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Letters to the Editor for April 16, 2020

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:18

Excellent Work     
East Hampton     
April 12, 2020

Dear David,     

Just wanted to publicly express great appreciation for the excellent work done this past winter to rebuild the jetties at the entrance to Three Mile Harbor. The rebuilt rock east jetty has dramatically slowed and almost completely stopped the erosion of sand from Maidstone Beach into the entrance channel, the top surface of the rock jetty is smooth and great for walking on, and the combination of the rebuilt rock east jetty and the repairs to the top of the west jetty have significantly reduced wave action and associated erosion in the harbor during the recent storms at high tides. (I do hope however, that in the not too distant future the west jetty can be raised 18 to 24 inches to provide better protection from hurricanes).     

Chief Michels and his team did a great job, including the consultant he hired to oversee the “chinking” and reconstruction of the rock jetty, the contractor, Terry Contracting, the engineer Drew Bennett, the trustees, and the other town departments involved in the job (i.e., Parks, Highway Department, Planning, and Natural Resources).     

Thank you to all!     

Sincerely,     

PETER MENDELMAN


Can Be Ordered     
East Hampton     
April 13, 2020

Dear David,     

Thank you to Helen for her “Connections” column in last week’s Star. She mentioned Florence Fabricant and the newly released book, "The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton"     Florence is the author of the book and her writing is as wonderful as the recipes. We all loved working with her on the project. She is a force of nature!     

Unfortunately, the L.V.I.S. shops and offices are currently closed due to Covid-19. While it is not the launch we had hoped for on April 7, books are available and can be ordered on the L.V.I.S. website, lvis.org.     

Thank you also to The East Hampton Star for getting the news out there. It must be difficult to publish a weekly paper during times like these, and the work you and your staff are doing is greatly appreciated.     

Sincerely,     

MARY TALLEY     
Public Relations chairwoman


On LTV     
Springs     
April 10, 2020

To the Editor:     

At a time when comfort viewing reportedly means old movies and archival documentaries, it’s nice to note some late-night offerings on LTV that may surprise and entertain. Chance dial clicking turned up talking heads on Channel 22, a conversation between two smart guys that immediately proved witty, informative, and exemplary of what LTV can do if it gets no-nonsense intelligent personalities to chat without interruption or unnecessary introducers — and engages skilled camera people who know what to focus on.     

The night I happened upon poets Marvin Bell and Anthony Brandt reading and talking about poetry a few years back was magical. Their conversation was so good, it was impossible to tell who was interviewing whom. They truly engaged each other, sparked unrehearsed thoughts, prompted charming, intellectually modest responses — two guys considering, reflecting, enjoying each other’s company. And talent. And a camera that  followed their expressions as they dilated upon poetry, poets, and the darkening human condition, nonetheless made brighter for their awareness of it and articulate musings. Bravo LTV.     

JOAN BAUM


Massive Shift     
East Hampton     
April 13, 2020

Dear Editor,     

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, we are already reducing our carbon footprint during the pandemic by curtailing travel. But we can do so much more by cutting our consumption of animal meat and milk products. Yes, that.     

A recent article in the respected journal Nature argues that animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, of air and water pollution, and of depletion of soil and freshwater resources. Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network reports that solving the global warming catastrophe requires a massive shift to plant-based eating. In an environmentally sustainable world, we must replace meat and dairy products with vegetables, fruits, and grains, just as we replace fossil fuels with wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources.       

Sincerely,     

ELIJAH HANNESBURG


Sky Week     
Springs     
April 4, 2020

Dear David,     

2020 International Dark Sky Week is Sunday, April 19, to Sunday, April 26. Each year this event is held in April, from Sunday to Sunday, the week of the new moon, when skies are darkest. This event will encourage people to check their own lighting, turn off unnecessary outdoor lighting, and go outside to view the star-filled night sky with their families. It could help us all find some solace in these dark times.     

SUSAN HARDER     


International Dark Sky Association Need Each Other     
East Hampton     
April 11, 2020

Dear Readers:     

I sat by Northwest Harbor at dusk for a few minutes the other night. Despite current circumstances and all the unknowns ahead, I found I could breathe freely; I realized there is no place in the world I would rather be, however fateful and dangerous the fight.     

It was an honor to be elected as your councilman; it is especially so now. This crisis calls us all to do our best to face down this threat.     

Our town board of five voices and five votes is the sounding board for the public, and is necessary now more than ever. More than ever, the public needs our members to speak truthfully and candidly, and to listen closely to the people. I am proud that even in crisis, our board is a functioning touchstone of small-town democracy.     

The threat that the Covid-19 virus now poses to our common humanity is a reminder of the inescapable connection of our lives. Only in solidarity can we prevail against this menace.     

In this moment, when no one is safe, we are starkly reminded that the small differences which ordinarily occupy our attention evaporate in the face of this dire threat. There is much talk of our needs: food pantries, first responders, and volunteers, whom we gratefully support, and to whom we owe so much.     

