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Letters to the Editor: 01.12.12

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:48

Pulled Together

    East Hampton

    January 7, 2012

Dear David,

    A search-and-recovery operation does not just happen. We have well-trained people in the Springs Fire Department and East Hampton Town police and Sag Harbor dive teams. There were many rescuers on the water recently, and we should be proud of them all. But at this point I would like to talk about our marine patrol, dive team, and ocean rescue team.

    Training that does not fall short when the emergency hits is not to be taken for granted. Training with continuity of approaches, where every rescuer knows what action to expect from the person next to him, and each different unit knows what the other unit’s mission is to be, training that results in uniformity and an outcome that all teams can feel satisfied with when it’s over takes dedication and practice, time, and patience.

    Chief Edward Michels of the marine patrol has been that trainer. He has trained others to teach as he does. One vehicle in the water is maybe the least of what these rescuers are able to handle.

    Chief Michels came to our town government with 23 years of background in the Coast Guard. When I was a new councilwoman he came to me and explained his vision for our town. He said that we needed to be pulled together in our training, and be uniform with units UpIsland and each other in order to all work together if the need arose. He said he did not want a visitor to come into our town and know which docks and bulkheads and ramps were town-owned by their uniform derelict, dilapidated, and dangerous condition. He also said that our equipment was out of the dark ages and, for the most part, did not exist.

    He also knew that no one worked alone and that it took many minds to achieve a worthwhile goal. And it does. Jay Schneiderman was the new supervisor. Jay has an intrinsic ability to separate the “I want it” from the “We truly need it” of our town. We worked together. It was not easy and required serious updating and evaluation.

    The workboat that you saw deploying the dive team and pulling in cages and recovery apparatus was a well-planned effort of Chief Michels’s for years, not designed by accident but in preparation for accidents. That boat could save lives in Montauk (along with the barge that it can push) if and when Montauk is separated from the mainland. It can gain access into Greenport Hospital faster than emergency equipment could get off Montauk if there were a breach, and also bring supplies back.

    There is the side-scan sonar device that had no sooner arrived when UpIsland needed to borrow it numerous times to scan beneath the water to find bodies. I was proud, and Jay was proud, that we had it. The first Jet Skis for life-saving purposes were then bought by the town.

    Jay planned for the immediate necessities and even provided for us after he moved on to the county. I don’t think he ever said no to me until all was done and then he loudly said, “Enough already, Pat!” Chief Michels saw his visions achieved and then dedicated men to the upkeep of the investments.

    I never underestimated the value of the experienced man who stood at the corner of my desk and asked over and over to save lives, showed us what we needed to accomplish it, and then trained us all.

    My message here in this long letter is that a large part of this town is water. We are primarily accessible by water, we are safe, and we owe our many, many nautical successes to Chief Ed Michels. And I, among many, sincerely hope that no future town government has the absence of forethought to diminish our assets — you never know when you will need them — our employees being among our most important of assets.



    Ms. Mansir is a former East Hampton Town councilwoman. Ed.

How We Survived

    East Hampton

    January 8, 2012

Dear Mr. Rattray:

    With the threat of our government going broke and all the negative news on the television, radio, and in letters to the editor, I awoke the first morning of 2012 wondering how we survived through it all.

    Since the 2010 elections, President Obama has had to contend with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Instead of helping to resolve the many issues of our nation, it voted the exact opposite of our president. This is the same group that got our nation into two wars and the recession.

    They should make laws that would prevent elected congressmen and senators from campaigning for another office while still serving and taking a salary from the taxpayers. Some members should have retired long ago in order to give the younger generation a chance to serve. There should also be a law preventing Congress from attaching pork-laden amendments to essential bills for the military regardless of the consequences.

    Going back almost 2,000 years, it was Jesus Christ who drove away the moneychangers from the temple. It hasn’t changed. The lobbyists are still here and paid by large corporations to enact laws introduced by Congress. A simple law preventing lobbying could save the government millions of dollars.

