Letters to the Editor: 04.19.18

Our readers' comments

Remarkable Growth

East Hampton

April 16, 2018

Dear David,

I have seen LTV evolve over the decades and am amazed at its remarkable growth in recent years. The variety, depth, and range of current programming are exciting. This weekend alone I was able to view a fascinating tour of the new East Hampton Farmhouse Museum, the Good Government Group’s panel discussion on the offshore Wind Energy Project, and an in-depth and very beautiful presentation on the Peconic Estuary. 

LTV, with two dedicated channels and a vast archive of historical material, has become a valuable resource of current information and a treasure for future researchers. Many thanks to the directors, who volunteer their time to make this possible. 

Sincerely,

JUDITH HOPE

Trash-Capades

Springs

April 14, 2018

Dear David:

I enjoyed reading “The Mast-Head” in this week’s paper. With Earth Day on the horizon, it inspired me to share with you a human-interest story. For the past few years, I take my Saturday morning jog from my house on Old Stone Highway to Louse Point. I would always see metal cans and plastic and glass bottles littering the roadside. After feeling mad (and sad) about the litter, I decided to do something!

 I would take my morning jog noting debris along the way. Then once home, I’d get on the sweet three-speed bike, along with a bag, and pick it up. I’ve been doing this for the past three years and my anger at the litterbugs has turned to empowerment: “Just Pick It Up!”

Cyclists have spotted me picking up trash along the road and have shouted out a heartfelt thank-you. Cars have flashed their lights and waved my way. I’ve even had joggers point out trash to me! Ha! I would love to inspire others who walk by trash on their daily strolls, to just pick it up. I’m not looking for any accolades; in fact, I think it’s much more interesting to have me remain an anonymous good Samaritan, to inspire others to not be too proud to pick up someone’s trash.

Maybe a shot of me on my 3-speed (from the rear,  a.k.a. Gael Greene) riding along my little stretch of litter-free Old Stone Highway would be cute. 

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Best,

LYNN STEFANELLI

P.S. I did find a brand-new pair of Ray- Ban sunglasses on one of my trash-capades, so good deeds actually do pay off!

Irony

Amagansett

April 14, 2018

Sir,

Young Alexander Sigua Pintado, this year’s valedictorian at East Hampton high school, is to be congratulated on his stunning achievement: He’s been offered places by seven of the eight Ivy League schools. (The Star, April 12.)

I hope I’m not the only reader who sees the irony of this brilliant Ecuadorean achieving so much; this at a time when some in our community are anxious about the undoubted changes in demography that affordable housing will bring. 

Brilliance is colorblind. Get with the program!

BRIAN CLEWLY JOHNSON

Truly Inspirational

Sayville

March 28, 2018

To the Editor:

I attended the March for our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24 with my friend Bob. Though uncertain about what to expect, it was one of the best things I have ever done.

We left in the wee of the morning by bus from Roosevelt Field. One thing we noticed immediately was the diversity of the group. There were many teachers, a few families with young children, and even a few other geezers like Bob and myself. 

When we arrived in Washington, the energy was palpable. The bus dropped us off by the Navy Yard at about 9:30 a.m. As it was a beautiful morning, we decided to walk to the National Mall, a distance of about 21/2 miles. There were organizers along the way directing people to the best locations to view the speeches and events and also encouraging people to sign up to register to vote. When we got to Pennsylvania Avenue we were greeted by a wall of humanity.

It was truly inspirational to listen to youngsters such as Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. There was a group of young men from Newtown, Conn., who were victimized by the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, and young men and women (boys and girls actually) who spoke of gun violence in their Chicago and Los Angeles neighborhoods that resulted in loss of family and friends. These kids represent the best kind of grassroots movement this country has to offer. They are young, about to be of voting age, have a stake in the issue, and spoke articulately with great force, emotion, and dignity. 

