Letters to the Editor: 12.28.17

Our readers' comments

Holiday Meals

East Hampton

December 21, 2017

Dear Mr. Rattray:

On Dec. 10 the Springs Fire Department made available holiday dinners for delivery to clients of East Hampton Meals on Wheels, their family members, and caregivers who were unable to attend the dinner at the firehouse. This service filled a tremendous need in our community, because the clients who received these holiday meals are homebound and unable to cook special holiday meals for themselves or their families.

We heartily thank all the members of the Springs Fire Department, who gave so generously of their time and energy to make this holiday season so pleasurable for those most fragile individuals among us.

We are thankful to live in a community in which so many organizations and individuals are concerned for their neighbors.

Thank you again, Springs Fire Department.

Very truly yours,



East Hampton Meals on Wheels

Winter Solstice Walk


December 23, 2017

To the Editor,

Quiet, not like summer beach umbrellas spread across the strand,

Just myself and in the distance east a man with his dog walking toward me,

Air crisp, light north wind rippling ocean surf, Blue sky with cirrus signature.

The row of ocean front houses familiar, the one with open deck

Reminding me always of the summer boy perched on the rail, gazing outward.

The man and I cross paths with a wave to acknowledge the other;

Two more dogs now that play on the sand. A ship at sea.

Have I crossed a line? The solstice is a line: The earth will tilt no more

But, poised, begin the righting of the arc long toward summer.

I have walked these seasons, many here at Atlantic Avenue Beach.

But then, seasons of the spirit too, and age. Not to lose sight.

Even at this nadir there is fulfillment;

And the assurance it will not be darker than it is, now:

The earth in equipoise, as I am by grace as sure as nature’s rhythm.

I would play on the sand too. Or sit on the open porch gazing out to sea.


Finest Kind


December 20, 2017

Dear David,

Bonac’s finest kind and a town’s loss: Larry Cantwell and Fred Overton both moving on together, with over 60 years of public service together. Thanks, bubs, for everything.



What a Job!


December 23, 2017

Dear David,

As the sun sets on the administration of Larry Cantwell’s four years as supervisor, I reflect upon those years and his unique accomplishments, and I am, frankly, in awe. 

He entered the position after two disastrous administrations: one that set the town’s finances into a tailspin (Democratic) and the other (Republican) with a bullying nature that was often downright badgering to folks. Two of his greatest achievements were righting both these wrongs. 

From the first day he took office, Larry displayed an easy, patient manner with all comers, and the town board’s aura was instantly changed. The other difficulty has been one that has taken great diligence, a great staff, and perseverance. Managing a budget of over $76 million, the town achieved a triple-A bond rating from Moody’s, which includes managing over 300 employees, most of whom sport a union contract.

Over the years, the achievements piled up. Important to all of us who are interested in maintaining that special rural quality is the 400 acres the town has acquired with community preservation fund money. Seventy-eight percent of the voting public elected to allow that same fund, when it needed to be reapproved, to have 20 percent of the money collected go for water quality. Subsequently, a program was adopted allowing residents to apply for rebates to upgrade to county-approved septic systems that will mitigate nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants. The plan allows for construction of other projects that will improve water quality from Wainscott to Montauk.

Along with water quality initiatives, the town took on sustainability with a goal of the town being completely energy-sustainable by 2022. Then there is the sea level rise, the airport, plans for a new senior citizens center, supporting the much needed food pantry, and the list goes on and on. 

Some issues like the airport are complex, still unresolved, and involve outside groups — a thorn in our ears and now also in our water. But Mr. Cantwell, what a job you have done! If there is such a place as heaven, you have earned a front row seat. From all who live and work here, no clichés, just our deepest thanks.




Middle Ground


December 21, 2017

Dear David,

I offer these 12 fundamentals for a good government: There is always someone smarter. Good leaders rarely think of themselves as the smartest person in the room. Seek out those that bring experience, expertise, and diversity. Partisan governance rarely gives birth to good legislation. Have a passion for but never fall in love with your point of view. Never be afraid to change your position. Encourage participation and volunteerism. Tolerance gets you further than intolerance. Nothing like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Empathy is always better than apathy. Treat every constituent’s problem as if it was your own. Be courageous and authentic.

