Wonders of Life
June 29, 2014
Forty-five years here and Springs still delights us as we get to learn more of the history of the area and continue to cherish the residents, settings, and uniqueness of this wondrous community.
Friday night was a dinner with friends at home and great conversations about school districts, housing, and other politically charged topics. No fisticuffs, all in good fun.
Saturday presented us with a completely satisfying day of events. The combined Amagansett and Springs Presbyterian picnic at the park at Maidstone Beach was a chance to get to meet and share stories with other local friends we do not get to see as often as we would like. Discussions of duck decoy carving and the Springs School were intermixed with some reminiscences of earlier years in Springs. Chuck and I discovered that there had been a general store and soda shop where Michael’s at Maidstone is currently in residence. Our thanks to both churches for continuing to enrich this community.
We finished the evening with an impromptu dinner with Walter and Pat Titus and three other guests enjoying the fruits of their labors with courses of clams on the half shell, baked stuffed clams Casino, steamed clams, and one of the richest and creamiest clam chowders I have ever eaten. Pat is a generous provider and she and Walter had travailed dutifully to provide.
During all the slurping and mmmning, the conversations flowed from subject to subject with more stories of early days in Springs, when the roads were less traveled and beach gatherings were a delight rather than something that had to be done. Deanna Tikkanen and Ricky and Jean Muller had joined us. The three of them, as well as Walter and Pat, have lived their lives on the East End. For Chuck and me the reminiscences were wonderful.
We did finally get around to current events and in a discussion of recent traveling Jean and Ricky told of their trip to California and how marvelous their drive along the West Coast Highway had been. Chuck and I casually asked if they had gotten as far as Jenner, Calif. There was a pause and they said “Yes, in fact we stayed overnight there.” And of course we had to tell them how we found Jenner a number of years ago. It is a very small community where the Russian River enters the Pacific Ocean. There is a four-star restaurant there, and since we arrived quite late in the day we decided to stay on. The tiny inn on the cliff only has five rooms and we selected number 5, which is under the others and nestled into the cliff. No television, no telephone, no cellphones at that time; only floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall glass between us and the Pacific. Fog was descending into the inlet and there were seals on the beach.
The morning view as the sun hit the water was one of the most glorious sights either of us could recall having seen. “Probably only in remembrance,” we said. Jean and Ricky looked at us and told us they had enjoyed that very room a few weeks ago and it is still as magical.
It was a very fitting way to remind us all that things have a way of coming round and reminding us that Earth and its family are a whole and should be treasured as such.
Thanks, David, for providing me with an opportunity to express my feelings of the wonders of life.
H. DAVID WILT
June 25, 2014
Gone are the days when one could leave shoes in the parking lot at the beach in the a.m. and return to find them in the p.m. Now if you fancy your flip-flops, you must keep them under lock and key.
I had two pairs stolen at Atlantic Beach this past week, and a friend had a pair stolen also. I’d be interested to know if the same thing is happening on other beaches.
Who are you, Mr./Ms. Flip-Flop Thief? What do you really want with my old shoes?
‘I Am Offended’
June 27, 2014
The Asian carp in Minnesota is to be renamed so as not to offend Asians. How very considerate and thoughtful.
Here are the things that I want changed because they offend me as a British citizen living in the United States.
London Fog Raincoats. How dare anyone use this name? First of all, the coats are nothing to do with London, and secondly there is no fog in London. I am offended. Change the name.
English Breakfast Tea. Tea does not grow in England, get it? Secondly, why is English Breakfast Tea offered at all times of the day? I am offended. Change the name. (Oh, and while on the subject, stop offering me “hot tea.” Honestly, is there any other way to drink it? I am offended.)
English muffins. What is English about them? Nothing. I am offended. Change the name.
English cucumbers. What is English about them? Nothing. I am offended. You know where to stick it.
Spotted Dick, a delicious English dessert. Why was the name of this steamed pudding with raisins removed from my recent food article? I am offended. Don’t change the name.
Don’t tell me to leave the country if I don’t like it. That would be politically incorrect, and you would also have to tell an awful lot of Asians to leave, too.
Hours of Leaf-Blowers
June 30, 2014
The 10 leaves on the driveways and the few blades of grass on the entryways do not require hours of leaf-blower activity.