Above all else, we need each other. Saying so out loud is not just mouthing fine words or lofty phrases — it is declaring the truth. Acknowledging this common need can build our strength, feed our courage, nurture our hope. I am certain that in acting together we are stronger than any crisis.     

We need to stay together to stay safe. If we cannot join hands, we can join hearts. And, from our homes, united at a distance, through whatever awaits us, we will keep lights in our windows and prevail over this dark moment.     

JEFF BRAGMAN


Meals Each Week     
Springs     
April 13, 2020

Dear David,     

The Town of East Hampton’s Human Services Department continues to provide assistance to senior citizens and other community members in need. They operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 128 Springs-Fireplace Road, East Hampton. Those in need of assistance have been asked to call the Department at 631-329-6939.     

For the last month, Human Services staff has been making weekly calls to over 500 residents ages 60 and over. These calls serve as wellness checks and to determine if residents are in need of assistance. Nearly 60 percent of those called are reporting they are doing well. But some residents are experiencing the negative effects of social isolation. So our Human Services staff is contacting those residents daily.     

The town’s senior nutrition program continues to prepare well-balanced nutritious meals for our seniors. Upon request, five frozen meals, along with oatmeal, fresh fruit, and tea bags are being distributed. These meals are being delivered directly to the seniors’ homes by staff or they are being picked up curbside at the Senior Center on Springs-Fireplace Road. Over 250 seniors are receiving meals each week, with over 2,500 meals distributed to date.     

Town staff as well as local volunteers continue to be available to pick up and deliver free of charge groceries, prescriptions, and other essentials for our seniors. This free pickup and delivery service is from local merchants who accept prepaid phone orders, which include some local markets as well as pharmacies and hardware stores. These deliveries are available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We ask that seniors call Human Services first to receive a delivery window.     

The Human Services Department has also been collaborating with East End Cares, a tremendous community resource. East End Cares has partnered seniors with a volunteer buddy. To date, 35 seniors are taking advantage of this effort. To join their list of volunteers or to reach out for assistance, you can email them at [email protected].     

During these uncertain times, it is reassuring to know that there are a lot of good people working quietly and compassionately throughout our community helping our neighbors in need.     

Take good care,     

KATHEE BURKE-GONZALEZ     
East Hampton Town Councilwoman


Some Signage   
Springs     
April 11, 2020

Dear David,     

Having just read your editorial concerning public spaces, I agree there should be bicycle paths and sidewalks along the entire lengths of Springs-Fireplace Road and Three Mile Harbor Road at the very least. A bicyclist riding along Three Mile Harbor is risking his life.     

As this is not something that is going to happen in the immediate future, perhaps there could be a way to educate the public that there are correct and incorrect sides of the road to walk and bike. Pedestrians should always walk on the left side (against) traffic, and bikes are considered a vehicle and should follow all the same rules as a car, riding on the right, stopping at stop signs and lights, using hand signals to indicate turns.     

I guess hand signals will need to be taught to the younger generation as I don’t believe that is part of driver’s education any longer (along with a lot of things that don’t seem to be taught anymore, such as what a double-yellow line means, but that is for another letter).     

Perhaps some signage on popular walking streets such as Gerard Drive, simply stating, “Walk to the Left, Bike to the Right” would eliminate some of the problems.     

MARY TRABONA


Stay Home     
Amagansett     
April 8, 2020

To the Editor:     

Last week, two young men from Montauk drove down our driveway, parked their car, and cut down one of our oak trees. Our neighbor discovered them when the tree was already cut too far to be saved. When he asked what they were doing, they replied that they were “bored” and decided to cut down a tree for fun. Later, they told a police officer that they needed wood for a fire.     

There is a pandemic raging across the whole world. People are losing their jobs, running out of food, becoming gravely ill; many are dying. Many community organizations are looking for volunteers. If there are other people out here who can’t think of a better way to relieve boredom than by destroying other people’s trees, I hope they will just stay home.     

Sincerely,     

MARGARET DE CUEVAS


Outdoor Dining     
Springs     
April 12, 2020

To the Editor,     

It may be quite awhile before I wine and dine a sweetheart inside a crowded restaurant, but I’d sip mimosas with her tomorrow in an outdoor East Hampton cafe boasting pretty umbrellas above tropical-colored wrought iron and Adirondack chairs, or share garlic knots outside a pizza place in Montauk, if small tables were placed curbside.  

Perhaps now is the perfect time to relax outdoor dining in East Hampton Town, the village, and Montauk and kickstart our East End economy before too many places may close forever.     

I’ll drink to that — outside.   

FRANK VESPE


Moviegoing     
East Hampton     
April 12, 2020

Dear East Hampton Star,     

With the coronavirus rampant worldwide, even we here on the East End, which thankfully has not been hit as hard as elsewhere despite interlopers, most of us have been confined to home most of the time. This means that we’ve all probably been watching a lot of television (and playing video games or board games among other things). One thing I noticed is that one sector of the film industry seems intent on, in my opinion, gouging the public for new, first-run films. This may be a bit unclear so I’ll just spell it out.     

