Driven to Relocate
I would like to thank Patricia Currie for her letter last week … and also all the members of the Quiet Skies Coalition for trying to bring some sanity back to our lives.
We all know we live in a resort community and what that involves. When traffic was too congested in town on weekends we all just used our backyards. We had barbecues with friends, read a book or gardened. Unfortunately, many of us have lost the ability to use our properties due to the barrage of aircraft bombarding us during the spring, summer and early fall months.
This year we have seaplanes, jets and prop planes flying at low altitudes directly over and around our home … the helicopters don’t fly directly over but are close by, incredibly loud and seem to take forever to pass by.
Yes, we knew we were building a home three miles from the airport. However, 20+ years ago the airport was only used by small prop planes and not 50-60 assorted aircraft flying over each day during the summer weekends … who could have known that East Hampton Town would allow very large noisy jets and helicopters at all hours of the day and night?
It has become so obnoxious that we, like several local year round residents, are actively looking to relocate and spend our money elsewhere.
“The happiest seaside town” indeed … maybe East Hampton Airport and the wealthy who are ferried here by those noisy, environmentally toxic planes, but not for us local people who have loved and supported Sag Harbor for all these years.
Barbara Wolfram, 35-year year-round resident
Thank you and Annette Hinkle for the article A Conversation with Jeff Robinson, Mashashimuet Park’s new park manager. We are glad to have the chance to introduce Jeff to the community and to have someone who could take over so ably the job that Joe Burns has done so well for the last twenty-two years. We would like to clarify a misconception inferred in the first paragraph. Joe Burns decided to retire from full time management of the park at about the time his grandson was born. The park board was mindful in our search for a replacement that his shoes would be hard to fill. When Jeff arrived at the Park, Joe spent an extra six months on the job, training Jeff, and he still fills in part time, continuing a valued connection with the Park.
Thanks again. We hope everyone will come to the Park to meet Jeff and, with luck, run into Joe when he is there.
Jean Irvine, President
Park & Recreation Association
of Sag Harbor, NY, Inc.
Working Together With Respect
I very much appreciate the “Express Yourself” feature as a place where I get to say what’s on my mind and see what other Sag Harborites are thinking. This past week there were two comments to your poll questions that I thought bore commentary of my own.
In response to the question of whether gay parents should be allowed to participate in Boy Scout activities, someone said, “Gay parents have ALWAYS been welcome to participate and have NEVER been prohibited from doing so out here.” That simply is not the case. There definitely was a time when a gay family was rejected. The troop would accept the boy, but not the parents. They might as well have turned away the boy himself because scouting at its best should be a family endeavor. The respondent went on to say, “Stop trying to divide this community and instead use your energies/resources to help keep this town the place that drew you here to begin with and not tear it apart and turn it into someplace that you left.” I am a major proponent of having a unified, collaborative community, but that doesn’t mean ignoring problems that need to be addressed. Together, we should work to settle differences and find respectful solutions. To that end, I would hope that if our local Boy Scout troop is no longer discriminatory, that they would announce that boldly and proudly, both in our community and for all the other troops in our state and country to see. That would truly make this town the place that drew me here.
That brings me to the other response I wanted to comment on. When asked whether s/he is disappointed that Sag Harbor was not named the Happiest Place in America, the respondent said,
“I prefer to be named greenest, cleanest, leanest economically yet still providing best services.” I loved that response. My dream is that Sag Harbor will become a model of energy efficiency with a thriving local economy brought about by concerned, educated citizens of all ages working together with respect and love to find solutions to all challenges.
I wanted to thank you and the Sag Harbor Express for both the excellent article and the thoughtful editorial on the Boy Scout issue. I am very much hoping that BSA National makes the right decision and ends this harmful ban when they vote later this week.
I wanted to correct a misunderstanding that became apparent from a comment on your weekly survey of Express readers. One commenter said that, “Gay parents have ALWAYS been welcome to participate and have NEVER been prohibited from doing so out here. This is getting ridiculous and it seems as if some parents are trying to create an ‘issue of discrimination’ in a town where one has not/does not exist!”