While they are whining now for over an hour on this glorious summer day, with windows closed because of the noise, dust, and fumes, I ask the town to agree that there is no justification for commercial leaf-blowers in the summer. Bad enough that we are subjected to them for up to 10 hours day after day, week after week during the fall and spring.
Sometimes the snow doesn’t seem so bad.
The Carrying Capacity
June 25, 2014
To the Editor:
Thank you for your recent editorial reminding us that we are all complicit in the degradation of the South Fork, and particularly the township of East Hampton. We are too slothful to turn up at important town board, Z.B.A., and planning board meetings. We are energy hogs attached with death grips to our cellphones, MP3s, laptops, and TV/DVD players. We tolerate the abuse of our land and water in the name of commerce. In the wise utterance of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”
There is a term used by ecologists: the carrying capacity. It means, obviously, the number of creatures a given area can support without imperiling either the creatures themselves, or their territory. It is a compendium of land, water, available food, shelter, and, with respect to humans, energy, transportation, jobs, and communication. Guess where we fall on the chart?
So now it is a race to see if we can pull the town, the county, the state and nation, indeed the planet itself, back from the tipping point we probably have already surpassed. It’s a pretty depressing picture, but not necessarily all black. There are, happily, a kazillion organizations devoted to bringing us to our senses, and new ones show up all the time. 350.org is one of the best.
One of the organizations which is not devoted to bringing us to our senses, and which has taken over from the previous prevaricators, is PSEG-LI. They lie when they say we must have bigger poles and lines to carry more electricity. They could say, “You guys have to go on an energy diet, and you have to increase the amount of solar and wind power you generate locally. And then we won’t have to desecrate your landscapes with poles that pollute and carry a dangerous amount of power.”
To finish today’s rant, I want to inform any of your readers who have not yet heard, that there will be a massive rally in New York City on Sept. 20. Organized by 350.org, it will be a protest against the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, which have already put over 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (350 was the tipping point, beyond which we may not be able to halt global climate change).
I guess East Hampton can send a bus or two full of the old, who remember the awesome exhilaration of the protests of the ’60s and ’70s; the middle-aged, who may have been there on a parent’s shoulder, and the young, who have only read about or seen film of those extraordinary gatherings of people united in a cause they knew was just.
Mark your calendars. Isn’t this the issue that can unify our polarized politicians, our hedge fund mavens, our bubs and recent families, the Ladies Village Improvement Society, East End Climate Action Now, Save East Hampton — you name it?
I live in hope.
JANET Van SICKLE
Powerful and Amazing
June 30, 2014
To the Editor:
I am writing in regards to the controversy surrounding the placement of Suse Lowenstein’s art installation “Dark Elegy” in Kirk Park, Montauk. As a former Montauk resident and employee for many years but no longer, I was hesitant about weighing in on the subject. Who am I to say? But then I saw the video on her work, of the artist, and her story and how the sculptures came about. Wow! Powerful and amazing! I have to see this in person!
I recently visited the 9/11 museum in New York City. Yes, I was a little saddened and deeply touched. But mostly I was uplifted by the power of the human spirit, how we can all come together under horrific and dire circumstances, how we are all connected, how we can all relate. I felt almost honored to view the exhibits. I think that’s how I would feel viewing the sculptures. It would take my breath away.
Maybe some people are afraid to experience these emotions? I for one embrace them. It makes me feel alive!
I think Kirk Park would be a beautiful place for the installation, and if the artist suggests or prefers it there, its almost a part of the exhibit. Its placement is a part of the experience of viewing it. Screened off with tasteful, natural landscape, you can choose to go and view it or not. Maybe this will persuade the naysayers.
For those of you not familiar with Suse Lowenstein’s “Dark Elegy,” I do suggest Googling it and viewing the video. You may get a different perspective. What a gift this artist is offering Montauk. I think more should be grateful!
Connected to Montauk
June 27, 2014
As a visitor to Montauk I wanted to offer an outsider’s opinion about the controversy concerning the installation of “Dark Elegy” in a downtown Montauk park. The subject came up more than once during my stay, and I was curious enough to visit “Dark Elegy” this morning. I hadn’t known the Lowensteins and have no relationship to them.