To begin with, I haven’t been to a movie in a theater in nearly 10 years. I used to love going to the movies when I was a teenager and in college. This was before people began taking cellphones everywhere. In fact, there were almost none at that time. I actually remember when an adult ticket was only $4. I started complaining about ticket prices on the day when I went to see Terry Gilliam’s fantastic “Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” While that film turned out to be worth the $6 I paid for the ticket, I was already finding that many new films were definitely not worth paying that much to see.     

I became picky about what films I chose to see in theaters, and which theaters I chose to patronize. Mostly these were the last great movie palaces such as the Loews on Second Avenue around 86th Street, which still had a live organist and especially the famous Ziegfeld with its immense screen and fantastic sound system. In fact, I saw some of the greatest films of the 20th century in that theater: “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Top Gun,” “Fantasia,” “The Thing” (1982), and the last film I ever saw in that theater was “Jurassic Park,” on opening night. But since “Jurassic Park” there have been no films in my opinion that justify the continually rising price of a single movie ticket.     

Though I have quibbles with many recent films, especially Peter Jackson’s slaughter of the J.R.R. Tolkien classics, most of my quibbles are with the actual degradation of the moviegoing experience. Chief among these is the ubiquitous presence of cellphones. I have a medical problem that makes cellular and Wi-Fi technologies a problem in such places. Besides that, I hate the idea that I may be in a theater with people who are not watching the film. Checking emails and texting require lights to be used, which can break people’s concentration on the film. Too many people still make phone calls during films and neglect to turn off their ringers.     

This also still happens during Broadway performances, which is incredibly rude to everyone in the theater. I have always been one of those patrons who will cheer on a hero. Let’s face it, lots of us do it. I remember the entire theater erupting in cheers of encouragement as Luke turned off his scanner and used “The Force” in the famous climactic scene of the original “Star Wars.” And even though there were very few people in the cinema to see “The Wiz” with Michael Jackson (which was a flop), everyone in the theater was singing along with the characters. And who can top an experience like seeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with a real audience? I don’t even know if that was still happening anywhere outside of California anymore. Maybe in the East Village?     

Anyway, my point is that the moviegoing experience itself is completely different and often very uncomfortable in my case. As for 3D, I just don’t feel that it adds anything to the film other than an extra $5 to $10 to rent the glasses.     The thing is that in this age of coronavirus, movie theaters have been closed, and a lot of films, which were scheduled to premier, have been postponed or even canceled. However, a few independent and first-run films have been offered to us On Demand. Actually, I think this is a great idea. However, many of these selections are being offered at the sky-high price of $19.99! I don’t know about you, but I won’t pay $20 to see a film that I probably won’t like. Examples are “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man,” which pique my interest but, having been burned before, I just won’t risk that much money. Not even if they offer me my money back if I don’t like the film.     

The one film I think they are really nervy to charge $20 for is the new “Trolls” film. I’m a fan of animated film and will acknowledge that the first “Trolls” was apparently a huge hit. If things were normal, I think they might get the $20 since there are a lot of kids who will be screaming at their parents if they don’t. But look at all the people whose livelihoods have been taken away. Even though $20 may seem like a bargain, since it is the price of a typical movie ticket these days and you only have to pay for one person, $20 is still a lot of money to these newly out of work families, who now need all their discretionary money to pay rent and put food on the table, not to mention any surprise medical bills. And they certainly won’t splurge on a children’s film if it means not being able to put food on the table.     

As for me, I just don’t see myself paying $20 for any modern film. After all, I have a library of DVDs, which can keep me happy for years. I still use On Demand as a way to see if I like a film enough to add it to my collection. For this I don’t mind spending $4 to $7. More than that is out of the question. I should note that I also have big issues with keeping a collection of “owned” films in the Cloud, the least of which is that they can be so easily taken away or made unavailable if it suits someone’s purpose. For now, the people who would normally be getting my money for “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man” are out of luck. I’ll just wait until it is offered for free on HBO or Showtime. I really think that cablevision needs to rethink its principles.     

Thanks for reading. And stay well.     

Sincerely,     

MATT HARNICK


Hamptons at Bay

As the summer people drove in over the stretch
amid cheers and honking horns,
customers in the Fish House used to spill out
onto the Sunrise Highway to greet them,
while bartenders mixed Baileys banana coladas
for waitstaff in shorts and sunglasses
on trays bearing mussels, soft-shell crabs, clams
to the beat of Bob Marley jammin', jammin'.
This year, nobody is cheering
There is no welcome in paradise for coronavirus.
 

There is no welcome in paradise for coronavirus
this year, nobody is cheering
to the beat of Bob Marley jammin', jammin' 
on trays bearing mussels, soft-shell crabs, clams
for waitstaff in shorts and sunglasses,
while bartenders mix Baileys banana coladas
onto the Sunrise Highway to greet them.
Customers in the Fish House used to spill out
amid cheers and honking horns,
as the summer people drove in over the stretch.     

