May 19, 2013
We’ve all read a bumper sticker that says “My [son or daughter] is an honor student at [one school or other].” Good for that proud parent and that hard-working student.
Today, on a street in East Hampton Village, I read a bumper sticker that said “My yellow lab is smarter then your honor student.” That’s a sad commentary indeed.
More than Double
May 15, 2013
Summer has already begun. Up until a month ago the spread between gasoline prices at the Manorville Mobil station and all the various stations in the Hamptons was about 11 cents per gallon (higher in the Hamptons, of course). Now it is 25 cents. And between the Mobil station at Manorville and the one in Amagansett, it is 60 cents.
Convenience and necessity (and delivery costs) are worth a price, but for the spread to more than double from what it was a month ago delivers a different message, and a tough one for local residents.
May 20, 2013
Many thanks to The Star for its Letters section. This service allows the community to express itself, a very important function.
My previous letter referring to the continued existence of the late Harry Carson’s Shakespeare Group brought a great response. The next meeting will be at the Amagansett Library on Saturday, at the usual time of 10:30 a.m. We will be discussing “Henry V.”
All are welcome.
ROBERT BORIS RISKIN
Piles of Paper
Packed in an office like salty sardines
in touch with each other love lives, love lies and sicknesses
happiness comes from a return of a stapler
sorrow finds a loop hole with the rise and fall of laughter
I stare through this hole in the wall catching a fish too small to keep
life’s rhythmic sequence of repetition
life’s way of kicking you in the teeth.
More Serious Problem
May 20, 2013
I was chagrined to read in last week’s East Hampton Star about the town’s new plan to control last summer’s rowdy crowds by limiting the weight and length of vehicles that are allowed to use the Indian Wells Beach access road. Last Thursday Councilwoman Overby introduced proposed changes to the town code that will prohibit commercial vehicles over certain weights, lengths, and/or passenger capacities from using Indian Wells Highway.
Wow! For more than two years members of the Springs Concerned Citizens group have been requesting the town board amend the town code to establish meaningful and enforceable restrictions on the overnight parking of heavy-duty commercial trucks in residential zones. The town has simply ignored our request. This is made even more shocking because on two occasions the town’s public safety administrator, Patrick Gunn, has communicated to the board that the absence of a definition of a “light [duty] truck” has rendered vague, and therefore unenforceable, the current code provisions that prohibit the “establishment or carrying on of any new business, trade, commercial operation or other nonresidential activity or use‚” because an exception is allowed for “light trucks” to be parked overnight on residential lots if used by an occupant of the residence.
When a serious problem was recognized that adversely affects the town’s residents that use a beach in Amagansett, the board speedily drafted new code provisions to provide those residents relief. How come this can be done for Indian Wells Beach while a more serious problem, one that affects all residential areas of town, is allowed to fester, adversely affecting our quality of life, but the town board takes no action?
We can only hope that someday soon the town board will get around to making the necessary code changes to prohibit the overnight parking of heavy-duty commercial trucks in all residential zones, and thus help to eliminate nonresidential activity in residential areas, which is the intent and purpose of the zoning code.
P.S. Please see attached file containing copies of two Pat Gunn memos to the town board.
Housing and Zoning
May 20, 2013
I received a position paper, “Time To Enforce our Housing Laws,” in the form of a newsletter from the local Democratic Party last week. This is a subject dear to my heart as I live in Springs. After four years of an administration that has refused to acknowledge the problem of overcrowding and illegal construction and renting, an administration that pats itself on the back for doing a great job in ordinance enforcement and really has only scratched the surface — this is a welcome change.
If you live in Springs, you know the problems. They have not gone away. They have increased. Our population has swelled. The Springs School is grossly overcrowded, and projections for the future do not show any immediate relief. Neighborhoods are showing signs of blight. It is not unusual to pass a house packed with cars in the driveway, the front lawn, on the side of the house, and see illegal fences, gates, sheds, and all sorts of questionable structures. Code enforcement does not seem to be able to deal with these clear violations of town code. It’s like the wild, wild west, anything goes. The town has turned a blind eye to these violations, either through incompetence or on purpose. The results are the same.
