Letters to the Editor: 08.24.17

Our readers' comments

Speedy Response


August 14, 2017

To the Editor,

Wow! The skill set shown by the speedy response to our emergency by the police and Montauk fire department and ambulance was amazing. 

You shouldn’t need it, but if you do, you will be rewarded with caring, adept Montaukers. Wow!


Icing on the Cake


August 21, 2017

To the Editor: 

I want to thank the Town of East Hampton Parks Department, and especially Cheryl Carter and Rosa Hanna Scott, for another wonderful summer arts and crafts program. The program was full of fun and interesting activities, from crafting to art projects and much in between.

It is clear how much both Ms. Cheryl and Ms. Rosa love the children in the program, from the extraordinary amount of care they invest into making the craft program a success year after year. We are so blessed to live in this wonderful community, and programs such as this one are the icing on the cake.


Rules Should Change

Northwest Woods

August 19, 2017

To the Editor:

Attention must be paid to the following suggestions and hopefully implemented next summer:

1. No tents on the beaches. They destroy the beautiful vista, the very reason many go to the beach!

2. No dogs; no fires on the beaches. Times have changed; more people go to the beaches. Rules should change accordingly.

3. Landscaping vehicles should be required to park in the driveway of the house on which they are working. These vehicles, trailers, mowers, and trucks ruin and destroy the shoulders of the road on which they park. How ironic (and sad) that they destroy while they “beautify.”

4. In East Hampton Village, leaving the main parking lot onto Newtown Lane, do not direct all traffic to make a right into the heart of the village as you do now on the weekends. It makes for more congestion in the village; plus it is a true hardship on the thousands that live in the Northwest Woods, who have to drive many miles in the wrong direction to get home.

5. The village has too many signs, too many flashing lights. The white blinking flashing lights on Newtown Lane (activated by speed) upon entering the center are blinding and are hurting drivers’ eyes. Tone them down or remove them.


Slow Down, Everyone


August 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

Two years ago, after being rear-ended on Montauk Highway in Amagansett while I was dead-stopped trying to make a left turn, I wrote a letter to The Star about driving with caution during the summer months. Just two weeks ago, my daughter and I were crossing Montauk Highway in East Hampton at the crosswalk right in front of Intermix early Friday morning. We watched the car in the far lane stop, and my daughter started to go. Had I not grabbed her arm and pulled her back, she would have been rammed by a speeding black Porsche Carrera! He didn’t even slow down to apologize! So I am fed up. Lucky I had had the wherewithal to react to save her, but am tired of witnessing these scenes over and over again!

I urge everyone to slow down these last two weeks of summer. Note to exotic car drivers, this is not Monte Carlo, there are no speedways in the Hamptons. Pedestrians have the right of way, next come bicycle riders, then cars. And the red sign spelling “S-T-O-P” means your vehicle needs to not only slow down but stop completely before you proceed. And at a four-way stop, the motor vehicle rule is, the first one to get there has the right of way, then the next, etc. It’s not a free-for-all!

Just last week a young boy on a bicycle was hit on Montauk Highway in East Hampton. Not only did the driver not stop, but neither did anyone who witnessed it! Nor did they stop when this bleeding boy walked miles to his home. Shame on you all! There is nowhere to go fast, the roads are jammed with tourists, contractors, and those who live here full time. That child could have been your son or daughter, your grandchild or your parent. 

So please, slow down, and obey the rules that you all had to learn to pass your permit test. You can’t make a U-turn on Montauk Highway and you cannot pass where there is a double line. You most certainly cannot stop dead on a road. Pull over, for pete’s sake! It may save a life!


Montauk Shores


August 18, 2017

To the Editor:

I read with great interest the story about the Montauk Shores condos (Star, Aug. 3). I found some discrepancies in the article. 

Arriving there in 1948, the grass was taller than me and there were dirt roads. Main bathhouses with hot and cold running water were a treat. When the campsite changed over around the early ’70s to co-ops, which failed, it then was decided by the owners to purchase the land and create a condominium with a prospectus.

There are 48 renters and 52 owners. The renters own their unit, but not the land it sits on. It was then decided Montauk Shores would become a condominium. 

The president claims they have not raised the maintenance fees in 16 years for owners. However, the lessees’ rent has risen over 1,000 percent. When I bought my unit in the late ’70s, the rent was $125 a month with a 10-year lease. I am now paying up to $1,245 per month in a lease which expires every three years and increases yearly. It may be true the owners do not see an increase in their maintenance fee, because the bulk of the fiscal responsibility falls on the backs of the renters. 

I loved being there and still own my unit, but too many changes have occurred. The biggest change is that the original prospectus was clear about sizes of units allowed. Now, modular homes are being brought in which are too large and make the park too crowded. The pictures shown in the article are beautiful, but please note that they only show the original, smaller units. 

The park is well kept, and residents do take pride in their units and property. 



One, Vote; Two, March

East Hampton

August 17, 2017

Dear Editor:

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the women’s vote in New York State, adopted three full years before ratified nationally by Congress.  There are two great ways to celebrate this historical occasion. 

One, vote for Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, one of the most effective local officials in East Hampton’s recent history. Vote for Kathee for re-election to the town board, not once, but twice — on Sept. 12 in the three-way Democratic primary contest, and again on Nov. 7 in the general election. 

Kathee works hard to help seniors and working families in East Hampton.  She tackles the most difficult challenges with great personal integrity and professionalism. With a strong commitment to preserving the best of East Hampton, and years of pubic service on the Springs School Board, she would make the courageous suffrage pioneers of 100 years ago very proud indeed.

Two, march today in the Hamptons League of Women Voters re-creation of an August 1913 suffrage rally in East Hampton. Join us at 2 p.m. at 117 Main Street, in front of the suffrage leader May Groot Manson’s historical home, across from the Presbyterian Church. Wear white! Guys invited! (We couldn’t have done it without you.) 

East Hampton has a 300-year-old history of strong, able leadership from local women (think of the L.V.I.S.). What a great opportunity to celebrate this milestone in the long, hard struggle for recognition and equality.



Crime Against Nature

East Hampton

August 21, 2017

Dear David,

Well, I said I was anxious to see the folks who were going to fall for the new line of deer mania bamboozling, and thanks, Julie, for introducing yourself. I look forward to hearing from more non-experts on a subject that really requires more expert handling. 

This got me thinking, and I asked myself who really is an expert. To me, in regards to wildlife, it’s someone who makes contact with all species on a daily basis, constantly learning and sharpening your knowledge by being part of the wildlife, each and every day, year after year for decades. Rescuing them, raising their young, treating their illnesses, networking your skills with other knowledgeable rehabilitators, learning species behaviors in comparison to region and state, observing their every move, and always looking out for their best interest, humanely and without harm or suffering. 

