Letters to the Editor: 02.22.18

Our readers' comments

Worthy of Emulating

East Hampton

February 19, 2018

Dear David,

 By now, many people must have written you to correct the error made in the story “Second Generation Soars High” in last week’s Star. Not to take anything from the terrific academic achievement of Nick Sigua, he is not the first Latino-American valedictorian at East Hampton High School. That honor probably goes to John Sebastian Pineda, born in Colombia, who was valedictorian of the class of 2010. John went on to get his bachelor’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then complete a Ph.D. at Cal Tech in astrophysics. He has published his work on exoplanets and Brown Dwarf stars and is presently doing post-doc research at the University of Colorado. 

 This, of course, does not diminish the excitement and joy we all have for the success of Nick and Jon Gomez, the salutatorian, both of whom certainly can look to Dr. Pineda as a model worthy of emulating. Having taught all three of these fine students at the high school, I can see clearly how they will make great contributions to America becoming a greater country than it might otherwise be. 

Sincerely,

DAVID SWICKARD

Your Headline

Sag Harbor

February 16, 2018

David,

Hi. Congratulations to Alexander Sigua Pintado and Jonathan Gomez Barrientos.

I appreciate you drawing attention to their achievement, especially in the face of the restrictive, isolationist, and racist policies being considered and instituted by the Trump administration. 

I wish that the current administration was a better student of history, able to recognize the ruin brought on by the nationalist policies of Troy, the Roman Empire, Imperial Spain, Tsarist Russia, 1930s Germany, Soviet Russia, and the like. Those “all powerful” societies live on solely in books, right along with the mythic Atlantis and the mysterious Mayans’ lost civilizations. I digress.

Your headline, “In a First, Top Two in East Hampton Graduating Class Are Latino” warrants reconsideration. If the top two had been Afro-American, would your headline have been “Top Two in East Hampton Graduating Class Are Black”? I don’t think so.

If the top two had been teenage girls, would your headline have been “Top Two in East Hampton Graduating Class Are Chicks?” I think not.

Consider a Deep South paper identifying their top two as “Yanks,” or a Beijing paper identifying their top two as “Caucasian.” That’s the stuff of talk show comedy.

One of the reasons the term “black” is no longer used to describe people of African descent is that the term is demeaning, continuing to obliterate the cultural and societal histories that slavery and servitude obscured.

We, of Latin and Hispanic heritage, may describe ourselves as “Latino” in the United States, but it’s not something we do anywhere else in the world. There we describe ourselves as being from a country or a place, no differently than someone might say, “I’m from Cincinnati.” No one says, “I’m white” or “I’m Asian.” Why would they?

As for your headline, better solutions would have been: “Top Two Head to Yale and Cornell,” “Ecuador, Guatemala atop East Hampton Class” or, to capture the local focus, “Springs Tops East Hampton Graduating Class.”

Heritage should be no more a factor than sex or sexual orientation.

Drawing attention to it reinforces how far we still have to go as a society, to seeing people as individuals regardless of their social, political, ethnic. or economic backstory. To put it bluntly, that stuff don’t matter no more; it’s a load put on our society. It’s part of a collectively abusive, dehumanizing cocktail-party etiquette that determines who talks to whom, what people wear, and who and what may be “important.”

Again, congratulations to Nick and Jonathan; kudos to Judy on her story. Tweak that headline.

All the best,

BENITO VILA

Expensive Addition

Springs

February 19, 2018

Editor:

Normally a fan of your editorials, I was disappointed in the glib arguments you make in favor of voting for the very expensive addition to the Springs School. And while reading it, I had to assume the author was not someone paying Springs property taxes.

The Springs School has two key needs: space to deal with overcrowding and infrastructure repairs to the roof, the septic system, and the windows, which need replacing. The $6 million in tax dollars the board has already squirreled away in its reserve fund might cover a great deal of these infrastructure expenses.

The overcrowding question is more complex, in ways that your editorial never considers. Many surveys predict a decline in enrollment after a peak in 2020-25. The addition won’t be finished before 2023. More and more newcomers to Springs are second-home buyers, who don’t have children of school age. So, are we building this edifice for a smaller and smaller enrollment? Are we, as it were, buying stocks at the peak of a bubble?

Next, are there alternatives to a new building? One suggested possibility was to use the now-vacant special-needs school building in Wainscott. The objection was that this school was outside the Springs School District’s boundaries and that was not permitted by the state. On the basis of one attorney’s opinion, that was ruled out briskly on those grounds. Why not press the state for an exemption? At least try. Even in Albany, one assumes this would not be a heavy lift.

Another question: If we’re solving an overcrowding problem that may not last too much longer, would cheaper pre-fab buildings be more economical? Sudden short-term bumps in enrollment are not new. It’s happened before, when the baby boomers started pouring into New York’s suburbs in the ’50s and ’60s. Many districts needed space fast and they turned to so-called “temporary buildings.” Today, pre-fab buildings are much better in looks and quality, and best of all, they go up very quickly, as we see on so many recent residential building projects in East Hampton.

Finally, your editorial finesses the pocketbook issue. Yes, you do note the unfair burden Springs residents already bear to educate their share of the town’s schoolchildren. It’s a “moral challenge,” you say, but “a question for another day.” Yet, you are urging Springs voters to sign for this $17 million, 20-year bond, essentially a mortgage, when the need for this project, and its alternatives, have been so poorly explored.

