Seniors, Join Us
February 28, 2017
To the Editor:
Seniors, come and join us at the senior center. You can enjoy great meals. There are activities for both women and men. These are some: bridge, billiards, bingo, arts and crafts, etc. We celebrate holidays — this month is St Patrick’s Day, with corned beef and cabbage lunch and more.
You can have transportation to the center, which the town provides. Call 631-324-6711 if you need this service.
March 5, 2017
At a time when our national government is questioning both the role of public education and the value of supporting the arts, the answer is very clear in this community. Over the weekend, many of us had the opportunity to take in a thoroughly enjoyable off-off-Broadway show performed by a group of extremely talented East Hampton High School students. Congratulations and thank you to director Laura Sisco, to the entire cast, pit orchestra, and crew for a sensational production of “In the Heights‚“
Beyond scholastics, our schoolchildren will only benefit through study and practice of art, drama, music, dance, poetry, and other methods of self expression. And when they benefit, we all benefit.
VICKI LURIA BLATT
Taught the Scouts
March 6, 2017
I want to thank David Baumrind and Kathy Appleby of the Springs Fire Department for spending time with the East Hampton Cub Scouts Pack 426 Webelos I and II (fourth and fifth graders), teaching them basic first aid and handling medical emergencies this past Sunday.
David and Kathy discussed handling first-aid, including shock, major bleeding, broken bones, burns, and choking. They also taught the scouts about handling medical issues such as heart attacks, strokes, and stopped breathing. The scouts were able to practice chest compressions on a mannequin.
David and Kathy’s time and service to the community are greatly appreciated!
JOHN L. DUNNING
March 2, 2017
To the Editor:
We are writing this letter just having read “Want to Live in Grey Gardens? It Can Be Yours for $20 Million” in The New York Times dated March 2, 2017.
Sally Quinn seems not to like our beautiful East Hampton and its neighboring villages now that she is selling her house and leaving. She is critical of so many people: Russian oligarchs and others who have been successful in the media and financial sectors.
We think it is important that all residents share in the beauty of the ocean, the bays, the farms, the arts, and all that our community offers. In fact, the people that Ms. Quinn dismisses (wealthy celebrities) have been so generous in their financial support to maintain and expand the ambience we love so much.
Ms. Quinn is returning to Washington and also going to the South of France, trying to preserve her own image as an important person in both these locations.
Good luck to Sally Quinn, and our thanks to her for restoring Grey Gardens as a part of the history of East Hampton.
March 2, 2017
This letter is really for Jack Graves.
Just finished reading your column in the Feb. 3 Star. (See? Someone does read your column.)
Your reference to Zihuatanejo brought back fond memories, as many years ago I flew there with Arnold Bayley (Sea Spray Inn) in his Navion and landed on a dirt strip. The only building on the strip was a thatched roof, open-sided hut with a sign “Operationes” on the roof. We were met by the mayor, Luis Morales, whom we later caught siphoning gasoline from our plane.
We stayed in one of a few cottages on the beach owned by a retired German sea captain, and were served food on a picnic table by a young native boy. He asked us if we wanted food and we said yes, so he brought food.
There were natives in huts cooking on a stone griddle and all were very friendly. I also remember natives wading out in the bay and bringing supplies off on their shoulders from a supply boat.
My last picture was of us standing in front of the plane with a stalk of bananas on the wing.
I wonder if you and I are the only East Hamptoners who visited Zihuatanejo.
March 3, 2017
Yours in good sport,
HARVEY L. BENNETT
March 6, 2017
I want to thank you, and the staff of this paper, for printing a report of the false charges against the Wounded Warrior Project on page A5 of last week’s edition, rather than hiding it in an obscure place or not even mentioning it. The article cites CBS and The New York Times, but it was also falsely reported in this paper, with a minimum of fact checking, so kudos for your willingness to admit the mistake.
I know personally how strongly Peter Honerkamp and others out here believe in and support the good works that are done by this organization, and I have been proud to have attended benefits and given support. I was quite shocked to hear the negative allegations against it by the press, and I really didn’t know what to believe. I’m very relieved to learn about this vindication, and I know that Peter has taken a lot upon himself to get the mistake corrected. I look forward to provide further support to this fine cause.
