May 31, 2014
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the many hours of reading pleasure I have gotten from your paper over the years.
Although I cannot trace my roots back to the Montaukett Indians or even Poseyville, I can say that I first went out to Montauk when I was a kid back in 1969, and still come out every year from about June through at least Halloween to fish for bass, fluke, and bluefish.
I started out on Jones Reef with my cousins, drowning clam belly and sandworms for bass and sleeping in the back of my pickup. Later on I moved down the beach to Stepping Stones and Oyster Pond. Eventually I traded my pickup for a Jeep Wrangler and took it out on Gin Beach and Shagwong. Later on, I divided my time between the outer beach and fishing from boats, most often with Fred Bird, Joe, and Neal on the Flying Cloud. I will miss the Flying Cloud and those guys, now that Fred is no longer with us.
After a while, since my cousins were true surf fishermen and never fished bait, I learned a little bit here and a little bit there, and now I am out there in Montauk throwing plugs and tins and even catching a fish now and again. These days I still love the outer beach, in my opinion the prettiest spot on Long Island and home to the best sunsets on the East End.
When I am not doing that, I like to fish with Dave Kohlus on the Adah K. Dave always puts you on the fish, and his boat is one of the friendliest and sharpest looking vessels in Montauk.
All of this time in Montauk, I always picked up a copy of The Star, most often in White’s drugstore. These days I get it every week through a subscription my company has with your paper. Your letters to the editor are a blast to read. Regular contributors like Diana Walker make me laugh out loud sometimes. Ms. Walker had a great letter a while back about a town board meeting she had gone to (“Lunch, Lunch!”). That was a classic. Richard P. Higer’s letters are amusing as well, particularly his recent letter stating that Republican leaders are racist. I understand that Mr. Higer is a liberal and is in the tank for Obama, but anyone who follows politics at all can see that the left calls everyone who disagrees with Obama on anything a racist. Me personally, I call Obama Saint Barry, since it seems that the liberal left has practically nominated him for sainthood.
Neal Hausig, on the other hand, is a conservative and is not blinded by whatever it is that made people think Mr. Obama earned a second shot.
No matter, it is all fine reading and funny as hell sometimes.
Your police blotter is a great read, too, especially in the summer months when Montauk is cranked up and full of jokers from the city.
I have always enjoyed Russell Drumm’s column and Larry Penny’s too. By the way, Mr. Penny, I agree with you on these wind farms. They are death to bird life and are a huge obstacle to fishermen as well. I am against them 110 percent.
Anyway, thanks again.
‘Felix Dominy Mill’
May 28, 2014
I keep reading and hearing about the “Pantigo Windmill” at Home, Sweet Home. Fine, but on the other hand, there is another history behind that Felix Dominy windmill.
My mother was Sybel Dominy and she told me the story behind that windmill when I was a child and I remember it to this day. That mill, owned by my grandfather Felix Dominy, sat alongside of his house to the east, on the corner of Egypt Lane and Pantigo. During the summers, the family would all sleep in the mill, as my grandmother would rent out the bedrooms in the house. Many a summer she remembers how they all slept there — her brother, Raymond Dominy, and Edith Dominy, who married Benjamin Barnes from Amagansett and owned the East Hampton News Company.
I am not sure of the year, but the original mill at Home, Sweet Home burned and my grandfather offered to sell his mill to the village for one dollar. They took him up on that, and the mill was moved to Home, Sweet Home.
I would call that mill, the Felix Dominy Mill, not the Pantigo Mill, just because it sat on Pantigo Road. Rather late to change now, but thought the village people should know a little more about that mill. Now they do.
ROBERT DOMINY MULFORD
Encourage the Arts
June 2, 2014
I think East Hampton is well served by having a sensitive town board member like Sylvia Overby who understands the importance of the past and present contributions of our arts community. Her fellow board member Peter Van Scoyac and she agreed that it is past time for the town government to recognize the arts, all of them — artists, sculptors, actors, playwrights, writers, poets, musicians — and appointed the East Hampton Arts Council, now chaired by Kate Meuth and Jane Martin.
Part of the mission of this group is to create an environment within government that acknowledges the economic value of our artists as part of the East Hampton business community, as kind of a chamber of commerce for the arts, and to help their creative efforts by utilizing town spaces where appropriate. The council has been actively looking for grants in order to rehab town buildings that may be used for art-sponsored events, including classes, performances, and exhibits, and recently held a meet-and-greet that attracted 100 artists and art-supporting guests.
Remembering East Hampton’s history, it is indeed important to encourage the arts as a traditional “industry” which will add to East Hampton’s economy without sacrificing its extraordinary environment, the beauty that inspired so many to come here and create.
On Bluff Road
June 2, 2014
After the destructive accident on Bluff Road last week, isn’t it time to put in a four-way stop sign on Atlantic Avenue and Bluff Road? The traffic continues to race by in spite of the police speed monitor that is placed on Bluff Road on the weekends. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Feral Cat Poem #74
The Calico lies curled
on the sun-warmed cloth roof
of the red VW convertible.