JON CLEMENS

Support This Bond

Springs

February 19, 2018

Dear David,

My name is Joe Sullivan and I am a resident of Springs. My wife is an educator in the district and we have three children who will soon walk the hallways of Springs School. I would like to start by thanking the board of education and the administrative staff for their tireless efforts and out-of-the-box thinking, to help ensure we meet the needs of our Springs children. Year after year, this board and administrative team are faced with the fact that there are more children in Springs School than the school was ever equipped to accommodate. 

The fact of our current situation is that the capacity of this school is maxed out. There are kindergartners, first graders, support staff, and classroom teachers that spend a large portion of their days and instructional time walking back and forth from the portables and the Springs Youth Association building, to the main building, in order to attend music, art, physical education, library, etc. What sounds like the tales of our grandparents, having to walk back and forth uphill in snow is somehow the same story for these kids today.

 It is a huge safety concern having students walking through a parking lot, which at this very moment is partially covered in ice and is an area where cars are constantly coming and going. Having all the students of Springs under one roof is not a want, but a need. The bond’s proposal for a second gym would allow the school to meet the physical education requirements set forth by the state. To date, these requirements are not being met because of the lack of space and availability. We have elementary students and middle school students sharing a small and outdated space. Again, this is not a want, but a need. 

The passing of this bond would also allow all after-school activities to remain on site. There are several sports teams that travel to Sportime in order to have a space to practice. Two gyms would give us the space and availability we currently don’t have. Once again, a need, not a want. 

There are many staff members that have to teach on a cart and bring specials like art, music, Spanish, library, technology, and health to another teacher’s classroom. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you and not a good enough reason to support this bond, then picture this. You’re 5 years old and you haven’t been able to leave your classroom for the entire day because recess was moved indoors due to rain, snow, or freezing temps. You have lunch in that same classroom every day, and your one special for the day is coming to you on a cart because there is simply no room or availability to have it anywhere else. 

The Springs School website has an informative presentation of the project and current situation on the main page, with more information under “Board of Education Presentations at B.O.E. Meetings.” The bond vote is March 6 from 1 to 9 p.m. in the library.

I give this board, administration, and staff all the credit in the world and applaud you for finding a way to somehow make it work every year, but I realize that you cannot continue to make spaces appear where they don’t exist because you have utilized every corner and closet available. I am urging all the Springs community members to vote in favor of this bond. I believe this proposed plan to be reasonable and necessary. It is in no way “grandiose,” but a requirement if our educators are expected to continue to meet the needs of all our children. I am very proud to be a member of this community for many reasons and want the school to continue to be one of those reasons.

Sincerely,

JOE SULLIVAN

The Best Possible

Springs

February 13, 2018

Dear David,

As resident of Springs and a parent to a current student in third grade, with another child expected to attend Springs in two years, I felt compelled to offer some words of support at a recent school board meeting prior to a final presentation on the upcoming bond vote for the expansion, repair, and renovation of the aging school building.

When my wife — who is a graduate of Springs School — and I began looking to buy a home on the South Fork, we were immediately drawn to Springs because of its strong sense of community. Many of our family members live there, as do many of our friends, and the school welcomed my daughter with open arms when she transferred from another district in first grade. 

When my wife attended Springs School it was the gold standard for all elementary and middle/junior high schools on the South Fork. It is still a wonderful school, but it is lacking in the kind of programming and classroom space that the children of Springs deserve. We and many of our friends who have children in the district would like to see this building brought up to modern standards, and my family is grateful the district is pushing forward with plans for an expansion that will give teachers the ability to offer our children the best possible education. We would support this plan even if we did not have children in the district, as we appreciate that for many years others helped fund our public education as well.

Springs maintains a true sense of community. While some would like to politicize this issue and make it about something other than our overcrowded school being in desperate need of expansion, that is not what this particular debate should be about. Walk the hallways, see our dedicated teachers working hard every day with limited resources, watch kids crowded into the gym on rainy days or reading in the halls unable to find a quiet space. Understand that this project will also help our environment with a nitrogen reducing septic system. Also understand that if this school is deemed unattractive, it will drive our real-estate values down. In Sag Harbor, where my wife and I own a business, property values have increased, in large part because the school district is valued for what it can offer children. As property owners, we all benefit with a thriving and successful school district. 

Sincerely,

GAVIN MENU

Juvenile Tirade

Springs

February 16, 2018

Dear David:

I read with real concern your piece announcing the appointment of Amos Goodman as the head of the East Hampton G.O.P. If this is the best that party can do, it is a shame.

Just the other day, my wife was the recipient of a long string of emails criticizing the Springs School expansion (which, for the record, I support). The email addressees included a number of G.O.P. “luminaries,” including Mr. Goodman. So, as the new head of that group, she sent Mr. Goodman an email, which in its entirety, consisted only of a subject line in which she asked to be removed as a recipient.

This innocuous email generated an insulting response from Mr. Goodman that was unparalleled in its rudeness; his final profane message suggested that my wife “grow the f$^& up.” (Ironically, we have owned a home in East Hampton longer than Mr. Goodman has been alive.) It is truly hard to imagine what prompted such an unprofessional and juvenile tirade.

In your article, Mr. Goodman labeled as “cynical” any attempt to invoke Mr. Trump in our election process, yet it is he who now demonstrates the boorishness for which we have come to detest Mr. Trump, and that that boorishness will be the M.O. for the party under his tutelage. It is hard to view Mr. Goodman’s response to my wife’s simple request in any other way. It is neither “smart” nor “savvy” for Mr. Goodman to be the face of the “new G.O.P.” 

Sincerely,

BRUCE COLBATH

Before We Vote

Amagansett

February 19, 2018

Dear David,

The Amagansett School Board meeting was full of information that I wished more local homeowners/residents could have been in attendance to hear.

