Letters to the Editor: 03.15.18

Our readers' comments

Thanks to All

Montauk

March 12, 2018

To the Editor,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our family and friends that stood by us as we said goodbye to our father, Frank Tuma Sr.

As usual the support from the Montauk community was present and strong. Numerous friends and visitors stopped by with food and drink that kept us fed and in good spirits as we mourned and reminisced about Dad’s life. A special thanks to Maureen and Kathy (Grand Marshal) Keller who took over and helped for a few days; we would have been lost without them.

We also want to thank his caregivers, Debi Coen, Sally Sidoti, and Alicia Monfort, who spent so much time with him over the last few years making his days comfortable and of course enjoyable. Rumor had it that they could surely be found at Bobby Van’s or another one of his favorite haunts after a doctor’s visit and then to White’s Liquors for their daily number.

Thanks to all of the following who reminded us of the lives he touched.

The Montauk Fire Department honor guard that stood by him through the evening and all the Montauk firemen and ambulance squad members that gave their final salute. And also a thank-you to the Springs and Amagansett Fire Departments, which sent representatives.

To the Montauk Friends of Erin, along with Piper Jimmy Noonan, for their Irish farewell to a past grand marshal of the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

To East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc for offering his condolences.

The United States Navy representatives that offered graveside military honors, which included the playing of Taps and flag presentation.

To Ken Yardley for making final arrangements work so smoothly and respectfully.

To Father Tom of St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church for a beautiful service and very fitting sermon. Montauk is truly blessed to have Father Tom as their priest.

To Jason Behan of the Shagwong Tavern and his staff for accommodating the get-together following the graveside service, actually a place where he lived, with his mother and father, who owned the Shagwong way back when. Many memories were shared the way he wanted them to be, and where he wanted it to be, celebrating his life. Mission accomplished!

Lastly, we would like to thank Montauk Fire Department Chief Vincent Franzone for offering a fireman’s ceremonial farewell with the ride through town, the dock area, the church, and to his final resting spot at Fort Hill atop of their 1939 Dodge fire truck. Additional thanks to the other officers who participated in this ceremony, Tom Grenci, Ed Ecker, David Ryan, Mickey Valcich, and Joe Dryer. We want to thank all the members for the respect they showed him. This was truly a memorable honor bestowed upon him.

Aside from his family, he left others behind. There were his feral cats of Montauk that he had a “condo” built for behind his office in town, providing them with straw-filled bunks and a window where they could spend the cold winter nights. They are still cared for today by his “girl Friday” for many, many years, Sheila Ray, and her husband, Bernie. And there were his deer that roam Montauk Downs that came to his home office window numerous times a day for a hand-fed treat. They will miss him as well. 

In closing, we just want to add that my dad’s life was not just an obituary that read like a résumé. He was a man that lived life to the max. He was respected and had friends from all walks of life. He had wisdom and was always willing to share it. He was kind, generous, and loving. His knowledge of Montauk and East Hampton Town’s history was endless.

He was always there for us with his input and advice, which as his children we surely should have listened to a little better.

We will miss you, Frank, Dad, Grandpa.

Calm seas. Love ya.

FRANK TUMA JR.

LEXA DISPIRITO

And Family

Set the Standard

East Hampton

March 12, 2018

To the Editor:

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the community gathered to bid goodbye to a true legend. We were there at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton to wish Capt. Frank Tuma Sr. safe passage to tranquil seas. Frank was more than just a man, a father and husband, or a legendary figure in the East End sportfishing community. Indeed, like many of his peers, among them his cousins Bob and Burt, and other truly “iron” captains like Carl Darenberg Sr., George McTurk, Dave McMahon, the Potts brothers, Harry Clemenz, and so many others too numerous to mention, he defined Montauk as the “Fishing Capital of the World,” and in league with the fellow captains of his generation set the standard for the profession of big game fishermen.