Next door, the sultry Yellow
dozes likewise on the hood
of the silver Lexus.
Two feral cats,
seeming safe and secure.
Sort of like the homeless
bums nodding under the
palm trees in Santa Monica.
May 26, 2014
Question: What do you call an Amazon-besotted town — where real estate goes for up to $140 million and dresses sell for thousands — that refuses to support a decades-old, very classy bookstore in trouble?
Answer: A dead zone.
June 1, 2014
To the Editor,
I read with interest and sympathy Charlene Spektor’s recent letter suggesting ways BookHampton might be saved and thrive. My husband and I are both avid readers and regular patrons of the store, and like all residents of our community would profoundly feel its loss.
So allow me to suggest another means to enhance the possibility of its survival: that it become more welcoming to those who hold other than orthodox liberal views. Rarely have I seen a conservative title displayed in the shop’s window or given prominent display within, but the latest left/liberal tomes are routinely on view.
As I passed the store today, books by Elizabeth Warren, Glenn Greenwald, Timothy Geithner and Barbara Ehrenreich festooned the display window. But no, for example, Greg Gutfeld, who also has a book on the current New York Times best-seller list. And, presumably, readers here in East Hampton Village.
This is a more diverse community than many realize — yes, even ideologically. And BookHampton, and East Hampton itself, would be well served by acknowledging it.
May 29, 2014
In response to Susan M. Seidman’s letter this week (May 29) regarding my letter about BookHampton’s refusal to carry my book, I must clear something up.
I certainly paid the additional $39 to do expanded distribution with Create Space when I self-published my novel. And yes, Ingram can send bookshops our books without dealing with Amazon. I understand books can even be sent back to Ingram if they do not sell, which is not advertised.
That said, BookHampton did not consider such an avenue but was immediately turned off when I mentioned Create Space. There was no further conversation. Whereas Montauk Bookshop and others knew they could order through Ingram and had no problem doing so. People asked me if BookHampton had my book. I said, sadly, no, but do go in and ask for it. Maybe they would order it?
I was not discouraging anyone to use a self-publishing company at all. That would be silly. Create Space did a fine job with my book. I was saying that a local bookshop in one’s town ought to be willing to carry a local author’s book.
You were fortunate, Susan, that Ms. Spektor carried your book. Others, like myself, were not so fortunate. Consignment for me was a great way to get my book out there. And I am grateful to all the local shops that carry “Cheap Fish,” my novel about Montauk. Harbor Marina, Corner Store, Gone Local, White’s Pharmacy, Canio’s, Burton’s, Preston’s, Jack’s Stirbrew, White’s Department Store, Montauk Marine, Homeport, Martell’s, Star Island Marina, Whalebone General Store, Montauk Bookshop. I delivered the books personally, which was also a good experience. The shop owners read the book and we had a fine time discussing it. It is a very local tale.
In essence, the bulk of the sales were kept local, and that is what I intended. Too bad BookHampton did not support that. And so far Author’s Night has not embraced local self-published authors either.
I am glad for you that you had a different experience. I appreciate the suggestion of expanded distribution. Writers don’t always help one another, so that’s nice. And as I said, I surely did expanded distribution when I self-published. That does not get our books in bookshops. They can only order it if they are willing. In this case, the sad fact remains that our local bookshop did refuse to carry my book specifically because of Create Space. The end.
NANCI E. LaGARENNE
May 31, 2014
I was saddened to read in a letter to the editor last week that the bombing of Pan Am 103 “was not a Montauk disaster” and therefore “Dark Elegy” had no place to be exhibited in a Montauk park. I disagree.
Suse Lowenstein’s remarkable sculpture reminds us that the effects of terrorism are indiscriminate. What happens in the sky over Scotland, or in lower Manhattan on a beautiful September morning, or to almost 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, affects us all. The cry heard around the world this past month was not “Bring back their girls.” It was “Bring back our girls.”
I’ve lived in Montauk full time for over 20 years. We’re a community that comes together to support those in need, whether they live here or not. In that spirit, “Dark Elegy,” beautifully landscaped and screened, belongs in Kirk Park. It would link us to others around the world who take a public stand against terrorism.
For those who worry about the “naked women” depicted, I strongly urge you not to simply look at a picture, but to visit Suse Lowenstein’s moving sculpture. It just may open your eyes and your heart.
May 30, 2014
To the Editor,
I am Ruth Nasca, living in Springs for 26 years. Like Sue Lowenstein, I create movie poster paintings using live nude models. I suggest that the “Dark Elegy” sculptures be limited to 20 not 74 figures, to be placed in Kirk Park.
Eight or 10 years ago, the East Hampton Town Board voted on a similar situation. A Mr. Soffer, a New York City sculptor also residing in Amagansett, offered the town one or two acres of land on Town Lane in East Hampton. On the property were about 20 of his huge modern metal sculptures, 40 or 50 feet high. The board voted that he remove all but six works of art.
Today at this location, a sign reads Town Lane Park, owned by the town. I recommend that the board rename it East Hampton Sculpture Park. Sue Lowenstein could place the 74 figures in the sculpture park for all-day viewing. The only cost to the town would be to repaint the sign.
