Letters to the Editor: 07.20.17

Our readers' comments

The Go-To Person


July 11, 2017

Dear Editor:

It’s so wonderful when, dealing with medical support people, you meet someone who not only actually cares about everything that’s happening to you, but can and does make all the problems just disappear. And it’s all done with the biggest smile on the East End.

I’m talking about Linda at Meeting House Medical Group in Amagansett. In the Hamptons, when someone is talking about medical people, Linda’s name invariably comes up as the go-to person.

I would like to thank Meeting House Medical for having such an efficient and knowledgeable person on their staff.


Extraordinary People

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

To the Editor, 

Last Sunday, I experienced for myself the excellent medical care offered by the volunteers and paid staff of our emergency medical system. We are all fortunate to be cared for by these extraordinary people. 

I thank God that the Very Rev. Denis C. Brunelle was able to catch me as I fell, thereby saving me from a serious injury. I thank E.M.T. Matt, Sgt. Greg Brown, and Officer Kenny Brabant, who were compassionate and professional. I thank Devon, Sheila, and Debbie for their expertise in driving me to Southampton Hospital while providing medical care. 

The hospital staff was also everything one would want in that situation. Thank you to R.N. Devon and R.N. James for my treatment and timely discharge. Oh, yes, I know, how fortunate I am to live in East Hampton and to be a member of St. Luke’s Church. I also want to thank my caring church family and apologize for the disruption I caused.

Thank you, 


Thank You, John

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

Dear Editor,

We just wanted to say thank you to John Erb. On July 11, John hosted the third annual East Hampton Ocean Rescue Scholarship Fundraiser at Harvest, on Fort Pond in Montauk. It was a great time. His staff was incredible, the food was amazing (as always), and the prizes were awesome! 

Thank you for all you do!


For the East Hampton Volunteer

Ocean Rescue Membership

Thank You, Dr. Kerr

East Hampton

July 10, 2017

Dear David,

To know Dr. Blake Kerr is to be blessed to be in his presence. After reading his article in “Guestwords,” one is humbled.

We grouse when our town is crowded. We complain that the markets have long lines. We become impatient when someone is rude and entitled. At the end of the day we are so blessed to be in this country and in East Hampton.

The situations that Dr. Kerr witnessed were horrific. Man’s inhumanity to man is startling and endless.

Thank you, Dr. Blake Kerr, for sharing your story and making us grateful. We dearly hope your documentary is picked up from Madrid and presented at the Hamptons Film Festival. We adore you.


No Place in Ink

Bombay, India 

July 11, 2017

Dear David, 

Reading The Star in hard copy is a simple pleasure that I enjoy whenever I am back home in East Hampton. The first weekend in July was no exception. However, the pleasure came to a roaring halt when I reached Section C of the June 29, 2017, edition.

I refer to “East End Eats: Delicious, After the Gauntlet,” by Laura Donnelly. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I read the final sentence of the first paragraph of this restaurant review. Further reading confirmed that they had not, unfortunately. Did you condone the use of that profane, offensive, contemporary abbreviation in the pages of The East Hampton Star? I have always considered your paper to be well written and well edited. For generations, your family has ensured that news and information are presented in an erudite, polished, professional fashion. Have you permitted the paper to sink to the lowest common denominator by embracing the use of such a vulgar expression? The abbreviation used by your reporter is sadly in common use in the world of texts and Twitter, but it has no place in ink in the pages of our local newspaper that “shines for all.”

For the first time since her death in early September, I was relieved that my mother was no longer here. Imagine having to decipher that modern abbreviation for her? Or explaining it to a youngster who might take an interest in reading the local newspaper? 

I hope that this article was an exception and that we will not be subjected to such vulgarities in our local newspaper ever again. 

On a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed East, and am delighted to see that Bess has joined the staff of The East Hampton Star. I look forward with anticipation to reading her contributions in the future. 



Angry and Frustrated


July 17, 2017

Dear Editor,

I write to you as a law-abiding, tax-paying, nonpolluting, jury-serving good citizen, registered voter, and full-time resident of Amagansett, where I’ve owned a home since 1974.

On July 6 I called several cab companies an hour in advance of the 6:50 p.m. Jitney I planned to take into New York City for five days of scheduled medical appointments and family events. Not a single taxi was available; the soonest was promised “in about 45 minutes.” 

I then tried for a later Jitney, but they were solidly booked. What to do? Hauling my senior self and suitcase to the Jitney stop was out of the question, so the only thing I could do was drive to the public parking lot and take my chances. The so-called long-term section, limited to a measly 24 hours, was totally full, so I parked wherever I could find a spot. And, no surprise, I returned to find a clutch of $80 tickets tucked under my windshield.

Why must residents be penalized for the town’s inability to cope with the summer crowds it so ardently courts but can’t accommodate? How, by anybody’s reckoning, is this fair? I’d argue my case in traffic court, but the only time I naively attempted to do this — a low-hanging branch had obscured a stop sign — I never got to be heard and was also slapped with an extra $25 or $50 in court costs. 

If that were to happen again they’d have to carry me out. So I will pay the fines.

Angry and frustrated, 


Atlantic and Bluff


July 13, 2017

To the Editor:

A four-way stop at Atlantic Avenue and Bluff Road in Amagansett is a no-brainer, as it is necessary for the safety of drivers and everyone else.

This intersection causes great confusion for both unfamiliar and familiar drivers. I can count on two hands the number of times since April that I have been behind a car traveling east or west on Bluff Road that has stopped at the Atlantic intersection believing it to be a four-way stop. If I am traveling in the opposite direction of this car, I have then been faced with the decision to also stop, or to keep driving and face the risk that one of the cars stopped on Atlantic has decided to “take its turn.”