No books or classroom can match those credentials. It just so happens those are my credentials. Remember, Julie, I’m on the side that loves the deer, you’re on the side that wants to kill them. Enough said.

Unlike Zach Cohen, I’ve had job experience and worked all my life, and in one aspect or another it’s been related to wildlife and/or their natural surroundings. Never in my life, embraced mostly in nature, have I considered wanting to change the natural flow of Her. The very thought is insane thinking, and for the mere purpose of personal or special interest is nothing less than a crime against nature and a compassionless insult to the community. Look what it’s done to ours. Continued support of this nightmare is not what this town needs.

With that said, I must say I wasn’t too surprised to hear that Mr. Andrew Sabin (strong Trump Republican) donated to the campaign of Mr. Cohen, a Democratic candidate for town board who is heavily in favor of keeping the hysteria, misinformation, community divide, and ridiculousness of a non-deer issue, alive. Apparently Mr. Sabin, a.k.a. Mr. Salamander, founder of the South Fork Natural History Museum, who once said, “I think the key to life is compassion,” missed the wonderful research paper written in the Journal of Wildlife Management, where it states, “Culling deer may cascade into affecting plants, salamanders, and other creatures in ways we can’t even imagine.” So you see, Mr. Sabin, you just made a contribution that’ll work entirely against the very creature which you claim to protect. Oops, guess you didn’t read that one.

I discovered and photographed a marbled salamander at the East Hampton Village Nature Trail two years ago. A species of Special Concern that several local wildlife biologists were excited to see. I made several attempts to share the information with Mr. Sabin via the internet, yet he showed no interest, not responding. That’s when I lost interest in Mr. Salamander. 

Furthermore, a study at Ohio State University found that the presence of deer is actually helpful to other animal species, and that programs to reduce their populations may be detrimental to a region’s biodiversity. “Snakes, salamanders, and other creatures thrive in areas with higher deer populations. So before we start removing deer, we should study what’s really happening in these areas, because there are a whole host of other issues that go along with culling.” Oh, and by the way, snakes love rodents and insects.

A Yale University study found that “deer are not the leading factor in determining variation in vegetation impacts.” In fact, “the empirical basis for presumptions that white-tailed deer cause forest regeneration failure is limited.”

A Smithsonian study finds that “deer are an important factor in creating, and sustaining, natural diversity; they are an important vector in seed dispersal, for native plants, and for some human-introduced invasives. The killing of the natural deer population within your community will lead to higher reproduction, a changed age structure, setting in motion a cascade of events.”

A Putman study states that in natural populations, birth and death rates reach a balance, so that the net rate of increase becomes zero and the population’s numbers stabilize at some equilibrium level.

Another Smithsonian publication, The Science of Overabundance, counsels caution: “We therefore caution that in the absence of adequate empirical understanding of forest ecosystem dynamics, management should not continue to reduce deer numbers systematically in order to enhance woody tree production, because this may have dire consequences for the entire ecosystem. In the absence of hunting, birth rates decline. In areas where managers halt habitat development (deer-preferred crops, early succession), the result is fewer deer. 

You see, folks, these are the facts that haven’t been mentioned, because they absolutely work against the town, village, East Hampton Preservation Society, and the deer-hating community, in their attempt to simply eliminate our deer population to give anti-deer, compassionless residents an imaginary boost to their quality of life, as if these killing mentalities deserve better. Again, let us keep in mind the comparison of folks who support love and understanding, and those who hate and address issues through methods of killing or suffering. I’ll wager most of that hatred doesn’t stop at the wildlife, either. What do you think?

Sorry, Zach, I can’t support the damage you’ll cause leading this crusade into hurting and changing the beauty we already have, that most of us enjoy just the way it is. I can’t support you or anyone that supports your way of thinking on these “natural” issues. I have spoken at length with the environmental attorney Jeffrey Bragman, who clearly understands the effect this issue has had on our community and our wildlife, and has my absolute and full endorsement.

I’ll talk more about why I know Mr. Bragman is perfect for a seat on the town board in my next letter.


How Is This Fair?


August 21, 2017 

To the Editor:

My name is John Cullen and I was the president of Northville Beach Civic Association from 2008-2014 and now a trustee. As president, I went to many helicopter meetings over the years trying to help the residents of Northville.  We are now almost 10 years later from my first meeting and I can only say that the noise from these helicopters over my house and community is at an all-time high. The F.A.A. and Eastern Region Helicopter Council decided to make Northville the gateway for over 85 percent of all commercial helicopter and seaplane traffic heading to East Hampton, the Southampton helipad, Gabreski, and Montauk from New York City.

Not only do we have to deal with these very loud helicopters, but other towns that are on the pattern to those landing at these locations are affected: Jamesport, Mattituck, Laurel, Southold, Cutchogue, Orient, Noyac, Hampton Bays, North Sea, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and, finally, all those below to East Hampton Airport. 

When the clouds are low so are the helicopters, and the noise pollution is tremendous. These pilots seem to think money is more important then safety. I have had twin-engine helicopters fly directly over my house and many others to East Hampton Airport below 600 feet altitude, going 135 knots. That is just one example. Starting Thursdays and Fridays it’s just nonstop, especially 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a few stragglers until 11 p.m. Sundays are terrible also, as these wannabe-rich people need to get back to New York City. Monday mornings they start coming through Northville at 5:40 a.m.  

I only can hope for clear skies for the balance of the summer. This past July 4 weekend I looked up and counted five helicopters above my home, four heading east and one heading west. How is this fair to residents who live nowhere near any of these airports or helipads?

This past March I attended a helicopter meeting in Melville. Jeff Smith, chairman of the helicopter council, was the main speaker. Jeff told the crowd, which consisted of representatives from federally elected officials’ Long Island offices, that there already is “evidence that there is a 50-50 split in chopper traffic” coming and going to the Hamptons. When he said “split,” I understood it to mean they arrive through the North Shore route, then exit over the ocean through the South Shore route back to New York City. Fake News! Ninety-five percent of helicopters leaving East Hampton Airport go back to the North Shore route, but this time they go over Southold and Nassau Point and use the causeway out toward Orient, a serene preserved area with no trees to buffer the noise.

Jeff also promised those in the audience who were affected by these crafts that there would be no round trips. Fake news again! I have sent in many complaints to people at East Hampton, Plane Noise, Senator Charles Schumer’s and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s offices, have made telephone calls and even written to the Southampton Town Board members to try and stop the round-trippers. Nothing has worked. On Aug. 11, I had five helicopters come back from Meadow Lane in Southampton through Hampton Bays, Laurel, Jamesport, and Northville. Sad thing is if the pilots took the South Shore route from Southampton, the first private residence is over three miles west of Shinnecock Inlet, and it’s over water the whole way back to New York City.

