Letters to the Editor: 07.05.18

Our readers' comments

Important Change

East Hampton

June 29, 2018

Dear David,

Thank you for your coverage of the recent celebrity suicides and discussion of local suicide-related deaths in the June 21 front-page article “On Suicide Help and Prevention.” The discussion is so important, especially because it creates the opportunity to talk about what help is available.

As a person passionate about changing the stigma around this issue and about mental health, I would like to offer one note. In the second paragraph, the writer uses the phrase “committed suicide.” Suicide prevention organizations have long been pushing for new language around this phrase. On the website SpeakingofSuicide.com, writer Stacey Freedenthal explains, “The verb ‘commit’ (when followed by an act) is generally reserved for actions that many people view as sinful or immoral. Someone commits burglary, or murder or rape.” To reflect this thinking, the AP Style guide made an important change last year.

“Avoid using committed suicide except in direct quotations from authorities. Alternate phrases include killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide.”

We are learning so much more about this cause of death, which, as The Star reported, has increased by 25 percent since 1999. Many who die by suicide suffer from mental health illnesses, some of which are sudden. So in effect, suicide deaths can be deaths from a sudden illness; they can result from a change in medication. The term “committed” seems insensitive in these cases.

Meanwhile, the AP’s new recommendation was years in the making. Specifically, the phrase “died by suicide” was championed by a graduate of Columbia’s Strategic Communication master’s program who understood how the media could help open up more-informed thinking around suicide. 

In any case, more awareness around this stigmatized death is only positive, while attention to language is one small way to get there.

Thank you for your consideration.

LYNN DOUGLASS

Heartfelt Thanks

Amagansett

July 2, 2018

Dear David,

In January, while we were in Florida, Mother, who turned 99 in March, fell and sustained multiple fractures that required two aggressive physical therapy rehabs and three hospitalizations due to pneumonia and complications. Her amazing mind and determination to return home to her residence in Amagansett kept her focused despite her setbacks. Over the past five months, she realized that goal last month when she was able to be discharged from the rehab and flew directly back to the comfort of her own home.

This goal was realized and was facilitated on this end, as the good, old-fashioned community spirit that I was blessed to grow up with here refreshingly prevails. 

The East Hampton Human Resources Department suggested that I call the East Hampton Lions Club, and I cannot tell you how generous, kind, and helpful they were with supplies, a hospital bed, a wheelchair, and numerous other necessities required to be in the comfort of her own home. They are, as I am sure you already know, an amazing organization, and it is with heartfelt thanks and appreciation that we wish to acknowledge them.

Mother is truly home, sweet home.

Best,

KATHY MULLEN

And Family

Actually Did Suffer

East Hampton

June 30, 2018

Dear David:

Regarding the pedestrian who was hit by a car in a crosswalk on Saturday morning, June 23, I would like to clarify that though The Star stated that my house guest was “not seriously injured” and that she “would be okay,” she actually did suffer from five rib and multiple pelvic fractures as well as contusions and bruises and wasn’t released from the hospital until Thursday, June 28. She will be out of work for an undetermined amount of time, which hopefully will not be career ending.

Sincerely,

VIRGINIA GRAY

No Longer Sleepy

East Hampton

June 27, 2018

Dear East Hampton Star,

It’s me again, the guy who tries to be a voice for sanity in a world gone demonstrably insane. As we enter the thick of our summer season, I’ve noticed a larger than usual presence of bicyclists on our roads. And none of them seem to know or care about rules and laws which are meant to keep all of us safe. 

The first thing I want to stress to bikers is that most visiting drivers, and a lot of locals as well, have a tendency to speed, run traffic lights and stop signs, and drive on the wrong side of the road. This means that it is imperative that you obey traffic laws in order to stay safe. Always stop at intersections, stop signs, and red lights. For most intents and purposes, according to Department of Motor Vehicle regulation you are a vehicle and must obey all the same rules as you would when driving. 

There are, of course, exceptions. You should always, always, always, be over on the right-hand side of the road, especially in intersections with multiple (turning) lanes. When crossing major roadways, such as Montauk Highway (a.k.a. Pantigo Road, Main Street, Route 27) you really need to get off your bike, find a crosswalk, and walk across. If there is no crosswalk, don’t cross the highway! For this reason, you should always plan your biking route and stick to the plan. 

Our back roads are no longer sleepy, quiet roads. People speed on them all the time trying to avoid the traffic on the highway. With the proliferation of service vehicles (contractors, carpenters, electricians, gardeners. and landscapers, etc.), parking in and narrowing the roads further, this is extremely hazardous. Even without the trucks, there are hundreds of potholes, sand and gravel patches, and puddles from overwatered lawns. Most of these roads have no shoulder of any kind, and with barely room for cars to pass one another, sharing the road is difficult for those of us who actually believe in sharing. 

The best road for cycling is Route 114 from Stephen Hand’s Path to Sag Harbor. The most dangerous is Old Stone Highway, which runs from Amagansett to Springs. This latter has no shoulder to speak of and the margins are steep (greater than 45 degrees) for much of the way. Also Old Stone Highway has a lot of blind curves, and many drivers are stupid enough to speed on these curves on the wrong side of the road. Ride single file or avoid this road like the plague. 

The last warning I will impart is that it has been proven beyond a doubt that drivers of cars cannot see bicycles in their left rearview mirrors until they are right on top of them. Thus you should never pass a car — even one stopped at a light or sign — on the left. If you want to make a left turn, walk your bike across the road. 

For those of you who think I’m just spinning my wheels, you can check the New York State driver’s manual for what is law and what isn’t. I also spent four years at a camp which taught long-distance biking rules and regulations. Personally, I think that for safety’s (and sanity’s) sake, we need to license people to ride bicycles, especially visitors, the way we do to drive cars.

