The Hurricane Season along the Atlantic Coast premiered last week. It extends from June 1 to November 30, where before it was August 1 to September 30. The powers that be apparently think we should all get nervous and stay that way. Practically everybody loves a good scare, when nobody gets hurt. That’s entertainment. We’ve got a warmer ocean, melting glaciers, El Nino that goes nuts every other year and extreme weather that everybody loves on YouTube and the Weather Channel.
Actually there are now two powers that be. One is the old tried and true NOAA weather service in Silver Springs, Maryland, which has been tracking hurricanes since 1956. This year, they predicted a year with 12 to 18 named tropical storms, of which six to 10 are expected to become hurricanes and three to six of the hurricanes to become major hurricanes (category three or higher) screaming our way.
Then there is the new kid on the block, the weather service put together by Colorado State University. Apparently they may have more accurate instruments. They say there will be 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes. These are exact numbers. Really, really scary.
And this, both services claim, is to be an above-average year along the Atlantic Seaboard. For the last 10 years, NOAA has predicted above average years. But every year for the past 10 years there have been below average numbers of hurricanes. And last year there wasn’t even one that hit the Atlantic Seaboard. Of course this, by reverse logic, means that every year it is below it is finally more likely to go up the next. We are now WAY, WAY overdue.
It was luck, said environmentalist and marine scientist Jane Lubchenco that we didn’t have even one last year. “Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and hurricanes away from our coastlines. However, we can’t count on luck to get us through this season.”
Truth is, here on Long Island, there hasn’t been a major hurricane in 20 years. Look out the window. Here comes the first.
Two years ago, our sitting longtime Congressman Tim Bishop of Southampton, a jovial fellow with a white beard, a good heart and a resume that includes a lengthy run as the provost of Southampton College, ran for office against a young upstart named Randy Altschuler from St. James. Bishop had won in four prior elections. But this would be different. Altschuler, when in his late 20s, had made millions by founding companies that arranged for call-in tech service operations to be handled from places like India and the Phillipines, where people work for $2 a day instead of Cincinnati and Akron where people work for $200 a day.
In spite of this, Altschuler gave Bishop an incredible run for his money. Altschuler allegedly outspent Bishop four to one. The campaign photographs of Altschuler showed a big happy lug of a guy embracing a pretty young wife, a little son and a big dog. Now in his 40s, he projects a down-home aw-shucks gee I made it good sort of demeanor. How could he be bad? Also, he was a Republican, and Republicans were in the ascendency two years ago while Bishop was a Democrat and Democrats were in the descendency.
Personally, I forgot to vote. I live just five minutes from the firehouse here in Springs. I always vote. So it made no sense that I forgot to vote. But on this day, at 9 p.m. when I realized I had forgotten, I thought oh well, dammit. But it shouldn’t matter. Nobody wins by just one vote.
Or did they? With 200,000 votes cast, after the dust cleared, Bishop was ahead by 105 votes. Two days later, they counted the military votes and Altschuler was ahead by 22 votes. Altschuler at that point declared himself the winner and on the advice of aides, flew down to Washington to shake hands with all the important people. But when he came home, some write-ins from the Upper East Side of Manhattan had come in and he was ahead by only 8. Then more write-ins came in and he was behind by five. Then somebody left a note on my front door. WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU? it asked. It was unsigned.
A week later, they were still tussling over re-counts and hanging chads and so forth. And then Altschuler conceded. The final margin was under 600 votes.
Now people are looking ahead to November 2012. Altschuler, saying the tussle with Bishop was behind him, declared himself, two weeks ago, a candidate for County Executive. But then, two days ago, he thought better of it. He’s looking forward to having another go at kindly, uncle Congressman Tim. It will be an interesting year and a half.
UP AND DOWN
In North Haven, the heavily wooded peninsula north of Sag Harbor where 1,000 people live contentedly alongside approximately 1,250 deer, there was a meeting at Village Hall last week where only those without hooves were allowed to attend and where the matter of a previously approved cellphone tower was discussed.
On May 3, Local Law #1 had been passed, which allowed for the erection of this 140-foot cellphone tower deep in the woods. Now they were meeting to discuss the outrage generated by the passage of Local Law #1 and to consider Local Law #3, which would repeal Local Law #1 just in the nick of time before the developers had gotten the material together to build what had been allowed by Local Law #1.
This is not just an 800-pound gorilla,” said resident Don Sacker, referring to the just approved 140- foot cellphone tower proposal. “It’s a 14-story high gorilla.”
Indeed, fourteen 10-foot-tall gorillas standing atop another’s shoulders would indeed be 14 stories high.
Mayor Laura Nolan explained why the Village was backtracking on what they had passed earlier. She said backlash to the tower and the law “came at the last minute,” and because of the volume of opposition in the community the board is repealing the law.
“That’s how the process works.”
The trustees approved the motion to rescind Local Law #1 unanimously. Now they had Local Law #3.
Then everybody left Village Hall and ran over to that one corner of the parking lot where there is cellphone service sometimes, shooed away the deer and checked their messages.
Seven months ago, Suffolk County offered to sell Long Wharf to Sag Harbor for $1. Lots of people thought, at the time, that Long Wharf belonged to Sag Harbor. How the hell did Suffolk County get a hold of it?
Actually, Sag Harbor Village, which DID own Long Wharf and had owned it since 1770, gave it to Suffolk County in 1945. The idea was, at that time, that since the Village was near to bankrupt, and the County was not, the County would be better able to afford to maintain it—paint it, reinforce it, rebuild it as necessary and so forth and so on. And indeed, the County did a pretty good job of it.
Now, as I like to say, the Foo is on the other Shut. Sag Harbor Village is thriving with tourists from all over the world, many of them walking out onto Long Wharf to take pictures of the famous place where whaling ships once berthed after their long journeys into the South Pacific. But the County is sucking air for every penny they can find, looking here, there and everywhere to try to figure out how to balance their budget.
Would Sag Harbor like it back for that dollar? Today’s dollar is only worth 28 cents as we all know, but still.
Sag Harbor officials mulled it over this way and that. The dock needed a paint job. Maybe it would need to be re-constructed soon. Could the County provide them with an engineer’s report?
People at both the County and the Village put forth ideas for different ways the tourists going out onto Long Wharf might be persuaded to part with a little bit here and a little bit there to help out Long Wharf. The County proposed parking meters. The Village said they’d rather die than have parking meters. There was talk of putting out a giant barrel where tourists might put in a buck or two. There was talk about charging tourists for sitting on a bench on Long Wharf, or just standing still on Long Wharf for more than 10 seconds or something. The wharf has no railings. That’s bad. What about that?
Then after months and months of this, it seems, the County got tired of talking about Long Wharf. Negotiations are now stalled. They’d keep the damn thing. You can keep the dollar, Buster.
According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, what they’d really like back is not Long Wharf, but the part of Long Wharf that’s been made into a beach just alongside it. That’s worth a dollar.
This little strip, which used to be grass, is now festooned with sand, and now goes by the name Windmill Beach.
Forget it, said somebody from the county. It’s over.
County Legislator Schneiderman of Montauk, who had proposed selling Long Wharf back to Sag Harbor in the first place has another idea. How about we put together a group called Friends of Long Wharf? Anybody could join.
People are now going to discuss that. [/expand]