The people at the March 2017 meeting who live below these helicopters and seaplanes were told lots of fake news, spoken also by a helicopter aviation organization that is looking to impress the feds and local officials. Real news: Thousands continue to suffer with no relief from air pollution and noise. 

This summer was to be the summer of hell for those traveling the Long Island Rail Road system. The people living under all the helicopters’ and seaplanes’ flight path as they travel to and from their East End destinations on the F.A.A.-mandated Long Island North Shore route are the ones living the summer of hell. 


Montauk Will Be Heard


August 21, 2017

To the Editor,

In less than 30 days after the United States Supreme Court refused to hear arguments regarding the planned restriction of helicopter traffic at East Hampton Airport, thereby assuring Montauk would not suffer a catastrophic increase in transferred flights, the East Hampton Town Board has moved forward to accomplish their objectives in others ways. 

Their new strategy is an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling by way of applied congressional legislative political pressure and a new Federal Aviation Administration application, actions that if successful will have the same disastrous negative effect on Montauk that the board’s $2 million-plus failed legal efforts attempted to produce. While the Supreme Court decision was significantly favorable to the best interests of Montauk, the current town board strategies have relegated that satisfactory result to a mere temporary status quo. 

The following analysis is the result of a series of questions submitted to the board at its Aug. 8 meeting. All five of the town board members agree in their restrictive airport activities. They are determined to continue in this aggressive manner regardless of the potential social and economic cost to Montauk. The town board is either unconvinced of the validity of Montauk’s concerns, deems them to be an overreaction, or simply believes there is a greater and more politically important need to be addressed than the protection of Montauk. 

The board has no overall plan for if and when they succeed in their efforts. There are no other East Hampton Airport-related issues, problems, concerns, or reasons for their continued activity, other than to provide an effective path for airport landing restrictions. In their unanimity, the board is willing to risk the social and political consequences of their decision. The two council members seeking re-election this fall have been historically consistent in their voting records and support of the East Hampton special-interest groups seeking airport restriction and helicopter flight transfer. 

The town board does agree that the citizens of Montauk are seriously concerned in this matter and also believes there may be some degree of “hypothetical” legitimacy in that concern. As such, the board stated that if and/or when succeeding in their current transfer efforts, they will entertain community input prior to the formulation and implementation of any new laws, directives, protocols, or procedures regarding the restriction of helicopters at the airport. 

Montauk United has continually stated that if the town board is successful in restricting commercial helicopter traffic at East Hampton Airport, the result would simply be a transfer of that problem to Montauk and its citizens. Once Montauk is burdened with these cast-off East Hampton Airport problems, they would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. Once the helicopters come to Montauk, we will never rid ourselves of them. 

The Aug. 8 town board statement ensures that no pre-designed legislation would take immediate effect, thereby creating a fait accompli that would indeed make the situation infinitely more difficult to address. The board’s statement provides the assurance that Montauk will be heard, and, more important, that the citizens of Montauk will be provided with the time and knowledge to ensure that the degree and depth of their needs and wishes be known. 

While the above provides some measure of protective time relief, other factors must be considered, anticipated, and planned for. Primarily, this very same town board that has publicly committed to the above statement will cease to exist by the end of 2017, given the results of the upcoming town board election. The combined potential of the three available seats has the representational power of a simple majority. Additionally, anti-East Hampton Airport special interest groups are currently employing both short and long-term town board election strategies that, if successful, will have enormous consequences to the future best interests of Montauk and the entire East Hampton Town community. 

The “fait accompli” commitment by the present board renders the current airport crisis situation acceptable, but only for the present and for a limited period of time. It remains to be seen whether a new board will continue to attempt any, all, or new helicopter policies that would negatively affect Montauk. If the above special interest groups are successful in their elective efforts, the simple answer is yes, they will. 

Now is the time for all of Montauk to prepare and act together as one united and committed body. No one is going to do it for us. In the coming weeks, Montauk United, through its website, will provide input regarding town board candidates and their position regarding the airport issues in question. The rest is up to the people of Montauk to take the necessary electoral action that must occur if we are to protect what is now and will be the future of Montauk. 

Talk to your neighbors and friends. Suggest they register for election information at Montaukunited.org. Make them aware of the importance of their support and united participation in the coming election. 



Complaint Fatigue


August 21, 2017

To the Editor:

A seaplane just went over our house so low that the house shook. It scared our guests who had just arrived. 

Today is Sunday, and the flights have been nonstop. We live in Noyac, on a beautiful property near the Morton Wildlife Preserve, and have watched and heard osprey, eagles, great blue heron, snowy egrets, and other magnificent wildlife fly in our skies for the last 25 years. We now see and hear helicopters, seaplanes, and jets in our sky instead. 

Personally I’ve been filing complaints with the airport noise complaint line for years. My neighbors have been filing complaints for years. The whole of Long Island has been filing complaints for years. I am very tired of stopping what I’m doing when a flight comes over and running to my phone or laptop. 

Whether there are several thousand more or several thousand fewer complaints, we all know that there is an ever-growing noise problem from loud helicopters, low-flying seaplanes, and loud private jets. There is such a thing as complaint fatigue. 

Complaints that people have made for years have been ignored. It’s not the responsibility of the victims to solve the problem. It’s time that the helicopter, seaplane, and jet companies stand up and regulate themselves, or the East Hampton airport will have to close and then they’ll be the ones who have to file on the complaint lines.


Testing the Waters


August 20, 2017

Dear David,

The Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonality of the Town of East Hampton have been dealing with problems in the bodies of water under their authority, such as various cyanobacteria blooms. Therefore they support the extensive testing of Georgica Pond, Wainscott Pond, and now Fresh Pond. When blooms occur, it is important to find out what the causes are: high phosphorous and/or nitrogen. 

I am proud to be running for trustee with the current progressive-thinking group of trustee Democrats, who are continuing to expand their testing of our waters with Dr. Gobler of Stony Brook. Preserving water quality will continue to be a number-one goal for this town.

Because the problem of blooms in our waters is current, the East Hampton Library must be thanked for holding their Tom Twomey lecture series event this past week on this subject. Their speaker was Sarah Meyland, a water expert who is the director of water resource management at the New York Institute of Technology. Thank you to the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation and the library board member Sara Davison for sponsoring this informative program. 

If you missed the library lecture you can watch it on LTV. I highly recommend this worthwhile presentation.


C.P.F. for Septic Systems

East Hampton

August 21, 2017

Dear David: 

As a Democratic candidate for trustee, I was very pleased to read Judith Weis’s letter to you regarding East Hampton Town’s ability to provide our community preservation funds for the replacement of antiquated septic systems. 