    We have another year to listen to and read all of the negative comments against our president. The old Bonackers had a name for them: “die-hards,” the ones who cannot take defeat. They come all wrapped up in the American flag, but all they want to do is overturn our government. They never let go even after the election is over. Another saying: “Keep your eyes peeled” and you will find out who all the negative ones are.

    I have always voted for the person regardless of the party affiliation. My grandfather Jonathan Miller (a ninth- generation Miller) left his wife and three children at the old homestead on Old Stone Highway in Springs to serve in the Civil War. He returned with one hand shot off by a cannonball. He sacrificed his hand to unite our nation under one flag. My father, Russell Miller, served in the U.S. Life Saving Station and the U.S. Coast Guard in World Wars I and II, and my son, Milton Jr. (Mickey), served in Korea as a military policeman. The Miller and Loper families served in all the U.S.A.’s wars and helped to build this country and our township.

    S.O.S. (Save Our Station)



Caring Spirit

    East Hampton

    January 3, 2011

To the Editor,

    On Dec. 29, in the closing days of the past year, East Hampton lost one of the most dedicated health care professionals in our community. Virginia McCaffrey, R.D.H., succumbed to cancer, having served 31 years as a dental hygienist with East Hampton Dental Associates, the practice founded in 1946 by Dr. David Baker, on the Circle in East Hampton Village. Ginny, as she was affectionately known, was one of the most courageous and dedicated women that I have known in my life, remaining committed to her work and her patients while continuing to battle her disease for most of the past two decades.

    She treated her patients in the most professional manner with a warm and caring spirit. The hundreds of East End patients who were devoted to her, and remained under her care for years, reciprocated that spirit. She took her work seriously, chiding her patients who did not “brush or floss correctly,” but her quick smile would promptly put them at ease, and elicit a promise of better compliance in return. Her strong and independent will, fostered as a young girl who grew up in the Bronx, became a part of the resolute background fabric of East Hampton that can be appreciated by many have who have lived on the East End of Long Island for generations. That determination served her well and was admired by many.

    When I joined the practice as an associate dentist in 1996, transitioning my residence from Manhattan with my wife and three children, Ginny welcomed me with the same gracious manner she had with almost everyone, and displayed the highest level of respect for me as a dental professional. She also kept her illness as private as possible, and I was shocked when I first learned from another co-worker that she had returned to work from a major cancer battle, which required difficult surgery and treatment, shortly before I arrived.

    Ginny was a fighter and had a no-nonsense honesty that belied her upbringing. I would often tell her, “you can take a girl out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the Bronx out of the girl,” which would always get a laugh from her. Needless to say, if there was ever a battle, you would want Ginny on your side.

    She was never afraid to speak her mind. In fact, when I purchased the practice in 1998, Ginny was among the first to congratulate me, and followed it by warning “that I better not change anything.” I took those orders as if they came from a drill sergeant. Yet, when the practice expanded with additional dentists, staff, and services to meet the needs of the East Hampton community, Ginny remained the most loyal and supportive employee I could ever have. As anyone who owns a business on the East End knows, that level of commitment and service is often worth more than an employee’s weight in gold. Ginny would have several more recurrences and treatment for her disease, and we were always amazed at the return of her strength, vitality, and continued love of her work and her patients.

    The last battle with her cancer, however, would force her retirement from practice, leaving a void felt by her co-workers, and especially her patients. Gratefully, Ginny consented to allow my wife, Georgia, and me to host a small “retirement” dinner this past November in our home. It was a special time, considering her frail condition, for our dental practice family to recognize Ginny’s service and, perhaps more important, bond with her one last time. We sang to her, joked, laughed, and even cried, but mostly we were thankful for that opportunity to be together one last time.

    Ginny kept a strong and independent spirit until the last moment, not wanting to be a bother to anyone and preferring to live alone, after her longtime beau, Bud, passed away a number of years ago. She received hundreds of well-wishing cards, adoring notes, even gift baskets from patients, co-workers, and friends. So many wanted to visit her, but many times this made her uncomfortable, wanting not to be a focus of attention, and always honest with her closest co-workers and friends when not feeling up to their visits.

    East Hampton has had a number of unsung heroes in its history who have lived their entire lives with similar humility, honesty, strong character, and devoted service. I am fortunate to have been blessed by this one extraordinary woman.