The newsletter has some very good suggestions. The committee that investigated code problems did their homework, took a look at reality, studied other townships’ laws, and came up with some cogent suggestions. It has recommended a better-trained, organized, and full-time code enforcement department. A department that is professional and has an interest in staying and working in East Hampton. The turnover in this department, and, I might add, in the town attorney’s office, seems to indicate problems from within. These turnovers weaken the adjudication process and prolong and weaken cases in court. Several code court cases have been handled in court by three different town attorneys over a three or four-year span. There is very little continuity and incentive in these departments, and as a result a weak and ineffective enforcement has evolved.
It has already been suggested by local residents to the current board and again is being suggested that there be an inter-agency task force to foster collaboration among town agencies, councilpersons, police and fire departments, and building and ordinance departments, as well as knowledgeable town residents, to focus on the housing and zoning problems of the town. Not just Springs, there are many areas showing blight, and this is a direct result of overcrowding due to neglect and lack of law enforcement.
Southampton has a rental registry law which encourages compliance with zoning regulations. Landlords must register the names of their renters, a floor plan of the house is helpful, and landlords who cannot comply with the law should have greatly increased penalties. Surely when breaking the law becomes so expensive, it is not worth the cost of doing illegal business. It will make it all the more difficult for the landlord to add an illegal second kitchen, Sheetrock the cellar adding illegal rooms with no direct exit and/or windows, creating health and safety issues, and/or renting single-family homes to multiple unrelated persons living in locked bedrooms and closets and overusing the septic system of a single-family home.
Zoning and rental laws need to be looked at and revised and enforced to be more punitive for repeat landlord offenders — and there are many. We have laws and we have standards, and both are being ignored.
The town also must consider and act on the issue of affordable housing. Driving this illegal renting and overcrowding of neighborhoods in East Hampton is the lack of affordable housing in our town. It’s time to deal. Where are people who work here supposed to live?
The voters in Springs are very aware of the lack of progress on this issue. Each candidate running for the board in the upcoming election will be questioned. We shall express our discontent with the current state of affairs in November. We shall carefully vet every candidate on this subject. It is not easy, it is a complicated, difficult issue and no doubt expensive to deal with, but at some point one hopes the town board will realize it only gets worse by denying its existence.
At the town board meeting last week the subject was again presented, with tepid response or silence from some on the board and outright hostility from others. Most of the speakers during public comment spoke eloquently to the subject, and once again the response was underwhelming at best, if you discount the theatrics.
For Town Board
May 16, 2013
I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to represent the Democratic Party and its ideals in a quest for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board.
My gratitude goes out to Jean Frankl, the Democratic Party chairwoman, and Betty Mazur, its screening chairwoman, for a very fair and very deliberate screening process.
To the members of the screening committee, thank you for your commitment to the process and for recommending me for town board. And to those who used their vote at the nominating convention to express their confidence in me, I am truly grateful.
I look forward to having meaningful dialogue about the issues facing our town. Together, we can see to it that East Hampton remains a beautiful, healthy, and extraordinary place to live and work.
To Fill Her Shoes
May 15, 2013
Dear Mr. Rattray,
My name is Carl Irace, a local East Hampton attorney, and candidate for East Hampton Town Justice.
I would like to thank the East Hampton Republican and Independence Parties for their respective nominations. I am looking forward to running and know that I will bring my enthusiasm and energy to the campaign trail and bench.
Also, I would like to congratulate the Hon. Justice Cahill on her 20 years of service to the Town of East Hampton. She was a strong justice that sat on the bench during a period that saw a lot of changes. It will be hard to fill her shoes, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to try.
