Letters to the Editor: 11.23.17

Our readers' comments

Event of the Year


November 17, 2017

Dear David:

The most exciting art event of the year on the East End is the Amagansett School’s exhibit of its parade of sculptures gracing Main Street. 

The charm, creativity, and ingenuity that all the pieces share give the viewer a hint of the artists’ enthusiasm, hard work, and love of their project.

The Halloween festivities then culminate with the sweetest parade of goblins and superheroes ever.

They all patiently waited for their cotton candy, and to a child each one said, “Thank you.” And, when it was over, no debris was left anywhere.

I applaud and am humbled by these students.

And I am more than impressed by the support that the school and the teachers must have given these kids for this show and parade to flourish.

Very truly yours,


Their Generosity

East Hampton

November 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the Rotary Club of East Hampton, I’d like to acknowledge and thank all the local businesses that donated food, beverages, and funds to support our annual Trivia Night fund-raising event, held at the Neighborhood House on Nov. 4. 

Their generosity allows Rotary to continue to raise money which, in turn, provides support for many local initiatives, groups, and households in our communities of East Hampton, Amagansett, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Wainscott, and Montauk. 

Thank you,



A list of 41 donors to the Rotary’s Nov. 4 trivia night is in the Card of Thanks section of today’s classifieds. Ed.

Wonderful Service


November 15, 2017

Dear David,

We would like to thank the East Hampton Lions Club for helping us out when one of us had the short-term need for a wheelchair, while in recovery from a traumatic knee injury recently.

Through its medical equipment loaner program, the East Hampton Lions Club let us borrow a wheelchair for a few weeks. What a wonderful service to the community! Thank you to Russ Calemmo at the Lamp Hospital, who coordinated it for us.

We are very grateful, and we urge the community to support the East Hampton Lions Club in all of its charitable endeavors.




Outstanding Program


November 17, 2017

Dear David,

Thank you for letting me use this space to suggest to your readers that, with the holiday shopping season here, please consider making a donation to East Hampton Meals on Wheels. 

We all know at least one, and probably many, who was or is a client, family member, friend, or volunteer for this outstanding program.

If you have ever spoken to or met all those involved with the Meals on Wheels’ team, you know their compassion is tremendous.

I encourage all to take a look at East Hampton Meals on Wheels’ website, or call or email them. 

Wishing all a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

Best regards, 


Riding Opportunities


November 8, 2017

Dear David,

I would like to thank Jack Graves and The East Hampton Star for continued reporting on the Stony Hill Stables Foundation’s work. We hope to provide horseback riding opportunities to local residents through the Stony Hill Stables Foundation and your support helps make our goals possible.

The recent article featuring our latest recipient, Kailee Brabant, was not only informative, but heartwarming as well. It beautifully depicted what we are accomplishing. 

Jack is a wonderful advocate for local athletes, and we’re so pleased that he visited Stony Hill and shared this story with your readers.



Valuable Forum


November 17, 2017

Dear David:

It’s Thanksgiving — and time to give thanks. I wanted to thank you for your willingness, week after week, to publish all letters to the editor. Not many papers in America do that. You do. It’s an important and valuable forum you provide, something I’ve always admired and appreciated. 

With best regards, and thanks again.


Paying Double

East Hampton

November 15, 2017

To the Editor,

I am an attorney admitted to the New York State Bar since 1978 and have actively managed two different title insurance abstract companies for over a combined 25 years.

My letter is intended to advise your readers (one of whom I hope is our governor) of the imminent implementation of two new regulations prepared by the Department of Financial Services, an administrative arm of the state government that is mandated to champion our citizens’ rights and to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices by entities operating within our borders.

These specific “protections” are intended to rein in the title insurance underwriters licensed by the New York State Insurance Department and their many agents (of which I am one). They reduce the rates to be charged for title insurance policies, eliminate the entertaining of business clients by underwriters and agents, limit fees to be charged for mandated services provided, and eliminate the acceptance of gratuities that have historically been given at closngs to the title company representatives (title closers) by satisfied consumers.