Besides the congratulations to the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade Science Fair winners, the students that exemplified the monthly character trait of confidence, and the special thanks to the organizers of the Second Annual Multicultural Night, the preliminary budget estimates for the 2018-2019 school year were presented. 

The superintendent, Eleanor Tritt, stated at present there are 90 Amagansett students, 3 students in other schools, and 80 students that attend East Hampton Middle and High School.

They plan to use two of the reserved funds — one to purchase a school bus and one to replace the H.V.A.C. system. 

She showed a slide show of the proposed budget finances needed for the 2018-19 school year and stated in order to preserve the programs established there would be an approximate 3.05 percent increase in taxes to the community. (Last year was 1 percent increase.)

These are the questions I asked:

Does the amount include the same number of administrators? Mrs. Tritt answered “yes.”

How many additional reserve funds does the school have? Mrs. Tritt listed approximately seven but did not have a total dollar amount at the time of the meeting.    

Will there be a local committee included in the superintendent’s search? Mrs. Peterson, board president, said they are in the preliminary stages and not sure. (A community member in the audience volunteered if the committee would like. They said, “We will keep that in mind.”)         

Will there be a line-by-line description of the budget to explain the expenses? Mrs. Peterson, board president, responded “that everyone wears different hats and hard to break it all down, but if I would like a meeting with Mrs. Tritt, I could make an appointment.”

When will the absentee ballots be available to the public? Mrs. Peterson said March 29 to May 14, “until the day before the vote.” (The budget vote is May 15.)

If anyone would like to run for the school board, when could they pick up a petition? March 29, and filed on or before April 16.

It is hard to believe Mrs. Tritt and the school board are still keeping three full-time administrators for a school of 90 students — to cost the taxpayers salaries of almost a half million dollars and benefits!

What is the cost of educating a student in Amagansett versus the other schools in the community? What do we pay the East Hampton School District to educate our 7th-12th grade students? Why can’t we get a line-by-line description of the expenses for a small school that only has approximately 45 staff members? Lastly, why should we have a 3.05 percent tax raise? (Isn’t this almost the equivalent to the cost of three administrators and benefits?)

There should be complete transparency of the appropriation of the funds being requested before we vote for the budget. The explanation should be available in the main office of the school for anyone to see at least three weeks before the budget vote, and the budget proposal that is mailed to the community for review should be self-explanatory. Board meetings should provide all the information since the superintendent and the school board are the drafters of the budget.

On a separate note, I received for the first time a rebate from the state. The explanation was because the school did not exceed the tax cap allowed by New York State. 

It is important to attend the school board meetings to get your questions answered. Go on the website: aufsd.org.

Best regards,

MARY EAMES

Gun Control

Montauk

February 18, 2018

Dear Editor, 

There is widespread sadness and shock following the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and I can certainly understand why. Tragic, senseless, preventable. These all are words we have used before, yet it keeps happening, and because our national priorities have not been altered to focus on banning certain firearms and expanding mental health coverage, this form of violence and outrage may well continue. 

I own a shotgun, and I have been hunting since I was 12. But the fact that I own a gun and enjoy using it does not mean that I can go beyond the bounds of safety and consideration for others and use it as a vehicle of harm to humanity. The fact that I can drive does not mean that I can speed.  The fact that I love to play music does not mean that I can play it loud enough to disturb others. Privilege comes with limitations, and those who rant about “the right to bear arms” are distorting the very right they were given. 

Our country was founded on the principle of individual freedom, which is notable, but individual freedoms must operate within the context of a greater community. It is interesting that Japan, with its inherent respect for culture and seniority, has no gun violence. Yet in the United States, where the concept of “me” is too often translated into the concept of “me first,” the needs of others are often relegated to secondary status.

 Why should an ordinary citizen in our country be allowed to purchase a firearm that is normally restricted to the military? Is our society really so permissive that we would place an advanced and lethal weapon in the hands of people whose impulses and psyches go unchecked or disregarded? I doubt that the founders of our Constitution wanted the framework of their deliberations to be this flexible. Maybe, just maybe, this time will prove to be different. 

After the candlelight vigils and funerals and posturing by elected officials, there just might be legislation enacted that removes these instruments of destruction from the free market. It seems that this time, more people from more sectors of our society are speaking out about the need for gun control. I, however, remain skeptical, because for too many people in this country gun control means sacrifice, as opposed to a recognition of what is wrong with America. 

Sincerely, 

PERRY DURYEA III

The Ballot Box

Springs

February 19, 2018

Dear David,

I was so pleased to see the number of teenagers who attended Sunday’s vigil for the 14 children and three teachers who died in Florida last week. There could have been a lot more of you. We all know it could easily have happened here in East Hampton. 

For once I am hopeful that the Congress could be moved enough by the passion of the youth of this country who could make a long-awaited change in America’s gun laws. Apathetic adults will say: “How can they make a difference? They should stay in school and learn their history. Nobody will listen to them.” Wrong, They are very aware of what we do and what we don’t do. They have long memories and will soon be standing in the ballot box. Make sure they march on Washington and lead us toward a legislation we have been unable to win. Remember. Children watch what you do, so watch what you do.

NIGEL NOBLE

Nonviolent Revolution

East Hampton

February 19, 2018

Dear Editor,

For all those who say that we need a revolution in this country, it’s about to happen — led by our students/children who are going to lead us in a nonviolent revolution the likes that you have never seen before in your life. “Time Has Come Today.” I think it’s important for us on eastern Long Island that we have to step up and support our children by marching on Lee Zeldin’s office. 

