Letters to the Editor: 11.16.17

Our readers' comments

Helped Me to Shore

East Hampton

November 12, 2017

Dear Editor:

This Sunday was opening day for scalloping in trustee waters. The weather conditions, while cool, could not have been better with no wind, clean, clear water, and enough scallops for us picker-uppers. For that, we must thank the good Lord.

I personally have to thank those persons who helped me to shore after my dumb move of falling and getting my waders full of water. They also made sure my catch got there as well. Thank you very much.

Last but not least, I must thank the town trustees for opening the season on a Sunday for those of us who walk in the water to get a mess of bugs. It has been many long years since I was able to scallop like that on opening day, as I did in my youth in Three Mile Harbor. (Note: last year was the first time for the Sunday opening for a very long time.) I know that all the people in the water were grateful as well.

URBAN S. REININGER

Fighting Hunger

Amagansett

November 13, 2017

Dear David,

As a resident of Amagansett as well as a member of the board of the East Hampton Food Pantry, I hope the Star readers will support the pantry’s annual harvest food drive on Saturday. We will be on the lawn of East Hampton Middle School in East Hampton from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 18. All donations of nonperishable food and/or funds are welcome.

Middle school students, Girl Scouts, and many others have volunteered to help collect the items donated, which will be taken to the pantry’s new home at 159 Pantigo Place, behind East Hampton Town Hall. As an added incentive, we’ll be offering light refreshments to those who contribute.

The more community support we elicit, the better the lean winter months will be for the food pantry that serves the least fortunate residents in our town. It’s easy to forget, in the joy of the holidays and in the year-round beauty of our community, that there are those for whom these winter months produce a significant hardship. The East Hampton Food Pantry stands out for its dedication to fighting hunger for people from infancy to senior years.

Sincerely,

JUDITH W. SAMUELSON

Community Character

East Hampton

November 12, 2017

Dear David,

With last week’s removal of yet another mature tree from what was once a shady residential homestead and with the limbs on those trees remaining already shaved away, the assault on this laneway continues. 

The 7000-square-foot new “spec” construction project, including swimming pool, hot tub, and 748-square-foot three-car garage, a veritable carriage house with a basement, second floor, 12 windows, and plumbing, continues to grow, still waiting for a pool house. 

Homesteads today are purchased and demolished, sites are cleared, actually “cleansed” in anticipation of new construction, open space is filled with these oversized “as of right” structures. The latest architectural schemes allow speculators the opportunity to meet the building codes with a precision and strategy necessary to provide all the amenities second-home owners want from the Hamptons, or real estate speculators need, to be competitive in the “hot” East Hampton Village real estate marketplace.

Yet the village’s comprehensive plan places importance upon preserving and protecting the village’s residential neighborhoods. Recommended actions of the plan focus upon six principal issues of residential life in the village: 1) Maintaining a peaceful residential atmosphere, 2) Accommodating new development and redevelopment without adversely impacting neighborhood character, 3) Caring for and preserving the character of the village residential streets. The remaining plan’s principles focus on commercial and other nonresidential uses of traffic and special events. 

Another statement on behalf of residential community character is found on the village web page: “The Village of East Hampton is committed to the avoidance of assaults on the senses which in the case of the village are especially dependent on the aesthetic quality and physical attributes of the community. Among these are the general form of the land before and after development, the spatial relationships of structures and open spaces, and the retention of the unique aesthetic quality that is part of the character of the Village of East Hampton.”

With clearly stated residential guidelines, why is the comprehensive plan not providing existing primary residential homeowners the security needed to maintain a successful village “character” and rule of village law? “The board of trustees of the village is responsible for the adoption of the zoning law and amendments. The zoning law is the basis on which the zoning board of appeals works. Zoning regulations are adopted in accordance with the village’s comprehensive plan.” 

It is time for the Z.B.A. to better demonstrate, in their decisions, a commitment to the village comprehensive plan, not the demands from a thriving real estate community. 

