature of the town of East Hampton.


On Abraham’s Path
    East Hampton
    May 5, 2014

Dear Editor,
    A year ago today, I was lucky enough to be able to buy my first house here in East Hampton, on Abraham’s Path. Whenever I pass it I can’t help but feel accomplished and proud knowing that my hard work paid off. However, there was always a blight that I had no choice but to overlook: the abandoned, dilapidated property at 29 Abraham’s Path, which essentially is across the street. It was something at first I chose to ignore, but the more I passed it I wondered why nothing was being done about this matter.
    But just a few days ago that eyesore has been eliminated, thanks to the hard work of our new administrators.
    I understand that change takes time, and I knew that with some patience this unsightly spot would no longer have to affect the community, and speaking for the neighborhood as a whole, I couldn’t be happier. The teardown improved the quality of my life. Thank you!


It Is Outta Here
    May 5, 2014

    Remember that eyesore on Abraham’s Path? The Springs side of course. Well, it is no longer! It has been removed! It took years and lots of effort, but Friday morning last, the wreck was taken down.
     It is gonzo!, finished — outta here, and no longer there!
    One small step taken to keep our beautiful town beautiful and blight and blemish free!.
    Kudos to all those who made it happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Pristine Maidstone
    May 4, 2014

Dear David,
    I am so disillusioned and disappointed in the actions of Springs Citizens Advisory Committee. Instead of caring about Springs and tackling the complicated problems of blight and deterioration that exist in our community, some of its members seek to spread it.
    Though I have only been a member of this group for a short time, I have been attending its meetings regularly, except when my knee operation did not allow me to drive, and the discussion never really seems to get to the heart of the matter that Springs is overcrowded and on its way to becoming a slum. If you don’t believe me, I will show you many deteriorating houses surrounded by all kinds of junk. Don’t tell me it is because this is where working people live, because even Hampton Bays, where the working people of Southampton live, doesn’t looks like Springs does. In certain areas there are, dare I say it, pockets of poverty and neglect.
    Instead our group doesn’t want to talk about the upcoming law on trucks, vehicles, trailers, boats, and unlicensed and abandoned cars allowed on half-acre lots that is being crafted; they want to talk about recreation.
    Seems that they heard last summer there was a hullabaloo concerning some volleyball games that were going on in a couple places in Springs that drew large crowds where there was a lot of whooping it up with drinking and gambling and decided that these folks might just as well move to Maidstone Park. They worked out a place down near where the pavilion stands to erect a volleyball court in the sand on the other side of the road, away from the beach, adjacent to the parking lot.
    They want to make our pristine Maidstone Park a center for the volleyball players, who don’t play volleyball on the beach, and invite them to play at a park known in its community as a safe and peaceful place for the residents of the town, and also the reason I live here and where I swim daily.
    Amagansett has worked very hard, under the leadership of Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, to rid its beaches of loud and disturbing behavior, but the Springs C.A.C. wants to start the action rolling at Maidstone, even though Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who was present at the meeting, told them of free, designated recreational town volleyball courts nearby.
    Open your eyes, folks, and look around you at the eyesores in your own area, as your property values plummet! And keep your hands off Maidstone Park, one of the last vestiges of class in Springs.

