Letters to the Editor 06.02.16

Our readers comments

A Small-Town Paper’

Springs

May 30, 2016

Dear Editor,

As I was perusing The New York Times this rainy morning online, I scrolled down the front page and lo and behold, I found an article entitled “In the Hamptons, a Small-Town Paper Is a Beacon in the Mayhem” by Jim Rutenberg. What a delightful surprise!

I knew it had to be The Star!

I think I can speak for many when I say we look forward to your publication every Thursday. We learn the many sides of all the issues — and we have many issues! We read about the town board and its deliberations. We look forward to David’s editorials; we read the letters, which are entertaining, informative, and very passionate. We read about our hamlets, our businesses, and the issues that affect the quality of our everyday life.

Just a neighborly thank-you to Helen and Irene, David and Bay and Carissa and Morgan, Taylor, and Jane and her orchids. Also Jack and Russell, Joanne and Tom, and Dell and Durell Godfrey, our local treasure with the artful eye, and the many, many more who make this mighty, little newspaper possible. 

Thank you.

BETSY RUTH

Mission to Serve

East Hampton

May 24, 2016

Dear Mr. Rattray,

I would like to sincerely thank our community for its continued support of our school district, its students, staff, and programs, by coming out to vote and overwhelmingly passing our school budget (440 to 86). In addition, three incumbent board members, James Foster, Wendy Geehreng, and Richard Wilson, were re-elected, each for a three-year term.

I would also like to thank our school board for always keeping the focus on our children and volunteering countless hours toward this endeavor. Please be assured that we will continue in our mission to serve the East Hampton community with quality education for each and every one of our students.

Sincerely,

RICHARD J. BURNS

Superintendent of Schools

 

What a Great Day

East Hampton

May 26, 2016

Dear Editor,

We would like to thank you for your coverage of the first annual Dumpster Dinghy Regatta, held at the Y.M.C.A. on May 21. The picture from the May 26 issue of the seventh-grader Robert Velez and the Science Olympiad Coach Brian Smith helps highlight what a great day and event it was. The students on the East Hampton Middle School Science Olympiad Team worked extremely hard getting their boats seaworthy.

We would like to spotlight the students involved in the program and the support they received from their friends and family. The event involved 15 teams launching their boats, with nine successfully navigating the treacherous waters of the Y.M.C.A. while six others nobly went down with their ships as true yachtsmen do. Team Barbados Rescue, Molly Mamay and Julianna Jurkiewicz, proved to be the quickest of the lot, completing the daunting course in 67 seconds. We look forward to future competitions as we grow as a program. Thank you for the support.

Sincerely,

JON MAUTSCHKE

BRIAN SMITH

JAMES BANNON

NICHOLAS FINAZZO

Science Olympiad Coaches 

Our Energy Future

Springs

May 26, 2016

Dear David:

I am writing because I believe there is an issue of great importance to be shared with the larger public at this moment in time.

As you may be aware, LIPA is in the end phase of determining which contractors and which type of energy system to select to satisfy the growing “peak” energy demand for the South Fork, as part of the “South Fork R.F.P.” A number of us working on energy sustainability and resiliency issues regard this as a watershed moment for the South Fork achieving a sustainable and resilient energy platform, or not, for our future.

If LIPA/PSEG continue to build remote power plant generation and transmission as their solution to the growing peak demand out here, it will leave us with a host of serious problems. Any remote centralized supply-side generation solution to the peak problem will be a very inefficient use of money, thereby costing ratepayers much more than they should pay for addressing peak loads. This is because, while utilities would have to build new power plant generators able to supply 100 percent of that peak load, we will only need that 100 percent of energy a small fraction of the year, mostly on July 4 and a few other days in the summer. So, ratepayers who live here all the time pay for approximately three times more capacity than is used most of the year. 

Other outcomes of conventional fossil-fuel generation and transmission solutions that utilities are reflexively prone to pursue include bigger transmission cables and more, bigger, utility poles — but these leave us supremely vulnerable to major storms and/or attacks on the grid. This is not to mention the effects of climate change from use of more fossil fuel, or property damage from storms and coastal flooding and our shore-hardening response.

