June 10, 2019
This past weekend I rediscovered that it can actually be fun, relaxing, and a friendly experience when an East End town is crowded with vacationers.
On Saturday, I visited Westhampton Beach. I was thrilled to find that it hasn’t changed much since I was a kid 60-plus years ago. I easily parked my car without its being immediately marked as a potential violator of time limitations as would have happened in East Hampton Village.
I walked toward Westhampton’s Village Green to shop the weekly farmers market. I felt safe coming to a crosswalk, where a very pleasant traffic officer simply and efficiently directed both the people and the traffic.
It is literally hit or miss for drivers passing through the heart of East Hampton Village with pedestrians not using the crosswalk lights to indicate their intentions or walking out into traffic on a crosswalk without checking for oncoming cars, eyes glued to their iPhone screens or darting out between cars in order to push into the code-violating crowds at Starbucks.
As I walked the bricked path onto Westhampton Beach’s Village Green and toward the bandstand I felt a sense of calm. On the bandstand, there was a group playing live music while older people sat on benches watching all that was going on. Kids were playing with one another, dogs on leashes were the focus of many people’s attention, and vendors of every variety were set up on the verdant lawn shaded by towering trees.
I felt at ease, as if I had stepped back in time. Oddly enough, a number of the vendors were people I know from East Hampton who prefer the Westhampton Beach setting and vibe to the harsh asphalt of Nick and Toni’s hot parking lot and cramped vendor spaces. The irony of East Hampton’s farmers market location is that it is directly across from the ample grounds of a historical farm — a far more appropriate and much safer setting for shoppers, vendors, and drivers alike.
As I left the farmers market and walked through the village to meet up with my friends, I noticed that people were actually walking at a relaxed pace, smiling, and exchanging pleasantries as they passed one another. Kids were everywhere instead of in a rental house fighting a virtual war on gaming platforms. And most of the restaurants and coffee shops had outdoor dining; it gave the whole town an atmosphere of a distant European vacation.
Westhampton Beach is still a true village, replete with every manner of shop ranging from bakeries and butchers to hardware stores to a welcoming book store with comfy chairs to a quaint antiques shop filled with reasonably priced, marvelous oddities to buy or just explore the past with its very personable purveyor: You remember, the way it used to be in East Hampton before every other store became a real estate office or seasonal pop-up shop or a clothier for bulimics.
NANCY R. PEPPARD
June 7, 2019
Hope all is well at The Star. I wanted to weigh in on the Shinnecock monument/billboard. I have been passing the construction site daily and have watched the south side grow and be turned on. I was on the fence since the beginning, not having an opinion at all. However, I was swayed when one of the Southampton officials called it “not in character with the neighborhood.”
That statement popped my fuse. Someone has a big set of balls. How dare they say that when the Southampton and East Hampton Village and Town Zoning and Planning Boards have done far more damage to the character of the neighborhoods. Just take a walk down a side street in East Hampton or Southampton Village and make note of the giant houses on the postage-stamp-size lots! Are they in character? Even throughout the towns, overbuilding is rampant. Local government working with builders, designers, and the new wave of owners have made the roads and countryside unbearable during the summer months. A few weeks back even you agreed through an editorial, “Residents Get Raw Deal,” that the locals have been cast aside for the advance of party central. So, it’s okay for the McMansions but not okay for the Shinnecocks’ billboard! That will certainly “deepen the rift.” I’ll go with the Shinnecocks.
Yours to command,
June 7, 2019
To the Editor:
Where is Senator Pocahontas when we need her? All the outrage over the Shinnecock Indian Nation billboards has me very worried. Is our beloved Hamptons community full of racist white men? It appears we have an illegal crossing (I mean neon sign) on our Hamptons border. Turns out our local natives can’t afford to live here anymore and need the ad revenue to survive. I wonder if Alec Baldwin placed an ad calling for President Trump’s impeachment would we welcome the sign? Build the sign, cries Don Lemon.
If our peaceful neighbors need money, can’t Spielberg, Joy Behar, and Ms. Goop host a charity event to raise the money? They can call it “A Night Under the Neon Lights.” The next morning we can go to Alan Patricof’s home for waffles with Senator Warren. She can explain to us how it feels to be a persecuted Cherokee. Oh, sorry, Shinnecock Indians, it’s $5,000 a plate so you’re not welcome.
As I near the end of my three-hour drive (Blade was sold out) and see the neon light at the end of the traffic, I think of that heartbreaking TV commercial from my childhood. You know, the one where the Native American is brought to tears as he surveys how the white man ruined his beautiful land. I just look up at the sign and turn to my beautiful wife and say, “How?”
On the 13th
June 10, 2019
Thank you very much for printing my letter last month on our Lady of Fatima. In my desire to keep the letter short, I completely forgot to mention Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children six times in 1917, on the 13th of each month from May to October. June 13 is just a few days away. Would you please consider putting this letter in your paper?
On June 13 Our Lady told Lucia to come back with Francisco and Jacinta on July 13. Our Lady repeated another of her requests from May: to pray the rosary every day. Mary’s third request was new; she told Lucia to learn to read. It was to be Lucia’s mission to spread Our Lady’s message from Fatima to the whole world. It was most important for Lucia to learn to read and write.
I am getting this information from Father Andrew Apostoli’s book “Fatima for Today,” the urgent Marian message of hope. Father Apostoli was a founding member of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the apparitions at Fatima. May God bless you, David and your children, and your children’s children for printing this.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
June 10, 2019
To the Editor:
I am flabbergasted. Andrew Strong wants to be our new town justice, yet the literature he is distributing to raise money and get votes violates the ethical standards laid out for judicial conduct. It contains misleading information and divisive political rhetoric. No way to start a judicial career.
Mr. Strong’s May 14, 2019, fund-raising letter to Democratic voters drips with venom toward, among others, fellow Democrats who do not support his nomination. The last time I checked, it was okay to have a mind of one’s own, to support individuals and not to blindly follow orders from party leaders. While Mr. Strong may not like having to work for a seat on the bench, our democratic system allows anyone a place on a primary ballot by obtaining enough signatures on nominating petitions. Justice Lisa Rana met the requirements, and he must now put his credentials up against hers and let the voters decide.
It’s a shame Mr. Strong did not bother to read the code of judicial ethics for election campaigns. If he had, he would know that a judicial campaign is very different from one for other candidates. In a nutshell, partisan politicking and publicly opposing your opponent are ethics violations. Talk about your experience and what you hope to accomplish if elected, but do not, underline, do not, be overtly political, divisive, or attack your opponent, especially on a partisan basis. All things Mr. Strong’s letter contains, and then some.
