Letters to the Editor: 05.15.14

Our readers' comments

Bees Are Vital
    May 9, 2014

To the Editor,
    Thanks to Mary Woltz for her wonderful words about bees and dandelions. Everyone should hear what she has to say. Bees are vital to us for the services they provide of pollinating the flowers of plants we depend on for food, yet we damage their health and threaten their survival with our indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides to keep our lawns free of what we call weeds. Lawns don’t feed us. Bees do.
    It’s long past time we woke up to the realities of life and took steps to insure the health and survival of the living creatures that sustain us.


Importance of Dandelions
    East Hampton
    May 6, 2014

To the Editor,
    In your last week’s issue, there was a letter by Matthew Lester, a high school student, regarding the importance of dandelions to bees. It’s encouraging that future generations may not be slaves to the notion that lush green lawns are always the ideal, especially when chemicals and watering are needed to attain this goal.
    Hurrah for Mr. Lester, and hurrah for dandelions and bees!


Earth Day Event
    May 6, 2014

Dear Editor:
    The Concerned Citizens of Montauk would like to thank the East Hampton Town Shellfish Hatchery for the great success of our Earth Day event on May 3. John (Barley) Dunne, Jennifer Gaites, and Frank Quevedo were wonderful guides into the marvelous world of shellfish cultivation and made this a day to remember, especially for the children and parents attending.
    C.C.O.M. would also like to thank Mickey’s Carting for providing the Dumpster for the many bags of trash collected as part of our Earth Day cleanup. A big thanks as well to the Rutkowski family (Montauk Movie Theater) for supporting our Earth Day activities. It was heartwarming to see so many people turn out who care about the environment.

    Outreach Chair

Education Is the Answer
    East Hampton
    May 12, 2014

Dear Editor:
    Thank you, East Hampton citizens, for permitting me to serve your students and their families, and the taxpayers of the East Hampton School District. Finishing a three-year term as a member of the East Hampton School Board, I have respectfully entered my name again.
    I believe in education. Public education is an element that sets our country aside from the rest of the world. Anyone here could decide to go to school at any age, and onlookers would say no more than “Oh, that’s great.” I believe that education is the answer to many if not most social ills. 
    Having served as a science teacher in our district for over 30 years, I understand that we can use our taxpayers’ money more efficiently as we assign time, staff, space, and financial resources to the evolving methods of educating our youngsters, preparing them for college and careers and their life ahead.
    I promise that I will continue to bring knowledge, experience, and good will to my efforts to provide the best possible and most cost-effective education for our children. Please come out to vote on Tuesday, May 20, between 1 and 8 p.m.

    Most sincerely,

Mystery Art Sale
    May 5, 2013

To the Editor:
    What an awesome display of great artwork at the Mystery Art Sale recently held at Ashawagh Hall. What a wonderful way to celebrate the students’ and artists’ pieces and support such a great cause, the Visiting Artists Program at Springs School. This is just another reminder of what makes our community and school so special. 
    I say this from the heart, as I was actively involved, and say this with pride. As a second-grade teacher at Springs, my students had the opportunity to help create the Mystery Art Sale box. As a teacher and community member I also volunteered several days to greet people and sell “dots.” People left each day with a smile, a thank-you to the people putting it together, and asking what next year’s date will be. 
    Art is an important part of the curriculum. Students can be problem-solvers, think outside the box, and express their creative side. We need to keep the arts alive and tap into the depth of talented artists in and around our community.
    Don’t know what you missed? Ask someone who attended the Mystery Art Sale.  You’ll be happy that it will become an annual event.


Dangerous Spots
    East Hampton
    May 8, 2014

To the Editor,
    The East Hampton Highway Department does an adequately good job of maintaining our roads and highways, this in view of incredibly heavy truck and car traffic and punishing weather conditions. That’s great if you’re behind the wheel. But East Hampton must be one of the most unfriendly pedestrian environments around. Just try crossing the highway east of Newtown Lane to the Egypt Lane intersection and you’ll be putting life and limb in jeopardy.
    To a list of dangerous spots you can add Pantigo Road at the post office and CVS, Guild Hall, and the library and lower North Main Street.
    There’s no point in complaining without offering some kind of suggestion. While the main business areas on Newtown Lane and Main Street have well-respected pedestrian crossings, this may work at some but not all of these locations. A simple low-tech, low-cost thing may be the placing of speed bumps with pedestrian warnings at some of these areas.
    Highway commissioner, please take note.