At first blush, this is a noble exercise and to be commended. After all, title closings are very expensive, touch so many of our citizens (and voters), and impact directly on the basic American dream of acquiring a home. 

What’s my gripe? Is it just sour grapes? Am I merely a greedy businessman preying on overburdened homebuyers? 

Let’s consider a few things about closings. First, there’s the mortgage tax: 1 percent of the amount you’re borrowing goes to the state (in New York City, over 2 percent) for the privilege of going into debt. I’m unaware of any other state in our country that assesses any mortgage tax at all.

Then there’s the 1-percent “mansion tax” that applies to all home purchases of over $1 million (a tax we all have paid since Governor Cuomo’s father, Mario, first dreamt it up in 1989).

Lastly, there are the recording fees charged by the various county clerks. These fees have literally doubled (and in some cases, tripled) within the last year. Why, you ask? So-called document verification surcharges of $300 per document can add an additional $900 (or more) to a typical home refinance bill. The consumer is paying double or more to ensure the bank documents recorded are affecting the correct property. Isn’t that what the original recording fee is for? 

By the way, Nassau County has advised their fees will increase again come January. Can Suffolk be far behind?

I guess my point is that the consumer (and voter) needs to have a more objective view of why closing expenses are so high. Is it because of the title insurance companies gouging their customers for services needed and provided? Or, is it because of a plethora of state taxes and excessive fees that add thousands of dollars to each real estate transaction?

Maybe the Department of Financial Services should inspect its own house before laying the blame on the title industry — again. 

American dream or New York State-created nightmare? 


Paying for It Now

East Hampton

November 17, 2017

Dear David, 

Hope all is well. I read with great dismay your article “Teardown Plan Challenges Zoning Board” — here is another example of how government is killing us, as I mentioned in a previous letter. 

With all the push and concern for our wetlands and water quality, why would the zoning board entertain the idea of a natural resources permit to build near the wetlands, along with several variances? The defense — what went on in the past needs to be ignored — is an ignorant comment. 

We, the people, had no idea of conservation back in the 1970s, and we are paying for it now. The overburden of all the homes along the waterfront has had a devastating effect, as we all know. (Where did the eelgrass go?) Why would we add to it, rather than restrict it? 

The owner, I’m sure, was well aware of the limitations on his property when it was purchased. That current state of mind of “Get a variance!” or “Just build it!” is hostile and self-serving. 

In these cases, we have spent a great deal of time and money to come up with rules and regulations for us to move forward with protecting the environment, with clean water in mind. Why would we ignore that?

Yours to command,


Many Serious Threats


November 19, 2017

Dear David:

Carol O’Rourke’s letter of last week was clumsy and offensive. Voting rights is far too serious a topic for her breezy relativism, and her letter makes a mockery of the many serious threats to voting rights that are under way across the country. It also was remarkably tone-deaf, reeking of the very sort of white privilege and cultural appropriation that many on the left decry. (A white, Hamptons weekender feels entitled to effectively co-opt the struggle of primarily less-affluent, less-educated, and often minority voters in other states? Really?)

If Ms. O’Rourke is actually concerned about voting rights, let her do as my late grandmother Ruth Marcus did in Shreveport, La., in 1955 when she took carloads of African-Americans to legally register to vote for the first time, which in the pre-Voting Rights Act Jim Crow South was not easy. No small irony that many confessed later to having voted for Richard Nixon, but that’s democracy for you.

In the end, Ms. O’Rourke’s grievance seems to be less that her voting rights are under threat — they are not, nor will be — but rather that she is not being sufficiently celebrated for the exercise of those rights by locals in our town. Okay, lady, thank you for your taxes. We pay them too. Perhaps our new supervisor should throw you a parade. Cry me a river.