Bad enough that it was totally inappropriate for Mr. Strong to belittle and attempt to label as disqualifying of Justice Rana a political job her husband held in the past. But his sexist reference to Justice Rana as “the wife of . . .” is offensive. Judge Rana, a woman who has dispensed justice in the East Hampton court for 16 years, who enjoyed a distinguished career in the private practice of law, and who has conducted herself admirably as an attorney and judge for 27 years, since her admission to practice before the New York and federal courts in 1992, has earned respect and deserves to be referred to and judged on her own merits and not called out in a dismissive fashion as someone’s “wife.”
Then there is Mr. Strong’s knowingly misleading comment in his May 14 letter. When speaking of making his home in East Hampton, he added the parenthetical “(like many Strongs before me).” He was obviously hoping to give the impression that he is a member of our local Strong family. He is not! Misleading voters is frowned upon in the judicial code, but then again he probably didn’t read it. It makes no difference if someone else wrote the letter for him. Mr. Strong signed it and is responsible for its contents.
Our local courtroom needs to be run by someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and most of all, independent. By someone who, through extensive experience on the bench has shown that she exercises compassion for those appearing before her. That person is the Honorable Lisa Rana.
Interestingly, by the time Mr. Strong was admitted to practice in New York courts in 2012, Judge Rana had been dispensing justice for the East Hampton community for eight years. That is the kind and scope of courtroom experience our people benefit from when appearing before Justice Rana.
Litigants are not well served when their judge is learning on the job. That is what happens when that judge, like Mr. Strong, has a narrow experience base and not a long, varied, relevant, and expansive private practice experience from which to draw.
The best advice to any voter is vote the person not the party. We must give Justice Lisa Rana the voter support she needs, so she can continue the work she has been doing for the community all these many years. She is an experienced, hard worker, who listens attentively to what the people before her say. She is always, and will continue to remain, independent of political party influence.
Vote for Justice Lisa Rana on June 25.
June 5, 2019
To my fellow Democratic voters, we have an important primary election on June 25, where we will decide who will represent our party for East Hampton Town justice. I am asking that you join me in supporting Judge Lisa Rana.
I worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital for 10 years in Manhattan. We were the first special victims unit in New York City. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Lisa Rana volunteered there as a crisis counselor. We treated rape victims from all over Manhattan in conjunction with the New York Police Department. Our clients were primarily Hispanic and Asian. Our rape crisis unit was tough on perps and tender toward the victims of terrifying brutal violence. We brought justice to hundreds of victims and sensitized the New York Police Department as far as their interviewing techniques and we escalated their arrest rates and victim cooperation.
When Lisa became our town justice in 2003, I was overjoyed. She has particular sensitivity to victims of domestic violence and young offenders. As a founder of the Retreat, I have always appreciated Lisa’s knowledge and awareness of domestic violence. She did not need to be educated to the complexities of family violence. She is tough on offenders and hopeful for family reunification. She believes in therapy and rehabilitation.
It is not surprising to witness Justice Rana speaking emotionally to a young person who has once again ended up in her courtroom for substance abuse. All of my patients who came before Judge Rana spoke of her with annoyance and love. She made me go back to rehab! She yelled at me for repeating my offense! But each kid, no matter what, said that they knew she truly cared for them.
Adult repeat offenders often end up in my office for anger management. It was often Judge Rana who mandated they seek counseling. Judge Rana always has an eye for prevention. She understands the cycle of abuse and makes use of all the resources in our community to help her offenders. We need her on our local bench, and she is the perfect candidate to represent the humane principles to which our Democratic Party adheres. I am honored to lend my vote and my support for Lisa Rana, and ask that you do the same.
Not a Democrat
June 10, 2019
Democratic primaries should be for Democrats, but the Republican nominee for justice, Lisa Rana, is running in the Democratic primary on June 25th in an attempt to oust the Democrat, Andrew Strong, from his own party’s nomination.
Lisa Rana is a registered Republican and the current Republican and Conservative nominee for justice, yet she is putting blue signs around town to persuade the public into choosing her in the Democratic primary. If she wins this primary, Republican Lisa Rana will then be the Democratic nominee for justice and will run unopposed on every major line of the ticket in November’s election. Voters will have literally no choice but to elect a Republican judge this fall.
While she is, by all accounts, a good person and fair judge, Lisa Rana is simply not a Democrat, yet is posturing as one to win the Democratic primary and exclude the only Democrat in the race, Andrew Strong, from the general election. So if you want a Democrat and not a Republican on the Democratic ticket this fall, vote for Democrat Andrew Strong on June 25; don’t vote for Republican Rana.
To those who would say that party affiliation is uniquely irrelevant to the position of justice, an official sworn to apply the law in a fair and impartial manner, I agree. But where party affiliation is relevant is during the election process. Democratic primaries should be for Democratic candidates.
Moving to oust your opponent from his own party’s nomination by effectively posing as a member of a party to which you do not belong is at best politically shrewd, at worst deceitful or “unjust,” and in all cases undemocratic.
Party affiliation does not indicate how a judge will rule, but as in any election, is one indication to the voters of the moral and social beliefs of the candidate for office. Lisa Rana is a registered Republican. If you would like her to be your judge, please vote for her on the appropriate Republican ticket in the fall. But unless you want her to eliminate and replace the Democratic candidate, Andrew Strong, then don’t vote for her in the Democratic primary on June 25. Vote for Andrew Strong, who also happens to be a brilliant, qualified, compassionate, and excellent human being.
For Our Time
June 9, 2019
Andrew Strong would be a justice for our time. He has had experience at The Hague, litigating as a defense attorney and working for the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights.
As an attorney in East Hampton for OLA (Organizacion Latino-Americana) and having an active practice focusing on town government, he has a unique perspective on issues relevant to East Hampton. Knowing his commitment to fairness, social justice, family, and community, as well as being the candidate nominated for town justice by the Democratic Party and running against an opponent who is a Republican, Andrew has my vote — and I hope yours!
On the Ballot
June 10, 2019
It’s a clear warning that must be heeded. The grossly unqualified man who currently holds the title of U.S. president is a nonstop, 24/7, neon sign illuminating the dire need for informed and responsible voting.
Every U.S. citizen who cherishes the freedoms on which our nation is based, who values free speech and opportunity, who has respect for others regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, religion, or political party, who would like to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthful food, who wants their children to grow up safe, healthy, and educated, and who prefers peace to war, must not only register to vote, but must make time to vote in every election — local, state, and national. And as important, we must acquaint ourselves with the candidates and select those that represent our values.