I migrated to Montauk a kid out of New York City to chase my dreams of becoming a sportfishing guide in 1976. I got my training in the “Navy Seals” school of offshore fishermen, starting at Westlake Lodge as a mate on the Cricket II, working for arguably the most colorful figure that Montauk has ever produced, the late Capt. Frank Mundus. It was trial by fire, but I learned my trade fast. The mates would swagger in to Westlake at day’s end when the boats were cleaned and the day was done like fighter pilots returning from a successful sortie. We would drink, and fight, and generally raise hell. It was like something out of the Old West. And no one ever got arrested. The true days of “wooden ships and iron men.” The really “good old days.” 

But there was something remarkable that immediately came to my attention in my first months on the docks: Like my boss, Frank Mundus, Capt. John Sweetman, George Worth, Johnny Wolf, and many others, the signature uniform was khakis and a white T-shirt. Indeed, many photographs of those “good old days” in the various restaurants and bistros in Montauk still to this day depict happy fishing charter customers with the crews, and a dock literally covered with fish. 

A simple glance at those photos makes it immediately apparent to the viewer who was the captains and mates: They always wore khakis. That was the uniform we proudly wore, and to this day the look known as the “Palm Beach Captain” still distinguishes the real captains and mates from the wannabes. So we still always wear khakis.

As I worked my way down “killer’s row,” taking jobs on sportfishing boats on Salivar’s Dock, Duryea’s, and the true hub of the action, Tuma’s Dock, I noticed other young mates who adopted our uniform, and who took pride in our appearance and our skills. But one dock regular who caught my attention was a distinguished looking guy who wore his khakis every day, and would stand on the deck of Tuma’s Dock, smiling a wry grin, as he watched the last of the charter service boats from the tackle shop leave their slips and take the customers offshore. He looked like Admiral Halsey watching the last of his fleet disembark on the way to war. 

I knew it was the “founder of the feast,” Frank Tuma Sr., but asked Capt. Richie Nessel, who I was mating for at the time, what the story was with him. Ness simply replied: “That’s the man himself; he’s the Godfather!” After that, I made it a point to get to know this good man, sometimes working in the tackle shop selling worms (!) or doing things on his boat, the Compromise. He taught me to rig baits the right way. He taught me how to maintain tackle in top condition. He taught me to think like a fisherman. I was a willing student.

One day in mid-July, probably in the early ’80s, I was putting the finishing touches on a strip of trunk cabin trim, and I saw Frank walking down the dock, smiling broadly, picking at his left elbow, an amusing affectation he adopted when he was “scheming” something or coming up with a business idea. You knew that he was up to something when he did that. He asked me how far along I was, and I replied that I was finished. He then said, “That’s good; stow the painting gear and help me get the stick [harpoon] gear ready. Frankie [Frank Jr.], and Mike Finazzo are grubbing up at the grocery store. We leave for Block Island as soon as they get back!” 

Block Island, the famed portal to the most sacred and fertile of all swordfish hunting grounds, the “Dumping Grounds” east of Block Island. And I was going with the Tuma crew. That’s all I had to know. I jumped up and got to work.

We left accompanied by Frank’s friend and colleague’s boat the Satellite, owned by Perry Duryea, with crewman Russ Cullum as his striker, or harpooner. Henry Mund and Pete Biondo were coming, too, and Perry Duryea had the plane to augment his hunting. It was an invitation to an exciting offshore safari.

 But first we had to stop off, top off the fuel, and engage in the usual night of debauchery at Ballard’s on Block Island, drinking, feasting, and telling tales in the company of good friends and what fishermen do best. It was a wild and raucous night.

We awoke at 3 o’clock in the morning in various stages of disarray, poured cold water over our heads, and cast off. We were a sorry sight, but with Frank Jr. as our striker, Mike Finazzo as his follow-up striker, me with Frank Sr. on the bridge, and Pat Keller as tender, we were a formidable team despite our hangovers. We made the tranquil mid-summer waters of the Dumps at sunrise, and seemingly within minutes, the ocean was alive and teeming with life. There were lots of fins of all types, but there was and can be no mistaking a “horned out” swordfish, with both dorsal and tail fins cutting the surface languidly, their backs appearing almost dry, and seemingly asleep. That’s when you wanted to strike them. And we were ready. Perry got on the first fish as the plane dipped its wings and we could hear the pilot calling out: “Three boats . . . two boats . . . a little starboard, that’s it, half a boat . . . . He’s there!” Perry’s striker was so true that the harpoon shaft appeared as if stuck into sand, straight upright, and seemed to wobble away. Done deal. Perry got a nice one and started to tend it, or haul it in.