Other possible solutions the utility may seek would be to situate gas or diesel generators in our backyards, diminishing our quality of life. Look at the new expanded transfer station in Amagansett as an example of what PSEG can do in contradiction to the community’s wishes. The peak demand problem is a demand-side distributed problem that requires a demand-side control solution. Demand response and efficiency has to happen at a more local level, because LIPA/PSEG’s remote grid scale controls are not designed to manage networks of small distributed home devices and equipment. 

Internet-connected devices like thermostats, lighting controls, pool pumps, and others that draw electricity even when not being used can be made more efficient during times when there is a spike in demand with what is called demand-response controls. These controls can turn down these systems and equipment in the homes of people who volunteer for these programs, and who in return get paid for reducing their energy use. These programs even provide free equipment that is more efficient than conventional equipment like programmable thermostats and variable-speed pool pumps.

The only solution that will satisfy peak load demand that does not continue to put our community in an extremely vulnerable position or entail unacceptable molestation of our community is there for a third-party controlled South Fork Micro Grid energy management platform, into which renewable generation resources, efficiency and demand-response controls, local energy storage, and conventional generation (as backup) can be integrated. A microgrid platform is also the most rapidly deployable peak demand solution (in addition to being the most capital-efficient solution). 

This is the message I believe needs to be communicated to LIPA as soon as absolutely possible by East Hampton and Southampton Towns, local N.G.O. groups, and citizens who care about a livable East End. It is imperative to pull out all the stops on this now, because we have more or less one shot at this. This is because whatever solution LIPA selects for the South Fork will consume the few hundred million dollars they have allocated to meet our growing peak demand, for which they must provide a solution. If they select any solution other than a microgrid, there will both be a lack of capital to create one thereafter, and any attempt to create a microgrid will be looked at by LIPA/PSEG as cannibalizing the conventional generation and transmission capacity they have built to address the same demand.

A South Fork microgrid will be redundant as far as they are concerned, and the ratepayers would be in the position of paying for both redundant systems. That is unlikely to ever happen. 

Renewable Energy Long Island has a letter on its website addressed to Governor Cuomo, who ultimately guides LIPA’s choice in selecting a solution for this South Fork Request for Proposal. The LIPA board of directors had their last public meeting on this prior to making their choices last week. There is still time, however, to communicate to them and the governor, because they are not expected to announce their choices of which systems to provide our energy future until July. If you want to communicate to LIPA and the governor, please go to the Renewable Energy Long Island website at renewableenergylongisland.org and send your letter. Thank you in advance for participating.

KRAE Van SICKLE

Baby Beach

Springs

May 30, 2016

Dear David:

Re: “Trustees Hear Three Mile Beach Plea” (East Hampton Star, May 26), I write to join in the concerns expressed at the East Hampton Town Trustees’ meeting by Penny Helm and Susan Winkler about excessive vehicles on the small crescent beach at Maidstone Park just inside Three Mile Harbor, which have turned this family-oriented beach into a parking lot. I also write in support of Ms. Helm’s proposal to restore the previous fence and define an area in which vehicles would be prohibited.

Known to Maidstone Park residents as “Baby Beach,” this was where families with children, seniors, and adult residents of East Hampton Town gathered on blankets or beach chairs to swim in the harbor’s shallow waters, to fish in the channel, and to watch the boats going in and out of Three Mile Harbor, enjoying the serenity and beauty of this unique spot. Now the beach is overrun with vehicles of all sizes. It is seriously eroded, and its large dunes have been almost totally destroyed. You cannot watch the boats unless you want to sit in a parking lot. Nor can you see the water or the boats over the vehicles, whether you walk along the ring road behind Baby Beach or even if you drive it in your car.

This never used to be the case. No one parked on this narrow, small beach with a road and parking spaces directly behind it. This all started in 2009, when East Hampton Town imposed a parking fee for town beaches on all East Hampton residents. Residents had to pay to park on the road directly behind the beach, but no one had to pay to drive on the beach — beach-driving permits were and still are free. So a number of people obtained beach-driving permits and began to park on and drive over Baby Beach. 

The following year, after a huge outcry from town residents, the resident parking fee for town beaches was rescinded. However, those who had obtained beach-driving permits did not bother to obtain the free parking sticker and just continued to park on the beach. And this practice has just grown and grown, transforming a lovely, small, family-oriented beach into a parking lot, eroding and destroying the beach as well as posing a safety hazard, especially to the many children using the beach.

