July 4, 2014
The tone and point of view in Debra Scott’s front-page article “Portrait of a Neighborhood” are incredibly offensive.
An immediate apology to Bridgehampton residents of that neighborhood is needed, and perhaps some follow-up articles on the lack of affordable housing on the East End.
I could go on a point-by-point rant and rebuttal, but suffice it to say instead: You should be ashamed of yourselves!
July 6, 2014
To the Editor:
I really don’t know how to respond to “Portrait of a Neighborhood,” (“Company Town,” July 3), which is so wrong and so offensive in so many ways. Perhaps I should start by congratulating you for publishing the most racist article I’ve ever read in a local newspaper without once using the word black.
So the average value of a house in Bridgehampton is only about a quarter of the average in Sagaponack. Never mind that Sagaponack is smaller and has been for years the neighborhood of choice for over-the-top trophy houses. (Ira Rennert, anyone?) No, the reason must be that black people, who don’t care for their property, live on the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Huntington Crossway, dragging down property values for everyone.
In the middle of the winter, a real estate broker drives down a street where kids live and his car gets pelted with snowballs. Since it’s a black neighborhood, it’s okay that he assumes they were throwing beer cans, rocks, or something equally menacing. Grass is overgrown and the occasional truck is parked on the lawn? Could only be a black neighborhood, although I’d wager you could find similar scenes in Springs, Noyac, or North Sea.
But there is hope, you tell us. At this very moment, developers are doing their part to narrow the Bridgehampton-Sagaponack value imbalance by building 37 houses in the $3 million range in the nearby Barn and Vine subdivision. Ground is also being broken on another nearby 11-lot development. And your writer’s real estate agent friend is focused on building “big, beautiful, sustainable houses with all the amenities on untouched land.” (Talk about a non sequitur.)
Presumably all of these houses will be lived in by white people who will mow their lawns and won’t leave their Range Rovers on blocks in the front yard.
The only thing left to do, it seems, is to figure out a way to get all those black people out of here.
Guess what? They are already leaving. Like many other working-class people in this playpen called “the Hamptons,” they are finding it easier to move away than continue to struggle to make ends meet here.
It’s a pity that your writer only sees them through the lens of the real estate developer. They are simply teardowns, not the human beings who work here, go to church here, and contribute to the community in so many meaningful ways.
STEPHEN J. KOTZ
July 3, 2014
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I write with great concern about your editorial from last week titled “Additional Emergency Care Warranted.”
Foremost, let me be clear that the Village of East Hampton considers emergency response the most crucial and important services we provide through our police department, ambulance corps, and fire department. We are proud of and support each and every volunteer and responder we have and are thankful for their dedication.
To label the village’s initial response as “indefensible” is unfair and unwarranted. As you indicate, the village has started a paid first-responder program and continues to participate in the TAC Ambulance program that began last year, which you did not mention in your editorial. Funding for the paid first-responder program was a key factor in the village’s piercing the tax cap levy. However, the success and necessity of the program is too important and must remain a component of our emergency response program. The village feels any additional proposals that will work in conjunction with other local programs would be a welcome addition, but will require further examination and discussion to ensure the programs will be mutually beneficial.
I can assure you and the residents of this village that we will always put this community first. That is our mission and our goal at the end of each and every day.
PAUL F. RICKENBACH JR.
An Offer Withdrawn
July 5, 2014
It is with much regret that we have decided to withdraw our offer of the memorial “Dark Elegy” as a gift to the town of East Hampton. After serious and amicable discussion with the supervisor, it was made clear to us that this gift is seen to be having the effect of dividing the town of East Hampton; specifically Montauk. We do not want to initiate a split among the residents of the town we love. It appears that there were many letters, phone calls, and emails to the town board opposing a memorial to all victims of terrorism in Montauk. Needless to say, this is very disappointing, especially given how much of this negativity was based on misinformation and disinformation.
However, on the positive side, we would like to thank all those people who wrote and voiced their heartfelt support for the placement of “Dark Elegy” in Kirk Park. Your endorsement made this entire process worthwhile, and for this we are so very grateful. There are many of you; you know who you are, and we sincerely thank you. We also want to thank the town board for their individual support, and although disappointed that they were not more proactive, we understand that they did their job as they were forced to do.
