Letters to the Editor: January 6, 2020


The Real Enemy

I write to you today as a private citizen, not representing any of the organizations with which I work professionally or personally.

The Press Sessions event held last week at Rowdy Hall, featuring a discussion of the future of East Hampton Airport, had a few telling moments, to my mind. The first was that aviation interests were present in force on the panel, and perhaps less so in the audience.

The second was that one of the panelists is a Connecticut business owner whose company serves East Hampton Airport but is not one I would call a local operation. This is an important distinction for people worried about economic impacts on local aviation businesses. Out-of-state business interests, to my mind, should have no input on the future of this municipally owned facility.

However, as an airport noise abatement advocate for nearly 30 years myself, and one who had never wished the airport closed, I was chagrined to see that local aviation interests were still unwilling to challenge helicopters, which are, in large measure, the primary aircraft noise issue.

I had hoped that those interested in maintaining a small rural airport might finally join forces with those small rural aviators. But that did not occur. I see this as the greatest vulnerability to local pilots trying to maintain their hobby or small business at this publicly owned facility.

Denying or ignoring the environmental impacts of aviation carbon emissions — some of the worst in the transportation sector — and ignoring the water pollution that has occurred at the airport separates them from their neighbors. Surely there is some concern about those kinds of pollutions in the aviation community and those who support their businesses. Why not acknowledge that and try to find a way to work it out?

Local pilots need to identify the real enemy to the future of this airport, which is big business. Not East End residents continually denied the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes and properties, clean air to breathe, and water to drink.

Olive branches have been extended time after time, but until the local aviators begin to reckon with the real problems, the airport may, in fact, be destined to close.

Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in.

Kathleen Cunningham, East Hampton

Swift Response

My wife and I and our whole neighborhood would like to publicly thank our local firefighters for the swift response on Sunday morning, February 2, at about 3 a.m. There was an unattended propane heater that went on at that time, making the house under construction look like it was glowing with fire.

Big thanks to them.

Terry Sullivan, Sag Harbor

Read The Law

For some Hamptons homeowners, short-term summer rentals provide intentional, meaningful business income. For these folks, the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 could be catastrophic.

This letter is based on our own experience, renting our own home over the last week, as the profound impact of the law affecting our family “business” became apparent.

Let’s look at the portion of the law on “deposits.” Deposits are now limited in value to one month, and must be returned if the tenant changes their mind.

Is this important? Let’s look at this comment on the law: “For people who are very low-income or even homeless, the security deposit can be a big barrier,” said Maria Foscarinis, the director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Clearly, the law was intended to help these folks. But perhaps this burden belongs on the state, not the landlord.

Let me present the hypothetical experience of George J.

George J. accepted an offer of $100,000 for July and August. His lawyer said that he could ask for one month, or $50,000, as a deposit. But how could he keep that much on July 1, when he was finally allowed, by law, to collect the first month’s rent? Furthermore, since the deposit was fully returnable, did it matter how much?

Therefore, the contract was written for a $25,000 deposit, $50,000 in “rent” payable on July 1, and $50,000 in “rent” payable on August 1.

“You know what?” George said to his lawyer. “If the tenant backs out at the last moment, at the very least, I’ll keep that deposit.”

“Well,” said the lawyer, “if the tenant takes you to court, you could be fined double this amount, according to the new law.”

Let me circle back to the comment about low-income people and security deposits. Clearly, the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act was intended to regulate an apartment landlord, with many tenants. If a landlord loses money on one tenant, perhaps he has 20 other successes.

Unlike this landlord, George J. only has one asset. If that tenant backs out in June, George just might become the “low-income” beneficiary that Maria Foscarinis had in mind. But if George has deep pockets, and is an apartment landlord as well, then he, like many landlords in New York, will be moving his money out of New York State. Property devaluation is the hidden impact.

The reader should note that this “security deposit” issue is just one small part of an egregious taking of property owner rights embodied in this new measure. I encourage you to read the law and see what the politics of a one-party system can produce.

Jenice Delano, Bridgehampton

Very Sad State

Joke: Why is a common antibiotic cheaper and easier to get in a third-world country?

Punchline: Because they cut out excessive layers of health care.

I go to Egypt on vacation, to see the pyramids. Then, I realize I have a urinary tract infection. How am I to ride the poor camel to one of the ancient wonders of the world?

The hotel sends me to the pharmacy. I walk out with a common (prepackaged, written in English) antibiotic made in the USA by GlaxoSmithKline, called Augmentin. It was the best $5 I’ve ever spent!

My son gets sick on New Year’s Day. He uses a walk-in facility and gets a script for the same Augmentin that I got in Egypt. They send him to the only pharmacy open in the area, as it’s a holiday. He gives them his Emblem insurance card. They don’t take his specific plan. He asks: How much over the counter? They respond: $85.

Do you really think your private health insurance in the USA works? Saying to yourself, “Oh, not my insurance” is not economically smart. If a taxpayer is unable to go to work because they are sick, they can’t pay their taxes. That loss comes out of everyone’s pocket.

Egypt, a developing country, has universal health care. They struggle with water, pollution and traffic, yet they are able to provide medicine and health care for all. Don’t think they thought for one minute that I was Egyptian, as I am a blond woman who stands 5 feet 10 inches. Yes, health care for all — even foreigners.

This the very sad state of health care in the USA.

Elizabeth Plate, Quogue