March 3, 2017
Re: Your March 2 editorial “Driver’s licenses for all.”
Yes, yes, and yes! Who does not want safer roads? Who does not want more drivers aware of road rules, having passed driving tests and carrying insurance?
I am aware that having a legal license and insurance does not preclude idiots expressing testosterone deficiency by speeding, or people (like my friend Maude) who drive 20 m.p.h.
What having driver’s licenses available for all of us does is to create safer roads, for certain, and provide additional personal identification, which I think a good thing.
If the State of New York (See California, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut) does not expand driving permit availability to include all of us, I will join a class action lawsuit arguing for our safety.
Are you with me?
All good things,
March 3, 2017
Thank you for your editorial on driver’s licenses. I recently spoke with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. about that very subject. I pointed him to the Connecticut “Drive Only” license and urged him to sponsor legislation: http://www.ct.gov/dmv/cwp/view.asp?a=805&q=547212.
I and a few other concerned East Hampton residents, including Diana Walker and Mark Butler (chairman of the East Hampton Village Planning Board), recently incorporated a new not-for-profit: East End for Opportunity. Here is the statement of purpose from the official documents:
The purpose or purposes for which East End for Opportunity Inc. is formed are as follows: East End for Opportunity is a not-for-profit organization formed to make available to all residents of the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin (1) information regarding their legal and civic rights and responsibilities; and (2) for residents of limited financial means, access to and financial assistance for affordable, local, and professional legal representation, to enable these residents to more productively participate in the opportunities available in our East End communities.
This organization will definitely not be limited to Latino applicants or immigrant applicants, though we do expect that a good percentage of applicants will be Latinos and other immigrants. We, like you, identified that being able to drive legally would greatly reduce the risk of deportation for many law-abiding immigrants. It also allows them to more easily and legally reach educational opportunities, health care, or counseling. I think East End for Opportunity will be opening to the public at the end of March though we are already beginning to vet and provide family law documents that ensure that a family is prepared in areas such as finance or child custody in the case that parents are deported.
March 5, 2017
To the Editor,
The letters attacking me in last week’s Star from Jeanne Frankl and other Democratic Party stalwarts all have one thing in common. They seem to be okay with, even proud of, the sight of people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond shouting down speakers, disrupting meetings, and in general acting like hooligans on a kind of political spring break. In places like Berkeley and Seattle they have even staged full-scale riots.
Admittedly, they have not yet reached the depths achieved by their somewhat younger colleagues in the Occupy Movement, where filth, profanity, violence, and drug use were the order of the day. But who knows what awaits us once warm weather allows them to perform outdoors?
Sorry, folks, but all the evidence only confirms my original assessment. The senseless, childish slogans, the silly signage, the uniformly unruly behavior, all constitute a fake movement, fomented and fueled by media already infamous for foisting fake news on us.
March 4, 2017
To the Editor:
The recent attacks on Jewish synagogues and cemeteries by alt-right groups unleashed by Trump’s rhetoric and behavior need a strong aggressive response. Trump has surrounded himself with alt-right advisers who are believers in racist and Anti-Semitic Dogma. Whether they are actively propagating these ideas or simply providing support and cover as enablers makes no difference.
When the Jewish Defense League was created it was derided as being paranoid and excessive, but the atmosphere today is a different story. Protests and rallies against hate are wonderfully cathartic but this situation requires a stronger, more aggressive approach. We need to target alt-right groups, their media supporters, and government adherents.
March 4, 2017
This is in response to the letter to the editor prepared by Ms. Melissa Berman and published in your March 2 edition, which attacked my position for the consideration of safety of United States citizens from illegal aliens and the recent presidential Executive Order 13789 aimed at such protection.
With regard to Ms. Berman’s charges, she states, “What the president put in place, and Congressman Zeldin supported, was not a screening process, but an actual ban on immigration from seven Muslim countries cited as ‘countries of particular concern.’ ” The executive order in question has 11 sections. Section 3, titled “Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern,” states:
“I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).”