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is co-sponsored by our congressman, Lee Zeldin, R, Shirley, N.Y., and would force states with stricter gun laws, such as New York and California, to honor out-of-state permits from states with less restrictive requirements. Its passage is a victory for gun rights advocates; the National Rifle Association’s executive director, Chris Cox, called it a “watershed moment.”

So if you were a mentally ill person or a red state yahoo and wanted to make a statement by executing a shooting massacre what city would give you the best exposure?

New York City? What would stop you?

Please share with all your Facebook friends! 

KEVIN REYNOLDS

Cowardly Congress

Plainview

February 15, 2018

Dear David:

Since neither the gun-shooting deaths of 20 6 and 7-year-old first grade children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School, nor the 58 adults shot to death in Las Vegas, managed to motivate our cowardly Congress to pass necessary, lifesaving, common-sense gun control laws, I cannot help wondering if, somehow, all 535 members themselves were shot to death by a gunman like the Parkland High School killer, their appointed or special election successors would feel scared or guilty enough to do the right, moral thing that their deceased predecessors never had the conscience to do.

RICHARD SIEGELMAN

Generic Defect

East Hampton

February 15, 2018

To David:

In 2018 the United States is averaging almost three shootings a week in our schools. At this rate we will probably triple last year’s total. The political outrage was pro forma. Mindless psycho­babble that can’t go anywhere and isn’t intended to.

Searching for a solution we might try and role-play a scenario. Imagine that we are not Americans but French, Gabonese, Peruvian, or Laotian. Pick a country developed, underdeveloped, developing. None of them would react the way we do to these killings because none of them have the genetic defect that is an essential part of the American DNA. No other country does what we do. Not once or twice a year, never 50 times in a year.

The issue of our national DNA is the central point for trying to solve this problem. It’s not a specific mental health question identifying these killers as psychologically unstable or deranged. Because if it were and we recognize that 3 percent of the population (10 million Americans) have serious psychological issues) how will we ever be able to keep tabs on all of these people?

More realistically, the problem is embedded in our national psyche. Our flawed genetic makeup requires certain logical adaptations. Alcoholics shouldn’t work as bartenders. Junkies shouldn’t work in pharmacies. Americans shouldn’t have guns. Compared to every other culture in the world, give an American male a gun and he or she is more likely to shoot someone. The comparative numbers are staggering.

Solution-wise, we could lock up the 10 million potential killers with psychological issues. Or we could try and alter our DNA to alleviate the need to use our guns on ourselves and on each other. Otherwise, we are left with two options. One is to allow the carnage to continue, which our Congress seems perfectly happy to permit as long as the National Rifle Association keeps the cash/polemic flowing. The second is to bring the number of guns in the society down to a necessary usable minimum and to control who has access to these weapons.

Americans are about 4 percent of the world’s population, yet they own 48 percent of privately owned guns in the world. Given the number of gun killings in the U.S. it would not seem illogical that the more guns one possesses the more likely they are to be used.

Last year Republicans passed a bill enabling anyone with a psychological disability to purchase guns (revoking Obama’s prohibition). They are currently working on a bill to allow people who have a permit to carry concealed weapons in a state to cross all state lines. What can one say?

At some point we will need to accept that gun violence and the killing of children in our schools is part of who we are. It will never end no matter how many security guards and metal detectors we employ until we come to terms with who we are as a people and decide to change the culture of violence that is so deeply embedded in our DNA.

That being said, we are unlikely to recognize the extent of our DNA issue, so realistically we are left with only one variable to a possible solution — controlling guns.

NEIL HAUSIG 

 

Dying Village

East Hampton

February 19, 2018

To David:

East Hampton, once the unique and charming village that attracted tourists from all parts of the globe, unfortunately has become nothing more than the Rodeo Drive of the East End. It has become the opposite of “user friendly.” No longer does it offer the appeal of the glorious and sweet getaway it once was, but rather now serves as an extension of expensive chain stores that are available in any shopping mall or on any street in Manhattan. The appeal is gone and the local businesses that do remain (and there are only a few) are paying the price dearly for the decline in tourism over the last few years.

This past summer was strongly indicative of a dying village. What was once a haven and inspiration to tourists across the globe unfortunately is not any longer. This past summer one could easily find parking on any Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, as both Main Street and Newtown Lane were morbidly quiet. And this occurred in the two months, namely July and August, the months all businesses depend upon to be able to survive through the winter. The weekends picked up, but certainly not like years past.

By 6 p.m. in the evening the streets were lifeless except perhaps for those waiting on line for an ice-cream cone. The decline in the village’s appeal to the international community, which was so robust in past years, has also become unfortunately quite noticeable. 

East Hampton has lost its life force and it’s time for us to take a good hard look at what’s wanted and needed to change that, otherwise the local businesses that do remain will not be able to continue. And if we experience another slower summer, as we did last year, current local store owners will be faced with the harsh decision as to whether they can and will remain in the Village of East Hampton. This will leave Main Street and Newtown Lane with a dismal row of chain stores, which no one can afford shopping in and which day trippers and tourists could get to much more easily elsewhere without the three-plus-hour trip on the Long Island Expressway. 

Take a look at the life force in Sag Harbor. Its streets are alive with people morning through the night. It is a “user friendly” town, which offers tourists charm, beauty, fun, music, food, and most important, a sense of community (of young and old), which tourists cannot find elsewhere. Sag Harbor has not been eaten up by chain stores and continues to offer tourists what East Hampton once was. It is time for a change if we are to survive and grow. Time to collaborate on ways to enhance the attraction of this beautiful village of ours because as of now it is stagnant, lifeless, and has lost its heart.