Yet, despite the eloquent and reasonable pleas of these young people to be heard, the G.O.P. sleeps on the issue and the National Rifle Association heaps scorn on these students. Leslie Gibson, running for office in Maine, went so far as to refer to Gonzalez as a “lesbian skinhead.” Emma took the high road, refused to take the bait, and delivered an incredibly moving speech at the rally. Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Delaney Tarr, other students from Parkland, spoke eloquently and forcefully. The crowd chanted “Vote Them Out” referring to our politicians who don’t show support for sensible gun-control measures.

  The N.R.A. for its part called the students hypocrites and said they were the pawns of Hollywood celebrities (a favorite claim by conservatives when they don’t like something). Sometimes there is some validity to this claim, but not here. There were performers like Jennifer Hudson and Demi Lovato present, and the rally was supported by George and Amal Clooney and Oprah, among others, but to be so dismissive is to ignore the scope of this audience. 

This was as far from Hollywood as it gets. There were many students, but also parents with children of all ages, some with strollers, ex-Marines, aging baby boomers, and mainstream Americans like you and me. And it was as peaceful and as well behaved a crowd as you would want to see. 

The N.R.A. showed true colors when they trotted out their pretty-faced spokesperson, Dana Loesch, at a CNN forum for the Parkland students shortly after the shootings. Though the kids listened to her respectfully, she was by turns patronizing, condescending, and ultimately dismissive of them and looked downright icy when a social studies teacher from the school questioned the N.R.A.’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. 

But this is what is so impressive about these youngsters. They are forceful, have great conviction, and yet are respectful and dignified. They get it. They have listened to those who disagree but have not been deterred. They seem tireless. In a word: leaders. And today, we have precious few leaders in our government from either party from the top on down. They spoke and people of all ages listened. It was special.

Bob and I were talking with others on our bus at the conclusion of the long day. We all agreed that momentum has been built on this issue as never before, but it must continue to be sustained. I’m convinced that these exceptional youngsters will keep trying. It is up to us to continue to provide them with the forum and to support them. If we don’t, it will simply be another sad footnote every time a mass shooting occurs.

These young people are the future of this nation and for all of our sakes they need to be listened to and heeded.

Immediately!

JERRY GIAMMATTEO

School Leadership

Amagansett

April 16, 2018

Dear David,

Last week, School Leadership, LLC firm had two representatives gathering information from the community (two people in total, one being myself), parents and community members (four people total), and school staff members attended the meeting. There was also written surveys people could mail/fax in.

The purpose was to seek a variety of areas the school and community were seeking in a new Superintendent. As a community our main goal should be a Superintendent that is trained, as we had in Mr. R. Greismer, Dr. L. Peak, and Dr. G. Aman. One person whom is well rounded and can bring the students to new heights, enhance the enthusiasm in the staff with positive motivation and additional training and still be fiscally responsible to the community. 

When you are voting for the budget next month, keep in mind that there are multiple code numbers that contain money for various needs of the school. Each code is named for their purpose, and should contain money for that reason only. So when you are looking at the budget it should be very clear with a dollar amount that we as tax payers are paying for that item. There should be no hidden costs. Example: Codes names are staff salaries, staff benefits, administration salaries, transportation, equipment, Xerox materials/ maintenance, field trips for students, conferences the staff, classroom materials etc. etc.

So when you receive the breakdown in the mail soon, we as a public see the administration line it will contain the salaries of the principal, Mrs. Dorr, the administrator, Dr. Lamorgese, and the Arts and Education administrator, and a salary for the new Superintendent and a stipend for consultant fees for Mrs. Tritt until the new Superintendent is fully on board. (What will the consultant fees be for Mrs. Tritt? Let’s see, she is getting $195,500 now for 200 days of work, and free housing. Calculated in dollars that could be up to a $1,000 per day? And still be able to live in the house free? Why???? 

The administration line can be downsized drastically without touching any of the students money in their classroom materials code, their field trip codes or any of the other codes. The Board of Education can easily now revote on the budget amount being presented to the community on Tuesday, May 8th.

I highly recommend everyone attend May 8th meeting at 6:30 p.m. to hear and see what the Board will present. The School Board is our representatives and advocates protecting our students, staff, school building, and grounds and still being fiscally responsible when presenting the community a dollar amount for us taxpayers to vote on the budget.  They should only request what is necessary to maintain a school. 

