Letters to the Editor: 07.27.17

Our readers' comments

So Far, So Great

East Hampton

July 24, 2017

To the Editor,

A sincere thank-you to The Star and Jackie Pape for her excellent article and photos of our odd senior art group. “Never Too Late to Start Painting,” on the front page of the July 4 issue of The Star, is a splendid vindication of our progress for the past six months.

Our three female students are residents from Windmill Village, one on Accabonac Highway. The one male student resides at St. Michael’s senior housing complex in Amagansett. All are under the keen eyes of Bob Hettinger, the instructor, another senior resident at Windmill One.

The challenge is to surpass expectations for involvement and improvement. So far, so great.

Our display of changing art is displayed on the wall of the community center at Windmill Two, also on Accabonac Highway. It’s open to the public from 11 a.m. to closing.

So, come one, come all. We’ve decked the hall. Three hundred years of life, strife, and art — on the wall.






Just So Right


July 24, 2017

Dear David,

Naming the new 42-foot port security boat after John L. Behan is just so right. After all, it’s a marine vessel, to be used to combat crime and as a firefighter. John is a decorated Marine, seriously and heroically injured in combat. What John has made of his life after suffering such debilitating injuries shows what a fighter he is.

I first met John in the early ’60s, while summering in Montauk. He was the high school class president then and he has been a class act his whole life.

John served as the East Hampton Town tax receiver, New York State Assemblyman, and as the director of the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs. The Behan family has a long history in the Montauk fishing community. John’s father, Lester, was a Montauk charter captain and one of the heroes of the Pelican disaster in 1951. John’s pretty handy with a boat himself, and his son Jason is a licensed captain, who works with the Marine Patrol. Great choice!

Fair winds and following seas to the vessel John L. Behan.


Cyclists’ Safety

East Hampton

July 23, 2017

Dear Editor:

Until better, safer bike lanes are available in the Hamptons, the following guidelines can help ensure cyclists’ safety:

• Always wear a helmet. Studies show wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent.

• Bicycles are considered road vehicles just like cars and trucks. Accordingly, ride on the road in the same direction as traffic, never against it (in contrast, pedestrians should walk or run against traffic). Stop at red lights and stop signs, and obey other traffic signs (i.e., one-way street, yield, etc.), just as you would in a car.

• Stay visible: Wear bright colors for daytime riding and reflective materials for night. Use a white headlight and red taillight, especially when riding around sunrise or sunset.

• Signal and make eye contact with drivers before making a turn or slowing down.

• Keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground, to ensure you see what’s coming up and you have time to react and maneuver.

• Be ready to brake. Keep your hands on or near the brake levers so you can stop quickly.

• When riding in a group, ride single file with space between bikes. Do not pass other cyclists on the right.

• Have fun, but be predictable, and remember that it’s more important to be safe than fast.


All the Trash


July 24, 2017


The biggest producers of roadside trash are the hip, cool, new places, basically carpetbaggers, here for just several months, that attract huge crowds, advertise the beauty of Montauk, and leave our beautiful town looking like a garbage dump.

I’m unable to bicycle past Fort Pond each morning without picking up all the trash I’m able to carry.

The docks come alive before sunrise, but the entrance to the dock area is a disgraceful mess. To clean either of the abovementioned areas would take one person between 15 minutes and one hour. The price of a drink in either establishment would cover the cost of the labor involved.

I’m not just blaming the newbies. I see the same trash outside local shops for days on end.

Earth Day isn’t just one day a year. Code enforcement should levy heavy escalating fines on places that don’t clean up.


Save the Lake


July 24, 2017

To the Editor:

When my neighbor suggested that we throw a block party sometime, I am certain this was not what she had in mind. We strategically stood upwind of the “party” as four of us gathered on the lawn to observe the process. Up until now, I had had no idea where my cesspool was located, and the words “out of sight, out of mind” would definitely have applied. After all, it appeared that everything was in working order; there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.

I had recently learned that this was not actually the case, and my relatively “young” cesspool, at 12 years of age, was most likely contributing to the decline in water quality in our beloved Fort Pond. It is not that it was not functioning properly, it is working exactly as it is designed to work. Unfortunately, that is not adequate, and the inevitable nitrogen buildup is most likely seeping into the groundwater and, among other things, is contributing to the ongoing problems that are affecting Lake Montauk and Fort Pond.