 We must look for ways to change with the times and resurrect the village to attract people from all over the globe once again. We can do this collectively and in a positive manner without compromising the beauty and sensibility of what once was a haven for so many people. We are a community of unique talents and backgrounds and must find a way to create and sustain an environment that works for us all. Moving forward collectively with vision, integrity, and aliveness needs to be our goal if East Hampton is to thrive and once again become that magical place that draws people from near and far.

BARBARA LAYTON

Waiting to Happen

Springs

February 15, 2018

To the Editor:

Of all the school shootings, the one that just took place in Broward County scares me the most. Here’s why. 

Every school or sports program I have worked in has a kid, like Nikolaus Cruz, a young man so angry and disturbed that even the toughest teacher or coach couldn’t handle him. In my days coaching baseball and basketball in Brooklyn, I took pride in taking boys and young men under my wing that no one else could handle, but there were occasionally kids who were too difficult even for me, and with great reluctance I had to throw them out of the program. 

In one instance, a young man I threw out came back with an ice pick and threatened to cut me up, but with help, I was able to handle that. But what if he came back with an automatic weapon. If he did, I and several other people would have been dead.

Basically, that’s what happened in Broward, A disturbed young man who was thrown out of his high school returned with automatic weapons and killed 17 students and teachers. And here’s my point. There are tens of thousands of Nikolaus Cruz’s all over this country. Give them easy access to automatic weapons and they are a massacre waiting to happen.

This isn’t a mental health problem — there is no therapy program that cures the rage inside every wounded, bitter young man. It isn’t an education program. There are some kids even the best-trained, most compassionate street-smart teachers can’t reach.

It is an automatic weapons problem. You put automatic weapons in the hands of every adolescent loose cannon in small town and suburban America and you are setting yourself up for massacres of students and teachers.

No one in those communities wants to hear this. No program anyone has ever developed will defuse the rage in the Nikolaus Cruz’s of the world. You want your children to feel safe? Take the automatic weapons out of their hands.

MARK NAISON

Professor of African-American 

studies and history, 

Fordham University

Loves His Village

East Hampton

February 19, 2018

Hey David,

Have you ever taken a trip over to Block Island at night? It’s a great ride. You leave the lights of the west behind you and you start to search for the lights in the east. Just when you start to question your nighttime navigational skills and your equipment, your blinking light shows up dead ahead on the horizon. 

There is nothing like a shinning light on a stormy night to a mariner. This brings me to your article last week, “Inns Make Plea for More Amenities.” It was alarming at first reading about all the extras like gyms, spas, and children’s playgrounds. Where would all this stuff go and what about the extra traffic, noise, and pollution it would cause to the already overburdened village? But as I read on, I realized here you have a man with vision at the helm who represents the people as a whole, not a select few, a man who is not afraid to speak the truth and move forward with no strings attached. A man who loves his village. That man is Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr.

When referring to limited overlay, variances, and special use his words are strong, “It’s a dead issue” and “it’s not going anywhere,” citing the negative impact on the residents. Way to go, Paul. Too bad the Town of East Hampton doesn’t have your crystal ball.

Best regards, 

JEFFREY PLITT

Becoming Nassau County

Springs

February 19, 2018

Dear David,

When I decided I wanted to live on the East End of Long Island, I had the option to live anywhere, as I had some well-heeled family members in Water Mill. I still have the records of the areas I scoured looking for a place that was the best for me. East Hampton seemed to be the most ideal place, beautiful beyond belief and that sense of a small town. I stumbled into Springs and knew it was what I wanted. Small, simple shingled houses on half and quarter-acres, bikes and balls on lawns, uncomplicated gardens, a lovely historic district, few businesses, and minutes from the town, nothing pretentious, everything pretty rural looking, a little haphazard, and best of all, surrounded by a gorgeous bay. 

After I bought my house I had to give up my job, though I was making a very nice salary as a school administrator, because I couldn’t leave Springs anymore. That was in 2002. Of course, East Hampton has changed somewhat over the last 16 years: more people, more houses, some of them huge, a few builders with no taste whatsoever, HomeGoods, Damark’s Deli morphing into a department store (neither of these will I support). The town planning a new senior center that has a kitchen the size of my entire house. (I know they want to take care of the graying population, but, really, they eat that much?) 

So then there were these hamlet studies, which were mandated by the comprehensive plan of 2005, but we were never given the goals of that plan that the studies should have included. These hamlet studies seemed to be designed to increase development, which was the word I heard over and over, development, particularly geared toward the gentrification of our town. 

They also pushed roundabouts as the answer to our traffic problems and talked a lot about parking and only a little about making the lack of public busing issues disappear. There was some recognition of our water quality but not the sense of the real threat that exists, but with some attention to stormwater runoff. They did not recognize that when you can’t drink the water what you have left is worthless. They used a phrase, “form based code,” which figures in somewhere but I’m not exactly sure how it fits in the picture.

Probably the only thing that had any real merit that I heard, and I went to both sessions (a.m. and p.m.), was affordable housing for workers in second-floor apartments where they already exist, providing that septic systems were upgraded. 

They talked of things that they had put forth in their charettes, a word that describes the meetings they held in each hamlet (that word is a lot like some of their plans: a little phony) like a park in open land down by a marina on Three Mile Harbor or shops on Fort Pond Boulevard in Springs. People at the Springs charette heartily rejected most of what they put forth for Springs, but they are still trying to push them. They have no understanding of what we like about our Springs.