I believe the mandate of the trustees is to manage the town’s beaches and waterways on behalf of the public. But the trustees appear to favor those who drive on the beaches over the far more numerous members of the public who go to the beaches to bask in the sun, swim in the waters, and fish in the bays or ocean. It seems to me that their overriding mandate should be to protect the integrity and beauty of the East Hampton Town beaches, and in this they fall short. I am pleading with them to pay serious attention to the suggestions made by Ms. Helm and Ms. Winkler to protect the unique Baby Beach at Maidstone Park before it is completely destroyed.

CONSTANCE DONDORE

Fate of East Hampton?

Springs

May 30, 2016

Dear David,

I did a very foolish thing a couple of weeks ago. I decided to drive through my old neighborhood in the Bronx. I went through Pelham Parkway near my high school, Christopher Columbus, where I received a golden education and which is now closed, down a road that led to St. Raymond’s Cathedral, a beauty that used to dominate and grace Tremont Avenue but now seemed crushed by the crowded development around it, to Castle Hill Avenue and my street, St. Raymond Avenue.

 I went past my small, mostly Italian-American, parish church, Santa Maria, which used to loom over Zerega Avenue. No more! Past the apartment house that I lived in from age 4 to college, with six apartments and a family-owned drugstore, now a dollar store.

Every street I drove on in what had been a quiet neighborhood with mixed residences, mostly single-family homes and a few apartment houses, was jammed. Cars parked on both sides of the street, hordes of people at this dinner hour walking and/or hanging out on the sidewalks. Empty lots, like the one where as kids we built small fires and roasted potatoes on fall evenings, are gone. Our lot is now a huge parking facility that has been built to service the once-little hospital called Westchester General, which is now a startling huge Montefiore — and it went on and on as I drove up and around little streets, now almost impassable. 

I could take it no longer, feeling a bit queasy. Past my elementary school, P.S. 12, to Westchester Square, veering toward the little Dolan Street Library of my youth, back onto the Hutch to the Throggs Neck Bridge and the gateway to Long Island, eventually home. Arriving to my house in Springs on a desolate street, I got out of my car. Gazing at the heavens, I took deep breaths of clean air. 

Is this the fate of East Hampton, I pondered? Where had all those people come from? 

I remembered what wise sages like Tim Bishop and Paul Goldberger talked of when they warned of the need to scrutinize the people who we put on the boards that manage our town, whether by appointment or voting. While growth may be inevitable, I am not sure these “charrettes” (a phony word for meetings) are about containing growth rather than enhancing growth. If one puts Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties together, one comes up with the third-densest country in the world. 

Are we on a path to becoming the Bronx? Gosh, I hope I don’t live to see that.

PHYLLIS ITALIANO

 

A Good Idea

Amagansett

May 25, 2016

Dear David,

It is generally illegal to maintain an apartment for rental in one’s home in East Hampton. The town board is proposing to liberalize a 2007 law that authorizes an exception to the rule, allowing up to 20 homeowners in each hamlet to rent an apartment of no more than 600 square feet and one bedroom to full-time residents at an “affordable” rent. The amendments would allow for two-bedroom apartments and, on larger lots, permit up to five of the affordable apartments in each hamlet to be in separate free-standing buildings. 

Why is this is a good idea? I am particularly interested in the mutual benefits for young working people, who have been talking to the East Hampton Democratic Committee about their desperate need for affordable housing, and for older full-time residents ready to downsize. As one young man said to us, “I have worked hard in a good steady job for 10 years, and I’m still living in a one-room apartment!” Another said, “I am going to school and I plan to come back here, but where will I live?”

We need these young people in our town, but we’ll lose them if there’s no place to live.

This measure would allow people with established homes to provide comfortable private living accommodations to young singles or small families, with minimal impact on school population or neighborhood density in any hamlet. It would also facilitate downsizing by empty-nesters, who could move to the apartment and open up the family space to their children or other young full-time tenants. 

Currently, only 15 owners have taken advantage of this opportunity, while the law allows for as many as 100 affordable apartments throughout the town. Encouraging use of the program by expanding the options could be one more important breakthrough for affordable housing here.

