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Letters to the Editor 08.11.11

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:48

Finely Crafted

    East Hampton

    August 8, 2011

Dear David,

    I wanted to take a moment to commend East Hampton Boy Scout Troop 298 for raising $2,800 for Soldier Ride two weeks ago.

    The boys in the troop constructed a fine fishing rod and reel and conducted a raffle to raise the money.

    A brief encounter at Waldbaum’s with one of the boys’ mother presented me with the opportunity to buy the winning ticket.

    I’m not much of a fisherman, but a new hobby-sport awaits me and, I might add, I’m the envy of my brother-in-law and daughter because of my finely crafted fishing rod and reel.

    Thank you,


Cross With Ferry

    Newton, Mass.

    August 8, 2011

To the Editor:

    On July 31 I phoned the Cross Island Ferry to get some pricing information on the round-trip charge from New London to Orient Point.

    I was surprised and disappointed to hear there was not a discount for seniors. My experience for more than 10 years has been  that many organizations, large and small, do extend them as a courtesy and to generate corporate good will.

    Further discussion revealed they do not honor or recognize military personnel or veterans for their service to this great country with a discount. And yet they do “give discounts to groups of Boy Scouts.”

    I expressed these thoughts in an e-mail of Aug. 1 to their C.E.O., John Wkonowski. It remains, as of this writing, unanswered.

    This business model strikes me as unusual. I encourage Cross Island Ferry to reconsider this approach and to change this policy on behalf of all seniors as well as all current and former military personnel.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I happen to be a member of both groups.

    If you agree with my perspective please contact them at [email protected] and let them hear your thinking. Perhaps they will respond positively to the voice of public opinion.


Too Many


    August 8, 2011

Dear Editor,

    Too many Wounded Warrior signs? Too many wounded warriors. Too many worse than wounded.

    God bless the soldiers and their families and the sacrifices they make every day. Support the Wounded Warrior Project,


The Case for Plastic

    East Hampton

    August 8, 2011

To the Editor:

    I want to make the case for plastic. Plastic bags, bottles, and containers are light, clean, and convenient. Remember cloth diapers and other women’s products? I do not think that we want to go back to washing and reusing those items, do we!

    What are we going to ban next, just because people do not take care and think of the consequences of their irresponsible behavior? I reuse all my plastic items, over and over again. I make sure to dispose of them properly, as I do all of my waste. Let’s find a better way of recycling our plastic bags instead of banning them. Let’s go forward, not backward.


The Wise Choice


    August 5, 2011

Dear Editor,

    This is a question that has long bothered grocery shoppers. But the debate is over. The wise choice is reusable cloth bags for everyday shopping, from the grocery store to the hardware store to the library.

    Plastic bags are made from nonrenewable petroleum and require the use of toxic resources during the production and processing. It takes more than 1,000 years to biodegrade, which means that most of the plastic we have ever manufactured is still around. As they slowly decompose, plastic bags break into tiny pieces and leach toxic chemicals into soils, lakes, rivers, and oceans. On land, plastic bags are one of the most prevalent types of litter in inhabited areas; they can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding.

    Plastic bags constitute a portion of the floating marine debris in the ocean. When they are washed out to sea they pose a threat to animal life. Once in the ocean, these bags can strangle wildlife, or, if ingested, can choke or cause wildlife to starve to death. Some marine animals including sea turtles and dolphins have been killed as a result of ingestion of plastic marine litter.

    Plastic shopping bags can be found dating back to the early 1950s in the United States and Europe. Plastic bags increasingly replaced paper bags, which have problems also. Every year nearly 900,000,000 trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills. Living trees must be cut down for all paper bags. Environmental activists estimate that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide. In 2009 the United States International Trade Commission reported that the number of bags used in the U.S. was 102 billion.

    Plastic bags are either restricted or completely banned in more than 25 percent of the world. Belgium and Italy have had a total ban since Jan. 1, 2011; in Bangladesh, South Africa, Thailand, and three states/territories of Australia plastic bags are banned. Ireland and Hong Kong have legislation discouraging their use. In the United States, bans were imposed at the local level starting with San Francisco in 2007; Westport, Conn., in 2008 (banned in grocery stores); Edmonds, Wash., in 2009 (banned in retail stores). Los Angeles County, Brownsville, Tex., and Bethel, Alaska, approved similar bans in 2010. In the first few months of 2011 laws went into effect in North Carolina’s Outer Banks region banning all plastic bags at all retail stores. Similar bans at the municipality level were imposed in India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

    On Nov. 15, 2010, The Daily News printed an article titled, “Reusable grocery bags made in China found to contain lead, fueling calls for F.D.A. investigation.” This is a disgrace to the people of the United States. “China has no regard for American safety” is a quote from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who also called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate reusable bag manufacturers and ban bags with unacceptable levels of lead. He cannot be serious. Do we need another committee to test plastic bags for unacceptable levels of lead? Why is our government having a problem with this issue? Do they have any regard for American safety? One has to question that.