There may appear to be a disconnect between local and national politics, but in truth local politics is where we can most easily make our voices heard. By reading the local papers, joining town committees, attending town board and trustee meetings, and following political social media, each of us can learn about issues that affect our environment, schools, businesses, home values, and taxes, beaches, gathering places, and more. We can offer our opinions and if time allows, our hands-on assistance. The very least we can do is get out and vote intelligently in primaries and general elections.
The next presidential race is more than a year away but, for registered Democrats, a great way to gear up for 2020 is to participate in the local East Hampton Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 25. The first step forward is to ensure that town candidates with true Democratic values are elected. The basis for the upcoming primary is a bit confusing as several candidates who are either Republican or otherwise affiliated have petitioned and succeeded in getting onto the Democratic ballot. They are contesting the candidates that were selected at the town Democratic convention. To further complicate the slate, there is one Republican trustee candidate, Jim Grimes, who has been cross-endorsed by the Democratic Committee.
As an elected member of the town’s Democratic Committee, representing Election District 11, I am endorsing the Democrat Andrew Strong for town justice; he is the only Democrat running for this position. I also endorse these nine trustee candidates out of the 12 who will be on the ballot: John Aldred, Francis Bock, Ben Dollinger, Rick Drew, Tim Garneau, Jim Grimes, Susan McGraw Keber, Mike Martinsen, and Bill Taylor.
Let’s get the ball rolling in the right direction. Please make a plan to either vote in person on June 25, or by obtaining an absentee ballot and mailing it no later than June 18, or by delivering the ballot to the Board of Elections no later than the day before the election.
VICKI LURIA BLATT
June 9, 2019
To the Editor:
Like many readers, I’m sad about the nation’s condition. Our citizenry has regressed, and, in the process, dishonored many of the ideals we once valued. Our political leaders have divided us and their opportunistic, partisan instincts have time and again pointed us in the wrong direction. Good public servants are hard to find.
In selecting community representatives who will serve us honorably, our voices are loudest locally. That’s why I’m puzzled when an experienced candidate who has proven her worth to all East Hampton residents over 16 years of dedicated service as town justice is not being supported by a leading party in this month’s primary. Could the reason be political and not substantive?
Lisa Rana is a decent person and an effective jurist. Her opponent in the Democratic primary may well be a talented and deserving young man, but for the life of me, I don’t understand the need to change horses in town court. Ms. Rana has been a fine judge. No one I’m aware of has disputed the excellent professional service Ms. Rana has afforded us all.
Let’s do ourselves a favor: Follow your instincts and vote for Lisa Rana in the Democratic primary, notwithstanding the preference of others. Let’s vote for more of the good work being done at town court.
June 10, 2019
On June 25, registered Democrats will vote in the primary election to choose their candidates to run on the Democratic line in the general election this November. There are several points about the current political landscape that I think they should know about the town justice line before casting their ballots.
First, Andrew Strong is the only registered lifelong Democrat running for town justice. Second, Lisa Rana is a registered Republican and has run as a Republican for this office for the last 16 years. This piece is really important: Registered Democrats voting in the primary will be deciding between a Democrat and a Republican for this office, not between two Democrats.
Third, in an unexpected move, Andrew Strong’s candidacy for town justice on the Democratic line was abandoned by the Reform Democrats, under whose banner he ran and won as a Democratic committeeman last September, a likely result of political horse-trading. It bears noting that a major component of the Reform Dem platform in the primary challenge last year to Town Councilman David Lys was that he was a Republican when appointed to the town board. The Reform Dems made much of party affiliation at the time, declaring the need for a truly competitive election process from within the party itself. It is inconsistent, and disingenuous, that the Reform Dems have embraced a tried-and-true Republican as their candidate for town justice. Democratic loyalists would be right to question why a registered Republican is running against a lifelong Democrat in the primary election to choose their town justice candidate.
Seeing the election signs driving around town, it would be unclear to me that Ms. Rana is a Republican. The blue signs with her name on them make it appear as though she is a Democrat, which is misleading. An arcane election law that applies only to this office permits anyone of any political party to primary a party’s duly chosen candidate. Voters should have choice when they go to the polls, but Democrats voting in the primary should understand that giving Republican Lisa Rana the Democratic Line in the general election means no choice at all. Should she win the Democratic primary, the town justice line will have only her name on it across every party line. She will have no competitors. That leaves voters in the general election with no choice for this important local office, and has the peculiar effect of making the Democratic primary for town justice the real election contest for this important community position. Democrats need to understand this.
That’s not choice. Nor is it Democracy with the capital “D.” It is political expediency aimed at avoiding a true contest this fall where the candidates would be identifiable to the voting public by the parties to which they actually belong: Andrew Strong, Democrat, and Lisa Rana, Republican.
In the interests of full disclosure, Andrew Strong is my son-in-law and for the record, I’m a “blank,” unaffiliated with any political party. So, will not be participating in the primary election on June 25.
June 8, 2019
The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, June 25. Things appear to be moving forward as usual, except for a misleading campaign being waged by East Hampton Town justice Lisa Rana.
After Andrew Strong was selected by the Democratic Committee as its nominee, Ms. Rana, who is a registered Republican running on the Republican and Independent lines, has inserted herself into the Democratic primary in an effort to defeat Andrew Strong and run unopposed in the November general election. She has distributed a letter that touts her experience and qualifications, planted numerous road signs and run many newspaper ads, but nowhere does she acknowledge that she is a registered Republican and not a Democrat.
The New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics has advised that a judicial candidate is held to a high standard of truthfulness (22NYCRR 100.5 [A][d][iii]; Opinions 12-114;09-162). The committee noted:
Distortions and misrepresentations have no place in campaigns for judicial office. Judicial candidates for judicial office are expected to be, and must be, above such tactics. It is especially important for judicial candidates to be truthful because judges are called upon to administer oaths and are sworn to uphold the law and seek the truth.
In its 2015 annual report, the Commission on Judicial Conduct emphasized the importance of truthfulness in a judicial campaign. The C.J.C. warned that public confidence in the courts depends on confidence in the integrity of its judges. The integrity of a candidate who runs a misleading campaign is compromised even before she takes the oath of office.
Democratic voters who don’t follow local politics closely are likely to think that Ms. Rana is a Democrat endorsed by the Democratic Committee. Not only is she not a Democrat and not endorsed by the Democratic Committee, she is also a proxy for a splinter group of disgruntled Democrats led by David Gruber and Rona Klopman, who have broken with the party. Gruber and Klopman, much to their dismay, have also been kicked off the Republican and Independence ballot lines that they desperately sought.
This activity by Ms. Rana is totally outside the bounds of judicial ethics. It would appear appropriate for Ms. Rana to withdraw from the Democratic primary since she will have the opportunity to run against the Democratic nominee in the November election.
All Democratic voters should vote for Andrew Strong for town justice.