The perilous condition of Lake Montauk and the decline in the water quality of Fort Pond had left me feeling a little helpless, and I wondered what I could do as an individual. I knew Concerned Citizens of Montauk had been monitoring the water quality for a long time now, so I enquired about their Save the Lake, Save the Pond program. The result brought me to this moment, the block party with a difference. I am so proud of and grateful to the neighbors who enthusiastically jumped on board the effort to protect our most treasured waterways.

My neighbors had the same concerns as I did initially: locating the cesspool, the cost, and the ease of scheduling and maintenance. I chose a local company that offered a discount if we joined the Save the Lane, Save the Pond program. I made the call and they were so helpful and professional. They were willing to work with us as a group since we were four homeowners on the same road. They had all the tools and skills needed to locate the cesspool. I, fortunately enough, had a copy of our survey at hand and that was helpful. It really was a pretty painless procedure.

Cost is a factor, and difficult to estimate since it’s based on volume, among other things. I can share that our commitment to pumping out every three years, as recommended, will probably cost us a little over $100 a year. Having spent the last couple of months learning about the declining condition of our bodies of water, I can honestly say that the cost of ignoring this issue will be far greater.

As one of the scientists I spoke with said, “Mother Nature is an incredible force. If we can just back off a little and allow her to breathe, she will come back in full force and work her magic.”

I am heartened by the enthusiasm and ease with which my neighbors jumped on board to do their bit to help. Imagine if we could all get together to do our little bit to save our lakes and ponds.


Airport Closure


July 23, 2017                           

To the Editor:

In the June 1 issue of The East Hampton Star, a news report contained the following quote: “East Hampton Town Board members have said that while closing the airport is not a goal, it could be the ultimate result if the conflict between users and residents cannot be resolved.”

In a later report to its members, Montauk United interpreted the above statement as “The Town Board officially recognized, without comment, the possibility of full closure of the East Hampton Airport.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell contacted Montauk United and requested the following quoted statement be made available:

“I think it is important to correct one point raised in your letter concerning the East Hampton Airport. With the support of the entire Town Board, I have stated publicly that the Town Board does not support the closing of the East Hampton Town Airport.”

In an effort to fully understand the supervisor’s statement, and a sincere desire to avoid any further misunderstanding, Montauk United contacted all four other members of the East Hampton Town Board requesting their individual positions regarding the East Hampton Airport closure issue. The following are their responses.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez: “I believe the East Hampton Airport is an asset to the community, contributes to our local economy, and should remain open.”

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby: “I have always viewed the East Hampton Airport as an asset. I do not support closure.”

Councilman Fred Overton: Twice contacted, no response.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc: “My position on the Town Airport is that it is an asset which we have made significant recent investments in to improve safety and efficiency, and I believe it should stay open.”

Montauk United has continually stated that closure of the East Hampton Airport would result in massive economic and social harm, especially to the hamlet of Montauk but also to the entire East Hampton Town community. While the basis for the town board’s an anti-closure stance does not concur with the above Montauk concern, Montauk United nevertheless recognizes, appreciates, and supports their position.


Village Deer Survey


July 23, 2017

To the Editor:

The East Hampton Village Board has sent village residents a deer survey that is one-sided. It asks if they are concerned about a list of problems for which deer are often blamed, such as tick-borne illnesses, vehicle collisions, and tree loss. But the survey doesn’t ask residents about any positive attitudes, such as the extent to which they care about and want to protect wildlife or feel that deer bring beauty and wonder to our lives.

The survey concludes by asking respondents if they would like to see a continuation of the sterilization program or another deer control method, such as a cull. A more impartial survey might have asked residents if, before responding to the survey, they would like more information on the sterilization program and issues pertaining to deer control in general. Residents might also have been asked if they would be interested in attending a forum at which different perspectives on the issues would be presented and discussed.

The survey does include one good feature. After the questions, it gives residents an opportunity to write comments. But this feature doesn’t compensate for the survey’s anti-deer bias.



About the Farmers


July 24, 2017

Dear David,

Time and time again, we see letters concerning officials addressing the deer overpopulation. We all agree that the animals are beautiful. What about the farmers, who have their hard work decimated?

I was having a conversation this past weekend from one who fights that battle every day. I asked about the melons, he said the deer ravaged them. He then stated, “I have been dong this since 1980, but do not know how much longer I can do this.” He said that back then, the deer stayed far to the northern part of town. Damage was not as severe.

I see another that I know, who had to fence in 26 acres with a tall wire fence, to stop the attack on his livelihood. Who pays for this? Where are subsidies to assist in protecting the farmers from devastation? What, sell the farms, develop the land, and have the deer on your front porch?