Sincerely yours,

JEANNE FRANKL

Spread the Housing

Amagansett

May 30, 2016

Dear Editor,

I think I’ll buy Katy Casey of the East Hampton Housing Authority a book on logic so she can learn the difference between “conjunction” and “disjunction.” Using the term “and/or” is just a smokescreen when the term “and” is being avoided. Ms. Casey states that in the East Hampton’s existing subsidized housing properties the current tenants “lived and/or worked here when they initially applied.” Can she state unequivocally that they lived and worked here when they applied? Can she do the same for the 531 project? Talking about preference lists and drawing from those lists first does not answer the question. Do the applicants have to work and live in East Hampton to apply? A simple question should get a simple answer. Yes or no, Ms. Casey?

Ms. Casey then goes on to talk about confusion with the term “subsidized housing,” stating that FHA, Fannie, and Freddie mortgages are subsidized by the government, and then states that Lazy Point is subsidized housing. I guess she learned that I live in Lazy Point and was hoping that I had a subsidized mortgage. I do live in Lazy Point, in a house that never had a mortgage, and on one of the many properties there not on leased land. So, I pay my full fair share of East Hampton Town taxes and Amagansett School taxes. But, the 50 or so homes on leased land are not subsidized housing; the leaseholders pay a yearly fee to the town trustees for the land, and that money makes up approximately 50 percent of the trustee budget. So, in a sense, the leaseholders are subsidizing the trus­tees. Her statement that the leaseholders pay nothing in property taxes and school taxes is absolutely false. The leaseholders pay East Hampton Town taxes and Amagansett School taxes on the assessed values of their houses, which they own. 

In fact, a study done last spring using town assessment tax rolls showed that most leaseholders paid combined lease fees and taxes that were more than the taxes of other non-lease homeowners in the Lazy Point area for equivalent houses. Many paid almost double that of neighboring houses, and the majority of these leaseholders are senior citizens. Had Ms. Casey done her due diligence and made a few phone calls, she would have known this. But, due diligence is not her strength — at the Amagansett citizens committee meeting a few weeks ago she stated that the 531 project wouldn’t affect the aquifers because they were going to get their water from the water authority, which, of course, gets its water from the aquifers. 

Then we get to the financial aspect of this project. Ms. Casey wants us to believe that the rent covers maintenance, utilities, insurances, and a $4 million debt service on the bonds. Is that $4 million over 3 years, 10 years, 15 years? Are the bonds ever paid off or are they in perpetuity? Since the rents are about $780,000 a year, they have to cover debt service, heat, Wi-Fi, electric, water, garbage pickup, snow removal, etc. How is that possible? And then she says that the East Hampton Housing Authority “absolutely pays special district taxes and a substantial PILOT.” 

There is no way PILOT payments make up even a fractional part of the school costs needed to educate 37 extra students. That cost alone more that eats up the entire rent payment (37 times $26,000 equals $962,000). Leaving out school taxes and then saying that the project is “self-sustaining” is disingenuous. Why can’t the East Hampton Housing Authority provide a transparent financial report covering the total financing of the project, what the rents pull in, and what the East Hampton Housing Authority must pay out to sustain this project on a yearly basis and in the long run? Why don’t we let the numbers speak as to whether the 531 project is self-sustaining or not?

The comprehensive plan designating this overlay is from 1985 — that’s 31 years ago. Does anyone out there believe that what was true in 1985 holds true today? How many of the 13 different developed properties in a 1,500-foot radius of the 531 project even existed 31 years ago? 

We are watching (and allowing) the paving of the Hamptons, and soon Route 27 in Amagansett will look like County Road 39 in Southampton. A much better solution is to allow strictly regulated accessory apartments that would spread the housing throughout the town, still bring in taxes to the town and schools, and provide some income for struggling families. Of course, this would downplay the role of the East Hampton Housing Authority, and so would never fly.

So again, are we bringing in outsiders? There are definitely freebies included in the rent, and, at a minimum, the taxpayers will be paying extra school taxes.

Sincerely,

BOB ELDI

Sky-High Salary

Springs

May 30, 2016

Dear David,

As you know, recent letters to your paper have been written by concerned Springs residents pointing out that the Springs School superintendent, Jay Finello, is given over $2,000 a day of our taxpayers’ money for only 96 days of work.