    Sincerely yours,

Far From Complete
    May 8, 2014

Dear David,
    The issues concerning the future of the scavenger waste facility are far too extensive to be settled in the one public hearing on May 15. In fact, a primary issue is that many of the important steps that were announced in order to ensure adequate discussion have not taken place.
    When a consulting firm was hired to study the situation, part of the accepted proposal was that citizen and expert committees would be formed to study the work in progress as well as the final report. There were to be monthly public meetings of the committees and monthly presentations of the work as it progressed. I have several emails to this effect since I was to be a member of the study committee. However, no committee meetings were ever held. A single public hearing, where a person gets three minutes to speak, cannot substitute for the analysis these committees would have provided.
    While the report done by Pio Lombardo is an excellent base to work from, it is far from complete in all areas of analysis. Most important, it was never intended to be the determinant of public policy, which ultimately resides with the town board and the citizens of the town.
    The issues go far beyond transparency and methods of making municipal decisions. A decision to fully close the plant will have repercussions about the role of providing municipal services to residents of lower means, as well as having environmental consequences.
    One of my largest fears is that because of the financial troubles that came two administrations ago, budget decisions are no longer evaluated on what I refer to as “total resident cost basis.” If the town reduces or eliminates a municipal service, it has an obligation to ask what effects it will have, not just on the budget, but on the personal finances of the residents. The analysis should try to determine which residents gain and which lose from a town board decision.
    The elimination of leaf pickup is a good example. The bottom line of the budget improved, but many thousands of people paid far more by hiring landscapers to do the job than they had paid in taxes for that service. The big winners were people who paid high property taxes and always hired landscapers anyway.
    A total closure of the scavenger waste plant, so that it does not even function as a transfer station, will likely lead to a similar result. Currently, carters who use the transfer station pay 13.5 cents a gallon. Mr. Lombardo stated that he expected prices to rise toward 16 cents a gallon. I think prices will go even higher, especially for a residential property in Montauk in need of service in the summer months when the closest plant is in Riverhead, a three-hour or longer round trip at that time of year.
    Again, the winners from eliminating this municipal service will be the large taxpayers who own valuable vacation homes. The other winners will be the large businesses because they are serviced by large trucks who drive directly UpIsland anyway. The financial losers will be those in modest-value homes and some small businesses who will save a few dollars a year in taxes but pay significantly more for the pumping service when they require it.
    The financial options, some of which were mentioned by Mr. Lombardo, have never been fully analyzed. Mention was made of a possible intermunicipal agreement with Riverhead and that officials there were waiting for a discussion. As far as I can tell, that was never explored. Certainly, septic waste collection and its disposal deserves a regional discussion, and possibly a regional solution would be the optimal one.
    The option that our current board seems to be favoring is complete closure. In this option the optimal business plan for a carter would be to collect septic waste from residences in small trucks and then transfer it into 8,000-gallon tankers for transport to other plants on Long Island. Mr. Lombardo recognized this and said that he had comments from the Department of Environmental Conservation saying that truck-to-truck transfers were legal if “the transfer occurs along the collection route.”
    Subsequent to the presentation of the report, I was able to show that the D.E.C. must have misunderstood, as the passage they supplied in support of their position did not apply to septic waste, which is covered in a different section of the code. However, even if it were legal, the town should not be encouraging a business model where raw septic waste is transferred on the side of the road anywhere within East Hampton Town and westward (I wonder what the mayors of East Hampton Village and Sag Harbor would think about that possibility).
    The most important issue for now is recognition that the future of septic waste removal needs far more discussion. We need to honor the promise to the public that was included with hiring Mr. Lombardo. We need detailed analysis and discussions by the town board and its residents about town’s responsibility for this essential public service. All of these discussions should be open for the public to hear.


Doesn’t Seem Fair
    East Hampton
    May 4, 2014

Dear David,
    Now that the parking regulations are back in effect in the East Hampton lot, I am wondering about the regulations for those of us with disabled permits for parking. It is my understanding that a person with a disabled certification visible in the car who parks in a regular spot because all of the disabled spots are used up is subject to the two-hour parking limit like the folks who are ambulatory. This doesn’t really seem fair, does it?
    There are a lot of the disabled on the East End, and whether you can manage to snag a disabled spot during a trip to town or not, a parking ticket for overstaying the two-hour limit seems discriminatory. There are way too few disabled spots, and in many cases they are not as convenient to the destination as a regular parking slot. In that case, a disabled person, delayed at the dentist or a board meeting, or waiting for a prescription, is penalized for overstaying the two-hour limit, even though, parked two spaces over in a disabled spot, they would be allowed the three hours it sometimes takes for the disabled to get things done.
    Can we not hope that the aging population can be accommodated, and given the three hours available if they are duly licensed or hanging the proper notice on the rearview mirror?
    I, for one, can no longer hurry from place to place, and would like this idea considered by whoever decides these things.


Feral Cat Poem #73
a young couple
of cardinals
pause their honeymooning
to light
at my car windows
and admire themselves
in the glass
tiger tiger striped grey
crouches in the driveway.


Dear Tony Duke
    Newberry, Fla.
    May 5, 2014

Mr. Rattray,
    My name is Awilda Penney and I was Mr. Anthony Drexel Duke’s personal assistant for 11 years. I was hired in 2003 to help him write his memoir, “Uncharted Course,” and subsequently stayed on as his assistant. Please include this letter in your next issue.