June 6, 2019
On June 25, East Hampton Democratic voters will participate in a primary election to select our local town justice. As a person who is concerned with the welfare of our community and its children, I am supporting Judge Lisa Rana.
Judge Lisa Rana is a compassionate, yet firm, judge. She has earned a reputation of being fair and treating people who come before her with respect. Her work as a law guardian and child advocate is an invaluable asset when handling the numerous cases involving family matters in our town. An example of Judge Rana’s passion for ensuring the welfare of children and community is her past service as the president of the board of Project Most for many years. Her leadership strengthened this after-school organization in many ways.
East Hampton Town cannot afford to elect an opponent who does not have the judicial experience or community knowledge that Judge Rana possesses. In my opinion, a vote for Judge Rana is a vote for our children and our community. Please join me in voting for Judge Rana on June 25.
June 9, 2019
After catching up with town news in The Star, I was appalled and upset to read the article about Rowan, Peter Van Scoyoc, and David Lys meeting with the supervisor regarding an illegal settlement for the owner of Duryea’s restaurant. One has to wonder what actually happened at this meeting since the Rowan and Van Scoyoc statements of the settlement accounts are so controversially different.
The appearance of this meeting seems to me to be an abuse of power by a town official and quite unbelievable that Rowan, Van Scoyoc, and Lys conspired in a fake lawsuit against the town. Someone should report
June 10, 2019
This weekend’s deadly plane crash is too close to home. The skill of the pilot to avoid homes was heroic. Every day there is news of small plane crashes all over the country. However, had it been here, the results might have been catastrophic. That crash in East Hampton Village not that long ago would have been different had the plane not run out of fuel. We are exposed every day to low-flying aircraft whose pilots could care less. The practice of Touch And Go has planes flying over populated areas often at less then 300 feet, the same flight paths over and over. It is reckless and the issue is when, not if.
Now, on top of that danger, we have the Department of Environmental Conservation declaration of a Superfund cleanup site — the heaviest pollution rates just north of the terminal and other areas. Residents consuming toxic chemicals in their drinking water for God knows how long? No one knew? The air quality, because of lead contamination from the leaded fuel, continues to go on. The list is long. When do the residents’ health and safety take precedence over a handful of “Rickenbach wannabes?” Big money talks, and B.S. walks. It’s all about the “Benjamins.” So, the exposure is permitted and the priority is not us. Why? It is time to close this disaster waiting to happen. Let us live in safety.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
June 10, 2019
Even though the East Hampton Fusion Party was able to obtain over 1,000 signatures from the registered voters in East Hampton, we did not follow up the filing by having each and every candidate submit a signed and notarized letter of acceptance to the Board of Elections.
This is the first time that the East Hampton Fusion Party has done anything like this, and the election law seems to benefit only the major parties. Why wouldn’t it, as it was drafted by them. They are not required to sign and notarize an acceptance, but any independent candidate is. We will be going to court to challenge this, as we have the backing of over 1,000 signers who felt strongly about having a choice this November.
We made an honest mistake, which hurt only ourselves, it is the first one, and we are big enough to admit it, and we are admitting it. Unlike the Democrats that have their noses in the air and believe that they are untouchable. These same critics have:
Concealed from the residents in Wainscott poisoned drinking water, which has now been declared a New York State Superfund site as of last week.
Tried to give away town-owned real estate to a client of theirs, while making it appear to the public as a gift.
Rigged votes within the Democratic Committee itself to keep control and power.
Bullied and threated residents within the town in the form of phone calls by town board members to people who challenge them at town meetings.
Misled the public with regard to the Deepwater Wind project, requiring the town to grant easements across our beaches before the Public Service Commission could begin a review.
As reported in your paper, advised an applicant to the trustees how to violate the environmental laws and get away with it.
Also reported in your newspaper,
several sitting trustee candidates looking to be re-elected, giving foul-mouthed quotes to your paper. That behavior is belittling to people who voted for them and should never be allowed to represent the Town of East Hampton.
Most recently reported in The Star a secret deal at an undisclosed meeting where two sitting town board candidates sat down with the owner of Duryea’s Lobster Deck to find a way to go above the heads of the East Hampton Town Planning Board for approvals and conspire with the owner.
Finally, over this past weekend, a former supervisor, who was sitting while the water crisis in Wainscott unfolded and took no action or even acknowledged that a problem existed, even after prompting by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, felt the need to demean and bash our supervisor candidate. How very unbecoming of any current or former East Hampton public official.
On Tuesday, June 25, there is a Democratic primary where five East Hampton Fusion Party candidates are running: Lisa Rana for town justice, and Dell Cullum, Steve Lester, Rona Klopman, and Rick Drew for East Hampton Town Trustee. These candidates are extremely qualified to represent and serve the residents of East Hampton.
We promised to give the people a choice in November and we will do everything within our power and within the law to make sure that happens. The mistake we made was ours, and we will own it, but the fight is not over.
ILISSA LOEWENSTEIN MEYER
How Will They?
June 9, 2019
To the Editor:
Honestly boys and girls, this so-called Fusion Party, as described in last week’s headline “Fusion Party Line May be mostly blank,” reminds you of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. How will they run a complicated town when they aren’t responsible enough to follow the rules in getting on a ballot? Just asking.
Election District Six
A Hard Look
June 10, 2019
Your editorial “Political Arms Race Along the Roadsides” was spot on back in October 2017 and still is today. A certain trustee candidate’s signs have recently sprung up all over town like weeds in the garden. They are everywhere. I counted 20 up and down Springs-Fireplace Road alone, though I’m sure the fine men and women of our Highway and Code Enforcement Departments have already removed a few. I have even spotted them down at Lazy Point and Gerard Drive, two very environmentally sensitive areas in our town that this candidate frequently boasts about “preserving and protecting.”
I have still not worked out how this can be accomplished by placing non-biodegradable plastic sheets and metal stakes on our roadsides. There is no way every single one will stay in place and be removed after the election; they will end up as litter on the side of the road, in the woods, or worse yet, in the water. All I’m saying is, please practice what you preach.
I urge voters in the primary and general elections to take a hard look at the trustee candidates. Please vote for those who have an understanding of what the trustees stand for and are willing to defend the unique rights and privileges granted to them by the Dongan Patent of 1686. We all know my late grandfather, Stuart Vorpahl Jr., would not have stood for anything less. The others, those without that understanding and willingness, should be removed, root and stem. It is time for change!
KYLE BENGTSON BALLOU
June 6, 2019
In my unofficial but declared role as East Hampton Town common whipper (an enforcement role mislaid a few centuries back), I have added your brilliant civic mantra which must, immediately, be added to the town code regarding roadside signs: “Don’t Tart Up the Byways!”