A former professor of Rutgers University, Ms. Weis is an estuarine ecologist and author (“Marine Pollution: What Everyone Needs to Know”). I have come to know Ms. Weis through the Accabonac Protection Committee, and she has invaluable knowledge that is helpful in our efforts. Science, not presumption or faith, is key, and it has been proven that nitrogen pollution is directly associated with outdated septic tanks as the contents seep into the waters.  

It should be noted that the decision to utilize funding of 20 percent from the C.P.F. for the upgrade to new and more advanced septic systems, known as Proposition 1, garnered 78 percent of the vote in favor of the C.P.F. extension. In all five East End towns, the vote was an overwhelming landslide in favor of C.P.F. funding use for water quality protection. And rightly so. Our community must have clean waterways and also groundwater, as our single source of drinking water comes from one aquifer. 

Under the town’s plan, by 2018 all new residential building, significant expansion of existing homes, and commercial construction will be subject to installing low-nitrogen alternatives. For those existing homes on harbors, ponds, or the coast, the upgrade to their septic systems may be cost-prohibitive. Using our taxes for what is a townwide issue is cost-effective, and is the responsible approach to this emergency.  

I am grateful to our town board members for making this issue paramount, as our very future depends upon our willingness and efforts to go forward, embrace the C.P.F. financial incentive, and rely on scientifically proven evidence that nitrogen, among other pollutants, must be eradicated.

The issue of clean water must not be political. 


Divisive Primary


August 21, 2017

Dear David,

Zach Cohen was not considered to be an acceptable candidate for the town board by the local East Hampton Democratic screening committee. When a person is rejected by the screening committee but still wants to run, they have the right to present themselves and their credentials to the voting members of the whole Democratic Committee, representing the various districts of the Town of East Hampton, at our convention. But Cohen chose instead to force a divisive primary. I guess when you have lost two elections you want to prove to yourself that you can win one, regardless of the price to the party.  

When Cohen lost his first election, he claimed that his presence on the ticket that year put his two running mates, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, over the top, but the truth is these two present town board members, with experience on both the planning and zoning boards, won handily, while he lost. When he ran for town trustee, he turned his back on his fellow candidates who were working to change the operation of trustee meetings, both in the place the meetings were held and in their willingness to accept cooperation with other government agencies, thus losing his second bid for office.

While he has been given specific assignments by the town board, Cohen lacks the relevant leadership to carry out the many promises he makes. Cohen has been rejected twice by the voters at large, while Jeff Bragman, a lawyer, and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, our present town board member, possess true democratic ideals and qualities that our town board needs to continue to provide East Hampton with a constructive problem-solving program. 

Zach delivers nothing but talk.


A True Progressive


August 21, 2017

Dear Editor;

I learned recently that Zach Cohen, who touts himself as a Progressive ­Democrat, is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Why on earth would a true progressive accept the maximum legal political contribution ($1,000) from Andy Sabin, an Amagansett resident who is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump? 

Remember him? He, Sabin, had a “Jail Hillary” lawn sign that he protected with a video camera. By the way, his company owns a jet. Where do you think he stands on the local airport regulations? 

I have been told that Zach Cohen tells everyone what they want to hear, but who knows what he will do if elected?

Jeff Bragman is a true progressive who has made a career of helping neighborhoods and residents scale down development, protect historical structures, create open space and parks, and protect our wetlands, waters, and groundwater.

Jeff Bragman is a better choice. Give back the money, Zach Cohen.



East Hampton Independence Party

Failed to List Loss

East Hampton

August 17, 2017

Dear David:

Recently Zach Cohen sent a mailer to the people in the Springs. It indicated his stand on several issues and gave some biography. 

Although he admitted to losing one election to Bill Wilkinson for supervisor, he failed to list his loss as a Democratic town trustee in the last election. Isn’t a candidate supposed to be completely truthful?




August 20, 2017

Dear David,

To support one’s own candidate does not give license to denigrate the opposition on a personal level or to twist a stance on issues into inflamed rhetoric.

Four letters that were published in last week’s Star are, most simply, examples of venomous character assassination. Interestingly, several of these letters call out Zach Cohen by name; in others the implication that he is the target is clear. If a person dislikes Mr. Cohen’s stands, his personality, or his politics, that’s one thing, but to attack this honorable man’s integrity is unacceptable. It is an example of a nastiness that I had hoped was beneath the Democrats of East Hampton. Apparently it is not.

Mr. Cohen is, quite simply, asking for more research into a problem that threatens two distinct communities in our town. Is that questioning worthy of the attacks aimed at him? Certainly not. Criticize the perspective if you choose, but personal attacks are deplorable.


Clear Choice


August 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

I get it now: You run for office using scare tactics. Just send out a postcard with an incendiary headline, “Catastrophe” about the school board’s sensible decision to relocate a bus facility away from Cedar Street and nearby public water wells. Zach Cohen showed poor judgment and no leadership by trying to whip up fear.

Worse, he was so eager to politicize an issue that he didn’t even get the facts straight. The number of buses was exaggerated and Mr. Cohen had to retract the implication that Cedar Street was a good location for the use — not quite a pledge to preserve our groundwater.

Jeff Bragman is an experienced attorney with a track record of getting things done by relying on the facts. I don’t want a councilman who exploits neighborhood fears. I want a leader for all neighborhoods. Mr. Bragman is the clear choice.



Voting for Zach

East Hampton

August 21, 2017

Dear Editor:

Over the years when I was the chairman at Windmill Village and St. Michael’s, I had many discussions with Zachary Cohen about our need for more affordable housing. He knows the need we have for it, but I found that he also understands the issues involved in building more housing. 

He knows that hard choices may need to be made, and I have found that he puts in the time and effort to educate himself to what is needed. He was very quick to comprehend the complex financial underpinnings necessary to obtain county, state, and federal financing.  

Voting for Zach will bring a strong advocate for affordable housing and an individual that has the commitment, ability, and determination to begin to put more of that housing online for our town. 



The Real Deal

East Hampton

August 21, 2017

Dear Editor:

Zach Cohen, a candidate for town board, recently sent out a mailer that included a résumé which made no mention of employment. I understand that his family owned the largest delicatessen in the world, and that he has been a real estate investor. He is largely self-funding his campaign.

I don’t see why an independently wealthy candidate who claims to be a progressive would take the maximum allowable campaign contribution from another resident who is a devoted Trump supporter. It was well publicized that Andy Sabin kept a “Jail Hillary” lawn sign on his property, guarded by video cameras. The worst part is that Cohen doesn’t need the money.

I want a real progressive. Jeff Bragman has been a hard-working dad who built a law practice as a neighborhood advocate. He is a standup guy, who has fought real battles against overdevelopment and to protect our groundwater. Jeff is the real deal, and gets results. He will be a great asset on the town board.


A Person Who Listens


August 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

These are dispiriting times.

