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Letters to the Editor: 06.20.19

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 18:37

Our readers' comments

Applesauce
Montauk
June 17, 2019

Dear David, 

Does everyone in East Hampton think that the heart of America is good, but the head of America (and I don’t mean Trump) is not so good? If you disagree, then I would humbly request you to listen to Mother Angelica, Jan. 3, 1995, on EWTN. 

One more thing. Whenever Mother Angelica would get upset she would say “Applesauce.” That might go a long way in improving civility in the whole world. Rest in peace, Mother Angelica. 


VINCENT BIONDO
Rigatoni Pasta
Montauk

June 13, 2019

Dear David:

Last night Nancy and I went to Punicello (formerly E.N.E.) The cooks are from Italy and the food was very good,

They serve a pasta dish, homemade rigatoni pasta in a red sauce, “Paceheri Pasta.” (App., $12; Entree, $220)

They bring to the table a huge Parm Reggiano cheese wheel with the pasta in a bowl carved into the wheel that was formed in the wheel. They then toss the homemade rigatoni pasta in the wheel and serve it to you. Best I ever had.

I could see going there with Nancy and just getting the app. with a glass of wine, maybe add a salad, and leave full.

I hope you don’t mind my sharing my dining experience.

Thanks,

RICHARD ZDYB


One of Nine
East Hampton 
June 16, 2019

Dear David, 

On Tuesday, June 25, there will be a Democratic primary to determine the final slate for the East Hampton Democratic trustee candidates. I am one of nine candidates who were duly nominated by the East Hampton Democratic Party. 

At this time I’d like to thank the East Hampton voters for their support during my term as your trustee. I am very proud of the accomplishments I have worked hard on for our community. 

As a trustee, I serve on several committees — aquaculture, Northwest Creek, Accabonac Harbor, and Hog Creek, beaches, education, records and website, and social media. I am a member and trustee liaison of the Accabonac Harbor Protection Committee. In addition, I am a member and liaison of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability and Resiliency Committee, and a member of the Northwest Alliance group. 

I have been a member of the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery’s oyster farm, growing oysters to help filtrate our waterways, and I helped seed Three Mile Harbor with clams and oysters for our fisheries to eventually harvest. 

In a collaborative effort with members of the trustees, I have been instrumental in establishing a relationship with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Department to conduct an annual citizen-scientist spawning survey that will provide scientific data for research. We began last spring at two sites with two teams. This year we expanded our survey research to four sites and added additional citizen-scientist teams. 

One of our most important collaborations began with the Nature Conservancy, Suffolk County Vector, and Group for the East End to survey mosquito larval water sampling of Accabonac Harbor. Now in its second year, our efforts have been successful in reducing the over-spraying of pesticides on the saltmarsh. Our concerted goal is to restore the saltmarsh and cease all spraying. Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming has endorsed the effort, and this past spring I was invited to speak before the legislative members. 

As a member of the education committee I have organized visits to the local public schools as I believe the future of our town and its environment depend on our children who will be charged with preserving and protecting the abundance of our precious natural resources. The students learned about the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of East Hampton Town, the history of our body of government, and our responsibilities today. 

I have brought awareness of the East Hampton Town Trustees and their role in government by attending school functions, science fairs, and recently had Montauk School students visit Town Hall, where they saw their school petition and artwork framed as testament to their contribution to helping the town board members vote to ban the intentional release of balloons — an effort that included 36 local and national environmental organizations’ letters of support. This legislation is now before Suffolk County’s Single Use Plastic Committee, of which I am now a participating member. 

Please vote for me, and with your support on Tuesday, June 25, I will continue to work hard for our community as an East Hampton Town Trustee.

Sincerely,

SUSAN MCGRAW KEBER


For All
East Hampton
June 13, 2019

Hi David:

For more than 30 years I have counted Susan McGraw Keber as a dear friend, and a person I could count on for anything. I am writing this letter to remind East Hampton that she has also been a great friend for all of us for the past two years as a town trustee. And we can benefit from her good works for another two years and hopefully beyond. 

I’ve never discovered where Susan’s bottomless fount of energy comes from, but there’s no doubt she is tireless in helping people, wildlife, and the environment, and in maintaining a responsive town infrastructure. I could list a range of initiatives that she has spearheaded and championed over the past two years — projects that make East Hampton a better place than it was before. Her leadership in protecting our waterways, our beaches, our wetlands, and our trails is making a difference now, and will surely benefit our children in the years to come.

We are lucky to have Susan. Let’s extend that good fortune.

Please go to your polling place on June 25, and drive a friend as well.

KATHRYN PERRY


Real Democrats
Springs
June 17, 2019

Dear David,

I would like to thank everyone on the real Democratic Committee for endorsing me and my running mates for office and for all their dedication and hard work.

Please vote for a real Democrat, Andrew Strong, for justice and for the trustees endorsed by the democratically elected Democratic Committee: Francis Bock, John Aldred, Jim Grimes, Mike Martinsen, Susan McGraw Keber, Tim Garneau, Ben Dollinger, Rick Drew, and myself, Bill Taylor.

Thank you and please vote on Election Day, Tuesday, June 25.

BILL TAYLOR


Incorporation
Wainscott
June 17, 2019 

To the Editor:

Had Alexis de Tocqueville sat through the nearly six hours of back-to-back sessions the Public Service Commission held last week regarding Deepwater’s proposed South Fork Wind Farm, he might have quilled something in his notebook about the “tyranny of the majority.” Embattled Wainscott is now under siege by not only its East Hampton overlords (three members of the town board), but their imported Hessians (in the unlikely form of Stony Brook college students and the Long Island Sierra Club, masquerading as concerned locals). As the Fourth of July approaches, we should remember that often the unintended consequence of this type of tyranny is independence.

The attempted public stigmatization of pro-green energy, 1,300 Wainscott citizens, as luddites, “self-centered, rich people on the Titanic,” is yet another attempt to suppress legitimate grievances: The selection by a corporation (and town board enablers) of a small residential hamlet with not-as-many voters for its high-power electricity cables that just so happens to maximize its own profits when other viable alternative landfall sites exist.

The imported Green Hessians, while giving lip service to to the impact on the local population, trampled the legitimate concerns of the Wainscott residents. They (inaccurately) assert, among other things: Any other route will delay commencement of the project (not true, even according to Deepwater) and the Hither Hills route is more expensive (yes — to the company’s margins. It has no impact whatsoever on already-contracted rates homeowners pay through the Long Island Power Authority, again according to Deepwater itself).