I can tell you that the impact of seeing “Dark Elegy” will stay with this visitor long after she leaves. I would find it an impressive statement by the town to stand behind a work that in other instances might be tucked away, as if we can protect ourselves from tragedies in life by not looking. Instead, seeing “Dark Elegy” made me feel connected to Montauk on a personal and deep level. My response was to feel consoled regarding my own personal losses and connected to a wider community reacting to terrorist or other national or international losses.
This unexpected experience definitely enriched my trip here.
Not Well Served
June 25, 2014
To the Editor:
I have two issues to address as a Montauk resident, and neither do I mean lightly by just combining my thoughts in one letter.
I continue to be amazed at how quickly Amagansett citizens’ complaints on beach drinking have been addressed. How long has Montauk been waiting for the same attention to the same situation actually in town and in neighborhoods where some rowdy bars are located? Doesn’t matter if there are umbrellas in the drinks, you know.
Montauk is truly not well served when it comes to the East Hampton Town Board for some time now, and not just this administration. Many people have looked the other way and said, well, it’s just summer, it’s just a few weeks, it’s good for business.
People in Montauk care no less for their standards of public behavior than do people in Amagansett. I guess you just have to actually be closer geographically to Town Hall for politicians to be aware of this. Montauk citizens are worn out.
On another topic that is painful even to be in dispute, I do not believe that Suse Lowenstein’s incredibly moving sculpture of a mother’s pain belongs in Kirk Park. While the setting is bucolic and serene, it has also been a family playground of sorts, with whimsical sculptures that have, in my family years ago, witnessed many an Easter egg hunt. There is some art that requires a more sensitive setting. This sculpture is too stark a departure from that lighthearted air of Kirk Park, and placing it there diminishes this incredible depiction of emotion by the sculptor.
What would be a solution? Surely not a sign that reads “Caution, Stark Sculpture Ahead.” A solution would be for the town to find a more appropriate location where just the sculpture would be the focus.
Mischief With a Price
June 28, 2014
Two years ago I wrote a short story titled “The Nature of Children and Mischief.” I have yet to seek having it published, as I am aware of the need to protect the identity of the neighborhood boy who went on an early morning adventure with me some 48 years ago. He still lives here and is entitled to his privacy. It is a simple remembrance portraying innocence, lack of malice, a child’s lack of reasoning, and that child’s silly adventure yielding heartbreaking repercussions.
In those days, a small town found amusement in the “mischief” of children. The terrible accident central to the story was quickly forgiven and, I am certain by now, forgotten. There was no crime involved yet damage was inflicted, as is often the case when children and mischief combine.
We argue the lone issue of dangers of drinking in public when we debate the fate of Indian Wells Beach and Atlantic Avenue Beach. Drinking on our community streets, on our village sidewalks and greens, is not tolerated. Alcohol is prohibited on village beaches, not as an iron fist, but as a tool to force beachgoers to think twice, be aware, and exhibit a more civilized behavior. People frequently partake of alcoholic everages after the lifeguards exit the day. Their behavior is generally appropriate and a nonissue to the quality of life of those around it. The village is years ahead of the town with issues of this nature.
Over the last two years the Village of East Hampton worked diligently on a very important contentious battle over dogs on the beach. The arguments rightly centered on the behavior of irresponsible dog owners. In those two years the public became engaged and educated. Both sides held tenaciously to positions of absolutes. Ultimately dog-owner behavior changed, and thus eventually the two sides were able to strike an intelligent, effective compromise having a profoundly positive effect on relations between humans and dogs sharing the beach. It felt as though there was no penalty or loss to either side. The process was long and grueling. The compromise and the process itself proved to be a major success.
I liken the problems at our Amagansett beaches to the experiences and consequences of the characters in my story. It is my impression that people enter the activity of drinking on the beach with the same exuberant innocence the 10-year-old boys in my story display. At no time is there malice of forethought on their part. It is a simple thought and action born out of a simple desire to have a good time, enjoy the beauty of the beaches and the joyful sharing of good company. Like 10-year-old children who are yet to fully develop brains lack the foresight needed to fully realize consequences of their innocent actions, the adult capacity to reason and their inhibitors are in little effect after a couple of drinks. Often mischief ensues.
