December 8, 2016
To the Editor:
I dropped my phone outside the post office and was so dismayed and frantic as my life is in that contraption. I felt I had lost my right arm. I tracked it down via my iPad with the Find My iPhone app. I found out that Tony Minardi had found it, and now my right arm is once again attached.
I want to thank East Hampton High School’s vice principal, Maria Mondini, and Officer Kenny for helping me in my search. I am so grateful I live in a town where it’s possible to drop an item on the street and have it safely returned. So, Tony, a great big thank-you. You really made my year!
Richard P. Higer
December 6, 2016
To the Editor:
My name is Amy Higer. Regular readers of this newspaper may know my last name because my father, Richard P. Higer, was a frequent letter-writer to this page. If you read any of his letters, you know that they often contained typos, passionate rants, and, on occasion, over-the-top criticisms of people with whom he disagreed. But every single letter he wrote was motivated by the same thing: empathy and compassion for people in this country less fortunate than he.
His letters reflected his lifelong championing of the underdog. He always rooted for the underdog, in sports and in life. His desire to make this world into a more just and fair one seemed somehow etched into his DNA. Born in Brooklyn in 1930 to a Russian immigrant father, a tailor by trade, and an adoring mother from Philadelphia who could make anything with her hands, he learned to persevere through adversity at a young age. His older sister, Harriet, died at the age of 19 of leukemia, and he lost his heartbroken father a few years later, when he was in law school.
Growing up, my dad didn’t have much by way of material resources or wealth, but he was fortunate to have parents who valued education, and to be born at a time when men like him had plenty of opportunities to make something of themselves, if they had the drive and determination to do so. And he had both, in spades. A successful lawyer, he never, ever forgot where he came from, or how much he benefited from his birthright, as white and male and college educated during a time when these things mattered even more than they do today.
My father was a force of nature, a fierce feminist, a civil rights advocate, and a lifelong Democrat. And through his letters, among other things, he did what he could to speak truth to power, and to advocate for political changes that would give every citizen and immigrant in this country all the opportunities that he had in life.
My dad passed away last night, at home, at the age of 86, after a short bout with pneumonia. He leaves behind his greatest passion, his wife of nearly 60 years, my mother, and his second greatest passion, his children and grandchildren. He also leaves behind the computer on which he composed his letters to The East Hampton Star, an activity which sustained him in his final years.
Can I end a letter about my father without mentioning politics? No. The election of Donald Trump was a terrible, terrible tragedy in his mind, one that I believe hastened his decline. Although I won’t be writing letters to this page as he did, I inherited his passion for politics. So I will continue to do what he did throughout his life in my own ways: Fight like hell to make sure this country remains the liberal, democratic land of opportunity that enabled him to live the American dream.
Goodbye, Richard P. Higer. Your values and your compassion are in my DNA now, and I and our family will make sure your fight continues.
AMY J. HIGER
December 12, 2016
I am saddened to learn of the recent passing of Frank Hollenbeck, architect. After I bought my one acre of vacant land in the Gansett Dunes subdivision in Amagansett in 1979, I inquired as to which architect I should retain to design my home. I bought the property at the same time as two of my friends also bought properties in that same subdivision, each of whom decided to retain an architect from New York City. I, instead, elected to hire Frank, thinking that I would be better served by retaining a local East Hampton architect.
Frank told my wife and me that my home would be the first oceanfront home he designed. We were young (I was 35 at the time), and Frank saw that we needed not only his professional touch in designing the home but also needed personal hand-holding as we undertook what was then an overwhelming project for us as we sought to construct our dream vacation home.
Frank did not disappoint us. He gave us three separate designs to choose from, and after selecting the one we liked best, he worked closely with us to make sure we were happy with every “jot or tittle” he suggested.
Frank Hollenbeck designed several of the homes in Gansett Dunes and indeed throughout the Hamptons. He certainly left his mark on the Hamptons landscape, having designed so many beautiful structures that, together with the memories of a sensitive and caring friend, will long survive his passing. He will certainly be missed.
Cheryl and the Guide
December 12, 2016
The ghostwriter community on the East End — and it is sizable — is smaller by one following the death last week of Cheryl Merser. She passed away from cancer at her home in Sag Harbor, a village where she had lived full time for some 40 years.