LINDA JAMES

Bible Stories

Springs

November 13, 2017

David, 

I appreciate Rabbi Joshua Franklin”s “Guestwords” (Nov. 9) detailing the Biblical punishment dealt to men who abuse women. However, we in the business of organized religion must recognize the Bible for what it is: a centuries-long putdown of women. 

From Eve paying horribly for her munch of the apple to Paul’s dictate that women remain silent in church, Bible stories have not been helpful for women. In fact they too often encourage abuse.

BILL HENDERSON

Springs Presbyterian Church

Optimistic

Amagansett

November 9, 2017

Dear David,

My self-appointed position as the East Hampton Town common whipper (an enforcement role mislaid 10 centuries back) did not appear on Tuesday’s ballot, but I have been assured that it is still relevant. Some of the whips have disintegrated, but my retired dominatrix friend, Mavis, says it happens.

My congratulations to all those elected in our local elections. Hopefully they will prove superior to the least-objectionable object, but we shall see.

Hopefully we shall see more diversity on appointed boards and committees. 

Hopefully we shall see real work-force housing solutions and robust debate on the future of our prime asset, the shoreline. I’m optimistic.

All good things,

DIANA WALKER

Courteous Discourse

East Hampton

November 13, 2017

Dear Editor:

We know that elections in our small town matter in our day-to-day lives. I am writing to thank every voter who turned out in the recent general election. I am grateful to those who supported me and respectful of those who did not. 

Political campaigns let us air our differences with civility, and enable us to set our future course. The time I spent recently discussing the challenges and possibilities we have in moving East Hampton forward was valuable and informative. My participation in a hard-fought campaign has reassured me that courteous discourse among neighbors about facts and real issues is still possible and is too important to cloud with negative attacks or divisive tactics. 

Most of all, I trust that everyone I met and spoke with during the campaign will feel free to come to Town Hall to talk over the things that concern them. I know that an important part of our job on the town board is to lead, but I am also mindful of the help we all get when we listen. 

I am honored to become a part of the important process of local government.

JEFF BRAGMAN

Absolute Power

East Hampton

November 8, 2017

Dear David,

The election is finally over. But wait. There’s more. There remains a vacancy on the 2018-20 board, as Peter Van Scoyoc ascends to his new responsibilities as supervisor. 

Thomas Jefferson said it best: “I tremble for my country when I think we may in fact get the kind of leaders we deserve.”

As a registered Democrat, I admire and support both Peter and Sylvia Overby’s dedication and work for the town over many years, but, like Jefferson, I tremble at the thought of whom the Democratic machine will bestow the vacant board seat upon. 

It is wise to remember British Lord Acton’s warning: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

NANCY R. PEPPARD

Wishing Them Well

Springs

November 13, 2017

Dear David,

A few post-Election Day thoughts that I believe will serve our community well. 

First: Coming out of the New York State Legislature and state government in which civility and decorum are expected, I find nasty, rude campaigns based on lies and innuendos repulsive and detrimental to the betterment of society. I commend all the candidates for taking the high road during public meetings, mailings, advertising, and working with one another on scheduling. We even have some pretty funny selfies that we took together during the campaign. 

The Quiet Skies Coalition could learn a lesson from all the candidates, including the Democratic candidates they supported. Sadly, the Q.S.C. conduct did more to divide the community by politicizing the airport into a “you are with us or you are against us” position. This is wrong, divisive, and only does a disservice to our community. You just have to look no further than CfAR (Citizens for Access Rights) or Montauk United as good civic-minded organizations that promoted community unity and voter education of candidates’ positions.

Second: National politics has no business in local elections. Local elections should be about local issues that impact our community, individual candidates, and their solutions. Groups, whether Republican or Democratic like Resist and Replace pushing national partisan politics into local campaigns do nothing to offer solutions to local issues and in fact are detrimental to community unity, acceptance, and working together. Never judge a person by who they support or do not support. Instead believe in every person’s human potential regardless of their political beliefs.

Lastly: The campaign is over and life will return to normal. On Monday I will return to Albany to represent my Police Benevolent Association membership and work closely in New York State government and the Legislature with the many labor, environmental, social, and civic organizations that we partner with to make our community a safer, better place to live.