Frank Sr. cut the wheel to port, and there in front of us, about 600 years away, was a giant of a swordfish, easily 500 pounds or more. He expertly maneuvered the Compromise to where Frank Jr. had the sun to his back, and the fish, impaired by its top-situated broadbill, could not look up or see what was directly in front. It was the perfect shot. 

As Frank Jr. posed, steady as a rock, the fish did what they sometimes do: It just disappeared into the deep green water, without so much as a flick of its tail, and simply settled away. Frank Jr. prudently did not take a reckless shot, so we watched heartbroken as the behemoth faded into the deep.

 Frankie was stunned, not angry but disappointed, and I felt for him. He simply could not believe that the fish just so suddenly and effortlessly vanished. Mike and Pat were equally disheartened. A gloomy and awkward silence fell over the Compromise. Up on the bridge, not knowing what to say and also that nothing I said would bring the fish back, I finally mustered the courage to say to Frank Sr.: “Christ, Frank, what a shame; we had that fish.” 

Frank didn’t say a word. He picked at his left elbow and a broad smile was etched on his face as he watched the young bloods, all of us hot for the kill and highly disappointed, vent and let the feelings out. But that impish smile belied something that was a uniquely Frank Tuma Sr. moment: He had something on his mind. He kept staring out at the horizon but then turned to me with that intense look and his bright blue eyes seemingly piercing through me. I knew I was about to learn a life lesson. 

All fishermen have nicknames; mine was Chopper, given to me by Frank Mundus. So Frank said: “Chop, you’re a damned good fisherman, and you’ll only get better. But if you want to be a truly great one, you need days like this and you need to accept the disappointment that comes with the glory.” He paused, then looked away again, and in one smooth motion, turned the boat south, and simply said: “Besides, there will always be another one.” 

We didn’t harpoon a swordfish that trip, but I came away with a golden rule to live by: There will always be another one. I know now that it may not come in the form of a swordfish, but another opportunity, another “one” will present itself. 

This was an extraordinary man. He was possessed of a passion for life, an engaging and insightful way of dealing with people of all types, and he loved his family, and still does. He was vibrant and his confidence was contagious. If it can ever be said about a man that “they broke the mold when he was created,” it refers to Frank Tuma Sr.

So for all of us who have had the privilege to know you, to love you, and to call you friend, Frank, we wish you fair winds and following seas. May the sea always be gently breaking on your port quarter, and let the fish be biting. Godspeed. . . . 

JOHN J. EBEL, Esq.

Come Celebrate

East Hampton

March 9, 2018

To the Editor:

I would like to express my profound gratitude to the community for their outpouring of love, kindness, and support during this difficult time. My daughter, Catharine, and I feel blessed to be part of a community as compassionate and gracious as East Hampton. Please come celebrate Bill’s life on Sunday, June 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the East Hampton Historical Society’s Mulford Farm.

With our deepest appreciation,

ABBY and CATHARINE FLEMING

The Bennett Family

East Hampton

March 7, 2018 

Dear David:

To continue with our stories of local Bonackers who served and died in World War 1, I focus today on the Bennett family. Three members of the Owen Bennett family served: Owen, the father, served in the Coast Guard, and worked at the Georgica Coast Guard Station before and during and after the war. He had two sons, Stanley, who served with the Army Expeditionary Forces in France at Baccarat and Vesle, where he was wounded. He returned to live his life in Sag Harbor. Stanley also wrote a truly special journal of his experiences in the conflict. Excerpts will be highlighted at the East Hampton Farm Museum’s display on April 14, when we reopen for 2018. 