Cheryl authored many books in her name, but her ghostwriter clients were an impressive list: Suze Orman, Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart. Just to name a few.
But the ghostwriter project that meant the most to the East End community Cheryl loved so much was “Coping With Cancer on the East End.” At the time the book was published, in 2003, I was founder and chairman of Fighting Chance, and watched as the patients we counseled always left with a copy in hand, as if it were some sort of life preserver to grab onto during their cancer journey.
Cheryl’s book idea originated on a chilly day in May 2002, when our original group of Fighting Chance directors, which included Cheryl, gathered for several hours at the Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor. The nun who ran the facility, Sister Anne Marino, led us in a discussion about how to start a community service nonprofit.
Sister Anne suggested we start by going around the room and letting everyone describe an experience with cancer. None of us was over 50, and so I imagined that no one there had actually battled cancer, although perhaps one of their parents had. Wrong.
When we all were finished talking, it turned out that 12 of the 15 board members had battled cancer and, thankfully, survived. Most said they never mentioned the diagnosis to friends because so many of us assumed it was a death sentence. Almost everyone there also had a parent who had died of cancer.
Gloom set in. It was almost as if we were facing a plague. What on earth could we do that was useful?
Then we all talked some more about the moment you hear those terrible three words: “You have cancer.” You have 1,000 questions and no place to turn for answers. And that’s what patients needed — answers, or at least someplace to go and get them.
Then Cheryl chimed in: “Well, I know what Martha Stewart would do.” All of a sudden, everyone looked at Cheryl. She continued: “She’d create a kit.”
That sounded practical, but what did it really mean? Cheryl proceeded to describe the kit she had in mind. It would be about 100 pages, and wire-bound so it fell flat when being read. The cover would be lightweight plastic so it would not stain and would be extra sturdy. The kit would have places to slip in cards and fliers. It would have a ribbon to use as a bookmarker. There would be extra pages for notes. It would be colorful. And, since we were a charity, it would be free.
By now, Cheryl had everyone’s undivided attention and continued her description. The kit would only have information focused on the East End cancer care challenge. The writing style would be gritty, grassroots-like, and convey years of practical experience. The reader would be able to do something right away with the simple data points, tips, and tidbits they read about in the guide.
Need to find a doctor? Well, the guide would have a list for that. With names and phone numbers. Pick one. Call them yourself. Take action. Feel empowered.
The day ended with Cheryl having a new ghostwriter’s contract with Fighting Chance. Her pay was zero, but the cause seemed noble.
She had a deadline, of course, and, like any great ghostwriter, she came in right on time. By early 2003, the Guide, as we called it around the office, was being given to every patient Fighting Chance counseled. Over the past 15 years, we have counseled thousands. The Guide also was in local libraries, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and, before long, downloadable off our website (fightingchance.org) as a pdf.
Cheryl stepped down as a director of Fighting Chance after eight years but kept “refreshing” (her term) the Guide every couple of years until just before she died. It really did get better and better.
As the years went by I would see Cheryl from time to time around Sag Harbor and she always would ask, jokingly, “Any royalties yet on the Guide?”
My answers were always the same. “No royalties, Cheryl, but you sure are helping to save lives. “
To which Cheryl would respond, “Fair enough.”
Goodest of the Good
December 8, 2016
To the Editor:
I don’t think we have any “destination” restaurants here in the Hamptons, but we have lots of good restaurants, and one of the goodest of the good was East Hampton’s Cafe Max.
This dollhouse of a restaurant featured well-prepared food at reasonable (for the Hamptons) prices, and huge drinks at equally huge prices.
Under Max’s ownership (whose name was actually Morris), it thrived for many years, but, like Elaine’s without Elaine Kaufman or the legendary Stork Club of generations ago without Sherman Billingsley, it seems not to have been able to make it, though many of the staff stayed on and the quality of the food remained high.
I guess after years of slingin’ hash, as the expression goes, Max just needed a change. Thanks, Max, for lots of good meals and good times.
JOSEPH D. POLICANO
December 19, 2016
To the Editor:
On behalf of the senior citizens who attend the nutrition program and other programs, I wish to thank the town board for the wonderful Christmas party it gave us. We are very fortunate to have a town board that provides many services for us.