 I will remember the trust forever and am humbled by the support placed in me by so many. I will forever remain a supporter and advocate of so many in our community — our East Hampton Town employees, first responders, commercial fishing community, our youth, seniors, and hard-working families struggling to make ends meet. 

Congratulations to Peter Van Scoyoc, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and Jeff Bragman on their victory. As a community, we must all now support our elected and work closely to help them best represent us. I will continue to be a resource and avail myself should they ask. I also encourage all in our community to do the same. Please join me in wishing them well in 2018.

Sincerely,

MANNY VILAR

Deeply Touched

East Hampton

November 13, 2017

Dear David,

Last week’s election was a remarkable and wonderful experience. I am filled with a tremendous pride and a deep sense of community. To all the residents of our town who voted for me, I sincerely thank you for your confidence and support. I am deeply touched to have this special opportunity to give back to my community. 

I am looking forward to working with our elected trustees in a cooperative and respectful manner for the betterment of our beloved East Hampton.

A special thank-you to my friend Beatriz Rivas Arroyo, whose smile and tireless energy made every day during these last few months a day to remember. To all my friends who wrote endorsements on my behalf, your friendship and support is treasured and invaluable. 

To my family — my wonderful husband, Paul Francis Keber, and my son, Walker McGraw Bragman — thank you always for your love and encouragement. 

It will soon be time to roll up my sleeves and go to work! I’m ready! 

Sincerely,

SUSAN McGRAW KEBER

Hard Work

Springs

November 13, 2017

To the Editor,

After a hard-fought primary battle, which took time, money, and a heap of effort, the candidates Peter Van Scoyoc for supervisor and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Jeff Bragman for council members were poised to tackle their opponents, who began the campaign by scattering signs of all sizes throughout the town. But at every opportunity — and there were quite a few — our guys ran circles around them. 

Their straightforward assessment of the issues that face East Hampton and their superior accomplishments were acknowledged by the public, who gave them a crushing victory. 

  Hats off to Peter, Kathee, and Jeff, who will continue the good work of the last four years, and to all who did the hard work of supporting our team with walking their districts, knocking on doors, and making all those phone calls. Congratulations!

Our secret weapon: Under the leadership of Chris Kelley, the campaign manager, Betty Mazur, standing a scant5 feet, rode herd on her team of workers. With finesse, charm, and her sense of urgency, Betty gave the team their daily prod to go to work. Betty Mazur, a leader par excellence!

PHYLLIS ITALIANO

Right to Vote

Springs

November 11, 2017

Dear David:

More than 250 years ago, a group of local folks raided British ships in Boston Harbor and dumped a bunch of tea overboard, protesting taxation without representation. One thought that idea was settled by the Revolutionary War and the birth of our constitutionally based nation.

Yet, in his interview with The Star in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, Reg Cornelia, chairman of the East Hampton G.O.P., blamed his party’s dismal failure, in part, on homeowners from New York City who voted in the election. He seemed to question the propriety of our right to vote here in East Hampton, regardless of our party affiliation (if any).

Our right to vote here has long been settled legally in the voters’ favor. Not only that, we pay taxes out here, including school taxes that help support local kids’ educations. We fill seats in restaurants run by Mr. Cornelia’s supporters. Indeed, it has been estimated that some 50 percent of East Hampton’s economy is attributable to second-home owners. And, we support distinctly local events and contribute to local charities.

Yet, harking back to that day in Boston Harbor, Mr. Cornelia would deny us, unlawfully, the ability to vote in a community we love. It is this mentality that has created the East Hampton G.O.P. as a distinctly, and increasingly, marginal political entity.

And this is a shame because democracy functions best when disparate views can be heard among our town board members, and evaluated in the course of deliberate debate. All of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, deserve as much.

Sincerely,

CAROL O’ROURKE

Big Bucks

East Hampton

November 13, 2017

Editor:

I am behind in my reading of The Star. However, I must comment on the Oct. 17 letter of Arthur Malman, chairman of the East Hampton Group for Good Government, wherein he discusses support of the position of town manager for East Hampton. While I respect Mr. Malman and the work done by the Group for Good Government, I must disagree when he says, “Whether the person is called the executive assistant or the chief administrator or the town manager is irrelevant.” Absolutely not an irrelevance. In fact, it goes to the heart of his discussion seeking more funds in the budget for what would amount to a town manager and not an assistant.