Do not even think about supporting, shopping at, or voting for, litter. The common whipper has been working on a townwide project, Get the Mud Out of Your Tributaries, which just about covers some more than others, but, we are going to divert resources to the Don’t Tart Up the Byways Initiative. We applaud you.
All good things,
June 9, 2019
Thank you for writing an editorial this week about the proliferation of signs in East Hampton as I could not agree with you more. The numerous signs include real estate brokerages, businesses, announcements of future events, construction and building companies, road signs for safety measures, and, yes, political campaign signs.
When I campaigned and won the election for a seat on the board of the East Hampton Town Trustees in 2017 I spent the night into the morning hours reclaiming not only my own campaign signs but those of my running mates from Montauk to Wainscott. I finished at 2:30 a.m. By sunrise, not one of my campaign signs remained standing. Indeed it was a long night, but I had vowed from the beginning of the campaign to pick up every one of my signs after the election results came in.
Personally, I would prefer not to post any signs. I would prefer not having to purchase the signs at all — each sign is costly. However, there is a primary vote this year, earlier than usual as New York State voting laws have changed. The primary voting day is Tuesday, June 25. The nominated East Hampton Democratic trustee candidates are facing a primary challenge as well as the nominated Democratic candidate for town justice, Andrew Strong. Under these circumstances, I feel it’s important for the public to be made aware of the primary vote as many people I’ve spoken with have no idea there is a primary. Perhaps my signs and those of the other candidates currently displayed are a good reminder to voters that there is a primary, and they should vote!
The nominated East Hampton Democratic candidates for town trustee are a wonderful slate of qualified, concerned, and dedicated candidates. I look forward to seeing our community voters participate in the process of the election.
And please don’t worry. Just as I did in 2017, after the primary vote on June 25, I’ll be out in the night retrieving every single one of my campaign signs!
SUSAN MCGRAW KEBER
Good of the Town
June 7, 2019
I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for the re-election of Susan McGraw Keber as a trustee. She is working tirelessly for the good of the town, especially our environmental resources.
As an environmental biologist I appreciate and value all she is doing and hope all the residents of the town also appreciate her efforts.
We desperately need more officials at all levels of government who value the health of the environment. Our health depends on the health of the environment.
JUDITH S. WEIS
June 9, 2019
Just a quick note to correct some information that was printed in last week’s article about the Democratic trustee primary. I am not a clothing retailer in Manhattan, that is incorrect. My wholesale evening wear company is based here in East Hampton, and I spend very little time in Manhattan beyond hockey games, museums, Chinese restaurants, and opera.
June 8, 2019
I want to thank Cate Rogers for her acknowledgement of the Democratic accomplishments of the [East Hampton Town] Trustee board dealing with the change of trustee meetings from the Bluff Road building to Town Hall.
In 2015, the Democratic Committee requested that I be in charge of all the trustee candidates and write up the minutes of the weekly meetings. As part of those minutes I proposed the following changes, one of which was moving the meetings to Town Hall and having tapes shown by LTV for the community to watch. I had been at the trustee meetings for over a year, sitting in that small Bluff Road building and knew that transparency was the order of the day as was the move to Town Hall for the meetings.
Another idea of mine, during those 2015 campaign meetings, was having trustee email addresses on their website so the trustee board could be reached directly by the community, and creating a Blue Book like Southampton so the community knows what to expect when coming to the trustee office. Whether it’s for a mooring or duck blinds, etc., knowing about what to expect is important! As of this date these have never been done and I still support doing them.
The trustees must play a stronger and more effective role in the communication process of the community. That can be accomplished by voting for me in the June Democratic primary on June 25.
Born and Raised
June 10, 2019
I urge everyone who is eligible to vote in the primary election on June 25 to vote for Dell Cullum and Stephen Lester.
Dell and Stephen were both born and raised here in East Hampton and have a uniquely rooted understanding of our community. They recognize the historic and ongoing importance of the Dongan Patent and the absolute rights and privileges given to the trustees and the residents of East Hampton by that document. Without more candidates like Dell and Stephen, the trustees may well become a thing of the past.
My late husband, Stuart Vorpahl Jr., loved East Hampton and was unafraid to take on powerful government forces and influencers. The East Hampton Town Trustees need strong and independent voices that are unafraid to buck the stranglehold applied by some members and enforced by the power brokers who got them elected.
Dell Cullum and Stephen Lester will make themselves heard on issues that are important to all East Hampton residents, not just a select few.
They understand the effect the Deepwater project will have on our community, and I know, unlike some current trustees, that they will fight strongly for our fishermen. They will engage the trustees in open talk about important issues that are currently being discussed behind closed doors. Just like Stuart would have done, Dell and Stephen will speak up for the forgotten voices of our town.
Please get out and vote on June 25 for Dell Cullum and Stephen Lester.
June 10, 2019
As you are aware, I have had the privilege of serving the East Hampton community as a town trustee for 12 years. My focus was, and still remains, ensuring access to public lands and waters for all — commercial fishermen, recreational groups, shellfishermen, boaters, bathers, and hunters.
The ability to utilize and enjoy East Hampton’s public resources affects everyone. After a few years focusing on my family and myself, I am once again asking for the community’s support to serve it as an East Hampton Town Trustee.
Please vote for me in the primary election on June 25 — and then again in the November general election.
Slow the Warming
June 4, 2019
To the Editor:
Lorna Salzman got it right in her “Guestwords” piece last week. Action on climate change should not be held hostage to a social justice agenda. I’d just like to add one more point. Climate change itself is the greatest social injustice ever. Climate change is hurting us all, but around the world and in our country, too, it is harming most the very people who least deserve it and who, moreover, have the fewest economic resources to adapt.
The single best action to fight social injustice would be to slow the warming. The most effective way to do that would be to put a price on carbon. Charge the producers and importers of fossil fuels a fee based on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when they are burned, and return the proceeds to the people in equal shares. That will move the economy in the direction of energy efficiency and carbon-free energy sources.
There’s a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would do just that. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) will reduce America’s emissions by at least 40 percent in 12 years. It will improve health and save lives. It will create 2.1 million new jobs. It is supported by leading members of both political parties. Thirty-nine liberal Democrats in the House have signed on as cosponsors. On the conservative side, a group of five cabinet-level officials in previous Republican administrations have joined forces in an organization called the Climate Leadership Council, which supports the strategy embodied in the bill. Their website, clcouncil.org, is well worth a visit. The nonpartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org) has promoted the carbon fee and dividend concept for more than 10 years. Regardless of your own political persuasion, H.R. 763 deserves your support.
The bill doesn’t have any social justice riders, but if and when it is passed it will promote social justice by reducing the world’s greatest social injustice.
