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To the Editor:

For nearly two years, Long Island has been facing the threat of construction of a huge, floating Liquid Gas Factory in Long Island Sound, off Wading River. The facts are in. Everybody now knows that very little of Broadwater's LNG would come to Long Island and that it would be just as expensive as other foreign fossil fuel. There would be simply no energy savings for Long Islanders at all.

Then there's the danger of an accident or terrorist attack. The factory will require armed security forces to circle the facility 24 hours per day, everyday. Then, the force would have to protect the LNG-loaded Supertankers, delivering their volatile fuel, three times a week. Broadwater wants New York taxpayers to foot the bill to protect their factory! And of course nobody wants the industrialization of Long Island Sound or the dreadful precedent of turning over sovereign U.S. territory to a multi-national corporation importing Middle Eastern fuel.

Almost all of our elected officials have it right and oppose Broadwater, but it may still be handed to us by a powerful bureaucracy in Washington — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Conspicuous by his absence is the newly inaugurated Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. Everyone agrees that New York State must have a say on whether Broadwater is forced down our throats by a near totalitarian agency of the federal government in Washington.

If New York is to have a say, we need the voice of Governor Spitzer to say it. Your readers should call the Governor at (518) 474-8390 and tell him to join his fellow elected officials from Long Island and say "No!" to Broadwater, once and for all.

January 16, 2007

The Facts?

To the Editor of The Independent,

This letter is being written in response to your editorial "It's Not What You Know, But Is It Who You Know?" regarding the property tax relief granted to Paul Robinson by the Southampton Village Board of Assessment Review. What should outrage readers who read both your article and the editorial is your paper's defamatory manipulation of scantily reported facts.

I am the Southampton Village Tax Assessor and I know "the facts" far better than you will ever be able to understand and report. You didn't do your homework and you should be ashamed of your editorial commentary. It was one of the worst examples of sensationalized reporting I have ever read.

I attended the February 21, 2006 Southampton Village Grievance Day tax relief hearings in my official capacity as tax assessor. New York State Law allows me to reduce a property owner's assessment if the property owner can demonstrate that his original assessment, as it appears on the tentative assessment roll, is unequal or excessive.

Mr. Robinson presented a compelling argument that his property was over-assessed and the reduction he received was justified. Two Village Trustees from opposing political parties concurred. It was bi-partisan in all respects — thorough, honest and fair. Any other property owner with similar circumstances would have been treated exactly the same, without exception. For you to suggest that a government official should not receive the same rights as any other citizen is grossly unfair.

For the scant salary of $7,200 annually, the Southampton Village Trustees devote endless hours to work for the Village they love. Frankly, for you to suggest impropriety and write such trash in a local paper is simply disrespectful of everyone who devotes such time to such causes.

You may not agree with the decisions of every public official, but to smear good people like Paul Robinson and his colleagues, without truth and justification, is poor reporting and irresponsible of you as The Independent's editor.


Southampton Village Tax Assessor

Village of Southampton

Editor's Note: Ooooh, Southampton Village Tax Assessor. Is that like, Dean of the Quantum Physics Department at Yale? Your job requires that you take a course up in Albany and have a "high school diploma or equivalent," as state law dictates. We're confident our college and graduate school educated editorial staff is capable of understanding the nuances of your little job. That said, as a village employee you write a letter defending the guy who votes on your salary increases. That's called Brown Nosing where we come from.

Here are the facts: One hundred and two people sought relief that day; five were granted. One was a village trustee. We reported some folks think an appearance of impropriety exists when trustees can vote to reduce each other's property taxes. That's what outrages readers. By the way, the article wasn't defamatory because it was the truth — do you have a law degree, too?

January 16, 2007

Good God?

Dear Editor of the East Hampton Independent,

What in hell is going on? It is an outrage that any church, temple, mosque or any house of mystic beliefs should try to impose their theocratic dictates on our secular government. They should keep their gods in their own houses of worship and enjoy them to their hearts content without having to shove it down the throat of the government which for whatever reason allows them to function tax free.