FRANCES BROWNER


Will Beat This     
East Hampton     
April 12, 2020

To the Editor:         

I have said these words before and I truly believe they have to be said again. The hottest place in hell is reserved for all those who remain neutral in times of conflict.     

Life can give answers in three ways! It can say yes and give you what you want. It can say no but then show you better. It can say wait and then hold out for the best. Life is ironic to fully understand it. It takes sadness to understand happiness. It takes noise to appreciate silence and it takes absence to value presence.     

It is a fact that evil exists, but in life we have three choices. We can let it define us, let it destroy us, or let it strengthen us. We are not on this earth to see through each other. We are meant to be here to see each other through life and help each other. Worry is the misuse of our imagination. Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Worry is like a rocking chair; it just gives you something to do. Worry, however, gets you nowhere. If we waste a second we will waste a moment. If we waste a minute it could ruin our day. A wasted day could possibly lead to a ruined life. It has never been what we have in our life but who we have in our life that matters. There are some things we can never go out and buy in a store. They are love, family, friends, dreams, happiness, and time. Dedication is not what other people expect of you. Dedication is what you give to others.     

We must learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow. The way you truly get what you want out of life is to be grateful for what you already have. The hardest teacher in the world is experience, like today dealing with the Coronavirus. From experience, however, we learn a lesson. The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and can achieve the impossible. Right now if we work together and learn from this experience we will beat this. Life can never get better by choice. Life gets better by change.     

TOM BYRNE


I’m Fine, Thanks     
Amagansett     
April 13, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray,     

I’m writing to provide an update, to you and to the readers. I probably wouldn’t have, given that my last letter to The Star was written just a week ago. However last week, when Mary and I were out for a long walk, a woman driving past us on Main Street, at a speed in excess of the posted limit, yelled out her window, “Lyle, keep writing letters!” As Frankie Valli famously sang, “Swear to God,” she, whoever she was, said that. Therefore, by request, here is an update:     

Due to high winds for two days last week I had to suspend raking operations on our property. Fortunately, the winds died down and the sun shone over Easter weekend, so I was able to continue and finish the work. Many people try to avoid raking behind the thick bushes, the foundation plantings next to the house. The leaves are difficult to get to, but they love to gather there, convinced that no one will find them. These leaves are wrong, Mr. Rattray. Because I will find them, packed in drifts six to eight inches deep, pretending that it’s okay to be there, like, what’s the harm? But I know where they are and I get them, in spite of the great price that will be paid by my lower back.     

My brother-in-law Tom, a great landscape designer and irrigation guy, helped me load them in his truck before the rains hit along with another windstorm. Easter Sunday, the leaf hunt on Main Street. Done!     

Mary had painted a beautiful sign on big tile squares to display on our front steps for the runners, dog walkers, and other passers-by: “Put Some Spring In Your Step!” People seemed to love it! Then we changed the sign a few days later to “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love, Love The One You’re Stuck With!” (I came up with that. Okay, maybe Stephen Stills had the idea first, fine.) Anyway, people stopped and took pictures of it with their iPhones and smiled. Then the aforementioned winds came and blew the big tile piece down, and it smashed into bits on the brick step. I had wanted to write “You Can Touch Your Face On May 1,” but Mary thought it was old news. Whatever.     

Mary, btw, left me a week ago after being in strict quarantine for three weeks straight, so she could drive, pure as new snow, to New Jersey to help out when her daughter Sophie gave birth. So I had to put my body on the line and do all the shopping, wearing my used painter’s mask and flimsy I.G.A.-issued gloves, trying not to squeeze avocados, suppressing any urge to cough, searching for pesto and a five-pound bag of flour. Brutal.     

And I gassed up Mary’s car so she wouldn’t have to stop, which required touching the handle of the gas hose thing and not touching my face! Anyway, where were we? Help me, Mr. Rattray. Oh yeah, the baby. Okay, five days ago Sophie had a beautiful baby boy. His name is Parker. Parker Murray Cuniff. I believe that’s the correct spelling of his middle name. He’s all anybody can talk about! Parker this, Parker that. Parker sleeps a lot. Parker eats every two hours. Parker had a gas smile (I’ve had those!). Anyway it’s all good.     

But am I getting enough good food to eat, now that Mary is away? Well, I have learned to sauté vegetables. And thanks to the wonderful staff in the produce section of the I.G.A., I now know what zucchini and leeks look like, so I can find them (although they are probably gone from the shelves). Anyway, I’m fine, thanks, and tonight is omelette night so hopefully I won’t screw that up.     

Oh, I do FaceTime with Mary. I feel it’s important she remember what I look like. Anyway, she said, “Now that Sophie and Hunter have returned from the hospital, do you think I should quarantine here for two more weeks, to make sure I don’t bring anything back home?” I immediately assumed it would be more fun hanging out with the babies and her daughter than bunking with me. She said, “How could you even think that?” Duh.     

What else? Oh yeah, my hundreds of Facebook friends, most of whom I’ve never met, have continued posting funny videos, or inspirational videos, and wise expressions of compassion and self-reflection, or jokes about being stuck at home. And also things like, “Dad would have been 107 today. I miss you every day, Dad.” Those are tough, because what can you say? I’m sorry for your loss? He’s been gone for 23 years! Make me a sandwich.     