The majority then pursues high-handed tactics. Lord Frederick North and Gen. Thomas Gage, in the form of the town’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, nearly view Wainscott citizens like the Massachusetts colonists: Rabble-rousers who can be easily suppressed. While one might think that the committee would be fans of fact-based analysis, to quote one of their leaders from last Tuesday, “Let’s just get on with it!” (The parallels to “Drill, baby. Drill!” are shocking). In any case, Lord North and General Gage’s underestimation did not work out so well for them, or King George, for that matter.

When all else fails, unheard legitimate concerns then lead to movements of self-determination. Without further actions to protect the minority of Wainscott, the Town of East Hampton will force the local population to seek redress through the incorporation of the hamlet. Its next-door neighbor, Sagaponack, provides an excellent example.

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for. . . .”

MIKE ELKINS


Mass Hysteria
Wainscott
June 17, 2019 

To The Star:

If last week you sought out the New York State Public Service hearings on the Deepwater Wind project at the East Hampton Firehouse, you might have expected reasoned comments on the best available landing site for the Deepwater Wind Farm. Instead, this issue was ignored by the proponents of wind power, who were engaged in an exercise of mass hysteria. They reminded me of an emergency vehicle driver who drives on the sidewalk at 90 miles an hour in a single-minded mission to address the emergency. If pedestrians get run over, so be it. The hysteria was a mix of religion (e.g., apocalyptic visions with the end being nigh) and social re-engineering/totalitarianism (these specific landowners must be ordered to sacrifice for the good of the collective). The actual merits of the proper landing site were ignored, as reflected by one speaker who analogized climate change to the Titanic and said that those focused on the best landing site were like those getting onto Titanic lifeboats asking whether there was a bathroom. 

The hyperbole of presenting this project as a matter of life and death to the residents of East Hampton is only reinforced when one considers that the CO2 emissions saved by this wind farm will be about 129,000 metric tons and the United States emits 6.5 billion metric tons, with China exceeding that level. Climate change needs to be addressed, but like any public policy issue it needs to be considered with balance and due regard to minimizing the environmental impact of any proposed solutions. Under any circumstances, this project will not be operational until 2022.

We have the fervor, we need more analysis.

PAMELA MAHONEY


The Star Failed
Wainscott
June 17, 2019

Dear Editor,

The self-proclaimed mission of The East Hampton Star is to hold an honest mirror up to the Town of East Hampton and hamlets like Wainscott. In its recent piece, “Divided on Wind Cable” (June 13, 2019), The Star failed in its mission. The reporting was worthy of Baghdad Bob, as the article on the New York State Public Service Commission’s hearings on the Deepwater/Orsted wind project was false and misleading.

Contrary to the impression left by the article, the local residents of Wainscott opposing the Beach Lane site far outnumbered any residents of East Hampton because most of the speakers favoring the wind farm were either college students bused in from Stony Brook or with outside organizations who represented national organizations, such as the Sierra Club.

To be sure, The Star cited and quoted two Wainscott residents who supported the Beach Lane landing site. But still, it failed to mention that they were the only two Wainscott Citizens Advisory Council members who were on the short end of a 10-to-2 vote that opposed Wainscott as a proposed landing site for the Deepwater wind farm cable.

While the article quoted numerous speakers who addressed the urgent need to address climate change, The Star quoted neither any of the majority of such members who spoke nor any of the nearly two dozen Wainscott residents who spoke for wind power but against the project being landed at Beach Lane.

Moreover, The Star failed to address in any respect the merits of the alternative landing sites (e.g., Beach Lane vs. Hither Hills). Instead, it channeled the pro-wind power speaker insults against the Wainscott residents who favor the project but oppose the Beach Lane landing (e.g., Nimby, worried about your property values, etc.). The substantive arguments discussed at the hearing were not reported on at all, including the Hither Hills site being, for example, non-residential, non-farmland, less susceptible to tidal erosion, situated above the aquifer, and a shorter cable route involving less energy loss. Instead, we got constant apocalyptic references to climate change (e.g., we are on the Titanic) and purportedly dramatic insights to the effect that the speaker was a grandmother. Neither of which has any relevance to the P.S.C. issue to be decided regarding which landing site has the least adverse environmental impact.

The article was not accurate and dispassionate reporting, but advocacy. In The Star’s zeal to align itself with wind power, The Star has lost its way in serving its journalistic mission.

GOURI EDLICH


Natural Location
Montauk
June 12, 2019

To the Editor,

Regarding the landing location of the power cable coming from offshore windmills, I have read of late that following organized protests from Wainscott, Orsted Deepwater is now furthering their investigation into bringing their line onshore via Hither Hills as an alternative to their proposed site in Wainscott.

To be clear, I strongly support alternative energy sources. Climate crisis is civilization’s greatest impending threat and any/all efforts to lessen the human footprint in terms of impacting it must be encouraged and supported fully.

If the line has to come ashore in Hither Hills, so be it. However, based upon not only Deepwater’s research but common sense as well (less distance = less time = less cost), Wainscott would appear to be the natural location. To move the operation out to Hither Hills not only will increase costs by approximately double but it will take twice as long. 

The global climate change issue is urgent. Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott’s position of “fighting for renewable energy” while digging in their heels on the basis of “Not in my backyard” is hypocritical, shortsighted, and selfish. If we do not expedite everything we possibly can to slow the climate crisis sooner rather than later, there will be nowhere on earth to protect and preserve. I am embarrassed for the citizens of Wainscott. Effects on a neighborhood and your park spoiling your picture-perfect postcard town? Well, we have windmills on our horizon spoiling ours. So what? Get real.

Whatever, please, let’s get these alt energy sources going. There is no time to waste.

Sincerely

RIC KALLAHER


Held Up
New York City
June 17, 2019 

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Listen to the grandparents. They are wise on renewable wind power, especially when they speak in the interests of their grandchildren (“Divide on Wind Cable,” June 13).

Francesca Rheannon, quoted in the story, fears that her 15-year-old granddaughter will suffer if we don’t decarbonize in the next 10 years. She has every reason to be concerned.

We have a practically spade-ready wind farm, first up in line of a series of renewable energy-producing wind plants off Long Island. That’s the great news. But it’s still getting held up.

It matters that we get the South Fork Wind Farm started now and not in two years. We don’t have that much time left to leave a livable earth for our grandchildren.

MATTHEW SCHNECK


Refreshing
East Hampton
June 15, 2019 

Dear Editor: 

I am pleased to be supporting Dell Cullum for town trustee. Dell sums up his independent thoughts on being a trustee by stating, “I believe absolutely that the trustees must be independent and represent no one but the public interest in environmentally sound administration of our common heritage — public land for the public good, clean, accessible, and sustainable.” 