So if one reads both the executive order and Section 217(a)(12) one realizes that if this E.O. were in effect, which it is not until ruled upon or modified, it is not a ban but a 90-day stay in issuing visas to aliens from Syria, Iraq, or “as a country, the government of which has repeatedly provided support of acts of international terrorism” pursuant to other statutory or administrative determinations. To put this matter in further perspective, the subsection in question, C, states the purpose of the 90-day stay as: To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection A of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals.
Now is this a ban? Of course not! It is a method using existing U.S. constitutional powers to get a handle on an immigration issue from countries where aliens entering the U.S. may pose a danger to U.S. citizens. This is a systematic review of a visa screening process (see Section 4 of the E.O. titled “Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs”).
What I find the most troubling in Ms. Berman’s letter is her comparison to “the same situation as millions of Jews who fled persecution in World War II.” Ms. Berman’s statement, “The ban [which the E.O. is not] wrongly painted refugees as terrorists” is flat-out incorrect. Nowhere in the 90-day suspension of visas is anything said about refugees being terrorists. In fact, in Section 5 where the realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is stayed for an additional 30 days or a total of 120 days, there is language that specifically addresses religious persecution.
Section 5 (b) states:
“Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the secretaries of state and homeland security shall recommend legislation to the president that would assist with such prioritization.”
As for any parallel between the United States’ handling of Jewish refugees during World War II and the current E.O., I suggest Ms. Berman check her history book.
Her point on the suspensions not being applicable to Saudi Arabia is a real head-scratcher. Clearly after 9/11 the U.S. government during the Bush administration took several steps to assure that Saudi Arabia no longer was a government that supports acts of international terrorism pursuant to 217(a)(12). As a person who in a past life was involved in matters requiring security clearances and administering to staffs of various religious denominations including Islam, I was aware of steps taken by the U.S. government to assure those attending religious pilgrimages such as one to Mecca in Saudi Arabia were doing so without endangering our country. Maybe in part because of U.S. foreign policies over the past eight years, countries like Syria and Iraq aren’t capable of measuring up to the standards we require for obtaining a visa.
With regard to her statement, “Our country was built on opening our arms to immigrants fleeing from oppression or simply coming here for the purpose of a better life — that is our deepest core value.” Perhaps I need not be reminded of that as my paternal grandfather left Milazzo in Sicily and waited several months for his soon to-be-bride to come to the U.S. I could recount a similar story concerning my maternal grandparents coming to this country.
In closing Ms. Berman wants me to consider what a ban (which it isn’t) would do to increase risks to our military. She would also want me to keep our country safe from this E.O. (she calls it a ban), which she characterizes as irresponsible, illegal, and inhumane. To the first I would say I’ll leave the safety of our armed forces to Secretary Mattis. To the second I would say, maybe you should have read it before you went off on a U.S. congressman and me. But from the tone of Ms. Berman’s letter I think she probably embodies the same beliefs as the Democratic Party, the very same people who rudely up and left after the president’s Tuesday evening speech to a joint session of Congress and the Supreme Court. The very same party led by a lady who said about the Affordable Care Act, Congress “[has] to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.” I guess it is too much to hope that the reason they left so precipitously was to go home and read the E.O. Nah!
PAUL A. GIARDINA
The Art of Negotiation
February 28, 2017
To the Editor:
Donald Trump holds himself out as a master negotiator and “dealmaker,” frustrated by the gridlock of Washington politics.
Boy, did he pass up a great opportunity to demonstrate these so-called skills with his insistence that Betsy DeVos become the next secretary of education. The same can be said for Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer — another high-powered politician from whom you’d expect superb negotiating skills — who also missed a major opportunity to strike a win-win compromise.
The uproar and opposition to the DeVos nomination was unprecedented in reent American history, and her confirmation vote is believed to be the first time the vice president, as president of the Senate, needed to cast the tie-breaking vote. It should never have come to that.
As a lawyer, I consider myself to be someone who understands the art of negotiation. And a fundamental principle of negotiation is that win-win (or win-not lose) always works better than win-lose.