This particular rant is aimed at the Catholic Church and is prompted by the Seven Catholic Bishops in Minnesota, including Archbishop Harry Flynn of the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who have issued a statement condemning the raid by federal immigration authorities in Worthington, as well as the immigration policies of the United States. They were soon joined by five other Bishops. It seems that they feel it is not dignified to enforce our laws upon the illegal aliens that are breaking them . . . employers included.

How hypocritical! Perhaps if they read the papers on a regular unbiased basis, they might find that there are REAL indignities that have taken place and right in their own undignified back yard. They were against helpless children. And it was also done with the knowledge of Bishops who at those times failed to dignify those crimes. Perhaps they should clean up their own illegal activities before they start condemning the legal ones of the United States.

Applicable to all religions, the supernatural has no place in a secular government. Decisions are based on clear real thinking devoid of spirits or ghosts. Separation of religion and government is essential if we do not want to emulate those faith-crazed theocracies that have proven to be such a thorn in our side.

January 16, 2007

War Is Hell

Dear Editor,

No doubt about it folks, war is hell. No civilized person wants war. People want to live in peace, and work, worship, live and raise their families, without death and destruction tearing their lives and homes apart — nobody in their right and sane mind!

But sadly, we live in a world of terrible reality where stark evil resides; many misguided people have been caught up in evil — misled by evil doers seeking to destroy our Western Civilization, our Judeo-Christian beliefs, what we hold true, and believe and cherish: Our faith, our families and Country — Land of the Free. We cannot let this happen — there comes a time when war is just!

To preserve our freedom and way of life, we must defend it — come hell or high water.

January 16, 2007

Here Kitty Kitty

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my request for a loving home for the gray kitten that I had brought to the Southampton Animal Shelter. A wonderful family adopted him along with two other cats to keep him company!

Many people expressed an interest in finding a companion kitten or cat, and so every few weeks I would like to highlight one or two that are currently living at the Shelter and are waiting to be adopted. The two this week are: "Mickey," a black and white 3-year-old male, and "Rocky," a black and brown tiger 3-year-old male. These handsome, neutered littermate brothers with big yellow eyes were adopted from the Southampton Animal Shelter as kittens in 2004 and were returned to the Shelter in June 2006 because their adoptive owners moved and were unable to take them.

They are missing their home environment terribly and desperately need a loving home again. If you think you might be able to adopt them, please call the Shelter at 728-7837. Thank you.

January 16, 2007

Good Skating

Dear Editor,

I'm sending you a copy of a letter I personally sent to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee. I want to be a voice that is heard, one in favor of the Buckskill Winter Club of East Hampton:

Dear Mr. McGintee,

I am most concerned about your efforts to shut down Buckskill Winter Club on Buckskill Road, East Hampton. I use the words "shut down" because I find it absolutely ridiculous that the town, once again, is making it impossible for a small family business to be successful, and for what? This is outrageous! The planning board should have either issued a Certificate of Occupancy or a real reason for denying one, long ago. It is wrong for you to accept building plans, issue a building permit, and then deny the final Certificate of Occupancy based on new regulations issued after the proper and permitted construction is completed.

Furthermore, it is frightening that our elected officials don't seem to understand the needs of our community. The DeGroots, a community oriented family, have tried to provide for the community a wonderful outdoors activity during the long winter months. This skating rink has given families a lovely opportunity to be physically active outdoors, in a pleasant and safe environment, at minimal cost. It's given young people a chance to learn a new sport, practice their skills safely, spend time together in a positive way, as well as provide jobs for some. Schools are able to use the rink as an intramural sport for students who may not get a chance to visit the rink on their own.