Certainly a refreshing idea! Dell has been an active member of our community organizing groups to pick up trash at the beaches from East Hampton to Montauk. He has produced films to educate children in schools to help them understand the necessity of dealing with local wildlife, the waterways, and the environment. He does not have a job with the town (as some trustees do), so there is no conflict of interest for him. Dell actually lives, breathes, and respects the public and the environment. A vote for him should be an important consideration.

Yours truly,

LENI SALZ


Sound Leadership
Amagansett 
June 13, 2019

Dear David, 

On Tuesday, June 25, registered Dem- ocrats will be asked to vote for nine trustee candidates. Unfortunately, six excellent, experienced, and dedicated Democratic incumbents, and three new Democratic candidates are being challenged for spots on the Democratic ticket in November by three individuals who are “false” Democrats and do not have the endorsement of the Democratic Party. Their support comes from politically motivated people with personal axes to grind. 

The trustees’ job is to oversee the health and well-being of our natural resources, protecting and preserving them, now and for the future. Politics and personal agendas have no place. So, perhaps more than anything else, this primary is a referendum on that concept. 

The incumbents endorsed by the Democratic Party are Francis Bock, Bill Taylor, Jim Grimes, Rick Drew, Susan McGraw Keber, and John Aldred. They are without bias, political or personal agendas. All have experience and know-how. They are good, decent, honest individuals. Thanks to their dedication, due diligence, and hard work, our waters, beaches, and marine life are thriving, improving, being tested, monitored, and protected. They have fought for public access to beaches. Their many areas of expertise bring the strength of diversity and sound leadership to the board. 

Projects are addressed and problems solved through cooperation with other towns, government agencies, and community groups. They are open to new ideas, willing to hear from and work with the public, interested in listening to those wishing to call attention to issues that fall under trustee purview. They act when they see the benefit in doing so. They respect the past, but realize ensuring a better future depends on the work they do today. They take their stewardship role seriously and feel a strong sense of obligation to do what is right for the environment and the community, not for themselves or a political party. That is what the trustees should be about. 

The three new candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party are Mike Martinsen, Ben Dollinger, and Tim Garneau. They will bring new perspectives, knowledge, and energy to the trustee board, that of a fisherman-oyster farmer, an environmentalist, and a deeply involved community activist. 

We cannot afford to replace progress, openness, and honesty with the misguided, backward-looking selfish political motives of the three challengers — Klopman, Cullum, and Lester. They will contribute little or nothing to the trustee board other than divisiveness. 

We urge all Democrats to vote on Tuesday for the nine trustee candidates who will keep our town moving forward. They will go on to be elected in November, and that will most certainly be a win for East Hampton. We need to guarantee our natural resources, waters, beaches, environment, and marine life will remain in the very best, most experienced, qualified, capable, hard-working, and caring hands of the candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party: Francis Bock, Bill Taylor, Jim Grimes, Rick Drew, Susan McGraw Keber, John Aldred, Mike Martinsen, Ben Dollinger, and Tim Garneau. 

Thank you,

JOAN and VINCENT PRIORE


Own Person
Amagansett
June 16, 2019

Dear David,

On June 25, the Democratic primary will select nine trustees to run on the Democratic ticket in November. My lifelong Democratic values should be obvious to the East Hampton Democrats who will vote in this election. One of the most important values I possess is that of working long and hard for this entire community, with a priority to make water quality safe for all of us.

One of the hardest choices trustees have to make for this town, in the near future, is the decision to give or not give beach easements for the Deepwater Wind project. At this moment in time we do not have enough information to make that decision.

As far as authorizing a beach landing for Deepwater Wind on Beach Lane, the trustee board needs technical experts, engineers, environmental experts, to advise them, not just lawyers. I am a person who believes in educating the trustee board to make the best decisions for this community by getting the best in environmental advice. 

One of the most important changes I would like to initiate is to stagger the term of office for the nine trustees so that not all are elected at the same time. It is impossible to know who is best for this town with 18 people running every two years. If terms are staggered, you really can get to know the best people who will work for this town and make the right decisions based on facts. 

I urge you to vote for me, Rona Klopman, in the Democratic primary on June 25. I listen to the people, and I am fiercely independent of the will of the Democratic Committee and town board. I am my own person!

Sincerely,

RONA KLOPMAN


Cross-Endorsed
East Hampton
June 17, 2019

To the Editor:

Last week’s letters express a recurring theme.  Do not vote for Lisa Rana for town justice because she is not a registered Democrat. 

Democratic voters are mandated to ignore Justice Rana’s many years of experience and to embrace her opponent, despite his mostly irrelevant and narrow experience for the job. Mandated to ignore that she conducts her courtroom in a just and judicial manner. Mandated to ignore her service to, and firsthand knowledge of, our community, and mandated to ignore the compassionate way she treats litigants who appear before her.

The important takeaway is, forget Justice Rana’s many unblemished years of dispensing justice, and vote for her opponent simply because he is a registered Democrat. They want you to believe that party registration is the only factor that counts when casting your vote on June 25.

If registration is actually all that counts, then why did these same Democratic partisans, who today are urging their fellow Democrats to vote for a less-qualified candidate, encourage you to vote for and re-elect Justice Lisa Rana in the last election cycle? The Democrats cross-endorsed Justice Rana the last time around, touting her qualifications and experience to the entire East Hampton electorate, even though she was not then a registered Democrat. 

What you see in these letters and hear from Democratic Party leadership is identity politics at its worst! They are counting on you to be blinded by political affiliation.  Fortunately, political affiliation is not the end-all, be-all standard by which to decide the suitability of a candidate who seeks a seat on our local court bench. A judgeship must be held by someone who is apolitical in the dispensing of justice. Not by someone beholden to a particular political party.

What is the difference between Democratic leaders pressing for registration as the primary factor for voting for a candidate, or for using gender or ethnicity as that factor? Consider the slogan: “Do not vote for Lisa Rana because she is a woman?”  That, too, is identity politics and equally as odious as voting for someone only because of party registration.

I believe Democratic leaders employ identity politics when they have nothing substantive to say about their own candidate!   If they had a valid basis upon which to attack Justice Rana or her work, they would express it.  Lacking a compelling argument against Justice Rana, they instead choose to rely upon identity politics. 

Democratic voters should reject their leaders’ mandate.  Regardless of party registration, everyone in town needs to know that if we appear in court, we’ll be dealt with in a fair and just manner.  Exactly how Justice Rana has run her courtroom since taking the bench 16 years ago.

Vote for Justice Lisa Rana on June 25.