SUSE and PETER LOWENSTEIN
Enforce Town Codes
July 6, 2014
Failure to enforce our town codes endangers us all. It has become unsafe to drive on Edgemere Avenue in Montauk on a Friday or Saturday evening. On Saturday, July 5, rockets were flying over homes. Our shallow water supply is being pushed to the limit, with no relief in sight. These are but a few of the unintended consequences of failing to enforce town codes.
Are our elected board members and our supervisor honest and believable? I think that they are. Are members of groups like the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, advisory groups appointed by the board, and many other voters in the Town of East Hampton equally as honest? Clearly they are!
Why doesn’t the board change codes so that these citizens can act along with our code enforcement officers to enforce our laws? These changes can and should be made now.
A Few Things
July 4, 2014
Montauk is booming. Great news. This is not a “we’re going to hell in a handcart” rant. Below are just a few things I noticed in the month of June. Wonder how it will go in July and August.
The speed limit on East Lake Drive is 30 miles per hour. No one does that. The younger the driver, the bigger the vehicle, the faster you go. Speeding is not a new problem. Maybe as a father of young kids I am more observant these days.
I counted 19 cabs parked on Main Street Montauk on a weekday in June. I applaud the thought that demand is high due to people being more responsible when they imbibe. Maybe we can open the restrooms down by the beach, as it seems most of these people have come from out of town and are living in those cabs — parked on Main Street.
Has anyone noticed Cyril’s on a Saturday around 6 p.m.? It is like a pit stop at Daytona, just more dangerous. It’s always been an issue, but now you have cabs double-parked on the shoulder.
Techno music blaring from refurbished hotels, in the middle of town, on a Saturday afternoon. Ronjo-a-Go-Go. Does anyone go to the beach anymore?
Dogs on the beach: I guess the time limit for dogs on the beach is a suggestion, not really a code. Last week at a super-under-the-radar surfbreak (the name of which someone is trying to trademark) we had a fun encounter. My 5-year-old is a little timid around dogs. She has her favorite thing in the world in her hand: a cruller from the bake shop, a special treat. Dog comes up and eats the cruller out of her hand. Now that stuff happens. Dogs will be dogs. The owner of the pooch proceeds to explain to my daughter that it was her fault for running away from her precious pooch. I guess leashes are kind of a suggestion as well.
Last Saturday, I walked around the beaches and downtowns of East Hampton and Amagansett. I did not observe any of the above. The businesses in these parts of town seemed to be very busy as well. I hope someday Montauk can become part of the Town of East Hampton and get the same type of enforcement as these other two.
Dogs at Sammy’s Beach
July 7, 2014
I want to thank whomever is responsible for setting the record straight at Sammy’s Beach on Three Mile Harbor. For the last two weeks, my family and I, including our two very well-behaved dogs, have been accosted by very grumpy and nasty beachgoers who insist that the dogs were not allowed on that beach.
The town sign clearly stated, until Tuesday, that dogs were allowed on the beach “300 feet to the east.” Two weeks ago a “no dogs” sign was posted on the fence, creating confusion. As of yesterday, the town sign has been changed, instituting a leash law, “500 feet in either direction,” and the “no dogs” sign has been removed, clearing up the confusion. Thank you.
I am perplexed. As I flip through the Hamptons magazine or The Star, I am reminded of how much having and owning a dog is part of life here. We protect them and support those dogs who are not so fortunate with our fund-raising. I wish to continue enjoying this lifestyle. I hope others will support me on this by cleaning up after our pups as well as keeping them in check on the beach.
Shellfish and Seeding
July 1, 2014
I ran the town’s shellfish hatchery and seeding program for 20-odd years and was no stranger to criticisms that were, at times, similar to those it is facing now. However, the angry venting described at last week’s trustee meeting is particularly unfortunate, since it damages everyone involved and can make going forward more difficult than necessary.
Funny, though, not being aware of the meeting’s raucousness, the following day I spoke to Greg Verity, a principal complainant, and although his understandable concerns came through clearly, my overall impression of our conversation was one of civility. There may be an opportunity here, and I would recommend establishing a dialogue among the stakeholders by reconvening a shellfish committee under the auspices of the trustees and town board. Shellfish harvesters can be an important part of this process.