My Beloved Tony,
    They say you had a long battle with cancer. Well, knowing you for 11 years and living with you for the past 9 years I’d say you won the battle! You were amazing to the very end showing me how to live and die with honor, dignity, and grace! We lived a fruitful, active, productive life, you and I. We played golf just a few weeks ago and had a road trip to Palm Beach to visit family there last month on your insistence that we go to cheer up another family member who just completed chemotherapy. We loved our road trips and didn’t think twice about hitting the road to see family wherever they were!
    We always had our golf clubs in the car and would get off whatever highway we were on whenever we saw a golf course sign! The year I first learned we played just about every day! You taught me the game of golf a few years back and just recently joked that you’ve come to regret it! What an amazing love of the game we shared and I will always think of you on a golf course now for the rest of my life.
    We’ve visited family in Peru at least three times, Costa Rica at least three times, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Key West, Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza. We had an unforgettable 10-day golfing trip to Ireland where we played nine holes in the morning, would break for lunch, and play another nine holes at a different golf course in the afternoon!
    We had a beautiful vacation with daughter and husband in France where we chartered a boat and sailed the south of France! We then had a car delivered and drove from the south of France through the Loire Valley to Normandy and ending in Paris where we met up again with daughter and husband where we spent a glorious weekend there before flying back to New York!
    In writing your memoirs, we visited the Duke Family Homestead in Durham, N.C.; all the beachheads in Normandy, France; the original St. Paul’s Camp in Concord, N.H. — the inspiration for your starting Boys and Girls Harbor; where you were born in Long Beach, and every place you’ve ever lived growing up and during your marriages. You showed me every school you ever attended! In our nine years living together we’ve lived in five different apartments!
    I will not speak of loss! I am only grateful for what I have gained in your sharing your life with me! You shared your life completely with me and I gave you all I had to give! I am the luckiest girl in the world! This I know and this I will never forget and will always treasure!
    I believe one feels a sense of loss when there is a longing for more, that somehow something was left unsaid or undone. We did so much, so I do not feel loss, just gratitude. Your 90th and 95th birthday/family reunion celebrations were wonderful and only when you turned 95 did you say to me you finally were starting to feel like an old man. You did not want to be an old man and you never were! And just last week I think you thought, this old-man feeling is for the birds, and you decided there was nothing left to do or prove! I respect that!
    I will love you forever Tony Duke! Thank you for showing me how to live, even while dying of cancer (for those who want to say you died of cancer).