BEVERLY BOND


For 16 Years
Amagansett
June 8, 2019

Dear Editor:

I agree with your editorial on June 6, “Primaries a Good Thing,” that primaries are good for local democracy. What I do find disturbing about the primary is the gossip, surrounding this June 25 Democratic primary, is that unless the Democrats involved in the primary agree with the party leaders they won’t ever be nominated by the party bosses ever again. I would like to think that once elected to any position in government office, an elected official could then listen to the residents of our town.

There also seems to be controversy because the Democratic Committee doesn’t seem to think that the Democrats should vote for Lisa Rana for town justice because she is a Republican. Yet, for the 2017 election the Democratic Committee cross-endorsed Justice Lisa Rana for the November election. Lisa Rana has been town justice for 16 years, and she is one of best East Hampton Town has ever had in my opinion. Also a justice candidate is allowed to run a primary on any ticket regardless of party affiliation.

“Don’t be Fooled” for the June 25 Democratic primary. The present trustees, Republican James Grimes, Democrat Bill Taylor, and Frances Bock, have voted to give away the leased land at Lazy Point for 35 years and the trustees did not make a dime. The same trustees seem to support Deepwater, and did they want to sign a lease for Wainscott at the very beginning without regard to the fishermen? Did the same three trustee clerks try to resolve the Wainscott water issues or have they stonewalled many attempts to help the people of Wainscott?

Do these same trustees believe in the Dongan Patents or will they eventually turn the power over to the town board and the state Department of Environmental Conservation because in their ads they do not mention the patents? On June 25, I hope the Democratic voters will vote for Lisa Rana for town justice, Dell Cullum, Stephen Lester, and Rona Klopman for town trustees. If the East Hampton Democratic Committee really believes that only Democrats should run in the primary then why did they not endorse one of their own Democrats, Rona Klopman, Dell Cullum, Stephen Lester, instead of Republican James Grimes?

ELAINE JONES

Chairwoman

East Hampton Independence Party


My Choice
Amagansett
June 13, 2019

Dear David,

I am a devout Democrat, politically devout. I believe that two of the main tenets of the Democratic Party are inclusivity and responsible brotherhood. Yes, we are our brothers’ keepers.

Lisa Rana has shown her support and respect for these ideals all the years she has been an East Hampton Town justice. She is true to them in her approach, her judgment, and in her fair and honest treatment of all who come before her bench. She is my choice to continue her fine work. 

Lisa, you have my enthusiastic vote.

Sincerely,

LIBBY ESPOSITO


Proven Record
East Hampton
June 16, 2019

Dear Editor:

So far, the only qualification that the Democratic Committee has presented in support of Judge Rana’s opponent is a partisan, political one. Judicial races should not be about party lines. That is why judicial candidates do not need the bigwig political party boss’s permission to primary. Let’s discuss what is important. 

Judge Rana has 16 years of judicial experience; her opponent has not even personally appeared in the East Hampton court on any cases. Judge Rana has a proven record and reputation for being fair and evenhanded to all individuals who come before her; her opponent’s focus is on being an advocate for one segment of our community. As admirable as that may be, judges must be fair to all people who come before the court, rather than advocating for just one group. 

Judge Rana has a reputation of being compassionate but tough when warranted; her opponent has no body of work in which to compare. Judge Rana believes that Democratic voters should have a choice in who they want to represent them on their line; her opponent believes that he is entitled to the Democratic line as he was chosen by party bosses. In short, there is no comparison. When deciding whom the Democrats in this community want to represent them on their line on the ballot, it is evident: a vote for Judge Rana is a vote for experience and a vote for our community.

Sincerely,

JOHN & CAROLINE DUNNING


Dual Language
East Hampton
June 14, 2019

David:

The dual language program in kindergarten beginning this September should be taught in all the East Hampton school districts. You can contact Ms. Doyle at the John Marshall Elementary School to inquire about the program she is using.

Young children seem to do well with this and will be prepared for the upper grades.

JULIA KAYSER 


Stuck In Trees
East Hampton
June 13, 2019

To the Editor, 

I read with interest your reporting this week of the Amagansett School Board unanimously voting to ban the intentional release of helium balloons on school grounds. I think we all have perhaps seen one or two limp balloons stuck in a tree. But I’ve seen a lot more than that, all in one day — out on Gardiner’s Island. 

I assisted a member of the family many, many times with his historical tours back in the 1990s. As we slowly lumbered along in the pickup, I remember seeing probably as many as 20 to 30 stuck in trees. A nasty form of littering I thought. Down from birthday parties up in Connecticut? No way. All from our town. Good riddance. 

CHIP DAYTON


Quite Weak
East Hampton
June 13 2019

Dear David, 

While his name is “Strong,” the truth is Andrew Strong, candidate for position of judge in the court of the Town of East Hampton, is not strong at all. In face, he is quite weak. Weak on the knowledge that is based on years of working in our town. In face, his bio boasts of a working past that is not centered in East Hampton at all. The history of this town’s political as well as cultural background takes many years to accumulate. It’s a unique brand of knowledge. Unfortunately for Strong, his opponent, Lisa Rana, was born and raised in East Hampton and has all that, as she spent most of her working legal years here in our town. 

A judge is one who should be above party politics and possess an ethical responsibility, which is displayed in the way they conduct their campaign. Yet Strong, or the well-known machine that backs him, has presented Strong as if he was a member of the well-known local Strong family, which he is not. He is, in fact, from Chicago. How can he ask us to vote for him when he has displayed such aberrant behavior? Yes, Strong is weak, indeed! 

Sincerely, 

PHYLLIS ITALIANO


Downgrade
East Hampton
June 13, 2019

Dear David:

Jeff Plitt has a valid point in his letter about the Shinnecock signs. 

“Not in character with the neighborhood” is rich fodder for the succession of town boards who have consistently allowed a vocal minority to rule. Huge houses on small lots increases density and makes it worse for the majority. Each of these giants needs armies of service people to clean the pool, mow the lawn, deliver oil/gas, tidy up the house, spray pesticides, etc. This is ultimately bad for the town. 

The shortage of staff in season is not because of Donald Trump limiting immigration and visas. It is caused by continuing overbuilding a small town until it’s wrecked. Increasing the demand while limiting the supply never ends well, it just raises prices.

The crowding, the traffic, the noise, the helicopters/planes, etc., all downgrade our quality of life.  

Every year residents accommodate themselves to things being a bit worse. It never gets better and the Band-Aids proposed by successive town boards never address the real problem. Any attempts to address real problems: driving on the beach, reducing density, limiting construction hours, reducing noise by prohibiting gas-powered leaf blowers meets with howls of protest from the minority of affected parties. The boards have no backbone to stop the eventual ruin of a nice place.