Taxes Too High?
    East Hampton
    May 12, 2014

To the Editor,
    Are your taxes too high? Perhaps you’ve read about the mega-sale on Further Lane for $147 million. Their total property tax bills for 2013 were about $77,600.  Might sound like a lot but the property value is astronomical. Are your taxes in line with those? Do the math. 
    If your property is worth $1 million, and your tax bill is more than $500, you are paying proportionately more. The taxes on the Further Lane property work out to be about .05 percent of its market value.
    Right now I am paying about 20 times that rate, and there are many of you paying an even higher percentage than that. This sale shows that it is time to reassess so that everyone pays their fair share!


Pass That Law
    May 12, 2014

Dear David,
    I had a most stressful experience last week. After driving up the lush Saw Mill River Parkway, where the deer have not destroyed the understory of the woods, I went along a rural road, Route 117 in Bedford, where I lived for the longest period of my life — some 18 years. I was aghast at what I saw.
    Along this road now is one joint after another. You name it: Applebee’s, Target, Costco, Lowe’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and on and on. It was enough to turn your stomach. I arrived at my friend’s house with shell shock. The formula stores have destroyed one of the fanciest sections of Westchester County.
    I cannot believe the folks in the business alliance really understand that if we do not keep this crap out of our midst, we will no longer be East Hampton. They will be biting the proverbial hand that feeds them.
    Take a look at Riverhead. Dear God, I can’t even go there anymore, and I remember Riverhead from the late 1950s. Even Southampton is going the way of destruction, as it allows County Road 39 to be transformed by one corporate store after another — is this progress?
    I beg the East Hampton Town Board to listen to the people, who have given them their trust, and not the few shortsighted folks who are always about the same thing: Take the money and run. Rush to pass that law.
    I leave you with the words of our Rep. Tim Bishop, a native of Southampton who has said many times to me, “The economy is the environment, and the environment is the economy. Without pristine waters and beautiful beaches, vistas where the sky meets the land, who will want to come here?” Indeed. Not me.


Caldor East Reopens
    May 12, 2014

Dear David,
    Good news from the town board! Caldor East, the home exchange program, will reopen at the East Hampton Recycling Center.
    In response to a question from the public at last Tuesday’s work session, Supervisor Cantwell announced that this popular program would be reinstituted, with some adjusted regulations, probably by late spring.
    This is good news indeed. Utilized by so many East Hampton residents, this program has long been a win-win, providing an economical and convenient way to dispose of unwanted household goods and recycle them at the same time.
    One more welcome example of this administration’s responsibility and responsiveness to our citizens. Many thanks.


Bin of No Return?
    April 26, 2014

Dear Editor:
    It all began with me looking, horrified, at a fellow Sag Harbor golfing buddy blithely about to throw what looked like a new tennis racquet into the non-recyclable bin at the East Hampton dump. When I asked him to stop and explain, he said it belonged to his recently deceased father-in-law and since no one in his family played tennis, and that since Caldor East was gone, it was going to be tossed. Well, I looked at the racquet, a beauty costing nearly $200 unstrung, and I immediately became an alternate for the bin of no return.
    For those of you who remember, in the ’70s a great department store named Caldor was the major store in the Bridgehampton Mall, now the site of Kmart. Someone with a wicked sense of humor painted Caldor East on one of the walls of the East Hampton Town dump, which acted as a sort of free exchange for all kinds of things, ranging from expensive electronics, furniture, books, toys — all laid out helter-skelter, ready for perusal and possible transport to your car or truck.
    It was a lot of fun and I miss it. The reason for this letter is to ask the town board to consider starting this activity again. You just have to see people coming to the recycling center with valuable things, trying to avoid the feeling of waste by placing the items on the side, only to have them thrown in the bin by the staff.
    I know that the closing of this service was part of a series of decisions to reduce expenses, and that there were other problems associated with the attempt by some to convert this idea from a resident-to-resident exchange to a business, but the advantages, I feel, outweigh the disadvantages.
    I think the town can afford it, and can establish rules to manage it fairly. Bringing back Caldor East will do two things at once. One is to give us the ability to feel good about others (some not in the greatest financial shape) having the opportunity to enjoy the use of a whole range of stuff we have decided we don’t need, and secondly, to have the fun to visit, poke about, and sometimes pick up some item for home. I don’t know about you, but I have three beautiful pieces of furniture that I picked up over the years.
    Think of it like a free yard sale. Let’s do it.