    East Hampton Dental Associates

Congress Hall

    Skillman, N.J.

    December 31, 2012

Dear David,

    Your column “One for the Books” and your mother’s column “Steinway and Daughters” in the Dec. 15 issue of The Star brought back many memories. The columns referred to an estate sale in a long-vacant house on East Hampton’s Main Street, a house filled with books and many other treasures.

    The house in question is 177 Main Street, also known as Congress Hall. The house stands on land that was acquired by William Mulford, the brother of John Mulford, one of the original settlers, around 1650. The house, which originally stood on the corner of Buell Lane and Main Street, was built by the Mulfords, probably around 1700.

    According to “East Hampton Heritage” by Clay Lancaster, Robert A.M. Stern, and Robert Hefner, Congress Hall was originally a lean-to house, and was converted to a full two-story dwelling in 1805. It was moved a short distance south on the same property in 1902, and another house, 173 Main Street, was built in its place.

    Some years after the death of William Mulford, Congress Hall was acquired by his nephew, Capt. Samuel (Fishhook) Mulford, whose story is referred to in an article concerning the Dongan Patent that appeared in the same issue of The Star. Your grandmother Jeannette Edwards Rattray wrote about Congress Hall in her book, “Up and Down Main Street.” In some publications, the house is referred to as the David B. Mulford House, after one of its owners who lived in the mid-19th century.

    The property, which William Mulford acquired around 1650, encompassed the corner of Main Street and Buell Lane and extended a distance up Buell Lane. At least a part of that property has been owned by the Mulfords, without interruption, ever since.

    I sold Congress Hall in 1976 to Lawrence Wilkinson. He did some minor remodeling and then sold it. I do not know who the subsequent owner was, and I have not been in the house since 1976. Our family still owns two houses on the property, both with Buell Lane addresses, and my wife and I spend two or three weeks there each year.

    Congress Hall is a gracious house in a magnificent location. It overlooks the Village Green, the Mulford Farm, Home, Sweet Home, and St. Luke’s Church. My hope is that someone will restore it to its earlier glory.



Symbolism Displayed

    East Hampton

    January 6, 2012

Dear David:

    Welcome back to East Hampton 2012. If you did not attend the swearing-in of the new town board members, you missed the symbolism displayed by our 15-vote re-elected supervisor, Bill Wilkinson. This is how he personally arranged the seating assignments: Sylvia Overby (D), Dominick Stanzione (R), Mr. Wilkinson (R), Theresa Quigley (R), Peter Van Scoyoc (D).

    However, Mr. Wilkinson quickly discovered that shifting the Democrats to the outside (literally and figuratively) will not enable him to manipulate the agenda, policies, and behind-closed-doors deals quite as easily as he has done for his first term.

    Even the U.S. Congress succeeded in a 2011 bipartisan effort to mingle with co-members of the opposite party at the State of the Union address. There is an attempt to take it a step further this year, with a 24-hour “knock-it-off” period prior to this year’s address.

    As most hostesses know, when in doubt, why not try a boy-girl approach? It certainly would have been a more inclusive and tactful arrangement.


Within 100 Days


    January 9, 2011

Dear David,

    I agree with Trace Duryea, the former Republican chairwoman’s, postelection comment that the community does not want to continue with an us-versus-them mentality on the town board. However, her follow-up comment that she did not know who “them” were truly shocked me.

    If Supervisor Bill Wilkinson is interested in bringing the town together so that 49.9 percent of voters who did not support his re-election would feel the board is now addressing their concerns, I respectfully suggest that within 100 days, he could announce that:

    • The Fort Pond House nature preserve will be taken off the market and kept open for public use.

    • Nightclubs and businesses in residential neighborhoods will be cited, fined, or shut down A.S.A.P.

    • Public access to all beaches will be protected with no deals to private property owners to shut down those public rights.

    • Large commercial mass gatherings will not be held in residentially zoned areas.

    • The controversial draft accessory apartment law that allows nine tenants per lot in our neighborhoods will be abandoned so that homeowners in all our hamlets will not be burdened with even higher school taxes.