Sorry. That’s messed up. Think good thoughts. I’m wishing everyone a great week. Peaceful, without bad news, a few laughs when possible.     

Love,     

LYLE GREENFIELD


Reduce the Harm     
Sag Harbor     
April 11, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray:     

Thank you for keeping our town informed during these trying times and thank you to all first responders, health care, and essential service providers. Also thank you for sharing information about different opportunities for relief during this time. Health and economic responses to the novel coronavirus, and recovery from its ill effects, are inextricably intertwined.     

The E.I.D.L. and P.P.P. loans can be 100 percent forgivable, and will be a big part of helping our community reduce the harm caused by the virus. At a time when we are suffering tragic losses and difficult hardships, it is important also to plan for when we come out of this. Economic relief will be important to helping our community reduce the harm. I encourage every eligible small business, independent contractor, and nonprofit to apply for this relief as soon as possible. The East Hampton Chamber’s website has a lot of helpful resources to help with these applications.     Another important part of reducing the harm is the importance of the PAUSE order and the benefits of social distancing. Any premature lift, or unwise violations of the order will cause its reinstatement or extension.     The sooner the virus is defeated, the sooner the PAUSE order is lifted, and the sooner we can get to the important task of rebuilding our community. It requires solidarity because we are all in this together. Please, follow the order, and apply for the loans.     

Together, we can beat this.     

Yours truly,     

CARL IRACE


Unconscionable     
East Hampton     
April 9, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray:     

During this horrific time of the Covid-19 virus, all of us should be mindful and respectful of one another, especially in a small town such as East Hampton. Therefore, I was surprised yesterday, April 8, when the stores known as Mystic and J&G Enjoy Feet at 59 and 61 the Circle had signs in their windows advertising face masks and gloves. The cost of 10 prepackaged construction gloves was $45, no questions and no receipts.     

Price gouging is unconscionable and illegal and should not be tolerated on any level or at any time. Now is certainly not the time for such behavior; nor should these stores be open at all, as this is not their business. Hopefully, the town authorities will look into this issue and prevent it from continuing.     I have attached pictures of these stores and signs.     

Respectfully,     

STEVEN LAMBERT


Blame Game     
Montauk     
April 9, 2020

To the Editor:     

Boy, we have so much to be grateful for from our Republican administrations: They are the party who just keep giving! The Great Depression, 9/11, the Great Recession, and now this pandemic. When will we learn that the Republicans really do not have our best interests in mind. There are some good things that have come out of this pandemic; no more televised Trump rallies, although he has found another platform to spew his lies, blame, and lack of responsibility — the daily coronavirus briefings.     

We now witness daily the total incompetence of Trump and his band of idiots. I thought Mike Pence was in charge of the coronavirus task force, or was it Peter Navarro? Wait, hold on, Jared Kushner is here to save the day — God help us! The comments made by Kushner regarding the national stockpile were beyond reproach and proved that he really is the village idiot!     

We all realize that Trump refuses to accept responsibility for anything that does not go his way and plays the blame game as a child would play “I am rubber; you’re glue.” This has been on full display by letting governors determine their own timelines for their states to lock down. Trump thinks if something goes wrong he can blame the states; what great leadership. The governors who suck up and praise Trump get the supplies they need, while others plead for the crumbs. Trump has shown how small, insecure, and ignorant he really is; what other president could create a “partisan pandemic.”     

There will be another relief package in the works soon. Additional relief will be on the table along with an infrastructure plan and how votes will be cast in November. Beware. This will be the perfect opportunity for our Republican politicians at all levels of government to do everything possible to suppress the vote. With this pandemic likely to return in the fall, there will be a major push for a national mail-in vote, which will ask each state to manage individually. This will take money for the states to implement and the next relief package will be a way to fund this voting method. Be prepared to sit back and watch how Republicans will try and make voting as difficult as possible. You are going to hear the same old Republican “talking points” of voter fraud without any documented truth.     

This week Trump let the cat out of the bag and confirmed that voter suppression was a major strategy for his 2020 re-election. So sit back and watch how the party based on conspiracy, hypocrisy, and lies tries to limit our right to vote. Republicans in Wisconsin showed us how to vote during a pandemic.     

ROBERT IHLE


The Challenge     
East Hampton     
April 12, 2020

To the Star:     

Watching a documentary about the life of Roy Cohn provides a window into our current politics and the last 50 years of Republican politics. Cohn was a brilliant, despicable criminal who was the antidote to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was Donald Trump’s mentor and spiritual guide and a pal of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Cohn was one of the most repugnant figures in our history.     

The election in Wisconsin is an example of Cohn’s influence and how the Republican Party has normalized the most deranged behavior. Of course, there really isn’t a pandemic in the country, so sending people out to vote isn’t a modified death camp scenario. Or, who cares as long as we win?     