For pedestrians crossing Bluff Road at Atlantic, the crosswalk in the intersection provides a false sense of security. In town, cars must stop when a person steps into the zebra stripes. Cars even stop when people find they cannot be inconvenienced by the crosswalk 10 yards away and wander out into the road anyway. At the intersection of Atlantic and Bluff, however, this is not the case. I have seen several people step into the road expecting cars to stop, only to be honked back to the curb by the charging vehicles. By installing a four-way stop, pedestrians would have a safe passage across the road.

For dog walkers/runners/cyclists on the segment of Bluff Road east of Atlantic that has no sidewalk — and increasingly has no shoulder due to new construction and landscaping — slower car traffic heading into a stop sign would be safer for all.

In the past, the town board has rejected this request due to concerns about driver adaptation to the new traffic pattern. Addressing this is not difficult. As a phase-in for driver awareness of the new stop, blinking lights, construction-hued warning signs, drawings/rumble strips/reflective tape on the road itself, could be used leading up to the intersection from both directions. This road crew is skilled in alerting drivers to signal changes.

The actress Kathleen Turner was the first to get a public hearing on this topic in 1990, though she surely was not the first to ask for it, and most definitely not the last. What is the resistance on this issue? Why the lock-step denial on this request decade after decade, when people’s safety is at the heart of the recommendation?


The Car Shook


July 17, 2017

Dear Editor:  

On Friday afternoon I drove from the Wainscott Post Office to my home in north Wainscott, a drive I’ve made many times. On this particular day I was accompanied by two out-of-town house guests and their 10-month-old baby. 

As we passed ARF and began to pass in front of the East Hampton runway, a massive jet descended from the sky to land. As it passed above us, at what seemed to all of us to be just a few feet above the roof of my small car, the car shook. The noise was deafening and the smell of fuel was repulsive. The jet was so low we thought it was going to hit us. 

My guests and I were so shaken that I had to stop the car to make sure that everyone was all right. 

I can honestly say that had I been driving a fuel truck, a cement truck, or  a school bus, all common on this route, there would have been a horrible and fatal vehicle-plane collision. 

Is there any limit to the size of the aircraft allowed to land at the airport? Does anybody care? Does anybody enforce any safety regulations? 

Driving that same route later that weekend, I noticed at least a dozen of these behemoth jets parked at the airport. When did we become La Guardia?

This airport is a disaster just waiting to happen. 


New Senior Center

East Hampton

July 14, 2017

To the Editor: 

The East Hampton Senior Center has been serving senior citizens in our community for several decades. Its services include transportation arrangements, a nutrition program, residential repairs, health screening, and referral services, to mention just a few.

Now, as the needs and challenges have grown, there is a proposed plan to expand the center. Existing buildings are to be replaced with a new one (which will exceed minimal accessibility standards); the parking area would be expanded, wellness offerings increased, and outdoor areas set up for appropriate activities, to name just some of the proposed improvements.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has listened to the people who live and work there. She played a significant role in the planning of the new senior center and will continue her involvement in its redevelopment. This, among many others, is an excellent reason to support her bid for re-election to the East Hampton Town Board.


A Good Neighbor

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

Dear Mr. Rattray, 

It is encouraging to learn that the East Hampton Board of Education has made a tentative agreement to purchase an industrial-zoned property on Springs-Fireplace Road from East Hampton Town. At the July 11 school board meeting, J.P. Foster, the board president, noted that locating the bus barn on Springs-Fireplace Road will allow the district to engage in the countywide shared services initiative, an official plan designed to generate property tax savings by facilitating operational collaboration among local governmental institutions. Some shared services will include maintenance of buses, storage of salt and other potentially harmful chemicals and solvents, and school district use of the town-owned fueling station.

In addition, the school board’s plan is to offer vocational training classes in small motor and marine engine repair to high school students. Students from East Hampton would no longer have to travel up to three hours a day to receive this training. Also, sharing the services of the bus depot with other districts and governmental agencies is clearly an excellent and forward-thinking approach that could save the taxpayers of the East End money and could serve students and the townspeople of East Hampton responsibly and safely. The East Hampton School Board is showing itself to be a good neighbor to all. 



Cedar Street Committee 

Learning Math

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

Dear Editor:

This morning I found myself looking at the cover of Newsday and the headline caught my attention. It suggested that students are failing geometry because the tests are too hard. I asked a friend who might know something about this and he said that the geometry Regents were to be changed so that passing was 50 percent instead of the current 65 percent. I have mixed feelings about this idea, but mostly come out against it. 

I went to high school in the 1980s and remember struggling with math, not because I didn’t understand the basics but because I had a learning disability (dysgraphia, I hope I spelled it right) that makes it difficult for me to write legibly or fast. It was not even a recognized disability at the time and they thought that it could be punished out of me. (I actually learned to get around it on my own, but that’s beside the point.) I never thought of myself as good in math, but to everyone’s astonishment, not least my own, I not only got a very high score on my math SAT but I made it into the 92nd percentile on the math Regent. I had spent years being told how poor my math skills were, even being banned from taking early computer programming classes, and now I had scored extremely well on tests which most A.P. students without disabilities avoid like the plague (out of 300 students taking the SAT on the day I took them, only 12 went on to take the math Regent, and there were only two of us taking the biology Regent).

My point is that I was considered a poor math student in my day, yet I was able to get respectable grades on tests which, I’m told, were many times more difficult than what students are facing today. I have tried to help various nieces and nephews, and even my godsister on occasion, with math. But what I’ve seen of modern teaching methods has me stumped. I actually helped one niece by showing her my own method of envisioning fractions. 