My courtroom experience and judicial temperament will help my efforts to fill her shoes. Since starting my East Hampton law practice, I have represented numerous clients in Supreme Court, County Court, and the Justice Courts of all five East End towns. Prior, I served as East Hampton’s deputy town attorney and counsel to the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as being appointed special prosecutor by the Suffolk County District Attorney. For almost nine years before that I was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx. As an A.D.A., I prosecuted nearly 3,000 cases, handled an additional caseload of violent felonies, litigated narcotics evictions in Housing Court, and for over three years, was on-call 24 hours on homicide beeper duty.
Our court has changed in recent years. It now is among the busiest justice courts in the state and frequently and routinely sees serious felony arraignments. I have the experience to handle this caseload and the judicial temperament to ensure the fairness that the justice system and community require.
I look forward to campaigning and meeting even more of the citizens of East Hampton.
Yours very truly,
Candidate for East Hampton
All the Qualities
May 17, 2013
I am honored to have received the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee nomination for Town Justice.
I have over 35 years of experience as an attorney: as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, as a civil trial attorney, and, for the past 25 years, as a solo practitioner with a local general practice, including criminal defense in Justice Court. I have the benefit of having served as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in criminal matters, as well as having handled all of the other types of cases that appear in Justice Court including zoning violations and landlord-tenant disputes.
I have been committed to public service in the Town of East Hampton since we moved here: former Chief of the East Hampton Fire Department and active member for nearly 25 years; appointed member of the board of assessment review, pro bono attorney for Citizens for Access Rights and the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance, Little League coach for 10 years and umpire thereafter.
My wife, Stephanie (“Steph’s Stuff”), and I have raised our two children here. They attended East Hampton schools, went away to college and returned to East Hampton to live and work. Alexander owns a house in Springs and has his own landscaping business (“Tek Turf”). Kylie is a certified teacher who substitutes at the John M. Marshall Elementary School and is working on her master’s degree in bilingual education at Hofstra.
I believe that I have all the qualities to be an excellent town justice: 35 years of broad legal experience, a history of dedicated public service and involvement in the community, strong character, and judicial temperament. I campaigned for this office in 2007 and lost by only 330 votes, the closest race against an incumbent town justice in nearly 20 years. I look forward to campaigning again and, with the support of the voters, to be elected as the next East Hampton Town Justice.
May 16, 2013
It was very disappointing and frustrating to find that after trying for four weeks in a row to have a letter to the editor published concerning East Hampton Airport, it was edited with a major misquote that completely confused the point I was trying to make.
My original letter stated that “townspeople have been misled into believing that after December 2014 something magical will happen and we will get our airport back and be able to impose noise and traffic restrictions.”
“The F.A.A. has jurisdiction over air operations because East Hampton Airport is a public use airport, not because of grant assurance obligations. The actual expiration of all grant assurances is 2021.”
“The F.A.A. has never allowed restrictions to airport operations to be imposed by municipalities and is highly unlikely to set a precedent with East Hampton.”
In response to several letters this week from airport opponents quoting more disinformation and exaggerations I would like to state the following. The town cannot close the airport anytime it wants “solely by an act of the town board” as long as grant assurance obligations exist. Even after grant assurances expire, there are long-term leases that previous town boards have signed with all airport tenants, and any attempts to close the airport will certainly be vigorously opposed by those tenants.
East Hampton Airport operations are paid for out of the airport budget with funds derived from airport-generated revenue such as landing fees and lease payments. The Industrial Park on Industrial Road was created from airport property with F.A.A. approval, with the sole intention of making the airport self-supporting by leasing property to tenants, with revenue going directly to the airport budget. In fact, for many years this property was undervalued and leased to non-aviation tenants at well below market value, with the revenue diverted to the town’s general fund. The leases for these commercial lots are still well below market value and are actually about 10 percent of what airport tenants pay for similar size property.
To claim that supposed airport revenue shortfalls are the responsibility of current management is to ignore the reality of years of poor fiscal planning and property management of airport assets by previous administrations.