Unfortunately the writer is mistaken.
In 2009 a Cub Scout mom suggested that our family join. Well aware of the 1992 ban, I approached the Troop Leader to confirm that our family would indeed be welcome. I did not want the trauma of joining and then being kicked out, as has happened to many gay teens and gay and lesbian parents around the country.
The Troop Leader conferred with the sponsoring group and then emailed me to say that we could drop off our son but that “due to the current policy” we dads could not participate.
We wanted Scouting to be the family experience for our son that it was for each of us, so this was not acceptable. And could we in good conscience teach our son, who is African-American, that this was okay?
We requested that the Troop Leader at least ask if membership would be willing to inform National that they disagreed with the policy. He replied that he would not “be asking member famil[ies] or local sponsors of scouting their positions on this policy.” In other words: Tough luck.
This past year another mom started a Cub Scout Troop in Sag Harbor. She kindly said that our family would be welcome. Alas, our son is now a bit old for that troop but I also explained to her that, under current policy, if even one parent blows the whistle that there is a gay teen or a two-mom or two-dad family in the troop, the troop must then expel that family from Scouting or National will revoke their charter (and yes, this has happened). National has been very clear on this and local troops may not defy the ban.
So what goes in Texas goes in Sag Harbor.
The American Boy Scouts are the only youth group that discriminates. No other youth group, including Girl Scouts, Campfire, 4H or Big Brothers / Big Sisters has any such ban. The Boy Scouts do not discriminate in leading Scouting nations such as Canada, Mexico, France, Japan, Germany, or the UK where Scouting was founded. This is uniquely American and has its roots in the disproportionate Mormon influence on the BSA since the 1980s. Mormons, who are 1.7 percent of the population, sponsor over a third of troops. They, along with Southern Baptists, view Scouting as an extension of their churches. Mormon boys are automatically enrolled (but not girls) and most Mormon troops are 100 percent Mormon. They often mingle religious and Scouting services. When the ban on gays hit the Supreme Court in 2000, the Mormons in an amicus brief threatened to pull out if it was lifted.
The overwhelming majority of Americans want the ban to end: 55 percent to 33 percent. However the regional split is very strong, as with much else. Sag Harbor, with 80 percent wanting the ban to end, reflects the liberal coastal view. The numbers are flipped in the Deep South and in Utah, where the center of gravity of today’s Scouting resides.
National has now backed down on repealing the ban, under threat from conservative churches, and is only offering the “Mormon compromise.” Two-mom and two-dad families will still be banned, but gay youth may join as long as they remain celibate. This reflects the Mormon position that being gay is fine as long as you don’t act on it. Presumably adult gays act on it. The gay teen will be kicked out once eighteen.
Ridiculous, I agree.
Interestingly this policy will also technically require all boys to be celibate, and theoretically all unmarried adults, to reflect the Mormon view. So a seventeen-year-old Eagle Scout with a girlfriend who is not celibate should resign. But I sincerely doubt BSA will be monitoring the celibacy of straight teens or adults.
Of course all of this is absurd since Scouting is not a Mormon or Southern Baptist group: It is non-sectarian by its by-laws. Imagine if each of America’s religions kicked out those they found immoral. Catholics would bar the divorced, Muslims those who drank alcohol, Jews those who ate pork, Unitarians those who drove Hummers, and so on.
The question is: What’s next? If by some miracle National listens to the majority of Americans and returns BSA to its non-sectarian roots, I’ll be starting a troop in Sag Harbor with all our disaffected friends with lots of camping and hiking.
However if, as seems likely, the ban remains then the rest of us must decide how to respond.