    • Town workers will be treated with respect and not threatened or intimidated.

    • Residents speaking at meetings will be heard without negative personal comments or accusations from members of the board.

    • Easements that were meant to protect natural resources will not be sold to the highest bidder for development.

    • Any attempts to undo our nationally acclaimed zoning code will be abandoned, such as overdeveloping our neighborhoods, putting in sewers to accommodate significantly more condos and commercial developments, the draft lighting law that doubles glare and obscures the Milky Way, and eliminating professional planners from the Planning Department.

    Even I would support the entire town board if Supervisor Wilkinson has the ability to put forward real consensus leadership with sincere efforts to address the above concerns of a significant number of residents and lead our town forward together.



    Ms. Foster is a former East Hampton Town councilwoman. Ed.

See the Time Card


    January 7, 2012

    Dear David,

    Thanks to your coverage of the East Hampton Town Trustees’ meeting by your reporter Russell Drumm, I actually noted that Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has not done his homework in the matter of salary discussions with the clerk of the trustees.

    Preparation would have paid off financially for the town! Why is the supervisor not aware of the fact that to the town’s budget salary of $37,530, which goes to the trustee clerk, the trustees have added $30,000? The trustee clerk’s income of $67,530 per year, in this time of austerity, is more than a town councilperson makes.

    This additional salary was given to the clerk last year by the trustees and now again this year. Last year, rumor had it that it was because of the clerk gathering documents for the beach lawsuit. Now, we have two lawyers being paid by the trustees for that lawsuit, Anthony Tohill and John Courtney. So why the large salary for the trustee clerk?

    Let’s compare the jobs: Town councilpeople must attend various committee meetings, attend five town board meetings per month, become liaisons to various citizens committees, and spend lots of time in meetings with the public, even though the job is supposedly part time. The trustee clerk meets twice a month with her board, although the claim is that it’s a full-time job. I’d like to see the time card.

    At a time when there are four part-time human services employees, and employees of the town who are not being replaced due to money constraints, the trustees appear to be flush with money (over $716,255 in nine certificates of deposit as of the end of June, 2011). The trustee board almost doubled the clerk’s salary, increased fees to the residents of the town, and the taxpayers bear this burden. Why aren’t the new trustees questioning this?

    The town supervisor and town board members should be questioning this compensation in light of the financial difficulties for the employees of the town. Maybe the town should eliminate the clerk’s salary altogether and let the trustees take care of this with their own money. Maybe there will be more evaluation on the part of these elected officials in how they deal with their finances.



More Noise


    January 3, 2012


    The East Hampton Town Board, led by Bill Wilkinson and Dominick Stanzione, are pushing for acceptance of Federal Aviation Administration money and consequent slavery to immutable rules that preclude any control of aircraft activity on the East End. Instead, they claim that they will be able to reduce aircraft noise via some kind of “comprehensive plan” in concert with the F.A.A. Primary in this claim is a control tower.

    Their plan is diversionary and misleading and will not control any aircraft noise. All aircraft make noise. Some aircraft make more noise than others. More aircraft will make more noise.

    A control tower will control movement of aircraft in the air, not their noisiness. A control tower will only redistribute the noise. A control tower (as well as other “improvements”) has the unmentioned consequence of increasing airport capacity, more noise.

    As the economy improves, so will airport activity. The privileged few will impose their more frequent, noisy arrivals and departures on the rest of us — this at the exhortations of Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Stanzione — for 20 more years. Happy new year!


Public Access


    January 9, 2012

Dear David:

    Happy new year to you and your staff.    Regarding Jim Shelly’s letter of Dec. 31 “Owes It to LTV,” if I may respond with some financial and historical facts as a former member of the East Hampton Telecommunication Advisory Committee and a current member of the now Cablevision Committee:

    As The Star wrote in a Dec. 22 editorial, the amount of money the town has contracted to give LTV to provide public-access, education, and government services must be cut in the light of the Town of East Hampton’s current fiscal reality. I agree 100 percent. And I’d like to clarify the following for the record, as The Star is the official newspaper of our town:

    Mr. Shelly’s reference to negotiating a four-fifths contract was in the day when the town received approximately $150,000 gross revenue from Cablevision, equating to about $100,000 being given to LTV to provide specific duties. This was 1999. Now, in 2011, it received about $700,000 as the four-fifths franchise fee, about $400,000 of which equates to employee salaries alone. Indeed, the broadcast quality has improved — at a cost of seven times to the taxpayers of our town — not a good value in any sense of the concept.

    LTV receives additional money to tape government activities, meetings, etc. Last I looked it was $40,000. It is compensated; it does not do anything for free!

    Mr. Shelly is correct in his assertion that town officials since 1999 have let LTV operate with no oversight and actually dissolved the telecommunications advisory committee, which never met in the years I was appointed. In fact, Councilman Job Potter, as liaison to LTV, avoided the contractual obligations brought to his attention by me on many occasions throughout my attempts to apply due diligence in the town’s duty and obligation to the taxpayers. His wife sat on the LTV board in those years.

    Also Councilman Brad Loewen, as the next political liaison, continued the politics of Mr. Potter to avoid the issues diligently raised by me, as a sitting committee member concerned over duty and obligation to review the performance and related issues at LTV as per the written standing contract.

    In 2006 Bill McGintee dissolved the advisory committee, taking over citizen oversight in lieu of a continued political agenda of avoidance to properly review and oversee LTV operations and financial accountability . We all know how the Democratic (McGintee) administration failed in handling town finances.

    Julia Prince was the last liaison to have LTV as a topic, since 2009. The topic of LTV as a topic has disappeared.

    A new committee has been formed, the Cablevision committee, to deal with the now-expired franchise fee agreement, which has just been negotiated and renewed, eliminating some language that pertained to a joint review of public access performance by Cablevision and the Town of East Hampton that Julia Prince alluded never occurred under her tenure, and Cablevision concurred never occurred in the 10-year period the contract covered.

    Mr. Shelly is wrong to say nothing came up in the audit.

    Officers of the board are beyond term limits. Seth Redlus was discovered to have purchases of furniture from his former employers, and questions have arisen about equipment that has been replaced since it only exists in inventory requested by me as a telecommunication committee representative in 2002.

    Frazier Dougherty would also disagree, as the public studio space dedicated to his wife has been lost to a  private commercial user over the years. Much of the available studio space is occupied by commercial, for-profit producers, not the public. The studio space was listed after the Mitchell Kriegman company vacated for $109,000. Who occupies it now? How come the public has no access to the offices created by his occupancy after his vacating? What is the status of this space now?

    Mr. Shelly and the board of LTV owe the taxpayers of this community explanations. LTV is an organization that takes and takes, yet has little to give back to the community that funds its operations. The mission of public access has been lost in a violation of public trust, to say the least.

    SEA-TV in Southampton provides public access obligations in a manner that costs far less to the taxpayers of Southampton than this LTV operation here, which arrogance of a country club atmosphere unchecked has created.

    There are many more incidentals that  proper oversight and public input would ferret out. Make town officials realize as taxpayers our money needs to be accounted for and that indeed fiscal responsibility is the undercurrent of a situation that has taken advantage of taxpayers’ trust.

    And in closing, LTV has no obligation to assist in the facilitation or production of a show. According to Robert Strada, if you needed help to do a show that required a crew, you are on your own. All that staff and that was the stance when I asked for public access. This situation has become a mockery of duty, due diligence, and a violation of pubic trust.

    End the money train now. There are other subjects worthy of public benefit that need funding. Stop the political pandering now!

    Politicians need to do the job entrusted to them by this community. Enough is enough!



Wild Turkeys,

Wild Montauk

December’s nakedness,

isolation, icy winds,

wildlife dominant, thriving.

Never saw wild turkeys there.

Used to sketch, paint, inhale

this bleak, hypnotic,

beautiful landscape,

when summer breezes,

turned hostile,

chasing vehicles west.

This was my Montauk.

Deer re-emerged,

liberated from dense brush.

Harbor seals arrived,

lounged on jetties,

surrounding the Lighthouse.

Quiet lakesides welcomed

stately herons.

Heartier birds, turtles, foxes

reclaimed golf courses.

Never saw wild turkeys.

I love Montauk.

Best, clearest memories,

were when colder months

came due.

Went there, invited no one.

Created Christmas cards:

Cliffs dwarfing strips of sand,

against sleepy ocean waves.

Attached wreaths to masts,

so solitary, stoic, sad,

in their empty, winter harbor.

Would gilt these penned scenes gold,

where sun’s light lay.

That was 30 years ago.

I use a guide dog now,

and Montauk’s winters are just cold.

My friend George, a year-round resident

of this unique place, calls me.

His words paint scenes,

detail changes of the area’s character,

when outside breath is frosty.

He reported that 20 wild turkeys, more,

gathered in his neighbor’s yard.

Their numbers surpass

the problem deer.

My Montauk’s winter images,

freshly redrawn,

empty spaces refilled.

I can see them,

a herd of turkeys

in a run,

along that wide strip,

of white sand,

headed for Montauk’s Point.

Wild turkeys,

wild Montauk.


Had the Weapons

    Sag Harbor

    December 9, 2012

To the Editor,

    How the arms merchants prowl around the world furtively in search of prey or loot. A few examples: When we invaded Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, Congress was actually debating whether we should continue selling weapons to Saddam Hussein. The perfect match so to speak — Hussein had the oil money; we had the weapons. Ironically the second time we invaded Iraq we wanted their oil, and we had the weapons.

    Then we lost our war with Iraq nine years later. On our way to leaving the country we made a deal with Prime Minister Maliki to sell him our fighter planes, in our self-interest. A few days later we sold $30 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia.

    In the past we sold billions of dollars of weapons to Egypt, supporting a dictator for over 30 years, and we have sold weapons to Israel in self-interest ever since the country existed. The arms merchants residing in the Pentagon continue to sell 60 percent of all the world’s weapons with our tax money and send our children to fight their wars.

    The most difficult part of writing letters is how to end them. Eventually a recent quote came to mind: “An evil government is in direct proportion to the tolerance of its people.” Shame on America.

    In peace,


Clown Show

    East Hampton

    January 3, 2012

Dear Editor,

    The Iowa primary — whoopee! Over tonight, finally. Whew, the clown show ends. Republicans soon will start to have a candidate to oppose their boogeyman, Darth Vader, you know, the guy they labeled “inept,” “clueless,” “an appeaser,” and get him out of the White House.

    Now I could have waited to write this letter tomorrow when the results of the Iowa caucus (or is it cauci?) are in and we know who that winning candidate is. But you know what? It doesn’t make any difference if it is the guy with 15 percent of the far-right-wing Christian conservative vote, 23 percent of it, or whatever. Any winner will sound off with the same lines written for them by Frank Lutz, and they will all be total exaggerations, lies, innuendos, statements about speeches out of context. They will exaggerate, have convenient loss of memory about the last Republican tenure in the White House, forget George Bush. (By the way, where is that guy and why is his name never spoken aloud by this motley group of candidates that are running?) They will bash the Affordable Health Care Act that Americans are beginning to understand and want.

    Then these clowns will talk about the deficit, the “bad” economy with the Dow up 176 points today at its high point over the past five years, new housing starts up, consumer confidence up, unemployment down, auto industry booming. So they will try foreign policy with Libya sans Qaddafi without U.S. troop intervention, with troops withdrawn from Iraq as promised, with bin Laden killed, with Al Qaeda decimated, and with the dollar booming and exports at their highest levels in five years. These mini-minds will still try to convince voters to put them back in the White House.

    So we watch Newt Gingrich call Mitt Romney a liar — true. Mr. Romney calls Mr. Gingrich a loser — true. Rick Santorum calls Mr. Romney a middle-of-the-road non-conservative, failure — true. Michelle Bachmann says she is the only true female conservative in the group — true. Ron Paul says he wants the wild west frontier days back — true. And they, all or any of them, will get their asses kicked by Barack Obama when the campaign really starts and he can emphasize exactly why he deserves another four-year term.

    Anyway let’s get it on for real and forget these dumb caucuses.



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