This type of committee met for a while about 15 years ago and out of it came a two-year effort by the hatchery that tested extended culture methods that could lead to increased harvests, albeit not without increased cost and effort and a much more controlled and managed harvest than has traditionally existed.
A review of that work might be a good place for a committee to start. What did result from the work was extending the culture of a million clams of each season’s crop through a second year, in order to increase the seed size and therefore survivability to harvest. This is a practice that the hatchery continues.
It is important to understand that shellfish enhancement, the introduction of seed into a wild, uncultivated environment, is going to be variably successful. It is not shellfish farming, where a seed crop is introduced to a cultivated and protected environment for grow-out to harvest. Global, regional, and local environmental factors, the natural or man-made changes to hydrodynamic flow that can affect successful beds, and, most importantly, the nature of the predator suite in a given year or even within a crucial portion of that year, are some of the factors that make it hard to consistently hit that desired home run. East Hampton’s shellfish enhancement efforts have had and continue to have a respectable batting average and deserve the community’s support.
Open to All
July 6, 2014
To the Editor,
As chair of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, I was surprised and somewhat baffled by your editorial in the June 26 edition of The Star (“Committees May No Longer Be Vox Populi”).
Our committee meetings (held monthly, save August and December, on the fourth Monday of the month at Ashawagh Hall at 7 p.m.) are open to all members of the community. People who have asked to be included on my Springs contact list are notified in advance of these meetings and the agenda, and are encouraged to attend. In addition, David Buda, a committee member, forwards these notices to the Concerned Citizens of Springs. Well over 200 people are personally invited to these monthly meetings.
The Springs C.A.C. meetings encourage participation from everyone in attendance. Many opinions are expressed. Before passing a resolution we listen to all the community members in attendance. I do not recall ever passing a resolution that did not have strong support from Springs citizens.
I would welcome even more participation from people in Springs. I encourage people to send me issues they would like to see on upcoming agendas. They can do that, as well as joining my mailing list, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Springs C.A.C. is also open to new membership, particularly from groups that are under-represented such as young families and the Hispanic community.
The C.A.C.s have important roles in their communities. They serve to identify issues of importance, to clarify information, to inform the residents of actions considered or taken by the town board as well as to inform the town board, through the designated town board liaison, about issues of concern in the individual hamlets.
The C.A.C.s can only reflect the opinions of people who make their views known by attending meetings or sending emails. I encourage people in all the hamlets to make a habit of participation.
Too Many Vehicles
July 7, 2014
I write to speak of the upcoming truck legislation that will go for public hearing July 17. If this law passes in its current state it is a disaster for Springs. I don’t think it affects the other hamlets as much. Montauk has lost population in the last census. Wainscott never has had much population, and it has lots of farming land and large residential properties. Amagansett has very high property values and low taxes and now has to contend with the Farrell phenomenon. Amagansett also has a citizens advisory committee full of cougars and bobcats who monitor and make sure Amagansett stays Amagansett. But Springs has really, really changed in the last 15 years.
Springs has tripled in population. We are the most densely populated hamlet on the East End. Our population since 1990 has tripled to almost 7,000 persons, and that probably does not include everyone living here, as some clearly don’t want to be counted. Certainly we have grown just in the last four years, as evidenced by the higher school taxes and the proposed new school buildings to be built at Springs School.
Our median age in Springs is the youngest, 38.5 years, and our school population has not yet peaked. We have a very high birth rate and I don’t think it’s the water. Springs School has almost 800 students — just compare that with Amagansett, with its 149 students, whoa, and Wainscott, no comparison. Last school year Springs School had approximately 90 fifth graders. Amagansett on a good day had 15 fifth graders.
In Springs there are 726 families with children, in Wainscott there are 63 families with kids. These facts are startling!
Springs is overcrowded and suffering because of it. Springs has been ignored by the town. Our hamlet is bursting, and very little has been done to accommodate our needs. Code enforcement has been lax to say the least. There has been literally weak to no code enforcement, or effective code enforcement, in the last 15 years. Code enforcement has become a bad joke. We cannot rely on it to stop the illegal renting and overcrowding and illegal commercialization, and the subsequent blight that has occurred.