Just this past Thursday morning I found Indian Wells Beach in a state of disarray. Beer cans and huge plastic cups smelling of hard liquor littered the areas around the lifeguard stations. The towers had been tipped over. One had crashed onto the table the guards use for rest and to eat their meals. I could not tell if any structures had been damaged. This was a group effort and was simply an example of mischief. It was silly yet destructive.
The irresponsible behaviors consistently exhibited by a swiftly increasing number of individuals who drink on our beaches is becoming more aggressive and must now be considered a public menace and a very real threat to the safety of the community. After drinks and sun, it is easy to strip a girl’s bottoms from her body as she is dragged screaming to the surf by several men. Sadly, this abuse transpired amidst a crowd of women and children. Tossing a bottle or can into the crowd or urinating at the water’s edge or the base of the dune becomes a thoughtless action. These adults are not a group of rowdy teens or 20-somethings. To these revelers at the end of the day, getting behind the wheel of a car, careening through a crowded parking lot, and tearing off down Bluff Road at speeds that threaten life, seems to them as little more than innocent mischief.
This mischief comes with a price, and just as 10-year-old children must pay it and learn from it, so too should the adults in today’s story of Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue. The nature of our tourists has deteriorated. Now the community and its laws must change, to protect the safety and the right to quiet enjoyment of our public spaces by the local families with children who respect and deserve them. Unlike the successful education of the dog-loving community and the compromise which has allowed us all a more tranquil visit to the beach, public drinkers seem unwilling to compromise. This ban is an absolute necessity.
I am greatly disappointed at what I interpret as an impending flip-flop. With their simplistic view and preposterous stance on the issue, I am now more deeply entrenched in my determination that the town trustees are unable to rest their need to prove their relevance by dominating a turf war with the village and town. With this in mind I find them unable to be trusted with the well-being of the community they are elected to protect. The two arguments they have presented as the cornerstone of their argument are simplistic at best. This undermines not only their credibility but their relevance as well. The fact that drinking will be pushed to other beaches if we protect the two family beaches we can, is the reasoning of simpletons. It is the responsibility of our administrations and the trustees to protect the safety of the community, period.
I applaud the town board for meeting with the trustees, studying their proposals, and changing their original action so as to accommodate those who need to drink on the beach. The trustees as a unit refuse to acknowledge Larry’s meeting and that the process (much like the village-dog issue) did work. The town board offers a very generous and intelligent compromise. The fact that the board did not simply abandon its original, appropriate intentions to the blanket command of the trustees, does not mean there was no due process ending with an appropriate compromise.
I am shocked at the behavior of the trustees, many of whom I know to be highly intelligent and dedicated people. This turf war has bogged down more than one meeting of the minds. To witness so petulant and personal a reaction on the part of most of them demeans the dignity of the office voters bestow upon them.
This is not personal, so the righteous indignation shown here seems oddly high school-ish and counter-productive. We are talking about public safety, period.
Value in Legacy, But
June 25, 2014
Not all things created in 1668 are worth hanging on to. If I had a fish in my refrigerator dated 1668, I would toss it. There is value in legacy.
Which brings me to the East Hampton Town Trustees. Created in 1668, but at present they have no enforcement power. The East Hampton Town Trustees need a 21st-century makeover. They need to be on television.
Most of the East Hampton Town Trustees are perfectly presentable. Meetings can get lively and the boss lady wields a gavel like a log splitter. (The East Hampton Town Trustees could use, like all old things, a few replacement parts and, maybe, a will.)
“Timely Trustee TV” could cover “The Case of the Missing Clams,” “The Plovers that Love the Hamptons,” “Alcohol-Free Boats and Beaches,” “To Dredge or Not to Dredge,” “Don’t Drive Over the Tourists,” etc.
I will gladly do public service announcements for “Timely Trustee TV” as the common whipper. An enforcement position the trustees used to have. After all, I still have all of poor Mavis’s whips, and other oddities, that you are going to have to explain to me.