Reaching out to communicate that outrageous salary to Springs taxpayers, they received this important information and handily defeated the incumbent school board member who agreed to the superintendent’s sky-high salary. 

The result: The budget passed (yea!) and the two new candidates cruised to victory. Two down, three to go.

A final observation of hypocrisy and cluelessness appeared in last week’s Star. In a letter, the $2,000-a-day superintendent pointed out that he and his school board looked to cut everywhere to keep the budget under the cap. Oh, really?

Instead of cutting back the students’ popular art program, sports teams, and draining our reserve fund by $1 million, or 50 percent, let’s tell the school board to hire Mr. Finello as a part-time superintendent.

He clearly works as a part-time administrator anyway. With 84 days or four months off, and required to work just 96 days out of a full year, clearly he should not be receiving full pay and benefits. 

You should also know that this administrator, who was hired by the board without interviewing any of the many other applicants, is also cashing in with an additional $250,000 in retirement from his previous school district UpIsland. 

So let’s review. A whopping total of $450,000 of taxpayer money is being raked in by a part-time superintendent in charge of one school, who only has to work 96 days.

I am respectfully requesting the Springs School Board president, Liz Mendelman, to place this unfortunate financial situation on the agenda for the next meeting. If this request is ignored, then remember, two down and three to go.

DEBRA FOSTER

Ignored the Suggestions

Springs

May 24, 2016

To the Editor,

Unlike the other hamlets, which have commercial centers, the hamlet study is a bad fit for Springs. The goal, according to an outline prepared by the town’s business committee, is to determine what the town needs to do to allow business to thrive and meet the needs of our communities. Few to none who attended the public sessions on May 18 at Ashawagh Hall wanted to expand commercial opportunities in Springs, and they objected vigorously whenever the topic was brought up. 

What the residents in attendance did want to discuss with Dodson and Flinker, the consultants, was water quality, overcrowding, school taxes, nonconforming businesses on residential properties, heavy-duty commercial vehicles parked on residential properties, and roads that lead to dangerous conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians. 

Contrary to the expressed public sentiments during the wrap-up session on May 19, the consultants were most prepared to discuss opportunities for expanding commercial opportunities in Springs and almost totally ignored the suggestions of May 18 by the community. 

An additional point that needs to be made is that we need to consider the impact of each hamlet’s proposal for developing commercial opportunities on the greater community beyond the boundaries of each hamlet. What may be good for one hamlet may cause havoc in an adjacent community. 

In conclusion, the hamlet study consultants should know that for Springs residents, the protection of our natural resources and the preservation of our rural residential character are paramount, and commercial development is not. 

FRANK RIINA

Worried About Zika 

Springs

May 23, 2016

To the Editor:

Mosquito season is fast approaching. Who hasn’t experienced multiple bug bites on the beaches of East Hampton? Should we be worried about Zika? What is our government doing about this threat?

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease, because they won’t have symptoms. If they occur, the most common symptoms are nonspecific, like fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and headache, and could easily be mistaken for a flu-like illness.  

The Zika virus was first discovered in a monkey with a mild fever in the Zika Forest of Uganda in the 1940s. Hardly anything is known about whether Zika can infect other animals and what its prevalence is in nonhuman primates. 

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes: Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus. They pick up the virus by biting an infected person and transmitting the virus at a subsequent feeding to another person. The range of both of these mosquitoes extends as far north as Long Island and, in the case of A. Albopictus, all the way to Maine! 

When Zika infects a pregnant woman, there is a correlation with fetal microcephaly, a terrible condition resulting in severe mental retardation. There have been several heart-wrenching reports on Zika clinics in Brazil, on NPR for example. There could hardly be a more impressive signal of the urgency of the situation.

Today, in New York City, young pregnant women are being counseled by their obstetricians to absolutely avoid travel to Central and South America. They are being warned about exposure to mosquitoes. I know of pregnant couples that have considered this question when making plans for a summer rental in the Hamptons or any other beach resort. Because the virus can also be sexually transmitted, male partners of pregnant females are advised against travel to South America. If they must travel, then they are advised to refrain from unprotected sex until the estimated viral lifespan has lapsed, or the pregnancy has ended.