You may wonder what does this have to do with trucks. If the current truck legislation passes, this law will sanction two commercially registered trucks — one up to 12,000 pounds; an 18-foot “utility” trailer, and one dead (unlicensed car) for up to a year. Already it is permissible to have two boats stored, a mobile home, and, if you own your property, unlimited cars. Most residents of Springs live on a half-acre of land. We have too many vehicles, axles, wheels, and motors. If anything, we should be reducing the number of commercial and residential vehicles allowed. There is no place to park them, except in the front, side, or backyard. It’s unsightly, offensive to many, and — bottom line — unresidential.
For Springs, less is more.
Poison All Around
July 6, 2014
Dear Mr. Rattray,
As I leave my property each day and head along Town Lane, I do marvel at how PSEG has been able to spear those new power poles into the ground so seamlessly. Like candles jutting from a frosted cake, the poles show little or no sign of any excavation. They’re just there, as if they’d grown out of the ground.
The new power company is everywhere lately. I have never seen LILCO or LIPA or any of their subcontractors out in force to this extent, even in the wake of a devastating storm. Laconic men, and some equally laconic women, turn their paddles from “Stop” to “Slow” as they direct traffic around giant machines that have rushed to complete this controversial project as quickly as possible. The pace of that work, the reason for the extra effort and how it relates to the history of the area’s power utilities, are all connected. It’s LILCO one day, the state-sponsored boondoggle LIPA the next, and now it’s — whatever. What remains constant is the numbing and ceaseless arrogance of the utility when challenged on the issue of public health and safety in relation to profitability.
We all remember Shoreham. (And if you don’t, look it up.) We all remember that visionary William “$42 Million” Catacosinos, who played chicken with Long Island ratepayers, turned on the nuclear reactor (thus dramatically increasing the decommissioning/decontamination costs), and dared Long Islanders to pick up the tab for turning it off and cleaning it up. (Which they ultimately did.)
It’s a different logo, but the same old game here. PSEG wants to finish this project before any litigation effort stops them or merely slows them down. They want to run up the costs a few more million, so that undoing the job and burying the cables means paying the full freight.
Never mind that the brownouts or blackouts that the project was reportedly meant to overcome have not shown themselves. Never mind that the lens of soil in this specific area is wafer-thin and that groundwater is not very far below. The power company, like other such authorities that influence key environmental decisions in this region (the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Suffolk County Water Authority) couldn’t give a damn what you think. In fact, they want you to shut up, and if you say anything, just say thank you. They have you and me pegged as typical Americans who want to throw a switch and everything comes on. In their minds, we are hope-to-die energy junkies, and we want that pool heater fired up, the wine cooler humming, and 15 chargers plugged into the walls to juice up all those products that start with an I so we don’t have to speak to each other. If some deadly chemical leaches into the ground and kills you a few years early, so what. It’s the cost of doing business. We’ll save energy and keep the lights on low at your funeral, if you insist.
Just shut up, PSEG suggests. Shut up, you pathetic phonies, and just say thank you.
The other day I was driving into Sag Harbor along Brick Kiln Road. A wild turkey crossed the road, followed by two babies. The hen made it to one side, but an oncoming car ran over one of the straggling poults. I gasped as I watched it all played out in my rear-view mirror. The other car drifted away. I turned around and saw the baby crushed into the asphalt. I looked up and saw the mother waiting. Did she know? Can they tell? My heart sank.
We risk a lot out here by virtue of the way we live modern lives but want to keep some degree of a rustic, semirural element. Farms, beaches, woodland, bodies of water, and animals on land and in the sea all require some protection now. Without that protection, much of it would be threatened, if not gone. We’ve done a fairly good job of it. None of it has gone perfectly. But it could be a good deal worse. And the hardest fight always seems to be against these quasi-government operations that dump poison all around you yet claim to be in the service industry.
This community has fought hard to protect its environmental equity. We must not stop now. The Town of East Hampton should sue the hell out of PSEG and settle for nothing less than PSEG picking up the $30 million tab for the work. They’ve got it. Trust me. Hell, back in 1998, they paid Catacosinos $42 million in severance and he ultimately destroyed the utility, forcing a state takeover.
They’ve got it. Or their insurance does.