So if they are still asking for more than a half a million dollars in administrative salaries including the administrative Secretaries, we as a public should ot vote for the budget. By voting for the budget it says we are agreeing to the money they are paying for administrative salaries because they have already put the amount in the budget for 2018-2019 school year to include a 1.7-percent increase in taxes.

But if we vote the budget down, then they know we will no longer tolerate this and will wait until the June when the budget is presented again for a revote to see if they eliminate administrators and only Administrators. none of the Student codes should be touched. We can then approve the budget for the new school year. 

The administration would like us to believe that they would have to eliminate programs from the students, but as you read previously in my letter, each code is separate and is planned for specific items. So shame on the Board if they dare touch the students code money just to keep unnecessary administrators. This is not a power struggle I am speaking about. It is all about doing what is right. The board of education took an oath to do what is fiscally responsible to the community. 

Please remember to come 6:30 p.m., on Tuesday, May 8th, to the Budget review and then vote from 2:00-8:00 p.m., on Tuesday, May 15th for our students not for additional administrators.  Also, in a meeting with Mrs. Tritt, Superintendent of Amagansett School, Cheryl Bloecker, District Clerk and myself, on Friday, April 6th, and 2 email correspondances, Mrs. Tritt confirmed that Patrick Bistrian, Jr., the Vice President on the School Board, will complete the remaining 2 years of his 3 year term as a board member of Amagansett School. 

In the event a school board member moves out of the Amagansett school district, the board member must vacate his seat on the board. I asked Mrs. Tritt this question because if it were true that Mr. Bistrian was in fact leaving the district, then there is ample time for a member of the community to have the chance to run in the upcoming election on Tuesday, May 15th. The School Board should put it out to the community for all perspective candidates, and not just elect one, since the vote is in the near future. 

Mrs. Tritt has reassured me in person that Mr. Bistrian will finish his term, but in her emails she stated “If a vacancy should occur sometime in the future, the Board will follow the law with respect to filling that position. I will not speculate about an event which has not occurred and may not occur.”

Best regards,

MARY A. EAMES

Meat and Dairy

East Hampton

April 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

With the 50th observance of Earth Day on Sunday, each of us can contribute by reducing our driving, use of electric energy, and consumption of animals. Yes, that. 

Last fall, Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network and Germany’s Heinrich Bolle Foundation concluded that solving the global warming catastrophe requires massive shift to a plant-based diet. A 2010 United Nations report blamed animal agriculture for 70 percent of global freshwater use, 38 percent of land use, and 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by operating farm machinery to grow animal feed. The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

Moreover, meat and dairy production dumps more animal waste, crop debris, fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined. It is the driving force behind wildlife habitat destruction.

In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products in our diet must be replaced by vegetables, fruits, and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar, and other pollution-free energy sources.

Let’s celebrate the 50th observance of Earth Day at our supermarket.

Sincerely,

EDWIN HORATH

Meet Our Needs

Montauk

April 16, 2018

To the Editor,

It’s not a secret: Our small slice of Long Island needs to bring new sources of energy onto its grid. Right now, our region is relying on temporary, fossil-fuel-fired generators just to avoid blackouts during the busy, hot months of summer and other high-demand times. We’re treading water, and, as any homeowner or business owner in the area can attest, our monthly utility bills show it. Inconsistent energy rates make it nearly impossible to develop and stick to a strategic, responsible budget. 

The South Fork Wind Farm proposed by Deepwater Wind will power our regional grid, enough to meet our needs, plus some. It’ll result in stable energy bills for our friends, neighbors, and local businesses. Plus, it’ll make our slice of Long Island the nation’s clear leader in the renewable energy economy. 

Fossil fired plants are destroying our oceans and our air. I urge the leaders of East Hampton to fight for our planet. Businesses and residents throughout the area are counting on you.

SHANNON HENRY

Best Source

Wainscott

April 16, 2018

Dear David,

Thank you for the editorial in last week’s paper, “Wind Power Still Best Option.” 

