Unless You Can Park
August 23, 2014
During the past seven years it has been my pleasure and privilege (and that of my family) to be able to spend part of our summer with generous American friends in their delightful Amagansett hideaway. As their guests, we enjoy everything on offer here as if we were residents ourselves. It is therefore with some trepidation that I raise the following issue.
Your readers will, I am sure, not be surprised to learn that the law of England (and Wales, for their legal systems are essentially the same) recognizes that people may in general resort to the beach in order to recreate themselves there and to swim in the sea. Even though the Crown, as owner of the beach, may technically be entitled to prohibit its use, in practice all may use it without let or hindrance. I understand that that is also the position in the State of New York — indeed, for all I know, visitors may be legally entitled to disport themselves on the beach (subject, no doubt, to the right of the local authority to regulate its use in the public interest).
This extremely beneficial and seemingly universal privilege is in my opinion severely undermined if, as appears to be the case in Amagansett, only those who have a permit are able to park on the nearby parking lots. In reality, as everyone who has ever tried to enjoy a day at the beach with a young family knows, it just doesn’t work unless you can park nearby. It follows that the policy just mentioned effectively can operate so as to prevent a person from enjoying one of your lovely beaches in the course of a casual visit.
I appreciate that this kind of exclusivity may be exactly what the relevant authority wishes to achieve. I merely wonder whether the means it has chosen are lawful.
August 26, 2014
The article in this week’s issue covering the Red Devil swim caught my eye. This is a great event benefiting an important group, the East Hampton Ocean Rescue, volunteers dedicated to the safety of swimmers on our unprotected beaches. These volunteers also run this event and do an exemplary job at making it a fun and safe event.
Jack Graves mentioned Lori King’s absence from the event due to her successful completion of swimming the Catalina Channel in California. That 22-mile swim is one of the open-water Triple Crown. Fewer than 300 people have successfully swum it in over 80 years. Lori’s outstanding feat deserves special mention, as well as a dedicated article. Lori is one of my swimming heroes. I swam with her this past weekend. As she passed right by me near Atlantic, I looked up and could see her perfect, speedy stroke — like a mermaid.
I have two other local swimming heroes, who deserve to be mentioned. One of them is Marcie Honerkamp. Marcie is an exceptional swimmer. She was the second fastest woman in the Red Devil race, but the article didn’t mention this. (Coverage of these events really should, in the future, mention the women winners.) When I swim next to Marcie, I have a lot of trouble keeping up with her. (Did I mention that it took most swimmers twice as long to do the return swim as the swim out? That’s because of the strong current. Several swimmers were pulled out and did not complete.)
Finally, Kelleigh Dulany did something at the RJA Tri in Montauk this past May that no man did. She participated in the event while pregnant. Like the others, she’s a great athlete with a lot of heart and guts. Indeed, all of the women open-water swimmers who I swim with inspire me. They are as tough, if not tougher, than us fellas. (Just don’t tell them I said so.)
An interview with Lori King has in fact been written, and is scheduled to run next week. Ed.
August 22, 2014
To the Editor,
Thank you. Two of the easiest words in the English language to say, but in today’s society they are a forgotten commodity. As members of Calvary Baptist Church, we would like to acknowledge Joe Cucci and Calvin McFarland of Head Quarters Portable Restrooms for their donation of service.
Thank you once again for your donation to Calvary Baptist Church.
August 22, 2014
To the Editor:
As members of the East Hampton community, lifelong educators, and proud members of unions, we are outraged by the full-page ads from a group called the Center for Union Facts, which blame teachers’ unions for low scores on international tests and for “protecting bad teachers.”
Not only are these ads deeply insulting to the thousands of union members and public school educators in our community, they are completely false. As the education historian Diane Ravitch points out, the three states with the highest scores on international tests, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, all have schools that are unionized; those with the lowest scores are found in un-unionized “right-to-work” states. In our own state, New York, unionized public schools such as Stuyvesant and Scarsdale High Schools outperform most expensive private schools.
These reprehensible and false ads in The East Hampton Star stretch the boundaries of responsible journalism beyond recognition. We hope The Star will reject such ads in the future and show more respect for the thousands of its readers who take these inflammatory attacks very personally.
BLANCHE WIESEN COOK
An Empathy Revolution
August 23, 2014
To the Editor:
“For a transitory enchanted moment, man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”
Prophetic words from “The Great Gatsby.”