The Civil Rights Act was far more than a restating of the constitutional principles that the country was founded upon. It was a challenge to our political parties and the American people to take away the asterisk from the statement “that all people are created equal.” Johnson understood the possible consequences of the legislation but somehow, hard to fathom why, believed that we would rise to the challenge.     

The challenge was not just about people of color. It included all working-class Americans, women, homosexuals, Jews, etc. It was a call to revolution, a call to turn all the freedoms that we are supposed to represent into a reality.

The Democrats heard the call, and the South went Republican. The new Democratic Party, overwhelmed by the accomplishments of the New Deal, lost its mojo and turned to mush. The Republicans, invigorated by their new Southern partners and betting that racism couldn’t be erased by an act of congress, turned hard right in a modified neo-fascist mode. They understood the American people better than the Dems and put together a brilliant game plan.     

Utilizing ideas like the silent majority and the moral majority and working off the institutional racism of our churches and economic system, they constructed an us- against-them scenario, which vilified liberal ideas about equality and representation. Racism gave working-class Americans a sense that someone was below them on the totem pole and someone to blame for their own misery and pain. Republicans, somehow, convinced white workers that the people with their feet on their throats were the best ones to represent them. (Pain reduction.)     

This level of deceit and sophistry is so strongly entrenched in our political system that it is no longer considered aberrant. Normalizing the obscene diminishes and eventually erases the obscenity.     

Enter Roy Cohn and his mantra of screw everyone, never apologize, and truth is in the eye of the beholder. The darling of the Republican Party. He epitomized their plan to limit people’s right to vote, keep wages low and consumption high, make sure that the nation’s wealth stayed in the right hands. Make sure that race was always front and center, to remind white people that the threat remained constant, and they better watch their backs.     

Yet, electing Obama seemed to derail the plan. We misunderstood the symbolism of Obama. We thought maybe revolution or even evolution. Not retribution. Obama was symbolic, not a real threat to Republicans. He didn’t try to change our world, just to make it more humane. He didn’t call out their deception and lack of humanity. He didn’t define them as institutionally racist. He blew it!     

The antidotes to Cohn and the Republicans were Bernie, who never lied, and John McCain, without whom we would have no health care system to deal with the virus. They epitomized truth and courage, which are no longer valued by our political system. We are left with one simple truth. If you were too dumb to close down the country how can you be smart enough to know when to open it up?   

 NEIL HAUSIG


Money Saved     
Cleveland, Ohio     
April 9, 2020

To The Star:     

Voting by mail should replace voting at the polls in its entirety. The two institutions that can definitely be trusted are the County Boards of Elections and the United States Postal Service.     

The money saved by eliminating the need for poll workers could be used to offer free postage on the envelopes used to vote by mail. The person voting would also have more time to consider what they are voting for and would not be confined to the hours of the polling place. It would also prevent unwanted entry to schools and churches from anyone trying to harm someone. In addition, the voter would not be harassed by someone trying to place unsolicited campaign literature in their hand.       

The additional revenue would boost the Postal Service and perhaps keep it afloat until we as a country are able to vote online. Voting by mail would solve the registered voter problem and guarantee safe passage of the ballots to the county boards of elections.     

JOE BIALEK


Disheartening     
East Hampton     
April 11, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray,     

The East Hampton Star reported on two auto accidents that occurred last Sunday (April 5, 2020). One of them is extremely disturbing for a number of reasons.     

You provided the name of the driver who was charged with a D.W.I., but you neglected to explain why this particular accident deserves further attention. The driver, Kristen Peterson, happens to be president of the Amagansett School Board. She refused a sobriety test, which suggests that this is not her first experience driving while intoxicated. She also crossed the road and crashed into a number of trees and apparently sustained an injury to her face.     

Even more important and disturbing, Ms. Peterson holds a position of influence, one that involves the welfare of families and children in the community. At a time of crisis, we should expect our community leaders to rise to the challenge, not set an example that is both disheartening and irresponsible. Due to Covid-19 we have been encouraged to shelter in place. Instead, Ms. Peterson, while seriously intoxicated, was out on the road and a danger to others in the community.     

Our children and the community deserve better. I recommend that Ms. Peterson step up to the plate and immediately resign from her role as president of the board and decline any other board role. By not doing so, she is essentially telling us that it is okay to break the rules, and that if you happen to be in a position of authority, you can get away with it.     

Whether her role as the president of the Amagansett School Board was omitted by The East Hampton Star by intention or by oversight, this information is essential to weigh Ms. Peterson’s fitness to be in a position of power and influence. I do not believe she is worthy of this privilege.     

Respectfully,     
ROY L. COHEN


We Pledge     
East Hampton     
April 10, 2020

Dear Editor:     

We would like to address some issues surrounding this coming village election that have been greatly distorted and need clarification. Our party, the Elms Party, is the only one that can say we are all lifelong, full-time residents of this village, and we know very well the delicate balance between residential and commercial interests, because we’ve lived it all our lives.     