    Is this some sort of trade-off? Stop using plastic bags and buy reusable bags from China that contain lead? Maybe we should ask China to take the money we are paying them for these lead-filled bags and apply it to the monies that our government owes them and we the people of the United States can pay down our debt to them! Sounds reasonable to me, since our government is allowing us to continue to kill our environment and our health with lead-filled bags from China.

    There are numerous Internet sites where you can order cloth shopping bags made right here in the good ’ole U.S.A. They may cost more than 99 cents, but you can be assured they will have no lead content and they are machine washable.    

    Carry reusable cloth bags for everyday shopping, an easy and practical daily choice for all who are concerned with our environment and our health. Do this for your kids. Do it because you are sick and tired of all those plastic bags that have taken over under the sink. This may seem like a small issue to many right now, but think about the future of this planet and its inhabitants. It is time to wake up and smell the roses, because before too long there will not be any roses to smell, they’ll all be dead along with the rest of us!


Loose Change


    August 3, 2011


    Should fat people be banned from the Hamptons? The majority of roadside litter is at least related: fast food, candy wrappers, soda containers, potato chip bags, etc. Besides taking too much room on the Jitney, the fat bastards are driving my health premiums through the roof.

    A person stopped me the other day as I was picking up trash and told me how much that person admired what I was doing. My actions inspired that person so much that said person was going to carry a plastic bag when walking and pick up litter. Our talk made me feel great! I had made a convert. I’m making a difference.

    I happen to ride my bike past that person’s house every day. I’m waiting for that unnamed person to pick up the seven major pieces of plastic garbage and crushed cans on the front lawn that have been lying there for the past month.

    I’d like to start at the Montauk Harbor. I’ll pick up trash on the corner of the “fishing capital of the world” every day if the business owners in the dock area will at least pick up on their own properties. We’re talking two to three minutes of work. The place will look great.

    The nice thing about picking up trash is the instant gratification of cleaning up an unsightly mess, not to mention the fringe benefits. I’ve found loose change and dollar bills as well as other valuable items. The other day, I pocketed a half-used ChapStick, and yesterday I found a woman’s bra in the road. The bra aroused me until I met Chip Duryea and he told me it was his.

    I should have listened to my father. If I had heeded my dad’s advice, I would have been retired from the New York City Fire Department in 1986 at half-pay minimum unless I had decided to go for three-quarter disability.

    I’m writing this letter to ask Supervisor Bill Wilkinson if I’m eligible for a town pension. I figure I’ve been picking up trash for over 30 years. That plus my city time of 81/2 years should qualify me for a pension.


Right to Park

    Burke, Va.

    August 7, 2011

To the Editor:

    Sunday morning, a little before 8 in the pouring rain at Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett, my wife and I took a quick trip down to beach from my in-laws’ house on Three Mike Harbor to see if there were any remnants of the sand sculpture competition held the day before. If so, we would go back home and pick up our sleeping 11-year-old who had returned from two weeks at camp the evening before.

    Despite the heavy rain, we walked along the beach and determined that we wouldn’t take our daughter down because there really wasn’t much to see (Abby enjoyed viewing the sand art last year but unfortunately she would miss it this year.) We picked up lots of garbage from the beach to deposit in the trash cans, no doubt debris from the day before’s competition.

    As we got back to the empty parking lot, we found our welcome to East Hampton parking summons, tucked gracefully and rather soggily, under my windshield wiper, and directly on top of my military vehicle registration permit. It was $150 for 30 minutes of parking on an early Sunday morning in the rain with only one other car in the parking lot. In fact, other than two runners and two dog walkers, we didn’t see a single other soul on the beach. Even the lot attendant wasn’t there (yet), so there wasn’t anyone to take our $15 to park. But thankfully an officer was there in the rain as we spent our 15 to 30 minutes on the beach. He was there protecting everyone else’s right to park.

    Yes, I am aware that I don’t have an East Hampton parking permit that would have allowed me to park in the lot, and yes I could have taken my in-laws’ car that has a sticker, but I thought it would be good to let them sleep.

    One more thing: I do find it surprising that if I had parked on the sidewalk in East Hampton, parked next to a fire hydrant, frustrating the fire department, double-parked, parked in an intersection or in a crosswalk, or parked in a fire zone, that ticket would only cost me $80.

    Just one person’s perspective.



    Captain, U.S. Navy

No Surprise

    East Hampton

    August 8, 2011

Dear Editor:

    It comes as no surprise that the East Hampton Board of Education selected someone from within the system as interim superintendent for the East Hampton School District. Ray Gualtieri named his successor and the current board followed his advice down the line.