Most recently, I was introduced to Kumon when my godsister was enrolled there. I didn’t understand it at all. I never got to help her much anyway — her mother didn’t like people “polluting” what she was learning in school, and she was supposed to be an A+ student in an advanced school. Yet she had great difficulty answering math problems when I asked her. She could hardly do basic math, as far as I could tell, yet she was supposedly at the top of her classes. When the time came to go to college, she was woefully unprepared and failed out of even the most basic classes of all kinds. She has finally gotten help and is now getting much better grades, but her story, I’m told, at least on an academic level, is all too common. 

The problem is not with the Regents, which have been diminished many times, according to what little I know on the subject. The problem may be a combination of the changing way in which math (and science) is taught, as well as a rise in the recognition and diagnosis of learning disabilities. Part of the teaching end is that teachers are teaching in overcrowded classrooms. Students are just as often learning from a computer as from a real person. 

One thing that helps in the learning of math is relating it to the real world. That was how I eventually came to understand most of calculus. I learned the Pythagorean theorem by designing sails for kites. I learned most of geometry before being taught it, by doing origami. These are real-world activities which are falling by the wayside, at least in this country, as kids spend more and more time with cellphone apps and computer games. I have no doubt that tablets and computers have their place in the classroom, but I have begun to wonder if they aren’t turning into a crutch for overburdened, undertrained teachers. 

In the end, I don’t think it’s the Regents scoring that needs modification, but rather the way students are taught. And for those of you who home-school, this is really not the answer. Even though home-schooled kids do slightly better than mainstreamed students these days, the difference (according to what I’ve heard, which is admittedly very little but adamant) is negligible. Remember that according to the world standard, the United States as a whole ranks well below most other countries in both math and science. It’s not the tests, it’s how our children are being taught. 

Thanks for reading.


Encourage Investment


July 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

I am extremely disappointed after reading your recent editorial about Montauk and the article about resorts not having amenities. These articles portray recent new businesses and projects in Montauk as creating “mayhem.” As an owner of several businesses in Montauk, ncluding the new Hero Beach Club, I find these articles completely irresponsible and harmful for the town. 

Hero Beach Club, for one, employed over 50 local residents throughout the past year (during the off-season) and continues to provide work for locals. We have invested millions of dollars into making much-needed improvements to the hotel, such as updating electrical and fire safety, improving the hotel’s roof and plumbing, and updating the look and feel of the hotel for guests. Do we not want businesses to improve ailing aspects of the town? Should we attack them for investing in Montauk?

My team and I fixed a hotel that was falling apart, outdated, and unable to [accommodate] house guests to their standards. Our goal was to make the entrance to Montauk even more beautiful, not to open a party hotel. To read that my “inexplicably named” hotel is contributing to mayhem in our town is both insulting and not based in reality. I welcome you to visit the hotel and to speak with people who have stayed with us, who greatly appreciate a family-oriented hotel that highlights the beauty and fun that Montauk has to offer. Not everything new is bad.

I also own the Shagwong with Jason Behan. We invested $3 million into our town. We fixed a beloved property and brought it up to current safety and quality standards. We are constantly thanked for improving the property and bringing back the old Shagwong. We are proud of our business.

I love Montauk. My goal is to protect Montauk. Publishing articles based on assumptions hurts local businesses and hurts the people who are trying to make an honest living. The Hamptons have always been crowded in the summer. It is a summer community, and 90 percent of the people make their living off the summer visitors.

The Beach House is quiet, stays to itself, and shuts down early in the evening. They do not hurt anyone. Seamore’s is an upscale restaurant that was also desperately in need of upgrades. Solé East is a magical spot that does a tremendous amount for the community. Navy Beach is amazing and is run by amazing people. Nobody is forcing you to go to these places, if you do not want to go.

Montauk has been running great. Enforcement has been prepared, and has been handling the flow of people impressively. We should be thanking them for keeping Montauk safe. Maybe the board should build a hospital in Montauk. Maybe they should build a bigger police headquarters. Maybe the business community and the politicians could work together to bring a sewage system to Montauk.

The fireworks were magical. The whole town had a great time. East Hampton is very equipped. The town should embrace growth and grow with it. Town politicians should encourage investment and respect its business community instead of alienating it. The town needs to stop targeting specific businesses with a constant stream of new laws and start working together. 

Kindest regards,


Exaggerated an Issue


July 15, 2017

Dear David,

Every Thursday I look forward to retrieving The East Hampton Star from my mailbox. After scanning the front-page headlines I go straight to the editorials page, where I inevitably delight in your insights on the latest issue that we residents of this town are grappling with. I don’t believe that I have ever differed with any position that you have taken, except maybe as to degrees of distress or glee expressed. 

That record is still intact, but I believe you have exaggerated an issue that I agree exists but unfairly casts an unwarranted shadow on the East Hampton Town Board. For that reason I am compelled to write this rebuttal. 

Your editorial “Pending: More Mayhem” accurately describes the many establishments that have circumvented the spirit of certain town ordinances dealing with seating capacity, outdoor activities, or sanitary restrictions, and outwitted the town’s planning board and zoning board of appeals in the past, leading to much of the overcrowdedness, excessive noise levels, and water-quality issues. However, to say that what is lacking is a will to do anything about it by the town is an exaggeration and plainly untrue.

I have attended many public hearings for new laws that have been proposed, some of which have passed and some of which are on their way to being passed, that have been met with heavy resistance from some in the business community. The town board, led by Larry Cantwell, has been resilient in fending off these attacks, and although sensitive to the business community’s needs, has persisted in ensuring that the issues that the residents have complained about since the Montauk Firehouse meeting two summers ago are addressed and remedied.