How wonderful it would feel to cast one’s vote for a candidate for public office who is honest, intelligent, and prudent; a person who listens, really listens, and is respectful of alternative viewpoints; a person who investigates issues tirelessly, evaluates options, and takes a stand on issues because he believes it is the most fair and viable solution, a person of absolute integrity.

It is fortunate we have the opportunity to vote for such a person here in East Hampton on Sept. 12 in the Democratic primary.

Vote for Zach Cohen for town board.


Straight Shooter

East Hampton

August 21, 2017

Dear Editor:

I am writing to support Jeff Bragman for town board. Jeff has been an activist attorney who has a long record of fighting to protect our neighborhoods and the rural character of the town. As a working father, he is concerned about maintaining our real community for the next generation. 

Jeff is a straight shooter who doesn’t play politics with planning issues. He is not a self-promoter. He does his homework and uses facts, not fear and division, to get results. 

I want a trained lawyer who knows how to get things done on the town board. 


Provide Only Facts


August 20, 2017

Dear David,

I write in response to several letters in last week’s Star that contain several misstatements and distortions. 

It is ironic that the title of Spencer Emmet’s letter is “Facts of the Case.” Emmet states that Zachary Cohen is a “relative newcomer,” when in fact he has more years of public and community service than any other candidate. Mr. Cohen currently chairs, or serves on, five town, county, or regional committees. Zach has founded and is chairman of the board of a local charity that provides needed legal services to people who could not otherwise afford them. 

While Ms. Burke-Gonzalez has a long history with her service on the Springs School Board and as an elected official, Mr. Bragman does not appear to have served as either a volunteer to the town nor has he performed any charitable or community work. People should not confuse the paid work of a hired attorney, who represents whoever hires him, with public service.

Phyllis Italiano distorts Mr. Cohen’s statements regarding the proposed Springs-Fireplace Road bus depot and BOCES classrooms and even invents quoted words such as “catastrophe” that do not exist. Mr. Cohen only points out that placing the bus depot on the Springs-Fireplace site contradicts the town’s own recent hamlet study. His two letters to The Star suggest that maybe no good site has yet been identified and that a broader search is needed. What is most disappointing about Ms. Italiano’s distortions is that she is a member of the local Democratic Committee. Has Ms. Italiano forgotten that 60 percent more Democrats supported Zach’s petition to run than supported the one for his primary opponents?

Finally, Paul D’Andrea suggests that Mr. Cohen stop “using Breitbart techniques just to get votes.” I am mystified by this scurrilous statement. It is truly sad that Mr. D’Andrea has to resort to linking an honest and ethical candidate with that detestable media outlet. In fact, it is Mr. D’Andrea who has falsely signed his letter “Wainscott,” where he maintains a post office box, when according to voting records his residence address is Pine Street, next to the originally proposed site for the bus depot. 

Mr. D’Andrea appears to be simply another Nimby who is willing to distort facts for his own benefit.

Let’s hope that future letters regarding any candidate provide only facts and a discussion of issues.



Voting Locally


August 20, 2017

Dear David,

I’m writing to thank the woman who caught me mid-fall after I walked into a tree limb at the Springs Fisherman’s Fair last Saturday. She and other women who were in the vicinity were very kind to stay with me to make sure I was okay. (I was dismayed to learn that I was not the first that day to bang his or her head on that limb; in fact one or more, I was told, actually fell to the ground.) 

I was busy looking for the booth where I was to volunteer to help register people to vote in the upcoming primary and general elections on Sept. 12 and Nov. 7, respectively. Since I did not feel up to doing my volunteer work after the collision with the tree, I decided to take this opportunity to remind readers that voting locally is very important. Having good people in local government is what makes day-to-day life livable. Candidates have lost elections here by as little as 15 votes. We are hoping those 15 missing people and many more will turn out this time to make a difference.

And again, many thanks to my good Samaritans for their aid and concern.


In Support of Kathee


August 17, 2017

Dear David,

I am writing this letter in support of Kathee Burke-Gonzales in the upcoming Democratic primary for town board seats that takes place on Sept. 12. I urge all Democrats to vote in this primary so that we can re-elect Kathee as our councilwoman on the board.

Kathee has had many accomplishments while serving in that capacity. She was instrumental in balancing the budget, and has helped implement many programs aimed at having a clean environment and maintaining social responsibility, as well as having fought to save our beaches and beach access. She’s worked hard for our town and will continue to do so if re-elected.

On a personal note, as a concerned citizen of our town, I’ve frequently reached out to Kathee to help with issues that affected other fellow residents’ quality-of-life matters and mine, and she always responded promptly, effectively, and professionally. She is a very caring person but also has the experience that we need. 

I urge everyone to vote for Kathee in next month’s primary.


Concern for Community

East Hampton

August 17, 2017

Dear David,

As a homeowner in East Hampton for 48 years, as well as an avid weekly reader of The Star, this is the first time I am writing you a letter. I wish to share with your readers the reasons why our family is asking voters to vote for Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez in the Democratic Primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The first time I met Kathee was in 2005 when she was a member of the Springs School Board. As the director of the East End Initiative Foundation, I made a proposal to the board to introduce Project Most to the school system. It would provide an after-school program for grades K-4, five days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. Kathee was very enthusiastic about Project Most and was instrumental in the approval of the program. As a working mother herself, raising two kids here, Kathee has a passion for providing working families a safe and educational place for their children after school. Project Most currently serves over 200 children, including offering swimming lessons.

This concern Kathee has for the community continues, as she is the town board’s liaison to the East Hampton RECenter. As a member of the RECenter’s board of managers for 20 years, I can truly say that Kathee is very engaged, working in partnership with us on programs and capital projects. She serves our youth and seniors in a thorough and competent manner. 

One of the most important reasons to return Kathee to the town board is her compassion, her dedication, and her track record of getting things done. Other issues that get Kathee’s continued priority are affordable housing for our working families and reduction of airport noise. 

As a proven member of our town board, I strongly hope that our community will support Kathee — in the Demo­cratic primary on Sept. 12 and later in the general election on Nov. 7 — so she can continue serving our community. 


Well-Informed Decisions


August 21, 2017

Dear David,

I’m writing to encourage local Demo­crats to vote to re-elect Kathee Burke-Gonzalez in the primary election on Sept. 12.  

I first met Kathee when she served on the Springs School Board. Her respectful and professional demeanor at contentious school board meetings truly impressed me. Her inclination to listen, rather than talk, particularly stood out, especially at budget time when emotions ran high and tough decisions had to be made.

Over the past four years, Kathee has brought the same skills to her job as councilwoman to make well-informed decisions about the serious issues that affect our community: overcrowded neighborhoods, affordable housing, airport noise, mental health and substance abuse services, senior services, clean water, and climate change.

If you care about any of these issues, vote to elect Kathee Burke-Gonzalez to a second term on the East Hampton Town Board in the Democratic primary on Sept. 12 and in the general election on Nov. 7.