I wish to invite members of the community to visit our senior center and have lunch. You will not want to leave. And in the near future, we will have a new building.
December 12, 2016
As many of you know, during this time of year Citarella sponsors a yearly fund-raising campaign in all its East End stores for CityMeals, a New York City nonprofit organization. While we applaud this effort, I would like to point out that East Hampton Meals on Wheels is not affiliated with CityMeals and none of the donations collected in the stores are used to assist local homebound residents. While we continue our efforts to reach out to Citarella on behalf of our clients, you can still help us provide meals to local homebound residents by visiting our website at ehmealsonwheels.org or calling our office at 631-329-1669.
Wishing you a happy holiday season,
December 12, 2016
I am writing out of mounting concern for the safety of our community and all who live within it. As a Jew, I am well aware of history’s lesson about what happens when one group is targeted for hatred, state violence, and expulsion. The entire community is rent asunder. Then, it was 1933 to 1945. Today it is here and now.
This came home to me powerfully this week when I had a talk with one of my neighbors, whom I will call José. I first met José when he sent over one of his adult kids to check on my welfare during Hurricane Sandy. I opened the door amid the howling winds to find a young person standing there asking if “la Señora” was okay. I was, but I was deeply touched that this person had walked a considerable distance in the storm to see if I needed anything.
Over the years since Sandy, this immigrant — and undocumented — family has helped me in large ways and small. That’s a big thing for this senior who lives alone. They have always refused remuneration, despite my repeated offers of it. Now I want to help them in their time of terrible need by calling on the conscience of our community.
During my conversation with him, José revealed just how terrified he and his family are. Normally a congenial, easygoing man, José couldn’t keep the tears from his eyes as he told me how frightened his family is. Another one of his children is a college student hoping to get her degree in June. She is a dreamer — a very accomplished young woman, a Merit Scholar, who is able to study legally because of the temporary reprieve from DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). But she is known to the government, since she had to register to be allowed legal status under DACA, and she is terrified that in Trump’s America, she will be deported. Another grown child of my neighbor also faces deportation as we speak. The family may very well be ripped apart as a result of Trump’s election.
The family is threatened in other ways, too. José, who has worked for years for the same local firms, now is finding it hard to get jobs because he lacks papers. He told me ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is coming to take immigrants out from their workplaces — even coming into homes. The climate of fear and prejudice is already taking its toll, and Trump hasn’t even taken office. This seems more like 1938 in Germany every day.
But at the start of this letter, I said I was concerned for the safety of all of us, not just undocumented immigrants. That’s because those localities that don’t protect undocumented immigrants have higher crime rates than those that do — and the difference can be narrowed down to that factor of protection vs. nonprotection.
Think about it: When people are afraid to come out of the shadows, they don’t report crime to the police. A 2013 study by the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago that surveyed Latinos in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix found “the increased involvement of local police in immigration enforcement in those cities had eroded trust in the legal system among both legal and illegal immigrants . . . 45 percent said they were less likely to report a crime as a result; 70 percent of the undocumented immigrants said so.”
That’s the biggest reason why the so-called “sanctuary” cities are safer, but there are other reasons to be concerned about the safety of the community, too. What happens if there is a disease epidemic, like influenza, Zika, or another emerging infectious disease threat? Public health experts say it is a matter of when, not if. With Trump and the Republicans planning to do away with Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid, more people will get sick with nowhere to go. Disease will spread, and undocumented residents who are swept up in the epidemic will be afraid to go to the hospital. This will make any epidemic far less able to be controlled. It’s a public health nightmare.
I call upon our town government to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in any way. This includes police, social services, and all other local government agents.
We need to protect our neighbors. We need to keep families and our community together. Not to do so is not only dangerous, but immoral. As the great Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”
Offshore Wind Power
December 12, 2016
Deepwater Wind has announced its Block Island offshore wind farm is operational! The news of this offshore wind power installation signals the success of the latest and most powerful renewable resource component to the generation of clean energy. It also signals that a new manufacturing industry is developing, with the East Coast as the United States hub.