    We were under the impression that the community and the board wanted Mr. Gualtieri out. The community lost confidence in him, particularly in light of his association with the high-priced, big-city law firm that has gotten into our pockets for nearly $3.4 million. The suit is still pending and, if not settled in a timely manner, could cost the taxpayers close to $5 million. The new interim superintendent’s closeness to Mr. Gualtieri and the absence of any effort to settle the suit is disconcerting.

    The interim was granted a leave of absence from his previous administrator’s position, leaving the option of returning to a position covered by contacts currently being negotiated by the school board. That means that two members of the school board and the interim superintendent have direct conflicts of interest in negotiating and approving any contract; the outcome directly affects them. Some have said that the interim superintendent has a previous association with the union.

    The interim lives in Springs and pays taxes in Springs. Can he be expected to support the East Hampton taxpayers when he helps make decisions about the tuition rate and the possible consolidation between the two school districts? The new interim superintendent needs to clear up these conflicts by resigning from his previous union-covered contract, and the board needs to rescind its decision to grant him a leave of absence.

    Did the board of education consider these concerns before making their selection? The chosen one has no experience as superintendent. Several applicants have had much experience as chief school administrators. The only thing they didn’t have was the blessing of Mr. Gualtieri. At this critical time one has to ask why we do not hire an experienced person free of possible conflicts?



Less Drama

    East Hampton

    August 7, 2011

Dear Mr. Rattray:

    I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you and your readers. I am running for the elected office of superintendent of highways for the Town of East Hampton on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party lines. I am the clear choice for voters who deserve and expect a professionally managed Highway Department. There should be less drama in that department and better roads. They now have a simple solution to ending the issues that have gone on far too long. Vote for me, Stephen Lynch, at the ballot box.

    I have owned and operated my own businesses for nearly 30 years and I know how to manage people. In addition to owning a local trucking company I have experience excavating, building driveways, parking lots, swimming pools, and tennis courts. I would be nowhere without a good, supportive crew. I have a proven record of accomplishment. I have efficiently managed construction workers and motivated them to work through good times and soft economies. I have operated a local asphalt business for years and have overseen many paving and grading operations. I know how to get things done and have never had an employee file a complaint against me.

    I am also a lifelong resident of East Hampton. I attended local schools, and my family has been here for over 100 years. I love this town and want to make it better. That is why I have tried to give back, by being a member  of the East Hampton Fire Department and the local Lions Club. I believe I can do more and make things better by being the next superintendent of highways.

    My platform is simple: I want to restore pride and excellence to the Highway Department and bring back the high level of employee morale that is now missing. I want to ensure that all the town roads are properly plowed, cleared, and paved when needed. To that end, I will see that this gets done by proactively monitoring the quality of the roads and tracking all potholes on a computer to make sure they are filled in a timely manner. I will also maintain the storm sewer system to prevent the erosion, flooding, and drainage problems that are occurring now.

    I am asking everyone to vote for me on Nov. 8 and make a real change for the positive. No more embarrassing situations like the ones we have currently.

    Thank you for your time and attention.



True Leadership

    East Hampton

    August 5, 2011

Dear David,

    I would like to thank Scott King, Tony Littman, and their departments for the excellent job they do for the town throughout the year. Even in these tough economic times they have shown true leadership. They are a major asset to our community.

    Herb Fiero


    Barnes Landing Association

Board Was Seduced


    August 7, 2011

Dear David,

    Two hucksters came to the East Hampton Town Board a while ago and convinced almost everyone that they were capable of organizing and promoting a two-day concert in the middle of town and in the middle of August. The board was seduced by the promise of a pittance for some of the local charities, which are always in need of cash. The promoters stood to make millions.

    They first wanted their circus smack-dab in the middle of Montauk Highway in Amagansett. But Amagansett started to kick and scream, so it was moved to the airport. Everyone waited with bated breath to see if a federal agency would also be enticed by two inexperienced, wannabe promoters. This group also succumbed to the illogical.

    This was followed by the East Hampton School Board foolishly giving their new elaborate parking lot up for hire and God knows what shenanigans would occur there. All for $20,000. (A parking lot that is actually public property paid for with taxpayer money.) Shame on them!    While all this is going on, the townspeople were shaking in their boots in anticipation of the spectacle. Everyone changed their plans. People arranged their lives to ensure they would not encounter the massive event. Forget birthdays. Family visits, even necessary hospital stays, were arranged to not be on that weekend.

    Then the news went out. It was all for naught, the everlasting concert was canceled because there weren’t enough takers. The promoters couldn’t promote. The dreams of big bucks by all parties turned out to be just that‚ dreams — though the exercise proved to all that the right price can get you almost anything.