All good things,
Fuel Flowage Fee
June 28, 2014
I was disappointed that Joanne Pilgrim’s article “Town Doubles Airport Fuel Fee” (June 26) reported virtually every unfounded criticism of the town board’s decision to raise the airport’s fuel flowage fee but failed to cite the compelling reasons to do so. Those reasons were presented at a town board work session on June 17 (just two days before the resolution was passed), hard copies of which were provided to the press in advance.
Over the last four and a half months the airport finance subcommittee of the budget and financial advisory committee, which includes both aviation and anti-noise representatives, thoroughly researched, analyzed, and discussed the airport’s fuel operations. Members of the committee interviewed the two fixed-base operators, fuel suppliers, several airport managers (including our own), and other sources before reaching the conclusion that the 15-cent per gallon fee was woefully inadequate.
The subcommittee’s findings were presented to the town board at a work session two days prior to the town board meeting in question, and the presentation material was provided to the press in advance. Here are the facts that were presented:
The 15-cent fuel flowage fee has not been increased for at least 22 years!
If the fee had kept pace with fuel costs over just the last 15 years it would have risen to more than $1 a gallon today. A consultant recommended that the town increase its fuel flowage fee 12 years ago.
The airport’s privately owned fixed-base operators sold an estimated $4.7 million of fuel in 2013. They earned an estimated $1.4 million in gross profit (almost 30 percent of sales) after reimbursing the town for the cost of fuel and the fuel flowage fee and paying sales tax, some of which is prepaid by the town.
The town earned just $115,000 on that $4.7 million of fuel sales despite owning, operating, and maintaining the fuel farm and purchasing and storing the aviation fuel that the fixed-base operators sell. The 15-cent increase will generate just enough money over the next five years to pay for an environmental upgrade of the aging, underground fuel tanks.
While some have predicted disaster if the fuel flowage fee were increased by 15 cents a gallon, no such thing occurs at local gas stations when prices rise by that amount and more. Customers don’t stop driving or flock to Riverhead to buy their gas, employees aren’t laid off, and gas stations don’t go out of business because of such small increases.
So it is not surprising that all five members of the town board agreed that the fuel flowage fee should be increased. The only difference of opinion was on the timing of that increase.
PETER A. WADSWORTH
Airport Finance Subcommittee
Our Skies, Our Airport
June 30, 2014
As the town board-appointed subcommittees continue to examine airport noise mitigation potential, airport financial sustainability independent of Federal Aviation Administration funding, and airport safety and improvement needs, a new organization, presumably led by New Jersey-based Jeff Smith of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, has announced a coalition committed to unrestricted use of East Hampton Airport, called Save East Hampton Airport.
Jeff Smith, once executive director of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, a trade group promoting the use of helicopter travel on the East Coast, has negotiated routes into and out of East Hampton Airport over the last several years with airport management and elected officials from both East Hampton and Southampton Townships. Mr. Smith has also appeared from time to time at various town-sponsored meetings including the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, representing the business interests for which his organization was formed.
A little online research revealed that one of the contact phone numbers on the site is listed to a Jeffrey P. Smith of Rahway, N.J., among others. If this is the same Jeff Smith, this means an out-of-state group of businessmen is lobbying heavily against the East Hampton Town Board plans to re-establish home rule.
If anyone ever underestimated the role of outside interests in the use of and subsequent planning for this town-owned facility, the announcement of this organization should prove informational.
On the “Supporting Documents” page of its new website, the organization declares its resolve: “Our sole purpose of existence is to maintain safe and unrestricted access in and out of East Hampton airport. We believe that to be most effective we must be aggressive in our defense on three fronts: relationship building, messaging, and legal protection.”
Further stated on the “Purpose” page: “Help us save the number one community for second homes and resorts, by keeping our vital airport open and operating.”
Excuse me — their airport?
This organization has been formed, specifically, to ensure unrestricted access in and out of East Hampton Airport, in complete opposition to the town board’s stated goal of exerting its legal right as proprietor on Jan. 1, 2015, to place reasonable access limits on airport users.
These folks mean to continue business as usual. Business as usual means late night and early morning flights rattling sleeping residents from our beds. Business as usual means negative impacts on our children’s ability to learn in school. Business as usual means so many flights that traditional routes become saturated, requiring the establishment of newer flight paths victimizing whole new sets of residents. Business as usual means one more ruined barbecue, family picnic, or day at the beach. Business as usual means increasing the aircraft noise that interrupts our sleep, ruins the peaceful enjoyment of our homes, properties, beaches, woodlands and trails, pollutes our air, disturbs and negatively impacts creatures reliant on our particular ecosystems, and diminishes the value of our homes. That’s business as usual for the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and their compatriots.