As the past chairman of the East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Committee, we understood offshore wind was the best option when we led the East Hampton Town Board to adopt the 100 percent renewable energy goal three years ago and we have not wavered. I concur with each point you made and I wish to add more information in support of Deepwater Wind’s 90-megawatt offshore wind farm.

My passion to find renewable sources of electricity began on the July 4th weekend in 2010. I paddled out in a kayak from Gerard Drive to Gardiner’s Island on a hot summer day. As I turned around at Gardiner’s Island, looking back to East Hampton, I saw a yellow, brownish smog haze over a large portion of the town originating from the Buell Lane substation’s oil-fired peak power generator. 

Memories of seeing New York City covered in a thick layer of smog during the 1960s came to mind, flashbacks. We couldn’t see the city skyline from the Throgs Neck Bridge back then. At that moment I swore, one day we would get rid of that monster spewing particulates, polluting the air we breathe.

The United States is shamefully behind the developed countries installing offshore wind. Europe has been installing offshore wind for over 20 years. Europe now has a total installed offshore wind capacity of 15,780 megawatts. This corresponds to 4,149 grid-connected wind turbines across 11 countries. This is not a new technology; it’s a mature industry. We just need to go across the pond to find answers to our questions and alleviate the unfounded fears.

The train has left the station. Deepwater Wind has an executed lease with the federal government for designated land offshore, an area large enough to build approximately 200 offshore wind turbines. This is a done deal. The only open question is where will the cable land — in East Hampton? Southampton? New York City? New Jersey? Connecticut? Rhode Island? Massachusetts?

A Norwegian oil company, Statoil, won at a New York State auction in December 2016 to develop offshore wind on a 79,350-acre site south of Long Island off  Jones Beach with a projected capacity of 1 gigawatt of electricity, over 10 times the size of Deepwater Wind’s South Fork project. This is great news for cleaning up the air we breathe and reducing carbon emissions from Long Island’s predominately fossil fuel electric grid.

Sure, everything has an impact. Everything we do, our mere existence, has an impact, but we need to evaluate the benefits with the impacts to determine the best source of renewable electricity, as you pointed out. 

A benefit seldom discussed is the reduction of social costs associated with carbon emissions when evaluating offshore wind or any renewable energy. There is a dollar value associated with damages from climate change that includes changes in net agriculture productivity, human health, physical impacts, ecological impacts, economic impacts, property damages from increased flood risk (as we now realize in the Montauk sand replenishment), costs already impacting the fishing industry due to increased ocean temperatures, acidification of the ocean, and biodiversity degradation. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has given us values associated with the reduction of carbon emissions directly related to the reduction of fossil fuel electricity produced on the Long Island grid. We need to evaluate those costs in the benefit package along with everything else.

“The Price is Right” for the trustees, the town board, and even in discussions about landing on Beach Lane in Wainscott. It seems like everyone’s vote is up for sale to approve the cable landing in East Hampton as each jurisdiction giving approval negotiates the best benefit plan from a corporate entity presumably with endless financial resources. Then I remember the old saying, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Do we have no shame? Isn’t the benefit of cleaner air for us, our children, and grandchildren good enough? I sure hope so.

Sincerely,

FRANK DALENE

Consequences 

Springs

April 16, 2018

Dear David,

I want to suggest that the question of wind or no wind is not the real issue.

The article and editorial in last week’s Star characterizing groups as in favor of, or against, offshore wind because of the ongoing debates involving Deepwater Wind missed the point. I believe there are very few people who are not in favor of offshore wind power and who do not realize that offshore wind is one of the least environmentally harmful ways of providing power and is necessary and imminent.

We should do everything possible to plan offshore wind with due process, protect the environment and the fisheries, but I submit the question is not wind or no wind. The challenges lie with the Long Island Power Authority PSEG-Long Island plan: the South Fork request for proposal and the impacts of the choices made by LIPA PSEG as presented in the LIPA Reforming the Energy Vision Committee briefing of Sept. 21, 2016. This plan, which includes Deepwater Wind, fails to meet its own stated objectives on virtually every measure. 