Upcoming Film Shoot
    East Hampton
    May 12, 2014

Dear David,
    The May 6 work session of the town board was a good example of how to have a full discussion of a problem. Residents who were concerned about an upcoming film shoot by the same company that had disrupted the neighborhood last year had the opportunity to be heard and to offer suggestions.
    It was evident from Supervisor Cant­well’s questioning of the producer of the film that this request for a permit would receive a fair and thorough review. It was equally apparent that the current regulations are inadequate and need considerable reworking. Questions were raised about the fee schedule in place for the town, the use of the same residential homes by location scouts, the time of the year that the shoots take place, violations of local laws, i.e., lighting and noise; renovating existing houses without permits, and filming until 2 a.m. in a residential neighborhood.
    Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez will examine the current permit law. East Hampton’s residents look forward to a new version that balances the interests of homeowners, film companies, and the town.


Update Lighting Code
    May 12, 2014

Dear David,
    Luckily, our town’s 2006 dark sky lighting code was not repealed by the last town board majority. But we do need to update it to meet new technologies, while adhering to evidence-based reports that can help us develop best practices for policy and regulations.
    In the name of saving energy‚ we consider environmental impacts. We don’t dump our garbage in the ocean because it saves energy‚ we consider how it would pollute our waters. In the same respect, we consider the environmental impacts of using night lighting sensibly.
    Light sources (bulbs) that are high in the blue spectrum (for example, metal halide and unfiltered LEDs) will result in more glare, problems with re-adaptation, more sky glow, and greater impact on nature and human health. Think of how difficult it is to see well when passing the bluish headlights on new cars. Light sources over 3,000 Kelvin (on most lightbulb packages) are high in the blue spectrum. Regular incandescent bulbs are rated 2,300 Kelvin.
    We all know that protecting our environment is important to our quality of life and our economy. East Hampton has had a history of instituting regulations based on best practices. As evidence and new technologies emerge, these regulations are updated.
    Our dark sky lighting code is proposed to be changed, not to meet best practices but to provide concessions to the East Hampton Business Alliance. We do need amendments to update the lighting code and to meet the challenges of saving energy, while protecting the environment.

    N.Y. State Representative
    Dark Sky Association

Bamboo Forests
    East Hampton
    May 8, 2014

Dear Editor:
    At long last an opportunity to discuss both the positive and negative features of bamboo. In a community long transitioning from a rural and bucolic haven to a sickened, failing suburb, bamboo is a symptom of the declining health of our community — its current lack of control and direction, the declining quality(ies) of new tourist bases, and the intrusion of the insufferable newly rich.
    As a child, I was local to the bone, with deep passion and pride in the family, community, and inherent dignified beauty of our way of life. Young, with an astute sense of the difference in the behaviors of those summer ginks and those of old money, I was easily and often offended by the vulgarity and lack of respect (reverence) shown by those who had no heartfelt, vested interest in the well-being of our generous and loving community.
    We are now in the last days of grace. On any given weekend morning, a traditional joyous stroll with egg sandwich, coffee, and pups is sadly offset by a compulsive need to pick up the garbage and cigarette butts of revelers from the night before. I seldom enjoy my decades-long tradition as I have become weary and angry at the daily slap in the face.
    Drunks, endangering the lives of others on the beaches during the day or stumbling and driving through our village streets at night, violate the quiet enjoyment that we are all raised to believe is a constitutional right. Imagine my surprise in the past several years when I learned through televised board meetings (wherein the community demanded an end to this life-threatening behavior), newspaper accounts quoting police, trustees, and councilpersons defining their own taste for drink on the beach as factoring in the debate and decisions about public alcohol consumption. At what point in our history did those who obviously need the alcohol override the safety and rights of those who seem very happy to simply sit tranquilly at the ocean’s periphery without having to alter their state to do so?
    Those of us who have chosen the less aggressive manner of co-existence should no longer be trod upon by loud vulgarity, inappropriate physical displays, and danger on the highways. This issue at Indian Wells has been the tip of the iceberg. These abuses are rampant and intrude into every crack and crevice of a once gracious and charming corner of the world.
    Until priorities are set straight by law enforcement and policymakers, the decline will continue. We speak of preserving the character of East Hampton. Character is defined by deeply spiritual factors more relevant than how nice everything looks this spring.
    Bamboo is planted en masse simply because no one respects what exists here naturally. Atom bombs drop helter-skelter all over town, on large parcels and small. Houses are bulldozed. Every tree, shrub, and blade of grass disappears. The suburban spectacle of bamboo forests taking over woodlands, open farm fields, and the tiniest of village lots is caused by the lack of enforcement of our most basic codes mandating the legal, illegal, and inappropriate clearing of building sites. It is the lack of initial enforcement that defines the drive to create instant privacy.
    All three neighbors of my house have planted bamboo. What next? Who comes after the fact, and what power do they have to change this? Bamboo has replaced habitat for my birds, in the manner that Russian olive has also come to provide habitat and food to a rapidly dwindling population of songbirds. I don’t much care what grows green here. We need the oxygen! At the rate we are destroying indigenous flora, I am happy to have these tenacious breeds come in.
    Enforcing existing codes and ordinances might make things better. I doubt it, though, as virtually every aspect of life here seems out of control. Is it too late? I guess we will all adapt.