Now it is our turn to return wind power to its 350-year East Hampton history. Negotiations have continued between Deepwater Wind and LIPA on a contract to build an offshore wind farm of 15 turbines (today’s windmills), 30 miles over the Montauk horizon, delivering sufficient power to turn the lights on in 50,000 East End homes. With this final contribution of power to ongoing solar initiatives and local efficiency programs, the East Hampton Town goal of transforming the generation of fossil fuel power to clean energy can be realized. And, as the first coastal community to achieve this goal, East Hampton will provide a replicable model for other local coastal communities. It demonstrates how a local community can have an impact on meeting climate change goals set by communities all over the world.
At the Dec. 20 trustee meeting in Uniondale, renewable energy advocates from Long Island and New York City will gather to encourage the long-sought contract. As it is, PSEG-LI is planning to provide the East End with temporary natural gas-powered generators, piggybacked on flatbed trucks, to avert further brownouts in East Hampton next summer. Such an inefficient, and potentially dangerous, temporary scheme, beginning in 2017, underscores just howmportant it is to the East End for LIPA and Deepwater to move forward on this contract now.
With its signoff, LIPA will trigger a sustainable future for a resilient East End and a model to responsibly provide clean energy alternatives to other Long Island local land or seacoast communities.
Energy Sustainability Committee
Town of East Hampton
The Full Story
December 12, 2016
Thank you for the “detailed” accounting of last week’s town board meeting where the ongoing issues with East End Community Organic Farm were addressed. Upon reading “Arsenic Tests Gratify EECO Farm” by Christine Sampson in last week’s paper, I am extraordinarily surprised at her failure to tell the full story. I was at the meeting, and while greatly pleased with the results of the third-party soil testing as correctly noted in the article, failure to offer the community further details of the presentation — particularly the ones related to precautions that still must be taken in accordance with the New York State Department of Health and at the advice of Cornell Cooperative Extension — is greatly irresponsible.
Given my expertise as a culinary nutritionist, my role as a food advocate who is allied with some of the most notable food and environmental organizations in the nation, and as the author of “What the Fork Are You Eating,” I fully appreciate and value our farming community and all that EECO Farm has done to remedy a very troubled plot of land. However, it is my job to champion for food truth and to ensure that any and all messages are fully disclosed and communicated clearly and uniformly to the best of my ability (particularly in my own community). Sadly, we have a global food system that fails us every day due to cross-interests. Thus, I ask the following of the Town of East Hampton, to make certain that those living in our local community are well informed on this matter:
That the town fully discloses the findings from the soil testing to the community. While the arsenic level did markedly decrease, precautions still must be taken, as per the State Department of Health and at the advice of Cornell Cooperative Extension. We need unbiased facts and guidance so consumers can make educated choices.
That third-party soil testing (EECO Farm should not be testing its own soil) is done at a frequency deemed necessary by the Department of Health, and that all results and directives are openly communicated to the community.
That the town ensures that EECO Farm is adhering to and enforcing the strict set of guidelines put forth at the town board meeting by the cooperative extension, and that EECO Farm leadership, and farmers in particular, are uniformly and consistently disclosing the truth; it’s the town’s job.
I know there has been concern over EECO Farm’s use of the term “organic.” While I understand that the farmers are farming in accordance with the “organic standards,” perhaps the public needs to understand that U.S.D.A. Organic has an allowable list of pesticides; from my understanding, there are no set regulations on arsenic and organics. So the term is in fact diluted at this time. Thus, I am not sure that is the issue here as much as are the above-noted concerns.
Over the past six to eight months I have gathered a plethora of information, and am thrilled that the town, after brushing my persistent concerns and request for third-party soil sampling aside, finally opted into having the land tested. The results are exciting for sure, and those at EECO Farm deserve a pat on the back for all of their hard work. What remains to be seen is how the town and EECO Farm choose to disclose and communicate the necessary precautions that all gardeners and farmers must take, particularly children, despite the marked decrease in arsenic. We all deserve better!
I remain hopeful,
A Much Better Plan
December 11, 2016
I’m writing about the proposed school bus station on Cedar Street, where I built my home and have lived for over 37 years. I’m still astonished that such a location could even be considered. Besides all the homes in the area, there is the Hand’s Creek Road intersection, the Fire Department and ambulances nearby, and the always-increasing traffic.