Here’s what I would have negotiated:
In the face of the extraordinary opposition to DeVos’s nomination and, oh right — that pesky upcoming confirmation process for his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch — the president should have extended an olive branch to Schumer, and, in effect, to the teachers unions, educators, and other citizens outraged by DeVos’s nomination, by conceding that fight. He should not have had Vice President Pence cast the unprecedented deciding vote, but instead, in light of a 50-50 stalemate, agreed to nominate someone less controversial (and given DeVos an innocuous ambassadorship).
In exchange for allowing Schumer a “win” by dropping DeVos, Trump could have negotiated that Schumer and Senate Democrats wouldn’t stall the confirmation of Gorsuch. (The empty seat is Scalia’s, so filling it with another conservative will just return the court to its previous makeup.) Then, both sides could have easily and understandably agreed that if another seat opens up during Trump’s tenure, the parties would duke it out then.
This compromise would have resulted in a different nominee for secretary of education (rather than someone even Republicans could not agree on) and the confirmation of someone who appears to be a highly qualified conservative nominee for the Supreme Court. Instead, rather than negotiate a win-win deal, these two political leaders just confirmed the notion that Washington can’t help but play win-lose — even the so-called king of all dealmakers. And you can’t complain about gridlock when you play that way.
Long Islanders — and, frankly, all Americans — don’t need more gridlock. We need politicians who are willing to negotiate in a way that will yield more win-win solutions. This missed opportunity by both parties is a shame.
Thomas Jefferson famously had one-on-one dinners with every single member of Congress, no matter how vast the political differences between them. He clearly understood that partisan politics needed to be pushed aside for the sake of making deals and pushing the country forward. It’s a lesson that today’s politicians should heed.
March 1, 2017
It is an axiom of Republican thought that nobody knows business like a businessman. Why can the leadership of Congress not extrapolate from that to accept that nobody knows science like a scientist? In California, Florida, New York, and all points in between, scientists in charge of dealing with the readily apparent effects of changing climate are desperately working to figure out how to deal with droughts and floods, changing agricultural patterns, etc. They are spending billions of dollars to do so, while the ruling party, in deference to fossil fuel interests keeping their campaign coffers full, adopts the ostrich stance on climate change.
See “Oroville Dam.” See “Streets Being Raised in Miami.” See “Norfolk Flooding.” See “California Water Table.” See “D.O.D. Calls Climate Change a Threat Multiplier.” See especially, “A Conservative Climate Solution,” offered by a generation of Republican leaders, which outlines a major program to slow the momentum of climate change that would actually stimulate the economy and create thousands of jobs.
See the representative government of the United States do nothing, and weep for the generation now reaching adulthood, and all generations to follow, as America, immersed in an endless stream of self-entertainments, spends its riches seeking more riches, and leaves a mounting debt of devastation to our children. To borrow from Winston Churchill, ours is a generation that will live in infamy.
The Most Vulnerable
March 6, 2017
As part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, a bill was passed by Congress in 1975 that was designed to combat poverty by educating the most disadvantaged among us. This bill included such services known as Title One, among other important and necessary parts, that would create a more just and equal society. Its many parts are designed for primary and secondary education, emphasizing high standards and accountability. The bill has been reauthorized every five years by all the presidents since Johnson.
Now, as a Democrat, I, of course, have not always agreed with a Republican president, but I know that each has contributed to the fabric of our country and the world, i.e., Eisenhower on the highway system, Nixon on the E.P.A., George W. on combating AIDS in Africa. But this present administration and Congress want to destroy the laws passed by previous administrations that benefit people, not corporations, but the people, especially those who have never had a chance.
As a lifelong educator, I know how Title One serves children — our innocent children — by helping them to perhaps get a leg up and become contributing members of America. Eleanor Roosevelt often said, “Be ashamed to die until you have scored some victory for humanity.” Mr. Zeldin, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump, and Ms. (inept) DeVos. it’s not about you, it’s about the most vulnerable among us.
Give Us the Details
February 27, 2017
President Trump promised a “terrific” alternative to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, cheaper, and that would cover more people. Not if the G.O.P. has its way. The Republican House leadership recently released a plan that promises the exact opposite: a health care plan that is not only far inferior, but cruelly shifts more medical costs onto families (burdening the poor and aged in the process) and covers far fewer people.