The accessory-use law is one that has been implemented, and the outdoor seating plan, that is on its way to being passed, is another, that speak to the problem of converting sleepy establishments into popular hot spots. The sanitary system upgrade/funding plan is one more that finally addresses a dire situation that in the past was always passed off to the county, leading to nothing being done. Parking requirements are being stringently applied and crowd capacity limitations are being strictly enforced.

Lawyers who are very clever (and in some cases just double-talking charlatans) are still waging an avalanche of attacks on the town code and rules. However, I believe the town board has been robust in holding firm to the commitment it made to its constituency who demanded a full stop to the activity that was leading to a pronounced diminishment of our community’s character and quality of life.

I commend you for continually proclaiming in your editorials the dangers to our way of life that some unscrupulous, environmentally unconscious, and avaricious individuals would have befall our town. However, you’ve made a grave error in stating that our town officials are not rising to the task. I have been in the trenches with them, watching and every now and then giving my 2 cents, and I believe they have acted fairly and decisively to reverse a situation that was made dire by the previous administration. You must know that.


Community Art Space


July 17, 2017

Dear David,

Another priceless piece of East Hampton history was unveiled Saturday in Springs at the opening of the newly restored Duck Creek Farm barn, serving as a beautiful art space. The restoration of this historic property for community use is the product of effective town planning and the cooperative partnership of area citizens with town government. 

Purchased by the town in 2006 with community preservation fund money, this lovely acreage with its fine, now beautifully renovated barn, is ready for use as a community art space, operated by a group of local residents under the auspices of the Peconic Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization. 

In 2014, Councilman Peter Von Scoyoc, recognizing that the town owned several historical buildings and recreational facilities that were in various states of disrepair, formed the town property management committee to focus on these properties in need of repair and restoration. Montauk’s Fort Pond House was the first such project to be completed. Duck Creek Farm is now the second example of how town government and private groups can work together in the interests of the entire community, ensuring ongoing maintenance without burdening town resources or East Hampton’s taxpayers. 

This is a story with a happy ending. A unique part of East Hampton’s past was preserved and restored for all. What should be remembered is that it happened because of the experienced and responsible leadership of our town government and its notable ability to work so constructively with East Hampton’s able citizen volunteers.



Tireless Work Ethic


July 17, 2017

Dear David,

As a wife, mother, grandmother, Springs resident, and taxpayer, I want to talk to you about East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who is running for re-election to the town board. 

For nine years, I watched Kathee in action on the Springs School Board, first as trustee, then vice president, and finally board president. From the start, she brought fresh ideas, new energy, and a new level of openness to the business of the board, encouraging parents and residents to relay their thoughts and concerns. When tough decisions had to be made in the face of a budget gap, she brought the community into the process, helping to fashion a school budget that reflected the community’s priorities. 

As a direct result of Kathee’s participatory style of leadership, the two budgets she brought to the voters as school board president were approved by more than 3 to 1. Most important, she worked tirelessly to improve student achievement so that our young people were working to their fullest potential.

Kathee has brought that same energy, insight, business acumen, and tireless work ethic to her service on the town board. In fact, no one works harder than Kathee. That’s why I am supporting her. 



Partisan Positions


July 17, 2017

Dear David:

Tone-deaf. These are the only words that come to mind after reading Mr. Cornelia’s letter in the July 13 edition of The Star.

Mr. Cornelia mourns the election losses suffered by the East Hampton G.O.P. as being, in part, the result of cooperation between Republican and Demo­cratic trustees. He vows that it “will never happen again.”

As the chief mouthpiece for the East Hampton Republicans, Mr. Cornelia has staked out a party position that, under his watch, there will be no cooperation by the Republicans with their Demo­cratic counterparts in town government. So much for the hollow words of the many Republican candidates who would have voters believe that they would put the interests of the town ahead of partisan politics and listen to all views. Instead, Mr. Cornelia has issued his edict that it will be party before town, and it’s going to be his way or the highway. This is his idea of how to “bring Washington to East Hampton.”

In doing so, Mr. Cornelia has forgotten that a democracy functions best when the path to resolving differing ideas is through a full discussion of the issues, with the end being a compromise between the two. Inflexible adherence to his partisan positions serves the interests of no one, and, most important, nor those of his constituents.

One must take Mr. Cornelia’s promise to heart and conclude that the G.O.P. candidates for town government will be in lock step with his inflexibility. This has no place in our town government. We deserve better — and better alternatives will be on the ballot, both in the September primaries and again in November. I urge everyone to make your voice count.


Strong Showing


July 17, 2017

Dear David,

I want to publicly thank the group of volunteers who worked so hard to gather signatures for my petition to be in the primary on Sept. 12. We did not start with the money or the manpower of the East Hampton Democratic Committee but we made up for it in our efforts to revitalize the progressive ideals of local Democrats.

There is an added bonus to our work s well. This spring, the East Hampton Democratic Committee reported that our county Democratic committee wanted each local committee to collect as many signatures as possible on the nominating petitions for local races. The purpose was to show the Democratic National Committee the depth of commitment and activism in the First Congressional District. We were told that a strong showing could positively affect the support available to the person who will challenge Lee Zeldin for his congressional seat in 2018.

With the 835 signatures that we submitted and the 516 turned in by the East Hampton Democratic Committee on behalf of my opponents, the total number of 1,351 represents nearly 20 percent of locally registered Democrats. This is an unprecedented response and one that I hope will attract funding to the Democratic congressional district candidate.

Primaries can invigorate a party. I am pleased that ours might play an additional role in weakening the Trump administration.


Listen to Jeff


July 16, 2017

Dear David,

After I read your article “Bus Depot Bulletin” in the July 13 Star, my first thought was, way to go again, Jeff Bragman. We need Jeff Bragman, with his longtime record of coming up with win-win solutions to controversial issues, on the town board.