This is a two-lane country road. What once was a quiet street has become fraught with cars and trucks. Many use Cedar Street as a bypass, and in the case of large trucks it is their only route, since they are banned from village streets. Add those buses to the mix and we are done for.
At the school board meeting last week, we learned of an alternative depot for the buses, on Springs-Fireplace Road, at the former scavenger waste site. Like my Cedar Street, Pine Street, and other neighbors, I feel this is a much better plan. We live a good, quiet life here, have seen our children attend the schools, and don’t want to see our residential neighborhood rattled by a barrage of school buses in and out of the road, four times a day, three seasons of the year — and that’s not counting the bus drivers’ own vehicles coming and going.
A traffic study is planned for February — our “quiet time,” and certainly not the time of year for a fair study. During spring and fall, and much of winter, when our schools are in session, I hear the steady hum of cars, the loud truck engines, and the roar of truly large trucks passing my house. I also hear, and sometimes see, the accidents, the speeders, the drunken drivers, and the lights and sirens of police cars. Then there are the ambulances and the fire trucks that must come and go and be able to navigate all of Cedar Street 24/7. We manage the increased din, all of us who live here, but how on earth will we — and our road— be able to deal with the large, extra load of school buses?
I hope the board will dismiss the Cedar Street idea, and quickly. We are good citizens of East Hampton Town and deserve the respect of our school district.
December 12, 2016
Dear Mr. Rattray,
The word around town this weekend is that the East Hampton School Board and administration have seen some of the light that has been shed by residents related to the siting of a new school bus depot. Here is a rundown of what led to the rumored change of direction:
It was revealed that for $10 more per year for the average homeowner in the school district, a bus depot can be constructed in a commercial zone rather than in a residential neighborhood, where local traffic and normal neighborhood life would be adversely impacted. Thanks to Jim Nicoletti for presenting that fact at last week’s school board meeting.
The school board’s reaction was that the state-imposed 2 percent tax levy cap might be broken by the extra cost of building the bus depot anywhere other than on school property, next to athletic fields, and very close to dozens of homes and narrow residential streets.
The school board raised concerns over a broken state tax cap and the possible rejection of the school budget because of the added expense of locating the depot in the proper location. A rejected budget that would lead to many dire consequences for the school district, according to certain school board members.
What the school board members failed to mention at last week’s meeting is that the tax cap was pierced two years ago when the 2014-15 budget was adopted with 73 percent of the vote. The headline on 27East read, “East Hampton School District Easily Pierces Tax Cap” (May 27, 2014).
In 2014 the school board decided to put forward a budget that broke the cap. Curiously, there were no dire forecasts of what a failed school budget would mean to program and staff similar to what we heard at last week’s school board meeting. Evidently that argument has been rethought by the district, if indeed the district is now seriously supporting an alternative site that would make much more sense for the school district, the town, and all residents.
If the school district is exploring an alternative for the bus depot then it is to be applauded for being willing to consider alternatives that make more sense to all involved and in the long run will benefit the school district, local residents, and the town.
Soak Hides Dreen
December 8, 2016
Hope all is well at The Star. Your headline this week “29 code violations in Dawn Raid” caught my attention. I’ve been meaning to write for some time about a few previous articles, especially the super-sizing of the Damark deli, which I will segue into the violation arena.
You may or may not know that Damark’s is on the edge of the Soak Hides dreen system. I believe the water table is only a few feet below grade, my point being that that area is so overdeveloped that any expansion there should be looked over well.
Let’s review the area. If you travel north from Damark’s, the first quagmire is the trailer park, known all too well for septic issues and flooding. Next are a few single-family residences with who knows how many inhabitants within. Next we have a group of small cottages about four or five deep, again with no knowledge of how many inhabitants are in there — in the evening we have vehicles galore parked alongside the road.
Still traveling north, we come to an empty lot and a breath of fresh air. Next in the lineup is the restaurant, which I’m sure has some type of aging septic system. And the grand finale, the old Ambrose cabins that were only used during the summer but have now morphed into some type of year-round resort, with the parking lot packed every night with vehicles from out of state. We then travel a short distance to the water’s edge at the head of the harbor. There on the southwest bulkhead is a storm drain with upland water just pouring into the harbor. This water, I believe, comes from the areas just discussed.