    Forever grateful,

Plan for the Jets
    Stamford, Conn.
    April 23, 2014

Dear David,
    Here is Woody Johnson’s long-term game plan for the Jets. After breaking down the film of Woody’s tenure as Jets owner a few things have crystalized, like salt in a wound:
    First, after building a new stadium, he brought in a high-profile coach, spent big, and depleted his draft inventory by trading up for the likes of Mark Sanchez and others to try to win immediately. This was done at the expense of the future for the intended purpose of not only winning, but to sell personal seat licenses to pay for the stadium. It would have worked out too if Mark Sanchez had panned out. But we all know that if you draft a QB high in the first round, especially if you trade up to get him, and that doesn’t pan out, it sets your franchise back years.
    What has happened since then is what’s most revealing. After Mr. Butt Fumble buried us it was time to clean house, the right thing to do! But Woody only went halfway. It was like leaving the other Johnson out of Johnson and Johnson, as the Q-Tip only cleaned one ear. He got rid of the general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, but kept Rex Ryan last year, in what could only be described as a cost-saving measure, so he only had to pay millions of dollars to one ex-employee instead of two. How do we know this? Because a successful blueprint has always meant letting a new G.M. pick his own head coach.         
    Now Idzik has done his part by cleaning house successfully and quickly, cutting players in such a manner that allowed them to stockpile extra compensatory draft picks. Now here is where Woody got in his own way yet again by re-upping Rex Ryan for this year as well, and did so in such a way that really hurt the Jets. The night before their season finale in Miami last year, Woody let it be known that he had re-signed Rex for this year. Miami had a playoff berth at stake and up until that very moment the Jets had nothing to play for and were running out the string. To what end, for what purpose did he do this? By not waiting one more day he gave the team passion and incentive to play for a coach they like and would be familiar with the next season. The end result was the Jets won and finished with a .500 record. By doing so the Jets dropped about 10 places in the draft order. So instead of having a top-10 pick, they end up in the middle of the pack, round after round, thus hurting what Idzik was doing by trying to rebuild as rapidly as possible.
    What is the first immediate impact of this come draft day? Who thinks Geno Smith is the answer for this team? If you do, then you are way off the mark, just like Sanchez. The Jets’ own review of Geno Smith at the end of last season was scary; it was like they were in denial. Woody’s own comments to the press were, that after a rough midseason stretch he saw some decent things out of Geno. Is that what we can expect out of ownership, aspiring to mediocrity? Additionally it was said that he didn’t have the tools around him and that we need to surround him with more talent. Is not a franchise QB supposed to make the players around him better and not the other way around?
    The Jets had only 13 passing touchdowns last year, and remember this is a passing league! Smith was the worst rated passer in the N.F.L. and did not have a single 300-yard game. Late last season he had a 17-for-27, 190-yard performance with not one touchdown and the Jets called that a really good game. Not everybody is Peyton Manning but when you put the reviews and overviews aside and just look at the game film of Geno this is what you see. There is not one aspect of his game that he excels at and you need at least one. His pocket presence is better than Butt Fumble’s, which is not saying much, his handoffs are not smooth, his accuracy questionable, and he does not even have the strongest arm on the team. That belongs to Phil Simms’s son.
    So Geno Smith is not the answer and thanks to Woody they have no top-10 pick. They have two strikes against them on their last two QB picks and although not a stellar class, one of this year’s top QB picks has to be better than Geno and will surely slip near their way. They cannot be afraid to swing again, even though they are behind the count 0 and 2. After Woody pocketed the cap cash he didn’t spend, now is the time to trade up, correct your mistakes, and spend. Being gun-shy is no way to run a team.


Leaders Are Racist
    East Hampton
    April 28, 2014

Dear Editor,
    I guess being relegated to defense and rebounding in the basketball of my youth and being a constant defender of the underdog in my adult and professional life makes it impossible for me to allow some of these repetitious and erroneous letters sent to The Star to appear without some response.
    Take a recent letter from a gentleman who thinks that if you simply deny you are a racist that will suffice to erase that charge. He also thinks that by just saying whatever pops into his conservative head it becomes fact instead of fiction. Denying racism with racist references is very funny!
    Nonsense in any form is still nonsense. To equate, in a ludicrous comparison, a citizen’s constitutional right to vote, fought for and covered in the blood and lives of heroes, to the purchase of some commercial products or getting a library card is ridiculous and stupid beyond belief.
    The current efforts of conservatives and right-wing Republican legislatures to narrow that right, covered with the false claim that they do it “to prevent voter fraud‚” thus depriving segments of the population of their constitutional rights to vote, is a ploy to win elections by manipulating the voter pool.
    Decrying being called racist even while using the new racist terminology is a transparent joke. It is typical of those who are trying to avoid being labeled as racists to use new code words to try to cover their racism, like “inner city,” or “on the dole‚” or “handouts,” or “using food stamps” (although most people getting food stamp aid are white).
    Your Republican conservative leaders are racist. If not, why does the Republican budget that they voted on unanimously in Congress take 67 percent of all the budget cuts out of programs for the poor and give all the tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires? Why do Fox News and Sean Hannity fervently support a felonious racist moron like Cliven Bundy without vetting his character, then hurriedly and cowardly backtrack when the jerk goes off on a videotaped racist tirade? Why do they differentiate between this guy Bundy failing to pay just fees and ignoring a court order and the Rule of Law they seemed in love with recently?
    Why does Florida seek to eliminate bathroom facilities for those who wait up to six hours on manufactured long lines to vote? Why are voting places moved out of walking distance like they did in Wisconsin? Why have 13 states or more cut off early voter registration, limited absentee ballots, stopped or altered voter registration? Why?
    I’ll tell you why. Because they are racist, that’s why! It has nothing to do with alleged voter fraud, it is racist politics to win elections, and I hope it will backfire.
    To even hint that Obama has weakened our armed forces is beyond ignorant. This country has the strongest, most modern military in the world. We have weapons no other country has and we use them all over the world. Think not? Just look at the U.S. budget for the military. The military expenses are huge, the largest in the world.
    Ah, I could go on and on trying to respond to these characteristic untruths and bloviating, but what good would it do? Except make me feel better.