Let’s all try to have a safe and happy summer season. And remember that most of our roads were actually designed to accommodate cars, not bicycles. Actually, they were laid out in colonial times and were used primarily by horses and carts. Widening is not an option. So when cycling, please use common sense. And drivers, please stick to the speed limit or below. And keep your eyes open for bicycles. 

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely

MATT HARNICK

Immediate Danger

Springs

June 28, 2018

Dear David:

It seems that the prestige brand Audi is having problems along with its parent Volkswagen, A.G. (See, for example, “Audi CEO is Arrested in Emissions Scandal,” Wall Street Journal, June 19.) The scandalous falsification of emissions data is now widely known. 

But what has not received attention is the stalling by the company to fix and replace defective air bags. 

This is by far a more immediate danger to drivers and their passengers — often family members. I have received some eight postcards from Audi stating that “records show your vehicle needs service to complete open recall/s. As soon as possible, please contact your authorized Audi dealer to have this work completed free of charge.”

I have responded to this alert more than a dozen times, calling both my local dealer in Southampton, and the Audi Customer Experience Center for the United States. The response is always an excuse that they don’t yet have the necessary parts, the U.S. government controls the flow of parts and has authorized very limited shipping of parts, they cannot predict when parts will be available, or (especially at the dealer) the playing of a recording announcing the unavailability of a representative or hanging up. Occasionally, when Southampton Audi does answer the special phone for this recall, the response is the same: I’m on a list, and they will notify me. There is no information as to when.

This has been going on for more than two years. I suspect that the postcard announcements are merely to create a paper trail to claim that they have been diligent — and I have not. While Audi’s chief executive officer, Robert Stadler, is in custody, someone from the U.S. government should inquire about the dangerous and outrageous delay in servicing the national safety air bag recall. In the meantime, Audi owners and renters in the area should be aware of the danger and report it. After all, your life could be at stake.

DONALD SUSSIS

Plastic Products

East Hampton

July 1,2018

Dear David,

Another beautiful day to take my dog on her beach walk early morning. The horizon stark, the sky blue, the breakers gently rolling in, surely the paradise we know as our precious coastline. But be careful where you walk, not because of the dogs or the litter from inconsiderate beach guests. It is the plastic byproducts and litter rolling in from the ocean. It is staggering what I pick up every morning in addition to my doggie bag. If there is a reason to point to the ocean’s industrialization, just look at what industrial plastic refuse is flushed up on our beaches daily.  

As children most of us remember looking for seashells or beach glass; today grab a bag and pick up the litter that could end up choking the ocean’s creatures and lyrical seabirds overhead.

I applaud our village and town administrations’ efforts in taking these plastic products out of hands’ reach. 

Thank you,

LINDA JAMES

 

Methoprene

Springs

July 2, 2018

Dear David,

It was great news indeed that county vector control officials decided to suspend for the time being the scheduled methoprene spraying in Accabonac Harbor. Many Springs residents have long been concerned about the impacts of methoprene on wild denizens of the harbor: larval lobsters, crabs, and dragonflies. As residents of East Hampton, we understand the concern over disease-carrying mosquitos, but it is always a good thing when pesticide applications are not needed. 

The Accabonac Protection Committee has advocated for testing and less use of methoprene over the years, so we would like to thank the efforts of a number of people and organizations who worked together to bring about this positive result: the East Hampton Town Trustees and their volunteers in conducting the testing that showed low levels of mosquito breeding; our county legislator, Bridget Fleming, for supporting the testing efforts; the Nature Conservancy, which owns the land around the harbor where testing occurred, Kevin McAllister for consistently raising concerns about methoprene spraying. 

We look forward to the continuance of the testing program, and to a time when the knowledge gained can lead to less harmful systems of mosquito control.

Finally, all who are interested to learn more about the testing program should come to the upcoming Accabonac Protection Committee forum on the health of Accabonac Harbor. It will take place on July 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 at Ashawagh Hall in Springs.

FRANCESCA RHEANNON

President

Accabonac Protection Committee

Killing Wildlife

East Hampton

June 30, 2018

To the Editor:

Is everyone on the East Hampton Town Board deaf? Or, perhaps, they’re just listening to the voices of special interests while ignoring the rest of their constituents. Time and again, taxpayers, voters, residents here in East Hampton, have addressed the issue of bias on the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee, and time and again it seems they are just “whistling in the wind.” And not lost on anyone who’s paying attention, is the presence of members on that committee who represent state agencies with a vested interest in killing wildlife, along with the fact that Andy Gaites, a pro-hunting town administrator, has been appointed chair of that committee, when no other independent citizens committee has a town official as chair, let alone one with a well-known, pre-conceived bias. In fact, in advance of a recent meeting of the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee, Gaites took the liberty of distributing an article raising the specter of deer browsing as an environmental crisis of epic proportions, while failing to acknowledge that other studies have shown that deer density is not a leading factor in determining variation in vegetation impacts. 

Along with the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, Gaites continues to “push” the opinion of Tom Rawinski, a self-declared hunter working for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, who says he’s proud his son is a hunter, too, and identifies hunting as a “spiritual” endeavor. It is a known fact that those working for the U.S.D.A. and most of the other so-called “wildlife agencies,” continue to make a living from promoting the slaughter of deer by using fearmongering about ticks, vehicle incidents, “threatened” understory and forests, while at the very same time ignoring the elephants in the room: the disastrous impact of development, global warming, droughts, pollution, pesticides, and more, on all of nature and the environment. 

An informative article, “The Killing Agencies: Unmasking the Myth of Wildlife ‘Management,’ ” on the Predator Defense website, points out the following: 

Myth: Wildlife commissions supervise management agencies, provide oversight.  Decisions are made for the public with their input.