No Other Place
June 5, 2019
To The Star:
I keep hearing about how the New York Health Act is most likely not passing in Albany, which is bad enough, but what we don’t hear as much about is that the climate bill is stuck, too.
There’s only days left for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to come to agreement with Assembly speaker Carl Heastie and Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the Climate and Community Protection Act, a bill that makes climate crisis promises into law: a 50 percent renewable electric grid by 2030, 100 percent de-carbonization across sectors by 2050, and 40 percent of state mitigation funds to low-income neighborhoods who have been most impacted by the burning of fossil fuels from local power plants. With the bill will also come jobs in the clean-energy sector with livable wages.
Given the dire nature of global warming, this law is a basic need. I can’t say it enough — there is no other place for us to live. We must stop the ever-rising global temperature, and we have to do it now. We must transition now to clean, renewable energy. We cannot rely on the federal government with its climate-denying president and Senate majority leader. The States must take up arms and defeat global warming. So why, with Democrats in power across the board in Albany, is it not happening?
KAREN C. HIGGINS
No Positive Spin
June 10, 2019
Environmental demons have infested our nation’s capital, posing a grave threat to us on the East End.
The Trump administration has waged war against our environment since the day Trump took office. Withdrawing from the Paris accord was only the beginning. In the coming months, Mr. Trump is expected to kill off the remnants of efforts by the Obama administration to curb damaging emissions from car tailpipes and industrial smokestacks.
In the face of scientific consensus that continued pumping of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere would be catastrophic for the future, Mr. Trump’s attention is only on the short term. Mr. Trump has dictated that the effects of climate change would be analyzed only up to 2040. This would result in a rosy picture, minimizing the effects of environmental warming because the precipitous effects are expected after midcentury.
Compounding this environmental ignorance, Mr. Trump greeted with disbelief his administration’s National Climate Assessment, which projected widespread, and increasingly severe, environmental impacts. In response, his administration is embarking on a plan, not to improve the environment, but instead cynically to combat the very notion of climate change. Afoot is the creation of a “scientific review panel” that will be tasked with disputing the findings of climate research scientists and debunking the notion that climate change is a national security threat.
Heading that panel will be William Happer, a member of Trump’s National Security Council and a leading climate change denier; the rest of the panel will be populated by climate change deniers. The toxicity of Mr. Happer’s leadership is exemplified by his reiterated view that “[t]he demonization of carbon dioxide is like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” Try as one might, there is no positive spin that can be attributed to this utterly inhumane notion. That Mr. Happer finds favor from Mr. Trump is equally noxious.
Making environmental matters worse is that the Trump administration actually seems to welcome the effects of climate change. Secretary of State Pompeo myopically viewed the rapidly melting arctic glaciers as “opening new passageways and opportunities for trade.” Science just seems to be an inconvenient obstacle to this “opportunity.”
From the perspective of the fragile environment we live in on the East End, the malign neglect of the Trump administration to the effects of climate change could not pose a larger threat. One would think that our congressman, Lee Zeldin, would be sounding alarms in the halls of Congress. You would be wrong; Mr. Zeldin has not only been silent in response to Trump’s actions, he has been a steadfast supporter of the oil and gas industries, earning him a deplorable score for his environmental voting record. We deserve better.
June 10, 2019
Some residents around Beach Lane claim to care about climate change. But they are fighting to stop the offshore wind cable to be buried on their street. It reminds me of a cigarette smoker who says he believes smoking will kill him; he just doesn’t believe the one he is smoking now is the one that will make it inevitable. They must have skipped over the hundreds of articles about our shrinking window of opportunity to stop a global slide into climate chaos.
Their arguments are disingenuous. One strategy is to claim the contract is too expensive. In fact, it would be the only Long Island Power Authority power contract with a fixed price for 20 years, something you can never get with fossil fuel as the cost of fossil fuel changes daily. The estimated potential increase is $1 or $2 per household per month. Further, economists tell us we have little chance of solving the climate crisis without a carbon tax. When that inevitably kicks in, wind and solar will be the only sources of power not going through the roof. Anyone genuinely concerned about cost would be pushing to build wind power into our grid before that happens.
The signs posted along Route 27 urging people to vote in Wainscott make it crystal clear that this neighborhood has a high percentage of part-time residents. They are being urged to vote here rather than in New York City. I don’t think these people are concerned about a few bucks on their power bills if they can support two or more homes. It is just a scare tactic to mislead any less fortunate among us who are foolish enough to fall for it.
Another tactic is to frame this as a fight against a rich corporation trying to take advantage of us. But that resistance evaporates, as long as the lines come ashore at Hither Hills or elsewhere, not Beach Lane. They predict ongoing service disruptions at the same time they increase the chance of that by delaying and adding cost to the project.
One wonders who is funding this expensive advertising and lobbying campaign and a lawsuit against LIPA. Profiteers in fossil fuel are adept at fomenting and funding local groups who serve their purpose, that being to keep us addicted to fossil fuel as long as possible. Not that the residents around Beach Lane could not afford to fund it out of pocket. One Wainscott writer to The Star recently purchased an $8.9-million penthouse in the city. Another one bought a $4.5-million apartment. So if they vote here, I guess that’s the cost of their “second” homes.
And that brings us to what this fight is really about: With many admirable exceptions, the rich don’t like to be bothered. Despite a lifestyle of multiple houses and continuous mobility around the planet (that is, outsize carbon footprints), they feel no civic obligation to be inconvenienced in any way to solve the problem of climate change, not even allowing a buried cable nearby, with the installation work being done while they are sunbathing on a southern beach next winter or some winter in the future, depending on how long their tactics can delay it, if not kill it. The start date already has been pushed a year or more into the future.
What happened to noblesse oblige? Princess, now Queen, Elizabeth worked as a car mechanic in World War II. We seem to have a more callous class of nobles these days. Or maybe they are just oblivious to the irony: In their quest to maintain the status quo, they hasten the day that their quaint little road is swallowed by the sea.
I hope some around Beach Lane will step forward to disavow these prevarications. Recent peer-reviewed studies have revealed that Greenland and Antarctica are bleeding ice six times faster than they were in the 1980s. Scientists were shocked. The carbon count at Mauna Loa is now 414 PPM, 38 percent higher than it has ever been in 800,000 years, up 3 PPM since last year, so melting will only accelerate going forward.
The smoker might ask himself each time he lights up, “Is this the one that takes me over the edge? Is this the one?” And those working to delay or cancel a project that would displace 145 percent of the fossil fuels used to generate the electricity in our town might ask themselves, “Is this the one that takes us beyond the tipping point? Is this the one?”
