May 22, 2011
The Springs community lost a remarkable man last week.
Tom Collins had been a mainstay of our community for many, many years. We first met Tom over 25 years ago when we moved into a house next door to Tom and Ann. As I drove out our driveway one morning, there was Tom on a riding mower grooming the lawn in front of his home. He waved and motioned to me to pull over and with great sincerity introduced himself and welcomed Chuck and me to the neighborhood.
I was immediately taken with his openness as he made it clear that as a gay couple we were indeed welcome in the community. When I began attending the Springs Community Presbyterian Church it was a delight to talk with him after service on Sunday mornings.
He and Ann were always concerned for our well-being. The night several years ago that Chuck brought me home from the City after heart surgery and my surgical dressings gave way, Tom came to my rescue. He asked his daughter-in-law, who was visiting from Chicago, to come to the house to use her nursing skills to keep things in check until the ambulance arrived.
When Tom was allowed to tell the tale of Sgt. Collins and his remarkable task of escorting the Dragon code-breaking machine to Bletchley Park, England, during World War II, we realized we were living next door to a major figure in America’s history.
He was a proud man, an honorable man, and a true neighbor.
Tom will be greatly missed.
May 16, 2011
Thank you to everyone who helped make the Spring Into Action 5K and Family Fun Run, held on May 7 at the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, such a great success!
We are extremely grateful for the support of so many, first and foremost, Lara Siska, from East Hampton Rotary, who with her husband, Bruce Siska, organized the race, secured sponsorship support, and made the entire event come together.
Thanks go to the East Hampton Union Free School District for permitting us to use the fields for the kids’ races, the village police for providing support along the route, and the many volunteers who helped that day, from East Hampton Rotary, Star of the East Lodge, the staff of East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, parents of children enrolled in the center, and members of the community. Many thanks to Southampton Hospital for its sponsorship and for providing oranges and water for the runners, and to the other race sponsors.
Congratulations to all of the runners! More than 100 people ran in the 5K on a course that started at the center, continued through the village, returning to the center. One hundred children ran the 400-meter and 1-mile races, crossing the official finish line with smiles on their faces and the incredible pride of accomplishment.
This event brought so many in the community together. We were pleased to provide an opportunity for other groups to promote their work as well, including Theresa Roden and the girls from iTri, the amazing mothers who organized the Tikes on Bikes event on May 14, and the professionals at East End Kids Therapy.
East Hampton Rotary and Star of the East Lodge are to be commended for their generous and steadfast support of many organizations in our community. We are grateful to be included among them. Thank you!
East Hampton Day Care
Too Many Deer
May 21, 2011
Regarding the article, “Ruminant Rumblings,” on the front page of last week’s Star. I beg to differ with the premise that the proposed deer contraceptive study will cost the town nothing. It will, if given the go-ahead, cost the town a great deal of what the town has precious little of, namely, time: a minimum of four and a half years to do one small-scale pilot project which might or might not yield useful, scientifically valid results. We don’t know. Here’s what we do know:
Exploding populations of deer (or elk, or moose) are a problem in every state.
In the Northeast, the deer population has been exploding for decades, and the rate at which it is doing so is accelerating. According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the deer population has reached a critical mass such that it’s now set to double every two years.
And we must remember that the problem is not just deer; it’s also deer ticks, and the potentially deadly microorganisms which deer ticks, and in the case of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, only deer ticks, carry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme is the fastest spreading infectious disease in the U.S. What’s more, the two main hot-spots of Lyme disease in the nation are the Central Hudson River Valley and the East End of Long Island.
There are too many deer living here already. Far too many. They have decimated their natural habitat; the few remaining swaths of deciduous woods between our sprawling subdivisions are deforested. All the trees you see are old. The deer have consumed all the saplings, so there is no younger generation. Also, no understory (meaning, among other things, no place for birds to nest). When the trees now standing die, and they are not particularly long-lived, the woods will cease to exist.
An estimated 10,000 deer are conservatively said to be living among us now, and, given the artificially ideal conditions — bounteous resources and a total absence of predators — that number will have quadrupled, to 40,000 animals, half of them female, even before the contraceptive study has run its course. Therefore, even if, in the end, the contraceptive worked, the cost of implanting it (and reimplanting it every four years) into thousands and thousands of female deer would be astronomical, not to mention that tick numbers, which directly correlate with deer numbers, will be off the charts (actually, they already are).
The study is no doubt well-intentioned, but the chances are that it will, inadvertently, do more harm than good, by allowing public officials, who for years have kept their heads firmly embedded in the sand with respect to this issue, to leave them firmly embedded there for the foreseeable future.