This week we would like to talk about the beautiful inns that have been part of village life for so many years. All of our inns are what we call “pre-existing, non-conforming” uses in residential zones. This simply means that they were in existence before our zoning codes were written and are commercial uses in residential zones. As such, they need to be carefully regulated to protect the quality of life in the quiet neighborhoods that surround them. Over the years these inns have moved from being small B-and-Bs run by local families to establishments owned by corporations often having no local connection at all other than their business ties.     

We don’t need to look far to see what can happen if these uses are allowed to expand unchecked. The residents of Montauk have been working with our town board for years to try to control the businesses in their neighborhoods that began as small, quiet restaurants but have in recent years become busy nightclubs. Because live music was permitted under town code, they have become concert venues, bringing traffic, noise, and alcohol-fueled crime to their once peaceful streets. It is a cautionary tale that our village government must be cognizant of lest we allow the same thing to happen here.     

We are not opposed to all change, even in the area of how our country inns are operated. But special events requiring tents and live music that can be heard throughout our local streets must be closely regulated.     We believe that the best way to control what happens in our residential neighborhoods is to allow a certain number of special permit events at our inns. In this way we can control the dates, hours, and frequency of those events. Special permits can be granted by the village for weddings and other outdoor events while making sure there are plans in place to control the issues surrounding them. This is the best way to protect the residents so they can enjoy the peace and quiet of their own backyards during the summer months.     

In contrast, Jerry Larsen supports the ability for the inns to have large gatherings with amplified music without any oversight that the special permit process provides. We don’t believe that his views are in line with our village residents’ views. We believe that the inns should be allowed to conduct business only with proper restraints written into the code. The special permit process would give us the tool we need to control what can happen on properties that are pre-existing non-conforming. This is exactly what the zoning code is for.     We believe that our first responsibility is to our residents and will do our very best to protect them at all times, because we live here and we understand the need to protect our beautiful village. And that’s what we pledge to do.     

Sincerely,     

BARBARA BORSACK     
Candidate for mayor     

RAY HARDEN     
Candidate for trustee     
THE ELMS PARTY

—     
Richard Lawler, who has his own letter this week, also is an Elms Party candidate. Ed.


Union Contracts     
East Hampton  
April 10, 2020

To The Star:     

On Monday, April 6, 2020, at 5 p.m., Jerry Larsen produced a short video on Facebook in which he interviews two East Hampton Police Benefit Association officers who purportedly represent the entire P.B.A. in an endorsement of Jerry’s candidacy for mayor of East Hampton Village.     

My friends in the P.B.A. tell me that they were dismayed by the video, since not all of them had been consulted about the endorsement or the video. Some of them felt that the P.B.A. should remain neutral during this campaign and that what their leadership did was inappropriate. They feel it was a huge embarrassment to the fine police officers that serve this village every day.     

They don’t deserve to be demeaned by Jerry Larsen for the purposes of his own political gain. Unfortunately, Jerry was able to manipulate his good friend, the P.B.A. president, to do what the rest of the Police Department found to be abhorrent. To make matters worse, the embarrassment will continue as Jerry sends a copy of the alleged endorsement letter to everyone on his campaign list. Having said that, the video also depicted the usual false statements and misrepresentations we have all come to expect from Jerry.     

One of the main issues discussed was contract negotiations, and the fact that no one from the village board participates in the actual negotiations. The board does not participate on advice of our labor attorney, whose job it is to conduct the negotiations and report back to us regarding the progress. When the issues are worked out between our attorney and the P.B.A. attorney, and a settlement satisfactory to both sides is reached, the agreement is then presented to the board and the entire P.B.A. for final approval. If both sides agree, then a legally binding contract is signed and becomes the basis of an agreement, which must be followed for the duration of the contract. What could be more fair than that? Each side presents their case through their legal representative, and through negotiation each side gets some of what they want. That’s how all union contracts are settled.     

Unfortunately, some P.B.A. members seem to feel that if they don’t like the agreement they have settled on, then they should be allowed to renegotiate to get more favorable terms. Fortunately for all of us, that’s not the way the system works. If it did, the village would be in a constant state of flux and the village would not be able to establish an annual budget which would then put taxpayers in the unenviable position of having their taxes raised unexpectedly due to budget shortfalls.     

Jerry also claims that the P.B.A. should receive a more generous retirement package, which he claims would save the village $250,000. That is blatantly false. He knows it and the P.B.A. knows it, because the village hired a professional auditor who debunked the P.B.A. claim. In fact, during negotiations last year, which were completed in a record time of just several months, the P.B.A. could have negotiated for that retirement benefit, but chose to opt for a five-year contract with a reasonable raise. To then claim foul is just disingenuous.     

Jerry says that when he becomes mayor he will reopen the contract and award the P.B.A. the new retirement package without any negotiating. Could that be the reason for the P.B.A. endorsement? I wonder if the village taxpayer would feel that was fair.     