In an ill-conceived “policy brief” released last week, the House Republicans trotted out ideas euphemistically promising to “ensure more choices, lower costs, and greater control” which would “repair the damage done by (the A.C.A.).” Voters would be well advised to ignore the G.O.P. propaganda. Because, upon closer examination, the G.O.P.’s health care plan will, in practice, do anything but achieve the lofty goals tossed out in their plan.
The policy brief calls for reducing spending on Medicaid, which today provides insurance coverage to more than 74 million poor, disabled, and older people. The G.O.P. plan also would roll back Medicaid expansion available to states under the A.C.A. This feature helped more than 11 million people gain Medicaid coverage. Even Republican governors like John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan praised the expansion feature, because it helped to reduce uncompensated care at hospitals. The G.O.P.’s plan would cast out of the A.C.A. Medicaid program millions of the most vulnerable citizens.
Another larger goal of the Republican policy is to slash Medicare spending over all. This would be accomplished by giving states the option of a fixed block grant or a fixed per capita allotment from which a state would pay Medicaid reimbursements. The current program pays for health care for everyone who is eligible. If the G.O.P. plan were adopted, in future economic conditions (such as a recession) in which state governments would need to spend more, Congress would have to approve providing more money to cover higher health care costs. Without the flexibility that was built into Medicaid, most experts believe that, over time, states would cover fewer people and cut benefits.
The Republican program proposes to slash subsidies that the A.C.A. provides to people who don’t get their health insurance through their employer. The result? Those affected will be forced to pay more under the G.O.P. plan. What about the subsidies? Paul Ryan wants to offer a flat subsidy that would be the same whether families earn $500,000 or $50,000. The subsidies would vary by age to give older people more support, but the G.O.P. offers no clue as to how much these subsidies would be or whether they would be able to cover a family’s health care costs.
One justification for the repeal of the A.C.A. is so-called skyrocketing premiums. However, a recent study by the Kaiser Foundation found that the premium increase for a family earning $30,000 averaged just 3.6 percent nationwide, when taking the available subsidies into account. In New York, that family would experience a 1 percent premium decrease. Clinging to fake facts does not make them true.
In the latest installment of his legislative priorities, Congressman Lee Zeldin again intoned his oft-repeated mantra about the need to repeal and replace the A.C.A. with a new reality that will work better for Long Islanders. The policy announced by the House leadership is not that plan, and we must insist that Mr. Zeldin explain why it is better for us than the A.C.A. He ducked the question in his recent town hall. If he can’t or won’t give us the details, he should be replaced.
March 4, 2017
George Washington, Revolutionary War, Christmas 1776, crossing the icy Delaware River, defeating the Hessians, eliminating them from the contest.
Admiral David Farragut, Battle of Mobil Bay, August 1864, Civil War, “Damn” — or spicier — “The Torpedoes, full speed ahead,” decisive decision, victorious battle.
Admiral Halsey, World War II, Pacific, “Go after the carriers at all costs, the carriers.”
General Patton, World War II, North Africa, the invasion of Europe, “Attack, Attack, Attack. Battle fatigue? Never heard of it. Slap, Slap.”
President Donald Trump, 2017, Rush, reach out, reset immediately relationship with Russia, potential critical ally. Disregard, ignore all trivial, irrelevant obstructions and disagreements. Full speed ahead.
True to form, a proven, successful, and victorious pattern. Keep it up, Mr. President.
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL
Smoke and Mirrors
March 6, 2017
On Tuesday night, one Mr. Trump gave a speech. Both praise and criticism rained down. What was most striking, however, was the distance between the rhetoric of that speech and the words and actions of another Mr. Trump taken just earlier that same Tuesday. For example, the real Mr. Trump took some of his harshest actions against the environment earlier that day. The other Mr. Trump, who gave that speech, must have been in another room.
At one point during the speech, the other Mr. Trump theatrically sought Democratic partners to help accomplish his desire “to promote clean air and clean water.” One would have thought that the other Mr. Trump was voicing an authentic desire to better our environment. One could not have been more wrong.