For far too many years the national political, media, and social landscapes have been weaponized by rabid partisan ideologues on both sides of the fence. Sadly, this partisanship has trickled down to some in our community as they attempt to input nationalistic political ideology into local issues. Worse yet, they demonize those from the opposite party and more so those within who strike the middle ground. I believe many as do I find more comfort in a government that is rooted in the middle ground. Political parties that do not have room for conservative Democrats or moderate Republicans tend to lack the ability to form the type of bipartisan governance that we deserve.

2018 is upon us, and we start a new chapter in the governance of our beloved East Hampton. As a community, we have a great many challenges ahead. The issues range from simple to complex. No one person has all the answers, but together, collectively, we as a community can move the ball forward. Let us all offer our best wishes for our newly elected East Hampton Town Board, trustees, and other elected officials. 

Let us work together to help them be the best they can be by offering our collective experience, expertise, and diversity. Let us engage in civil, respectful dialogue and the presentation of opposing viewpoints. And, most of all, volunteer some time to benefit our community, help others in their time of need, help those disenfranchised and less fortunate than yourself.

That’s my New Year’s resolution, and may the new year find all in our community with prosperity and good health.


A Killer Is Loose

December 18, 2017

East Hampton

Dear David:

Since you referred to me in your Dec. 7 commentary titled “Guidelines Needed on Septic Upgrades,” I thought I should offer some supportive commentary. 

You are absolutely correct that guidelines are needed when it comes to the 20 percent annual community preservation fund use. This is becoming much more of an issue now that other potential serious water quality issues with real-life human health implications will require attention, and probably immediately. I am of course referring to the discovery of perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water wells in Wainscott. Let us look at the facts.

The current Environmental Protection Agency guide level for these compounds is 70 parts per trillion but two states have set health-based guides: New Jersey, at 14 parts per trillion, and Maine, at 20 parts per trillion. 

My most recent conversation with the E.P.A. official most knowledgeable about these compounds indicated E.P.A. will be lowering their guide to a level initially around 13 or 14 parts per trillion. This is consistent with my understanding when I was still with E.P.A. more than two years ago. 

At this time the primary health concern for these compounds is toxicity, with carcinogenicity being secondary. Of course, considering the latency period for cancer, who knows for sure? 

The issue of perfluorinated chemicals warranted an E.P.A. health advisory in November 2016, and well over a year ago the E.P.A. provided the states with specific data on suspected perfluorinated chemical sites, data that the state claims to have passed on to the affected towns. 

One town board member has reported that only one of the well tests reported so far is above the 70 parts per trillion level. Yet a significant number of the other 16 wells that have perfluorinated chemical contamination are above the 13 to 14 parts per trillion level. 

The current test area in Wainscott comprises about 300 houses, and the hit rate is about 35 percent for perfluorinated chemical contamination based on what was reported at the most recent Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting. 

My E.P.A. contact warned me that just because a well tests clean now doesn’t mean that it won’t test positively later because of the high solubility of these compounds. In short, a killer is loose in the area’s drinking water. 

Now let’s look at the current preservation fund usage: When last I looked in November, between 25 percent and a third of the approved applications for septic upgrades were not in a watershed protection area. The response to the town’s rebate was also less than spectacular. As of early November, there were fewer than 20 applications. 

Your editorial aptly pointed out that Whalebone Village wants $375,000 of the 20 percent of the annual preservation fund income for a septic upgrade. Wasn’t Whalebone a Housing and Urban Development-funded project? Is that septic system failing? What is HUD’s liability? Is this a project that is designed largely to use annual 20 percent preservation fund money before it expires?

The town board is claiming that an investigation is underway to determine the source of the perfluorinated chemical contamination in Wainscott. Based on my preliminary probing, two of the most likely sources are from buildings that are, or were, leased from the town and not related to airport operations. 

By the time the government investigations are concluded many bottles of water will be consumed and paid for and a large cloud will continue to grow over the area, affecting real estate values and exacerbating health concerns. Undoubtedly there will be those who will want to link any solution with airport closure which will only delay a solution. So what is the town’s liability? 

It certainly seems there is another approach. Affected Wainscott homeowners need to be put on Suffolk County Water Authority water as soon as possible, and it seems that the $14,000 homeowner connection fee is a very appropriate use of the annual 20 percent preservation fund revenue. Assuming all 300 houses in the test area will someday need to be hooked up, that is $4.5 million. And just think about how many plastic water bottles will be saved! 