We live in the West, far from the regal East Coast mansions Fitzgerald wrote about in his book. It is by far the “better half” of the country, with its wide-open spaces and its natural, often spellbinding immensities of peaks and sky. Mountain lions still roam in their predatory majesty, the canyons of Utah and Arizona are ineffable, geological marvels explode everywhere, and for color, the sunsets of New Mexico spellbind and transfix. The sequoias still loom large over the world, for now. The Pacific beckons to the other side of the world in impossible vastness.
But it is in the East that most of the decisions that wreck the conscience of dignity and decency are made.
As a consequence of senatorial ineptitude and climate change, global warming pummels the glaciers of Montana, and they are melting. Glacier National Park will soon have to be called Icicle National Monument. The tundra in Alaska is buckling under the weight of global warming. Oil derricks scar the ground from New Mexico to the Canadian border. They are massacring wolves by the hundreds in Idaho for a wretched and misguided notion of manhood, the pioneering spirit, and for the ever-present cow. California and Texas are thirsting as never before in the face of a drought of biblical proportions. Tornadoes are wrecking the Midwest. The corn belt is drying up and impossible downpours have recently flooded Arizona. For those who do not believe in evolution, they might start believing in de-evolution.
We are told that America’s better days are ahead. By what measure of sanity? Only for those who profit from the discombobulation of the soil and ultimately the human soul, which are cognates of each other.
It was another poet, T.S. Eliot, who wrote “The Wasteland” and “The Hollow Men,” who would have best understood the depravity of the profit motive and what it has done to a continent at large and the human species at this time. “Paralyzed force, gesture without motion.” The empty promises to future generations by a government usurped by the sterile immorality of wanton greed.
The weakening of the Endangered Species Act sets the stage for an America fast becoming an immense parking lot, shopping mall, and industrial garbage dump. We need renewables on the East End, but vote and make your voices known in the great outback, and fight for the wolves and the prairie chickens and the grizzlies and every being that breathes. The children will want to hear elks bugling 50 years from now.
In your spare time, raise your voices about the rain forests of Indonesia and the Amazon. If you should find palm oil in the cookies you buy at your favorite coffee megastore, raise your voice. If you should have a neighbor who invests in gold, slap him on the wrist and tell him or her to invest in the future instead. Tell him about algae. Tell him there are better deals out there. Tell the politicians to look at the absolute horizon, as the visionary Vaclav Havel once wrote. If you should leave the confines of this very insular island called America, a landscape of little-seen ecological and social immensities looms large, out there beyond our vision.
Why was this country conquered, Toynbee, in his magnum opus “Mankind and Mother Earth,” once asked. “Shall we murder Mother Earth or shall we redeem her?” Are we truly the land of the free and home of the brave, as children crossing their hearts in school are made to believe? Do we need children to become computer programmers and business executives, or visionaries of a new earth? Why are we so intent on creating a synthetic world of robots and artificial intelligence when we hardly understand the fantabulous organic maze of relationships beneath our feet?
The next five years are critical for a radical reappraisal of why we are here. Philosophy, religion, art, politics will barely help us here. In the outback in South Africa, a researcher working with elephant feeding and migration patterns told us the answers would not come through science, but through poetry!
Machines and algorithms so asphyxiate our lives that we can barely gaze into the eyes of the much larger universe. Technology can only be a byproduct of a much larger awareness. The revolution needed is an empathy revolution for other life forms and cultures different from our own. We have been driven by vanity by one species for far too long. It is time we gasp in wonder and reverence for the countless hundreds of thousands of other species we barely know, before earth becomes a facsimile of “Blade Runner.”
“Society cares more for the products they manufacture than for their immemorial ability to affirm the charm of existence.” — Jane Addams, Nobel Laureate
Halt Climate Change
August 25, 2014
To the Editor:
I am writing to correct an error in my last letter (my typo) that gave the year 2050 as the goal for alternative energy independence for the Town of East Hampton. It should have been, of course, 2030.
In a related effort, a rally is scheduled for New York City on Sept. 21 to publicize the urgency of halting climate change before we really do ourselves in. Many of your readers will know that most scientists worldwide acknowledge that climate change is real, is happening faster than anticipated by their computer models, and that it is undeniable that human activity (burning fossil fuels) is the culprit.