Many local citizens have lent their extraordinary professional capabilities to help the town unravel the Gordian knot that has been airport finances, including, most notably, local aviation interests and noise mitigation advocates, in a first-ever collaborative effort to resolve these issues and plan for a safe and quiet airport. In a unanimous resolution to the town board, this very committee revealed that, in fact, the airport can sustain itself financially without F.A.A. funding. Operating the airport without F.A.A. funding will allow the town to legally set reasonable hours of operation, curfew and limit numbers, and concentrations of flights. Which is wonderful — a safe, well-maintained, properly run, and noise-sensitive, resident-friendly airport is within our reach!
The town board must turn away these outsiders and stay the course. The town board must regain control of this important town asset and bring back the peaceful enjoyment of our homes and properties by the only true noise abatement technique: limiting access to it.
These are our skies. And, contrary to what this New Jersey-based organization claims, this is our airport.
Quiet Skies Coalition
Hope of Noise-Afflicted
June 30, 2014
East End residents are enduring yet another season of unrelenting aviation torment. It began in earnest on Memorial weekend with a 20- percent increase in airport operations over Memorial weekend 2013. With July 4 weekend looming, expect the very worst; there will be no place to hide from noise and fuel emissions.
The unending parade of jets, planes, and helicopters can be viewed from any of our ocean beaches and many bay beaches; no more open blue horizon. Recreational areas in nature preserves in the Long Pond Greenbelt, Elizabeth Morton Federal Wildlife Preserve, and Northwest are favored flyover routes for aircraft, so no peace can be found there and not many creatures either; most have fled, it is no place to raise their young.
Our trail system has a variety of wonderful walking and biking trails, but aircraft skimming the treetops shatter silence on even the most remote of trails. Peaceful recreational activities are no longer possible on the East End. Our internationally famed open spaces, the fields, farmlands, and woods are rapidly being decimated by rapacious developers to make way for ever larger and ever more hastily constructed McFarrells. We are losing much of what is precious to us and the very qualities that made our area so highly sought after by visitors. We are endangering our economic well-being by destroying our precious environment.
East Hampton Airport operations are unquestionably responsible for the very worst noise and toxic air pollution on the East End. Commuter seaplane and helicopter operators are the most egregious offenders, but large jets are running a close second. A handful of special aviation interests, most based elsewhere, have been permitted at any hour, with the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration and the encouragement of the likes of Eastern Region Helicopter Council and National Business Aviation Association, to pollute our skies, homes and gardens, playgrounds, waterways, and recreational areas, while they line their pockets with the dirty dollars from their polluting aviation operations.
Enough. The aviation special interests have turned deaf ears for decades to residents’ pleas for relief. The helicopter council’s Fly Neighborly recommendations are useless; there are no penalties for those who ignore the recommendations. It is time for East Hampton Town to place the health and well-being of taxpaying residents of the East End before those of visitors and aviation profiteers.
With F.A.A. obligations on proprietors’ rights set to expire at the end of December, it is the fervent hope of the noise-afflicted that East Hampton Town Board members will take swift action to set in place wide-ranging restrictions on the types and numbers of aircraft permitted to use the airport and ensure that strict curfews are made known and enforced, with severe penalties imposed on those who ignore curfews. Restrictions may be set in place on Jan. 1, 2015. I ask that the town wait not one day longer to bring long overdue relief to residents.
June 29, 2014
Well, the leading anti-airport group, Quiet Skies, has enlisted the East Hampton Village Preservation Society to join them in making the airport as unfriendly as possible with their overzealous efforts to shut down the airport with as many complaints as possible.
The village preservation society will need a lot of prepping and coaching as to how a phone-in complaint should be made, e.g. screaming, hysterical, crying, and moaning. This is the most effective type of complaint, even if the aircraft is 300 feet, 3,000 feet, or even 30,000 feet above the ground. It makes no difference. Every complaint counts and is recorded. It’s also unimportant if it is a jet heading for J.F.K. or Islip. Complain and complain.