    And what is the response of our illustrious leader, Bill Wilkinson? It was the fault of the townspeople that the concert failed. We didn’t support it enough.

    Mr. Disneyland didn’t understand then nor does he understand now. We do not want our beautiful town to be a theme park for 20 minutes and certainly not for two days and nights. How did this shortsighted man who doesn’t understand our values get to be our leader? He would sell us out and destroy the character of our existence for the proverbial 20 pieces of silver. Come on, November!



Pet Project


    August 7, 2011

Dear David,

    Just heard the news that the Music to Know concert has been canceled for lack of interest. Big surprise. And that East Hampton Supervisor Bill Wilkinson is blaming the community. Another big surprise.

    Maybe Mr. Wilkinson should have paid attention early on to that community when they told him loud and clear what they thought about his pet project.



Ignored the Public


    August 8, 2011

Dear David,

    The two-day rock concert known as Music to Know was canceled on Friday for lack of ticket sales. Sadly, the ones who will suffer from this are not only those who bought tickets, but, most important, the $100,000 promised to charities, which seems to have vanished based on the concert not taking place. At least, that is what Bill Wilkinson has said in the local press.

    Additionally, Mr. Wilkinson said that the concert is not happening because of lack of community support. That’s right, blame it on the community.

    In December, just before Christmas, the town board, at a work session, rushed to okay the resolution for the concert at an Amagansett location. The community came out in force in January, along with neighbors who are experts in the field of concert promotions, informing Wilkinson that, 1) there was not enough time to do a proper job of planning, hiring, and promoting the concert, and 2) that the location in Amagansett could not be issued a commercial mass-gathering permit because it is private property. 

    In both instances, the Wilkinson administration ignored the public. A lawsuit was filed against the concert at the Amagansett location. Neighbors spent money on the suit asking for the Wilkinson administration to follow the law. The town board and promoters then moved the location to the airport, a location where a commercial mass-gathering permit could be issued, and it was, on April 21.

    The concert was not a bad idea. The location and the time of year, however, were disastrous for those who work 24-7 during the summer months to make a living and for those who own houses or visit our beautiful area because of the quality of life in a summer resort community. The message to the town board was crystal clear from the very beginning: Pick another time of year when the working season and resort and vacation season can be extended.

    The concert promoters and the Wilkinson administration made many promises. Now there are many questions: Where is the money, the $100,000 that was reported to have been put in escrow? Why did Mr. Wilkinson say that the money would not be forthcoming because the concert did not take place? Was there a contract that states the money will only be handed to the charities if the concert takes place? If the money was put in escrow it should still be there unless there is some agreement that the public is not aware of.

    The profoundly unprofessional and incompetent way in which the Wilkinson administration avoided the necessity of long-range planning for this type of massive event, the waste of employee time and efforts, and wasted taxpayer money in answering a lawsuit and other items not yet known is harmful to East Hampton on all levels.



    Ms. Overby is a Democratic candidate for East Hampton Town Board. Ed.

Will Not Help


    August 7, 2011

Dear David,

    The erosion of the beach at Lazy Point is just one more issue that both Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and the town trustees are ignoring. They both say that residents should have patience! Summer is almost over. Since February, nothing has been accomplished. As a trustee candidate, I’m looking to deal with the future of our beaches in an educated way and will work to help our neighbors more quickly, before their houses are gone.

    Virginia Bennis and her neighbors at Lazy Point are entitled to some answers. Mr. Wilkinson and the East Hampton Town Trustees should be working together to get a qualified person to help determine some solution to the existing erosion problems all over town. What channel should be dredged — east or west?

    The person who neglected to renew the permit has been offering various opinions. How about hiring a qualified professional for an opinion on coastal hydrodynamics? Guessing will not help our shorelines nor will it replenish our beaches. It will get us nowhere!





    July 30, 2011

Dear David,

    A letter in last week’s paper said Peter Van Scoyoc, an East Hampton Town Board candidate, should resign from the town planning board if he wants to comment on key issues and applications related to planning. Respectfully, that’s ridiculous.

    The planning and zoning boards have long provided important experience for future council members and supervisors. The following public servants served on the zoning or planning boards and went on to do good work on the town board. The list includes members of all political parties. None were shy about expressing themselves: Jobette Edwards, Tom Ruhle, Nancy McCaffrey, Cathy Lester, Pete Hammerle, myself, Pat Mansir, Brad Loewen, and Jay Schneiderman.

    A good argument can be made that the present town board majority could deliver actual and helpful changes in the planning process, if any of the three had planning experience. Instead, we have seen what appears to be an undeclared war on the department and its staff, with no practical results.