No argument that retiring executive assistant Alex Walter did an exemplary job for the board and the town, and that we were fortunate to have the services of someone so talented and experienced in so many of the areas required for the job. However, Mr. Walter was exactly what his job title describes, an assistant to the supervisor. 

Important distinction between someone who is assisting an executive and one who is an executive running a department — such as a town manager. Mr. Malman would like to equate a town manager position with that of an assistant, but it clearly is a false comparison. That is exactly why town managers get the big bucks discussed by Mr. Malman in his letter.

In my experience, the “office of town manager” is not an assistant to anyone. This is what a town manager does, he or she creates a department, with his or her own personnel, and all the added costs that go along with it, and, acts as a distinct arm of government — sometimes in accord with the board and sometimes not. 

Mr. Malman points out “[s]imilar positions in New York State often carry salaries in the range of double” the amount paid to Mr. Walter. “Similar positions” to what, certainly not assistants to executives? He suggests that “the budget should contain somewhere in a contingency line sufficient additional funds [over and above the $75,000 currently allocated for an executive assistant] to give the new board the flexibility to find the best person. . . .” What Mr. Malman really is advocating is a back-door approach to creating a town manager position. After all, once the money is in the budget, why not just go ahead and hire a town manager?

Although town manager discussions have been around for many years, this is not the way to win the argument, by foisting such an important decision on the taxpayers by allocating funds in the budget and then hiring a town manager.

BEVERLY BOND

 

Questionable Contracting

Springs

November 11, 2017

Dear Mr. Rattray,

The Springs School Board has upped its game. Since its selection of the new superintendent, the board, and specifically the superintendent, have become more transparent and accessible to the community. The public meeting room has been reconfigured into a more welcoming space for board meetings. The board has added work sessions to its monthly schedule and public commentary is welcome after each topic. 

The new superintendent and the board (team) are coalescing to ensure the educational needs of students, the concerns of parents, and the interests of staff are met. This team also appears considerate of issues important to Springs taxpayers who are funding it all.

A great example is the team’s handling this summer of the septic crisis. A long-festering problem (neglected by previous administrations), the crisis was solved efficiently with a fix that was on time and within budget. 

That said, the Springs community needs to remain vigilant about the school expansion. Unfortunately, we taxpayers and the school are left with questionable contracting decisions dictated by the previous administration. Currently, the expansion is stalled pending state environmental quality review. SEQRA never appeared on any timeline released to the community. The previous superintendent told us B.B.S. Architects and Engineers was “the best.” Forgetting SEQRA is an error allowed to a first-year project clerk but is unacceptable and troubling for “the best” and very expensive architectural firm. What else did they get wrong?

Springs School needs upgrades to its fundamental building systems, and space at present is tight. But the design, including a huge new gym, is too expensive at $23 million. B.B.S. is contracted to receive 5 percent of the final project cost. At $23 million, B.B.S. will receive at least $1,150,000 in addition to the thousands already paid to them. The higher the cost, the better for B.B.S With the project stalled the board must re-evaluate B.B.S.’s design and project costs.

The Springs School Board should be congratulated on its selection of Debra Winter as school superintendent. Since her appointment in July, Ms. Winter’s successful handling of tough public issues shows enormous promise for the school. Ms. Winter’s implementation of the privately funded Blessings in a Knapsack program, which ensures in-need children receive food for the weekend, also shows a profound commitment to the Springs community at large. 

Sincerely,

CAROLE CAMPOLO

One-Person Job

Amagansett

November 7, 2017

Dear David,

The excitement was in the air for the election. . . . Everyone would like the best representation for the town positions. (To make the right decisions and hold true to the taxpayers.) I believe this should be true for the school systems as well.

I feel the Amagansett superintendent and school board hired additional administrators, which was previously a one-person job since the school’s opening. (The school previously had more students than it has now, still with only one administrator.) It is not fair to the taxpayers to be paying for additional administration and staff that are not needed.