Fact: Most commissions are appointed by politicians, such as governors and congressional committees. Special interests influence politicians. Hunting, firearms, and agriculture are powerful interests that influence politicians and their appointments.  Every state wildlife commission is top heavy with hunters, ranchers, and people from industries that support those interests.  Conservation interests are rarely represented, and, if so, it’s a token member.  

And for this town board’s handling of the ongoing issues surrounding deer, it appears to be much the same. Thus, on the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee agenda is a proposal to add three additional sites for “big game” trophy bow hunting, a.k.a. killing for “fun and self-adulation, certainly the cruelest and most irresponsible way to kill deer, because of the horrific suffering caused by ultimately fatal injuries inflicted on these defenseless animals. 

One site on the agenda was included at the request of hunters. The sites aren’t very large, but why is further expansion of hunting even on the table especially as it is clear to those of us who are aware of the numbers of deer that have frequented our property in the past, that large numbers appear to be missing in action this year. Hunting, moreover, is more and more considered an archaic pastime, which is increasingly opposed by the general public — a public that now overwhelmingly opposes gun violence of all kinds and the slaughter of the innocent, including deer and other wildlife. 

Killing deer to manage populations represents an endless, repetitive cycle, because they quickly repopulate as food sources become available. And this town board has expressed no interest in getting facts from a scientifically based study to determine actual deer population or in actively seeking acceptable, nonlethal alternatives. It is therefore incumbent upon members of the public to demand an answer to an important question: Why is this board indifferent, even resistant to the changes taking place around us and the concerns of a majority of their constituents? After years of factually disputed hyperbole and absent accurate statistics, isn’t it time to put an end to this charade and betrayal of public trust?

Remember: There’s no such thing as an ethical hunter! Forget hunters’ feeble rationalizations and trust your gut feelings: Making sport of killing is not healthy human behavior.

“Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is, and do something about it, whether the victim is human or animal, we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity.” Rachel Carson  

ZELDA PENZEL

Equitable Rights

Wainscott

July 1, 2018

Dear David

Terror in the sky has reached epic proportions on the heels of the most tragic aircraft accident in East Hampton history. Inaction is inexcusable. Action is mandatory.

East Hampton Airport’s (HTO) unsupervised operations have caused helicopters to fly carelessly and recklessly, endangering citizens’ life and property for more than 10 years. The East Hampton Town Board’s responsibility is to protect its citizens and those in the surrounding area from imminent danger and harm caused by airport operations.

The following is an excerpt from a report I presented to the town board 10 years ago titled, “Anarchy in the Skies: Out-Of-Control Airport”

“On the Friday before Memorial Day of 2008 I was coming home from work down Industrial Road. When I came upon the airport, I noticed it was fogged in to the extent I could not see the end of the runway. I ducked as a helicopter took off and flew 50 feet above my vehicle. I remember thinking this pilot was a total nut flying in these conditions. I continued to see him fly south at treetop level until he was swallowed up in fog. I turned left on Daniel’s Hole Road heading north at the airport entrance. I saw another helicopter taking off and shook my head. I drove up my driveway and parked. As I got out of my vehicle I heard a deafening sound, looked up, and saw only the belly of a helicopter. My immediate thought was the helicopter was coming down so I jumped and literally hit the ground. From that moment on I understood that one day a tragic accident was inevitable, and I was not going to stand by and do nothing. No activity should be allowed that causes such a frightening response to citizens in the Town of East Hampton. I am not easily frightened by any stretch of the imagination; I can only imagine the response by those who are.”

Nothing has changed over the past 10 years. On Sunday, June 24, 2018, at 6:44 p.m., a helicopter screamed inbound, at treetop level: The helicopter was incased in fog. This helicopter was not more than 150 feet above the ground and traveling over 150 m.p.h., indisputably a guided missile. This was one of many helicopters. Helicopters flown carelessly and recklessly like these are deadly weapons, a present and imminent danger to life and property. After 10 years, nothing has changed.   The board needs to close HTO until the Federal Aviation Administration bans all helicopters from landing at HTO, for it is only the helicopters that present a danger. I’ve included photos you may use in The Star if you wish: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Doctrine of Equity: In law, the term “equity” refers to a particular set of remedies and associated procedures involved with civil law. These equitable doctrines and procedures are distinguished from legal ones. A court will typically award equitable remedies when a legal remedy is insufficient or inadequate.

The federal aviation regulations favor a few aircraft owners and operators over the citizens’ constitutional rights to their property by taking peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property without compensation. Above all else, our country values the right of people to the peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property.

Federal Aviation Regulations, Section 91.13: Careless or reckless operation. (a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. Section 91.119: Minimum safe altitudes: General. Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes: (a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

The F.A.A. fails to uphold and enforce the safe operation of aircraft, putting citizens on the ground in harm’s way, causing an imminent danger to life and property. Helicopters are the overwhelming cause of careless and reckless operation of aircraft while trespassing on citizens’ air rights of their property, on their way to land at East Hampton Airport. The citizens on the ground have suffered torture, torment, and irreparable harm at the hands of helicopter operators. The citizens are calling upon the F.A.A. to return to the people their equitable rights in favor of the people, not helicopter owners and operators. The town board has the power and authority to close the airport for safety reasons. HTO should remain closed until the F.A.A. has returned these equitable rights to the people. If the airport were closed, no helicopters would be terrorizing the people, therefore the town board has an obligation to act.

The town board has failed in its primary duty to protect the citizens of East Hampton. The people continue to be tortured, tormented, and terrorized by reckless, cowboy bush pilots. For 10 years nothing has changed. Enough is enough. Will the people need to hold the town board accountable for their nonfeasance, compel them to put the safety of the people first and restore equity in favor of the people? Not if the town board simply carried out its duty to protect the people.