Yours disgustedly, 

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN


Charging Stations
Montauk
June 4, 2019

To the Editor,

The following is a conversation via text messaging with my buddy Joe: (actual name withheld) after he related to me the topic of discussion at the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee meeting he attended regarding whether electric car charging stations should be allowed to be installed on 12 parking spots in the parking lot across the street from the post office:

Me: Why are you so against these charging stations, Joe? Keep in mind that the electric cars must adhere to the parking regulations just like any other car in that lot. Additionally, the parking spaces with the chargers are available to all cars. It’s not as though 12 spaces are carved out exclusively for electric cars. The only point that has a slight merit in your argument is that electric car owners who may have parked elsewhere in town will now be drawn to those 12 spaces. I believe it is a very small price to pay to promote electric car ownership over gas engine cars.

Joe: I am fully supportive of installing the charging stations, but just not in arguably the busiest lot in town and one whose parking is already burdened by huge delivery trucks. If the state is such a huge advocate of renewables, then surely they would have no issue with locating them at the skate park, or better yet, by the soccer field. Some additional points: 1) As stated by John Doe (actual name withheld) at the meeting, most locals with electric vehicles will charge at home. 2) The benefit of an electric vehicle is directly related to the fuel used to generate the electricity that the vehicle uses. 3) Commercial use of public property for profit without a commensurate payment to the town is somewhat of slippery precedent. Having said that, I’m still in favor but just not in that location!

Me: I am open-minded to your main concern of not putting the charging station in that particular lot and would support finding an alternative. Keep in mind though that this lot was the fourth or fifth option after other lots were found to be either unwelcomed by the community (Kirk Park) or unsuitable for some reason or another. To your other points:

1) If most people charge at home that would reduce the usage of the public lot, thereby ameliorating your concern of competing for parking spaces. 2) The argument of using fossil fuel-generated electricity powering the charging stations is reaching and enraging. There are a thousand other actions we as citizens should be taking to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. Using that argument against installing charging stations should be at the bottom of that long list. 3) This particular commercial use of property for a “for-profit entity” is more of an equal partnership where both parties gain. The electric car companies get their charging stations on their dime and the town makes available public property for the convenience of their electric car owner citizens and visitors, while promoting a valuable social goal of reducing carbon dioxide.

Joe: Just because it wasn’t Tesla’s first choice, or because some other approval would need to be sought, is not a sufficient reason to put these stations in the wrong location. As for electric vehicles, that is a much broader issue than Montauk. I believe that hydrogen-powered vehicles are a much better option as they actually reduce carbon rather than just reduce the amount emitted as is the case with electric, again, depending on what the source of power is. 

Electric is not a panacea, unless you are powering with solar, wind, hydro. As for less cars in the lot, that’s a non-argument, it’s not the locals with electric cars that are going to be the issue, it’s the day trippers and out-of-town electric owners who will be drawn to this lot competing with everyone that wants to go to the Naturally Good Cafe, the liquor store, White’s Pharmacy, Biondo’s office, the print shop, the pizza store, the restaurant, the post office, and even the surf shop. Terrible location!

Me: I guess our opposing opinions revolve on an emphasis of priorities: I put the promotion of electric vehicles above what I believe to be a small, if any, inconvenience of parking while you use an inverse prioritization.

Joe: I am completely in favor of promoting electric cars but I do not think we need to promote it blindly and locate the infrastructure in the wrong place. This is especially the case, as more and more of these vehicles are sold. If we can shift our energy sources to renewables, then electric vehicles are fantastic and absolutely should be promoted, and the conversion should start with gasoline stations being replaced by charging stations.

Me: I’m not saying throw caution to the wind or not to explore all alternatives in order to choose the optimal one. I’m just afraid that the fury of the opposition leads me to believe that it is more than informed thoughtfulness that is driving the resistance to these chargers. I believe the underlying true motivation is to not disturb anything that may cause any inconvenience. In other words parking availability during two to three months of the year ranks higher on the scale of priorities than moving away from CO2 emissions.

Joe: I think some people who oppose these chargers tend to have blinders on, but there is also some risk of those who push anything that has a green label without also weighing all factors. It reminds me of how everything that was labeled gluten free became synonymous with health food. I want the charging stations, just not where they are proposed. 

Me: Gluten free was an inherently false healthy alternative from its start. It only affects a very small percentage of the population. Reduction of CO2 is absolutely real and applicable to the entire planet and the entire human race. The only decision remaining to us is how to prioritize the assortment of actions we need to take in order to reduce it.

Joe: I agree but we will have to contend with proposals that seek blind acceptance by virtue of being labeled “green.” We absolutely must promote alternative energy, but we must not do so with blinders on. 

Me: We seem to agree on the mega view of the climate crisis and its causes and the steps needed to address it. We also agree that careful and intelligent planning be exercised in implementing potential solutions. My fear is that we get stuck in being too careful and end up doing nothing or too little to make a difference. I think we need to be bold and downgrade other priorities like convenience and economic cost. The convenience of the sharing of 12 parking spaces in a parking lot should take a subordinate place to expediting the use of electric cars. There are even more impactful examples of these “stuck in analysis” situations like the debate about the wind farm and the proper planning for catastrophic weather events in our vulnerable coastal community. We can spend all of our time debating and ultimately be overtaken by the catastrophe we all knew was coming but never got around to doing anything about. 

Joe: I agree except that location matters, particularly as the number of electric vehicles increases. This is not an all-or-nothing decision, simply one that requires just a little more foresight to properly execute it. In fact, I think it’s a prime example of not just accepting that it’s green and therefore put it wherever. No, it should be: It’s green, we support it, now let’s do it right.

Me: “Range anxiety” prevented my daughter from buying a plug-in electric car a few months ago. If charging stations were to become more ubiquitous, it would undoubtedly raise the number of car owners who would trade in their CO2-emission cars for electric cars. Not only do I believe that the Naturally Good parking lot should have those 12 charging stations, I would hope that all parking lots should devote spaces to charging stations, not just in Montauk but in every municipality in the country. Don’t hide them away out of sight in remote areas of town. Give them equal presence with gas cars’ parking spaces. It’s like cigarette bans when they first started. There were complaints about banning them in restaurants, then in parks and airports, and finally they were banned everywhere and everyone now views it as normal. 

Hopefully, complaints about inconvenient sharing of parking spaces with those having electric car chargers will go the way of complaints of banning cigarette smoking in public spaces. Then the right thing to do will prevail over prioritizing personal inconvenience.