Get ’Er Done!

East Hampton

August 20, 2017

Dear David,

 I’ll hit the local scene first and then the larger picture. The partial eclipse here hasn’t happened yet as I write this, so my vision is as good as it can be. Not 20-20, and not hindsight, just the way I see it, without rose-colored glasses. Gosh, I miss the ’60s, even though I was only 12 when those cool bands hit the stage at Yasgur’s Farm. Oh well, lest I digress. 

So locally, let’s see, ah yes, the groundwater. We’re still here waiting on the judge’s court order for the Suffolk County Health Department to test the water at the sandmine on Middle Highway. Soilsamples would be grand too but one step at a time. My grandson just walked in and said, “Get ’er done!” (It’s something his little brown tow truck says in the movie “Cars.”) So, yes, I agree. Get ’er done. 

And while we’re on the subject of water, swimming holes to be precise, what the heck is up with the East Hampton Town Board dragging their feet in denial that there is contaminated water at Fresh Pond? It was tested. You don’t like the tests done? Then do your own, but get ’er done! The pollution in our ground and bay and lake water is not a conspiracy theory, people. Take your heads out of the sand and do what you are supposed to do. Thank you. 

Now the bus depot dilemma. There is none. Build it on Springs-Fireplace Road, because Cedar Street is not an option since we showed you that the pollution to the drinking water wells cannot be overlooked. The location on Cedar Street is also not a commercial district. So, case closed. If you support the Springs location, I am voting for you. You don’t? I’m not. 

Okay, moving on. Put your phones down in the car. I see you, I have eagle eyes while driving, my prescription sunglasses and all. You’re texting and looking down. Who’s driving your car then? Stop doing this. Pull over, get a coffee or tea, chat away. Go home, chat away. You’re not that flipping important. Neither are your friends. And if they are, they’ll wait to hear from you, and vice versa. Your kids don’t need you helicoptering them. Give that a break, maybe they will actually grow up one day. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Why do I care that you are careless and reckless and self-involved? Because I am on the road too, and you’re not paying attention. You’re not signaling, you’re not engaged in the driving experience, and you can’t multi-task in the car, that’s a myth. You’re a danger to others. Put the phone down, shut it off so the ringer won’t annoy or entice you. Leave it in the bottom of your purse or backpack or the glove compartment. Look up at the road. Live, and let live. You’re welcome.

Now to the country, particularly the state I once visited and took a baby in his stroller with his dad and grandma to, a beautiful place called Virginia. My Aunt Anne, from Vermont, pronounced it “Vir-gin-ee-a.” It sounded lovely when she said it. It was lovely and historic when we visited Colonial Williamsburg in the late ’70s. Charlottesville recently? Horrible. Tragic. I’m sickened by the hate groups allowed to live in our free country, who hate everyone bar themselves and want to whitewash our nation. No room for that hate here. We already defeated that enemy more than once. “Bloodiest battle on our soil, that war between North and South.” My dad tells it every time he speaks of his time in World War II and Korea, in all three armed forces. “More men were killed in the Civil War, you know that?” Yes, Dad, I know. We don’t discuss it much lately because the discussion would get too heated, because while I am not a Daughter of the American Revolution, I am a daughter of a father who voted for Trump. My dad is nearly 91, and no one is telling him anything. He’s also a former police officer for 38 years in a big city, who never once shot his gun. He grew up in a different time, that’s true, but still, 38 years. My husband also never shot his gun in 20 years on the job and he had bottles thrown off a roof at him by kids when he was a young patrolman in the city. You don’t always have to go Rambo. My father is a son of immigrants from Italy, and when the Italians came here to the melting pot, they weren’t exactly invited to melt so easily. Just as others were not welcomed with open arms and had to change their names to suit those checking them in at Ellis Island. People who were already here got shoved aside and treated like garbage, too. Ask the Native Americans and African-Americans about that. But, melt my father did, and while we don’t share the same political views, you can’t argue with common sense — and common sense, Virginia, is to never allow K.K.K. rallies, ever. 

You’re a hate group. Not allowed in America. Go hang out with foreign terrorists. Those “dark-skinned’ people you hate, who hate Americans, are just like you. They think only they are right. They don’t like change, and they are men with weapons and like violence, and you both have a fondness for long garb, it seems. Maybe you are the enemy you fear yourself. 

Lately, all I seem to be doing is trying to reason with people I had no idea were so easily led down a garden path. I know it’s not me. I’m smart and I do my homework. In the last election, they were looking for a savior and a person they thought was for them, the regular guys and gals, and they admired him for his take-no-prisoners stance, someone who understood their need for recognition. They were drowning in a sea of immigrants and foreign operators on phone calls and press-one-for-English demands. Why press anything? Did we move the country, they holler? On one hand, they have a valid point. Learn the language. Assimilate. My Italian grandmother did. All her money stayed here, too. No one went home again. They wanted to be Americans that badly. 

My Irish friends did the same, except they visit home for holidays because it’s modern times and people travel more. The Irish can also tell you about civil war and a country divided. If you listen, they will also tell you it’s an Irish story. We don’t always understand that which we have not ever experienced. Like being hated, merely because we look and/or sound different. We may never feel the fear of walking down a street and know we are suspect because we are a certain color or dress differently. 

I even realize I am not white enough. I am not a snowy-haired, blue-eyed, white-bread-looking gal. That is the way the white nationalists want everyone to look. And the price to join is, you denounce all other races. And you are willing to go to war over eliminating the others. No, this is not a novel plot or that movie we saw countless ways, or books we read from another time in our history. It’s right now. And people are supporting a president they elected that did not denounce this evil A.S.A.P. They are defending him. That’s not a plot twist or my opinion. That’s the honest truth. You can’t spin that, Daddy. Get that guy in the White House some help. Where’s the staff? Did everyone quit or get fired? Can former presidents intervene? Is there a Crazy commission? All happening while a baby dictator across the world wants to play war games. We cannot engage. He will never succeed. 

I watch Charlie Rose on channel 13 and listen to NPR; people in high places are on it. Trump is not the be-all and end-all, thankfully. Cooler heads will prevail. Why doesn’t he know this? Isn’t there a handbook or rulebook? Where’s his mom? He needs a timeout, big time. Maybe his daughter will take over when he has a breakdown. Daughters can be very tenacious. Ask my father. While dear old Dad and I disagree on politics, he has to hand it to me that I am one smart cookie and relentless. I get that from my grandmothers. One killed you with kindness, “Bless your heart,” she’d say, and the other was called Mussolini. 

Enough said. I’m in it for the long haul. I won’t fight for your right to freely spread evil. Nope. That’s taking the Constitution out of context. Blah, blah, blah, blow it out your tiki torches. Let’s do better. We’re all the same underneath. Evil will always be overpowered and extinguished by good, and by those willing to stand up against it. A young woman in her prime did that, two policemen flying overhead doing their jobs lost their lives. May they rest in peace. Never forget.