I wonder if the powers that be have ever tested the water to see what’s in it after traveling from Damark’s to the water’s edge? So, if we have 29 violations in one home on Woodbine Drive, how many do we have from Soak Hides Road to the head of the harbor?
Great for Corporations
December 6, 2016
To the Editor:
The Trump claim about keeping 1,100 Carrier jobs in Indiana is misplaced. The real number is 800, since 300 of those jobs were not slated to go to Mexico in the first place.
The real focus should be on the 1,300 jobs that will be sent to Mexico. Not a good deal for those 1,300 soon-to-be-unemployed workers, or for the taxpayers who are footing the $7 million in tax breaks to Carrier. Sounds to me like a “Make America Great for Corporations Again” con job.
Some Get Caught
December 12, 2016
Hillary’s newest statement re: fake news, Hillary, a video caused Benghazi. Obama as he sat in a chair and said to the journalist, “I found out about Hillary’s private server the same time the public did.” Obama you and Hillary were emailing each other the whole time she created the private server. There is so much more lying between these two that there would be no room for the usuals to submit their columns.
I find it very hard to comprehend anyone voting for a person who felt she deserved it, it was her time, I am a woman, and promised to close down the business and promised to have those people lose their jobs, but what bothers me most she promised to allow about-to-give-birth abortions, I personally call this murder.
Now we are on Russia helped Trump win. Remember in Texas when people complained about voting for Trump and it showed they voted for Hillary. Everyone has been hacking everyone; some get caught.
In God and country,
More Than a Match
December 9, 2016
To the Editor:
The presence of the racist misogynist pig on our political spectrum introduces the revival of the fascist proposition to the American public. Never having experienced this process on a presidential level, we were taken off guard and unprepared for it. Mr. Trump managed it brilliantly, and enough of the electorate bought it to elect him president. Autocrats from Hitler and Mussolini to Berlusconi and Putin have effectively utilized this process until dislodged from power. Damage has been severe and sometimes catastrophic (see World War II).
The two incidents this week, where Trump attacked the union leader in Indiana for questioning him on the number of jobs saved (730, not 1,100 with no security) and attacked and ridiculed the C.I.A. for its conclusions on Russia’s hacking of the election, expose the fascist underbelly of our president-elect and make the obvious case. Denying Russian hacking despite the evidence is treason by any standard.
The playbook: A candidate enters the political fray and announces that he or she is the only answer to the problems that are plaguing the country. Larger than life. Outside the mainstream. Recognizing dissatisfied and disaffected groups and offering solutions. Proposing solutions that guarantee a return to a period when things were better. Scapegoats are proffered, which always include other races, colors, religious beliefs. A heavy dose of blame and victimhood is added. The system is attacked as being corrupt or rigged. Opposing candidates are threatened with prison and eventually wind up there, or dead. The press is vilified as being biased and misrepresenting the truth until it is beaten into submission. Existing laws, such as the Constitution, are discarded or rewritten to accommodate the necessary changes. Pathological lying eliminates any need for truth.
But more outrageous than the presidential scam that Trump ran is the one run by the Republican Party.
Despite protests to the contrary, Trump has been embraced as the inner soul of the Republican Party. The same group that gave us two wars, a looming depression, and no wage or job growth in eight years — who, in the face of a national economic disaster (800,000 jobs a month disappearing, 6 million people losing their homes, the auto industry going bust and our banking system in free fall), dedicated their bodies and souls to blocking the president of their country from solving the crisis. Sending a message to the American people and everyone who voted for Donald Trump that they were worthless garbage, that the only thing that mattered was putting their party back in power again.
As gross and piggish as Trump is, the current Republican Party is more than a match for him. It will enable him to reconstruct 225 years of democratic process that has been painfully and painstakingly built. He will eviscerate the basic ideas of democratic compromise and civil discourse and respect. He is without a moral compass, which is fail-safe for political interaction and the security blanket that allows us to continue as a democracy despite our differences.
Will we soon be looking to Russia as our new role model for direction and inspiration?