The village preservation society will also have to decide which member will be the number-one caller of the month to make the most calls. Last year in one particular month there were 1,180 noise complaints. Of these, 620 were from one caller. This was approximately 20 calls daily (name and location of caller on file). This year’s champion caller (name and location on file) calls in daily for any noise as long as it resembles an aircraft, no matter what the altitude and distance. Is he trying to break his colleague’s record?
One final suggestion, members of the village preservation society: Why not create a call-in line to complain about loud trucks, railroad trains, motorcycles, and especially leaf-blowers. These noises last far longer than an aircraft flying overhead. And while we’re at it, how about a neighbor’s loud music? Barking dogs, screaming children. The list could go on and on.
June 30, 2014
Your editorial “Committees May No Longer Be Vox Populi” was so appropriate and on the money. One has to wonder if these committees have become so political that they no longer represent the hamlet in which they exist. At one [Amagansett] Citizens Advisory Committee meeting a member texted others to quickly come to a meeting in order to vote on an issue that needed a majority vote in that member’s agenda. How then can these committees really listen to residents’ concerns when members’ own agendas are in play?
Amagansett Citizens Advisory has a Star reporter who attends monthly meetings to report on issues. Not every advisory committee has that luxury and so the meetings do become dominated by personal and/or political agendas. Perhaps the town board should take a look at how the advisory committees operate. There is also the related question of what sort of advice the town board wishes to get from the advisory committees. As currently organized the meetings can become a frustrating waste of time.
When a C.A.C. becomes dominated by one group controlling the conversation, the ordinary hamlet citizen cannot be heard. In a recent appointment one resident appears to have influence on two C.A.C.s. Organization plays a large role in how a group functions. In order to be effective in advising the town board, advisory members should be provided with the same information on the topics to be discussed. All too frequently little or nothing is distributed in advance.
A new model should be explored.
June 28, 2014
To the Editor,
Regarding citizen action committees, you are right to wonder “if these groups of nonelected people truly function as conduits for ordinary residents’ concerns or have become actually dominated by people with personal and or political agendas” (“Committees May No Longer Be Vox Populi,” June 26, editorial).
Of course, the same question can be asked of elected representatives. We have seen both locally and nationally just how unrepresentative representative government can sometimes be.
The same goes for public hearings, which provide an opportunity for a tiny fraction of the public to dominate the hearing.
However, there is another way to find out what the local citizenry thinks on an issue or many issues: public opinion surveys or polling.
Three hundred telephone calls to randomly selected numbers weighted by population in ZIP codes in East Hampton Town can produce results that are projectable over the entire population of the town, with a plus or minus margin of error of approximately 5 percent, 95 out of 100 times. In other words, the results are reliable.
Polling can produce a wealth of information on public opinion according to geographic location, age, gender, political affiliation, and other demographics, that you simply cannot access any other way.
Polling can be a valuable resource to a community when the surveys are scientifically, independently, and professionally — in other words, honestly — conducted.
Polls should not replace representative government. But they can help inform decision-making by elected representatives and the citizenry.
JOHN J. MULLEN
June 25, 2014
To the Editor:
As a taxpayer and homeowner in East Hampton for over 35 years, and on behalf of the members of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, I wish to voice my objections to a town board proposal that would add increased acreage solely for the purpose of expanding cruel and dangerous “killing fields” in the Town of East Hampton.
This kill mentality, targeting wildlife, is unacceptable in the 21st century. At a time when gun violence and killing of the innocent have become daily occurrences in our communities, it is unconscionable to promote and condone further violence, and once again, against one of the most docile and beloved creatures in our town. What is the lesson we are teaching our children?
The community will not sit silently by as the board continues to invent new schemes to increase violence with the injuring, maiming, and slaughtering of innocent wildlife. This backward look is objectionable to more than 14,000 concerned and compassionate citizens who have signed our petition protesting deer slaughter in eastern Long Island (chn.ge/IaWUEr), which at the same time endangers our citizens and puts children and pets at even greater risk.