Heads of Donkeys


November 17, 2017

Dear David,

I would think that, in all fairness and reciprocity, we should ask the government of Botswana to repeal its ban on the importation of Republican heads. 

Indeed, I have to wonder why the latter don’t want to adorn their walls with the heads of donkeys rather than elephants.


Buckets of Gold

East Hampton

November 19, 2017

To the Editor,

The United States tax code is one of the most complicated, confusing documents in the world. Revising it in any reasonable way would probably take two to three years. Alternatively, the shortcut would be a flat tax. Simple, clean, and straightforward. But the buckets of gold at the end of the rainbow wouldn’t be guaranteed. So much for a flat tax.

Like our health care system, the way we practice our religious tax reform is a twisted, uncertain process lost in an ideological cloud that defies all the logic and information that stare us in the face. When a church in Texas is shot up by a lunatic with an assault weapon, they tear it down. When a health care system eliminates 23 million people and raises everyone’s rates, only one courageous Republican tells the G.O.P. that it is insane. Enter tax reform with gleefully, wild-eyed conservatives, again, too excited to propose a rational approach that will help grow the economy.

Religion, as opposed to economics, is based on belief without certitude. Economics is an imperfect science that is only about data and proof. Ideas, theories, programs based on mindless fantasies are fine for evangelical faith dealers. Economics of that ilk is known as voodoo economics.

Fortunately, there exists an enormous body of literature and data, since the Reagan years, that clearly and concisely explains and tears apart the new tax reform deal. The underlying principles are called supply side and trickle down. Businesses will make products and will market them to people whether they need them or not. With no immediate increase in wages, the costs of these purchases is credit, or debt. Essentially, people go into debt to buy products that they don’t need, which allows manufacturers to increase wealth. It is based on the belief that people are too dumb to understand the obvious.

Even though supply side is considered idiotic by every reputable economist in the world, the plan moves toward providing credit to U.S. corporations to enhance investment. Strangely, money to invest in new products is not the missing component of our economic growth. Fact: Credit at historically low

rates is already available, and corporations are awash in money that they don’t want to invest in the country. Fact: The largest 1,000 U.S. corporations pay a real tax rate of 16 percent. Fact: The idea of

controlling wealth by keeping it in the hands of the few will allow for the distribution of that wealth is an absurdity.

Trickle down was invented in the 1980s as a means of redistributing wealth to make it work better. By putting wealth into the hands of the wealthiest, taking it out of everyone else’s hands, was the best way to grow the economy. The last 30 years have disproved this idea. The middle-class part of the tax bill allows for increasing the

standard deduction but offsets the increase by disallowing interest payments, local taxes, and real estate taxes. It also substantially lowers federal Medicare and health care contributions. 

While some people will see their taxes reduced, the reductions are short term (corporate tax cuts are permanent). If you earn $75,000 your real income will go up by $900, but your health care could rise by the same amount or more.

Wages and jobs: Our history and most other countries derive job and wage increases from demand for products and the ability to pay for them. A positive spiral between demand and production increases jobs and wages. All our data indicate this to be true. 

So, if we were really interested in creating jobs and improving wages, we would give substantial tax cuts to working-class Americans and let them create demand, wages, and jobs. No cuts for corporations and increase taxes on the top 5 percent. That would create jobs and raise wages, but it would put control of the money in the hands of too many people, which is too messy and hard to control.

The litmus test for wage and job growth is always the minimum wage. No conservative politician in the last 60 years has ever proposed raising the minimum wage. The harsh reality of the G.O.P. plan is that it doesn’t accomplish any of its stated goals except for lowering corporate taxes. A more honest approach would be to lower corporate rates and accept the increase in the deficit. An even more honest approach would be to recognize that the people who wrote this bill live in a small white box that stunts their intelligence and their emotional capacity to go beyond the ideological prism that makes this bill worth less than the paper that it’s written on.