Jeff, representing the Cedar Street Committee, a group of rightfully concerned neighbors, examined the project with his usual meticulous attention to detail and discovered that it was located over part of the local aquifer supplying public water to the area. He also examined and pointed out the catastrophic effects the project would have on local traffic.

Jeff and the committee have proposed another, more acceptable site, and possible financial aid, and it looks like the deal is alive and well. Jeff has facilitated a solution that benefits the Town of East Hampton, the East Hampton School District, and the Cedar Street Committee, not to mention everyone in town who ever drives on North Main Street or Cedar Street.

The newly proposed site, in an industrial area that formerly handled heavy truck traffic with no problem, is property the town wants to sell, and it is ideally suited for a bus depot. The Cedar Street property is in a residential area on a road that is already terminally overcrowded. Listen to Jeff, he is usually right.

We need Jeff’s legal training, local experience, and attention to detail, on the town board. When Jeff is involved he gets people working together, seeking common ground.

Please support Jeff Bragman in all upcoming elections.


Relevant Experience


July 16, 2017

Dear David,

I have recently gotten to know Jeff Bragman. For years I have been reading his name as he fought one battle after another, from which we who live on the East End have reaped enormous benefits. The Gateway Project is an outstanding example. This was a proposal to develop the land across from Bridgehampton Commons. The plan was to build an 85,000-square-foot shopping center near the pristine Kellis Pond. Can you imagine if this had happened? We would never be able to drive east or west on Route 27 again. 

Jeff has also worked for the town as the planning and zoning boards’ attorney in the years when there was the most intense development in the history of East Hampton, the ’80s, working to make sure that things were in line with code. He also was the attorney for the village. His experiences working for our local governments continued to provide him with the knowledge he would later use to tilt at many more windmills, like the proposed Hills in East Quogue, which, though it sounds far away, would negatively impact our water quality. 

But here’s the good part, Jeff Bragman is a Democratic candidate this year for the town board. He will be able to continue to fight for us using all that relevant experience. When was the last time we had a lawyer sit on the town board? 

The difference between Jeff and others who are newbies running for a seat on the board is he has the right kind of experience and background, the kind that deeply qualifies him to become a town board member. I’m going to vote for him to continue to have the vision to protect what we value. I hope you will too.


Septic Waste Tab

East Hampton

July 16, 2017

Dear David,

I am very happy to see that town residents are reading the septic waste improvement plan I helped draft originally in October 2016. At that time when I drafted it I made a copy available to each member of the town board and only one responded, Fred Overton. 

That plan was proposed with some thought to the financial magnitude of the overall septic problem faced in this town. To summarize some of these costs, there is the need for a septic district to solve Montauk’s downtown problems at an estimated $25 million to $35 million. There is the need to either upgrade individual residential septic systems townwide, either individually or on a collective neighborhood basis at $150 million (assuming only one-quarter of the existing residential systems need upgrading — probably an underestimate). Then there are the costs to fix the septic system at the Springs School at a cost yet undetermined. The septic waste tab for this town is over $200 million and maybe $300 million. To think a rebate program or the estimated $5 million annually expected from the community preservation fund would make a meaningful and timely impact on this problem is delusional.

As for Bruce Colbath’s pontification that our plan would “impose upon the consumer the entire cost of system replacement, ignoring the fact that this cost will be mostly shouldered by the least affluent” (Letters, July 13), it seems apparent that Mr. Colbath chooses to ignore the sixth element of the plan that would allow for a failed system to be paid at the time of the next real estate transfer. Clearly this is designed, for among others, our senior citizens, who simply could not afford to take a $15,000 hit. However, this does raise the issue of which party is responsible for fixing the upgrade, the property owner or government. 

This is even more clearly raised in Zachary Cohen’s July 13 letter. He advocates for using C.P.F. funding to fix the Springs School septic system. I totally agree with Zach that this should be a priority now, as Accabonac Harbor is being ruined as such by this nightmare. However, there is a question as to whether using taxpayer money raised from real estate transactions is appropriately used to support a school district. I would much prefer a remedy that avoids this issue and which could be implemented much more quickly, such as using the $2.2 billion Environmental Protection Agency and state revolving fund.

I am actually very happy that the concerns I have raised over the past few years about the neglect of our water resources is finally prompting some action. But then again, it is an election year.



Mr. Giardina is a candidate for East Hampton Town Board. Ed.

Homes on Wheels

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

Dear David,

As promised, there is more terrific news about affordable housing! The East Hampton Democrats have once again taken the initiative and have been researching a promising, innovative, and creative style of affordable housing project that would benefit seasonal summer workers and our local businesses that need additional help during the summer months.  

Tom Ruhle, director of the Town Housing Department, along with other town housing officials and local businesses, has been researching and discussing how to accommodate housing for transient summer employees. Kondo, the company that makes the tiny modular-style homes on wheels, has proposed a Montauk program and installation. That the modular residences can be collected and stored after the summer season makes them all the more an attractive idea for our community. I am excited about this proposal and feel it’s a step in the right direction for our local businesses and economy.

On another note: I’ve been attending the East Hampton Town Trustee meetings for a while, and have noticed the trustees’ manner of civility and exchange of dialogue and ideas without rancor. This was not always true. Under the leadership of the Democratic majority, the dialogue and interaction between trustee members is such that there is resolve, thoughtful consideration of issues, and a willingness to listen and assess without condemnation or ridicule. I’m quite enthusiastic about the progress they have made with the many concerns and issues our community faces. 

There is much to be accomplished, and the Democratic majority has shown a willingness and eagerness to provide transparency and diplomacy in decision-making and has stood strong as leaders and representatives of the Dongan Patent of 1686. For those who wish to read the original document:  easthamptonstar.com/5/Dongan-East-Hampton-Patent-1686.