“As you know, bow hunting is the cruelest kind of hunting because many deer are only wounded and left to die slow, painful deaths. Despite hunters’ anecdotes about the accuracy of their shots, a number of systematic studies suggest that the “wound rate” — those who die lingering deaths — is between about 15 percent and 45 percent. Studies have consistently found the wound rate to be higher for bow hunting than firearm hunting, although both kinds cause the deer pain, terror, and death.” — East Hampton Group for Wildlife.
We oppose Resolution 2014-712, which expands bow and firearms hunting on town land, and urge the board to reject it in favor of creating nature reserves, refuges, and sanctuaries for wildlife. It’s time to evolve, embrace nonlethal solutions, and long past time to stop the senseless killing!
June 30, 2014
It seems as though the town were in a race to buy land, or so it seems, before the people — i.e., taxpayers, voters of East Hampton — had their chance to do a little homework first.
The validity of land purchases should be determined by a vote of the people. The Republican position is to enable said voters to review the millions of dollars of Community Preservation Fund purchases and then deem them necessary. The focus is on judicious land preservation, not a race to buy land.
DEBORAH ANN SCHWARTZ
East Hampton Town
Hoping for Decision
June 16, 2014
In October 2013, I made a complaint to the New York State Board of Elections, which has jurisdiction and responsibility for the execution of enforcement of election law, about improper and possibly illegal expenditure of funds by the group called the East Hampton Conservators.
In January, I received a copy of a letter sent to the Board of Elections by their attorneys, with their explanation.
As of today, I have not received correspondence sustaining their attorney’s explanation and/or whether my complaint is valid. I am hoping for some decision before Nov. 4.
June 16, 2014
To the Editor,
Thank you, Harry Ellis. You speak for all of us Montaukers who have watched our environment and quality of life degrade during the tenure of the last supervisor. Codes to protect our natural resources were ignored or overruled. Those who exploited our hamlet for filthy lucre were favored over the folk who observed regulations. I wish you success with your lawsuit.
And speaking of the degraded environment, why are we still seeing loads of taxis, many from places far away, plying their oft-dangerous business in town? Their number seems to swell exponentially and they occupy parking spaces that those of us who would shop at local stores are prevented from using. What is the current administration doing to ameliorate this situation?
June 26, 2014
To the Editor:
As Iraq spins wildly out of control the only certitude is that Bush, Cheney, etc., were pathological cretins and possible criminals, proffering democracy as a rationale for pursuing their own mindless agendas. But Iraq’s didn’t begin five years ago, and the sectarian and political struggles it is experiencing are not simply the product of American ingenuity gone amok but the natural chaos that new political systems engender in a world where all is not rosy pink.
Deluded by the Bushian doctrine of instant democracy, we believed that saying “democracy now” was sufficient to transform Iraq’s political structure. That thousands of years of living differently had no weight compared to the wonders of democracy. History is littered with dozens of similar examples.
Democracy in the 20th century was the provenance of western Europe and the United States. Yet these democratic beliefs were rarely if ever transferred to their empires and colonies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Middle East, after World War I, was cut up into spheres of influence with nary a democracy among them. Latin America was 100 percent dictators, all of whom we supported. Democracy was never one of our major exports, especially when our financial interests were in play.
On the other hand, democracy was the heart and soul of America, as David Brooks writes in Friday’s New York Times, and we fervently supported the idea if not always practicing what we preached. While we still preach it, democracy has been supplanted by terrorism as the driving force in our foreign policy.
Listening to terrorism experts babble on NPR about the fear of Iraq turning into an arena for terrorists to prepare attacks on the U.S. in a legitimate discussion of the new problem, made me think of the imbeciles who screamed that “they hate us for our freedoms.”
Terrorism (perpetual war) is the most insidious psychotic excuse for our behavior. More ridiculous is the belief that democratic countries don’t participate in terrorism. (See Chile, Pinochet, etc.) Iraq is typical of democratic terrorism. Killing them for their own good with a pot of oil at the end.
Yet democracy is an obtainable goal and worth pursuing. Iraq may eventually make it. Will it take 5, 20, or 50 years to get there? We are clueless.
The point is almost always the same: It’s not about us. We need to get over ourselves. We are too impatient, too exigent, and too profoundly stupid to believe that we are not always the center of the universe. Iraq will painfully sort itself out — with or without our help.