June 6, 2019
Regarding “Dire Predictions by Scott Bluedorn.” Incredible well-researched article. Brutal honesty and very scary to homeowners here. I write when my basement in Sagaponack has been underwater for two months now. Daily pumping at tremendous cost and devaluation of my property. The pond across the road is after any heavy rain in my front garden. Ducks swim in it (water in the street), pond bass swim in it, and cars go through it doing all sorts of damage to their brakes. I’d like to know from the author, if there is any way I can have this article translated into Spanish just to show my household help what they are up against in their valiant fight to keep us dry. Again, my congratulations on your courage to do this honest report and East, East Hampton Star magazine, on the courage to print this. I think it will be very telling in future sales of property, and might in fact, cause the powers that be to investigate our infrastructure with haste.
Albany Traffic Jam
June 4, 2019
To the Editor:
Democratic power across the state should be making climate crisis legislation happen readily, but the word is not getting through the Albany traffic jam.
Only days remain for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to agree on the Climate and Community Protection Act, legislation that would enshrine the governor’s impressive electric-sector goals, and codify decarbonization across the economy by 2050.
We need bold action or risk dire climate consequences, which we’ve begun to feel in the form of severe flooding, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, hurricanes, and powerful storms. New York can play a leadership role.
June 10, 2019
I’d like to correct a misimpression I apparently created at a recent meeting of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee. Win With Wind, a local, grassroots group supporting offshore wind energy, is neutral on the issue of where the offshore cable should make an onshore landing. We are a group of local citizens who believe that East Hampton has a unique opportunity to make a positive contribution toward slowing, and perhaps ultimately halting, catastrophic climate change by being the first community in New York State to begin the transition away from the hazardous burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity.
I apologize if my comments were misleading. While the group has not taken any position regarding either of the two potential landing sites, Wainscott or Hither Hills, we are hopeful that the community can come together to seek creative solutions to genuine concerns so that we may be able to move forward together on such a critical issue.
June 3, 2019
To the Editor:
You might want to ask Peter Van Scoyoc what was his motivation for pushing so hard for Deepwater Wind’s preferred landing site at Beach Lane, in a secret manner, obviously trying to avoid any public exposure, thereby precluding any public objections until they would be too late to stop it?
For a presumptively independent-minded government official, he has acted in a very strange way. From the beginning, he has run a closed process structured to avoid public participation, and to summarily approve Deepwater Wind’s requests with little to no deliberation. For example, a few minutes before the board meeting of Feb 7, 2019, he quietly added Deepwater Wind’s request to dig nearly 200 pits throughout Wainscott and to bore two 100-foot holes near Wainscott Beach’s fragile dunes to the meeting agenda.
Deepwater made that excavation request to the board in early December 2018 yet no disclosure was made to the public. Several days in advance of its Feb 7 meeting, the board published the agenda for the meeting. There was no reference to Deepwater Wind’s excavation request. However, a few minutes before the meeting was to begin, Peter Van Scoyoc quietly added an item to the agenda that he would be sponsoring a resolution approving the excavation request.
It might be informative to find out what is behind his unusually intensive, secretive, extraordinary push to get Deepwater’s preferred Beach Lane landing site approved, while other suitable landing sites are available, for which Deepwater Wind would incur higher construction costs.
June 10, 2019
Orsted, the energy company that currently owns the Deepwater Wind project (the venture capitalists having sold out early without actually doing anything), has a new best friend here in East Hampton — “Win With Wind.” But you would think that Orsted would already be embarrassed by the cringeworthy things that Win With Wind founders Judith Hope and Larry Cantwell, both former East Hampton Town supervisors, say publicly.
It is astonishing to me (or maybe not given the way money talks in the Democratic Party these days) that these two former supervisors, who you would think would have the best interests of East Hampton at heart, are now shilling for an energy conglomerate that Assemblyman Fred Thiele publicly rebuked for its public deceit and lack of transparency.
Let’s understand the stakes. East Hampton has absolutely no control over whether the South Fork Wind Farm is built or not built. That decision will be made by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the New York State Public Service Commission, and its equivalent in Rhode Island. If they approve, the project gets built. It they do not, it does not.
Whether you believe passionately that this particular project must be built to save the planet (although by itself it will have an imperceptible effect on global warming) or that this particular project is technically ill-advised, too expensive, too small to be cost-effective, a total mismatch for South Fork energy needs (as our demand peaks come right at wind-energy valleys), and irrelevant to the South Fork because 99 percent of the energy will be utilized UpIsland, it is still out of the hands of East Hampton.
What we here can do, and what I would have thought our town government would be eager to do, is make sure to minimize any adverse impacts of the project on our community, our residents, our beaches, and our commercial fishermen. Minimizing environmental harm to East Hampton might make the project more expensive for Orsted. So what? It is not our job here in East Hampton to make as much money as possible for Orsted. Rather, it is our job to make sure that Orsted does not make as much money as possible by doing damage to us.
You would think that is a pretty easy choice. But Win With Wind advocates are so besotted with the belief that they personally are saving their grandchildren from global warming by lining Orsted’s pockets that they simply don’t care.
At the last Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, former supervisor Judith Hope rose to announce the formation of this new organization. She literally told the people of Wainscott that she was concerned “as a Democrat” that if instead of bringing the cable ashore at Beach Lane it comes ashore at Hither Hills, it would have an adverse impact on “campers.” So, when the Win With Wind crowd is not pretending that there are no adverse impacts to the project, as they usually do, they are worried if campers are adversely affected, but not if residents are adversely affected. Has the East Hampton Democratic Committee lost its mind?
In The Star, Ms. Hope is quoted saying that, “We’ll play our part to try to keep correcting misinformation.” Scroll down the page a bit and former supervisor Cantwell says, “I have a lot of empathy and sympathy for people working in that business [commercial fishing]. But the docks in Montauk are going to be under water . . . in only 10 or 20 years. Literally, those docks will not be able to dock boats because they’re going to be under water.”
I am sure that commercial fishermen, concerned about potential damage to their livelihoods, as is the State of Rhode Island, are grateful to read that Cantwell is sympathetic. After all, County Legislator Bridget Fleming reserved her sympathies “for the folks on the town board in East Hampton and the difficulty they have.” Oh, our poor town board members, having to put up with the concerns of residents!
Let’s bring Cantwell and his hot-air balloon down to earth. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.” In the immortal words of Casey Stengel, “You could look it up.” Let me see, 20 years at an eighth of an inch a year comes to two and a half inches. I dunno. Doesn’t seem like quite enough to put the docks underwater.