My contribution, should I be elected to serve with our esteemed members of the trustees, would be to preserve and protect our natural resources, which is necessary for the future generations if we are to maintain a habitable environment that includes clean drinking water and clean bays and harbors. The issues we face are nonpartisan, and I am pleased at the prospect that I may be able to serve in the best interest of our community as we continue to improve upon what already is the most beautiful town in the world to all of us.   



Hard-Working Trustees


July 16, 2017

Dear David,

The past 19 months have seen many projects being initiated by the new Democratic majority of the trustee board for promises they made before the election and promises they have kept. 

The trustees have partnered with Kim Barbour, the director of the Cornell Cooperative Marine program, to pursue a program to plant eelgrass in Napeague Harbor. Working with Barley Dunne, bay management specialist, the trustees continue to expand the hard-clam seeding and shellfish enhancement program. They have also partnered with the Lazy Point Neighborhood Association in a Cornell project partnership. They have actively endorsed a pilot program for reducing methoprene spraying for mosquitoes in Accabonac Harbor, in cooperation with our Suffolk legislator, Bridget Fleming. They are also looking into initiating a future project with Cornell Cooperative involving the protection of the breeding grounds of horseshoe crabs. These are only a small number of the many projects they are currently working on, and I’m so proud to be running with these productive incumbent trustee candidates, Francis Bock, Bill Taylor, Rick Drew, and Brian Byrnes.

Whether you enjoy dining on local seafood, fishing, swimming, boating, or enjoying our shore, all of these projects are helping to keep our waters clean for people and animals alike. Forming a partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County, and the D.E.C. can only make East Hampton the best place to live, and we owe many thanks to these hard-working trustees.


Outlaw Chemicals

East Hampton

July 15, 2017

Dear David,

This summer I would prefer that the mayor of East Hampton Village and the Village Preservation Society, instead of trying to kill more deer in our village, be much more concerned about the hundreds or more of the plastic yellow cards and black posts placed all over village properties warning that pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides have been applied to lawns and yards. The cards and posts end up littering our neighborhoods, but more important, these applications are poisoning us, the environment, and our water!

I vote to protect our wildlife, outlaw toxic chemical applications, and restrict nonorganic fertilizers.


Room for Deer

Sag Harbor

July 14, 2017

To the Editor:

I read in last week’s Star that Mayor Rickenbach’s office will mail a questionaire to all East Hampton Village residents next week concerning deer, and that “based on the hoped-for response from residents, the village will decide on what its next effort to control deer should be.” 

I certainly hope that whatever decision is made, it will not include reaching out to White Buffalo, the company which, you all may remember, butchered deer in last year’s sterilization program and left many to die anesthetized in the cold winter weather. 

And while this is not a village issue, you all might like to know that the East Hampton Town Board is being asked to open up Culloden and the Grace Estate for an extended season of night hunting (with lights) for bow-and-arrow killing, a particularly hideous way to hunt deer and for wounded deer to die. This is not only horrible; it is unnecessary. There are plenty of hunting grounds for deer in East Hampton: Witness the fact that more than 400 were “taken” last year on town properties, including, of course, all the wooded and unpopulated areas. 

I would appeal to the mayor to really find out how much of a devastating problem the deer pose to the village or why the Four Poster program, so successful on Shelter Island, shouldn’t be given a trial here. The deer population seems to have been reduced in recent years, and the dire predictions about East Hampton being a virtual desert because of their browsing is simply not backed up by facts.

I think there is a way to manage the problem successfully, by immunization, by allowing refuge areas, by not constantly expanding hunting areas, not providing hunting permits to nonresidents, and all the things that make East Hampton a wonderful deer-hunting destination. There is room for deer to be let alone, and we are the poorer if we want to destroy these beautiful creatures so that we can live in suburbia. 

Part of the resolution certainly can be for us to take nonlethal steps. In addition to providing refuges, we could drive within the speed limit, and have a more active ticketing program for those who don’t. Finally, how hard is it to look out for the deer, particularly at dusk, as you would for any other reason for caution on the road. We have to figure out how not to destroy this environment and the answer cannot be kill, kill, kill. 


To Fix Obamacare


July 17, 2017

Dear David:

With the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act on life support and deeply unpopular, perhaps your readers have been asking themselves whether the Democrats should offer some positive fix recommendations. Two-thirds of respondents in a recent poll, many of whom are East End homeowners, believe that now is the time for Senate Democrats to come forward with proposals to fix Obamacare.

While Obamacare has recently increased in popularity, despite being vilified by the right, health insurance premiums are rising at double-digit rates across the country, albeit faster in states that have not expanded Medicaid as provided for under Obamacare. Competition is nonexistent in 31 percent of U.S. counties according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (or 70 percent, according to an as-yet unpublished study by the Heritage Foundation), in part because large insurance carriers, like United Healthcare and Humana, have deserted some markets. 

The poll concludes that rising health insurance premiums are the largest problem facing Obamacare. Stabilizing the insurance markets is the highest priority fix, although a Kaiser Family Foundation report suggests that premiums have already begun to stabilize. 

Reading between the lines, the broader consensus is that Obamacare does not go far enough toward making health insurance affordable for those with limited income. Lack of a public option did not appear to be a high priority, although health care professionals might disagree. Survey results are available at findingthebesthealthcare.com.



Nation’s Well-Being

East Hampton

July 16, 2017

To the Editor:

When passing a health care bill, any bill becomes more important than what’s in the bill we have descended to the sewer. The Republican obsession with Obama and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act has nothing to do with health care. Repeal junkies should be confined and treated, not left in public to make laws.