So we see the farm stands diminishing, our source of the wonderful fresh produce we enjoy. Destroy the quaintness and beauty of watching the crops grow and anticipating the soon-to-be bounty. So let the deer roam at will, put these hard-working farmers out of business, eliminate the farm stands and go to the supermarket to get who knows how old the produce is?

The local administrators are trying to get some form of control to create a balance. Why not support their efforts that will benefit all?


What Gives?

East Hampton

July 21, 2017 

Dear David,

I attended an agriculture committee meeting on July 19.

A committee that intends to rewrite the Ag and Markets law of our town should have a town attorney at its meetings. The chairman is indeed an attorney, but suggested to a guest that he should go ahead and put whatever structure he wants on his property, because it’s agricultural, and if it is discovered, and he is then cited for having it without review or approval, then he can go seek approval after the fact.

In attendance were fellow farmers, a councilwoman, a planning board member, and the director of the Planning Department. There was no reaction from anyone. What gives?!

The town code takes a dim view of those directions, and I am seriously worried about what is going on in town government. Many citizens would like to just construct, but we know we can’t do that without approval.



Preserve and Protect

East Hampton

July 20, 2017

Dear David,

Another year, another chance to acquire more wisdom. “Every day’s a school day!” My friend Fidelma’s constant mantra rings true. “Persistence pays off,” I can hear my mother whispering in my ear. “Yes, Mom,” I whisper back. Someone was listening, and we might actually get the groundwater tested in that giant footprint of a sand-mining pit on Middle Highway. Hooray!

No celebrating yet, though; the judge hasn’t ruled. But the fact that it went to the Suffolk Legislature is a big thing. Our group, the Freetown Neighborhood Advisory Committee, dedicated homeowners, locals all, have been at this “pay attention to the aquifer, protect our woods and drinking water and quality of life!” for a good while now. We are always watching and aware when the water is in jeopardy. We are so driven by our love of this town and our woods. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how far we will take this — to the highest court in the land, if we must. It’s that important. For all of us. Water is the future. You can’t buy unpolluted water once you pollute it.

I heard someone was complaining on Facebook about Pussy’s Pond and how they cannot bear the current setup there ruining the view and blocking their closeness to it and blah, blah, blah. Well, things are put in place for a reason: to protect and preserve. Why not embrace it, rather than be temporarily inconvenienced? Or maybe find out what the heck is really going on? That’s what we do in our group. We ask, we invite a conversation, we take it all in, and we do our homework. We fight for the water. We fight for the land and the neighborhood and the people. You can’t buy us or charm us or kid us. We are a constant force for the greater good.

In light of the upcoming September local primary and November election, we must ask questions and demand answers. No lightweights need apply. Do you genuinely care for the land and water? Step right up! We need stewards of the land and sea here, environmental warriors to lead the way. From the town board top down to the trustees, all are important in the coming years to preserve and protect. Let’s get to a good place where what matters shows in our town. Enough with the McMansions already. Are you kidding me with their carte blanche clearing? One can only use one loo at a time. It baffles the mind, this overdoing. Godzilla couldn’t leave a bigger footprint.

Look at that sandpit on Middle Highway off Oakview Highway and see the clearing that was allowed. You try and clear one tree or put up a shed — boy, oh boy, will you get the infamous runaround and the powers that be will be on you like a bad rash.

I shall end on a high note. This is going to be a telling fall and year. Make the real solutions happen. Tell us the truth. We won’t settle for less. Vote with a clean and clear conscience.

Here comes the judge! Save our water.



Court System

East Hampton

July 17, 2017

Dear David,

Hope all is well. I am going to continue on with my rant of how government is killing us, and I mean local government.

A good example last week was Linda James’s letter to you on Hook Pond Lane. I read the article and was a little baffled at the whole quagmire, but Linda spelled it all out. It’s a shame that we have to live with that sort of thing hanging over our heads, but that is where our local government has taken us. It’s a runaway train for the rich and famous.

My rant this week is the court system. Your article “Sideswiped a Squad Car” is a good example of the lenient attitude of the court system in protecting us. Said perpetrator sideswiped a patrol car while intoxicated with his 6-year-old son in the car. Said quick-talking liberal defense attorney states that the roadside sobriety test is invalid because the defendant speaks no English as he’s only been here 11 years and couldn’t possibly have understood the instructions given by the officer. District attorney’s office wanted $20,000 bail. Reduced to $5,000.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen this defense mentioned in the paper. I think the last time said defendant was here for only 20 years! So, 11 years, we speak no English? I ask the court, how does said defendant read road signs, get a driver’s license, cash a paycheck, open a bank account, communicate with the school, get groceries, all the things citizens need to do? If I moved to Italy, how many years would it take for the language to sink in just by osmosis? Two? Three?

