February 05, 2014

First Light vs. Sea Tow

Dear Editor,

Regarding The Independent article by Kitty Merrill and the editorial dated 1/15/14 pertaining to Ed Michels' position as Director of Public Safety.

Everything the article and editorial stated is true. I can't believe this is happening. I am not a friend of Michels because my dealings with him and the things I've heard and seen pertaining to him.

Let's bring to light the barge purchased during the Mansir/Michels regime for replacement of Pylons at town docks. The barge and equipment cost the Town of East Hampton over $300,000. This can be substantiated by a review of town documents. During this time of Michels' dynasty, I believe he was trying to justify the existence of over 30 personnel on the marine patrol force, by repair and construction of the Harbor. This barge was tied up at Gann Road for four years and I have never seen it used.

Now let's address the safety issue under Michels supervision, without getting into how he earned the nickname of "First Light Michels." May 1, 2013 I went fishing alone off Gardiners Island when my engine failed. I called my wife on our cellphone and asked her to find help. She intercepted East Hampton Police at Gann Road (Tabers Dock) and asked for help. They had seen a Marine Patrol boat leave the harbor on its way to Montauk.

The Police made contact with the Marine Boat and they assured my wife everything would be fine. I received a call on my VHF radio from E.H. Marine Patrol saying they did not do boat rescue and I should call Sea Tow. The US Coast Guard had been monitoring the channel and showed up to assist me.

They asked if I was hurt. I did hurt my left knee while trying to repair the engine. I was towed by the Coast Guard to Three Mile Harbor where an ambulance was waiting to take me to Southampton Hospital.

During the period of towing a safety check was performed on my vessel by the Coast Guard. They found outdated flares and no boat registration on board. A citation was written for flares and registration and I was given a copy of the Coast Guard-generated paperwork. I never saw a Marine Patrol person on the dock. Yet, I received a summons three days later to appear in East Hampton Court in front of a judge for the same citation issued by the Coast Guard.

Someone please explain the double banging to appear in front of a judge. Again, this is a case of the Marine Patrol justifying their existence. Verifications of this episode should be in the Marine Patrol Log, dated May 1, 2013 (if they keep one).

I hope Mr. Cantwell reads the article and explains to me "Excellent Organizational Skills and experience in leadership" that he sees in Ed Michels.


Non-Lethal Approaches

To the Editor,

Thank you for your excellent January 22 editorial asking communities to step back from deer culls. You very reasonably recommend non-lethal approaches. And you correctly point out that the primary cause of local environmental damage hasn't been the deer, but the rising human population and the real-estate development that has accompanied it.


Should Be Outlawed

Dear Editor,

There can be no justification for the imminent slaughter of East Hampton's deer residents. Both the DEC and the USDA's rogue branch Wildlife Services (a misnomer if ever there was one!) use spurious arguments to fool the public. "Culls" never work to decrease populations; deer births always increase after mass murders. So the killing has to go on ad infinitum. Over-population is caused by DEC in the first place, as they manipulate herd size for the benefit of hunters, then blame the deer for being too plentiful and recommend mass executions like this one.

"Sharpshooters" is an anodyne term that does not hold water. Everyone misses sometimes, and the deer can suffer wounded for days.

Eating vegetation is not an excuse to kill. Humans destroy vegetation all the time- shall we be culled? The deer eat to live, that's all. When there is insufficient food, they will have less births.

Wildlife Services are under investigation by the Inspector General for animal cruelty and other crimes. They should be outlawed, not paid to murder more deer.

Have some empathy! Imagine your family peacefully living in a field, and then imagine them shot, suffering, and dying before your eyes. That pain and grief is what you will help cause if you do not protest this plan and stop it. It CAN be stopped if we all have a conscience.


Feverishly Flapped

To the Editor,

I was enjoying the warmth from the fireplace after reading about the mute swan in the newspaper. Can it really be 35 years ago, I asked myself. Indeed it had, and I find it hard to believe we have changed that much.

After placing the paper back on the coffee table, I found myself anchored in reverie. It was a late summer evening, September 18th, to be exact, and I was methodically casting for bass on Mill Pond in Water Mill. The water was almost slick calm and the air was still and moist. There was little trace that fall was just a few scant days away.