A second son, Claire, served as chief carpenter’s mate during the war at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. On Friday night, Dec. 6, 1918, Claire died at St. Vincent’s of influenza. He was buried in his Navy uniform, the Rev. Norris W. Harkness officiating. A volley of four rounds was fired over the grave by eight Navy men from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, The East Hampton Star revealed. His commanding officer, Capt. G.A. Lung, said in a letter to Claire’s family, “Assuring you of my sympathy in your bereavement, which, I feel sure, will be softened by the thought that your gallant and loyal son gave his life to his country while serving it in the hour of its greatest need.”

 I quote this last sentence because my mother, Helen Talmage Hamilton Walsh, received a very similar letter when my brother, David Raymond Hamilton, died returning from Vietnam in 1971. Interestingly, the Bennett family continued its career in carpentry until the present day.

Sincerely, 

PRUDENCE CARABINE

Poem

With artificial intelligence on every one’s mind

Can artificial stupidity be far behind?

PETER WEISS

By the Pool

Amagansett

March 9, 2018

Dear David,

“I find the process of selling one’s home a humbling experience”

“You do not have a pool.”

“Am I a bad person?”

“They will require a pool.”

“They will be out of luck.”

“It will add thousands to your price.”

“I save thousands in taxes and insur ance by not having a pool.”

“They entertain by the pool.”

“Being ‘by a pool’ has never added anything to my life other than mos quitos, imminent peril, and bathing suit humiliation.”

“You need to get a permit ASAP. The town may not let you have a permit this close to the ocean.”

“As well they should not!”

“You may be sorry.”

“It won’t be the first time.”

All good things,

DIANA WALKER

Wolf Habitat

Montauk

March 9, 2018

East Hampton Star:

 Right now negotiations are being made on an appropriation rider that delists the wolf in the Western Great Lakes. Not only one federal judge, but the highest appeals court in the nation, with Bush-appointed judges, found that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service violated delisting rules for wolves, and now this rider takes away our legal challenge to keep agencies accountable. We certainly need that more than ever. 

The Northeast region has potential wolf habitat, but we have no confirmed wild wolves living here. Restoring wolves to this landscape is really a way to complete and perfect the ecologic order. By resolving the public’s concerns, showing the economic, environmental, and social benefits, and carrying out the purpose of the Endangered Species Act in a strategic and effective manner, the gray wolf could be a success story. 

But here’s the catch. If wolves are delisted by this rider, it virtually eliminates the chances of natural recovery because of the violent and aggressive wolf- hunting seasons. Wisconsin wolves have the highest probability of getting to New England, but they certainly can’t do it if two-thirds of the population is killed off by trophy hunters. Wolves don’t know state lines and that’s not how populations are to recover. Until wolves recolonize suitable habitat nationally, we must stop delisting attempts. And Congress shouldn’t be in the business of picking off species to delist. Western Great Lakes wolves are everyone’s wolves, no matter where you live in the United States. Please contact your senator and ask that wolves remain protected. 

MATT STEDMAN 

Bravo

Amagansett

March 11, 2018

Dear David,

Knowing the right thing to do and actually following through to do it are strong signs of leadership. At the Tuesday town board work session, Councilman Jeff Bragman, as Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee liaison, spoke up for Wainscott and correcting contaminated well sites that needed remediation. One hundred and eighteen wells were found to have perfluorinated compounds (PFOS & PFOA) and since January this is an addition of 63 contaminated wells. It seems that the increase in contamination had to be considered seriously for the safety of Wainscott residents.

Councilman Bragman requested that the town board take action, immediately, in helping residents with the cost of installations of “point-of-entry treatment systems.” These systems would have carbon filters that would allow homeowners to drink the water safely.

As a longtime town board watcher (10 years), it was refreshing to hear Councilman Bragman’s report of what is actually in those contaminated wells, their potential health hazards, as well as suggesting solutions that will rapidly aid affected homes. Transparency and quick action were on display by the councilman. After a lengthy discussion, Mr. Bragman actually led an open dialogue with other board members and gained their support. It was cooperative, effective action that took place afterward. Supervisor Van Scoyoc joined the conversation to agree with the action needed. Bravo to both town board members.