Just hours before the speech, the real Mr. Trump issued an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the clean water rule implemented by the Obama administration. The clean water rules would extend the reach of the Clean Water Act to protect streams and wetlands. One environmental expert opined that revocation of the rule would put at risk drinking water of 117 million Americans. Revocation has even more dire threats for the Long Island community. Grounded in science, the rule would keep waterways clean and safe, providing a welcome habitat for fish and wildlife as well as beautiful places for recreation.
The real Mr. Trump governs with smoke and mirrors, using the words of the other Mr. Trump to create the impression that the administration supports the American citizens’ best interests, while behind the scenes the actions of the real Mr. Trump belie any such intent.
March 5, 2017
How do you define “national security”?
Our nation faces many dangers and threats beyond those that military might can protect us from: a rapidly expanding drug epidemic, collapse of our infrastructure, stubbornly low academic accomplishments in math and science, bacteria strains that do not respond to treatment, diseases that take life prematurely.
One of the most important functions any nation must perform is the proper distribution of its limited financial resources. Plans to significantly increase the budget for additional military might will come at the cost of other programs that strengthen us and keep us safe. Beefing up our conventional warfare abilities in a world of high-tech, comparatively low-cost cyber attacks and state-sponsored terrorism is a waste of financial resources. The president’s proposal to increase military expenditure by $54 billion will greatly increase our deficit while it also takes from other important programs. Worse yet, it does so without offering us greater national security.
We already have military might beyond that of any other country. The U.S. spends more on military expenditures then the next seven countries combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan. (U.S. $596 billion to seven countries’ $567 billion.)
Over the last year we have seen Russia’s intention to influence the elections in the U.S. and our allies using cyber attacks and spreading misinformation, this from a country whose economy is approximately the same size as Italy and spends approximately 10 percent of what the U.S. spends on defense. A cyber attack from an adversary on our nation’s utilities and financial institutions would have a devastating effect on our nation — and planes, warships, and missiles do little to protect us.
The premise that we lose wars because we do not fund military expenditures adequately is a false narrative. Wars since World War II have become less conventional and the more probable threats we face today are from impoverished nations, religious extremists, and from countries engaged in civil war. Since the 1990s, conventional warfare has become less of a priority while nation state-sponsored terrorism has become much more of a real and present danger. Limitations to our military response have more to do with our political divide, not wanting to respond disproportionately to an attack, asymmetrical warfare, and the moral restraints we have put in place.
A military buildup of this nature has more to do with grandiose vanity than the realities we face, and it will greatly reduce our financial resources that should be used in a smarter way. Let your representatives know that our nation needs a more pragmatic and smarter approach to national security beyond building greater conventional warfare capabilities; our future depends upon it.
March 4, 2017
To the Editor:
I have been thinking a lot recently about words so beautiful that they are in both the Old Testament and the New. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” occurs in Psalms and in Matthew and in some other parts of the New Testament. I first heard them in the Passover service we read every year at my parents’ dining room table.
The first year of law school, we learned about the distinction between acts that are criminal, “in se,” bad acts like robbery and murder, and crimes that are merely “prohibitum,” illegal because a legislature said so. People who are here undocumented, working, paying taxes, and integrated into our communities have committed the latter kind of offense. The Wikipedia definition of “Malum prohibitum” actually gives the following three examples in order: “Illegal immigration, jaywalking, hitch-hiking.”
Today, neighbors of ours, living peacefully and cooperatively with us in, as Dr. King said, “an inescapable network of mutuality . . . a single garment of destiny” are at terrible risk and in unbearable fear. The undocumented people I have personally met in my life have educated me that the differences between us are trivial and slough away in the light of the beautiful Bible language and Dr. King’s “garment.” We mutually feel and reciprocate kindness, are trying to get by, and hope for a better life without harming anyone.
Some of them have, despite the fact they are undocumented, already become the cornerstones of their communities (in some cases we have read about recently, of communities of American citizens very different from them in background but who came to love them). In other cases, their children or grandchildren may become the cornerstones. We all hope for that. The American narrative has always promised everyone that opportunity. I don’t begin to commence to start to arrive at an understanding of why we would change that now.