I will try not to judge those who keep their kids in BSA since I know how hard these decisions are. But the spiral towards becoming the “Boy Scouts of Conservative Christians” rather than “of America” will accelerate. Corporations, secular sponsors, and liberal religious groups will continue to withdraw and conservative churches will continue to fill the gap. Scouting’s largest sponsors, including Intel, UPS, Merck, and others have already pulled out and others will follow. United Way of Long Island has said that they will no longer fund the Scouts after 2013 if the discrimination continues. I imagine that other local secular groups, such as Suffolk County National Bank, will have a hard time further justifying their support of Scouting.
Let’s hope that reason will prevail and National will let New York and the more enlightened states lead the way as we did with the integration of African Americans. In the early 1960s my older brothers were the only white kids in an otherwise all black troop that my parents started with friends in our NYC housing project. This troop later merged with Troop 26 that my younger brother and I joined. BSA wouldn’t integrate in the South and Utah till the late 1970s, and then only under duress.
If the ban does not end, we might consider launching other alternatives. Groups like the Navigators are growing quickly, doubling in this past year.
I hope it doesn’t come to that. There is nothing quite like the Boy Scouts. I learned so much with my merit badges: To shoot my first arrow, to chop wood without slicing a shin, to flash secrets in Morse code, and to not cook chicken tied with string over the fire or the string will burn and the chicken will fall into the flames.
May the BSA return to their roots as a group for all boys and for all families. I quote Lord Baden Powell, the (likely gay) English founder of the Scouts:
“Buddha has said: ‘There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in Love.’ Scouting’s aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity.”
To the Editors:
From May 19 to May 25, our communities are honoring the exceptional emergency medical services provided by volunteer organizations during “National EMS Week.” On behalf of Southampton Hospital’s Board of Directors and staff, I want to acknowledge the outstanding professionalism and dedicated community service of our local EMS volunteers. Their ability to provide first-class emergency medical service is deeply appreciated.
Many people are not aware that EMS providers are volunteers—your friends and neighbors—ready at a moment’s notice to provide life-saving assistance. They devote many hours away from their families 24/7, 365 days a year. They are required to take additional hours of mandatory, ongoing training to maintain and expand their certifications. They are a very special group of individuals. If you know someone selflessly serving our community with life-saving help, please take a moment this week to thank them.
Volunteers are always needed. If you wish to feel the pride of making a critical difference in your community, I encourage you to join your local EMS agency. Please call 1-877-WE2-WANTU (877-932-9268) for more information. You’ll be glad you did.
Robert S. Chaloner
President and CEO
The Memorial Red Poppy
To All American:
In Flanders Fields
By Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago we lived, felt dawn saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw
The Torch—be yours to hold it high;
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, through poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In the years following the First World War, veterans returning to their homes in this country remembered the wild poppies which lined the devastated battlefields of France and Flanders. The soldiers of all nations came to look upon this flower as a living symbol of their dead comrades’ sacrifice.
Since 1919, the poppy, a small symbol of great sacrifice, has been worn over the hearts of Americans who make a personal statement, “America We Remember.”
We remember and honor the sacrifices of men and women who died in defense of our nation. We remember our commitment to assist all veterans and their families.
The Memorial Poppy is handmade by hospitalized and disabled veterans in hospitals and workshops. The veteran is paid for each poppy he/she makes and many veteran patients derive considerable therapeutic and psychological benefits making poppies. Each nine-piece poppy is painstakingly made and never sold but given in exchange for a contribution.
The poppy program has been part of American Legion Auxiliary programming for more than 69 years. It has been estimated that approximately 25 million Americans wear the poppy to honor America’s war dead and all veterans, contributing nearly $2 million for rehabilitation and welfare programs.
The Chelberg and Battle American Legion of Sag Harbor will be distributing poppies at the Legion Hall on Bay Street. The Auxiliary volunteers will also be distributing them along the parade route on Memorial Day.
Please support our veterans, and let us never forget our obligation to those who have given so much and served so gallantly to protect this great land of ours and those of us who live here. It’s a small way to show our respect. Remember and wear a poppy.
American Legion Auxiliary
Chelberg Battle Post #388