Now, that won’t fully answer the question of housing values, but then again that is why we have courts. As I wrote earlier: Who is liable?

I recently wrote Peter Van Scoyoc a letter congratulating him and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Jeffrey Bragman on their election victories. And, while I did share some of my insights into the election issues, I offered no advice other than to say I think the town board needs to be more aggressive in dealing with the growing water quality insults that have and continue to accrue in our town. If not now, when? 

Yours truly,


Sounds Like Expansion


December 24, 2017

Dear David,

Your front page article last Thursday raised a serious question. Some residents attended the town board meeting on this date for the airport bond issue and voiced their concerns about why this was being considered.

We stated our objections and the board voted for the bond. The following day I received many telephone calls from some who attended and others who saw it on the website. The comments were that it was a waste of time. A comment was that it was like the leaf-program debacle, in that that a decision had already been made and on this one, also — a sad commentary from people who felt that the board listened but didn’t hear us.

At Tuesday’s work session, Larry Cantwell asked the airport manager, “Will traffic be increased?” 

He replied, “They will come.” Just like in “Field of Dreams”: If you build it, they will come!

This board was elected on a promise to lessen the impact on the quality of life for the affected residents. A tower was installed and the F.A.A signed off on it and now a proposal to spend a million dollars to move or construct another, despite not being a requirement?    We all know about the sneaky, unauthorized trip to Washington D.C. What is the length of the bond, its interest rate, and who pays for it? We are already on the hook for the $4 million subsidized housing land purchase and an unknown amount for the construction, that includes car ports. Is this bond added to the cost the taxpayers will be burdened with?

Only Councilwoman Sylvia Overby had the courage to say no. If it is not mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, what the hell are we doing it for, knowing full well that they will come!  An increase surely sounds like expansion. 

A good question is: Why do it? We already have pollution of our wells, air, and serenity. Stop this madness now!

Yours truly,


Hard to Comprehend


December 22, 2017

To the Editor:

Poor Bill Henderson, it is so incredibly sad that he actually believes himself to be a Christian yet so misunderstand God’s word.

There is nothing in his entire Guestwords article that speaks to the truth of the Bible. This compels me to respond to him:

Did you ever think that you might very well be the reason that your church membership has decreased so dramatically since you have been a member and an elder? Surely no one who loves the Lord and believes the Bible would want to come to a church to listen to the blasphemy of which you speak.

I suggest that before you read the Bible, which you so maligned in your writing, you pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you into truly understanding what God is saying 

I have heard many people denigrate the Bible who acknowledge they are not believers, but to hear someone like yourself, who calls himself a Christian, to do so is hard to comprehend.

I can only hope you take to heart these concerns I have for you because your bitterness is destructive to you. (Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”)

In his name,



Deranged Piety

East Hampton

December 23, 2017

To the Editor:

Perhaps the most repugnant and deranged action by the Trump administration in its first 11 months was the order to refuse all foreign health care assistance to any programs that practiced abortion, approximately $9 billion in aid, based on a twisted religious principle of right to life by the country that never supported anyone’s right to life (see Hiroshima). 

The hundreds of millions of Africans, alone, who would lose the health care support systems make the immigration bills and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals disaster look like a drop in the bucket. This action, influenced by a quasi-deranged Christian minority, shows how far our new government has gone off the rails. This intermixing of church and state demonstrates the slippage from secular democracy to autocratic theocracy.

In the 18th century when the framers sat down to write a constitution there were two points that there were no argument about: the separation of church and state and no national religion. The lack of debate was a function of intelligent people who had studied history and understood that religion and fascism often go hand-in-hand and the pain and suffering overwhelm the comforting of the soul. The freedom to practice one’s religion as well as the interdiction to impose one’s religious beliefs were the framers’ concessions to religious freedom. (Certainly worthy of debate.)

Observing the relationship between King George and the English church put the framers on notice of the perils of allowing religious institutions to influence governance. Studying the barbarity of the Puritans and the essential lack of humanity by most religious groups in the country toward one another and the indigenous population made separation an easy call. Historically, the endless religious wars, the crusades, the inquisition, etc., made a very strong case for interdicting, rather than accepting, religious freedoms. More important was the realization that virtually everything of value in religious doctrine already existed in the secular world (a few phantasmagorical ideas like virgin birth excepted).