May 22, 2011
Since I announced for the East Hampton Independence Party, the choice for town supervisor, Zachary Cohen, a Democrat, I received a nasty phone call from a Republican operative. There have also been many anonymous posts online by apparent operatives, attacking me and accusing me of endorsing Zack Cohen for my own personal reasons.
I can only answer these accusations by stating that the Independence Party is not a rubber stamp for either the Republican or Democratic Party and makes choices for what we believe to be the best candidates for the town. The election for 2011 will include on the Independence Party line, Republicans, Democrats, and Independence Party people. That’s is what we are about.
The fact that the leaders of the Republican Party have made attempts to sway our vote in every way they could is a verification to me that the right choices were made.
I can only hope that Trace Duryea will follow her own suggestion, that now that the candidates have been selected let’s support our candidates and may the best people win.
East Hampton Independence Party
Board Should Care
May 23, 2011
In accepting the East Hampton Democratic Committee nomination for East Hampton Town Board, I told the gathered members and friends that I wanted to start my acceptance speech with a political joke. I soon learned that political jokes are pretty much in three categories: They hate Democrats, they hate Republicans, or they hate all politicians. This rhetoric was not the tone I wanted to start a campaign with nor is it how I feel. The goal is to work together. Instead, I told the group that they should consider me an advocate for everything East Hampton.
Unfortunately, what we have witnessed in the past 18 months is a town board that is willing to sacrifice East Hampton as we know it. In fact, they have acted more like an inept corporate boardroom instead of an elected town board. A corporate boardroom cares about profits and self-interest. An elected town board should care about the community and creating a level playing field.
Community input is the essence of democracy. But the town board majority turns a deaf ear to the people of East Hampton. They have sided with developers over neighborhoods, they have engaged in spot-zoning, tried to sell our fishing heritage, closed Fort Pond House and put it up for sale, dropped the leaf-pickup program, changed the critical bluff setbacks so one person could have a bigger house with more clearing, and they shouted at a speaker during a public hearing, “You conservationists lost the election,” signaling a real threat to our unique and fragile environment.
Nor is this the time to lay off town employees. The social cost is too great, and the ripple effect to our local businesses could be devastating.
Great leaders in government believe that the broader the dialogue between those affected, the better the result. This was certainly true in producing the 2005 comprehensive plan and the local waterfront revitalization plan. These documents took many years to produce, thousands of people provided input, tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time were needed, and finally documents emerged that provided our road map to the future, our blueprint to follow.
Leadership that is effective should be able to manage, negotiate, unify, and inspire. It may not be what we have now, but it is what we can have. In accepting the Democratic nomination to run for East Hampton Town Board I hope to help our town move towards that type of leadership.
May 23, 2011
To the Editor,
Another do-over! Time and again, our current town board majority has rushed to undo practice and tradition with outcomes that give the lie to their boasted managerial expertise. Only public outcry and advice to check with their lawyers have stopped them from putting a paintball contest on a nature preserve, turning our lighting laws upside down, selling town docks used by commercial fishermen, selling cherished public park property used by the Boy Scouts and Montauk School students, closing popular farm stands, and allowing private residential property owners to hire out their property for raucous commercial events. Now, in the fiasco over beach concession changes, we have another astonishing example of incompetence.
How on earth could the board have allowed itself to deny vendors of long standing the full-time access to the beaches they had enjoyed without event a period of grace? How could they have appointed a secret committee with secret standards to make this decision on criteria they later questioned? How could they have suddenly canceled their decision in another secret procedure, opening themselves to litigation both by those to whom they awarded the contract and those from whom they took it away? How could they have left us where we are now, with no vendors entitled to permanent spots, and any number authorized to pull in and out at 30-minute intervals all day long?
I’m reminded of that old cartoon that writes the word “think” starting in big, handsome capital letters that get smaller and smaller. Funny in the comics, but not funny when it’s your town government.
On the Road
May 23, 2011
For the first time in over 40 years I am almost happy to write a check for my real estate taxes. Why shouldn’t I be happy with a 17-percent reduction?
I cannot recall reading any letter by Democrats complaining about the complete incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility of Bill McGintee and his board who were responsible for pushing taxes through the roof and did a great job of putting the town close to bankruptcy.
Since taking office, Bill Wilkinson, the board, and Len Bernard have been successful in lowering the town debt by decreased spending and better labor contracts, along with other necessary steps. This has put the town on the road to fiscal recovery.
It gets tiring week after week, reading the petty complaints by the same Democratic clique. I have yet to see a suggestion by those people as to how to lower costs and put the town on a long-forgotten, solid financial footing.
Remember, my Democratic friends, cutting expenses is always painful.