Except for the putting forth of the necessary retreat away from the coast of Montauk, the “advances” they presented for the other hamlets were pretty much like what they wanted for Springs, the eventual and slow move to becoming Nassau County. So long deer, turkeys, hawks, and goodbye to the visit from that turtle that comes to my back yard every so often. Hello concrete and buildings like what’s going up around County Road 39. 

A wise man named Tim Bishop told me more than once, “If we don’t have pristine beaches, clean waters, and vistas to look out upon, no one will want to be here.” I guess that’s gonna be me.

Sincerely,

PHYLLIS ITALIANO 

Found Teeming

Center Moriches

February 18, 2018

Dear David Rattray,

As a wildlife advocate, I must urge that the Georgica and Wainscott ponds be opened to the sea. From looking at maps, there is strong evidence that Long Island’s southern barrier islands once stretched farther east and East Hampton was lined with creeks. The community is missing out on so much additional life. But instead of spending money to open those creeks and helping spawn life to return, East Hampton spends money on algae bloom studies. Marina Del Ray on the Pacific Ocean has an “= sign-shaped” entrance made up of rocks, that works fine and could easily be put in place.

The abundance of life too long displaced in East Hampton can be found teeming in the Areskonk Creek in Center Moriches. Beginning in 2012, concerned residents, fearing the creek’s closure, wrote letters to “Save the Areskonk Creek,” followed by a creek study and then several petitions. Thankfully, Suffolk County scheduled the project to take place this winter, when dredging wouldn’t affect any migrating life.

 On Monday, Jan. 22, Suffolk’s hired crew from Brookhaven’s Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Recycling and Sustainable Materials Management, arrived with their continuous-track heavy equipment and began digging the entrance of the creek. The project saved two birds with one stone, as clean sand went to replenish the shoreline of Webby’s Beach, less than a mile east. Workers were also mindful of the area’s wildlife, not even displacing the roots of a small patch of phragmites (reeds) they needed to cross in order to do the work. (Phragmites, like asparagus, sprout new shoots every spring.)

Areskonk Creek is a half-mile stretch, complete with an extensive back-end marsh, that is the seasonal home to striped bass, eel, shiner, bunker, bluefish, sea horse, snapper, crab, clams, oysters, and mussels. As the docks in the Hudson River provide shelter and shaded waters for spawning striped bass so do the private docks in Areskonk. The birds that depend on this stable ecosystem include egrets, herons, terns, warblers, doves, bank swallows, mockingbirds, purple martins, red-winged blackbirds, swans, ducks, and ospreys.

The loss of future generations of creek life would have been devastating and it is a testament to a well-coordinated effort between Suffolk County’s Department of Public Works, the township of Brookhaven, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, plus the sweat equity by the workers that made the dredging of the entrance of Areskonk Creek a reality.

Hopefully, East Hampton will take note. It is what it was.

DONATHAN SALKALN

Organizer, 

Save the Areskonk Creek

Russia Timeline

Amagansett

February 18, 2018

To the Editor,

What is Donald Trump afraid of?

If you are president, entrusted with protecting our freedom, and a foreign power is accused of attacking us do you remain silent? If you or your inner circles are suspected of lying, colluding with that power, and obstructing justice, what would you do? If you are innocent, you would want to cooperate to clear your name and expose any effort to undermine our democracy. Yet Trump has zealously tried to derail the investigation from the start.

Why? It’s not because he thinks the Russia probe is a waste of time (Mueller and company have already exposed that canard). It’s not because he is woefully ignorant (on many things, yes, but not this). It’s because there is something, a lot of something, there. He rants about “fake news,” “a witch hunt,” and a “hoax.” He’s ignored the findings of the C.I.A., N.S.A., and F.B.I. regarding Russia’s interference in our election. Remember when it was inconceivable for a Republican president to do that? Remember Ronald Reagan calling Russia the “Evil Empire?” Remember Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, claiming Russia was our greatest foreign policy threat?

Now fast-forward to Trump’s world after he met Vladimir Putin last fall. “He says ‘I didn’t do it’ (interfere in our election). And I believe, I really believe, that he means it.” Of course Vlad is right and our intelligence agencies are wrong. Nyet. The world is upside down and his base will swallow whatever lie he throws them.

Couple tidbits from the Russia timeline from the liar in chief:

June 2016: Donnie Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort (now under indictment) meet Russian operatives at Trump Tower, one of whom promised dirt on Hillary. Little Don says he loves it and hopes the dirt can come out in August when it can best hurt her campaign. The Clinton emails are published by WikiLeaks and Grucifer in August.

July 2016 Trump: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you find the 30,000 emails that are missing (Clinton’s).”

July 2016: The Trump Tower meeting is exposed. Trump tells his son to lie about the reason for the meeting, ordering him to say it was about adopting Russian babies. The bigger the lie the better. If you believe that one, I have several bridges available for purchase in Brooklyn. 

October 2016: “I love WikiLeaks.” How many U.S. intelligence assists were murdered by the Taliban because of WikiLeaks?

October 2016: Trump says the hacking into Democratic National Committee emails might have been caused “by somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” Nyet.

February 2017: Trump meets F.B.I. Director Comey privately, asking for his personal loyalty (hello, another Nyet). He further asks him to declare Trump is not under investigation for anything improper and then asks him to drop his probe into Michael Flynn (Trump’s former national security adviser who Trump had just fired for lying and has now pleaded guilty to a federal crime and is cooperating with Mueller.)

May 2017: Trump fires Comey.

July 2017: Trump tells The New York Times Mueller would be “crossing a red line by investigating his family’s finances.” And why is that? Something to hide?