The reality is that the Deepwater Wind advocates are an endless font of misinformation about literally every aspect of the project without exception, from its finances to the law, to its environmental impacts, to its costs to consumers, to the use of the energy. They have not done the homework. But what is worse, they are resolutely opposed to the Town of East Hampton doing the homework and laying the facts before the community. To keep these winners with wind happy (to heck with fishermen), the town board has done absolutely nothing, not one little blessed thing, to gather the information we need to protect our community and put it before the public.
Several months ago at a Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, I asked Supervisor Van Scoyoc, in attendance that day, why the town will not hire appropriate experts to help the town advocate for our people in the Public Service Commission process. “That’s a good idea,” he said. At the last meeting I asked Councilman Bragman, the Wainscott C.A.C. liaison, what progress had been made in retaining appropriate professionals. Answer? None.
Hey, why bother actually knowing anything about anything when we are all just going to “Win With Wind”? Not a shred of doubt. You could look it up.
Lies Upon Lies
June 5, 2019
I received an email from a group, the Mueller Book Club, asking me to read the Mueller Report and help spread the information of what is really in the report. I did read it, but I didn’t make a list of offenses, even though there seemed to be many: accepting foreign support of stolen materials and accepting foreign funds through the N.R.A. and the inaugural fund, foreign payments for hotel stays. His firing of Comey to protect himself, lying about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, imploring many to stop the Mueller investigation, promising support and conversely promising menace if “loyalty” was not upheld.
Everything he and his family do is dirty. Kushner, using his position/presidential proximity to secure financing for his family business from within the White House. Coddling Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with weapons and promises of nuke technology, the M.B.S./Kushner extortion/embargo of Qatar, and then all of the other acts to cover acts, it is such a preponderance of abuse and misdeeds. Lies upon lies. Why is he still standing?
Also, the other outstanding aspect of the report is how inept, unsophisticated, naive, just plain ignorant, people like Carter Page and Papadopoulos, Don Jr), and even Trump himself are, and how easily they were and are being played. It is embarrassing at least. It seems beyond the vulgarity and unabashed greed, the only thing that motivates this totally devoid of information or ideology president, is the applauds-o-meter.
Don’t take my word. Read the report for yourself. Robert De Niro was right when he said Mueller is no Stephen King, but nothing less than the integrity of our democracy depends on how we, as a country, meet this existential threat.
Join the Mueller Book Club to join a community of thousands who are all reading the Mueller Report at muellerbookclub.com.
Into the Wind
New York City
June 9, 2019
To the Editor,
“Barking up the wrong tree.” Definition: If you are barking up the wrong tree it means that you have completely misunderstood something or are totally wrong.
At the beginning of June the leading Democratic candidates, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and several other protagonists, updated and modernized this definition. Joe Biden pitching a $5 trillion-plus climate action proposal that he says would lead the United States to net-zero emissions of carbon pollution by 2050. Biden proposes paying for the plan by repealing the president’s corporate tax cut and eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. “The world’s changing climate threatens the livability of our planet.”
Bernie Sanders reaffirmed his Climate Protection and Justice Act to establish a price on carbon pollution. He would cut total emissions 80 percent by 2050, fund “historic” investments in energy efficiency, and return billions of dollars to working families. “Our climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is a racial justice issue . . . an existential crisis.” “We have a relatively short window of opportunity to bring about fundamental changes.” Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a $2 trillion-plus renewable energy and green manufacturing plan. “Seizing the enormous opportunity that transitioning to 100 percent clean energy represents across the country.” “An agenda of economic patriotism.” The latest reports on the most-polluting countries on the planet: China, 30 percent, U.S.A., 15 percent (note, 15), India, 7 percent, Russia, 5 percent, Japan, 5 percent.
The prevailing speeds of the atmospheric air streams average approximately 275 miles per hour easterly and westerly. The approximate distances from Japan to our U.S. coast are 10,000 miles from Central China, 12,000 miles from India to our eastern coast. Despite all the leaps the United States made in the past years to cut ozone emissions, researchers found China’s pollution is blowing into the western U.S. and canceling considerably our progress. The study also said that the Chinese pollution has offset 43 percent of all efforts to reduce ozone in the atmosphere. Come to think of it, a more accurate veracious idiom is pissing into the wind.
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL
The Normal Equation
June 8, 2019
Reading Jill Lepore’s opus on U.S. history, “These Truths,” it seems extraordinary that the nation survived the violent acrimony that existed between the founders. The election to succeed Washington between Adams and Jefferson was so bitter and negative that it is difficult to believe that the states found a way to survive, no less to flourish.
So the political atmosphere today remarkably parallels the beginning of the 19th century. Caught in the middle are working-class Americans, who finally figured out that they were being done away with and turned to Donald Trump.
There is no debate on the economic decline of middle-class Americans since 1980, and there is no real debate about how it happened. What seems more relevant is why the middle class existed in the first place. Was it just an aberration of our normal existence or did it derive from some grand design?
It is difficult to imagine, given our history, that developing a middle class was the goal of our political and industrial elites. Henry Ford talked about paying better wages so that workers could afford to buy cars, but the arrival of unions aside, paying better wages and creating a middle-class existence was not part of the American dialogue.
Two cataclysmic events, the Great Depression (16 years long) and World War II, combined to create an atmosphere that had never existed in the country before. The depression negatively impacted almost everyone’s lives and World War II was the greatest collective effort in our history. We came together as a nation like we never had before and created an atmosphere of brotherhood, appreciation, and common interests.
Roosevelt’s New Deal, the G.I. Bill, and the rise of unions brought front and center the lives of normal Americans. We were one nation on the same page trying to build on the spirit of camaraderie and sacrifice that had recently developed. Our politicians, more or less, accepted the idea of putting everyone back to work and improving conditions in the workplace, schools, housing, etc. They bought into a social and economic evolution that was based on the production of American workers and the economic principles of Keynes.
We rebuilt the country and the rest of the world that had been devastated by the war. We had no competition from Europe, Africa, or Asia. We became the world’s only economic power, and in the new collective spirit everyone participated. Unions flourished and wages and benefits increased. Home ownership, college degrees, funds made available to open businesses. Social changes in civil rights and health care became part of the normal equation.
By 1975 we had a burgeoning middle class and then we didn’t. Led by the Chicago School economists, conservative Republicans, and Ronald Reagan, the middle class was sold out. Finance above labor, big business over small business, credit instead of wages, and cheap foreign labor above U.S. labor. The process was painful but relatively easy. The Democrats acquiesced, unions were made to disappear, and the middle class went down painfully with nary a whimper.
What took almost 200 years to build was eviscerated in only 30. There is little doubt about what happened or why it happened. Did we just return to normal, the way we always operated before the Great Depression and World War II?
Was the American middle class an aberration that developed under perfect conditions and then the country righted itself when cooler, calmer heads prevailed?