Peace is the only way forward.


The Public Trust


August 21, 2017

Dear David,

Public trust is a very important component of government’s daily interaction with the community it serves. JerryLarsen as the former East Hampton Village police chief, and myself as the highest-ranking field police supervisor in the New York State Park Police and founding president of the fifth-biggest police union in New York State, understand that better than most.

On the local level, once there is a perception, whether true or not, of backroom deals, preferential treatment of politically connected individuals or the clients they represent, or manipulation of employee positions and their collective bargaining agreement, public trust becomes eroded very quickly. 

Deepwater, the airport, the Montauk beaches, constant litigation, town board decisions that diverge from enacted policies, appointment of politically connected individuals, inconsistent and varied application of the town code by various town regulatory boards and departments, and proposals that amend town code without providing the community ample opportunity to review and comment, all erode public trust.

As supervisor, I will restore the public trust by creating an open and transparent East Hampton government by:

1. Revamping the antiquated town ethics code to reflect the high standards of the New York State Joint Commission On Public Ethics.

2. Requiring that all persons representing and lobbying town government on behalf of clients or organizations be registered. All registered provides full and complete financial disclosure.

3. Putting in place safeguards to ensure that no board will be politically manipulated by any political party.

4. Establishing a legislative process that will ensure any changes or addition to the East Hampton Town code are thoroughly vetted and the public has ample opportunity to review and provide input.

Everyone, regardless of financial status or political connections, must be treated equally and fairly, with respect, and feel confident that East Hampton Town government is open and transparent.

I am Manny Vilar and I ask for your vote for East Hampton Town Supervisor in November to help put people first and politics last.


Mr. Vilar is the Republican candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. Ed.

Existential Threat


August 21, 2017

Dear David,

I have written to you before about the great work being done by the East Hampton Town Trustees’ harbor management committee in bringing the fishing community into the same room as Deepwater Wind to make sure that our fisheries are protected as Deepwater’s offshore wind project goes forward.

On Aug. 16, another public meeting was held to examine the environmental impacts of the offshore wind project. Deepwater’s scientists explained how they are currently working to get a baseline picture of the health of the fish stocks and other marine wildlife in the proposed area of development, as well as in the path of the cables coming ashore. The marine scientists making the presentation also talked about the studies that will be ongoing during the construction and for several years after the project is complete to make sure that environmental impacts, if any, are minimized.

So far, the company seems to be taking its responsibility to be a good corporate citizen seriously. And the trustees are taking their responsibility to be an exemplar of good government seriously as well.

The same cannot be said, however, for our president. Trump’s proposal to open the Atlantic Coast to offshore oil and gas drilling for the first time in 30 years poses an existential threat to our community. 

Oil spills are inevitable; do we want to experience the same catastrophe that befell the Gulf Coast from the Deepwater Horizon accident? Fisheries will be devastated for decades. Will we be seeing tragic photos in this newspaper of dead and dying birds and marine mammals, covered with the poison spewed into our waters? Our beaches will be fouled and black. Who wants to summer on oily beaches? 

Our environment and our economy will be devastated by offshore oil and gas development, no less from spills as from the headlong rush into climate catastrophe this insane investment in dirty energy represents. The choice is clear: We need clean energy if we are to survive and thrive. 

I am so grateful to the trustees, whose board I hope to join as a successful candidate in the November election, for making sure that clean energy is done responsibly and right.


‘Clean Coal’


August 19, 2017

Dear David,

The propaganda machine that continually offers counter-argument to calls for renewable energy has just lost one of its major film-flams: so-called “clean coal.”

The most ambitious attempt in the country to build a clean coal plant was made by the Southern Company in Kemper, Miss. After spending $7.5 billion (a $5 billion cost overrun from initial projections), the clean coal plant has been mothballed as too expensive to run before it ever opened. The company is mired in lawsuits because of revelations from a former engineer at the company that executives have known since 2012 that it would cost $200 million in annual operation costs, versus $50 million they were telling regulators and the public. 

In doing so, the company was in effect scamming its customers, as utility regulations allow them to add 5 percent to their costs and just pass it on to ratepayers. This would add $1,500 per year to the average customer’s bill. Those costs would, of course, end up as huge tax deductions for Southern Company. So regular taxpayers would also see their taxes go up to cover the lost revenue, as the government still needs to pay its bills. Great job, fossil fuel industry!

“Clean coal” was always a misleading phrase. Even if the Kemper plant had been feasible, it would have produced carbon emissions equal to a natural-gas plant, which is not clean at all. Slightly less dirty coal would have been a more honest description.

Does this mean we will stop hearing the phrase, clean coal? Probably not. Propaganda ignores fact. Clean coal is dead, but zombie arguments are useful for misleading the public. So next time you hear the phrase, ask yourself what other lies the speaker has told you.


Humpty Trumpty

Humpty Trumpty

sat on a wall

built by Mexicans

No! Not at all!


All of his horses

all of his men

talking to Russia

Oh no! Not again!


Human rights not an issue

health care’s a mess

Is he leading us forward?

To where, one might guess


But as global warming

Is now kicking in

We can’t be relaxing

Let’s all learn to swim


So where should we put him,

Where should he go?

Into the Gulag

All covered in snow


Bad. Very Bad.


August 16, 2017

Dear Editor,

I hope someone has noticed that Russia’s most important naval base on the Pacific Ocean at Vladivostok is quite close to North Korea’s northeast border. For that matter, I’m sure China is thrilled at the prospect of a nuclear cloud or two passing over Beijing. Should be good for ratings at home. 

Siding up to Nazis not so good. Bad. Very bad. Really.


Speech as Provocation

East Hampton

August 20, 2017

To the Editor:

The most distressing part of the Charlottesville incident was not the violence or the death of a young woman but the screams of the marchers who were racist and anti-Semitic. The idea that whiteness is elevated and prioritized is no big deal in our real world. Violence in its myriad forms, including killing, has always been standard behavior. We’ve had leaders who were racist and anti-Semites, including presidents who have hinted that these practices were okay and looked the other way. We have institutions that perpetuate racism from end to end. But we’ve never had a president who came out in front of the country and gave a thumbs-up to the purveyors of hate, racism, and anti-Semitism.

For people of color and immigrants, this behavior is par for the course, but for Jews in America it demands a serious rethinking of our relationship vis-a-vis the rest of the country. My reaction to the president’s speech threw me back to 1930s Germany, where anti-Semitic behavior began with small groups that were not chastised and punished by the government, which gave them tacit approval for their actions. In a relatively short time, the government sanctioned anti-Semitism and developed national policies around it.