    Oakland, Calif.
    May 5, 2014

Dear Mr. Rattray:
    I usually visit The Star’s website on Thursday nights, often on my phone as I trundle home by bus or train. Getting though your newspaper, given that it isn’t much of one, frankly, doesn’t take long. I always check the obits with a bit of macabre rooting interest, hoping to find a name long forgotten. But after that, attention to the news pages fades, given their often vapid nature. To render a critique is uncomfortable, but as The Star becomes increasingly mediocre and irrelevant by the week, Patch in broadsheet, some observations should be offered.
    Just glancing at the sports sections induces cringes. Poor Jack Graves’s stuff has the consistency and opaqueness of a mud flat after heavy rain. You’d do better to just give blogs to his story subjects, or have them phone in to voicemail and publish the transcripts, given how riven Mr. Graves’s stories already are with unending, banal quotes.
    The news coverage has become mean­inglessness. One can only regurgitate meetings so far. Your reporters, save Russell Drumm, seem addicted to stenography akin to that of Mr. Graves. Salient, probative, even insurgent journalism is not among The Star’s few strengths. No one on your staff seems to have an adversarial relationship with government. When it comes to holding the powerful accountable, The Star stands among those that Breslin once called “the Pekingese of the Press.”
    Perhaps East Hampton gets the newspaper of record it deserves. But I imagine there is ample snickering when members of the local oligarchies gather to divvy up the loot. Never mind speaking truth to power. Fact-driven journalism is nonexistent on your pages. Even something as basic as reporting the compensation of government workers — say the salary of a new police chief, or the public pension of a retiring administrator — is well beyond The Star’s grasp. If the newspaper’s ever used New York’s Freedom of Information Law to pry information out of East Hampton’s governments that a pencil-pusher desired to stay secret, it can’t be recalled.
    When, a few years ago, the paper attempted to investigate allegations of misconduct by a building official, Don Sharkey, who’d recently died, it committed what can be only described as gross incompetence. At least the dead can’t sue. Perhaps Mr. Sharkey was, indeed, a crook. He wouldn’t have been the first. But through boobish journalism, you made him a martyr.
    But the strength of the paper, the part that makes it worth reading beyond the obits and Mr. Drumm, is the opinion section. Past the often rambling letters reside The Star’s few gems. It is where Mr. Graves’s columns, in contrast to his reportage, frequently shine, as do yours, and where the editorials often make square sense.
    So did the Rev. David E. Mulford when he wrote from Princeton recently about finding the World War I letters of his father. (I believe I remember old Courtland Mulford from my own youth when dragged tortuously to the Presbyterian Church, that house of high hypocrites, posers, and an occasional ignorant true believer). David Mulford’s piece contained the lucidness that your newspaper so often lacks. It was as if Mr. Mulford himself had slipped one, on the sly, past the editors and given your readers a blast of truth and good writing. In also quoting from a letter written by George Eichorn, Mr. Mulford has recognized he needed to get to the nut of the matter: war. German gas, a solider literally blown to bits, the taking of prisoners, the urging of an East Hampton minister to collect scalps.
    Mr. Mulford’s work is clear, concise, and focused. He knew exactly what to extract from the source material before him. In other words, he is a reporter, one who missed his calling. He should give up the fool’s errand of Christianity, return to East Hampton at once, and become a full-time scribe.
    The Star could use the help.


    May 12, 2014

Dear David,
    Clare Lopez, a former C.I.A. officer, finalized a citizens commission on Benghazi and found blame from the Obama administration for failing to stop half of a $1 billion United Arab Emirates arms shipment from reaching Al Qaeda-linked militants. These weapons came into Benghazi and were permitted to enter by our armed forces, who were blockading the approaches from air and sea. The intelligence community was part of this, as the State Department — which means the top leadership of the U.S., our national security leadership, and potentially Congress (if they were briefed on this) — also knew.
    The weapons were intended for Qaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamic opposition. If you’re looking for further information on this, go to The Daily Mail.
    The Obama administration has been stonewalling on emails concerning Benghazi for 16 months or longer. Let’s not allow the Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi, to scream it’s a stunt. If this administration had participated and handed everything over it’s possible we wouldn’t be in this situation today.
    Bipartisanship works, if done properly.

    In God and Country,