Sincerely,

RONA KLOPMAN

Wrongheaded Decision

Noyac

March 8, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

If it wasn’t painful enough to see the photo of Montauk beach after recent storms on the front page of The Star, it was even worse to read the lies of East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc (“Montauk Took a Beating” by Christopher Walsh, March 8, 2018).

Two years ago the Army Corps was challenged, and the town board was begged by Montauk citizens and allies — with several coastal geologists among them — to not put a seawall of sandbags there, but pause the project while a real environmental-impact study was used in determining a better solution. The ensuing damage of that wrongheaded decision included the Army Corps removal of primary dune that stood up to Sandy in 2012. If there had been no seawall built there (even though there was a law on the books in East Hampton against hardened structures — to protect the shorelines — that made it illegal!), the ocean could have swept in, moving back and forth with the changing tides in a slower, more natural way. The seawall has hastened erosion. The next lie is about the seawall being temporary.

There is also no provision for Montauk in the latest Fire Island to Montauk reformulation study, and the way the Army Corps constructed their revetment, it would take more millions of dollars and several generations to clean up the mess (the now exposed sandbags) to allow the beach to start to come back. 

The coastal retreat that was advised two years ago and also made the recent front pages of The East Hampton Star as the way to go, would also involve the motels there being bought up by the town and relocated (as they were built in the ’60s on a natural dune, which should never have been allowed). Let’s learn from our mistakes. History unheeded repeats itself.

Water protector and lover of Montauk,

HEIDI RAIN 

Wind Farm Project 

Stuart, Fla.  March 8, 2018

Dear David,

 As an architect I’ve been an advocate of and have had an interest in renewable energy concepts for many years now. I began coming to Amagansett as a child to visit family around 1950 and have lived in East Hampton Town year round since 1969. Back in the ’50s I remember our ocean beaches being 150 yards wide and had the pleasure of fishing with my dad when our bays and harbors had an amazing abundance of fish.

Over the years, I have seen the problem of beach erosion intensify and am more convinced then ever that our rising seas are due mainly to climate change. Along with the occurrence of global warming, we have seen serious pollution problems develop due to acid rain associated with it. Intense density and residential developments along our bucolic shorelines have also contributed to the contamination of our harbors, due to road runoffs, lawn fertilizers, and obsolete septic systems. Due to this problem, we have seen our harbors’ eelgrass beds diminish to the point where the quality of our waterways has impacted the inshore fishery, to the point where it barely exists. 

 I have been following the Deepwater Wind proposal to build the South Fork wind farm project 30 nautical miles off Montauk Point for some time now. I have attended numerous East Hampton Town Trustee meetings discussing this proposal, and I applaud the trustees, especially Rick Drew and Jim Grimes, for investigating the pros and cons related to this undertaking.

 At the same time it seems like the alternative to the wind farm possibility that has been proposed by the current White House administration is drilling for oil in the North Atlantic. In my mind this is the most unfortunate solution to solve our energy demands and a terrible idea given the impact on our environment and the potential for a disaster waiting to happen. The last thing we need to do at this point in time is to continue to go down the same road with the increase in the burning of fossil fuels.

One of the town trustees’ primary responsibilities is the management and protection of our shoreline and harbors, which I hope also includes our inshore fishery. I feel we all have a responsibility to support this renewable energy concept, which minimizes the negative impact that climate change has. It is urgent that we need to see the South Fork wind farm project become a reality sooner rather than later, and I only hope that our community, the town board, and trustees recognize the importance of it in the very near future.

GREG ZWIRKO

Should Be Ashamed

Springs

March 11, 2018

Dear David,

Your editorial “Let’s Keep Springs Debate Above Animosity” was extremely upsetting. I don’t know where you collect your information from, but I for one am upset due to the amount of money to build a new what? The idea that my taxes will go up are eating me up. My husband and I are seniors; we have paid and paid and paid high school taxes, which is the biggest part of our tax bill. The last of my grandchildren just graduated from college. This goes to show you how long we have paid through the you know what.

A teacher wrote a letter to the editor re: If your house is assessed at $600,000 or $700,000 you will only pay $190 more. Let me tell you when you become a senior this amount is a choice of food or pay the heat bill; you are not in my situation so please do not speak, or figure out for me what I should/need to do. 