P.S. With its ridiculously shiny housings and fixtures, the refurbished substation near the Amagansett train stop resembles the plastic lair of the villain from an old Hot Wheels car set. I expect to see Jean Claude Van Damme come crashing through its gates in a commandeered tank. It’s ugly and that ugliness needs to be addressed as well. It also stands as further proof that PSEG’s greatest power is to offend.
The Hundredth Monkey
July 7, 2014
Who is the Hundredth Monkey?
The first edition of Ken Keyes Jr.’s novel “The Hundredth Monkey” was published in January 1982 with 100,000 printed copies. The book wasn’t copyrighted because Ken wanted readers “to reproduce it in whole or in part, to distribute it with or without change, in as many languages as possible, to as many people as possible.” He dedicated the book to “the dinosaurs, who mutely warn us that a species which cannot adapt to changing conditions will become extinct.”
People have the power to make changes if they can join together and raise their voices as one. There’s power in numbers. Our numbers can grow exponentially if we all take it upon ourselves to spread the message that we want the installed toxic pentachlorophenol-laden poles removed, the contaminated soil cleaned up, and the high-tension wires placed underground along a major corridor away from residential neighborhoods. We as a community can achieve what is just and essential to continue promoting healthy alternatives for our energy consumption.
“There is a phenomenon,” Ken shared, “that may be our only hope of a future that supports and protects both the environment and our species!” The dangers inherent in the transport of electricity through above-ground, high-tension wires strung from one toxic pole to another should be a concern of every resident on Long Island and around the globe.
Here is the story of the Hundredth Monkey.
The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, has been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.
An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too.
This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.
Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes — the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let’s further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.
Then it happened!
By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!
The most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then spontaneously jumped over the sea. Colonies of monkeys on other islands, and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama, began washing their sweet potatoes.
Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind. Although the exact number may vary, the Hundredth Monkey phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people. But there is a point at which, if only one more person tunes in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness reaches almost everyone.
Thanks to the experiments of Dr. J. B. Rhine at Duke University, we now know that the strength of this extrasensory communication can be amplified to a powerfully effective level when the consciousness of the hundredth person is added.
This community’s voice is needed to reverse this travesty.
The world is full of miracles. Any one of us could be the hundredth person. Any one of us could tip the scale to check this utility company and our governmental agencies that seem to have forgotten that their jobs are to protect and serve the people and the environment.
I invite you to check out LIBFRE’s website at libfre.com. Get educated. Get involved.
July 6, 2014
To the Editor:
On July 3, the town board voted to open 16 parcels of land, a total of 294 acres, for the bow hunting of deer. The board was able to expand bow hunting because a recent state law reduced archers’ required distance from residences from 500 to 150 feet. At the same time, the board voted to permit deer hunting with firearms in Montauk’s Culloden preserve. The board’s actions will add to the plight of the deer and pose risks to humans as well.
Bow hunting is a particularly cruel kind of hunting. A careful 2005 research review in the journal Animal Welfare estimated that between 12 and 48 percent of deer are only wounded and left to die slow, painful deaths. This archery wound rate is higher than for firearms, although both bows and guns produce terror, death, and suffering in the animals.
Among the town board members, only Sylvia Overby voted against the hunting expansions.
Why did the board approve?
Among the many reasons, a major factor was the position of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The D.E.C. promotes hunting in general and successfully lobbied for the state’s new bow-hunting law. People assume that if the D.E.C. supports something, it must be all right. After all, the D.E.C. is the official state agency responsible for wildlife and the protection of our environment. It employs scientists and has created a positive image. So when, at a June 19 public hearing, a town official referred to the D.E.C. position on bow hunting, he added credibility to the local proposal to expand it.
But the D.E.C. is not neutral. Like most state wildlife agencies, it receives significant funding from taxes on the sale of hunting licenses and hunting equipment. At the D.E.C., jobs depend on hunting. As a result, the agency has gone out of its way to defend and increase hunting. For example, it has lobbied to increase youth hunting by lowering the age limit.
The D.E.C. also claims that hunting is the best method of deer population control and impedes the study of contraception as an alternative. In addition, the D.E.C. promotes turkey hunting, even though turkeys eat the ticks that cause Lyme disease. When I attended a D.E.C. public hearing, I found it to be like a hunting convention, with a high-ranking D.E.C. official proudly showing the audience a photo of himself with a large buck he had killed.