February 2018: The much heralded David Nunes memo from the House intelligence chief is published over the objections of the Department of Justice and F.B.I. Trump releases it and claims it exonerates him. Nyet. It does no such thing. It has nothing to do with the Mueller probe. It simply states a wiretap was obtained on Carter Page, a former Trump adviser, based on a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele. Steele was anti-Trump. The dossier was financed by a pro-Clinton group. So? Was the dossier false? Page lived in Russia three years, bragged he was an adviser to the Kremlin, was interviewed by Soviet agents (unknowingly to him), etc. Why wouldn’t you want him wiretapped? By the way, Trump blocked the Democratic response, but stay tuned. It’s coming. There are too many holes in this dyke to plug.

February 2-18: Mueller gets an indictment against 13 Russians detailing an elaborate plot to help Trump win the election. Trump’s response? Multiple Choice: 

A. The president of the United States condemns this attack by a foreign power, imposes sanctions on Russia, and promises the American people he will make sure this never happens again. He listens to the National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster, that the evidence of significant meddling is “incontrovertible” and the C.I.A. director Pompey that Russia will do the same in our 2018 elections. 

B. Trump says nothing but declares the investigation proves the election results were not impacted by the Russians (Nyet. Report doesn’t say it was or wasn’t.) Case closed. Nyet, case is just warming up. The actions of Russian operatives is not where the collusion lies. See above: Trump Tower and the WikiLeaks, Grucifer, etc., releases. 

 C. See A.

There is one prominent diplomat other than Putin who dismisses Russian interference as “just blabber.” That would be Sergei Lavrov, the Soviet foreign minister. Trump was right about one thing. In the fall of 2016 he screamed that the election was rigged. He was right. By the Russians, to help him.

There was enough stink emanating from Bedlam Trump this week: his affairs and the lies about a payoff to a porn star, the cover-up of Rob Porter’s domestic abuse, the Environmental Protection Agency and Veterans Affairs heads expense scandals and the horrible response to the Parkland scandal — the White House refusing to release a photo of Trump, surely a first, signing a bill weakening gun laws for the mentally ill.

What’s next? We haven’t heard from Jared Kushner. Is he too busy solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the opioid epidemic, and the China trade imbalance? Or is he hunkering down to hide his financial dealings with the Russians and Chinese?

These are people more concerned with their egos, their power, and their money than our country. They will inflict any lie, any obscenity on the body politic, and attack anyone who confronts their venality. They were going to drain the swamp. They are the swamp. Americans have to ask if this country is more important than their romance with a thug, a thug who has lied his whole life, hiding behind bankruptcies and lawyers in his 3,500 lawsuits. But now he’s up against forces he can’t bully. His tantrums will grow more strident and frantic as the noose tightens. But increasingly his party and his base will have to look at who he is. They have been on an ocean liner in the North Atlantic in the spring of 1912. There was a scraping noise. But the ship was unsinkable so there was no reason to worry.

There is collusion, there is obstruction, there were innumerable lies, but there is something else yet to come. Mark Felt, a.k.a. Deep Throat, told Bob Woodward three simple words that led to the downfall of the last president to so threaten our country: Follow the money.

PETER HONERKAMP

Needs to End

East Hampton

February 18, 2018

To the Editor,

The scope of the Russian crimes, as put forth in the indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies, is astounding — from the infiltration of state voting systems to social media trolling to email hacking and dumping. Without the special counsel, it is highly unlikely the extent of these attacks would have ever come to light.

These indictments, and the previous ones (Manafort, Gates) completely undermine Trump’s endless proclamations that Mueller’s investigation is “nothing but a witch hunt.” And yet after the indictments were announced, Lee Zeldin tweeted, “We have heard @realDonaldTrump repeat over and over again that he did not collude with the Russians. After Rosenstein’s statement today, the extraordinarily dishonest narrative otherwise needs to end.”

While the question of collusion has yet to be resolved, the only extraordinarily dishonest narrative that needs to end is the one proffered by Trump and his enablers — that the investigation is fake news, a Democratic hoax, a product of F.B.I. bias.

In November, vote Zeldin out of office. We need a representative who defends our country, not one who defends the interests of a loathsome con man.

CAROL DEISTLER

Honor the Sacrifice

Springs

February 19, 2018

Like our evidently Manchurian president, I never served in the military. But unlike the liar in chief, I graduated from college with two sons. My deferment, while first for completing school and then supporting my family, was abetted by a high number in the draft lottery. 

Truth be told, had I bone spurs (and, really, has he?), I might have played that card. My immigrant parents were adamantly against my joining the military when I was 17, despite my father’s citizenship being conferred with his Army discharge after World War II. And by 21, as a parent and out of school, it was no longer on my mind.

Friends went, and most returned, though deeply changed. Our welcome for them as a nation was unfortunately rife with largely misplaced abuse. So now the Putin puppy (apprentice?) wants a May Day style military parade to show off his toys, and to give his grandiose ego another boost. Why not just have a big gold button made for the Oval Office, and the eponymous resorts at which he spends most of his time, and our money, take a few snaps, and repair to McDonald’s, saving us all the embarrassing spectacle? 

But if there’s to be a multimillion dollar parade, perhaps His Blonditude can leave the hardware where it belongs. Assemble instead the many thousands of veterans and some of the serving men and women of every provenance and preference who honorably have and continue to serve our country, and have unfortunately the scars to prove it. Instead of more ego fodder, use this opportunity to truly honor and celebrate real service and sacrifice.

Instead of further humiliation before the world through invidious attacks on our democratic institutions, the media, established science, conventional economics, and decency, take a real break from hypocritical self-dealing, “Stormy” payoffs, and ignoring the egregious conflicts of your corrupt and barely qualified appointees. 