Cannot Afford It
March 6, 2017
It is with sadness that I write to you about the threat of deportation looming over the heads of so many of our Latino neighbors. This has been brought about by the executive order President Trump signed authorizing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, a division of the Homeland Security Department, to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants, whether or not they have a criminal record or present any danger to our society. Arrested people are imprisoned awaiting a hearing to determine their status, which can result in an order of deportation. In fact, expedited procedures have been adopted that allow for almost immediate deportation which constitutes a violation of our basic concepts of due process.
The larger picture of upending the status of 11 million undocumented residents of the United States, many of whom have established lives and families here and virtually all of whom make a meaningful and needed contribution to our society, is cruel as well as counterproductive to the national interest. The Town of East Hampton is a microcosm of the impact deportations will have on individual residents and businesses all across the nation. In our town we employ and depend on undocumented people, mostly Latinos, to landscape our properties, clean our homes, build our houses as employees of construction companies, serve at the counters and cash registers of myriad food establishments, and provide other forms of work. If one travels around town one sees white-owned landscape companies with large crews of Latino men. These are examples of how our town would be crippled if ICE succeeded in fully carrying out the policies enunciated by President Trump under his executive order concerning undocumented residents.
These undocumented people risked their lives to come to the United States, albeit illegally, because we welcomed and encouraged them. They knew that we would pay them well to do work that we could not find others to do. It is we who are responsible for their being here, not they, and it is we who are responsible for encouraging them to violate the law in order to get here. Eleven million of them did not come here without knowing that they would be welcomed and encouraged to make roots, work for companies, and raise families. As a group they are no doubt more law abiding than the average citizen because the consequences of violating the law once here are dire for them and they know it.
The falsehood that they are dangerous criminals and rapists is not borne out by the statistics. The falsehood that they take more than they give is not borne out by the statistics. In fact The New York Times editorial from a week ago Sunday reported that they contribute a net of more than $50 billion a year to our economy. If they were all removed it has likewise been reported that our economy could suffer as much as a 11/2-percent reduction in gross national product‚ which seems huge but is a statistical fact. It is also a statistical fact that undocumented workers pay withholding tax and Social Security contributions that in fact support the soundness of our Social Security system because as noncitizens they never are able to collect benefits, notwithstanding the fact that they pay for them — $13 billion paid in and $1 billion taken out. Likewise they do not receive food stamps or any other social benefits.
The present situation regarding the 11 million undocumented residents who are here in violation of the law reminds me of, and in my opinion is analogous to, what happened with the enactment of Prohibition, which barred the making or consumption of alcohol. That law was honored in the breach. People, that is most people, who drank continued to drink and found ways to illegally acquire and consume alcohol. Ultimately this reality resulted in the revocation of Prohibition. It seems like eons ago although it is not really, so that a bipartisan bill known as McCain-Feingold, reforming immigration, was proposed; President George W. Bush was in favor of it. Unfortunately, it did not get enacted.
Sadly, Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to do what he is now doing: appealing to that part of our population that is so understandably frustrated with their economic circumstances, namely the huge decline in the coal-mining industry, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and the decline of the steel industry, which President Trump falsely attributes to outsourcing of work to other countries whose workers are paid less, when in fact the real problem is automation.
Undocumented Latinos have not taken the jobs lost by people who live in what is known as the Rust Belt, or the coal mines, or the steel industry. Those jobs do not exist and deporting undocumented persons will not bring them back. I believe that President Trump is continuing to play to the xenophobia of his base by pursuing undocumented immigrants as opposed to proposing legislation for immigration reform and re-education of the people who lost their jobs. His proposals, if carried out, will waste significant amounts of money by increasing the force of ICE officers by 10,000 and border patrol agents by 5,000. The cost at current levels is $19 billion per year. Mr. Trump is also talking about the possible mobilization of 100,000 National Guard troops.
In addition he is proposing the construction of a great wall which he originally quoted at a cost of $8 billion then changed to $10 billion to $12 billion. A review by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed the real figure at $27 billion to $40 billion for 1,000 miles. All of this at a time when the net flow across the border is now less than zero.