Landing fees are set by averaging area rates and, according to F.A.A. regulations, cannot be punitive, selective, or arbitrary. It seems rather hypocritical that airport opponents who were so much in favor of a control tower when first proposed now take every opportunity to criticize its operation and funding as being fiscally irresponsible and an operational failure.
Thanks to airport opponents’ continued legal challenges and environmental demands, the cost of operating a seasonal control tower has now become a political issue as we approach the campaign season. The most recent public meeting on the control tower was intended to address environmental concerns only and was proposed by the F.A.A. to make sure that all environmental issues were covered to avoid legal challenges that they have become all too accustomed to when dealing with East Hampton Town. Nonetheless, airport opponents tried their best to manipulate the meeting into a platform for expressing their opposition to the airport in general.
It troubles me to hear talk of “secret meetings” of airport opposition groups when those same groups complain of supposed closed-door meetings among town representatives any time the town tries to discuss airport issues.
Town residents are entitled to make their decisions based on real facts, not be misled by confusing claims made by hardcore individuals intent on closing a facility that serves the town.
Another Smoking Gun?
May 20, 2013
Kudos to Larry Penny, who, in his latest “Nature Notes” column, calls attention to the environmental degradation, specifically to our avian population, caused by the onslaught of helicopters and jets in our skies.
Like Larry, I have observed first-hand the cowering of wildlife on my property as these interlopers pass overhead, specifically ducks and turkeys. Other birds constantly flee to the safety of the nearby dense woodland until the noise has passed, but many have, as Larry notes, disappeared altogether.
I live in a deep woodland and wetland setting surrounded by scores of undisturbed acreage, yet many bird species have disappeared altogether over the last five years or so. Among them, all owl species, bluebirds, yellow finches, tanagers, and the bobwhites. A parallel to the increase in noisy aircraft overhead would not be a stretch.
The so-called and highly controversial “power-line route” for helicopters, some aircraft, and, of late, some seaplanes, passes over three protected and environmentally sensitive wildlife preserves, Jessup’s Neck and the Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyac, and the Long Pond Greenbelt in Bridgehampton. While I am not sure what the New York State standards are for flying above these environmentally sensitive areas, the Federal Aviation Administration itself issued an advisory in 2004 calling for minimum altitudes of 2,000 feet in “noise sensitive categories which, include recreational areas, particularly those with wilderness characteristics, wildlife refuges and historical sites where a quiet setting is a generally recognized feature or attribute.” With all the recent controversy over the seasonal tower at the airport, perhaps it’s time to bring in the F.A.A. to implement its own edict and to restrict flying over those areas it has seen fit to single out as protected.
Given that I live a half-mile south of the power-line route, I can vouchsafe that aircraft approaching East Hampton Airport rarely if ever meet this 2,000-foot minimum over the Long Pond Greenbelt, which is four and a half miles from the airport. Ira Rennert’s massive helicopter, as large as Marine One, moves slowly and noisily at roughly 300 feet. His is just one of the dozens of examples every weekend.
I read recently that the Department of Environmental Conservation had established its annual plover protected habitat at Jessup’s Neck (the entry and exit point for helicopters for the power-line route), yet no plovers had shown up for nesting. Could this be yet another smoking gun in the demise, or relocation, of our avian population? Time will tell. Let’s all just hope it’s not too late.
PRESTON T. PHILLIPS
Why Is It Allowed?
May 20, 2013
Here is a question for the East End: If there was no such thing as East Hampton Airport, and a corporation came forward with a proposal to create East Hampton Airport as it is presently constituted — 24-hour flights, minimal landing fees, huge jets swooping in and out over East Hampton Village and Georgica Pond and our beaches, and a year-round helicopter assault with as many as 80 flights per day on summer weekends — would it be embraced as a welcome addition to our once-rural resort community? Duh. . . .
So, of course, it would not be allowed. Then why is it allowed now? Ask your elected officials what in hell they are doing to protect what is best in our community: natural life, peacefulness, aesthetic sensibility, pristine environment, preservation of what remains of this magnificent place.
