To the Editor:
I am a watchdog by nature. Deeply suspicious of all things new, I growl reflexively when the salesman knocks at the door. I operate on intelligence, intuition and experience. I was what I am before I became a councilman, and because I never professed to be other than that, I assume I was adopted with that understanding.
This “dark skies” legislation has my hackles up. I bark and growl because I am deeply distrustful of it and I will continue to do so until one of three things happens: I die, they go away, or enough of you tell me that it’s all right so I can go back to my bed and lie down. I may not agree, but I’ll do it.
On Friday, June 28 a hearing will be held in Town Hall regarding the legislation proposed. For those who were asleep or away from their desks for a couple of months, I am opposed to it as presented. It goes too far in one direction and not far enough in the other to be of real use to anyone.
My conviction is that the law itself needs be as focused as it claims the lights it regulates should be, so there is no intrusive glare from that law touching anyone unnecessarily. The current version fails this test. I would rather believe that to be inadvertent and not intentional.
Either way, however, it does not work for me, yet.
So please, if you’re as tired as I am of the salesman knocking at the door with a new, improved vacuum cleaner that you know will suck worse than the last one, then either chase them the hell out of here or let me know you’re okay with this thing. Either way, I could use the rest. Animal Planet is coming on soon…
Councilman, Shelter Island Town Board
To the Editor:
Regarding the assertion by Mr. Kelly in last week’s Reporter (“Dark skies: New storm,” June 6) that I am advocating for good outdoor lighting regulations in order to sell light shields: I have, for years, offered a simple floodlight shield for free to all the residents of East End towns with lighting codes, through the Group for the East End and the Nature Conservancy.
I am an educator and a volunteer, educating the public about how to save money by using night lighting sensibly to better illuminate the ground by directing light downward in the correct amount to see well, to provide real security (instead of just a sense of security), and to control light trespass, which is a nuisance between neighbors.
I have read the Shelter Island draft of their lighting law and it is not onerous in the least and will help Shelter Islanders to enjoy their lives at night (on the ground) and to continue to see their beautiful night sky, and money will be saved. This is a worthwhile effort for any Town Board to initiate.
And, if anyone wants to fabricate their own shields, just get a 7-inch clamp and a piece of sheet metal. I’ll give you the template. I also provide lighting plans for free to nonprofit groups (schools and churches) and designed lighting for The Springs School in order to conserve energy with professional light levels, saving energy. You can now see stars above that school at night.
My hope is that the Shelter Island Town Board will be successful with their effort to protect private property owners from light trespass, to provide safer walkways and roadways without glare, conserve energy, and to protect your beautiful night sky.
Dark Sky Society
Ludicrous and insulting
To the Editor:
I read your article about dark skies and went to the site for the Group for the East End, groupfortheeastend.org.
I was interested in finding the free source that Ms. Harder mentioned. She said she is making no money and gives them away for free.
Apparently not for the last several years. Someone is selling them and someone is making money.
I think the town should be careful in writing legislation that may focus on a patented, competition-free product that everyone would have to buy. What other shield products are available? Will we have options for town-approved shields?
But first, I think it is ludicrous and insulting for Mr. Kelly to think that Chris Lewis, of all people, would somehow benefit from this proposed legislation.
To the Editor:
In my opinion, it’s an unsettling concept; patent a product, then, without disclosure, legislate its mandatory use! This is a great business model for anyone to consider; especially if the use is mandated by law. Corporations covet their patents, as the financial benefits can be exponential.
I find it incredulous that no one on the Town Board bothered to investigate this product and its promoter’s motives. Instead, they’re considering a mandate of this product by imposing costly fines if people don’t abide by this new law they’re proposing. Should we not “mandate,” if at all, with our eyes open?
Ms. Lewis claims she “wouldn’t know Susan Harder if I fell over her and I sure as hell didn’t know she had a patent on shielded light fixtures.” Why not? She is a town official and has a responsibility to the residents of Shelter Island. All one had to do was Google Susan Harder and there are a plethora of articles that come up. Besides, Ms. Harder also appeared before the Town Board several years ago and
Ms. Lewis apparently doesn’t remember that, which I find interesting, as she is pushing her product.