The D.E.C.’s pro-hunting bias makes it difficult to defend wildlife. The agency needs to become more neutral. For this to happen, the state must shift the agency’s financial support from hunting sales to a general fund. But this change is unlikely to occur soon. For the short run, I urge people to look at D.E.C. wildlife positions with a critical eye.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
July 6, 2014
July marks the 50th anniversary of federal government support for public transportation. The success of public transportation can be traced back to one of the late President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefiting many Americans today. On July 10, 1964, he signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law. Subsequently this has resulted in the investment over time of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.
Millions of Americans, including many residing in East Hampton and other nearby communities, today on a daily basis utilize various public transportation alternatives. They include local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway, and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single-occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars, thanks to President Johnson.
Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation alternative. Try riding a local or express bus, commuter van, ferry, light rail, commuter rail or subway.
Airport Fuel Fee
July 7, 2014
In late June the town board considered a motion to raise the laughable 15 cents per gallon fuel fee that the town receives from the sale of aviation fuel at the East Hampton Aviation Country Club, uh, airport. The fee was set decades ago, when fuel was one-sixth of its current price.
The corporate take on the 750,000 gallons of fuel being pumped (and subsequently spewed on us) is approximately $1.5 million, while the town and the taxpayers (who own the airport, remember) get $100,000. Airporters also get free parking, by the way.
The four councilpersons, Overby, Van Scoyoc, Overton, and Burke-Gonzalez, voted to raise the fuel fee to 30 cents. Thirty cents. But Supervisor Cantwell voted no. He said the increase should be “phased in.”
If the fee were set at a perfectly reasonable $1, it would generate $750,000, enough money for the maintenance of the airport. Any discussion of Federal Aviation Administration funding and control would be moot. If that fee were too much for the commercial interests, we could use those 600 acres (our 600 acres) in a fashion the town would actually benefit from.
Supervisor Cantwell sided with airport interests, and against the people who voted for him. What he should have done is ask the local airport businesses to return a piece of the millions of dollars they have earned at the public trough while no one was paying attention.
The longtime local advocate Karl Grossman has called the airport the greatest environmental problem facing us on the East End. As it spirals further out of control, why would our supervisor continue to subsidize it?
The New Normal?
July 7, 2014
I have been calling the manager’s office at the East Hampton Airport on and off for an hour this morning. It just kept ringing until it clicked to a busy signal. It was like a phony phone number. Do the pilots and owners of planes have the real (secret) number? I suppose so.
I was calling to find out if something unusual was going on. I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. The first plane that I heard was at 6:12 a.m. Then 6:33 a.m., 6:56 a.m., 7:07 a.m., 7:12 a.m., 7:39 a.m., 7:58 a.m., 8:07 a.m., 8:23 a.m., 8:46 a.m., and so on. I felt as if I was now living under the new-route runway in and out of East Hampton. Is this the new normal for those of us living at the edge of the village?
When I came out to the East End in the late 1960s, the peace and quiet was palpable. You could seek out fun at certain beaches and clubs at night. The choice in East Hampton had been wonderful and a luxury. This was in marked contrast to my childhood in Far Rockaway. There, it was Kennedy Airport and it was horrible.
There are several “Stop the Chop” groups that have formed in the city. They are being bombarded by sight-seeing helicopters. Maybe we should form a group here. Or, just maybe we should create a service for tourists to fly over the mega-wealthy and celebrity estates each weekend of the summer season. Something like the bus tours in Beverly Hills.
July 7, 2014
To the Editor,
The recent Supreme Court decision permitting businesses and corporations that claim to operate on a body of religious principles to be excused from the contraceptive obligation of the Affordable Care Act is at best a strange, delusional attack on our democratic system and the Constitution. It affronts the constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to religious freedom for every individual by extending the right to businesses and corporations.
The essential problem is that, while democratic principles (reality-based) can be compatible with certain religious principles, the opposite isn’t true because of the faith-based derivation. If God exists (in whatever form), we are asked to bypass logic and reason for faith. History has proven that to be a continuously disastrous mistake.