Sincerely,

FRANK DALENE  

Founder/Chairman

Citizens for Airport Safety and Equity 

Threat to Civilization

East Hampton

July 1, 2018

Dear David,

 A line in David Gruber’s letter to The Star on June 28 almost made my head explode. With exquisite condescension, in attacking the town board for its support of Deepwater Wind, he wrote that they have done nothing, not even commissioned a review of the scientific literature.

First, I and others have been writing for years in this newspaper on the scientific literature related to climate change. We’ve just passed the 30-year anniversary of James Hansen’s report to Congress on the dire threat to civilization posed by continued burning of fossil fuels. As the science has evolved, that threat has been confirmed and become accepted science in every industrial country on the planet. The evidence becomes more ironclad with each passing month, this month’s shocker being a peer reviewed study revealing that Antarctica is melting three times faster than it was in 2007.

As Mr. Gruber is concerned about fishing, the scientific literature is telling us that carbon from fossil fuel burning has already made the ocean 30 percent more acidic than it has been in thousands of years. Continuing on our current path will destroy the ability of tiny, shelled organisms that are the base of the marine food chain to make their shells. The heating of the ocean is killing coral reefs where the fish are spawned.

 There was an article within the last month on the lobster fishery, which once was a strong fishery here, but moved north to Maine as our water became too warm. Now the water in Maine is warming and the catch is down this year. Lobstermen there recognize that the lobster are moving north and to deeper water. One was quoted saying, “Climate change has been our friend for 20 years, but now it is our enemy.” They still fish in the sea around Scotland and Scandinavia where thousands of offshore wind turbines have been working for decades.

Maybe Mr. Gruber thinks climate change is for people elsewhere to solve. In the United States, our per-capita carbon footprint is four times that in China, 12 times that in India. Given our town’s gigantic homes, with pools heated to 90 degrees, helicopters and private jets flitting about like mosquitos, try to imagine how much higher our footprint in our town is compared to the rest of America. If we continue to drag our feet on this issue, we will surely be damned by our children as their homes are inundated and their sea becomes barren. They will ask why we did nothing commensurate to the scale of the problem.

Maybe he thinks solar power is the solution. If all of the homes suitable for solar in East Hampton installed solar, it would supply 6 percent of our electrical needs. Large-scale solar takes an average of 32 acres to supply 1,000 “typical” homes, so to make as much electricity as the proposed Deepwater turbines: 32 x 50 = 1,600 acres. And our homes are not typical, so 1,600 acres would not be enough. Where would Mr. Gruber find 1,600 acres for a solar farm in East Hampton?

 There is clearly an orchestrated letter campaign in progress to attack and defame our town board for its enlightened action on this problem. I am thankful for the courageous and foresighted work of the Van Scoyoc board and the Cantwell board that preceded it. In contrast to Mr. Gruber’s defamatory claims, the board’s support for offshore wind represents the culmination of several years of intense study by political leaders and dedicated expert staff. I urge others who understand this issue to speak out privately and in these pages to counteract the disinformation from self-serving economic interests attempting to throw sand in our eyes on this issue.

DON MATHESON

Seized Control

Amagansett

July 2, 2018

Dear David,

Your reporting and editorial on the Democratic primary election for East Hampton Town Board misses both the forest and the trees. The nomination by the East Hampton Democratic Committee is purely symbolic. Under the election law, it has no consequence at ll. Every candidate for office must obtain the required number of signatures of enrolled Democrats on nominating petitions being circulated now. But what is the symbolism here?

You repeat the PR of Democratic Committee insiders that David Lys, a lifelong Republican who was appointed to the town board in January and only changed his registration from Republican to Democratic for that reason, and received 63 percent of the vote at the committee’s June 1 nominating convention. But you weren’t counting noses.

From among the 16 members of the Democratic Committee actually elected in September 2016 (including two who would have been elected had the committee leadership not failed to file their nominating petitions), Lys received the votes of only seven, a minority. He was actually chosen by the votes of 10 of the 12 members appointed to vacancies by then committee chair Jeanne Frankl.

Four of those appointees were appointed by Frankl this year specifically to vote for Lys, when a panic-stricken town board realized that its appointee, Lys, still a Republican by law, likely did not command majority support within the Democratic Committee. And one of those four was appointed to a vacancy that did not exist, because the seated member of the committee had never resigned and was unlawfully ousted by Frankl.

Without the votes of the four members appointed by Frankl to vote for David Lys, including the member supposedly appointed to a vacancy that did not exist, David Lys would not have been chosen by the Democratic Committee.

A small group of insiders seized control of the Democratic Committee and rigged the nomination for David Lys. That is not a symbol that should carry any weight with Democratic voters. 

Fortunately, the committee’s pick is only symbolic. At the primary election on Sept. 13, it is the rank-and-file members of the Democratic Party who will decide the party’s nominee for town board in the general election this November.        
RONA KLOPMAN

Recreational

East Hampton

June 25, 2018

To the Editor:

East Hampton Library’s Authors Night and children’s fair are wonderful events worthy of support. They both promote reading, yes, a recreational activity, and provide fun for all. Authors Night features many of our talented, local writers and shares the joys and discoveries to be found in good books. The children’s fair is a free, fun-filled day for families. 

The library has become a valued community resource that, year round, gives to young and old alike with reading groups, lectures, activities, computer equipment, Wi-Fi, and more, all free of charge. Thank you to our community leaders for supporting these special events.