For that reason, the defense doesn’t hold water. And of course, it’s always the first time the defendant has committed a crime. Or, it’s the first time he/she is caught.


In Need of a Lawyer


July 21, 2017

Dear David,

I proudly sit on the board of directors of East End for Opportunity. We attempt to help our local work force with legal issues. We do wills, health care proxies, immigration concerns. We have been provided office space at Calvary Baptist Church and Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Bless them.

We are in need of, ideally, a family-law lawyer who would do some pro bono work. We have a number of divorce service applicants. (A goodly number of East Hamptoners have apparently mislaid spouses whom they need to get things resolved, so that lives can move on.)

UpIsland divorce lawyers often charge $5,000 just to say hello.

Thank you.

All good things,


Without Any Say

East Hampton

July 24, 2017

 To the Editor:

  Whenever Christopher Walsh writes on an environmental issue I find it is worth my while to pay attention. His front-page article about Deepwater exploring a new cable route in Amagansett and the town board passing a resolution to allow for testing as such caused me to do some further research. 

I was shocked when I did. Clearly this project is a waterfront project by all definitions — federal, state, and local. That would mean this project must show consistency with the town’s local waterfront revitalization plan. I went to section 150-50 of the town code enacted in 2005, dealing with review of such actions under the L.W.R.P.

I was more than shocked when I realized that the “coastal assessment form” required under C of that section of the code does not exist. With help from the town clerk’s office, I learned that the very basic form that starts the consistency review process has never been prepared by the Planning Department. 

Since the town’s L.W.R.P. is the interface with the federal law that governs these matters, without such it basically leaves the town without any say when a party such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or LIPA, or PSEG, or any other organization not directly under the regulatory regulatory authority of the town wants to do a “waterfront project.” 

This must be how we ended up with the Montauk beach erosion plan, and a substation in Montauk in a flood plain, and a lithium battery project directly adjacent to it.

How did this happen? Well, if you look at the history of the L.W.R.P., it was essentially put in place when Ted Hults and William McGintee were being fitted for handcuffs. Then along came the Wilkinson administration with the financial nightmares it faced. So before anybody goes off on the current town board it should be clear that the town’s neglect of its own L.W.R.P. spans three administrations. The result is that a legal review as specified by the East Hampton Town Code for these projects has never been done.

It is time to fix this now. I would suggest an audit of the Town Planning Department on all L.W.R.P. matters before any more projects go forward. 

As a town board member this will be a priority for me. I realize that times have changed, as epitomized by Nancy Pelosi’s comment about Obamacare that we should pass it so we can all read it. However, in this case the law has been passed for 13 years. Please, read it. Oh, and Christopher, thanks again for a stimulating and thought-provoking article. Hopefully it will make us all better.



Candidate for East Hampton

Town Board

Vote to Re-Elect


July 23, 2017

Dear David,

On Sept. 12, 2017, there will be a primary election in East Hampton for our Democratic town board candidates. I am writing to ask all Democrats to vote on Sept. 12 to re-elect Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez.

As our town councilwoman for the past four years, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has served all the citizens of East Hampton Town diligently and tirelessly. Kathee has made it a priority to protect our water quality and natural resources for future generations and has worked to preserve open spaces through C.P.F. funds. She has worked hard to reduce airport noise and to improve mental health services for our youth.

Kathee raised her kids in our town with her husband, Joe, and cares deeply about our community. She is a strong advocate for our children, our seniors, and all ages in between. She is thorough and does her homework to make informed decisions. We must all get out and vote to ensure that Kathee can continue her good work for our community.

Kathee is a caring, thoughtful, smart, and hard-working leader. She has the experience that we need and has proven that her campaign promises turn into action. I urge everyone to join me on Sept. 12 and vote for Kathee Burke-Gonzalez in the Democratic primary, and again in the general election on Nov. 7. Please mark your calendars.

I am a steering committee member, volunteering with a great group of women in the town, for Women for Kathee. If anyone would like to join us, they can email us at womenforkathee @gmail.com.

Kind regards,


Just Desserts

East Hampton

July 19, 2017

To the Editor:

It’s been in the news that President Donald Trump had another conversation, previously undisclosed, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, at the summit in Germany this month. One of Trump’s press-reps, or perhaps Trump himself (the story wasn’t quite clear) said publicly, “A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting.”