Additionally, Jerry seeks to spread the lie that somehow morale at the department is low due to unfair disciplinary treatment by the village board. Again, a conclusion that is an outright lie since he knows that most disciplinary measures don’t rise to the level of the village board for consideration. They are handled by a longstanding process established by New York State law and union contract agreements. Any other process, like that proposed by Jerry, would most definitely lead to unfair treatment of the officer. That is evidenced by the fact that a review of disciplinary cases handled by Jerry, while he was chief of police, found at least one instance of obvious bias against an officer. In that case, the resulting discipline was adjusted to a more appropriate level given the alleged transgression. I want to point out that the disciplinary process Jerry now complains about was instituted in February 2014 (before he was fired) with his full support. Obviously, the P.B.A. officials are not aware of that.     

I can say that during my 35 years as a police officer, I never viewed my police union contract as a defense against “roughing up a perp” because I was well trained and I believed that sort of thing is way beyond the bounds of good policing and is unacceptable behavior. The poor judgment of Jerry Larsen in allowing this unfortunate comment to pass without correcting it is the kind of failure of leadership he has displayed all too often. And it is unfortunate that despite his being disciplined as chief of police and his mandated sensitivity training, he still doesn’t get it.     

I think it’s become abundantly clear that Jerry feels that he has all the answers and if given the chance, he would always depend on his own flawed judgment, rather than take time to gather facts before making a decision that will affect all village residents for years to come. I don’t think that is what residents want or deserve.     

RICK LAWLER     
Mayor     
East Hampton Village


Sand Mining     
East Hampton     
April 10, 2020

Dear David,     

I’d like to wish everyone good health now and in the future, as we go through this awful pandemic, the likes of which most of us have never seen in our lifetime. I’m grateful to report I tested negative, though I had something that knocked me down for weeks. I have friends who are sick, friends who lost family and friends who were young and old. No one is immune.     

If you came out here to shelter at home, good, please do so. You have yards; you can exercise there or run when there?re fewer people about, which there should be, right? Just use common sense and have a mindful regard for all; this is no time for self-involvement. Self-reflection, on the other hand, is highly recommended.     

Speaking of health and all of our well-being going forward as East End residents, we have a big problem that the town supervisor is actually handling very well. Peter Van Scoyoc and the rest of the town board are taking bold steps to protect our drinking water and our sole source aquifer. Bravo. The source and only place we get our water, besides your Poland Spring delivery, needs our help. Just to reiterate, my drinking water is your drinking water. Pollution and toxic runoff and interference with the groundwater and aquifer is an East End concern. It is neither a cause célèbre nor a Nimby thing, or a tirade against industry. It is called saving our water from pollution, so we all stay healthy.     

We, as your neighbors and community members, have been fighting tirelessly against a particular sand mine and sand mine owner in our Town of East Hampton. The State Department of Environmental Conservation continually permits him to mine a sandpit that had no business being dug there in the first place, nor sold and expanded exponentially and changing the use without approval of the town. This travesty needs fixing.     

When we know better, we do better, right? The D.E.C. is not doing its job. The sand mine is located on Middle Highway, in a residential neighborhood on a noncommercial- use piece of land. The town grandfathered the land in eons ago, before environmental laws and restrictions to protect the water were in place. This land lies in a special groundwater protection area. Crazy, huh? Beyond comprehensive. The local guy’s outfit is called Sand Highway, its registered name with the D.E.C. Not to be confused with Sand Land in Noyac, which was polluting the groundwater. The D.E.C. had the opportunity to close that Noyac Tintle-owned sand mine and did not. Back-room deal at the 11th hour, we suspect. Shame on them.   

 We urged the town board to take charge and fight the D.E.C., on all of our behalf, and they are, because the D.E.C. continues to blatantly ignore all scientific fact that proves sand mining pollutes the groundwater. There’s no debate. The facts are in. Every sand mine on Long Island has polluted the aquifer, period. It has to stop, now. Later, after this local guy digs another 110 feet into the aquifer and makes a six-mile lake, it will be too damn late.     

What we want you to know is this is not a neighborhood fight, this is a townwide and East End problem. We appreciate the town board listening to its townspeople and taking the initiative to go against the shenanigans at the D.E.C., and take them to task. Someone has to; the governor is busy right now. But he’ll get on board hopefully, or he will have to deal with us. We don’t give up. We care too much. You’re welcome.     

This is a town that cares about its residents. This sand mine is operating in our town, and therefore it is the town’s responsibility to decide what is allowed on that land and what is not. You and I, Joe and Jane citizen, have to follow the rules, so does the local sand mining guy. He does not get to hide behind his money and habit of getting to do whatever he wants. I don’t care what his name is. Our town board cares about the water you all drink and serve to your children and grandchildren. What could matter more?     

I know, right now surviving this pandemic and trying not to catch this virus is job one. Be very careful. And filter the tap water, just to be safe if you aren’t already. In the meantime, know that without safe drinking water, which is our right as taxpayers and residents and people living on earth, and without a pristine aquifer, this beautiful East End cannot sustain us. Industry and fat cats making oodles of bucks from digging into our aquifer to mine sand, cannot come before our water, a whole town, and our health.     

Thank you,     

NANCI LAGARENNE


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