There is virtually nothing in any religion or religious text that doesn’t originate from a secular world: No rules, ideas, or laws. Religion is a byproduct that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes horrible, but always avoidable. We embrace it because we don’t have the capacity for self-awareness and introspection. We are always looking for a rationale to make life logical without having to make the mental effort. The Ivy League elites on the Supreme Court should not be feeding into a process that assumes that responsibility for one’s life and actions is a function of something other than one’s self.
Some conservatives are lauding Hobby Lobby as a company that pays well and provides good benefits because of its Christian orientation. It’s not to say that Christian-based organizations don’t do great things, the church aside, but business and Christianity (assuming that Jesus is part of the deal) rarely converge at the same bottom line.
In our quest for mediocrity we pursue every avenue that distorts reality and allows us to pretend that life is okay. It has nothing to do with religious practices of spirituality. It’s really about beating people up a little bit more to force them to bow their heads and understand that they hate us for our values.
‘Scandal’ and ‘Scandals’
June 24, 2014
I sure do hope that the Repuglican search for scandals of some or any kind doesn’t continue for as long as George White’s “Broadway Scandals,” which ran from 1919 to 1939 and produced great, talented people like Ray Bolger, Ethel Merman. Rudy Vallee, Alice Faye, and many others.
Unfortunately the Repuglican productions have produced nada, nothing, zip — except tons of wasted time and money.
Oh, and of course the Repuglicans also have given us the fumbling, stumbling, jerkoff Congressman Daryl Issa, who issues subpoenas like the leaves of trees but gets nothing out of them but witnesses who contradict everything he says.
When we finally do sort out this alleged I.R.S. “scandal,” for instance, there will be no connection found to the White House as 41 witnesses and the I.R.S. inspector general have already testified to. Yet Fox fed newsies, and automated letter-writing dummies still, in letters to this paper, yell “scandal” while signing off using a g-d reference as if it will give merit and weight to the numbing vapid content of their letters.
Let’s move on now, Issa. Perhaps you should investigate the White House gardener. He uses manure, which is perfect to spread on your subpoenas and press releases.
RICHARD P. HIGER
More Media Lies
July 7, 2014
The Obama Administration wants all companies to fund the morning-after pill, which is believed to be an abortion-inducing medication; however, the liberal media did not report that aspect of the story with full context. There are 4 out of 20 contraceptions involved. The media made it only denied birth control. This is just more media lies to protect the Democrats. It’s not war on women, nor does it deny women health care. Women can get it free from Planned Parenthood, or I’m sure soon the government will be paying for it, and they can, as they have been paying for it themselves. Denying health care is removing the pill from the market. Again, 4 out of 20 pills will not be paid for by their employee.
Ms. Sibelius made this addition onto the health care, and she had no authority to do so. The scary thing is the four liberal Supreme Court justices who would believe American taxpayers should pay for abortions, voted to uphold the mandate. If you believe abortion is morally wrong you have a right to opt out, but these four liberal justices would deny you that right. This contradicts the Constitution of the U.S.A.
Obama lost also the controversy re his overriding Congress and doing what he wants. His administration has ordered massive changes in Obamacare. His recess appointments in these cases were flagrantly unconstitutional. Obama keeps stepping over the line of separation. These acts of defiance of Congress often come with chest-pounding acclaim, but also come with cost. He may have to go through his array of rulings and make them invalid, which will create havoc.
Border chaos — which Obama did nothing about for four years — but someone had a genius idea, cohort with Mexico, pay off everyone, allow the influx of children, and then ship them to red states. Let them stay, grow up, and you now have a blue state once they are old enough to vote.
It’s backfiring. This administration has created children being held captive in warehouses, sleeping on cement floors. Americans are fed up. They are now waking up that perhaps this has all been planned. In the meantime children, some with diseases, are coming in by the thousands, gangs are entering while border control babysits. This country cannot afford to pay for these children, we have laws but Obama ignores them.
My great-grandparents came in legally. Bring back Ellis Island and do it the right way.
In God and country,
An Avalanche Ride
July 3, 2014
To the Editor:
Any hedge fund guy can tell you that a collapse has just as much power as an explosion, you just have to know how to see it coming and harness it to put its energy to good use.