Trump: Gosh, we have different desserts.

Putin: I think almost everybody got something different.

Trump: What’s yours? It looks better than mine. Mine looks very plain.

Putin: You want to trade?

Trump: Well, maybe. What is it?

Putin: It’s a famous, fabulous French dessert called a “Syria.”

Trump: How did you know that? Oh well, I’m sure I did know that — it’s just the rotten French lighting in here.

Putin: Your dessert is an old-fashioned Balkan pancake called a Ukrania. It’s like peasant food.

Trump: I don’t want peasant food. I will not eat peasant food. I want a beautiful dessert, a great dessert, just like you have. I won. Who is the president? I am the president. I should have a great beautiful dessert like you have!

Putin: I completely agree, but let’s just keep this between ourselves and make a trade.

Trump: You mean you would give me your beautiful Syria for my peasant Ukrania? Really?

Putin: Yes, as a friend of course I would do it, and nobody needs to ever know, and they will think that you were simply given the most beautiful dessert. Of course if you don’t want to . . .

Trump: No. No, I do want to. I want it.

Putin: Okay, pass the Ukrania while I pass the Syria. You’ll never regret this.

Trump: You are truly a great and beautiful friend! Great. Beautiful. I will always remember this!


A Different Take

East Hampton

June 29, 2017

To the Editor,

Well, well, after minutes of hearing “fake news” (the president or members of his team colluded with the Russians), it seems as though the boomerang has turned onto the accusers.

I think it starts right from Hussein Obama, Holder, Rice, Comey, Lynch, etc., and of course that great couple Clinton.

The average persons these days are so hung over with their tech toys, they don’t take the time to sort the real from “fake” or “slanted.” Watch for news channel 26, or listen to WOR AM-710, and you just might get a different take on the bias feelings of put America first. Just what is so bad about that? Remember the saying take care of your own backyard.

President Trump has his hands full in draining the swamp. These creatures have settled in big time. However, in time maybe they will be sucked down the drain and “We the People” can be proud that we have made America great again.

Happy Fourth of July and may God bless President Trump and his beautiful family.

Yours truly,


Invest in Middle Class

East Hampton

July 23, 2017

To the Editor:

Looking for an appropriate analogy for the Republicans and their health care disaster, I am reminded of a week in Rome around 1970. It was 95 degrees during the day, so we stayed up all night and hung out with the hookers doing the early-morning shift. They were older and not beautifully attired, but they had humor and great spirit. The comparison was only in their desperation to turn a trick and their willingness to do anything to make it work.

I would never dream of elevating this bag of soulless miscreants to the level of these ladies of the night, because while they might sell their bodies, their souls were not for sale.

So, as the Republicans turn to tax reform, the segue from working women to thieving politicians seems appropriate. From hard-working, respectable women to indolent, incompetent buffoons. From the real world to bullshit fantasies.

Our economy has grown around 2 percent for the past 25 years. Corporations’ average taxes are between 27 percent and 29 percent. Supply-side growth is idiot box (see David Stockman). Almost all the wealth created in the past 10 years accrues to the top 5 percent of the population. Wages have barely risen for the bottom 75 percent of the country. Middle-class debt is now overwhelming middle-class income growth. The distribution of wealth in the country is the main detriment to economic growth.

The philosophy that putting more money in the hands of the wealthy will stimulate the economy, create jobs, and increase wages has no historical precedent. It is a patently false assumption created to redistribute wealth into the hands of those people who know how to spend it. That those people happen to control the government is not a minor factor.

The only solution to improving our economy and the condition of the middle class is to raise the minimum wage to a living wage ($15 to $22 an hour) in conjunction with raising taxes on the top 5 percent and all corporations that operate outside of the country, then taking the additional tax revenues and providing a tax deduction for the middle class. Essentially, taking money away from the hoarders and investors in foreign businesses and investing in the middle class, guaranteeing that this money will be spent inside the country and will generate demand and more usable wealth.

Investing and spending are counterproductive concepts when investors demand profits which grow portfolios but don’t increase wages or create jobs.

Investing in America means to end the fantasies of top-to-bottom growth which insulates the top and exposes the rest of us to market uncertainties. It’s time to end this 35-year-old scam, which has run its course.

Like our president, the economy needs to set aside the smoke and mirrors of fake growth and let the bottom 80 percent of the country decide our future.