I grew up in East Hampton attending the public school here. The winters can be long and challenging, especially for young people. I can remember waiting for a cold snap, so that I could walk to town pond for an enjoyable skate. It was few and far between that the pond would be frozen solid enough, without snow, to partake in a skating activity. With the Buckskill Winter Club, people don't need to wait for freezing temperatures; they can skate during the winter months, any day of the week without fear of thin or rough ice.

I hope that you will seriously consider the impact these undue litigations and continued denial of a Certificate of Occupancy has on our community and our level of trust for our governing officials. It would be in the best interest of all parties for the town board to stop blocking the efforts of the DeGroot's business. My family and friends like it and want to benefit from its services.

January 16, 2007

Don’t Throw Stones

To The Editor:

If my fellow public officials quoted in the article "Administrators Mopping Up the Moolah" are so worried about salaries, then before throwing stones they could try giving up their $90,000+ paychecks and work for free like every Board of Education member does. Otherwise, if the only way to attract such apparently superior, frugal-minded public servants to the vitally important job of educating our local children is to offer a salary, then the quoted public officials should start lobbying Albany to make a paycheck an incentive to serve on a Board of Education.

Furthermore, Kitty Merrill's comment comparing a school district employee's salary to his peer at the county level makes as much sense as comparing what someone at the town level makes to his counterpart at the federal level. Public sector salaries don't go up in proportion to one's responsibilities.

The president of the United States as leader of the free world has duties at least four thousand times as great as a town supervisor, yet the president is paid just four times as much. Nevertheless, if the quoted public officials truly agree with Ms. Merrill's logic, then they should each take a drastic pay cut.


Southampton Board of Education

Editor's Note: Actually, we've advocated school districts hire professional money managers that answer only to the school board for precisely the reason you mention — as volunteers, school board members can't be expected to manage multi-million dollar budgets, and most don't have the acumen to do so. However, the poor taxpayers are paying scores of administrators, superintendents, business managers and office personnel — you seem to have conveniently forgotten them.

It is troubling you defend school spending practices, because as a board member you are elected by the taxpayers to safeguard our rights and to insure our dollars are being spent wisely. In the case of the Southampton School District, a recent comparison revealed your district spends more per student than any similar-sized school district in the entire state, often twice as much and sometimes even more. You're so inbred in the system that your logic is convoluted: the public officials quoted by Merrill earn far less than school superintendents though they oversee much bigger operations. By any rational criteria your district is one of the most wasteful and inefficient in the state. It's scary — you just don't get it, do you?

January 16, 2007

Successful Plunge

Dear Editor,

Happy New Year, Friends. Just a special thanks to all that braved the elements of a nasty day to attend or take part in the 2007 Polar Bear Plunge. The Indian Wells' parking lot was packed full like it was the Fourth of July. Over 300 people attended and approximately 200 entered the water. Afterwards, the hot chili, hot chowders, hot chocolate, and cookies, brownies and cup cakes were just what everyone needed to warm their bodies. The East Hampton Hurricanes would especially like to thank the ABA for their use of the parking lot, YMCA and all the parents that provided food and supplies, the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue for set up, and Mike Bunce from Claws on Wheels for the huge pot of seafood chowder. Without all your help, this event would not have been such a success.

January 02, 2007

Burning Up

Letter to the Editor:

I recently passed Introductory Resolution 2113, a Local Law to regulate the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces in Suffolk County. My legislation clearly defines an outdoor wood-burning furnace as an apparatus that is located outside of the primary structure and is used to heat the indoor living space. They are typically 6 ft by 6ft by 6 ft and have a chimney with a maximum height of 12 feet.

The law does not affect indoor fireplaces, wood-burning stoves or coal-burning stoves (all of which have chimneys that emit the smoke above the roofline), nor does it affect small outdoor fire pits, fireplaces or barbeques.

The legislation was in response to a constituent from Medford, who contacted my office regarding a problem she was having with a neighbor. She explained that every fall her neighbor fires up one of these devices, which literally fills the neighborhood with smoke. I personally visited her home and she provided me with pictures and video that clearly depict the problem. She had attempted to redress the situation with the Suffolk County Health Department; however; no regulation existed.