    Yours Sincerely,  


Explosive Memo


    August 8, 2011

Dear David,

    The letters to the editor have always been a favorite of mine, and last week’s collection of letters about the explosive memo sent by the zoning board of appeals’ vice chairman was particularly enlightening.

    Most impressive and educational is the forthright letter from Lee White, the second-longest-serving current member of the Z.B.A. He begins by honestly describing his initial naiveté when he was first appointed as a brand-new member with minimum understanding of the process, and how, over time, he learned the town code, legal ramifications, environmental conditions, and that all must be considered when studying an application before the Z.B.A.

    Mr. White explains clearly, and in doing so demystifies, just what an environmental assessment form is and how it provides an essential link in the working relationship between the Z.B.A. and the Planning Department: “Personally, I have found the E.A.F. to be an invaluable tool in the decision-making process. It is a great source of information regarding property and its potential development.”

    Mr. White reminds the reader of the basic fact that an applicant comes before the zoning board in the first place because the project he is proposing is expressly prohibited by the town code due to zoning restrictions (see the title: zoning board of appeals). It is the Z.B.A. that provides the venue for seeking a variance from that town code. (In case anyone needs more clarification, the word “variance” means an official permit to do something normally forbidden by regulations, especially in city zoning.)

    Mr. White concludes his letter with high praise for the professionals in the Planning Department, whose work he has observed and with whom he has worked for almost 12 years.

    The contrasts between Mr. White’s letter and the letters from the memo writer (who was only recently appointed to the Z.B.A.) and his family are stark — the difference between specific and vague, between factual and uninformed, between reasoned and emotional, and between balanced and politically biased.

    After reading these letters, it is clear that Lee White is the kind of balanced and fair person we want to continue to serve on this most important agency, the zoning board of appeals.

    Sincerely yours,


It Is Necessary

    East Hampton

    August 8, 2011

Dear Editor:

    Thanks are due to Don Cirillo’s colleague Lee White for his impartial explanation of the role of the zoning board of appeals and the environmental assessment form required of applicants who seek a variance from the town code. Mr. White’s letter explained in great detail the process and why, although it is time-consuming, it is necessary to preserve the character of our community. He also commended the professionalism and conscientiousness of Marguerite Wolffsohn and other Planning Department staff members who assess the impact of a variance.

    Mr. White, who has served on the Z.B.A. for more than nine years, pointed out that it had taken him some time on the board before he “started to realize that marrying the town code legal ramifications, environmental conditions, and a person’s wants and needs, wasn’t always as easy as voting yes.” Unfortunately, the recently appointed vice-chairman of the board did not wait until he was further along the learning curve before he condemned a process and its administrator for doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing: keeping East Hampton special and protecting the value of our homes.


Cirillo Memorandum

    East Hampton

    August 7, 2011

To the Editor,

    I have read the uniformly scathing editorials and the equally snarky letters to the editor in the various newspapers.  However, I have not seen in print the  notorious  Cirillo memorandum sent to the Planning Department director, which precipitated the reaction.

    One would think that any memorandum that generates so much controversy, taking up large blocks of valuable space in our local newspapers, would be published in at least one of those newspapers. What a revolutionary idea: Give the public the opportunity to read the memo and decide for themselves the value or detriment of the views expressed by the vice chairman of the zoning board of appeals.

    I find it amazing that people would react through letters without first reading the memorandum. Such reactions can only be based on what reporters and editors, who no doubt have had the benefit of reading the memorandum, have to say. So once again, we the readers are left deciding an important issue through the filter of, what to my mind can only be described as, our politically charged press.

    Print the memorandum and let us decide for ourselves.


Never Used Again


    August 7, 2011

Dear Sir:

    With regard to your article “Another Dock on Deck in Lake,” as the property owner who since 1951 has lived next to what is now the Fee property, it might be helpful if I record my recollections. Mr. Fee wants to build a 159-foot dock that would not comply with the existing town code and claims he is exempt from the town code restrictions because he is merely rebuilding an existing dock.

    Around 1952 my father, T. Victor Searing, built a dock consisting of a concrete section, anchoring a wooden portion that extended some 110 feet into Lake Montauk. Soon thereafter Mr. Kawachi, our neighbor at 95 East Lake Drive, built a smaller dock and a small cabana overlooking the lake. In the early ’60s winter ice severely damaged both docks. Circa 1966, our dock was rebuilt, but not Mr. Kawachi’s, and only a few timbers remained of his dock, which was never used again. I challenge anyone to produce an aerial photograph taken after this date that shows a viable dock on what was the Kawachi property.

    When at the zoning board meeting last week, I heard that the late building inspector Donald Sharkey had determined in 2003 that there was a usable dock there and that it was eligible for an emergency building permit, I was flabbergasted.