So far most cases in the U.S. have been associated with travel to endemic areas, and thus it is unclear whether mosquitoes have transmitted disease from one person to another within the U.S. But this would require a. a mosquito season, and b. a large enough number of infected persons (where the mosquitoes pick up the virus). We know that the mosquito season is just starting. Interestingly, New York State leads all states with the highest number of confirmed Zika cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control: 114 as of May 18.

There are large numbers of cases in Puerto Rico (more than 800) and travel to Puerto Rico by New Yorkers is common.

In a letter to Congress dated Feb. 22, President Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus epidemic, based in part on recommendations from the C.D.C. and the National Institutes for Health. It’s been three months and Congress has mostly argued about whether such funds could be used for abortions. Even a Zika-infected pregnant woman should not have an abortion, according to some! 

Also, the House would have all appropriated funds be budget-neutral. Just recently, three months after the president’s urgent request, the Senate appropriated $1.1 billion and the House $622 million (on May 18), the latter with funds siphoned from Ebola programs and other Health Department sources. There has rightly been an uproar in the health community. Even Marco Rubio says that “there is no reason why we should not fully fund this proposal and listen to the doctors and the health care experts,” and Senator Schumer says of the House bill, “totally inadequate . . . it doesn’t have enough to fight Zika and it robs Peter to pay Paul.”

What about our representative in Congress, Lee Zeldin? He was party to the House bill. Zeldin has authored a counterterrorism bill (H.R. 4314) that proposes, among other things, a quarantine for people who are infected with Zika as they try to enter the U.S. This will “quarantine the virus,” in his words.

However, infectious diseases do not usually abide by national borders (even with very high walls), and quarantines are pretty much useless when we still don’t have a rapid and reliable test to diagnose Zika, for instance at an airport. That is the kind of thing that the emergency funds, requested by Obama in February, were meant for. 

On May 20, Reuters reported that there are now 279 Zika cases in pregnant women in this country (U.S. territories included). Those who fail to act to protect the population should bear the full responsibility for making us all more vulnerable.

DAVID POSNETT, M.D.

A Vigorous Advocate

Water Mill

May 28, 2016

To the Editor:

On June 28, the Democratic primary for Congress offers a choice of two candidates. One is Southampton’s recent town supervisor. The other is an investor from Brookhaven with limited executive experience who is little known in the East End. Anna Throne-Holst is a known quantity who has served Southampton with valuable fiscal management, cleaning up a messy fiscal situation and bringing focus to the pressing issues of water quality, senior services, and worker housing.

The latter imperative motivated Anna to back Suffolk County’s Planned Development Districts by which developers could be muscled to produce workforce housing at more affordable prices, something we very badly need. Plans for unpopular P.D.D.s may have cost Anna some support for her Congressional run, but a real proof of leadership is when a representative is willing to champion — for good reasons — an unpopular issue. Think about it.

That David Calone is from the western district can matter. Representative Zeldin, too, is from the west, and the East End has been underrepresented by him. Former Representative Tim Bishop had an office opposite Town Hall and was accessible. Not so Mr. Zeldin, whose closest office to the East End is in Riverhead. Anna has worked on East End issues for over a decade, and her focus has been here.

I met Anna when she was running for her first term for Southampton Town Board, and asked why she would want that headache. Her response was that she truly wanted “to make a difference.” She meant it. Objectively, Anna proved to be a strong, effective, and independent leader, goal-oriented and not given to quick decisions for political gain. Those character traits are in short supply in Congress.

In 2007, when LIPA wanted to force upon us an aboveground transmission line between Southampton and Bridgehampton, it was Anna — alone among town board members — who stepped up early to pressure LIPA to underground the line.

A vigorous advocate is exactly what we need in Congress as our representative. We want someone who will stand for principles and not cave, even to party leadership, when the direction is wrong. A strong, industrious, and persuasive leader, Anna has proved she will do battle for goals she endorses. As our East End representative you can be sure Anna will passionately fight for funding for clean waters, on which our very economy and real estate values depend.

Consider the whole of Anna’s productive record and experience. Prior to supervisor and town board member, Ann ran a childcare center and founded a school to create opportunities for kids and families. Consider which candidate will represent our environment at all times. Think of Anna’s reliable fiscal responsibility and how that mind-set is badly needed in Congress. There is no perfect candidate, no perfect record. But we know that Anna is a successful leader who will go to Congress to make a very positive difference for all of us on the East End.