One thing I do know is I don’t need my taxes to go up. There must be a way that school taxes for seniors can have a big discount; the STAR program doesn’t cut it.

This is my gripe, taxes, not the nationality or color of anyone’s skin. You should be ashamed for your accusations, and I voted no.

BEA DERRICO 

Reassessment

Springs

March 12, 2018

Dear David,

Thank you for your insightful editorial on the school district inequity that continually roils the community. The absurdity of five school districts with vastly differing tax rates in a town the size of East Hampton is untenable. It must be addressed by all levels of government and by us as citizens. 

It is not an insoluble problem. You point to several fixes that would give all the kids and taxpayers of the town a fair shake. Reassessment and consolidation are chief among them.

I am intrigued by your assertion that the commercial tax base is not the “big tax plum.” I am one who bought into that bromide, but I think you are right that reassessment is the real elephant in the room. Many officeholders fear reassessment, though Southampton has carried it out equitably so we have a good model near to hand.

Thanks for clearing the air.

RAMESHWAR DAS

Urged to Attend

Amagansett

March 12, 2018

Dear David,

There are only three meetings remaining before the budget vote for the Amagansett School on Tuesday, May 15. The meetings are listed on the website, aufsd.org, as Tuesday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m., April 10 at 7:30 a.m., and the informational budget meeting on May 8 at 6:30 p.m. All these meetings are open to the public and you are urged to attend. 

The school should be mailing the 2018-2019 budget information within the next few weeks and it is available in more explicit detail in the main office of the elementary school for viewing. At the last board meeting, the superintendent invited anyone to make an appointment to speak to her with any questions, if you don’t understand the budget. 

Each line of the budget should be transparent with the exact amount the school board and superintendent are requesting for each expense. Each line is a different code number that is designated for specific expenses to be paid from. Example: administrative salaries, teachers’ salaries, benefits, allotment for substitutes, conferences, classroom supplies, equipment, field trips, etc. One line has nothing to do with another. The amounts are completely separate expenses. 

The school board president stated that some staff members are being paid from different codes for different titles. Does this mean the present administrators are being paid for additional titles in addition to what we are paying them in high salaries? 

The education law book states that every school is required to have one superintendent and one school board. The New York State A.P.P.R. (evaluations process for teachers) requires a second administrator to evaluate observations for non-tenured staff that require a second evaluation. 

Amagansett has only 30 teaching staff members. I am not sure how many staff are tenured and how many are non-tenured. Hypothetically, if all the Amagansett teachers each needed three evaluations, it would total 90 minutes each, multiplied by three, equaling 4.5 hours: 30 minutes each — pre-observation, observation, and post-observation. The evaluator would then need two hours to write up each of the three evaluations totaling 10.5 hours per staff member. 

Multiply 10.5 hours by 30 teachers would equal 315 hours. Divide the hours by a workday of 5 hours, this would mean an evaluator would cost the district 63 days at the most!

Why are we paying for two full-time administrators when we only need one superintendent and a part-time evaluator?

As a community we need to speak up and stop allowing the superintendent and the school board to waste our taxpayers’ money.

Eliminating the excess would not affect the students whatsoever. Remember each line has their own expenses and the students would still have all the same programs they have now. 

We have a fabulous teaching staff that educate and inspire the students. We don’t need the excess in administration.

I will be handing out information at the post office in Amagansett in the next few weeks and will also be running for school board this year. I hope I have your vote.

Best regards,

MARY A. EAMES

These Monsters

Montauk

March 12, 2018

Dear Editor,

I feel compelled to bring to light certain facts and logic that I have not heard discussed in your editorial on the recent and very tragic event at the Parkland, Fla., school. You insinuate that if we quickly pass some gun control laws, it will help cure the malaise of our society.

The mass murder at the Parkland school, to me, is a massacre of reckoning for the country. Enough of these tragedies have occurred to make everyone in the county sick to their stomachs and asking themselves, “How can this be stopped?”

I grew up in Montauk, where we had a rifle club, and we shot .22 caliber rifles in the school gym. It was a lot of fun for everyone involved. When I went to East Hampton High School, during hunting season, I would always have my shotgun in my locked car on school grounds. This was in a time period when there was a long list of words that could not be spoken on national television. I even think the word toilet was one of them.

There was no graphic violence in the cinema and, of course, no video games. You could mail-order firearms; there were no background checks. And there were virtually no school shootings. (I must say here that I am an advocate for background checks.)

Fact-forwarding to now, we must ask ourselves what have we done to our youth to create these monsters.

One thing is the feeding of psychotropic drugs by Big Pharma to young people who are not fully psychologically developed, just because they may be struggling mentally. If they need a little more love and attention, give them some drugs.

Our film industry has saturated their minds with gross and graphic violence. AR-15s and AK-47s are the weapons of choice in these films and may help explain why they are drawn to these weapons.

I own numerous firearms, among which I have an AR-15, civilian model. I use the AR-15 for long-range target shooting. I don’t use it in hunting, because it is not powerful enough. All the other rifles I have are semiautomatic, have nice wood stocks, and don’t look as threatening but are far more powerful.

I would also mention that a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun with a 10-round magazine is every bit as formidable a weapon as an AR-15 in close quarters. The AR-15 civilian semi-auto has turned into a bogyman.

I think the number-one influence on our disturbed youth is gaming. It doesn’t take much imagination when the premise of these games is to kill or maim as many people as you can in as short a time as possible. No one likes to talk about this very much, as the industry is worth billions.

We, as a society, have to take a good look in the mirror and be honest about what we really see. We might see that we, as a society, have no one to blame for the current situation but ourselves.

Respectfully,

JONATHAN EDWARDS

Lack of Humanity

East Hampton March 6, 2018

To the Editor,

Recently, a billboard appeared that claimed that the National Rifle Association was a terrorist organization. Several more are planned. I do not agree with that.

What the N.R.A. has is a mental health problem: There is a lack of humanity, a total lack of feeling for the parents of schoolchildren. The proposals the N.R.A. (and others) have put forward are nothing but smokescreen and will do almost nothing to enhance safety in our schools.

Dana Loesch, the N.R.A. spokeswoman, expounded the organization’s position on CNN: “The media love school shootings because it’s good for ratings.” Perhaps unconsciously, she was saying that it was also good for her organization’s ratings — all that free publicity and exposure on a widely watched program.

I just wish I did not have to write this letter.

P. DAVID FREEDMAN

Almost Fell Asleep

Springs

March 10, 2018

Dear David:

I would like to preface my comments about the forum last Friday with the six candidates for the June Democratic primary by saying I have only become interested in local politics recently. I consider myself a beginner in learning the subtleties of the art of campaigning and politicking. Maybe my expectations were wrong, but I expected the forum to be a definitive revealing of the one who appealed to me most as the front-runner whom I would choose. I had heard the individual candidates on earlier occasions but this would be an important real-time comparison of them all.

One candidate did not show because of a prior engagement that he could not abandon, but sent a representative from his campaign, so I write only about the five remaining candidates. I was disappointed by a complete lack of drama, passion, expressions of anger — especially anger — and the required unrelentingly forceful drive to embrace the audience with their ideas on how they would use the office of congressperson to bring back hope into our lives.

Additionally, the candidates were not assisted by the questions that, in my opinion, did not give them the opportunity to break out from the uniformity of the other presentations and demonstrate their understanding of the all-important details. I was bored and almost fell asleep. Balance is off if I am angrier about the current administration than the candidate who is looking to replace him. This was an important meeting, with a packed, standing-room-only audience. Where were the drama, the passion and the angst?

If I may, I would like to suggest to the candidates that they take speech instruction. This I know about. Do not think the presence of a microphone four inches from your mouth will help you. It does not correct the lack of diction; it amplifies the lack of diction. Too many of you, like the rest of us, mumble and slur words together. The last consonant of a word is not to be ignored, but pronounced clearly. Also, when you remain behind a desk or a podium, you are trapped, partly hidden from view. It may feel like some kind of shield to you, but it is for us too. We cannot tell who you are when your body is hidden. Ask for long cords on the microphones and come out toward us, engage us, walk up and down, and we will keep our eyes on you. It might actually invigorate you.