    I can only conclude that the venerable Mr. Sharkey was shown a survey map made when the Kawachi dock was first built and replicated in error on succeeding surveys. By no stretch of the imagination could a couple of leaning sticks in the water in 2003 be considered a dock, much less an “existing” dock eligible for an emergency building permit, or one that would have ever extended so far into the lake, and was available to accommodate boats.

    Granting permission for this dock would make a travesty of the town code and unleash a flood of applications to build docks on an increasingly vulnerable body of water — leading to its further and inevitable demise.



Getting Value

    East Hampton

    August 8, 2011

Dear Editor:

    Superintendent Bill Wilkinson’s mocking of Zach Cohen’s proposal to reinstate leaf pickup with the comment that he guesses “a happy taxpayer is one who pays more taxes” is one more example of his misunderstanding of East Hampton and probably voters all around the country.

    A happy taxpayer is one who believes he is getting value for his money. The approximately $14 a household that leaf collection costs is a far better deal for most of us than the much greater cost of having private contractors remove individual homeowners’ leaves. In addition,

it makes the roads safer for all of us.

    I am reminded of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who noted that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” And sometimes we are even getting a bargain for our money.


Fungi Factory

    East Hampton

    August 4, 2011

To the Editor,

    I thought the town’s decision not to collect the leaves was wrong until I had a chat with my great-aunt Filomina Tutti-lini. And let me say for a gal in her early second century she looked terrific.

    “Zia Filomina, you look marvelous.”

    “Sure. Whadda you think.”

    “What’s your secret?”

    “Giuseppe, my secret could be your town’s too.”

    My great-aunt proceeded to tell me the most amazing story of Gleditsia, her hometown in Italy. Due to fiscal constraint they stopped picking up the leaves 95 years ago. At first there was some grumbling, especially when my cousins Fagus and Quercus Malachichi and their donkey, Annunziata, slipped on some leaves and went over a cliff. Bless their souls.

    As time went on the millions of leaves composted and the trees got bigger and bigger and dropped many more leaves which soon covered everything. The town formed a leaf-lunking (similar to spelunking except no caves) club. They called themselves the Molerats, and they dug tunnels, passageways, and air holes through the billions of leaves. The fields of primrose, lavender and sunflowers gave way to moss, ferns, fungi, and deadly nightshade.

     The citizens truly understood the value of the “leave the leaf” program when they weren’t bombed in World War II.

    “Zia Filomina, if I Google Earth I wouldn’t find Gleditsia.”

“Google, smoogle, we hide good.”

    “Zia, what about the ticks?”

    “Delicioso, linguini small bugs con fungi is my number-one dish.”

    “Zia, with the leaves blocking the sun, how do you get your vitamin D.”

    “Snail-liver oil, better than krill.”

    And then Zia Filomina about knocked me outta my Birkenstocks when she said that Gleditsia was Italy’s largest producer of mushrooms, and everyone who worked in the fungi factory stayed virile forever.

    “Zia, I wonder if it’s the active hexose-correlated compound derived from mushrooms.”

    “Donna get technical, it works. No need the Viagra man.”


    Needless to say, my great-aunt wowed me. Please don’t pick up the leaves for the next 95 years.

    Thank you,


Will Be Asked


    August 1, 2011

Dear David,

    If the current Republican majority were to get re-elected to the East Hampton Town Board, the following could happen:

    1. At a tastefully shingled gun turret at the Southampton-East Hampton border you will be asked for the past three years of your tax returns. If your income is satisfactory, you will be given an all-area, south-of-the-highway pass and a discount to shop at a 57-variety Ralph Lauren.

    2. Ocean beaches will be privatized. Driving on the beaches will be restricted to Land Rovers and more so.

    3. Huge architectural horrors will be encouraged. Intimate at-home dining will be forced into the powder room.

    4. Montauk residents will revolt and repair to Coney Island for a bit of serenity.

    5. Lobster rolls will start at $199.99.

    6. The Animal Rescue Fund will accept the two-legged. The nonrich, two-legged will become hungry, dirty, and really pissed off.

    All good things,


Determined to Sell?


    August 8, 2011

Dear David,

    Your front-page article prompts me to ask why the town board is not acting more expeditiously to address the problems of the scavenger waste treatment facility and why are they are not discussing it with the public? Of all town enterprises, the plant may be the one with the broadest impact in our community. Air quality and groundwater matter to everyone. All of us pay taxes and pay to have our cesspools emptied. The septic waste disposal opportunities afforded by the town determine the business costs and opportunities of local cesspool companies and carters.

    The board has been under advisement since at least the last election that something had to be done to deal with an inefficient, expensive facility that is stinking up our neighborhoods and may be poisoning our groundwater. In March it received a report from its own budget advisory committee. But the work session discussion of the report was closed to the public when the issue of groundwater pollution was mentioned by the chairman of the advisory committee.