Health care touches every person in the country and is 16 percent of our gross domestic product, the most important piece of legislation since the A.C.A. Allowing 10 men to craft a bill in a few months gives short shrift to the legislation. Allowing for a 50-vote passage instead of the usual 60 demeans the process and the American people. Are we not trivializing an enormously important issue? Does political expediency take precedence over the nation’s well-being? Are we really a nation of cretins or are we just pretending to be one?

The question of criminality joins incompetence. Fifth votes, while legal, borders on the conscious destruction of a major system. One hundred sixty-eight votes to repeal the A.C.A., coupled with six years of interrupting and impeding the system and two mind-boggling bills, all served to destabilize the insurance market and make the system unworkable. If this isn’t criminal, what is it? Destroying one market to make the case for creating another? 

Within the framework of every successful health care system in the world there is an understanding regarding competition and risk and reward. Getting perspective around these two issues is essential to having good, reasonable health care. Competition in the system to produce greater profits might have a component that lowers prices if the audience weren’t captive. But it naturally inclines itself to the risk-and-reward concept that states that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. In most businesses, these ideas are sacrosanct. Yet when a business fails it harms the investors and the employees, but when health care fails it irreparably harms the country. Health care is more like the military or our highway systems — the risk is too great to allow for risk and reward. The fallout is not personal, but national.

For health care insurers who have stockholders and performance levels, their motivation is obvious: Insure the healthiest people with the least likelihood of needing care. Seniors, soldiers, people with pre-existing conditions, the disabled, are no good for their bottom lines. It is reasonable and logical to avoid them. Health care for the healthy is the profit-motive motto.

This morning, I had an M.R.I. It cost $1,600. The machine costs $2 million. The machine does 30 M.R.I.s a day, 180 per week, 9,000 a year. After the first year it has earned $14.4 million. How much does it cost to operate one room, with three technicians’ paperwork included? Generously, $1 million. In Germany, the same M.R.I. cost $200. It’s not rocket science to figure out the cost problem if you can multiply.

Health care is a big deal, not a political twit to satisfy the vagrant needs of mindless politicians. If the bill doesn’t significantly improve the lives of the American people, what’s the point? This Republican group excels in criticizing and tearing apart programs, freedoms, and positive ideas, yet they are bereft of the creative juices that allow them to do anything that improves the quality of life. In six years, virtually everything they produced is negative.

But in the case of repealing the A.C.A., they must produce something better and less expensive. Too dumb to steal the German system, they will give us a useless piece of garbage that they would never use themselves. What a strange message.


Real Scandals


July 17, 2017

Dear Editor:

We’ve been inundated by the press with Trump-Russia, Russia-Trump, ad nauseam. Now it’s Trump Jr.-Russia. And The Star last week joined the chorus, with its analysis of Lee Zeldin’s comments.

Yes, Junior should have realized his meeting was a no-no. But the same media now caterwauling that this may be the end of Trump is the same mob that assiduously ignored or pooh-poohed real scandals and impeachable offenses like the I.R.S., Fast and Furious, Benghazi, Hillary’s atrocious uranium deal with these very same Russkis, and on and on.

It’s a shame that when it comes to national events, The Star seems to have aligned itself with the obsessive purveyors of fake news.





July 17, 2017

Dear David,

Hillary hurt herself in the election when she didn’t explain whom she meant by “despicable deplorables.”  If you are K.K.K. or an American neo-Nazi then you are a despicable deplorable who cheered the election results with “Hail Trump.”

If you are one of Trump’s other supporters then you’re just a naive victim who bought into his and the Republicans’ con. Very sad. Indeed.


You Watch and See

Sag Harbor 

July 14, 2017

To the Editor: 

Do you care about Russian influence?

If a hostile foreign power manipulated the outcome of the most recent election, do you care?

Our democratic electoral process is one the most vital to a free democratic society. It must be protected. 

Has this country become spoiled with freedoms that we don’t recognize, honor, and cherish anymore? Do we assume that those freedoms will continue no matter who is in power?

Russian wants us divided. They want us to not trust our news or each other. To that end, they wish us to self-destruct, and of course they become the victors.

Stephen King said, “News real . . . president fake.” How can our fellows Americans be so cold to what is at stake here?

This unhinged president says whatever, and lies pretty constantly. Who among us still believes him? Who among us still thinks he will keep his promises? He hasn’t so far. You will die of a lack of medical coverage and the rich will get richer. Is that what you wanted? We have fought with our allies and have become a weak laughingstock on the world stage.

The Republicans cannot and will not come forward to save us because they just want to see what the loudmouthed bully will give them next. Republicans have lost their patriotism, as well as the people that don’t mind that Putin is calling the shots.

It is not 100-percent proved yet, but you watch and see. We are getting there, and I just hope it happens before he does more damage to our country and the world and to self-respect.


Strange, Formidable


July 16, 2017

To the Editor:

Calling William! Calling William the Bard Shakespeare! We need you! We, the U.S.A. Strange, formidable, unprecedented happenings in our capital, our country. Tragicomical, potentially destructive, trivials perceived as tsunamis. Actual threats from major powers, nuclear powers, ignored deliberately. Insects perceived as scorpions, worms scaring, panicking like large rattlesnakes. Greetings suspected of deviances, and insults. 

Handshakes as boobytraps. Stupidity accepted, celebrated as brilliance. A holy grail for a script, comedy. Play writer, Sir, you are the only one to epitomize these historical events and achieve these for posterity. You are a natural one. You will love it. A legendary, eminent trilogy with your famous “Tempest.” “Tempest in a Teapot.”

And “A Lot Ado About Nothing.”

May I take the liberty and humbly suggest several titles. “Treason in the Trash,” “Paranoia in the Pot,” “Treason in the Towers,” “B.S. in the Trash Bin.” 