I was part of the mass rallies that protested the Vietnam War and supported the civil rights movement, and I think hat although imperfect, those rallies had an impact and helped change government policy. It is time once again to get into the streets. 350.org, the Sierra Club, and many other organizations will help you with the details. See you there.
JANET VAN SICKLE
Identify an Attic
August 25, 2014
To the Editor,
Living in Montauk for many years, I have never seen anything like what is going on now.
I think we need a new building inspector. I don’t know who he is but I think he is not doing his job. There is a “two-story” house on West Lake Drive in Montauk. The building inspector deemed the third floor, with sliding doors and balconies all around, as an attic.
This is just one example. It is going on all over East Hampton Town.
I think we should be looking for a building inspector who has the best interest of all the people, not just those able to build McMansions, and he or she should be able to identify an attic.
August 25, 2014
Confronted with a torrent of misinformation about what the town will do with the airport once Federal Aviation Administration obligations expire at the end of December, I am reminded of earlier disingenuous advertising campaigns regarding the airport.
Less than one year ago (The Star, Oct. 17, 2013, and in other local newspapers), the East Hampton Aviation Association funded costly color ads stating that “the East Hampton Airport is getting smaller, safer, and quieter” and that “traffic is contracting, not expanding.” The ad further contended that the control tower was “helping reduce helicopter noise”!
Just the opposite is true. This year, overall air traffic increase is in the 50-percent range, possibly higher, with jets, planes, and helicopters spread over ever broader swaths of homes, waterways, and nature reserves, and noise complaints have soared from 2013 to 2014 year to date — by a whopping 263 percent.
Star readers may also recall, prior to the town election last November, the widespread touting by the aviation association and aviation interests of the supposed economic benefits of aviation. Now, nine months later, real estate professionals have told town board members that they are being asked by increasing numbers of clients to show only property nowhere near a flight path, and that both rental and sales prices in this multimillion-dollar industry have been negatively impacted. It could not be clearer: Noise is not an economic benefit; jet fuel emissions and toxic leaded AVGAS emissions are not economic benefits either. The aviation association and the special interests got it all wrong, on all counts.
I recently overheard a conversation in which it was stated that the town will close East Hampton Airport — again, the cant of the aviation special interests, many of whom are deliberately misrepresenting facts. Indeed, some of the special interests are distributing, via email and on hastily cobbled together websites, “fact sheets” with incorrect facts.
I have not attended airport special committee meetings, yet I am well aware that meetings of both committees examining airport issues are open to the public, so those willing to inform themselves of facts may do so at any time, from the public record. The committees appointed by the town are examining safety, noise, and financial issues, including bonds to provide funds to improve airport safety and other proposals to raise revenue, so the town clearly is not looking to close the airport.
Let us not forget how poorly our airport has been managed over the past decade or more, despite the infusion of F.A.A. handouts. Under previous administrations, the town derived little financial benefit from its 600-acre airport property: Car parking was free (likely the only municipal airport in the nation with free parking for weeks at a time); leases on airport property were allowed to lapse, with rents continuing to be paid at below-market rates negotiated years earlier; landing fees remained stagnant for years, and, perhaps most staggering of all, fuel taxes paid to the town by the two fuel distributors at the airport had not increased in 22 years!
And last, but definitely most disturbing, are safety issues such as needed repairs to lighting, which were ignored for years despite a dedicated airport fund with an available surplus of some $600,000. Simply incredible, really, that easy access to Federal Aviation Administration money resulted in this decades-long hands-off attempt at airport management, with no attempt made at all to generate revenue from a valuable town asset. Forget not that until about two years ago, East Hampton property taxes included, I think it was 2 percent, for airport operations — this after the F.A.A. handout!
On Jan. 1, 2015, our airport will be freed from federal control. Local control by East Hampton Town of airport operations, including setting restrictions on numbers and types of aircraft and the hours during which they may use our airport, can become a reality. We can but hope that with local control the town will accept the responsibility for the noise and health impacts of our airport’s operations on communities on both forks and take immediate steps to bring relief to all residents.
We Pay and Pay
August 18, 2014
Weakness is being shown in two vital areas. American earning power continues to decline. It’s down 7 percent in each household since Obama took office. Gas has doubled, food prices are the highest in American history. This weakens the average American home so millions turn to the federal government for financial support. That raises the debt, now projected to reach $20 trillion by the time Obama leaves office. None of this news is covered by the local media.