    Now we learn that State Department of Environmental Conservation violations occurred at about the time of that public discussion. What right do Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley have to hide these facts from us? Do they not have an obligation to the public to address serious problems of air quality and possible groundwater pollution? Or, do they refuse to spend money on maintaining the plant because they have already determined to sell it?

    The secrecy of the Wilkinson administration once again leaves us with many unanswered questions.

    Sincerely yours,


    Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.

Deal Is Rotten

    East Hampton

    August 1, 2011

To the Editor,

    The citizens of our country on the whole seem to believe that money spent by the government essentially is being either burned or flushed down the toilet. But if one looks at government spending it is essentially going for goods and services and, frankly, being pumped back into the economy as wages and purchases.

    The greater the proportion of this money that goes to midlevel wages, the greater subsequent spending. Workers of the middle and lower classes tend to spend almost all of their income, which is why some programs are called stimuli. I’m not quite sure how reduced government spending is supposed to create jobs, but I am sure that it will further reduce tax revenue by putting thousands more out of work. 

    The arithmetic is faulty. The deal is rotten. I say if you give in to a bully once, the bully owns you. And remember, the government is just us. 


Bubble-Up Is Better

    East Hampton

    August 6, 2011

Dear Editor,

    We live in the perfect place to see the excesses that the rest of the country just talks about, from the huge quantity of very expensive cars to the $300 shopping bills (for one night) at gourmet food shops, to the needless show of extravagance on the main streets of the villages on the East End. All of this saddens me because I have the subtle feeling that the people who are represented here by those excesses are the same ones who complain about the attempts of some in Congress to tax those who have so much money.

    Let’s look at what has been proposed in the way of tax increases. For someone with an income of $300,000 or less there would be no increase in taxes. Over that base there would be an increase of $3 for each $1,000 in income. If your income is $400,000 you would pay $3,000 on the extra $100,000 of income. If your income was $1 million, you would pay $21,000 more in taxes. That is a lot of dollars to the average person, but somewhere in that $700,000 a person can find a way to afford the extra taxes. The more you make, the easier it would be to afford the higher taxes.

    In an effort to make this country a place where your children will grow up with the ability to make a living and sustain a standard of living at least as high as their parents’, it is up to all citizens to pay a fair tax rate to make the United States a country that can support all families in all income levels. I would love to see 100 wealthy Americans sign a letter that states that all “wealthy” Americans should be willing to contribute to the country that has given them the ability to do so well.

    These same people should want all to do well because the businesses will do well and will hire the unemployed. Then the wage earners will have enough to spend beyond the basics, and the work force will expand to reduce the number of unemployed. The more people working and paying taxes will increase the revenue that the Fed needs to run the country. Total employment plus all Americans paying their fair share will drag us out of the hole we are now in. The bubble-up theory will always be more effective than the trickle-down theory, because more people will end up with the dollars needed to support the businesses owned by the wealthier among us.


Economic Realities

    East Hampton

    August 7, 2011

To the Editor,

    This week the number of people getting food stamps in the country passed 45 million, or 15 percent of the population. With companies laying off workers at a depression rate, we will reach 20 percent by this time next year. Perhaps the best-kept secret about the United States economy is that in the last 10 years 15 million new job seekers entered the market and less than 1 million new jobs were created. Where are they? Living in Bushwick, four to a room, wondering what happened to the American dream. What is amazing is that there is this pressing concern over the distant futures of our children but no concern whatsoever for their current status. Such a load of crap.

    For anyone who earns less than $150,000 a year — police, firemen, teachers, government workers, veterans, soldiers, sanitation workers, health service workers, nurses, secretaries, etc. — your wages, health insurance, pensions, and job security are all dangling by some very loose threads. With Obama and the Democrats weak and willing to give away the store and unions no longer worth the dues they collect, no one is there to protect the interests of working-class people. So, when the Tea Party is willing to let the government default and live with the damage, there is no room for compromise. When the government is willing to accept deficit reduction without revenues because it’s too chicken to invoke the 14th Amendment, then we will endure 5 to 10 more years of pain before the economy may turn around. But that’s okay with the Tea Party guys because it’s the price we have to pay to get the country straightened out.

    There is a sad but real truth about the U.S. economy: No one creates jobs anymore. It’s been going on for 10 years. The consumer demand engine of job creation has run out of gas. Too much personal debt and no disposable income. If we reduced the federal deficit to zero, the national debt would still be $60 trillion. A zero federal deficit would cost the country two million jobs and create nothing. What’s the point?