SOPHIE FRENCH

A Crossroads

East Hampton

June 29, 2018

Dear David,

David is an amazing name! It has arisen many times in the Talmage and Hamilton families, as well as in others close to us. Today I write to support David Lys, my godson, in his effort to do amazing things to support the local needs in East Hampton Town today.

 We are at a crossroads here because local families are selling and searching for the small-town feel of East Hampton of the ’70s. We at the Farm Museum are working hard to protect and celebrate the three cultures who built this town: Bonackers, black families, and Montaukett families — Bonackers all. David Lys is working hard on the town board to support and enable these families to remain. David Gruber is a smart, sophisticated worker also. Sadly he does not seem to recognize or relate to the tragic impasse we are at with local families struggling to remain, raise kids, own a home, work, drive, and keep their dignity intact with sometimes demeaning attitudes which prevail here.

David Gruber is much better suited to fighting the national battle we have ahead to beat the massive assault on democracy we see today. New York State must play its part in preserving our nation. Both battles are worth fighting with our best and brightest Davids.

Sincerely, 

PRUDENCE CARABINE

Not Payback

Springs

July 1, 2018

Dear David,

Your editorial last week about the Democratic Party was very strange, to say the least. Objection to the use of community preservation fund property in Amagansett for a fund-raiser is not “payback” to Supervisor Van Scoyoc for appointing David Lys to the town board, as you say. That’s ridiculous. The objection is to the misuse of C.P.F. property, which is preserved exclusively for open space, recreation, and agriculture. A fund-raiser is none of the above.

Mr. Lys deserves the criticism he has received over this because he is the town board liaison to the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee. He failed to consult the committee, as he should have, before pushing this initiative and he was unable to respond to objections that a fund-raiser is not recreation.

You say that Mr. Lys is “a political moderate, young father, and deeply involved member of the community,” and add that “one would hope this would have been enough for Democratic naysayers.  .  .  .”  Although appointed, not elected, Mr. Lys is now a member of the town board. It is no answer to his public missteps that he is a “young father.” 

Public officials must expect to be held to account by the public or find another line of work. When you see public officials behaving badly, you criticize them, too. That is of course the right of the press, but first and foremost the right of citizens.  

Sincerely,

PHYLLIS ITALIANO

Feckless Quest

Amagansett

July 2, 2018

Dear David, 

Sometimes during the silly season, a few letters to The Star are indeed silly, but last week “silly” accelerated into “absurd” and “just plain wrong.” Here’s an example from Ms. Italiano’s letter, describing Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc in attendance at the recent convention of the East Hampton Democratic Committee:

 “Mr. Van Scoyoc stood looming in the back of the hall as each district committee member cast their votes.” Looming? The man, who is about 6 feet 4 inches, was leaning against the wall. What kind of scary scenario was the writer trying to create? Here’s another: “These votes were cast based on each district [sic] total number of votes in the last election of the recent governor. Why, you might wonder, the convoluted means of voting?” Convoluted? Weighted voting is neither unusual nor convoluted; it is the same method of voting that has been used at every convention held by the Democrats in accordance with our rules, which are those of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee.

 (Phyllis, have you forgotten that you cast your 137 votes for half of your election district at the 2013 convention?) (N.B. If the county rule mandating weighted voting had not been used on June 1, 2018, David Lys would have defeated Mr. Gruber by a vote of 20 to 11.) And another example of silly-absurd: “Mr. Lys can’t even vote for himself if there is a Democratic primary.” The writer is apparently referring to the fact that David Lys had changed his voter registration to Democratic but not in time to meet the county deadline for primary voting. This complaint (?) is truly ironic because Phyllis, as a member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, has been strongly supportive of our successful year-round drives to encourage Democratic registration. 

More important, though, David did not “switch his political convictions,” as claimed by Phyllis. He changed his voter registration. So did Hillary Clinton, as well as many, many good citizens of our town. And this is just plain wrong: “He probably voted for Lee Zeldin and Donald Trump. Give me a break.” 

No, Phyllis, give us a break. Your use of literary license, prevarication, invention, all attempting to smear David Lys with innuendo. These tactics do not well serve the producer and host of “The Democratic Way” on LTV. The Star editorial got it right. The naysayers, a group of registered Democrats, the Gruber-Klopman-Meyer coalition, don’t seem to see the forest for the trees. They mindlessly disdain a young father, a deeply concerned and involved member of our community, David Lys, for his desire and competence to serve on the town board.

 They do this in their feckless quest for partisan purity. But their goals are self-serving and should be disregarded. I, who can match my Democratic credentials with anyone, will vote for David Lys for the town board in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13 and on Nov. 6. 

Sincerely, 

BETTY MAZUR

Many Good Deeds

Montauk

June 30, 2018

Dear David,

Just a word of support for David Lys, a dedicated and effective public servant I’ve known for over 20 years. David grew up in East Hampton, went to local schools, and settled here after college with his wife, Rachel, who built a thriving physical therapy practice in Montauk. Their four daughters either go to local schools or will be going soon.

Among David’s many good deeds and accomplishments, his five years on the zoning board and his role in reclaiming the Amagansett Life-Saving Station — from a gleam in his eye to the jewel it is today — have given him a depth and breadth of experience. He understands how to get things done in East Hampton, who to go to for what, and who delivers. He’s thoroughly conscientious, hard-working, and committed to excellence. 

I hope your readers will keep his experience and fine qualities in mind when he’ll need our votes in November to maintain his seat on the town board. 

Sincerely,

LAURA STEIN

About the Future

Amagansett

June 29, 2018

Dear David, et al.,

There are some among us in East Hampton Town who have obviously passed their sell-by date. 

There are some among us who take issue with the fact that Councilman David Lys did not register as a Democrat when the sperm met the egg. 