Here is a suggestion to at least obviate another blatant conflict of interest from occurring: Ms. Harder claims that she makes no money on this product. The name of the shields, which she holds the patent for, are called “Parshields.” We have several deserving environmental groups at hand, such as the Peconic Baykeeper and the Nature Conservancy. If indeed this patent has no financial value or profit factor, then I offer to Ms. Harder a $100 consideration toward her stagnant venture, in exchange for her assignment of her patent to one (or both ) of these two groups. I’m sure Kevin McAllister of the Peconic Baykeeper as well as the Nature Conservancy, using volunteers, could readily convert the “handling charges” into an enhanced profit center. After all, this is supposed to be for the benefit of the environment … and what better place for a valueless patent?
I am not against a suggestion that people not shine lights directly down waterways, or in other people’s homes. I am against a government mandate, especially if someone has an undisclosed financial interest in “what’s best for us.” We don’t know the whole story here, except inattentive government and an undisclosed conflict of interest.
I do believe that Shelter Island is still part of the United States and that we might still enjoy some freedoms here, although they are disappearing rapidly. It’s zoning, not lights that keeps a community rural. I join many others in being offended by government-mandated “preferential” dictates. We all have rights in our wonderful country.
A vote for Chris
To the Editor:
It is obvious that the issue of dark skies has aroused more than a few emotions. It is clear that all voices need to be heard and thus the reason for bringing the proposed legislation before the public. To imply that a town councilwoman, in this case Chris Lewis, has a personal agenda for supporting and bringing information to the public is dishonest and despicable. Our Town Board [members] have the right and obligation to discuss issues without having their integrity questioned. Chris deserves our support and appreciation.
To the Editor:
The most important part of any question is usually the answer. When resident Richard Kelly asked a Town Board member a question regarding dark skies, he was met with intimidation and anger. Councilwoman Lewis told him to “be careful” and that he was “treading on dangerous ground.” The question was asked in a civil manner; the response was not. Obviously, Mr. Kelly struck a nerve.
Why should citizen Kelly be “careful?” What is the “danger?” Is Ms. Lewis threatening that she or the Town Board will abuse their powers and seek revenge for asking a question at a public meeting? I am sensitive to all of this because I have been in a similar situation with Supervisor Dougherty. I see this dark history repeating itself.
Mr. Kelly deserves an apology from Councilwoman Lewis. The Town Board’s silence on this incident was deafening. An ethics investigation, per town code, should be considered. They need to reassure the public that Town Hall is the people’s building and that they are free to ask any question that they choose to.
How can we have a fair hearing on dark skies, or any other issue, if one is fearful of offending an elected official?
The first amendment of our Constitution provides that we can question and criticize our government without fear of retribution. Our forefathers realized that a democracy can only function when there is honest and open dialogue between the people and their government. As subjects of the king, they were punished for an offensive statement or if they dared to question the crown. They thought that they had put an end to that. Our elected officials are not royalty.
Remember, our Town Board members are also our police commissioners. As such, they have immense power but also an immense responsibility. That power and responsibility is regulated and defined by the Constitution and laws that they agreed to support, as per their oath of office.
If you think that enforcing their oath and our constitutional rights here is just idealistic nonsense, please read the following:
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same …”
If our Constitution is so essential that we send our young men and women to risk and sacrifice their lives to defend it, then it should be of the utmost importance in our town government.
Our Town Board members have the honor and duty to apply the Constitution in all that they say and do. When we become complacent and allow an elected official to subjugate any citizen, we dishonor all those who have served, and those who have died fighting protecting these rights,
The Constitution provides that Mr. Kelly can participate in our government; that I can write this letter and that the Reporter can print it. We should be able to do so without fear of retaliation from Ms. Lewis, Mr. Dougherty or anyone.
Where will it end?
To the Editor:
Here we go again. A few Town Board members want to jam down our throats a law that no one wants but a few will get what looks like financial or political gain. I will point out these charges as we progress in this mission to shed some “light” and perhaps even get the truth from those attempting to hide the issues from the public.
First, I would like to ask Ms. Lewis the method she used in requesting Susan Harder to come before the board to make a presentation in relation to the dark skies issue. Did she interview her in person, by phone, email or even smoke signals to vet her qualifications on the subject to make sure she would present this in a favorable way to Ms. Lewis’ liking, but not necessarily in the public’s best interest or liking? If this was done in a proper way, I find it rather strange that Ms. Lewis would not know her ‘if she tripped over her.” If Ms. Harder was not researched for her qualifications, I would then suggest malfeasance on the part of Ms. Lewis for not obtaining her background qualifications to protect the public she serves from misstatements, untruths and erroneous facts to promote the sale of her Chinese-made lighting products as relates to the proposed law. How can one trust someone who claims to be giving away these useless, worthless “shades” just in case those of our elected officials seeking some form of “gratification,” financial or otherwise, prevail in jamming this junk down our throats?