STEVE ABRAMSON

Well-Placed Nukes

Montauk

May 30, 2016

To the Editor:

Dear Mr. Cornelia, I have to commend you on your truly perceptive and witty letter that was published in The East Hampton Star last week. Boy oh boy! You really hit it on the head when you took Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton to task for advocating equal rights for those transgender miscreants! And we all know that Obama has been encouraging terrorists to move here for the past seven years, because Obama is a secret Muslim who was not even born in the United States (Mr. Trump spent many years proving this)! I have also heard that Obama has given financial incentives to Mexican drug dealers and rapists to illegally cross the border and engage in mayhem against God-fearing Americans. The money has been provided by the Clinton Foundation.

In your letter you implied that Obama is also encouraging communicable diseases to enter our country. You are a little unclear on this. Is it that Obama is encouraging Mexicans and Muslims with sexually transmitted diseases to visit and infect us? Or is there a nefarious liberal plot to deprive us of loss of essence by contaminating our precious bodily fluids through the consumption of tequila? I seem to remember there was a similar plot launched by the Commies in the 1950s involving fluoride. 

And you are right about the Middle East. It has been on fire ever since Bush invaded Iraq and destroyed Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, including hundreds of nuclear warheads and thousands of canisters of anthrax, botulism, bubonic plague, and pills that cause priapism. I think Mr. Trump’s use of carpet-bombing (we still have the B-52s) against ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and AQAP would soon solve this problem. As to the expansionist and nationalist agendas of the Chinese and Russian regimes, a few well-placed nukes in Beijing and Moscow would soon Make America Great Again. Now is the time for Republicans to get serious!

Cheers,

BRIAN POPE

 

Double Standard

East Hampton

May 30, 2016

To the Editor:

Slippage in the world of conservative politics is not a new phenomena. Donald Trump can be blamed for the current intellectual meltdown, but he is a short-term item whose lack of depth and history will relegate him to being superfluous. Yet Trump can’t be blamed for the recent law that allows victims of violence abroad to bring lawsuits here against the offending countries. Giving this outlet to people seems like a fair and reasonable idea, and making governments responsible for the behavior of their citizens gives a sense that there is a form of universal justice that we all need to live by.

Yet, as happens in these situations, the desire for political one-upmanship often obfuscates the deeper and more serious consequences. If we legislate the right of U.S. citizens to litigate the actions of foreign governments, are we not bound by the same reciprocal legislation? Does our history and behavior expose us to a level of litigation that would at worst be staggering?

The problem has a multitude of complications, least of which is our refusal to join the International Criminal Court. We believe in the court but don’t feel that the U.S. should be subject to its decisions. As a beacon of righteous justice, we believe that our internal justice system is sufficient. In other words, we are better than the rest of the world and no one has the right to judge our behavior. An admirable but absurd belief that we are somehow less likely to commit crimes against humanity and the occasional genocide than the rest of the world.

The problem for Americans is that we have been the perpetrators of an enormous number of criminal actions in the name of protecting U.S. business interests and political stability. The double standard is necessary to protect our historical mythology, which is often bloody and tyrannical.

In Latin America alone, the number of people killed by direct U.S. intervention easily exceeds one million. The School of the Americas, a U.S. anti-terrorist training center (vilified as a killing machine), has left its mark on almost every Central and South American country. Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia are substantially documented, but there are dozens of other stories equally devastating and bloody that transpired from our intervention. Imagine if families of the 20,000 missing Chileans from the Pinochet era chose to prosecute the U.S. for damages which are well documented.

The problem, as always, is the conflict between what we say and how we behave. It’s like Obama authorizing a trillion dollars to upgrade our nuclear system and calling for a ban on nuclear weapons. It’s identifying ourselves as a leader in democracy and limiting people’s ability to vote and then putting the system up for auction.

Making countries responsible for the behavior of their people is a novel and interesting idea, but something we have always refused to abide by. Personal responsibility is a major piece of the conservative mantra. It should be for all of us or none of us — but that might be considered un-American.

NEIL HAUSIG