East Hampton Airport is an environmental disaster. It is by far the single most negative factor in the degradation of the regional environment: outrageous pollution in the form of noise, air, scenic vistas, overall quality of life, and decrease of property values and tax base in a time of fiscal need.
When just in the past week the U.S. Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii is noting the largest carbon dioxide accumulations in history, and The New York Times’s front page states how insurance companies are now planning for huge annual environmental disasters as a result of global warming — this past year being the worst on record — why does East Hampton Town allow people to travel to cocktail parties by helicopter and jet airplane? That is as environmentally degrading as anything imaginable. What pathetic irresponsibility.
Forget the horrific noise for a moment, if you can (a hell-copter is a military metaphor for fear and violence). We need to ban the hell-copters and jets for the sake of our planet. Those who deny global warming, and man’s responsibility for it, are the same ones who believe that their personal interests and greed make their infantile whims superior to our collective future. They are ignorant, they are selfish, and history will prove that they are wrong. What is best for them is not best for the habitat of the East End and the vast majority of its inhabitants, nor is it at all good for the planet beyond us. Why do deer and wild turkeys on the East End have more rights than people?
So, as for the airport, control it or steamroll it.
Never ‘In Chaos’
May 15, 2013
I read the article in last week’s paper regarding Springs School and I found it in poor taste. My children attend the Springs School and I am proud to say I did as well.
First I would like to say that at no time was our school “in chaos.” Mr. Mucci jumped in with enthusiasm to help out while Mr. Casale got a clean bill of health.
The children were always in good hands as they always are. And the parents were kept in constant contact via e-mail as the situation regarding Mr. Casale’s health was being addressed.
I am proud of our school, as I am of the staff that runs it! Thank you, Springs School!
Stealthily in the Night
May 20, 2013
I just wanted to thank the early-morning village crew that has been combing (finely) the streets and sidewalks for litter, throwaway summer periodicals, and cigarette butts. It seems they are out earlier and are doing a really great job.
Even after the past couple of horrific weekends, with village streets overflowing with people who apparently have never seen a garbage pail before or have no functioning knowledge of the purpose of a crosswalk, these morning crews are preserving the pristine nature of East Hampton in the springtime.
For the past 15 years, my three golden retrievers took pleasure in meandering the sidewalks picking up trash and butts. We always stopped for coffee and egg sandwiches just as the morning crew arrived. Now, with just one pup at my side, I have decided not to pick up other people’s garbage anymore. I felt we had earned the privilege of “shepherding” the village and always felt joy in the tasks we performed toward her preservation. We have grown weary!
Verbal commitment was made to provide cigarette receptacles throughout the areas most heavily insulted by neglectful smokers. They never materialized. A proposal was made whereby throwaway magazines would be addressed in a manner that would make the creator, provider, and recipient responsible for maintaining an orderly presentation to the public. The past two seasons have seen a monstrous problem with these periodicals. They are dropped stealthily in the night to random and inappropriate locations. They are left in shop doorways where owners and staff just dump them away from their storefronts, creating garbage piles which blow through the streets like tumbleweeds. This issue, simply corrected, has not been addressed.
Our village streets and sidewalks have not been properly policed for many seasons. The foot patrol is generally too young or simply not assertive enough to handle this new, more aggressive quality of tourist we have inculcated with our desperate need to survive the substantially shortened season. They seldom direct pedestrians to crosswalks. Jaywalking is the number-one safety issue here. Bikes are on the sidewalks, and I have seldom seen riders forced to dismount and walk.
It is not difficult to demand that someone pick up their litter, yet it seems of little concern to the foot patrol. Illegal vehicular behaviors flourish and there never seems to be police presence to stop or correct these dangerous maneuvers.
We love the village. We treat her with respect and enjoy our quiet, private moments there. We’re getting on in years and so this season we are just going to relax and let the world spin on around us.