As well, I am convinced it will cause terrible unintended consequences, specifically that it will inhibit or block the South Fork from efforts to establish local distributed energy resources that could unambiguously provide clean power to this community, and that would build in resilience to storms and possible cyber-attacks. 

The real issues we should be focused on are the failures of the plan to meet its own objectives, the unintended consequences, and that Deepwater Wind and others have been ignoring or misinterpreting the facts and circumstances involved with the request for proposals. The starting point is that the request for proposals was put forth by LIPA PSEG to satisfy projections of peak power increases on the South Fork.

The first failure of the plan is that LIPA PSEG’s projections of increasing peak power have not been substantiated because they do not provide their data to the public. Don’t forget that their business is to sell power and benefit from new power projects and power lines. The graph of projected power increases is clearly not based on real data as it goes up in a perfect straight line. 

Very little attention has been paid to the validity of the projections and that there is a fundamental problem with assuming it is okay to indefinitely allow power consumption to go up without making the reduction in energy use the first objective. To its credit, one of the selections LIPA PSEG made was a “demand response” program, which does aim to reduce peak demand, and which is a very positive step. Also to its credit, East Hampton Town has been working on measures to forward energy efficiency, but both these efforts are far from adequate and, even if well meaning, are not regarded as the priority. 

The town should be thinking about more aggressive ways to use all options including legislation, to curtail and manage peak demand issues. Both LIPA PSEG and the town should be compelled by a popular outcry to focus on how to use distributed energy resources like solar and batteries to reduce demand and address peak power. 

The second failure of the plan is that it was specifically created to address peak power needs, yet wind graphs overlaid with the power demand graph of the South Fork show an uncanny inverse correlation between when we have peak power needs and when the wind blows and wind power will be produced. Wind may provide very little peak power relief based on the graph. This leads to the third failure of the plan.

The solutions chosen were supposed to provide clean power alternatives to new transmission lines, as stated on page two of the South Fork request for proposals. However, on page 10 of the September 2016 briefing announcing the details of choices and the plan, it states that $513 million (in 2015 dollars) of new transmission upgrades will be needed to “preserve reliability” on the South Fork. Contradictions do not get more blatant than that. The reason the transmission upgrades are necessary is because there must be a power source to meet the peak power demands when the wind does not blow and to take away excess power in the off-season when wind is blowing hard and generating more power than the South Fork is using at that time. The cost of the needed power upgrades to “balance” the wind power is also not accounted for in the rationale justifying the three chosen solutions as the least-costly options. That leads to the fourth, and what seems to be the most egregious, failure of the plan.

While the LIPA PSEG plan states it has chosen the least-cost options to balance peak power, it has been stated that Deepwater Wind will cost approximately $1.6 billion and that does not even include the $513 million-plus in power upgrades, which will likely swell in cost as such projects tend to. So, it seems the total cost for just Deepwater Wind and the new transmission upgrades to balance the wind is around $2 billion. 

Remember, this was put forward to address peak power projections that have not been independently verified and that the wind is ill-suited to address, so it will really be the new transmission upgrades that will supply the power to manage the peak demands. If you think about it this way, what is the opportunity cost of $2 billion, or even, $500 million, to address peak power on the South Fork and what other options might exist that might cost less? 

There is a recent case study from Oakland California’s Jack London Square power station where they are replacing 165 megawatts of peak power plants with what is estimated at $40 million  to $70 million of distributed energy resources as an alternative to $380 million to $500 million of new transmission. Sound familiar? If the LIPA PSEG $500 million in planned new transmission was instead directed to local distributed energy resources as home and business based batteries and solar to balance the Deepwater Wind power and help with peak demand, might the same such savings be achieved on the South Fork? Especially if the peak power demands were reduced with other legislative measures? 

If we properly attribute the costs of new transmission as providing LIPA PSEG real peak power solution, then we are still left with the remaining cost of $1.6 billion for Deepwater Wind. Even if this is more properly associated with greening-up base load power rather than peak power, $1.6 billion seems like an unbelievably high cost. 