Elephantine Moment


July 12, 2017

To the Editor,

Not long ago our son, Lysander, 12, and I got stuck in more than six inches of sand in the middle of nowhere in Botswana. It was getting dark and our guide was on his way to camp when his back wh­eels got stuck. We tried large rocks, lifting the car with the heavy-duty jack, tying the car cable to a rock and pulling ourselves out, tying the cable to a tree, but the tree was almost at a right angle to the car and would not budge. We even thought of burying a tire below the sands in front of the car as anchor, but that last-resort technique would have necessitated much digging in hard sand and hours of digging. 

After three hours of fiddling with the front wheel and realizing that we no longer had four-wheel capacity, we honked out to our camp, but to no avail. Our guide walked on the sandy road with flashlight in hand trying to signal our camp about one kilometer away. He tried this several times but to no avail. It started to look like we were going to spend the night in our vehicle. A few hundred yards away, in the dead of night, a lion kill had occurred, and our guide was understandably nervous. 

Finally, after looking around for some material, I found elephant ribs which Lysander had discovered. Why not try them under the wheels? Six ribs were put under the back wheel, and within minutes, after everything else had failed, we were able to move once again. What saved us were the body parts of a dead being, the monarch of the world, whose body and heart and mind we have maligned for centuries. It may seem a small incident, and indeed, in the great expanse of the outback, it was. But it was a symbolic lesson. Our elephant had probably died a natural death, but its bones served to salvage one night in our lives, a night full of predators. It is time humanity came together to save the body of the elephant.

In August 2011, in the tremendous “Agony and Ivory,” I convinced Vanity Fair to launch the biggest article ever on an endangered species. The article galvanized the world. The planet still lost 30 percent of its elephants, but countries mobilized to stop the rampant poaching. What we do now will determine the future of the greatest land mammal on earth and much of humanity’s future. If we can’t save the elephant, what on earth can we save?

To behold a behemoth on foot, a massive bull elephant, outside the protective armor of our vehicle in the Okavango is to tempt the fates, and also an act of supreme trust, some would say folly. Recently, our guide, who learned enormous lessons from his father, who had been a guide for 40 years, trusted us to behave and behold in wonder the titan of the world. We trusted the elephant, who, unlike his cousins in Tanzania or central Africa, had not undergone the trauma of the decimation that the ivory trade has unleashed on the African landscape. The elephant simply drank from a waterhole where his bachelor friend had been drinking and then methodically walked past us as if we were human ants, bystanders to the greatest terrestrial spectacle on the planet. The glance in the elephant’s eye was an unforgettable act of trust that said, “I know who you are, and I mean you no harm, if you do not defy me and break the peace between us.” 

The earth exulted and the light of the world shone in his eye with the conscious power of the ultimate teacher whose lineage goes back 20 million generations. Words fail to exalt the great parameters of this encounter at less than 10 feet. We could have been targeted and reduced to pancakes, but in that glance was gelled the mutual consolidation of two species locked in a sentient armistice. In that eternal but brief moment lay the entire future of the world.

If the elephants recover from the trauma they have endured from the human species, there will be overpopulation and climate disruption they will have to deal with. Yes, poaching may be largely overcome, but our sheer numbers are overwhelming the life force. We witnessed a privilege of unbounded power. The elephantine moment, one where two species came face to face with brains of 100 billion neurons, accepted the other in trust, “We are both passengers on this earth. Let us abide by a truce larger than you or I.” 

Many elephant populations, such as those in the Selous, are still in shock and traumatized after what has happened to them this decade, and their behavior reflects that unbelievable stress. We witnessed it firsthand as matriarchs trumpeted in anxiety and shook their heads before our presence. The destruction of their relatives in the tens of thousands is the same stress and madness that civilians have experienced in the Middle East. 

Elie Wiesel, the first voice I turned to when I tried to summon a global citizen to get testimony about what is happening to the elephants, said there was no comparison with what we did in the concentration camps in World War II. With regard to what we are doing to the natural world, there is. And with all due respect to humans, the elephant calamity is as significant as anything we have done to ourselves. The difference being there are far fewer elephants, and without them, we lose the entire continent of Africa and much of Asia as well.

Lysander, who has been with elephants on many occasions, was respectful, awed, and yet serene as the elephant passed before us like a giant keeper and guardian of the outback. His faced glowed as if having seen an apparition and a deity. In the enormous fragility and power of that moment, time stood still. It was as if hope and belief and firmament were still possible. In that timeless glance we were reborn. Lysander turned to me and said, “ It is amazing they still trust us after everything we have done to them.” 

Elephants may not trust us on a continent-wide scale, but the fact that some do, and see in each of us an individual, is a sign of tremendous hope. But it is a fragile hope, and one we need to nurture. One answer for southern Africa is to consolidate the prospects of the gigantic Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Park, what would be the largest reserve on earth, the size of France. Money, infrastructure, tourism, and local participation in the largest park on the planet would go a long way to help the largest extant elephant population on the planet. There is certainly enough money and enough billionaires to put up the resources to ease the migration of animals and to ease the poverty that affects Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The rest is government engagement and will. 

Elephants don’t recognize boundaries and they don’t have passports. They should be treated as global citizens and be given Appendix 1 maximum protection status across Africa. No more political games with the largest land mammal on earth. No more trophy-hunting of any kind. They have just gone through an enormous holocaust! In giving elephants a reprieve from a decade of slaughter and reversing the trail of tears we have imposed on the organic world, humanity will help itself from falling off the edge. Or else what one astronomer has called a crisis much bigger than World War I and World War II and the Great Depression combined, could become our final reckoning. The time to reverse course is now.


A Correction

The signer of last week’s letter about the death of Ronald King, written on behalf of the King family,  was Lillian King, not William King. Ed.