Joe: I’m sorry but it was bound to happen. We disagree on something. I’m all for promoting electric cars, but as their acceptance grows so will the demand for charging stations away from home. That’s not a problem but don’t put the charging stations in the parking lot that local residents use and have visitors squeeze out local residents for parking. Hopefully, over time, the charging time is similar to filling your tank and those stations will be unique for that purpose and not displacing badly needed parking.

Me: Yes, we disagree. I believe that in order to progress, disruption needs to occur. If not, you should vote for Trump and the Conservative line. They believe that climate change consequences are exaggerated and to risk the financial benefits and convenience of a fossil fuel economy does not warrant putting in place costly environmental solutions. Also, it’s a chicken or egg problem. You are for more electric cars but in order to have more of them you need to create the right environment for people to buy them. Otherwise, it’s just hopeful thinking.

Joe: By your thinking we should allow everyone with an electric vehicle the right to park on every beach without a sticker and give reserved parking spaces in front of every establishment in town. In fact, they should get a pass on the first driving-while-intoxicated they get. That certainly might further promote sales of electric vehicles! Put the damn charging station in an area that does not further deteriorate an already- limited supply of badly needed parking and promote those charging locations. Why is that such a problem? You accomplish both important goals: promotion of electric vehicles without further deterioration of quality of life.

Me: I could tell by the tone of your last response that you are upset with me. I’m sorry for equating you to Trump and his conservative lackeys.

BENNY SORGIE


Security Cameras
East Hampton
June 12, 2019

Dear Editor:

I was attempting to walk across Newtown Lane in a specified crosswalk. The car to my left stopped and I started crossing. The car behind the stopped car drove around the stopped car and at high speed almost hit me. No police to catch the driver.

I stopped my car on Stephen Hand’s Path at the intersection with Route 114 at a red light. A car at high speed whizzed around me on the right side going through the red light without stopping. No police to catch the driver.

I understand it is impossible to have police at every danger point, but how about cameras? I suspect the fines for violations would far exceed the cost of a security camera system, but more important it would get unsafe drivers off the road.

MEL HIRSCH


Here We Go
Wainscott
June 11, 2019

Dear David:

Sometimes something you “have a right to do” is not “right to do.”

Such is the case now at the East Hampton Airport which, under the protection of a faceless, unaccountable government agency, has systematically morphed from an airstrip for small aircraft and hobbyists into a major source of noise, pollution, and now true danger to residents across Long Island. 

Last summer, residents cowered in their homes as huge Sikorsky helicopters descended through pea-soup fog less than 150 feet above the tree line and the roofs of occupied homes simply so somebody with more money than sense or social grace could cut an hour or so off a trip east. Those assaults were frequent and well documented. And in 2019, here we go again.

Just this past week there have been two helicopter crashes in New York City and one small-plane crash on the North Fork. The only casualties in these accidents were inside the crashing vehicles. You have to wonder what it’s going to take to get the attention of the East Hampton Town Board. Thoughts and prayers.

Do they realize that the airplane accident that occurred last summer over the ocean off Amagansett, taking the lives of four, happened just seconds before the plane was to make a right and turn and follow the landing path directly over Newtown Lane? Does any board member remember the Hither Woods wildfires a few decades ago, caused by a sparking L.I.R.R. train?

Consider for one minute that both of last week’s helicopter accidents occurred shortly after takeoff from the 34th Street helicopter pad, one erupting into a ball of fire on a building rooftop. Now consider the fact that the East Hampton Airport is surrounded almost entirely by wooded preserves. Those wooded preserves and others on Long Island are crammed full with deadfall from past and current moth and beetle infestations. If you hike, run, bike, or hunt in the woods you know this for fact: The woods are a tinderbox of dead, dried-out oak and pine just waiting for a spark and a little breeze on a dry August afternoon. 

It’s not “if” anymore. Given the volume of air traffic in and out of an ill-equipped facility and the carelessness of the New Jersey and Manhattan-based operators, it is when. And to top it off, this sentiment is shared by the Federal Aviation Administration flight controller who, until late last season, operated the out-of-control tower at HTO. Where is he now? He got out, but not before sharing some awfully damning comments with our town board.

Oh yes, the East Hampton Town Board. What are they doing to protect residents today? Pretty much nothing.

The F.A.A. could care less about East Hampton’s problems and has demonstrated that time and time again. Our senators and congresspeople squawk a little now and then, but have been totally ineffective in gaining any relief. In fact, at times they’ve made things worse. 

What is required now is that the Town of East Hampton become proactive. Board members need to take control of the airport as a matter of public safety. And if the F.A.A. doesn’t like it let them come after the town if and when the understaffed, poorly run, mega-bureaucracy even get to it. Bring it. 

Does anyone remember when our leaders stood up for the town? Supervisor Tony Bullock refused a State Department of Environmental Conservation order to close the landfill and took small fines while waste disposal changes were worked out. Cathy Lester was led from the beach in handcuffs supporting local fishermen. 

Our town board should stop hiding behind the F.A.A. excuses and show some grit. Who will lead? 

Regards,

TOM MACNIVEN


LTV’s Existence
East Hampton
June 10, 2019 

Dear Editor,

I love our community. To that end, I honestly love that LTV exists. Because of LTV, we not only have records of our culture, we actually have records of our history that are immediately accessible to experience. Think about that. Furthermore, LTV’s existence in modern times is vitally important. The intimacy and honesty that LTV offers us must be preserved. Especially in a world where YouTube and other social media are the de facto outlet for the world. LTV must continue to be utilized while we have it.

I grew up pre-internet, before global access to “everything” became a de facto home utility. That being said, my use of the internet is well beyond extensive.  However, public-access television is a unique medium, often a source of entertainment (intended or not), and chronicles small, yet vital aspects of our history. Public access television is a  free-access, localized platform.  Yes, that requires individual passion to produce and share with one another. That passion, at any level, for any reason, is absolutely vital. LTV openly wants to provide this. 

I can say from personal experience as a local author, artist, and teacher, that the creative opportunities being offered are wonderful. LTV’s truly kind and diligent technical staff is beyond welcoming to all of us. I both appreciate and admire their skills, time, and the ability to convey how to utilize public access media to meet my creative needs. They are eager to guide us, and I’ve been extremely eager to accept these resources and gifts. I am far from the only one.

However, LTV is underutilized. To that end, I must address my most recently attended public event at LTV. This event was a “salon,” something I’ve experienced elsewhere so often that, well, I was more than a bit upset at what I saw. That salon encapsulates my frustration at how LTV seems to be functioning, versus how it can, has, and must continue to. 