On page 10 of the LIPA REV Committee Briefing it offers a financial impacts avoided costs to justify the wind and other choices it makes. All I can say here is, LIPA, PSEG’s way of justifying the cost of the purchase power agreement with Deepwater Wind seems very sleight of hand. The costs of the first wind projects in the U.S. are likely to be higher than subsequent projects, but, still, this looks crazy.

For all these reasons, I submit the real problem we should be up in arms about is the secret nature of the planning and accounting done by LIPA PSEG. I believe the next big concern we should have as a community are the unintended consequences of bringing in new power lines on our future attempts to achieve our 100 percent renewable energy goals and use distributed energy as a key aspect of building resilience to future storms and possible cyber-attacks to the grid. After that, I believe it is important to look more closely at what might the distributed energy resource alternatives be and how they could reduce our vulnerability and achieve our local power renewable self-reliance goals. This includes how things like local batteries rather than power lines could retain the power from Deepwater Wind in the community rather than opening it up more to the power grid that serves all of Suffolk with bigger power lines. 

These are complex issues and I may not have everything perfectly straight but at least I want to emphasize that the question of wind or no wind is not the real issue.

KRAE VAN SICKLE

Mired in the Muck

East Hampton

April 15, 2018

Editor:

The departure of Paul Ryan from his position as House speaker and Republican congressman was long overdue. Ryan leaves as completely disgraced and demeaned, as he could never imagine: a soulless, misguided stooge, with no principles or moral compass. He is almost unrecognizable from the Paul Ryan who was the flagbearer of compassionate conservative policies.

I never much agreed with Ryan. I found his Ayn Randian self-loathing mindless drivel. His trickle-down economic beliefs, even more so. His ideas about deficits and balanced budgets weren’t terrible except when they were based solely on reducing entitlements. His ideas of treating people with fairness and respect were good. He was not racist by nature even though he supported policies that were essentially detrimental to people of color. But that was the old Paul Ryan.

Before Trump, he had integrity, respect, intellect, and a sense that what he wanted to accomplish was good for the country. He had a soul that wasn’t entirely bad for a politician. He displayed empathy and humanity. He was considered as being intellectually curious and reasonably bright, within a limited range of ideas. Not an expansive mind, but certainly not the standard brain-dead small-mindedness of many conservative politicians. He once seemed above the fray rather than mired in the muck.

Ryan began losing it with Obama. His dislike for Obama was so intense that he blocked every attempt Obama made to provide relief to working-class Americans after the financial crisis. His dislike spilled over into health care, where instead of allowing the changes to the law that would have made it more functional and less expensive, he voted 52 times to repeal it. Not once did he offer a single idea about making it better. He pursued the Benghazi screwup for two years, knowing that it was basically incompetence and stupidity with some minimal consequences (people die in war even in video games) rather than a national crisis. In eight years under Obama he did virtually nothing beyond obstruction.

Trump’s arrival was the real test for Ryan as a politician and a man. He detested everything about him and realized quickly that Trump’s racism, misogyny, and blithering stupidity put the country at risk. Instead of standing up and battling Trump’s attempt to discredit much of our traditional system he bowed his head and shut his mouth. When Trump appointed an array of incompetent buffoons to the Departments of Energy, E.P.A., Housing, and Education, Ryan said nothing. When he denigrated immigrants and people of color, Ryan stayed tight-lipped. When he embraced white supremacist groups, Ryan disappeared. Nothing Trump did, no matter how repugnant to Ryan’s so-called values, generated more than a whimper.

Ryan sold what was left of his soul with the health care bill that would have destroyed the system, the tax bill, and the new budget. Deficit hawks and responsible conservatives don’t support $2.7 trillion in debt without any increase in revenue. Deficit hawks don’t give away the store.

Virtually nothing remains from the Paul Ryan who came to Congress with so much fanfare and promise. The golden boy is irreparably tarnished. He will need to go home and find a soul, a heart, and a dose of courage. He will need to wipe away the stench of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Something we will all need to do. 

NEIL HAUSIG