It’s July and hot, so I thought it timely and perhaps a welcome, cool reminder of the chill of last winter to express the following experience of mine regarding the financial collapse of 2008 with a wintry metaphorical image offered up by one of America’s favorite naturalists, John Muir. Muir, for those who are unaware, is largely responsible for the preservation of much of America’s large open spaces that are today our national parks. It is largely accepted that his adventures in the west led him ultimately one day to finding himself in the area now known as Yosemite, where he encountered the circumstances that began an avalanche of snow around him. There is a written account of his experience, which was first published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1901, in an article titled “The Fountains and Streams of Yosemite.”
True or not, this story offered me inspiration for an avalanche ride of my own making, when I rode the wave of greed that was responsible for the economic collapse in 2008 into a home in the Hamptons. I sit at this moment, nine years later this month, in a beautiful home, with a succeeding business, the results of the mathematic equation Un = Un-1 + Un-2, which translates very simply into the reality that we all experience the moment that we are in at any point (Un) as equal to the total of the two prior moments (Un-1 and Un-2). Because of his awareness and response to evolving conditions, Muir was able to use the energy of the avalanche to ride him downhill without damage, where others of lesser awareness might have chosen otherwise and become victims of the same energy.
So it was with me in 2005, when I found circumstances about to collapse and decided to see if I too could ride a collapse like Muir safely and soundly. I did, although with a few more scrapes than Muir.
I was on a sleigh ride to hell anyway, as my business partner had not cooperated with my successful building of our business and caused an amateur’s response to success to lead to failure. But failure is what shows us how to get it right if we let it, and today that circumstance is completely changed, thanks to the greed of mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and lawyers, all of whom provided the framework for me to walk into a house in Springs with 106 percent financing and less than $5,000 out of pocket in July 2005, not to mention the fortitude of myself and partner.
I saw the mortgage giveaway as the modern-day version of the Oklahoma land rushes, where land was granted to the claimer providing they could live on the land and improve it. The difference between my choice to use a junk mortgage to obtain my current residence and many others who tried to take advantage of the circumstances at the time comes down to two things: individual abilities in a changing economy and, as the real estate people like to say, location, location, location.
I had been through economic collapses before and understood the warning signs. One hundred and six percent financing with no income or credit checks was one of them. At the time I was renting an apartment in Huntington and also rented studio and showroom space in the area, and business was showing signs of down-turning.
I had always desired to live in the Hamptons since my early adult years, but never had the circumstances for that to occur. I also had desired to create a second location in the Hamptons for the decorative arts company that my partner and I had created UpIsland but had not yet been able to accomplish this. Then I started to get numerous junk emails each day telling me that I was “pre-approved” for a rather large sum if I desired to get a mortgage. I ignored them until it began to show that the economy was about to collapse under the debt created by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the greed of the regional divisions of the Federal Reserve Bank, which was giving money away to those who could not afford it to build volume to compete with the large amounts of drug money that was being laundered through banks and real estate development in their southeastern region (Florida).
Like the land rush, the trick was to be able to maintain the commitment. The Hamptons offered everything a resourceful person would require to make that work. In many other areas of the country this outcome could not have been possible, but I understood that this is not any other area of the country.
A few summers ago my wife, who is my business partner, and I were invited to Southampton Hospital’s annual summer gala as guests as a thank-you for the time and talent that we had donated to the hospital over the years. At the tented event on Wickapogue Lane in Southampton, I found myself two tables away from John Paulson, the hedge fund fellow and guest of honor, who also saw the collapse coming and shorted the market to the tune of better than $4 billion (five million of which he donated to the hospital for the construction of its new emergency room facility). I was tempted to go visit him as another individual, albeit a financial layman, who also saw he truth behind the insanity and could do something positive with it. It was late, I had had a few glasses of wine, and decided that another time might be more appropriate.
Today the real estate market in the Hamptons has rebounded, and our business is booming thanks to talent, hard work, calculated risk-taking, commitment to client satisfaction, and an understanding that in this world it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained, and possibility + choice = reality.
Nine years later, the moral I find is this: Follow your gut, pay attention to changing circumstances, and don’t be afraid to fail, as failure shows us how to succeed.
Happy summer in the Hamptons to all. Now go ride a wave, any wave. Just watch out for the rip currents. Namaste.
RICHARD M. KOSTURA