The rhythm of my casting was broken by a noise, a disturbance really, off in the distance. At first I couldn't comprehend what I was witness to. Luckily, on board my little aluminum boat I carried a pair of binoculars, and I quickly focused on what looked like a huge hole in the water's surface. Suddenly, like a mini-submarine from within the swirling vortex, a full-grown swan breached.

How can a swan suddenly appear from under the water, I wondered. Loons and cormorants do that, not swans. A split second later, I saw it. A huge tire-sized snapping turtle was inextricably clinging to one of the swan's rubbery feet.

From afar, I watched in disbelief as this swan was dragged below the surface. Its body and long neck were now subsurface, just its head remained aloft.

While still processing this life and death tug-of-war, miraculously the swan managed to resurface in a torrent of spray. It feverishly flapped its huge wings, but there was no lift. Despite all its efforts it managed to move its captor a few measly yards. I had seen enough.

I pointed my foot-controlled, bow-mounted electric motor directly toward the ongoing commotion. The motor, designed for quiet and not speed was already on high, but I couldn't get there fast enough. I needed more speed. Maniacally, I paddled toward the fracas. Finally, I was half way there. I could hear the rushing of water and raucous hissing.

Exhilaration suddenly gave way to a melancholy sickness. I was too late. Or so I thought. With no sign of either turtle or swan, I raced toward the bubbling water. They were just below me. Amazingly, the swan surfaced within inches of my starboard bow, the turtle still in tow. I couldn't believe it. Its hard carapace raked the bottom of my boat. Eyes closed, it continued to relentlessly yank downward.

Seizing the opportunity, I stood and struck the turtle in the neck with my paddle. I must have startled it because it opened its mouth just wide enough. Steering with a mangled foot, the swan swam off.

A loud crackle from the fire snapped me back to the present. It's funny, I can't remember if I caught anything that evening, but I remember the exuberance I felt while motoring back to the launch ramp. Convinced I was right to intercede on the swan's behalf, there was a certain sense of accomplishment, and I couldn't wait to share the story with my wife.

So what's changed? We used to prosecute those who harmed these elegant, white birds. And dare I say it, most of us still welcome their great gliding presence and embrace their company.

They haven't changed. Why suddenly are these serene creatures considered interlopers, scourges that must be slaughtered? Have mute swans really become so aggressive that we can't find a way to coexist with them? I hope not. Yet I wonder if they are wiped out, what will be next?


Reward Law Breakers

Dear Editor,

Ten thousand baby boomers are retiring each day, while 92 million Americans who want jobs cannot find full time employment. Women's employment numbers have dropped. Blacks, especially the youth, are unemployed in record numbers.

The poverty level has gone up, with 20 percent of Americans on food stamps and disability payments. When records show that the actual unemployment rate was 13.1 percent in December, you find the unemployed discouraged, forced into poverty and taxpayer funded benefits. We haven't faced these kinds of numbers for a very long time. So, exactly why are politicians talking about amnesty?

Allowing 11 million illegal, undocumented aliens to become eligible for jobs and taxpayer-funded benefits is absurd. We cannot allow the president, who has doubled our debt in his five years, to bypass Congress. It is short sighted and dangerous. We cannot survive with the national debt at $17-plus trillion and climbing, and expect our society to last. 

There are 80 different welfare programs we fund, but only 53 percent of Americans pay taxes to fund them. If we open the doors for ever-increasing numbers of illegals we are facing higher taxes and more debt. We must not drain taxpayer funds to reward lawbreakers who continue to flood over our porous borders.

It is bad enough that one third of all felons in our prisons are repeat offender illegals. We keep them in prison at great expense rather than deport them. It also makes us more vulnerable to terrorists, who also come across the borders. Illegal, undocumented aliens are also breaking our hospital, school and judicial systems in the process. There should indeed be programs in place for those who want to come here to work.

But this can only happen after we achieve border security, and the president has already shown that he has no intention of enforcing the tight border controls called for in the amnesty proposals. We are tired of the liars and thieves in Washington DC. 

It is legal plunder when our legislators tax us so heavily to support those who are in our country illegally and those who do not work, using this law as a weapon against the hands that feed them. It takes from one and gives to another. This proposed amnesty must not happen. Congress should be focused on the debt, on replacing Obamacare, and on halting Obama's dictator-like use of Executive Orders, not on another destructive amnesty fiasco.


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