    Middletown, N.J.
    May 1, 2014

    Why aren’t people deported after they have had to go to court and are guilty of drunk driving or anything else?


The Political Nonsense
    May 4, 2014

To the Editor:
    Are you tired of hearing about Ben­ghazi? Could it be that you are afraid there is some truth in a cover-up, so let’s turn the subjects around, blame the Republicans for voting down the increase in the wages, focus on the economy and jobs, something we haven’t done for the past six years. Emails from Ben Rosen out now due to a court order, a dude under pressure lost it and admitted the president was not in the Situation Room, he was busy doing a mock debate and Hillary Clinton did watch the terrorist attack live and did nothing.
    The White House knew within hours it was a terrorist attack, but decided to change all the talking points and send Susan Rice out on all but Fox, Sunday news stations to spew their lies. Two weeks later the president was at the U.N. and still lied about Libya.
    Harry Reid is suffering from dementia or he is just a mean, nasty man who only plays politics. It’s time to get off the Koch brothers, who not only donate to the Republicans, they spent $100 million to add a wing to a children’s wing. He doesn’t mention George Soros or the fact the Democrats have $35,000-a-plate campaign dinners, again I repeat $35,000 a plate, this is okay? Need to go, Harry, you sincerely need to go.
    It’s time for President Obama to stop presenting himself as above the political nonsense and stop acting like a child and insulting his opponents. Come into the real world as you are not above everyone else, and learn to admit you can be wrong.

    In God and country,

Deniers, Flat-Earthers
    East Hampton
    May 2, 2014

Dear David,
    As noted before, climate change is on the president’s mind, and on many others’ as well. The idea that some change might be anthropogenic runs through many minds. Something that objective study shows is very unlikely, but pop science claims it is. Dr. Michael Mann was shown to have fiddled the numbers with his now infamous “hockey stick” graph. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doubled down though, with its latest pronouncement showing computer program-driven graphed “evidence” of anthropo­genic warming.
    There was a Freedom of Information request for the program itself and the parameters used. There was resistance, but the request was eventually complied with. There was one startling and ironic discovery that was completely unexpected. In order to reach the preconceived conclusion that the climate was anthropogenic CO2-driven, the computer model had to consider that Earth was not a round globe, but a flat shield. That the shield faced the sun at all times. Without that assumption, no evidence at all of human-caused climate change could be shown!
    The believers in anthropogenic climate change call those who disagree “deniers” and “flat-earthers.” The irony, of course, is that to be an anthropogenic climate change proponent you must be a flat-earther!
    Yes, it is funny, in a theater-of-the-absurd way. I’d laugh, if it was not so serious an issue. U.N. membership nations are willing to go along and try to impose a worthless carbon (CO2) tax and further hobble American industry. With the economy sputtering along in what would be called in the mainstream media, with any other president, a recession, is still called a slow recovery. Despite this, the American government continues to consider “sequestration” of CO2, something all the Earth’s green plants and blue-green algae need to grow and to give us the oxygen we need to breathe.


    Plymouth, Mass.
    May 4, 2014

To the Editor,
    Re: Conservatism and seventh-decade perceptions.
    Dear student of flying wings and Ark of the Covenant, and George and Martha Washington’s legacy.
    Golden Gate Bridge — Golden Gate wall of Jerusalem — King’s Chapel, Boston. King George III small table — praying from opposite end — cherubims praying wings folded over — walking the Ark through the wall of Jerusalem — cave in Africa? Hills of Paran? Charlie and Annie Golden Gate — 4 Season hotels — picture in Bible school students Bible memorizing verses perfect attendance.
    Using the disorganization of the wilderness to launch a flank attack on the devil’s corruption of the Catholic and Protestant churches — “The spirit of the world is destructive. We have a fiery spirit. God’s grace is stronger than both, those who do not believe God has a son are deceived.” — John

    P.S. Check out those waffles at Bradford Inn and the Boats at Brewster’s. Reminds me of Jennings and Brewster selling four picture books and fielding questions on entering Iraq!