NIGEL NOBLE

Voting Record

East Hampton March 9, 2018

Dear David,

Most of us probably think of the National Rifle Association as having influence only in the West and the South. Lee Zeldin, our congressman, accepted $14,000 from the N.R.A. Wonder if he will give it back and vote for better background checks and banning assault weapons? So far, according to the website Politics that Works, which monitors voting by issue, he has a zero voting record on guns; that is, he is an N.R.A. “Dreamboat.” Here is the website, if you care to see how he votes on other issues: politicsthatwork.com/voting-record/Lee-Zeldin-412646.

DON MATHESON

Persecution

Springs

March 11, 2018

Dear David:

In mid-2017 polls, two-thirds of Americans backed same-sex marriages, including almost half of Republicans and larger proportions of religious people — the highest level of support ever. 

Yet, our G.O.P. lawmakers have fumed over the protection of this marriage right. So last week a group of senators shamefully introduced legislation that would permit businesses and other entities to use their “moral convictions” and religious beliefs to discriminate against the L.G.B.T. community and single mothers and fathers. Euphemistically called the First Amendment Freedom Act, this legislation would instantly revoke all legislation that protects the L.G.B.T. community and anyone whose marital status might offend (single moms and dads, you’re included) and would nullify any future protective measures.

Let this sink in for a moment. Four hundred years ago, in the face of persecution for religious beliefs or other conduct not consistent with rulers, Europeans began to seek refuge in what would become America. Now, America is taking its turn at the helm of religious persecution, allowing companies and citizens to impose their religious beliefs upon others whose sexual status they oppose. A new persecution rears its ugly head here.

If this bill passes, companies could refuse to serve or provide services to married same-sex couples or single parents, deny family or medical leave to employees to care for sick same-sex spouses, or fire an unmarried single woman if she got pregnant. Hospitals could deny visitation rights to same-sex spouses or a single parent whose child is hospitalized. Landlords could deny housing to same-sex couples or a single mother.

The senator leading this charge back to the Dark Ages dishonestly pretends that none of the above examples would occur because existing law provides protections already. His deceitfulness ignores that the very purpose of his odious law is to excuse compliance with those protections.

Now, one would think that no New York lawmaker would countenance such shameful legislation. Well, you would be wrong. Our very own congressman, Lee Zeldin, was hard at work co-sponsoring similar legislation back in 2015 (and was only one of two New York lawmakers to do so)! One can only believe that he will gladly lend his support to this new bill if he gets the chance.

Mr. Zeldin took an oath to uphold the protections afforded by our Constitution. In pursuing his socially destructive agenda, he is thumbing his nose at the protections we all deserve. We all need to stand up and refuse to be represented by someone embodying such cruel policies.

BRUCE COLBATH

‘Exclusivity’ Policy

Rochester

March 9, 2018 

To the Editor: 

Please do not interpret what I am about to say as being rude and disrespectful. I just want to be honest with you. 

I have a big problem with newspapers which have an “exclusivity” policy. I am not the kind of person who will lie in order to get a letter published in a newspaper. I believe in the law of karma and in reincarnation, and if I ever lied, it would come back at me and hurt me in the current or a future lifetime. 

I wouldn’t even lie to The New York Times because I had the sheer nerve, gall, and audacity to exercise my First Amendment constitutional right to freedom of speech and submit my letter to two other newspapers. 

Other than a few newspapers, I have never met anyone who agrees with the exclusivity policy. If a letter has something important to say, I would think that any good human being would want readers of other newspapers to benefit from it, too. 

I write these letters because I want to share what I know with others for their benefit. I already know what is in my letters. 

With one particular letter, I think that it is darned important for as many people as possible to know that the right-wingers amongst us who are really social Darwinists are telling a big lie when they try to give the people of this country the false impression that Social Security is going to go bankrupt and broke almost any day now. They themselves know that that is a lie.

STEWART B. EPSTEIN