Outdoor wood-burning furnaces create both a health risk and a public nuisance when operated in a suburban neighborhood. This is of greater significance when the operator burns wood that has been treated, painted, laminated, etc. These health risks have been demonstrated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and documented in a report issued in October 2005 by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The report notes that an outdoor wood-burning device produces 71.6 grams per hour of particulate matter as opposed to 18.5 grams by a conventional woodstove (that does not meet EPA standards), and 4.1 grams by a woodstove that meets all of the EPA standards. In addition these devices emit 0.96 grams per hour of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 0.6 grams more than the conventional non-EPA certified woodstove (0.36 grams).

It has been clearly established that particulate matter can lead to a variety of lung disease including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema; and hydrocarbons are carcinogenic. Due to the short chimney the smoke is being spewed out and into neighboring homes.

Further, manufacturers and some of those who oppose my legislation, stated that these devices save homeowners money in energy costs. However, the report refutes this assumption as well. It states that the average installation costs of an outdoor wood burning device (with 43% efficiency) is $5,500 as opposed to $2,075 for an indoor woodstove (with 68% efficiency), and $2,690 for a gas or oil fueled forced air furnace (with 90% efficiency).

In addition, fuel costs for these units are much more than any other system with the exception of electricity. Based upon the report, the average total household energy cost for an outdoor wood-burning device is $1,977, while it is $1,840 for oil and $1,449 for gas.

As mentioned above, the EPA has regulations and standards in place that affect indoor fireplaces, woodstoves and coal stoves. However, those standards do not apply to outdoor wood-burning devices. As a result, localities have stepped up to fill the void.

As of the 2005 report, 11 municipalities in New York State have banned the devices and an additional four have severely limited their use. These municipalities are in the upstate counties of Oneida, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Otsego, Jefferson, Lewis and Washington; all much less populated than Suffolk. The latest municipality to recognize and address this matter was the Town of Brookhaven.

After submitting the resolution I received letters and e-mails from residents throughout Suffolk County, all in favor. Citizens from Huntington to Southampton have explained how these devices have had a negative impact on their quality of life. By nature, an outdoor wood-burning device is designed for a rural community where homes are spread apart and cheap firewood is readily available, not in most areas of Suffolk County.

Suffolk County Legislator

January 02, 2007

Reality Check

Dear Editor,

Somebody should get Andrew G. Benjamin to the Ideological Detoxification Lab before he ends up in a straitjacket! It is sad to see a seemingly good mind spew forth such a distorted description of "Reality." Here, in fact, is the Reality that the "Genius" in the White House has produced:

Reality #1: a U.S. military defeat in Iraq that is going to turn Iraq into an extension of Iran and possibly lead to a regional war that will threaten our supply of oil and send it to $200 a barrel. Reality #2: the needless deaths of thousands of our troops (the war would be a "walk in the park") and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Reality#3: billions in war costs and tax cuts (skewed to the rich) that threaten to ultimately crush the economy with enormous debt and hyper-inflation. Reality #4: Housing foreclosures and personal bankruptcies that are at an all-time high.

Reality #5: Corporations making grotesque profits with little of those profits going to workers and most of it going to upper management salary increases and/or exporting of jobs overseas. Reality#6: the allowing of American businesses to evade pension obligations to workers. Reality #7: the failure to address the future solvency of Social Security. Reality #8: the failure to bring some measure of health care assistance to children and needy families.

Reality#9: the failure to enact a comprehensive immigration policy that can prevent the economic havoc currently being inflicted on our border states. Reality #10: a total failure to fund Homeland Security measures. Reality #11: the destruction of American world moral and political authority. Reality #12: a majority of Americans who are now in fear for the future of their country.

Mr. Benjamin, take off your ideological glasses and take a look at the REAL world!

January 02, 2007


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