For the record, this salon was held roughly a month ago, and consisted entirely of one host‚ leading her seemingly groomed ensemble of acts. This actually included a stand-up comedy performance that openly mocked LTV. From macro to micro levels, even including the very staff working for him at that moment. The content was insultingly poor. Yet not a discouraging word was said, certainly not by the host. This same host not only featured in, but also starred in the vast majority of art we saw. Roughly 15 out of the 17 planned performances.  

This includes an insulting advertisement video celebrating our, “our,” privilege to tour yet another mansion in the Hamptons‚ as an ongoing sponsored show (a foreign logo was prominently displayed onscreen for the duration. That insipid video preview and follow-up Q. and A. session lasted twice the length of all but one presentation. Worse, it left the most important question unanswered: Is this junk actually going to be broadcast on LTV? I do not know. Logic leads me to assume not. I only know what I’ve seen. It’s not much. I hate it.

Yet I do not see this as the fault of LTV. I share a keen desire to see LTV utilized by anyone who desires, so why aren’t we? Free access to express yourself has been taken for granted by convenience for far too long. The free internet must complement the same freedom to easily express ourselves, interact, share, and importantly, even if on public access — to interact face to face. 

In a world that tolerates free-speech zones‚ we cannot afford to let the resources laid out before us to go to waste. Thank you for your time and consideration,

VICTOR THOMAS GIANNINI


Not Permissible
Amagansett
June 17, 2019

Dear David,

The East Hampton Library received putative permission from the East Hampton Town Board to hold its Authors Night event this August at 551 Montauk Highway in Amagansett (commonly known as the “555” property).

The Authors Night event was held in East Hampton Village for over a decade. It has certainly been successful. But the event has grown to such a size that it is no longer feasible in its former location. Over 2,500 attendees are expected this year, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds are anticipated. According to its sponsor, the event is too large for any other location in all of East Hampton Town. Perhaps it’s just too large, period. But one thing is clear: It doesn’t belong on Community Preservation Fund agricultural land.

The proposed use is not permissible under applicable law.

The 555 property belongs to the Community Preservation Fund. It was purchased for “preservation of agricultural open space and recreation” in accordance with the C.P.F. law. 

Authors Night is not agriculture. It’s not open space. And it’s not recreation. Authors Night is a large pay-to-enter cocktail party and commercial event, where it is planned that most of nearly 19 acres of C.P.F. agricultural land will be used as a parking lot. In East Hampton the C.P.F. Law has so far enjoyed broad public support. Using precious preserved land as a parking lot is not what the public had in mind when it approved the C.P.F. law. No matter how worthy the cause, the law and its attendant regulations do not allow that. The town must seek further public input and develop a property management plan for 555 that the local community can get behind. We need a plan that honors the principles of the community preservation movement.

The Town of East Hampton will ultimately have to obey applicable law. C.P.F. property can’t be subject to the whim of whoever happens to be running the town at any point. It’s every bit as inappropriate to use C.P.F. land for disallowed purposes as it was in the past to use C.P.F. cash for disallowed purposes.

Up to now the community preservation fund has obtained in excess of $400 million from local citizens. With that money the town has purchased over 2,000 acres of land. This popular program rests on a delicate balance of trust and confidence; trust that the public’s money will be spent wisely, and confidence that acquired land will be used for purposes that do not cause controversy and harm to the community. Ill-considered use of preserved land threatens the foundations of the entire C.P.F. program.

It is alarming that clear and cogent objections expressed by the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee and by one member of the town board were disregarded in this matter. We encourage the town board to work with the East Hampton Library to promptly find a less controversial and more appropriate location for fund-raising events. Fortunately, this particular event has not happened yet, and there is still time to change course.

For the record, I have previously contacted the East Hampton Library to express sensitivity about the location and to request better cooperation with the Amagansett Free Library, where I have the great privilege of serving as president of the board of trustees. No meaningful attempt was made to cooperate with, or seek input, from the Amagansett Free Library prior to seeking putative approval from the town to use this location.

Very truly yours,

DANIEL T. MONGAN

The writer is an attorney and writes with the approval of other Amagansett citizens who are prepared to take the steps necessary to secure an appropriate plan for the use of the 555 property. Ed.


Wealth Tax
Rochester
June 11, 2019

To the Editor:

I would like to see the U.S. Congress pass a new program into law that would replace the former “Aid To Families With Dependent Children” program, which was passed under F.D.R. in 1935 and abolished in 1996. Ever since its abolition, there has been a large increase in the number of people (especially children) living in “extreme poverty” (meaning living on less than $2 per day) and “deep poverty” (meaning at a level half of the official poverty line). 

It could be paid for by adopting a national wealth tax of 14.25 percent on all individuals with a net worth of $10 million and higher, which is exactly what Donald Trump proposed in 1999 before he became what I have always believed to be a “fake conservative.” 

In return for receiving this assistance, all recipients would be responsible for doing some type of volunteer work and/or job-training, since one thing that both Republicans and Democrats do agree upon is that no one should ever get something for nothing. 

Sincerely,

STEWART B. EPSTEIN

P.S. I am a retired college professor of sociology, social work, and psychology.

I taught at West Virginia University and Slippery Rock University.


Angst Blooms
East Hampton
June 15, 2019

To the Editor:

When you travel to other countries and then return home to the United States there is a palpable anxiety in everyday life that you don’t notice elsewhere. I asked an Indian friend of mine why she thought this was the case. “It is because in the West you are so focused on the external world.”   

She told me, “My dad’s family with God’s grace was very rich, but never they lived in pompous luxury. Dad’s father was a judge in the court. My grandfather gave his children good value-based education and virtues. My dad never allow more than three shirts in his wardrobe; when mom bought him a new one he used to take one neat one and gave it to the nearby charity. Still he is the same.”

If money could resolve the underpinnings of this gnawing unrest then of all countries the United States should have the solution. There is something that we are missing.  As my friend told me, we need “simple living and high thinking.”  Yet what de Tocqueville said in 1831 is still true today, “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: How much money will it bring in?”

Whether in a society or nature, diversity leads to a healthier ecosystem. Heterogeneity of thoughts and ideas leads to breakthroughs, yet we have become more insular as our angst blossoms.  Destroying the “other,” whether it be a political opponent, an immigrant, or another species, may offer short-term rewards, but in the long term only assures mutual extinction. 

With the majority of American families one health scare away from financial disaster, facing uncertainty about their financial future in a system whose sole metric is financial well-being, angst is inevitable. 

How do we reset our values? How do we ensure that health care is available to all? How do we focus on community and our common destiny rather than our marginally significant differences? New ideas and approaches are needed or the problem will get worse. The answers to these questions will determine the fate of the nation and the time to address them is well past urgent. 