I see the speech as a provocation and a warning that someone out there would want to do me and my family harm. Having had the history of the Jewish people’s nonresistance in Germany drilled into my head as a kid, my first instinct would be for a pre-emptive strike. The possibility of sitting passively by while anti-Semitism flourishes from the highest levels of government is a non-starter. I think the president needs to be put on notice that he has crossed a line that will end badly for him and his administration.


Nature Is Not a Trophy


August 9, 2017

To the Editor:

“What if a greater race of beings were to make flageolets or buttons out of our bones? — Henry David Thoreau.

The human feeding frenzy to shoot and devour innocent beings, the mainstay of the world’s ecology, continues. And now even Burmese elephants are in the crosshairs of lust for animal parts and the ivory trade. Who would want to eat elephant penis? Apparently Southeast Asians. The pangolin, that exquisite little mammal, the only one with armor plates, could disappear in the wild forever if the trade is not shut down. The most trafficked mammal on earth may have only a few years to live. 

Humanity is cannibalizing itself by acquiring the slain parts of the others — rays, sharks, whales, tigers, the very beings we are indebted to for being human. The neurons in our very brains, language itself, were fed by mythologizing the other life forms of existence. In the crib, adults don’t tangle computers and dollar bills from the ceiling — parents show doll-like effigies of frogs and bears and lions and elephants that say welcome to the world. Be in fellowship with us, this is a remarkable planet. 

And in 50 years, will we still be able to say that? In 50 years’ time, what on earth will welcome children to Planet Earth? Robocop polar bears? Who will compensate young and old alike for having no relationship with Nature — they who play video games and spend countless internet hours quashing the vital experience of the mind with pranks from the world of artificial intelligence? Will school even make sense?

In the West, tens of thousands of coyotes, wolves, and even bears and bobcats are slain for the fur trade for Asia. No wonder our son hasn’t yet seen a bobcat — and we live in the Rockies! No wonder there is no wonder! Or respect for life. And why people are on opioids and why they vote a certain way for a party that should definitely not be represented by the elephant, an altruistic creature of marvel that should make us shudder with shame for what we are doing to its population. That is the greatest mismatch in the history of consciousness. I vote that the tick immediately replace the elephant as the logo of a certain party.

A few weeks ago, our unique guide allowed my son to crawl on his hands and knees to play with young baby lions in the wild! Lions under 1 year old, lions not yet attuned to the ways of hunting. Lions as alive as you or I. Oh, my god, you will say, how can you do that? Our guide’s father has been doing so for decades in a place of utter joy where few people venture. He taunted them and watched them eye to eye on an equal footing. No parents were around. No mama lions to fear. They were out hunting. But you had better know what you are doing, with years of practice and veneration of a being that has been a foil to our bloodthirsty kind for countless millennia. Our son was mesmerized and for a few minutes was honored with a seat at the Table of Creation. Yes, no other guide on earth would or could do this. But he understood these lions as young and innocent, yet to be killers who were as in awe of us, or more, than we were of them. Compared to the perfidy of killing lions just for their paws and their heads, this was a miracle moment. One that will never vanish from our son’s consciousness or heart.

Yearly, hundreds of lions are bred to be shot at by so-called hunters. More recently Xanda, Cecil’s superb son, was slain. Many, no, most hunters, if that is what they are called, come from the United States. Trophy hunters are impairing the genetic pool of the lion population continent-wide in Africa. Just ask LionAid. No, the money does not do much, if anything, for the locals. Lion numbers have collapsed 95 percent in the last 20 years. Even if the money did not all go to safari companies, there would have to be millions of lions to sate the appetite of people looking for lion bones to pass off as tiger bones in Asia. Thank you China! Today, there may be no more than 20,000, maybe 15,000 lions in all of Africa. When someone told me that the trophy hunting of lions, giraffes, rhino, elephant is the only way to have conservation, it came from the mouth of a well-heeled, high-heeled dame from England who was just continuing the depravities of the hunters’ mindset. Elspeth Huxley, the grand dame of East African letters, said that it was murder, pure and simple. Why not drop bombs on your targets? Well, in the case of elephants, poachers have very nearly done just that, with high-powered rifles.

Let us remember Theodore Roosevelt’s blood lust, who killed 11 elephants on his famed safari of 1909. What a noble mind! He saw first-hand Maasai warriors closing in on a lion, but the Maasai never killed just to bag a lion. Their olamayio was a rite of passage, and they laid their lives on the line. Whoever killed the lion honored his clan. Fatalities were common for the Maasai and almost always for the lion. But the lion population did not plummet because of the Maasai. It was because of the great white man looking for fun. Many Maasai are now lion guardians and need the tourist revenue and need something of the old ways to have a decent chance of holding onto the ecology of East Africa.

The so-called aristocrats of Europe, and especially England, and now the tawdry mind-set of the safari hunter, have had a unique hand in destroying the king of beasts. Trophy hunters still pursue the polar bears and mountain lions and grizzlies with reckless abandon. In short order, one day there will be nothing left, and the children will have to be told that their parents simply did not care enough and watch them lose their minds on playing video games until their brains explode!

Ours is an unbelievable time. I do not know if there will be any ice at the top of the world in a generation. I don’t know if there will be forest elephants or tigers, the ones Lysander saw when he was 31/2, in 20 years. We have become a reckless race, without equipoise or compunction, and demented. We bully the world for body parts and pretend we love our children as the “air-conditioned nightmare,” as Henry Miller called it, continues unabated. We are living on the razor’s edge of time and maybe the last viable generation.

A friend of mine, in calling attention to the elephant crisis and the vital event she was having in Sacramento, Calif., said she was having trouble fund-raising because a banana festival was to be held on the same day! That is America for you, that is in large part the definition of the Western mind, the Northern Hemispheric mind of world civilization that is causing the ice to melt and Antarctica to crack. 

A few years ago, the ecology was inidental to our way of strife. Now it should be fundamental. As the next Sandy approaches it is time for you to wake up as if your lives and your children’s depended on it! Don’t just give children video games and Disney movies of animated fish and penguins and lions, take them by the hand and show them the colossus of nature, while they still can. And teach them and yourselves to put their guns away. It might hurt someone, or some being out there in the wild who has children. 

Nature is not a trophy to be ransacked for your amusement. Nature is the only really priceless “thing” we have. Without it we will no longer be human. We’ll become androids, as every other film coming from Hollywood shows us.

There is care and concern. For a brief while, the Hollywood sign came down a few years ago and the word ELEPHANT popped up. But it didn’t last. Humanity, wake up, while you still have a semblance of humanity!! And those of you who have those tens of millions and billions, for heaven’s sake, save nature while you can or your children will never forgive you! 

Oh, by the way the Maasai don’t have a word for Nature. They call it enkope Ngai, the beauty of God.