Honor the sacrifice of our victims while you’re at it. Include the parents of the children and other friends and family members of those killed by mass shootings over the last six years since Sandy Hook, abetted by the immoral party in power that so clearly panders to its National Rifle Association and deep-pocket donors, dog whistles to its nativist base, and now spends and borrows us to the obvious detriment of our children’s future.

Really honor those who have served, and those who continue to work every waking moment to keep our nation safe and mighty, except from ourselves and the gun lobby; and with the enthusiastic help of your local lapdog, Congressman Zeldin, who shamelessly supports bringing more guns into New York through concealed carry reciprocity. 

Truly honor us all, and give us a break from the antics, puffery, and lies that spew daily from you. Do you really think anyone is convinced by your anti-F.B.I. tweets that so conveniently ignore the long series of failures from Florida social services that were the first trip wires for warning of the impending Parkland tragedy? Why are you so afraid of Putin, so punk about putting in place the legislated sanctions?

Make us a deal, and at least spare us the viewing stand. You can more comfortably watch it on TV than stand there bathed in your usual hypocrisy, surrounded by sycophants, stressing about your made- for-TV “do,” and hoping it doesn’t follow whatever sense of decency you may have once had, and similarly blows away in a gale of sordid dossiers. 

IRA BAROCAS

Nightmare

Amagansett

February 19, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

Several people have taken me to task for not writing letters (or “articles,” as one so kindly put it) to The Star frequently enough. Honestly, I’ve tried to pull back on the impulse to write something, um, clever, but at your expense. Which isn’t nice of me in spite of the pleasure I take from it. But you’re welcome.

Furthermore, I haven’t wanted to jump back into the political discourse that’s become the starting point for every dinner party conversation. #Enough! We all know where I stand on the issues facing our nation (though at present I’m sitting). I did send this tweet out a few days ago: #NotMe? @melaniatrump? #WhenMelania will it be #EnoughIsEnough with @realDonaldTrump?

As much as I think it would be brilliant if she walked away from the insult king she married, not gonna happen my friends assure me. “She made her bargain with the devil when she married him, Lyle.” I guess, but a man can dream, can’t he?

Which brings me to the subject of this letter, Mr. Rattray. Mr. Rattray? Wake up. It’s a letter! Thank you. 

Okay, as previously reported by me in these pages, I’m often plagued with troubling dreams. When I say often, I mean every night. Two nights ago my troubling dream involved my participation in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? A dream come true for a sub-intermediate skier, forward-motion-only skater, and out-of-control toboggan rider? Nightmare.

In my dream, I participated in four Olympic sports: figure skating, snowboarding (halfpipe and big air), the Alpine Super G, and the Skeleton (which is like a backward bobsled, headfirst). It did not go well for me. I did not “medal,” as they say. 

First was my long-program figure skating event, early in the games. (My partner in the dream has asked not to be named in this letter, as she is, in fact, a very good skater. I will honor her wishes. Mary.) To begin, figure- skating commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski made unflattering remarks about my outfit and the choice of music. (We came out as Mighty Mouse and Mini Mouse respectively, and skated to Be­yoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Johnny said, “Slap me, Tara! Are they really wearing that?! Are they really skating to that?!” To which Tara replied, “Only if you slap me, Johnny. So inappropriate. So wrong!”

And that was just the start, Mr. Rattray. As we were beginning to execute our first quad jump, in which I hurl Mini into the air, she spins four times and I catch her, I fell backward onto the ice hard and cracked my head open. My partner kept spinning, with no one to catch her, and also landed unceremoniously on the ice. Luckily she was not injured, but we did not complete our long program (though “Single Ladies” continued playing in the arena). I promise you, there were no little stuffed Pooh Bears thrown onto the ice as we staggered off the rink. Humiliating.

Fortunately, the Alpine Super G is a solo event, so no partner could be at risk in a bad performance. I knew my time needed to be at least 2:30 to be “in the running” for a medal. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate that there were turns in the course, and I’m not that great at holding an edge. For the first 70 feet I was golden and gaining some confidence as I shot straight ahead. And then, there was a curve! I plowed off the course, flying into spectators, iPhones flying in my wake. (Luckily, most people lining the hillside dove out of the way and no American tourists were injured.) I was disqualified from the event and commentator Bode Miller simply said, “Well that was disappointing.” (He’s so boring.)

In the dream, I was initially excited to demonstrate my chops in the halfpipe. I thought since I’d practiced the front-side 540 hundreds of times I should easily stick it. Stick it, indeed. I shot out of the gate on my board, picking up plenty of speed before my first trick, but got up to the lip of the pipe and flew over the other side. Where there are no cameras. So basically, I was gone from the picture — just an empty halfpipe left on screen for millions to see and marvel at. Did anyone even care? Sure. My sponsor, Blue Quail Chardonnay cared. Canceled. Was I hurt? Yes, thank you for asking. I’d broken my shoulder in three places, forcing me to withdraw from the big air event.

But the team physicians said I could still enter the skeleton if I was up for it. You run hard, land on your little sled, and fly down the ice chute, headfirst. What could be so bad? And I was representing our flag. There was no question I would go for it. If I could hit an average speed of 84 miles per hour, I could make it to the podium, Mr. Rattray. Bring home some metal. At the gun, I ran like the wind with my sled, threw it down and jumped on top in one seamless motion. But soon I felt some vibrating, was hopping back and forth in the tube alarmingly. I heard a siren-like sound, those European horns, but Korean. Then I woke up and went to the bathroom.

To all the beautiful dreamers: Go for it!

LYLE GREENFIELD