I do realize Ms. Harder only holds the patent, but patent holders usually get a piece of the action, be it monetary or some other form of reward … these rewards can then be shared. Why would any politician place themselves in a position to anger their electorate and maybe — no, definitely — lose an election over such a mundane issue as lights? I’ll let you be the judge.
If this albatross of a bill passes we will be forced to hire a light police force. This will require salaries, pensions, health benefits and union wages. Oh, what the hell, it’s only taxpayer money. What these self-serving public officials fail to realize is they too are part of the taxpaying public or soon will be if they pass this tomfoolery.
If I have a falling out with my neighbor, I call the police on a light that has been there since the house was built 50 years ago, and bingo, my neighbor gets a summons, must pay a fine, hire an electrician and buy mandated fixtures for his home — another felonious lawbreaker brought to justice. Where will it end?
What will we have accomplished with this moronic law? We have pitted neighbor against neighbor, created another nonproductive job at the taxpayer’s expense, given an electrician some work for which he will have to pay the government sales tax — money for irresponsible politicians to squander making idiotic laws.
Shielding the lights on someone’s outside steps or walkway is an invitation to injury.
There must be a deeper-rooted reason for an elected official to pursue such an unpopular cause. I sense a reward of some kind waiting in the wings upon passage. Do the math. Multiply the number of outdoor fixtures on the Island by a minimum of $25 and one can see a patent holder and manufacturer stand to make a huge profit. On the other hand, if they are giving these shields away, they stand to lose a huge amount. Which scenario do you choose to believe? Where there is money there is temptation.
It would appear to me that if it looks like a fish and smells like a fish, it probably is a fish.
To the Editor:
The cable story in the May 30 Reporter says the damaged cable is about 40 years old. Both the original east and west cables were put down almost 50 years ago in March 1964.
They were energized [made alive] as far as the riser poles at Crescent Beach on April 3, 1964 at 4:45 p.m. The first 13,200-volt lines were delivered to the Island to replace the antiquated 4000-volt primary lines fed by the Greenport generators. It wasn’t until June 1, 1964 that the new cables replaced the old 4000-volt lines. Due to the rapid growth of the Island, the old line wasn’t adequate, causing many low voltage problems. The old company [Shelter Island Light & Power] couldn’t afford the necessary expenses and LILCO took over in 1960.
At 7:40 a.m. on December 10, 1964, the west cable failed; fuses wouldn’t hold on any phase so I had throw the switch on the east cable. Power was back by 8:30 a.m. They found the trouble approximately 200 feet off the Crescent Beach shore. They hired “Toots” Clark in his boat to set out buoys to mark the cable. Despite the cold and nasty weather, the cable was fixed by the 18th and “re-energized.”
The company didn’t realize that in laying the cable in March, it had fetched up on a ledge and evidently got damaged at that time.
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
To the Editor:
I wonder if perhaps Ms. Julie Lane lost the second page of her notes on the way home from The Pridwin, that Friday night. Her article (“Bascome is man of the night,” June 6) regarding the Shelter Island Fire Department annual Installation Dinner was charming, but incomplete. Maybe I’m the only one who flipped through the paper looking for the rest of the article and a few more pictures. Maybe I’m not.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I do not intend to take kudos away from Mr. Western Bascome. He was indeed a man of the night. Rightfully so.
However, there were other men in attendance at The Pridwin, who should get a shout-out for their recognitions.
Mr. Doug Warner, the long-time owner of Fedi’s Market, was thanked for his countless years of generosity and support of the Fire Department. Doug’s touching acceptance speech brought the entire room to applause and a full standing ovation.
Mr. Brian Lechmanski, a third generation member, was the recipient of not one but two of the night’s top honors. Brian took home plaques for Highest Training Hours of the year and also the coveted Firefighter of the Year award, earning him a standing ovation of his own.
These two gentlemen were deserving men of the night and deserving of at least a paragraph, if not a picture, in the newspaper. Since they seem to have missed their chance with Ms. Lane last week, allow me to say here … Kudos to Doug Warner, a real community icon. Kudos to Brian Lechmanski, a valuable and dedicated young fireman. Thank you for serving the people of Shelter Island.
Editor’s note: It was at the request of the chiefs that the photograph and story on the Installation Dinner focused on Mr. Bascome.