Currently the Homeland Security Department spends $2 billion a year to maintain 34,000 immigration detention beds and this expenditure will be substantially increased if there is a greater number of arrests. The American Action Forum estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants and keeping them out would cost $400 billion to $600 billion and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion. Obviously these are unacceptable expenditures which hopefully the Republican-controlled Congress will not approve.
We here in East Hampton, and in towns like ours across the United States, must band together and seek to assist our undocumented neighbors with legal representation and financial support for those who lose breadwinners to the sweeps of ICE. We must support our town board members in its wise decision not to arrest and detain undocumented persons. We should urge our town board to refuse to hold arrested persons in jail for transfer to ICE unless a warrant is issued. Certainly, federal law should be obeyed.
I believe that we will see mounting opposition to President Trump’s policy from the business communities across the nation who cannot afford to lose their undocumented employees as they will not be able to function without them. Identifying and organizing these entities and appealing to the United States Chamber of Commerce and its various local divisions can begin a groundswell of opposition. Finally, we must let the Latino undocumented community know that we have their back.
DAVID J. WEINSTEIN
On Our Behalf
March 6, 2017
To the Editor,
The Montauk Boatmen and Captains Association thanks Congressman Lee Zeldin for his work on behalf of the fishing community on Long Island’s East End.
Congressman Zeldin’s endeavors on our behalf have put our problems on the “front burner” of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s agenda. He listens to his constituents regarding their problems. His endeavors to protect and enhance the job opportunities for his community should be supported.
Congressman Zeldin recognizes that many of his local constituents are outdoorsmen who enjoy the shooting sports as well as fishing and supports them in their avocations.
We also praise his personal attributes such as being a veteran and an exemplary family man. We are very proud of his community support.
As to detractors, in America we have the right to demonstrate pro or con but we don’t have any right to disrupt. Thank you again, Congressman Zeldin, for your community support.
The M.B.C.A. would also like to thank Senator Charles Schumer for his support on a federal level of the needs of the sportfisherman on Long Island.
CAPT. JOE McBRIDE
M.B.C.A. Legislative Representative
Find the Courage
March 5, 2017
This morning I was so pleased to read an article about Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. He has vowed to keep funds for Planned Parenthood in his state’s budget even though his state stands to lose federal funding. He is a strong supporter of women’s health and wants to “signal the gap between his positions and those of the Republican-controlled Congress.”
When we write letters to The Star about Representative Lee Zeldin, we re asking for this kind of independent thinking. So far, Representative Zeldin has rubber-stamped the Trump-Republican agenda. Not every issue being voted on is good for the people of the First Congressional. I hope Representative Zeldin and others find the courage to be free-thinking Republicans and stand up for the needs of all their constituents — even those who didn’t vote for them.
To Ensure Access
March 5, 2017
Recently, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he has promised that his state will supplement the budget of the Massachusetts chapter of Planned Parenthood if Congress moves to defund the women’s health-care organization.
This promise, by a Republican governor in a Democratic-leaning state, signals his recognition of the important role that Planned Parenthood plays within the overall health care community. It also reflects acknowledgement of the damage that would be inflicted on that community by the Republican-controlled Congress, many of whose members oppose Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions. Now, we all know that federal law already prohibits federal money from being used for abortions but authorizes Medicaid coverage for other services, like screening and treatment for cancer. This nonabortion-related coverage is the coverage Congress wants to block.
We should applaud Governor Baker’s willingness to put the health and well-being of his constituents ahead of politics. But, state solutions should not be seen as the Band-Aid for the survival of Planned Parenthood in the event the Republican-led Congress blocks millions of people from accessing essential preventive care from Planned Parenthood. The national well-being would be ill served if Planned Parenthood’s services became available only in a patchwork of states. Instead, our elected representatives need to recognize that they have a responsibility to ensure access to the important health care services offered by Planned Parenthood in all corners of our nation.
March 3, 2017
Does anyone remember when President Obama left his mike open and his conversation to the Russian ambassador? “Tell Putin I’ll have more leeway when I’m re-elected.” Anyone remember when news came in that President Obama sent tons of money to interfere in the Israel election? Now a soft coup is rumored that ex-President Obama is behind it, why is Valerie Jarrett moving into the Obama mansion?
In God and country,