JAMES C. MEYER


Student Debt
Springs
June 11, 2019

Dear David: 

Do you have outstanding student debt? Do your children? Are you or they behind in their payments? If so, your congressman, Lee Zeldin, would throw you under the bus.

In his latest gambit to run roughshod over his constituents, Mr. Zeldin has urged that the Consumer Financial Protection Board abandon a consent decree (a legal settlement) that it had reached with various companies, which allegedly were engaging in fraudulent, if not criminal, tactics to collect underperforming student debt.

The consent decree Zeldin would nullify was the result of an investigation by the C.F.P.B. that uncovered rampant, unlawful collection conduct by a number of trusts that had purchased student loan debt. According to the C.F.P.B., since at least late 2012, these trusts commenced collection efforts to recover on defaulted private student loans. 

The trusts sued the debtor students and in support of these lawsuits, the trusts relied upon affidavits that falsely claimed personal knowledge of the account records and the consumers’ debt, and in many cases, falsified the chain of assignments establishing the trusts’ ownership of the loans. The trusts filed more than 2,000 collection lawsuits without the documentation necessary to prove trusts’ ownership of the loans or on debt that was time-barred. Finally, notaries for the trusts notarized over 25,000 affidavits even though they did not witness the affiants’ signatures. 

It’s called “robo-signing.” It was a practice that led to the wrongful foreclosure of thousands if not millions of homes in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. The practice has led to the wrongful collection of millions of dollars of consumer credit-card and auto loan debt. On the mortgage front alone, in 2013 federal regulators reached a $9.3 billion settlement with a group of large banks, the terms of which would offer borrowers cash and/or other mortgage relief. Dozens of persons were prosecuted for their unlawful collection activies. 

And now the practice has infected the student loan industry. Yet, Mr. Zeldin just shrugs his shoulders. It is unconscionable that Mr. Zeldin would urge that the federal government put its imprimatur on such criminal conduct. He is, after all, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, a group charged with ensuring that our financial services industry acts lawfully. His only explanation, provided to Breitbart, was that the settlement would increase the cost of student borrowing. Let that sink in: Mr. Zeldin would condone criminal activity because the monies unlawfully collected would lower the overall cost of credit. He ignores the obvious: There is a perfectly legal avenue for these collection efforts. The criminal way is just more expedient.

If he cared for his constituency, not to mention the interests of the country, Mr. Zeldin would use the power of his committee to enact bipartisan reform of student loan regulations, work to lower the rates of interest for student debt, and create avenues that would allow students to refinance their loans. Student debt has been long recognized as one of the key strangleholds on our economy, yet little has been done to alleviate this chokehold. Yet Mr. Zeldin’s intent seems to be to make the problem worse by endorsing criminal conduct. Our children deserve better.

Sincerely,

BRUCE COLBATH


Saved the Day
East Hampton
June 17, 2019 

David:

Leaving the East Hampton Tennis Club Friday June 14, I put my belongings in the car except for my little beige purse, which I put on the roof. Well, the little beige purse was forgotten about as I drove to get lunch. I guess I was thinking more about lunch than what I was doing. When I realized the error I made, I retraced my route many times on the airport road. To no avail. I decided to go home and figure out what to do about this mess. After all, I had no lunch money! The purse also had in it my driver’s license, phone, and credit cards. It would be a huge mess to try to replace everything.

When I got home I checked my phone messages. There was a wonderful call from the East Hampton Police Department. They found my purse on the road.

Thank you to the wonderful and observant East Hampton Police Department. They definitely saved the day!!

LOIS SCHWARTZBERG


MAGA Morons
Springs
June 12, 2019

Dear Editor:

This week the French diplomat Francois Delattre wrote an Op-Ed to The New York Times. He talked about the state of the world and the dangers that we are facing with China, Russia, etc. He mentioned Andrew Jackson in reference to the current U.S. attitude toward the rest of the world. While calmly laying out the realities of our situation he reminds us that the turmoil in U.S. politics existed since our inception. The struggle between populism (Fascism) and democracy.

Donald Trump was a reaction to Barack Obama. The shock that a black person who seemed representative of the American dream was elected president twice was a gut punch to American populists. Fortunately, the Republican congressional majority neutralized Obama’s democratic instincts and now order has been firmly restored.

Populism (Fascism American Style) versus Democracy is the conundrum that derives from the essence of the American political uniqueness that “All men are created equal” Democracy demands a literal interpretation. PF is filled with dozens of exceptions. What destroys our exceptionalism are those exceptions.

Democracy determines self-esteem by accomplishment PF by class, race, and gender. We have no truths that are self-evident. We have only partial truths that tend to distort, mystify, and delude.

In its purest form is Jackson’s treatment of the Cherokee Indians in the 1830s. Even though the Cherokee tribe existed as an established nation with a written language and a constitution (the requirements for non-expropriation) and actually made their case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and won, Jackson took their land, exiled them to Oklahoma, and killed most of them.

Defying our Democratic laws, the Supreme Court and the constitution was of little concern to Jackson. The Cherokees were not white, not American, and were considered savages. We took what we wanted and made them disappear. 15 million Native Americans in total. (More than 9/11?) According to the PF doctrine of manifest destiny we were constitutionally correct with an asterisk.Skip to the present. The Central American humanitarian crisis misnamed the border security immigration issue. The intolerable living conditions and violence that forced people to leave their homes and countries seeking help. While our greed and indifference are the direct cause of their problems we have absolutely no interest in their resolution. Similar to Syria, Libya, and Yemen where the current chaos traces its roots to the Iraq War.

Only when refugees arrived at our door seeking some kind of relief did we consider this a problem. From our perspective they have nothing to offer. They are often poor, not white, non- English speaking, and battered. Our real PF desire is that they disappear. Obviously, they are not created equal.

The humanitarian crisis becomes transformed into our crisis. Border security, terrorism, and immigration policies now take precedent. Yet, while the refugees at the border touch on these issues, these issues are essentially irrelevant to their problems. So we conflate and inflate them and the crisis is no longer about their battered lives but about how much space we have or don’t. Turning a partial truth into the whole truth. 

So, in the PF world, we blame and punish the refugees. We scream Wall and to the barricades when we need judges and shelter. We are not under attack, but our compassion and competence are.

America has always been a mixed bag of a country. The struggle between the belief in democracy and the idea that all men are created equal and fascist populism and its false gods of individual superiority go back to the beginning. Truth, equality, and community against fabrication, racism, and piggery. PF reigns for the moment and we grovel in the muck not knowing how foul we really are. 

Neil Hausig