The government has wasted $800 billion, can’t account for it. No records? Isn’t there a two-signature requirement for checks? The Interior Department fails to import spending bills; why? Besides the fact the American citizens pay through the nose for the Obamas’ vacations — a small fortune every time Obama goes up on Air Force One. He admits he loves that part of his job the most, yes, Air Force One, his favorite, and we pay and pay.
Businesses have changed plans on their Obamacare and are making their employees pay for their own healthcare. There is a 40-percent code tax coming. The unions begged to delay this tax, claiming the tax is just too much money.
On the local front, Tim Bishop is and always will be a yes man for Obama and Pelosi. The lies that Ms. Avedon wrote to the paper are just that. Her information came from the Democratic Party, which repeats itself over and over again.
Go, Hillary, bash Obama now that you are seriously thinking of running in 2016. He was okay with you while you worked for him; now his policies stink. Obama has failed in economics, healthcare, Israel, Syria, and Iraq and Benghazi, add the I.R.S. He doesn’t listen to advice, runs on his own instincts, and while the world is on fire, he’s playing golf, on an expensive vacation paid for by you and me.
In God and country,
August 24, 2014
I saw a couple of letters in the Aug. 21 issue of The Star regarding Hillary Clinton’s book signing. I see her referred to as “our next president.”
Here are four reasons why I will not vote for her: J. Christopher Stephens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods.
Connect the Lines
August 24, 2014
To the Editor:
There is absolutely no ambiguity about the issue of Central American children coming to the United States. No ambiguity about the U.S. policies that abused and beat the crap out of all these so-called banana republics for the past 100 years. Clarity, beyond question, that every criminal government we installed and supported included some of the worst dictators the world has known.
But we are historically retarded, memory broken. We never connect the lines in places we have destroyed. Never accept responsibility for our actions no matter how many people we kill (see Vietnam), environments we destroy (see Iraq), political systems we pollute (see South America).
So our heroic border-defenders and conservative penny-pinchers need to take their heads out of their collective big butts and take responsibility for all those kids who are fleeing the hell that we helped to create to serve our own twisted purposes.
Every cretin who talks about personal responsibility has to crawl out of their hole and add a small touch of humanity to their portfolios. Be able to tell their kids that they did the right thing, and maybe recognize that when we are not responsible for the crap we create in the world the mess takes decades to clean up but the smell never goes away.
A Bizarro World
August 15, 2014
The Middle East is on fire. Extreme Jihadists are running rampant through an unstable Iraq; thousands of Christian families are trapped on a mountain after fleeing death and dismemberment by these butchers. The Kurds are underarmed; the Iraqi army, trained by the U.S., is in complete disarray, the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, a center of American business and occupation, is in danger of being overrun.
Senators McCain and Graham are screaming for American re-involvement in the conflict. (Was Graham ever in the Army?)
And so, the much-maligned, 40-percent poll-approved president coolly does his job. He orders immediate bomb strikes against the butchers, he flattens their heavy equipment, sends in 120 military advisors to assess moving the Christians off the mountain, and he succeeds. We break the hold of the Jihadis and get the families off their dangerous position on the mountain. The bomb strikes continue and time is gained for Iraqi politicians to get their act together. No American troops!
Do you see an approval rating go up? Nah! He got lucky, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s playing golf!
And so it goes. The president does his job and the Congress goes home to campaign against him. A bizarro world, no?
Again I say, history will be kind to this man in the White House, considering all the mountains he has had to climb and all the weight he has had to carry with no help from the non-governing Repuglicans. Just think what a Romney would have done with McCain and Graham pushing away for war at every turn. We probably would be at war with the Philippines and invested in Russian gas and oil while being applauded by the art dealer Dodger fan from Sagaponack while he crouches over his money counting the pennies.
RICHARD P. HIGER
Feral Cat Poem #76
Weimaraners Dalmatians Schnauzers
Great Danes German Shepherds Pugs
Retrievers Spaniels Terriers
Shih Tzus Beagles Bulls
Spitzes Collies Malamutes
Dachshunds Chihuahuas Maltese
Doberman Pinschers Rottweilers
Wolfhounds Greyhounds Bloodhounds
Great Danes, Whippets
Mongrels Pooches Mutts.
Oodles of Poodles and
The Hamptons have gone to the dogs.
And we don’t care.
Ha ha ha.
Sec., Barnes Landing Colony
U.S. Assn. of Feral Cats