The 2018-2019 school year budget will soon start the process of being drafted. This means the superintendent will be planning a budget for the upcoming school year now to determine the needs for staffing, equipment, supplies, etc.

Amagansett residents need to make our voices heard now, so they do not include two additional administrators who are not needed for the upcoming year. The board needs to hear from the public that we are tired of the waste in our budget and to stop requesting increases in taxes, when in actuality there is a surplus in our general fund. 

Last May, a petition signed by over 100 Amagansett taxpayers was presented to the school board at a public meeting strongly opposing the additional administration positions and salaries for a quarter of a million dollars for approximately 95 students. The administration and board ignored our suggestions obviously, because they continue to employ the two additional administrators and gave them both a raise for the 2017-2018 school year.

I think it is time to let them know that we will not vote for the new budget in 2018 if it includes any more than one position with the title of superintendent/principal.

Voting down the budget does not mean the students lose programs. The Amagansett general fund has a surplus of money for necessary items the school needs to run.

If the budget does not pass the first time, it means the superintendent and school board will need to make the changes necessary to bring the budget within reason. The budget will go to vote again 30 days later. If the budget fails the second time, the dollar amount of the budget will remain the same from the previous school year. In Amagansett we still have a large general fund with money that can be drawn from for needed items through the course of the year.

We will need all Amagansett taxpayers to vote in May. This includes the second-home owners. In order to vote, you need to be a registered voter; applications can be found at the grade school. You need to live in Amagansett 30 days prior to the vote, be an American citizen, and be 18 years of age.

Amagansett has a fabulous team of teachers and staff to help our students prepare for the middle school, and we need to encourage this versus the waste in additional unneeded positions.

Please check the website: aufsd.org for dates and times of school board meetings. 

Thank you,

MARY EAMES

Doesn’t Care

Springs

November 13, 2017

Dear David,

As someone who was the victim of a sexual assault when I was 11 years old, I am appalled that our congressman, Lee Zeldin, is refusing to take a stand to repudiate Roy Moore. 

It is appalling that the fact that multiple women have gone on the record to say that Moore was sexually inappropriate with them when they were teenagers — one of whom was 14 when he assaulted her — is not enough information for Mr. Zeldin to take a stand. 

In a CNN interview, Mr. Zeldin said he needed additional information before he could judge whether Mr. Moore should resign his candidacy.

Why doesn’t Congressman Zeldin believe the women? Why did he say in the CNN interview that he “is glad Roy Moore is deciding to speak up”?

Roy Moore has “spoken up” by attacking the women who outed his disgusting, perverted behavior with them and threatened to sue them. That is hardly praiseworthy. Even Mitch McConnell has gone further than Lee Zeldin.

With his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Lee Zeldin showed he doesn’t care about the health of his constituents. With his vote to defund Planned Parenthood, he’s shown he doesn’t care about women’s health. And, finally, with his failure to clearly condemn Roy Moore’s pedophilia and abuse of teenagers, Lee Zeldin has shown he doesn’t care about protecting young women and girls from sexual assault.

FRANCESCA RHEANNON

In Lockstep

East Hampton

November 10, 2017

Dear David:

Remember when Mitt Romney asked us to believe that “corporations are people too?”

Well, under the Republican House tax proposal, which our congressman, Lee Zeldin, has largely embraced, the G.O.P. has done Mitt Romney one better. Corporations are treated much better than us normal folks; indeed, we are now second-class citizens compared to the treatment being lavished on corporations.

Teachers who purchase school supplies (pens, construction paper, and the like) for their students used to be able to deduct these expenses. Under the House Republican proposal the deductibility of this expense would be eliminated.

Workers used to be able to deduct state and local taxes. This deduction is largely eliminated under the House plan. Corporations? No problem, state and local taxes remain fully deductible. 

Have to move because your employer is asking you to take a better job elsewhere? These moving expenses used to be deductible. Not anymore. Corporations? Move to another country and outsource their jobs there instead of the United States? The expenses are fully deductible.