Still Not Answering
May 15, 2013
It seems finally the news media is angry, as it has been targeted by the Obama administration to have its phone calls listened into. The Internal Revenue Service has its own scandal, and the administration is still not answering for Benghazi. Not too much to write in this letter except I’d like some real truthful answers, if only the president would stop partying, golfing, playing basketball, and taking vacations. If only he would lead and stop being the manager doling out the work.
Remember, the phone rang in the middle of the night, and Susan Rice was told to answer it. Let’s hope in two weeks all is not forgiven as we need to get this country on the right track.
If the buck stops with the president why is he blaming everyone else? Chicago bullies in the White House and he doesn’t know how to tell the truth, just blames everyone else.
May 13, 2013
To the Editor,
I have been involved with the Springs School for five years as a parent and volunteer, and now as an employee. To say that I am upset with last week’s article, “Quick Exit for Springs Administrator,” would be an understatement. Amanda Fairbanks’s reporting sacrificed accuracy and balance for sensationalism. Using phrases like “unprepared for chaos,” “went missing,” “adding to the confusion,” and closing with “questions remain” leads the public to believe that the school was unable to run properly and administrators were hiding something.
There was never a feeling of “chaos” with either the departure of Dr. Byrnes or with Principal Casale’s medical leave. There were concerns amongst the staff in both cases, which were addressed immediately. No one “went missing.” Both sets of circumstances were kept private because it would have been highly unprofessional, insensitive, and possibly illegal, to share such information. All school programs continued to run properly because our superintendent, Dominic Mucci, immediately changed his schedule and both he and the Springs School Board went right to work finding the right candidate, Louis Aiello, to fulfill other school obligations.
Ms. Fairbanks correctly stated Mr. Aiello is known to Springs, “having served as an interim director of personnel services and special education. . . . He also is the chair of Southampton School District’s interim committee on special education.”
As to the parents Ms. Fairbanks spoke with, that has not been my experience. Two of my duties at the school include managing students and visitors arriving before the official start of the school day, and working the greeter’s desk for an hour each day. I speak with many parents. Of course I have been asked questions about all that has happened. However, once I explained our school’s desire to protect the privacy of all involved, all nodded in agreement and/or understanding. Many made kind comments of concern, as one parent stated, “Eric [Mr. Casale] lives and breathes Springs School.”
Moving on, Ms. Fairbanks also wrote that Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, the board president, stated that the board wishes Dr. Byrnes much success: “We [the school board] will be hiring a new assistant principal for the 2013-14 school year . . . by Aug. 1, 2013.”
So, Ms. Fairbanks, what questions remain?
May 17, 2013
An ambassador and others were killed during an attack by terrorists in Benghazi. That ambassador had turned down additional security when it was offered, probably for the best of reasons. The Congress had cut security funds for our diplomatic missions around the world.
The Department of State and the C.I.A. issued descriptions of the assault that were called “talking points.” These were changed and colored for security reasons and for cover-your-ass reasons and other inter-departmental reasons now shown in the e-mails between officials. It was confusion personified. Not a directed cover-up by anyone.
So what do the Republicans, joined by our own dedicated Obama-haters, do? They try to embarrass and damage Hillary Clinton and President Obama with spurious, off-the-wall exaggerations about the entire matter. And now look stupid!
Someone, maybe me, should tell Mr. Michael Bouker he is as wrong now as he has been for years about Obama and that he will continue to look foolish every time he opens his mouth if he doesn’t follow facts and just spouts rhetoric.
Obama was born in the U.S., is a Christian, is not a Communist, and is doing a great job as president — and Hillary will, too, if she runs.
So shut up, Mr. Bouker and others, crawl back into the bosom of George W. Bush where you can watch another war commenced and thousands die!
RICHARD P. HIGER
Written in Secret
May 13, 2013
To the Editor:
Every week since it was introduced, we learn about another toxic provision of S.744, the ma