Those same miserly few are doing nothing other than painting themselves badly, sadly, and out of touch.

David Lys is perfect for the debate we must have about the future of our town, which hopefully will be joined by other young voices.

Hyperpartisanship is a really bad idea, in my view.

All good things,

DIANA WALKER

Town’s Best Interest

East Hampton

July 2, 2018

Dear David,

I have known David Lys since I coached on the tennis team at East Hampton High School. The people of East Hampton are very fortunate to have David as town councilman. He was the perfect choice. He is honest, fair-minded, and, as a native son of East Hampton, has only the town’s best interest at heart. 

I was very disturbed to read the letters after last week’s Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee meeting. The personal attack that was launched at David was uncalled for, unfair, and totally unrelated to the subject that seemed to be bothering the committee. All I will say about that is that it is my understanding that the community preservation fund is for the benefit of all of the residents of the town, not just the residents who reside where the property is. 

One of my problems with local political parties is that they place more emphasis on the platform of the political party, and less emphasis on the needs of the town and its people. David was a terrific choice for the position and the town is fortunate to have him.

I have been trying to keep this letter impersonal, but I must voice my disappointment with Rona Klopman’s letter of June 21. I have known Rona for about 10 years and watched her interact with David numerous times over the last decade. Rona, he has been nothing but a gentleman with you, and I thought that you liked him. So I was very surprised at the venom and criticism that you directed toward David. Makes me question all the times I supported you when you ran for office.

Thank you.

JOHN GOODMAN

Encourage Dissent

East Hampton

July 2, 2018

To the Editor:

In his book titled “The Arrogance of Power,” the late Senator J. William Fulbright wrote, “In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not its taste but its effect.”  Written in the 1960s, this admonition is still critical if we are to maintain the world’s oldest democracy. Improvements will only come through critiques of our political leaders and the perseverance of our citizens. The bar must continue to be raised because it is far too easy to become complacent. Complacence ultimately leads to decay. 

Unlike a painting or a novel, a demo­cracy is never complete. The skeptic and the philosopher should play a role in the evolution of the nation as much as the entrenched politician. The nation was forged by those that believed strongly in dissent, establishing it as one of the pre-eminent rights of the American citizen. 

Now more than ever claims should be evidence based. A citizen has the right, even the obligation, to ask “how do you know?” when presented with assertions made by their representatives. If the response is unsatisfactory be persistent. In America, of all nations, argument from authority does not cut it.

Where differences are suppressed progress ends. Those in power rarely encourage dissent. Be thankful that there are dissenters among us, it is an unrewarding yet essential task. As Fulbright also claimed, “If consensus is interpreted to mean unquestioning support for existing policies, its effects can only be pernicious and undemocratic, serving to suppress differences rather than reconcile them.”

JAMES C. MEYER

Reuniting the families

East Hampton

June 26, 2018 

It seems the one thing Trump, Sessions, and ICE forgot to do was place tattoos on the inner arms of the parents and children when they were first detained so that when this big bluff scenario was over the families could be reunited properly.

CAPT. KEN RAFFFERTY

Fleeing the Horrors

Springs

June 25, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray:

The recent sounds, images, and accounts coming from the United States’ southern border certainly touch the heart, whatever your politics. However, our delay reforming this country’s legal immigration system, which has long vexed and divided us, has brought us now to the point that we circumvent and/or violate long-held international standards and our own traditions and constitutional protocols: So, now we hold our DACA youth, grown up in our midst as the best among us, hostage for political leverage; we now question whether people have a right to due process, we detain families, and even, despicably, we separate children from their parents.

As one who has been “A Witness at the Border” (East Hampton Star, Oct. 15, 2015), but who has also traveled extensively in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca in September 2011, recent images and accounts have touched very deep memories of visits with migrants from Central America fleeing the horrors of poverty, drugs, violence, and death in places where police and governments fail to feed and protect children, women, and families. 

Yes, I saw “La Bestia,” the freight train to which migrants tether themselves for the journey through Mexico, and I spoke to desperate travelers who told me the dangers were a small price for the peace and safety “en el norte.” In Dilley, Tex., at the southern border in a massive family detention center built by the previous administration in spring 2015, I interviewed women and children who related through fearful sobs the horrors of the poverty and gang violence which had tormented them, leading them to risk crossing “el rio” and submit to the onerous U.S. asylum process. 

Yes, the photos of the cages and tents, as well as the recordings of cries of children pulled from their parents that I saw and heard last week have me sleepless, angry, and anxious.

Let us agree that the root of the solution is only the smart and fair reform of the legal immigration system that ensures border security; compassionate resolution for those millions currently held hostage here by the current outdated poor law and politics, and wise planning for the future labor needs of this nation. But, let’s make no mistake, simplistic solutions, such as structures or walls on the southern border, are weak attempts in and of themselves, absent our facing the larger and more complicated issues. 

Most vexing are conditions in the countries from which people are fleeing. This is the heart of our immigration problem. No doubt, the colossal U.S. has benefited from a geopolitical advantage over smaller, poorer, and weaker neighbors to the south, going back to the early days of the slave trade. But many theorize that global and international economic, political, and environmental conditions have led to what is the largest movement of refugees in the history of the planet, beginning a generation ago. 

What is happening on the U.S. southern border is a small piece of a worldwide phenomenon. Wealthy industrial and technological nations throughout the world with more favorable weather, clean water, natural resources, energy, stable governments, infrastructure, and economies now bear the burden of how to rescue less-fortunate neighbors knocking at the doors, but not without resentment and fear. 

Whatever “wall” we build down south, we also need to consider how to better share the resources with which we have been blessed to stabilize our neighbors to the south for the security, peace ,and prosperity of us all.