Mr. Zeldin says he is fighting for us. But other than fighting the elimination of SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) deductions, a pocketbook issue he knows would spell doom in 2018, he is in lockstep with the Republican notion of treating corporations better — much better — than us. What Mr. Zeldin has forgotten is that corporations can’t vote, but the people he is screwing can.

JACQUELYN GAVRON

Mother of Presidents

Over a red maple,

blue sky dotted with white clouds:

a Betsy Ross day.

BERNARD GOLDHIRSCH 

Short Shrift

East Hampton

November 13, 2017

To the Editor,

Since Sept. 11 major league baseball alone has had more than 50,000 moments of silence for the victims of Sept. 11. If we add up all the American sports teams, school prayers, church prayers, governmental prayers, the number reaches into the millions. An extraordinary number given that the moments of silence for the 160,000 United States deaths caused by the Vietnam War and the more than two million Vietnamese deaths from the war get no moments of silence at all. 

I guess we developed the “moment of silence” riff when we felt that a national response to an action was necessary but that we really didn’t want to do anything about the problem. Except bow our heads for a minute and look reflective and go about our business. We’ve had so many silent moments that we are trying to find ways not to deal with them. So we’ve introduced respecting the victims and their families. Giving the people involved a period of reflection. Getting out of town as quickly as possible.

While to most victims and people connected to them this may seem like short shrift, but reality is a kick in the chops and short shrift is better than none at all. In truth, given the emotionally and empathetically challenged white trash that run our government and our corporations’ silence is about the maximum of their output.

The only way for reasonable people to respond reasonably is to accept the fact that our leaders don’t give a shit and suck it up. The plan for the Texas church is to bulldoze it. And then a lifetime of silence.

NEIL HAUSIG

Some Gumption

Plainview

November 7, 2017 

To the Editor:

Since the slaughter by guns of 20 6- and 7-year-old first graders in Newtown, Conn., didn’t motivate Congress to pass common-sense gun control laws, the recent killings of 58 more Americans in Las Vegas, plus 26 more in Sutherland Springs, Tex., surely won’t. 

The only possible hope for needed congressional action would be if psycho terrorists somehow managed to murder all 538 congressmen and women with guns — in which case I’m confident their 538 newly elected successors would finally show some gumption.

RICHARD SIEGELMAN

Just Being Better

East Hampton

November 13, 2017

In the July 8, 2010, issue of The Star Mr. Neil Hausig’s comments regarding the Second Amendment are crap, and again on Oct. 5, he made the same comments. Mr. Hausig seams to use social media to preach hate and discord. Quote from Hitler: To conquer a nation you must first disarm its citizens. Some people will walk behind any flag just as long as they get their way. 

The Second Amendment in the Constitution is in place to protect the citizens of this country. Firearms are only second to the Constitution in importance; the strongest reason for the people to bear arms as a last resort is to protect themselves against tyranny in government. That is why it was put in the Constitution.

In my view an armed man is a citizen. And an unarmed man is a subject. Guns do not kill people; sick, demented people kill people.

 As citizens we hope to think of yesterday with regret and tomorrow without fear. The price is what you pay; the value is what you receive. The truth is always a trick to those who live among lies. The best mind might be the wisest mind if it were a mind alone that produced wisdom. One of the biggest weaknesses of our age is our inability to tell the difference of our need from our greed.

A handful of common sense is worth a bushel of learning. The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is that self-knowledge has no end. You do not come to an achievement, you come to a conclusion. It’s an endless river, stay with it. The truth is always a trick to those who live among lies. People who know the least argue the most.

If a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk mean? Nobody knows the age of the human race. But all agree it is old enough to know better. Education is not received, it’s achieved.

Life is change, all you really can do is learn from yesterday, live for today, growth is optional, choose wisely. It’s not about being the best, just being better than you were yesterday is enough. Stand for what you believe in even if you stand alone.

All you really can do is learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. In life there is no elevator, for success you have to take the stairs. The pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow. Average people have wishes and hopes. Confident people have goals and plans.

The only limits in life are those you set yourself. 

TOM BYRNE