    There are two possible solutions. Do nothing and hope that in 5 or 10 years the market will straighten out the economy? Or restructure the tax code and double taxes on the top two percent of the country and on large corporations, while simultaneously lowering taxes on the middle class by 50 percent. This transfer of wealth would not increase government revenues but would revitalize the U.S. middle class and increase demand, which would generate new jobs and eventually wipe out the deficits.

    Revamping the tax code would return the distribution of wealth to its 1980 levels and reset the consumer demand engine back to a cash (live within your means) model. Demand would generate job growth and increase government revenues, which would increase government hiring and services and limit the expansion of our debt.

    Alternatively, we will be looking at 60 million people on food stamps and 30 million looking for a job.

    Does anyone have the courage to face our nasty reality?


Regaining the Power

    East Hampton

    August 4, 2011

Dear Editor,

    Since Rush Limbaugh’s mean, deceitful, and despicable declaration of political and social war against the newly elected president, whom the voters of this country designated to lead us for four years, and since he sounded the war cry to his fellow morons in the Rat Pack (whom I won’t even dignify by calling them conservatives or Republicans) to join him in destroying the president even if it meant putting all of us at risk socially and financially, things seem to have gone their way.

    The insignificant pack of power-hungry misfits, consisting of the likes of Bachmann, Palin, Cantor, Walsh, Boehner, McConnell, et al., have been heard for two and a half years caring not that they are sacrificing us all on the altar of regaining the power they so woefully mishandled under the administration of Burning Bush.

    Tea Party? What Tea Party? You mean incompetent, unknowledgeable ignoramuses who sign “pledges” for tax lobbyists and thus give away even the slight ability they may have to exercise independent judgment? Are those the guys who “want their government back?” From whom? From that Limbaugh target? That black man? That socialist who hates white people? Are those the same people who threatened to send the country over the economic cliff by failing to vote for an extension of the debt limit? Are these the people who all think and act like they live in Ohio or Kansas?

    They should all join in Rick Perry’s call to secede from the union and take the governor of Florida with them as an administrator.

    Anyway folks, at least the guy we elected got Osama bin Laden and saved General Motors, though maybe he should also have taken care of blubber-mouth Rush Limbaugh.

    They want the president to fail. So wake up, they just might get what they wish for and get a depression along with it. Think they care?


Of a Movement

    Sag Harbor

    August 4, 2011

To the Editor,

    Violence is a virus that infects and spreads much like an incurable disease. Just witness our unpredictable, multiple wars in the Middle East with no end in sight. The miracle is, despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values. The testimony of soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder who have attempted suicide speaks louder than words. Nevertheless, this is the beginning of a movement to end war. The groundwork has already been done.

    I am a veteran involved with “Veterans for Peace” on LTV every Friday, from 3 to 3:30 p.m. for the last seven years. Join us for a soldier’s view of war.

    In peace,


Amy Winehouse

    Las Vegas, Nev.

    August 5, 2011

To the Editor:

    Soon after the death of the singer Amy Winehouse, many TV pundits and so-called addiction experts (including Dr. Drew Pinsky) were quick to explain her demise as a patient failure.

    The problem, they said, was that she didn’t want to go to rehab, as her hit song so famously stated. So it followed that there was no helping her until she wanted help or showed a greater motivation to get “sober.” Others suggested that she couldn’t get straight because she hadn’t hit the required “bottom” that would propel her into recovery.

    These simple explanations, for a complex illness, are repeated so often that the public accepts them without challenge. A closer look at the dynamics of relapse reveals a different story. Amy Winehouse had in fact been rehabbed several times. With each successive rehab, a pattern of rehab and relapse develops, wherein the patient becomes less and less likely to succeed. Perhaps a different treatment approach would have benefited the forlorn singer, whose mental state was compromised by addictive illness.

    No doubt Ms. Winehouse’s addicted self didn’t want to go to rehab. But that should be no surprise to anyone who works in the treatment field.

    Addiction is the only illness for which the course of treatment isn’t changed when the patient doesn’t respond favorably. Consider how the treatment for the AIDS virus has evolved from the early days of the epidemic when only AZT was considered a treatment option.

    It’s possible that Amy Winehouse’s death represents a treatment failure as much as a patient failure. If Amy had gotten patient-specific treatment, as opposed to the one-size-fits-all treatment, her chances of survival would have increased dramatically. Too often rehabs will go out of their way to give no special treatment to a celeb like Ms. Winehouse. This disregards the fact that she is different by nature of her celebrity.

    A better treatment option might have been the guitarist Eric Clapton’s treatment center in Antigua, Crossroads. At least Crossroads would have provided treatment that recognized her special needs.

    At the conclusion of his TV show, Dr. Pinsky shakes his head with all the somberness of a weary treatment professional, “So sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but, sadly, not for Amy Winehouse.”

    Perhaps, sadly also, because Amy Winehouse received a treatment approach that didn’t work.



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