Philosophically, if we accept the existence of God, we are obligated to accept the existence and legitimacy of all the religious groups and sects that populate the planet. Yet, in virtually every religion there is the belief that God is talking only to them, and while the Jews got to the “chosen” scheme before everyone else, they prefer to rewrite rather than to accept historical reality, even though before Judaism everyone else thought they were chosen but didn’t have the need to spread the message.

The problem the world has always faced is that man is capable of and prone to commit the worst atrocities. Religious beliefs simply serve as a camouflage and justification for this behavior.

In our country the collapse of evangelical correctness, and with it the current lack of credible humanity that the movement has cast aside, along with the constant screaming that Christianity is under attack, has created a false sense of deranged piety that brings into question whether we are a democracy or a gathering of religious perverts whose lifeline is derived from drinking the blood of nonbelievers.

There is little difference between fundamentalist Christians and their Islamist alter egos. They are both prime examples of neo-fascists run amok. Where is the love, the beauty, the compassion for their brothers and sisters? Nobody wants their twisted souls or their precious beliefs in their desecration of human interaction.

Israel is a perfect example of the delusional ravings of fundamentalist Evangelicals. While Israel is grateful for any support it gets from the West, it understands that there is only a short distance between their professed love for the Holy Land and the terror of Eastern Europe’s pogroms. Trusting Christians has always been complicated for Jews, and they have too often paid dearly for this mistake. Observing the freakier side of fundamentalist behavior is way too obvious to ignore.

So, the calls for increased religious participation in our government need to be resisted. Even though this participation is a significant threat to our basic democratic principles, it is even a greater threat to the churches themselves whose integrity and value are teetering on the edge of collapse. 



East Hampton

December 22, 2017

To the Editor,

To meditate means to return to your natural state of being without any confusion about who you truly are. When you realize who you are, no one can take it away from you or use it against you. Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect. Commitment in the face of conflict produces character. To reach a great height a man must have great depth.

As you go forth in life, people, by their actions, will tell you how they feel about you. Pay attention! Do not expect people to tell you the truth, as they may also lie to themselves. If you follow the crowd, you will never be followed by a crowd. 

Humanity will one day be defined not by what we possess but the virtues we lack. A man of words and not deeds is like a garden full of weeds.

Some things to remember are that home is not a place but a feeling; time is not measured by a clock, but by moments, heartbeats are not heard but felt and shared.

Never speak without listening or let anyone determine your self-worth. It’s easy to forgive the mistakes of others, but it’s hard to rebuild the trust that has been destroyed. The best revenge is always to just move on and let karma do the rest.

A person’s intelligence is measured by the people around them. The less you respond to negativity, the more peaceful your life becomes. Count your blessings, not your problems. 


The Groping Age


December 22, 2017

To the Editor, 

It is unfortunate, but characteristic, that during the transpiration of a phenomenal, stupendous, historical happening, the contemporary unfolding details are obscuring the near-future, immediate epic, metaphorical culmination of the event. 

This is what is exactly happening right now: the beginning of the end of an age, an age homologous to the end of the Ice Age, but much larger in scope and range, an abrupt, cataclysmic end of a long-prevalent insolent mode, the beginning of the end of the Groping Age. 

Stand by. Be prepared for an eruption extricating long-subdued untapped energies, talents, an upsurge of affable, demonstrative feminine power generating overdue egalitarianism, precipitant consequences, ramifications still unperceived at this time. A clue: culminations results of the end of one age, the Ice Age, right here in East Hampton, the alluring, glorious sunny beaches from Montauk to the Rockaways, prosperous and robust, a terrain not long ago covered, buried under snow, ice. Correlate these to the inevitable results of the end of the Groping Age. (You get it.)

A respectful solicitation to the reigning monarchical women’s club: Cleopatra, Theodora, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, Maria Theresa, Lakshmibal, Joan of Arc, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Queen Elizabeth the First, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, and the honorable others. Please move over, make room, the Americans are coming! The Americans are Coming!

A comforting thought for some of our local residents: The pressure of the “gender factor” in estate inheritance planning defused, abated, possibly eliminated: residential and commercial.