Sincerely, 

DANIEL HARTNETT

What Got Done

Springs

June 25, 2018

Dear Editor

The kids are out for summer break, the tourist season has descended upon us, Deepwater is still scamming, Wainscott residents still don’t have clean water, septic waste is still polluting our bays and harbors, and the New York State Legislature has officially drawn to a close this past Thursday. Maybe.

For those who were hoping for some big fireworks the last week of session, I’m sorry to disappoint, there was to be none of that. No protesters, no sit-ins, no rowdy ruckus crowds, no one chaining themselves to the furniture, no 11th-hour deals between the governor, Senate president, and Assembly speaker, no drama or palace intrigue. The biggest excitement was free ice cream, and, yep, you read correctly, free ice cream. 

The New York State United Teachers union in an attempt to decouple annual teacher evaluations from state-mandated test scores parked two ice cream trucks outside Senate leader Flanagan’s office window giving out free ice cream while encouraging the public to pressure the Senate. It did not work, but the ice cream was good! 

Both the Senate and Assembly gaveled out for the year late Wednesday night/Thursday morning, without reaching a deal on quite a few of the more significant issues on the table. Even with Governor Cuomo in town on Wednesday, holding closed-door meetings with leader Flanagan and speaker Heastie trying to negotiate, it was a period of little drama and no big deals.

Plus, it seemed Governor Cuomo was dealing with another state crisis. On Tuesday, he announced New York intends to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over family separations at the southern border. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how many times Governor Cuomo has brought a lawsuit against President Trump as opposed to President Obama?

So what got done, you ask? 

A long-stalled bill to create an independent panel to investigate prosecutorial misconduct by district attorneys and other prosecutors accused of wrongdoing.

A bill to toughen ticket scalping rules for online ticket resellers like StubHub and SeatGeek, that cracks down on speculative ticket selling.

A bill to provide cash-less toll protections after Tappan Zee Bridge (Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, I just cannot bring myself to call the Tappan Zee that). Cash-less tolling rollout caused significant headaches for motorists who were hammered with big fines for unpaid tolls.

And what significant legislation didn’t get done you ask. Short answer: Anything that was controversial.

Teacher evaluations decoupled from test scores.

Sports betting, allowed online betting, and kiosks at racetracks and Off-Track Betting facilities despite the push by Major League Baseball, the P.G.A. tour, and gambling outlets to enable online betting, and kiosks at racetracks and Off-Track Betting facilities.

Economic-development reforms brought about by reform advocates in  part because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top economic-development projects that are at the center of the bid-rigging trial of former State University Polytechnic Institute president Alain Kaloyeros, which kicked off in Manhattan last week.

Gun-control laws that would allow family members, school officials, and teachers to initiate a court proceeding to try and remove guns from someone’s home if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

 School Safety, which would have provided extra funding for police officers in school districts that want them.

An outgoing legislature can only enact legislative pay raises for the incoming newly elected legislature. Needless to say, this was a nonstarter. Or was it? 

MANUEL M. VILAR

 

Zeldin’s Judgment

Springs

June 29, 2018

Dear David:

Our congressman, Lee Zeldin, has chosen to kick off his general election campaign by featuring Sebastian Gorka at his June 28 fund-raiser. Putting it mildly, this choice casts doubt upon Mr. Zeldin’s judgment.

Sebastian Gorka has been tied to neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups in Hungary and accused of lying on his naturalization application about his connection to these groups. Gorka conspicuously wears a medal and uses an honorific indicating membership in the group known as Vitezi Rend. During World War II, Vitezi Rend was a virulently anti-Semitic group established by the Hungarian dictator Miklos Horthy, a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and collaborator with Hitler. 

In 2007 Gorka co-founded a Hungarian political party, the New Democratic Coalition, which the Anti-Defamation League labels as “openly anti-Semitic.” When interviewed as the U.D.K. head, Gorka approved the formation by the extremist right-wing political party Jobbik of a black-shirt-outfitted, storm-trooper-like militia for “protection.” Once created, this militia staged mass demonstrations in Hungary that led to assaults and murders of ethnic minority people. 

We have no control over the views or activities of Sebastian Gorka. What we do control is whether we want to be represented by Mr. Zeldin, who is now openly consorting with the neo-fascist and anti-Semitic Mr. Gorka. Picking Mr. Gorka as his sidekick reflects a conscious decision to foment white nationalism and anti-immigrant hysteria for Mr. Zeldin’s own political advantage, regardless of the consequences for his constituents. 

We voters should now pay no attention to Mr. Zeldin’s attempts to paint himself as a moderate or as representative of his constituency. Plus, Mr. Zeldin continually reminds us that he considers himself a veteran, but embracing a neo-Nazi fascist like Mr. Gorka insults those veterans who fought, and even worse, those who gave their lives to rid Europe of this scourge. As a Jew, his association with Mr. Gorka is inexplicable. All this shows that Mr. Zeldin is an affront to the intelligence and common decency of Long Island voters.

BRUCE COLBATH

Recent Decisions

East Hampton 

July 1, 2018

It is July Fourth and today we don’t celebrate the birth of our democratic nation but its descent into autocratic fascism. The Supreme Court’s travel ban decision, banning Muslim immigrants from certain countries, comes as no surprise given several recent decisions. The court fabricated a national security defense for a problem that barely existed and has been significantly resolved. We already have the most stringent and intensely vetted immigration system in the world that makes it virtually impossible for terrorists to enter the country in some legal form. The president’s claims are 99 percent false but the court didn’t care. The final piece of our transition to fascism was now in place.