In the future, East Hampton sculptures could be installed here. Maybe the East Hampton Arts Council would be interested.
June 2, 2014
I read with interest the story in your May 29 issue titled “Debate Hard Solution for Louse Point” about a 560-foot-long rock revetment proposed by four private property owners on the Gardiner’s Bay beach to try to stop erosion of their private properties. I think we need to move past debating whether shore-hardening structures are harmful. Revetments and other shore-hardening structures destroy East Hampton’s most valuable natural and economic resource: our beaches.
Never mind that the owners and their paid consultants assure our elected representatives that their revetment will “secure the public resource of beach,” while it holds their land in place. Any fool who tries to walk from Louse Point to Devon on the bay beach can see how the public beach has been destroyed by shore-hardening structures. Where these structures are absent, the beach can adapt to changing conditions and there are still beautiful wide, sandy beaches for people and wildlife to use and enjoy. Where structures have been built, the beach is gone and it’s not possible to walk.
While Mr. Mullen may object to having his property be “a sacrificial sand pile to continuously feed a beach,” I object to having our public beaches sacrificed to continuously shore up ill-conceived coastal development. Land along the shore has created and fed the beaches here for some 20,000 years. It is our development that is interfering with the natural processes, not the other way around.
From where I sit, our local waterfront revitalization plan and the trustees’ presiding officer, Diane Mamay, got it right: Shore-hardening structures, like the ones proposed, destroy the public beach and should not be permitted. The problem of naturally eroding private waterfront properties must be addressed in some other way.
Those who make the risky decision to buy or build houses on the shifting sands of our dynamic shorelines, where flood waters come and go, should bear responsibility for their choices. The value of those lands should reflect the true cost of living there.
We need to significantly scale back the public subsidy of unwise coastal development with our below-market-rates national flood insurance program, which is $20 billion in the red. We also need to stop publicly subsidizing waterfront houses by permitting shore-hardening structures that destroy public beaches. If there is no way these properties can be inhabited without giving up the public beach and this places an unfair burden on private property owners, then some form of amortized compensation and/or reduction in property taxes should be considered. But, please, no more public beach destruction by public officials.
June 1, 2014
To the Editor,
It is much appreciated that The East Hampton Star thoughtfully considered the proposal by the East Hampton Town Republican Committee to “adjust the Community Preservation Fund.” The committee had proposed an increase of the current exemptions from the tax to $500,000 and $250,000 for improved and unimproved properties from their current level of $250,000 and $100,000. Also proposed was providing the public an opportunity to vote on such purchases if an adequately subscribed petition was submitted to the town.
The Star saw merit in raising the exemptions, but not in allowing the public to vote.
This indicates a complete misunderstanding of the proposal, as The Star stated that allowing citizens to vote was “from longstanding denigration of the value of land preservation” and “getting land buys onto ballots, most likely only in November, could effectively shut the C.P.F. down.”
The facts of the matter are that from Perry Duryea to the present, Republicans have supported land preservation. Our objective is to make the C.P.F. effective for its stated purpose. The only transactions that would appear on any ballot (and they would not have to wait for November) would be the singular questionable purchase(s) that would inspire the public to obtain hundreds of signatures within 30 days of a town board decision to buy.
When it is considered that property acquired with funds from the C.P.F. is neutered forever, with all uses severely limited, why would an intelligent person not want the public to have a 30-day opportunity to reflect?
We probably have a philosophical disagreement. The Republicans want to empower the townspeople and allow them to have the opportunity to vote on multimillion-dollar permanently binding transactions. The Star does not.
THOMAS E. KNOBEL
East Hampton Town
Stores of the Ilk
June 1, 2014
When Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby first proposed the formula store legislation, I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God there was someone who was aware of the growing deterioration of the character of the East End and was willing to stick her neck out to confront it.
Each week we can see County Road 39 inching up on Route 27 like a slithering snake. Alas, a T.J. Maxx clone called Home Goods will soon open in Wainscott. Wainscott’s new signs that they were so proud of have attracted the first formula store to East Hampton. What a pity! Some people don’t mind that; another place to shop. Goodie, like they need more stuff. I’m not counting the 7-Eleven in Montauk as it is not a store per se and most of us never go in there.
At the original hearing on this law the overwhelming response of the community urging the passing of the law was as strong as any I have ever heard. Keeping our historic districts clear of stores of the ilk of the big box was so heartily approved by the citizens with the exception of a group called the business Alliance. Who are they? They are the big guys — the big land-grabbers who would profit by the presence of corporate-owned stores, which will drive up the rents until we will not have one locally owned store left.
Just think of the stores that have disappeared in the last few years or who have had to move to a small, almost-hidden space until they are gone. What a shame. Do we want to be like the village? I have never known anyone to shop at any place there with the exception of BookHampton and White’s.
I remember coming out to Riverhead on my way to Jamesport when my aunt married a Squires in the mid-1950s, hardly even a country town. To look at Riverhead now gives me a visceral reaction. Is that what we will become? Is this all in the name of development? If it is, it stinks!
I have always believed there are two kinds of people: the givers and the takers. We know who the takers are. They are the folks who want to sit on a pile of money destroying all good things in their wake.
I love this town and I don’t want to see it become mass of concrete. I urge the town board to protect us. All who believe as I do, must let the town board know how they feel. Send them e-mails. Get up and talk when the actual hearing happens. They will listen when you put your proverbial foot down.
Wrong End of the Stick
June 2, 2014
The East End was handed the wrong end of the stick when PSEG took over our electric service. I am tired of receiving telephone calls when a payment is a few days late in their mailbox. I am tired of receiving monthly bills with a very bold This is a final termination notice attached. The company arrives in the community and rather takes over. The oversized new telephone poles being installed without even a by-your-leave comment. No negotiations with local officials. Just a “we will do as we please” attitude.
It finally drove me to looking at their website today. They gladly present a list of the outrageous payments of the LIPA board members but it presents no comparable list for PSEG members. It’s worth a look to see by name the number of people who in many cases received $1,000 a day for their labors as board members. I wonder how PSEG members compare in their compensation wages.
June 1, 2014
On May 28, Long Island Businesses for Responsible Energy filed a complaint with the New York State Supreme Court in Riverhead regarding the installation of PSEG’s 6.2-mile overhead high-voltage transmission line from East Hampton to Amagansett.
The toxic poles, laden with pentachorophenol, have caused serious injury and will continue to cause serious injury to plaintiffs and members of the class they represent in the following manner:
1. The poles have been treated with a wood preservative that contains pentachorophenol (otherwise known as penta or PCP). We’ve been informed that these poles were not properly cured and rushed to be installed along the chosen route, in some places less than 25 feet from people’s homes. PCP, crude oil, and other contaminants are leaching from these poles into the soil and groundwater. Pentachorophenol is a dangerous poison, outlawed in 26 countries, that causes serious injury to humans if its fumes are inhaled, or if it is ingested or touched. Our properties have been contaminated.
2, The power transmission and distribution lines to be operated will produce, transmit, and maintain unreasonable, harmful, and dangerous electromagnetic fields that are dangerous to the health of humans.
3, The new poles and lines have damaged the vegetation, natural quality, and scenic beauty of our area. This project has butchered our trees and damaged areas of local scenic significant vistas. East Hampton has been recognized as an area of unusual beauty and natural resources. The Nature Conservancy has designated the area as one of the “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere.
4, The newly installed poles have significantly devalued the properties they run along. These properties are now perceived by prospective buyers, rightfully so, as being dangerous to the health of residents.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated at a meeting I attended on May 20 that “there is one set of rules for everyone. People are entitled to be safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their communities.” So I asked Lemeul Srolovic, his bureau chief for environmental protection, how is it that PSEG operates under a completely different set of rules? The attorney general’s office is looking into this for us, since it is “their responsibility to protect New York’s environment and public health by vigorously enforcing both the state’s and the nation’s environmental laws, and representing the state in legal matters related to the environment.”
Governor Cuomo is perhaps not aware that he is responsible for creating the long-term LIPA agreement with PSEG-LI, L.L.C. — a subsidiary, whose members are unknown, of a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., a New Jersey holding company. He has transferred to this parent holding company, control of all energy decisions on Long Island, has created a lucrative deal with PSEG that has no oversight, no citizen participation, and no respect for the health and safety of the residents of Long Island.
This deal will leak the yearly net profits of the subsidiary, and billions of dollars, out of Long Island’s economy. Everybody, including PSEG, agrees that the poles and overhead lines can and should be removed and buried, without impairing the power supply of the East End. The issue remains as to who shall pay the cost. I contend that the stockholders of the New Jersey parent holding company should carry the burden of the cost to rectify this travesty, since they are the ones who are reaping the benefits from this lucrative deal they created for themselves.
During every wet event, every time it rains or snows, the pentachlorophenol is leaching off of these uncured poles, contaminating our soil and groundwater. Once this poison reaches our groundwater, it travels south toward the ocean. This is not just a problem for the 303 residents living along the 6.2-mile route. This is a community problem. I urge the people of this town to join together and say no to this project. Our entire town is being served by this dangerous overhead PSEG transmission line project — everyone from Wainscott to Springs to Amagansett and on to Montauk.
Even though these poles may not be running in front of your home, every single resident in East Hampton Town needs to be concerned, because this poison is going to be in everyone’s drinking water, if it isn’t there already.
LIBFRE has been contacted by other international citizens’ groups who are simultaneously working to ban pentachlorophenol from being used. Pamela Miller, a member of the research committee for the Stockholm Convention, has contacted us to speak at the United Nations regarding the banning of pentachorophenol.
The Stockholm Convention started with the banning of 12 substances. Later, the European Union nominated the addition of penta to the ban. They have a very intense review process and the POP’s (Persistent Organic Pollutants) review committee did a lot of research and found penta in breast milk, in water, and in the Arctic. In addition, they found effects from penta on the endocrine system, blood serum, and wildlife. In October 2013, they determined that penta was a global contaminant and should be subject to global elimination. The United States and Canada have been the biggest fighters of the ban because of the wood-preservative groups who want to be able to use it.
If Gov.Andrew M. Cuomo doesn’t step up soon and halt this project, pull the poles, clean up the contaminated soil, and bury the lines along a direct major corridor away from residential areas, he’s going to be remembered and cursed for his participation in this travesty — a legacy that will haunt him forever.
LIBFRE has launched our website: libfre.com. Check us out, find out who we are, read what our experts say, educate yourself on this extremely important community issue. We have devoted an entire page on the website to our complaint, so that everyone in East Hampton can familiarize themselves with our four-pronged approach.
If we all work together, we can, and we will, win this David and Goliath fight.
May 30, 2014
The long tradition of fact-free journalism over at The East Hampton Independent continues unabated.
And yet, in an editorial this past week concerning the report of the town’s budget and financial advisory subcommittee that the East Hampton Airport can be financially self-sustaining without need of Federal Aviation Administration grants, The Independent managed to achieve a new low. The ignorati who run The Independent and thus share with us their otherwise unpublishable views succeeded in fabricating or misstating literally every single factual claim they made.
I serve on the advisory subcommittee tasked with analyzing airport finances. The preliminary report of the committee shows, unambiguously, that airport revenues are sufficient to pay for airport capital needs without having to take any more money from the F.A.A. And that is before consideration of additional sources of airport revenues, including property rents, parking fees, landing fees, energy projects that use idle airport land, and a much larger share of the current margin on fuel sales.
Although the committee voted unanimously to submit this preliminary report, The Independent falsely claims that there were members who “chose to abstain rather than rock the boat, given the conclusion was inevitable before the study even began.” A fabrication. I was in the room. There were no abstentions. The vote was unanimous.
Not only that, the resolution to adopt the preliminary report and send it to the town board was offered by Tom Twomey. He asked for my second, and I was glad to give it. Among those voting in favor were committee members Bonnie Krupinski, who owns one of the private businesses operating out of the airport, and Gene Oshrin, a vocal member of the East Hampton Aviation Association and staunch defender of aviation interests.
The Independent, in its standard fact-free, slash-and-smear style, claims that “a majority of the town board members are firmly in the anti-airport zealot’s David Gruber’s pocket.” I should be so lucky. But does The Independent seriously imagine that Tom Twomey is in my pocket? This may mark the first time he and I have ever agreed about anything regarding the airport.
While The Independent has often attributed to me magical powers to control events (very flattering!), does The Independent think that Bonnie Krupinski and Gene Oshrin too are in my pocket? That’s a howler. Or am I supposed to have drugged them or something, so that, as The Independent claims, “the conclusion was inevitable before the study even began”?
Ranting away, The Independent then complains that the committee proposes to borrow to fund airport capital projects. Welcome to the modern world. This is what responsible businesses do when paying for capital projects with a useful life of many years. Does The Independent think that the full cost of a 20-year project is paid out of any one year’s revenue? That is ridiculous. Nothing would ever get built. Whether for a house or a commercial building, you borrow and pay off the loan over the course of the useful life. That is exactly how and why airport annual revenues are sufficient to pay for capital needs, just as for any other commercial operation.
Finally, to make sure that it gets absolutely nothing right, The Independent says, “In the past airport revenue was thrown in the town’s General Fund and the F.A.A. funded most repairs. Without the F.A.A. infusion, a shortfall seems inevitable.”
No. Not only do airport revenues not go into the general fund, it would be illegal to divert them to the general fund. Under F.A.A. grant assurances that have been in force for decades and will not expire until 2021, the town is prohibited from spending any airport revenues on anything other than the airport itself. Thus, the town has never “thrown airport revenues” into the general fund. To the contrary, the F.A.A. actually forced the town to pay from the general fund to the airport the difference between market rents and below-market rents charged at the airport industrial park in an effort to create local employment.
If the town borrows for airport capital projects, the loans will be paid back with airport revenues that are legally inaccessible to the general fund and hence cannot be of any direct or indirect benefit to the taxpayers. Airport capital projects will not cost the taxpayers a dime.
The editorial concludes, “There is ample reason to suspect the ultimate goal of Gruberites [am I a Gruberite?] is to close the facility.” Had The Independent actually sent anyone to attend any of the subcommittee meetings, all open to the public, it might have noted that I was the very first member of the committee, at its very first meeting, to state that the maintenance expenditures of the airport are inadequate and that any financial plan for the airport must provide for sufficient annual expenditure to maintain it in good order. Or The Independent might have called me to ask my views, rather than engage in the disreputable propaganda technique of inventing words to place in someone else’s mouth.
For the record, again, there is no plot to close the airport, only to see it run safely, efficiently, cost-effectively, and without being a burden to the vast majority of residents who don’t use it.
However, had The Independent bothered to gather any facts, or to invite comment, it would have been impossible for it to write the editorial that it had already determined to write, in complete ignorance of everything, “before the study even began.” There is ample reason to suspect that The East Hampton Independent is a work of pure fiction. In fairness to the public, it ought to be labeled as such.
The facts are the facts. It is a credit to all members of the subcommittee, both those with interests at the airport and those who are concerned with the noise burden it imposes on the community, and especially to committee chair Arthur Malman and Peter Wadsworth who have thus far done the lion’s share of the work, that all were absolutely honest about going where the facts led them. Had The East Hampton Independent had a seat at the table, one can be certain that would never have occurred.
In the meantime, don’t wrap fish in The East Hampton Independent. It would be an insult to fish everywhere.
Future of the Airport
June 1, 2014
To the Editor:
The budget and finance advisory subcommittee is to be congratulated on the careful work and thoughtful analysis of airport finances in its recent report to the East Hampton Town Board. Reaching the unanimous conclusion that the airport can be self-sustaining without any funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, the subcommittee has provided an essential factual basis for planning the airport’s future. The members of the subcommittee and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez who appointed it have done a truly great service for the community. Thanks to them, we now know that the future of the airport can be what the people of East Hampton want and not what the F.A.A. in Washington might want.
With this promise of self-government in hand, one thing must be kept in mind. The subcommittee’s analysis of airport costs and revenues understandably omits a critical cost. The report says nothing about the cost that the airport’s operations impose on all those who live below the flight paths of the helicopters, the jets, and the other planes. The loss of peace and tranquility, the loss of the quiet enjoyment of our homes and gardens, the loss of sleep, the resultant reduction in the value of our homes, the loss of the very things that attracted us to East Hampton — none of those costs are reflected in any books of account or financial analysis, but they are real.
The fact that the airport doesn’t pay for imposing those burdens on us doesn’t mean that they are not real; it only means that the burden has been shifted from those who fly to those who suffer. In effect, every one of the thousands of flights to and from the airport imposes a tax on the homes below. As planning for the future proceeds, the reduction or elimination of that tax must be the primary goal.
ROBERT S. RIFKIND
Only Real Solution
June 2, 2014
Last week Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop announced a request they made of the Federal Aviation Administration to reinstate and redirect the soon-to-sunset F.A.A.-mandated northern helicopter route. That route requires helicopter pilots following a flight plan toward the north fly one mile offshore along Long Island Sound, departing the route at their discretion to land, or to otherwise safely operate their aircraft. This ruling sunsets on August 6, 2014, right in the middle of our summer season.
When this route was mandated in 2012, many East End residents hoped it would provide relief from helicopter noise, the most egregious generated by air travel to and from East Hampton Airport. However, that was not the case. Residents in western Suffolk and Nassau Counties were the beneficiaries of this route mandate, not the East End.
In fact, the mandated route increased traffic over some areas of Brookhaven, Shelter Island, and Southold Townships, particularly as pilots steered over these communities to land at East Hampton. The additional inability of anyone to regulate altitude, a known noise abatement technique available to pilots, added insult to injury, as many fly very low over North Fork communities on the way into East Hampton.
Requesting the route be renewed beyond its Aug. 6 lifespan, the senator and congressman also propose a route adjustment. They have requested that the F.A.A. mandate all traffic using the northern route be directed around Orient Point, through Plum Gut and into East Hampton via Gardiner’s Bay — the “over-water route.”
The notion that aircraft noise impacts are felt less strongly over water is only appropriate over ocean routes as the wave action and wind nearly ever-present along the Atlantic shoreline does compete with the sound of helicopters approaching, diminishing those impacts to some degree. Routes over still water actually have the opposite affect, enhancing the sound, acting as an amplifier.
While we are encouraged that our federal officials continue to recognize the terrible burden aircraft noise, particularly that of helicopters, places on residents, we see this route change as another compromise that will bring relief to some at the expense of others. Route distribution simply spreads the pain around, sometimes making new victims of folks previously unfettered by the aircraft noise problem. Imagine the residents of Orient Point, who will certainly become acutely aware of helicopter traffic over their community, should this suggested route be implemented.
The only real solution to noise abatement, including helicopter traffic, is for the East Hampton Town Board to continue its plan to impose reasonable access limits, including setting curfews, limiting hours of operation, and banning the noisiest aircraft. The town’s powers to do so will be restored at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2015 — a joyous New Year indeed!
In the meantime, while we muddle through yet another summer of unbearable aircraft noise, we hope our elected officials on all levels of government recognize that the privileged few should not be permitted to burden the great majority of residents with their noisy transportation choices. There are other, more socially acceptable and quieter ways to get to our beautiful, peaceful East End communities.
All the best,
Quiet Skies Coalition
A Maserati Budget
May 31, 2014
To the Editor:
In the May 29 Star, East Hampton Superintendent of Schools Richard J. Burns thanked citizens for passing the 2014-15 school budget. It was the least he could do. A school district with one of the highest per-pupil expenditures in the nation, and among the top 2 percent among 125 Long Island school districts, was one of only three that wanted to pierce the cost-of-living spending cap set by New York State.
I have written before about our East Hampton school budget, and will not repeat the details. East Hampton schools do not have a Cadillac budget; they have a Maserati budget.
Of your East Hampton taxes, 58 percent goes to the schools. And the budget passes year after year because 3 percent of voters (school employees and parents) vote for it; and 1 percent of voters turn out to vote against it.
The U.S. Census Bureau, reporting for 2011, the latest available, reports that New York State pubic school spending is the highest in the nation, fully 81 percent above the national average. New York had the highest per-pupil spending among the 50 states in each of the previous five years.
Well, good for New York, some might say, investing in its future. The average per-pupil spending in New York was about $19,000. Among states, New York has a Cadillac school budget. But spending per pupil in East Hampton is $28,700. That is 51 percent higher than the average spending per pupil in the highest-spending state in the nation.
In New York State, Long Island schools have among the highest budgets. Still, East Hampton is not the highest. There are 125 school districts in Long Island and 17 have higher per-pupil spending than East Hampton. So where is the Maserati? Ah, statistics. Of those 17 that are higher, 12 have miniscule student populations, less than a total of 250. In fact, four have less than 30 students in all. Per-pupil cost comparisons with those districts are meaningless.
If we look at real schools, with at least 500 students, how many of the 125 districts have higher per-pupil spending than East Hampton? Three, and only slightly higher. More than half of the districts on Long Island manage to educate their kids for an average of $20,000 per pupil.
We are in the state with the highest per-pupil school spending, in the section of that state (Long Island) with the highest spending, in a town in the top 2 percent of L.I. spenders.
As most people know, New York State imposed a cap on school levy increases (I mean, they are already the highest in the nation) — no more than a cost-of-living increase or 2 percent, unless a district could get 60 percent of the vote. Three districts on Long Island decided to try this year to pierce that spending cap. One was East Hampton — already in the top 2 percent of Long Island spenders. Why? If the budget could not be increased, argued school officials, they would have to cut instruction. Cut into the bone of this already lean budget.
Well, voters gave the East Hampton schools what they requested, passing the $65 million budget with 73 percent of the vote. It shows you that East Hampton voters were willing to pony up for the Maserati, right? Well, not exactly. There are 16,200 registered voters in East Hampton. Of those voters, 492 voted for the budget — 3 percent. The vote against was 184 — 1 percent of registered voters.
It is not literally a scam. So let us call it a strategy. The vote on the school budget, as far as I know, is the only separate vote on the calendar. In other words, voters have to make a special effort one day a year to go to the school and vote for the budget. You see what percentage of the electorate does so.
I wish I could tell you the number of employees in the East Hampton School District. I have looked on the district’s website, its budget, and its budget message, and have Googled around, but just can’t find it. I am sure someone will supply it.
Let us merely guess, conservatively, that the district employs 200 people in all capacities. The school budget is the direct source of the livelihood of those employees, their salaries and benefits. If all of those people get out and vote for the budget, that is 200 votes; if they bring their spouses, that is 400 votes. But then there are parents as well, say a couple thousand. They are voting tax dollars for their children’s education. It would be interesting to see, out of the 492 votes for the budget, how many were school employees, employee families, and school parents — all directly voting a significant benefit to themselves from the taxpayer. How well does this little strategy work? This year, 98 per cent of Long Island school budgets passed. Do you know votes on other types of issues that pass almost 100 percent of the time?
The “school family,” including parents whose children attend East Hampton schools with spending at or higher than private schools — Maserati spending — easily overwhelms the few voters who turn out to vote the taxpayer interest. Where one group of taxpayers directly votes a financial benefit to themselves, out of tax revenues, you have an incentive not to vote the public interest but private interests.
And the East Hampton school family has been able, year after year, to vote themselves Maserati schools with budgets 50 percent higher than the state average, already highest in the nation. Addicted to this spending, they could not live with the statewide cap. And they rallied the troops to pierce it.
Our school budget is one of the very highest in America because East Hampton, with its huge number of wealthy part-time homeowners, is ideally situated to play this game. (So is Southampton, with even higher per-pupil spending than East Hampton.) The revenue base is huge but the taxpayers are not East Hampton voters. They pay for the Maserati and, conveniently, don’t send their kids to the schools.
In principle, this game could be beaten. Out of 16,000-plus voters there are, say, 13,500 who are neither school employees nor parents. One could muster a coalition of voters to demand downsizing to a merely Cadillac education. It might succeed for a year. Then, I suspect, some of the 2,000 parents who don’t bother to vote for the school budget because they know it always passes — on the second vote, if not the first — would come out and vote.
East Hampton voters would have to be far more determined, and better informed and organized, than they are to protect the taxpayer interest and the 58 percent of their entire tax bill, year after year, that goes to the schools.
There are 6,376 registered voters in the East Hampton School District, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. The figure the author cited, 16,200, refers to the number registered in the Town of East Hampton as a whole, not all of whom are eligible to vote in East Hampton district elections. Ed.
Dignity and Fervor
May 25, 2014
At the Memorial Day parade the East Hampton High School Marching Band played “You’re a Grand Old Flag” with dignity and patriotic fervor.
RICHARD A. GURNEY
June 2, 2014
To the Editor,
Last week I wrote a letter announcing a June 9 meeting-discussion concerning educating our students for a rapidly changing future. Due to a conflict, the meeting has to be rescheduled for a date to be announced.
Sorry for any inconvenience.
RICHARD C. WILSON
Treated to an Orgy
June 1, 2014
To The Editor:
It’s that time again. In a few weeks we’ll be treated to an orgy of self-congratulation put out annually by the East Hampton Town Conservators. They will flood all the local papers with full-page ads touting their dedication to the well-being of all the citizens of East Hampton.
In reality, the vast majority of their energies and expenditures will flow in only one direction: to the candidates and causes of the Democratic Party. Supporters and fans of the Conservators should take a close look at their methods and activities before they heap praise or cash on them. They’ll find that the group is more about serving the interests of the Democratic Party than about preserving our quality of life.
Get Rid of Them
June 1, 2014
I was shocked when Kirstin Powers openly admitted she was extremely disappointed in President Obama, a staunch Democrat, then stated she did the right thing, she did not vote in the last election. The right thing? If for one moment you thought your political party endorsed the wrong man then why not vote for the one you thought would be the right one?
Also today I listened to a poll that 36 percent of Republicans did not come out to vote in the last election. It seems America is full of narrow-minded people, so my way or no way is just plain stupid. You really can’t think for yourself and even out all sides of the candidates and pick the one that would do good for the American citizens. So sit home, and the one you didn’t want to vote for is the winner, make sense to me, really.
I am all over the Internet looking for ways to educate young and old about Dr. Ben Carson. He’s so intelligent, actually held down a real job, came from poverty and made sure he was well educated. Another man for the position of President of the United States of America is Col. Allen West, a military man also well educated. I could be wrong but neither of these men was educated with affirmative action.
I didn’t have the money to attend college and I wasn’t offered affirmative action, or a college scholarship. My grades would have held me in the college but no offers. I went to full-time work at a very young age and learned the ways of the world. I did well in every job I had, I moved up the ladder and earned plenty of respect. I also learned to give back to the community.
I had the opportunity to visit Staten Island, an old stomping ground of mine, just recently, and it still looks like a bomb hit it. All the promises from all the politicians were nothing but a bunch of lies. When you go out to vote in the next few elections, please remember: get rid of all of them, and don’t vote in the ones that have been waiting in the wings, they are not worth your vote. Clean house and start this November. Get some clean, fresh, new blood in Washington, the place Obama promised to clean up, and have nothing but transparency. All Obama has right now is scandals.
Pray for the vets, they served us well and look what we gave them, nothing, absolutely nothing, not even proper health care. Yes this is for real, the president will have to take heat for his newest scandal.
In God and country,
Calendar for Success
June 2, 2014
So the midterm elections are fast approaching and the talk in the political environs of the country is all about how many scandals the Repuglicans can scratch up before the election.
The more alleged scandals, the worse it is for Democrats, who already face the daunting task of holding on to the Senate. Throw crap onto the walls and keep throwing it, some will stick, and if not, the throwing itself will be of some help.
Add to the throwing the voting barriers (the American Way), the gerrymandering, endless repetitive Congressional hearings, the general downtrend in the president’s approval ratings, and the limitless money of the Kochs and others thrown into local, state, and national elections, and you have a calendar for successful midterms for the Repuglicans.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Repuglican Congressional delegation keeps spouting off the canned critique and talk-show baloney, and we in the captive TV and radio audience just get headaches listening to it.
Remind me, now that the Knicks are finished, how do I turn this TV off?
RICHARD P. HIGER
Spark of the Soul
June 2, 2014
In a frantic fast-moving culture driven by corporate power, money, and greed, one can’t predict the worst yet to come, until the above addictions are dealt with and white-collar criminals are sent to prison instead of paying fines that have become a joke or pittance. Somehow we need to ignite the spark of our soul.
This caption appeared in The New York Times on May 19: “Migrant Workers at N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi Faced Horrid Conditions,” with a powerful image of a horrific shelter packed with human beings paid very little or not at all — sometimes charged a year of wages to land the job. When a strike emerged, the police hauled off men to prison and beat them. Hundreds were deported, normal for a backward culture tied into Western influence. Shame on America.
The next day in The Times, N.Y.U. apologized for the abuse but declined to specify how much of an investigation might proceed. Amnesty International dismisses the charges as inconsequential. Hopefully, a spark of the soul has been ignited.
The following day another article appeared in The Times titled “N.Y.U. Crisis Stretches to Wall Street.” Martin Lipton, chairman of N.Y.U.’s board of trustees, went into full crisis mode, it said, and sent an email to some members of the board, saying that he had been unaware of the reported abuses and that an independent investigation would be undertaken.
Has the spark of the soul been ignited?
Finally, as we know, in the real world many students can no longer afford an education, student loans have doubled and are still rising, and students are cursed with a long-term debt and no jobs. The federal budget spends 4 percent on education and has been locked into the 4 percent for all too long. A reflection on the value placed on our children and the next generation. This is when we need the spark of our soul, implies deep change.
In hope, keep the faith,