What is most curious about the court’s decision is Justice Roberts’s reference to the internment of Japanese- Americans during World War II. He called it a shameful action that has no comparison to the travel ban. Roberts, like he has been on the public union workers vote and the voter suppression vote, is full of crap. What we did to the Japanese, the Chinese, and Native Americans derives from the same racist neo-fascist ethic that the president proudly represents. No one who read the president’s anti-Muslim tweets could possibly think otherwise, except, of course, if you are on the Supreme Court. Furthermore, if the concern was about terrorists entering the country, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt would have certainly been on the list. There was no case to make.

The United States judiciary finally flipped. With the executive branch and the Republicans in Congress embracing the president’s neo-fascist agenda, our judiciary was the last step in retaining our democracy as we once knew it. Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas were already there. Roberts’s transition was more moderate and nuanced. Kennedy, we now learn, had been courted by Trump for 18 months and his son is the liaison between Trump, Deutsche Bank, and $1 billion in loans. 

Racism, granted, is an American staple. It permeates all of our institutions, our businesses, and our politics. Having a proudly racist president gives voice and support to all of the nativist racism that lingers under the blanket of American respectability. Once the blanket is taken away the full force of one sector of the American people rears its ugly head. The Supreme Court is supposed to be the leveler in our form of government that constrains this form of behavior.

Yet, the court, despite the unanimity of our Congress to the contrary, thought that the racism in states cited by the Voting Rights Act had miraculously disappeared — a certain sign that living with your head up your ass will significantly limit your visibility.

Or the separation of nonwhite children in the recent border situations where the children were never intended to be reunited with their parents. Like the concentration camps during World War II, where the insane cruelty of the Nazis had no obvious need for a reunification plan. Or more recently ISIS in Iraq. It is impossible to overlook the similarities between the German fascists, Islamic lunatics, and their American counterparts. Unless your vision is blocked by the bulging cheeks of your oversize bottom.

In 1930s Germany, the court was composed of brilliant jurists who transitioned to Nazis as the chancellor required. Once the courts adapted to Hitler’s agenda he was free to commit all the atrocities he wanted in the name of national security. The parallels are much too real.

This July Fourth there is little to celebrate. Once the court flipped we were left on our own. At least we are free of the illusions that we are something other than who we really are.

NEIL HAUSIG

Without Unions

East Hampton

June 27, 2018

David:

Law passed by Supreme Court: Janus v. American Federation Municipal, County, and State Workers. Under this new law the public sector unions cannot require employees to contribute union dues. They are entitled to all benefits that dues-paying members receive. Without unions we would not have the benefits of pensions, health, working hours, etc. We have no one to speak for us. 

This is what the Republicans are doing for the bosses. Our elected officials have all the benefits for life paid for by us, the taxpayers. They could care less about the average family.

You must vote in November for people who are younger and will make a difference. Vote.

JULIA KAYSER

Lovey-Dovey

East Hampton

June 30, 2018

To the Editor, 

We are blessed. Fortuitously one comes across an antecedent commentary (clutter clearing rewards) that evokes ardent opinions about a significant related feat, a triumph imploring beseeching to be acknowledged, appreciated. The commentary, in an Op-Ed for The New York Times (Aug. 8, 2017), the united former national security adviser Susan Rice is arguing that the United States can “tolerate” North Korea’s nuclear weapons if necessary, adding that President Trump must put an end to “reckless rhetoric.”

The former Obama administration official said “pragmatism is needed to handle North Korea’s aggression. History shows that we can if we must tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War.” 

Believe it or not, this kind of policy was spouted at the same time when a total authoritarian, 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, is at the helm, a mischievous perky prankster frivolously dispatching any opposition, dissent, friend, foe, and family with antiaircraft machine guns. A monster recklessly playing with. Experimenting, testing nuclear bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles threatening, jeopardizing, the lives of millions of his neighbors and many many more beyond. A plan contaminated with grand illusions, delusions reeking of appeasement linked with ignorance. Assured to fail. A guaranteed shiver shudder down your spine envisioning this policy conveyed by a Democratic Hillary Clinton administration for another four-year term? The feat. 

April 20, 2018, Donald John Trump, president only 16 months into his term, already compiled a momentous record of achievements, accomplishments, and rolling unabated, incessantly announcing new policies revising and scrapping obsolete ones. Suddenly, unexpectedly, North Korea signals willingness, eagerness, to discus the reducing, lessening, of the prevailing nuclear crisis and more. The rest surely is the beginning of history. 

Emerging after their historic meeting on June 12 and 13, 2018, President Trump propulsive receptive but resolute 6.4-foot-tall towering over Kim both jubilantly doing a “peace dance” and semi forming the success of their meeting. Results are already factual: Kim halted all testing of weapons, destroying, launching, and storage facilities. United States and North Korea halted all provocative military exercises and maneuvers. Kim overnight switched propaganda gears from negative “crush and destroy” to positive lovey-dovey. (Can the president be credited metamorphosing Kim?) 

Shortly after in one of President Trump’s typical impromptu, nonchalant comments, “I probably saved the lives of 20 to 30 millions but they will never give me the credit.” A humble unbashing comment, drastically understating, underestimating, the devastation, desolation, that he thwarted. Considering that the first and last atomic bombs were dropped 72 years ago, 1945, devastating two cities afterward, instantly, vigorous, frenzied exertions were launched to boost the effects, impact, of these weapons lasting to this date. Mr. President, try 100-150 m.m. plus. Yes, a feat indeed. 

Felicitous to add crow to the menu? Plan a trip to Nobel! However note that this show is not over. May I take this opportunity to predict another semi-related imminent, historical, world-reshaping happening to transpire déjà vu. Putin and President Trump’s meeting scheduled for July 1, 2018. Results just as successful, plus. Also Putin taking golfing lessons in Mar-a-Lago well before the end of our president’s first term. Note, you read this here first! 

EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL