Letters to the Editor: 09.14.17

Our readers' comments

A Life Well Lived

East Hampton

September 8, 2017

To the Editor:

As one of our East Hampton Housing Authority board members said at our last meeting, there is a huge hole in East Hampton. Our longtime friend, committee and board member, volunteer, advocate, activist, and neighbor, Barbara Jordan, passed away on Sept. 6.

Barbara was a woman you definitely wanted on your side of the table. Always well informed and prepared, with an analytical mind, she volunteered with her church and with Maureen’s Haven, Habitat for Humanity, the League of Women Voters, and Guild Hall. She was not one to tout her own achievements, so I am sure there are other civic organizations and activities she participated in for years that I know nothing about.

The East Hampton Housing Authority commissioners and staff extend our condolences to the family and friends who will all be feeling that huge hole, too.

Here’s to a life well lived.


The writer is executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority. Ed.

Joyful Memories

Bristol, Vt.

September 5, 2017

To The Star:

Thank you so much for sending the August issue. We now have the wonderful pleasure of touching paper and reading about Dennis Puleston (East, Aug. 23). 

John Lea, my husband, in his youth had the pleasure of spending a few weeks every summer with the Puleston family. What joyful memories you have kindled.



The Canceled Season


September 11, 2017

To the Editor:

I read with interest the recent story of East Hampton High School again canceling its football season. Aside from what’s mentioned in the article, I believe there are additional reasons why it was canceled. They are in no particular order: Fear of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. More high schoolers concentrating on one sport. “Softer” adults who want to coddle their children. Parents who think every child deserves a participation trophy. 

With that said, I believe the two biggest reasons for the failure of high school football in East Hampton are lack of community/school support and lack of tradition. In the games I have attended, I didn’t see, aside from homecoming, a large number of people in attendance. Usually it was about 100 to 150 people in the stands. At away games it was even fewer. One of those reasons may be because most of the games are on Saturday afternoons. 

By contrast, I grew up in central Pennsylvania, and graduated from a school that included seventh through 12th grades and had a total of 800 students in the entire school. Our games were on Friday nights under lights. The stadium capacity was 1,500 people, with standing room for 300 more. Every game was full or almost full. You’d see small boys walking around in their football uniforms and small girls walking around in their cheerleading uniforms. If we had an away game, the school sponsored buses for students who otherwise didn’t have a ride to the games. All of this happened for the 10 regular-season games. If we made the conference playoffs, we had to move our home games to another stadium with a larger capacity. 

That was for the varsity games. I won’t even discuss the tremendous support the community and school had for the junior high and junior varsity teams.

You didn’t hear people complain about parking around the football field or lights being too bright. What you did see was people who lived close to the field hang banners in their house windows and on their doors supporting the school sports teams, including those who didn’t have children attending the schools. Those same people would open their driveways for fans to park, at no cost.

I purposely waited until this week to send my letter in to see if there were any other letters addressing the canceled season. Not a shock to me, no letters were printed, which proves my point: A major factor in the lack of participation in football is the lack of school and community support for the team. 

I hope the school administration took a hard look at themselves and asked what can we do better, before they made the decision to end the season. For me, it’s simple. It comes down to community and school involvement and a tradition that can be passed on from generation to generation. 


Obnoxious Signs

East Hampton

September 6, 2017

Dear Editor:

To politicians: Do you really think we’re going to vote for you because you put those obnoxious signs all over the place where we live? All it does is remind me who I should not vote for, because you’re polluting our beautiful landscape.

The same thing goes for contractors who put advertising signs all over the place. It’s one thing to temporarily put it on the property where you are doing work, but to just scatter them at intersections and on the side of the road is as bad as ugly billboards.

The only little signs that are okay are those for yard sales, because they have a short time frame — providing the homeowners retrieve them when the sale is done. And that also goes for some fund-raisers, like marathons and walks and running events. The key is for the people who put the signs up to please take them down when your event is over.

I want to see the trees and the flowers and the deer and the birds, etc. I don’t want to see garbage all over the place. And that’s what these signs are.


Not Local Tomatoes

New York City

August 28, 2017

To the Editor:

For at least 50 years I have shopped at most of the rustic farm stands in the East Hampton area with the anticipation of the delicious, brightly colored, fresh, locally farmed vegetables. Some stands had a specialty that I would long for and visit just to get that special taste.

I grew up near farm stands on the edge of Baltimore, and as a child accompanied my mother on frequent visits to the amazing farm of Mrs. Grey. She had luscious varieties of vegetables and beautiful tomatoes that we would eat like an apple, with just a hint of salt and pepper. Maryland tomatoes have a rich, tangy flavor that one longs for during the cold winter. The beautiful tomatoes of Long Island have a very similar delicious flavor. 

One summer Mrs. Grey announced to us that toward the end of the summer she would have a new, special late corn that the Beltsville Agricultural Center had asked her to grow. It would be a white corn named Silver Queen. It could have arrived with trumpets, the flavor was so good. Mrs. Grey always cut out a window from the husk of each ear so we could see the kernel size. She did this quickly to every ear she sold and threw aside those she deemed not good enough. Sometimes I would ask her to give me a stripped ear and eat it raw, sitting in the car on the way home. I can still taste the warm, fresh, crunchy ripe corn of Mrs. Grey’s Farm. 

When the Silver Queen variety arrived on Long Island I was thrilled, and always bought more than my family could possibly ever eat.

Last week I stopped by a small stand, which, by the look of the people’s name on the sign, had changed hands. However, the cart looked pretty much the same as it always had. 

There were flat baskets filled with vegetables. The tomatoes were lined up in a few rows, all looking symmetrical and all the same color. They were practically identical. There were no leaves or stems left on any tomato or a hint of dirt. They were all washed clean and felt hard to the touch. Every one of them was the same ripeness, with none slightly green or with streaks of green or yellow. I was suspicious that they were not local tomatoes and asked where they had come from. “From our fields,” the young woman told me with a smile. There was a freshly plowed field behind the stand, and as I knew who the owner was, it was definitely not where these had been grown. There were no tomatoes growing in sight anyway. These tomatoes were so hard, I asked if they had been refrigerated. “Oh, no,” she replied. Since I did not want to think the worst, I bought three evenly matched tomatoes and six ears of corn. 

The corn was quite good and had been freshly picked. However, the supermarket tomato on my kitchen counter tasted exactly like the tomatoes I had purchased at the stand.

Occasionally, a good farm stand will fill in with a vegetable that is not ready locally, but they tell you this. The vegetables they bring in are the very best quality possible and I understand they want their customers to find what they need. However, this is the first time I’ve experienced someone selling supermarket vegetables and saying they were grown in their field. This is an egregious betrayal of trust.


DACA as a Means


September 8, 2017

Dear David,

In last week’s “Mast-Head” you lamented President Trump’s decision to end DACA without your mentioning the larger issue at hand. It is not the president’s intent to start deporting these young people, nor do I think he wishes to do this. In fact, I don’t think anyone wishes to do this, as we would be using them as scapegoats for our failed immigration system, which needs a major overhaul.

President Trump is using this as a means to get the usual do-nothing Congress to quit kicking the can down the road and actually try to legislate. This is a perfect means to possibly attain some form of bipartisanship on the issue, because none of the brainstems sitting in our legislative branches want to be on the wrong side of this issue. Of course, the far left will accuse Trump of throwing his base red meat, and some of the rabid conservatives may be appeased, but by and large I think this maneuver demands the immediate attention that the ephemerally minded Congress must address.

Our borders need to be protected, and special vigilance is a necessity to our south. Why this escapes the left is beyond me. Condoning and promoting sanctuary cities only adds to our porous borders, and their usual wink and a nod to the illegality of it, while promoting its exercise, is not beneficial to anyone. It only creates more of the same, and the influx continues undiminished to fill jobs that people say no one else wants. 

We need a well-protected border with strict enforcement before we can act on a lasting immigration policy that will actually work. Trump’s action could very well be a first step in forcing the issue, perhaps simultaneously. Hopefully he has created the opportunity for a dialogue that will possibly light a fire under their collective asses.

While the mainstream media is vilifying the president at every turn, they won’t ever give him a nod for doing the right thing. This dialogue has to start somewhere. I hope you have noticed the successful crackdown on MS-13 on Long Island by enforcing Trump’s immigration policy initiative, and perhaps the drop in crime also has something to do with it. This is not a racist comment, it is a simple fact. 

The Dreamers should not be the sacrificial lambs here, but the criminal element and those with past records should not be coddled and protected or sheltered in sanctuary cities. Those illegal aliens that have a criminal record should be deported immediately. We also need to provide a path to citizenship for those who have contributed to their communities through their hard work, that have stayed on the right side of the law, without offering another blanket amnesty. There are very many fine Latino people who have come here illegally and we certainly are not, cannot, and should not deport everyone, but we need to stanch the flow and shut it down, because it is totally out of control. If we continue on our present course it will always be the same, and the problem will only compound itself. 

The Dreamers who came here as children with their parents should not bear the brunt of this, and it will be wrong to do so. I don’t think that is what will happen, and if it does I would not be blaming the president when it is the Congress that can’t even agree on what day of the week it is.


Getting Cold


September 1, 2017

Dear David,

Roast beef, apple pie getting cold on the table. Dolphins off North Main.


No Future Security?

East Hampton

August 28, 2017

Dear David,

Thank you again for Christopher Walsh’s reporting on the meetings of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals. Following up on an earlier July meeting, Chris reported on the determination granting the 20 Hook Pond Lane owner/builder’s request for a variance to add a 748-square-foot detached three-car garage with a basement and second-floor “attic” to the 6,450-square-foot “as-of-right” house already under construction. 

At the July meeting Mr. Schneider told the zoning board that he, the owner and developer of this property, could attach a garage to the house “as of right,” resulting in even greater mass on this site, and would do so if his application for variance relief was denied. Variance relief from what? Greater mass? This project only continues to grow on a laneway of privately owned, comfortable, not showcase, homes, nestled up against the village’s treasured Hook Pond. Will this determination set a precedent for the zoning board in reviewing proposed real estate projects and variance demands by the next owners/builders/developers in existing residential neighborhoods? Has this determination set a precedent or created a situation in which village homeowners can expect no future security in protecting their residential neighborhoods?

The village’s comprehensive plan executive summary, “Preserving the Village Neighborhoods,” states that “the Comprehensive Plan places importance upon preserving and protecting the Village’s residential neighborhoods. Recommended actions of the Plan focus upon six principal issues of residential life in the Village: 1. Maintaining a peaceful residential atmosphere; 2. Accommodating new development and redevelopment without adversely impacting neighborhood character; 3. Caring for and preserving the character of the Village’s residential streets.” The balance of the six principal issues focuses on commercial and other non-resident uses, traffic, and special events. 

Another encouraging statement on behalf of residential community character is found on the village’s web page: “The Village of East Hampton is committed to the avoidance of assaults on the senses which in the case of the Village are especially dependent on the aesthetic quality and physical attributes of the community. Among these are the eneral form of the land before and after development, the spatial relationships of structures and open spaces and the retention of the unique aesthetic quality that is part of the character of the Village of East Hampton.”

The spec house under construction on Hook Pond Lane is replacing a demolished home in my residential neighborhood. Trees were either cut down or shaved of branches to make way for this 6,450-square-foot house and a 748-square-foot three-car garage and the swimming pool and a pool house. The developer’s original plan even shows a proposed tennis court. 

These spec houses are the McMansions aggressively challenging the character of the village neighborhoods. It is time for a review of the village zoning code in meeting this challenge. It is also time for the village leadership to acknowledge the transparent conflict of interest in appointing real estate agents as Z.B.A. members. 


Fatally Flawed


September 11, 2017

Dear David, 

In my opinion, comments by town officials quoted in last week’s article “Rental Registry a Success” were both premature and overly self-congratulatory. While many homeowners have registered their properties, multiple legal and staffing shortcomings make sidestepping requirements far too easy.

In essence, the current law is fatally flawed. Just one example: While it is legal to rent for less than two weeks twice within a six-month period, numerous acquaintances have told me that after getting their rental permits, they successfully rented on five or six occasions, unchallenged, last summer. No surprise here — it is unrealistic to expect code enforcement to run around checking every permit holder every weekend.

The massive summer overcrowding Montauk now experiences is in reality brought about largely by short-term rentals. One need go no further than the online rental sites to witness the extent of the practice. This week Homeaway was listing 1,524 Montauk rentals. I could not find any displaying a rental registry permit number as required by the new law. VRBO, Airbnb, the same.

It is important to point out that the number of motel rooms available in Montauk has declined over the past 10 years as institutions have acquired properties to house seasonal employees. Meanwhile, new home construction has been modest. So, when we get frustrated by traffic backups and are astonished by the mere mass of humanity packed into Montauk, high occupancy of private properties, many of them rentals, are left as prime suspects.

Nailing the most flagrant share-house operators and a few unlucky scofflaws is smart, and makes for good headlines. But the reality is we are still a long way from finding a meaningful solution to this problem. There are numerous ways the law could be changed (or stuffing increased) to make code enforcement more effective, but can the political will be found to bring this about? Long odds on that bet.


A Clear Priority


August 14, 2017

Dear David,

I read the Aug. 10 editorial “Enthusiasm Outpaces the Science on Water Plan” with some surprise and disappointment. 

I’m surprised because over the years, you and I have both witnessed the eventual folly of reactionary opponents who objected to the leadership of South Fork towns when they acted to better protect their wetlands, reduce zoning densities, preserve farmland, or let voters authorize a community preservation fund that has created the largest sustaining local land preservation program in the state, if not the nation. 

We have both seen opponents assail these initiatives as unrealistic, unscientific, not sufficiently studied, too expensive, or a sure disaster for the economy, taxes, and real estate values. 

Yet as it turns out, these predictions have rarely if ever proven true, because the fundamental assumptions behind each of the towns’ environmental initiatives were sound, and the policy decisions that followed turned out to be rational and balanced over time. 

As for my disappointment, it lies in the fact that when it comes to regional water quality, there may be more relevant peer-reviewed scientific study, monitoring data, and public policy direction about the impacts of nitrogen from wastewater than has ever been assembled for any prior land use or local environmental regulation in the last 30 years. 

Decades ago, Long Island’s earliest comprehensive wastewater management studies identified nitrogen from sewage as a primary water quality pollutant, and government agencies knew well that it would eventually require attention and treatment over time. 

These findings have since been echoed, magnified, and improved upon in subsequent research done for the Peconic Estuary Program, Suffolk County’s Comprehensive Water Resource Management Plans, the Long Island Special Groundwater Protection Area Plan, New York State’s Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, peer-reviewed research conducted by Stony Brook University, and agency and university research across the nation. 

Closer to home, this issue is a clear priority of the Town of East Hampton’s 2015 Wastewater Management Study as well as its 2016 Water Quality Improvement Plan, which will guide the water quality investment in East Hampton’s recently expanded Community Preservation Fund. 

So, in fairness, it is the collective value of all this supporting documentation, refined over decades, that has informed East Hampton Town’s decision to proceed with its new wastewater technology requirements, and not any whimsy or “articles of faith” on the part of the town board.

For me, the prospect of taking little or no action until every conceivable detail is known is a little like suggesting that we do nothing to better insulate our homes or adopt improved appliance and fuel efficiency standards, until we know the precise and measurable impact of each individual refrigerator or air-conditioner on regional climate change.

At the end of the day, there is more then enough concrete evidence to support an investment in advanced wastewater systems, and the town’s generous rebate program will provide substantial financial assistance to those residents who wish to replace their existing or failing septic systems with current and effective treatment technology. 

Yes, the program must develop and evolve as time goes on. Yes, the town’s water quality challenges go beyond just septic systems, and yes, additional data and monitoring will always be desired and important. However, our region is in the midst of an unprecedented water quality crisis, and the Town of East Hampton should be applauded for demonstrating the kind of critical first steps and environmental leadership that will be needed to address this expansive problem and set an example for other communities to follow. 

I truly hope you will give this program an objective chance to succeed. 




Group for the East End

A Town Manager 

East Hampton

September 1, 2017

Dear Editor,

Last week, Democrats were asked to choose two out of three candidates for town board in the Democratic Party primary. I was absolutely shocked to listen to them debate the issue of a town manager with absolutely no understanding of what a town manager is.

A town manager is a professional administrator with a master’s degree in public administration from an accredited university. The best universities require two areas of expertise, financial administration and information technology. A town manager takes over the budget director’s functions and administers the day-to-day operations of departments according to accepted professional standards. That means that a town manager has expertise in how each department should do its work, and evaluates department heads according to how well they meet both budgetary and professional standards.

Why does East Hampton need a town manager? Because of the actions of three previous town supervisors and boards in weakening the professional standards by which town departments should operate. First there was Jay Schneiderman, who allowed part-time councilpersons to collect full-time salaries by giving them the added responsibility of acting as full-time liaison/managers of individual departments. This had been a supervisor function.

You may ask yourself what expertise does a councilperson have that would allow them to determine how the information technology or the building department should operate? The answer is: none. The expertise of a councilperson is political, representing their constituency, not determining what the composition of road-paving materials should be or what server or software system should be used. A town manager has to know all of these things, or at least what standards are professionally acceptable.

How about oversight? Here we come to the real problem with the current system. This is a town which is $100 million in debt due to Bill McGintee having selected a budget director whose professional background was in cutting hair. This is a town that spent $600,000 on a new computer software system that never worked and that not even the workers in the I.T. department were consulted about. This is a town where the tax collector failed to send out 6,000 tax bills, and nobody on the town board or in the budget director’s office caught the problem before it happened. Fixing that problem cost $180,000. 

This happens again and again, because no one in town government has the expertise or authority to hold departments to professional standards.

As a registered Democrat, I find it embarrassing that none of the primary candidates seem to grasp this point.


Extensive Experience


September 11, 2017

Dear David,

In the private sector there is a bottom line, and ultimately the quality of workmanship, ability of employees, innovativeness of development, and managerial leadership will dictate whether or not the private-sector businesses are profitable or not. Failure to perform, either on the managerial or employee level, will result in lost profits and the shuttering of the business. 

In the public sector, elected officials have a fiduciary and moral responsibility to provide services for the public safety, good, and welfare of the community. Taxation provides government will operate in perpetuity regardless of an elected official’s skills, experience, or capabilities. For just this reason, Civil Service laws, rules, and regulations were put in place to ensure government employees are not subject to political pressures or the whims of elected officials.

I understand the difficulties facing our town employee work force, as well as the constraints of our town budget. Salaries and employee benefits are 59.2 percent of the total 2017 East Hampton Town budget. Inability to conduct diverse recruitment, negative retention, and attrition have adversely impacted departments within town government. This in turn has a negative impact on our community as town government struggles to provide services that we so desperately need and, rightfully so, expect. 

To reverse this trend, the next East Hampton Town supervisor must have extensive experience in labor relations, collective bargaining, and the application of Civil Service laws.

As the founding P.B.A. president of New York State’s fifth-biggest police union, I bring public-sector experience and skills unmatched by any current or past town board member. I understand fully Civil Service rules, regulations, policies, and mandates, and am a recognized expert in labor relations at the New York State Public Employees Relation Board. I have testified numerous times on labor and public safety issues before the State Legislature and have negotiated collective bargaining agreements that far exceed the total dollar amount of the entire East Hampton Town budget.

I bring the experience and skills necessary to make town government the best it can be.

I ask for your support and that you vote for me, Manny Vilar, for supervisor of East Hampton Town on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Thank you for your support.


Montauk Shores


September 11, 2017

Dear David,

When my husband and I revisited Montauk Shores in the early to mid- ’70s, there were three salesmen who couldn’t get out of each other’s way, selling units with a lease, and they told us it was going to be co-ops. Whether it was false statements or it failed before it got off the ground, my husband didn’t like the lease they offered, so we chose to rent each summer. 

I made a typo on the 52 owners. I knew the figure was 152. Sooo sorry.

My letter in The Star consisted of information that the fiscal responsibility is on the backs of the leaseholders. I don’t care about who sold what. All I know is, I started out at $175 a month with a multi-year lease. Many years later I now pay $1,245. Whether I live there or not, I stay with friends sometimes, visit my son, and play a biweekly mah-jongg game.

When I first bought in, at the Fourth of July party persons in front of me asked if I was a renter or owner. I answered, renter, and they told me to go to the end of the line. Renters are not and never have been allowed at the board meetings. I could go on, but I choose not to put all the dirty laundry out there. As far as my comment about being crowded, I meant the size and height of the modulars. Have pity on those who are behind these sizable heights. Their view is gone. I never mentioned how many people were in the unit, but I can get two cars in my driveway.

All the information Mr. Herbert put in the paper is none of my concern. I don’t care how much he paid for his deck, etc., because I stated I don’t like what it looks like now. That is my right and my opinion. His ire went up because I disagreed with him.

Promises were made by Helen Morgan, agent for the park in 1978, that other sites would open up for sale, but never put in writing. This made it useless to argue.


Whether or Not


September 10, 2017

Dear David,

One would have to have been asleep in the last year to not realize the importance of elections. Elections decide our lives; they have consequences. To prevent tragedies, one must go to the poll with the knowledge of what you are voting for. 

Coming up in the November election there will be on the ballot a chance to vote on whether or not to have a New York State Constitutional Convention. Holy mackerel! That should shake you to the core as it sounds so ominous, and indeed it is, because we don’t know what it is about, the ramifications of a Constitutional Convention, and how it will affect our lives. 

On Tuesday at 6:45 p.m., the East Hampton Democratic Party will sponsor a discussion about this proposal. It will be held at St. Michael’s Church Hall, diagonally across from the Amagansett I.G.A. All are welcome. No one will check at the door your party affiliation. 

The featured speakers are Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who will pres­ent the opposition to the proposed conention. Dick Dady, executive director of the Citizens Union of New York City, will present the pro position favoring the convention. 

Come to this presentation and get educated so that you can vote intelligently on this important issue, which could have a tremendous effect on you. Come, listen, and learn. You owe it to yourself and to your community. 


About Government

East Hampton

September 4, 2017

To the Editor:

The second component of the two-pronged attack on the wealth of the middle class was the devaluation of government. If people didn’t trust and marginalized governments, their essential protections from economic violence were stripped away. Government is what stands between working-class people and the moneyed elites.

The idea of government was a reaction to barbarity and a need for order in civilized societies. Kings, queens, dictators, and religious leaders ruled arbitrarily, motivated by self-interest. People had no say and little influence in controlling their lives. The rich and the powerful controlled everything, and what was left was divvied up among the population. Kind of like what we have today.

Government evolved over time into systems of greater and greater general participation, with democracy being the bellwether leader. As its role as a provider of order and services grew, the size of the government grew. The more sophisticated the society, the greater the need for government.

The need for order in a world where wars were ravaging hundreds of millions of people moved us toward world governments that set and enforced standards of behavior for everyone. Its efficacy can be measured by the numbers of people killed in the 20th-century wars as compared to the 21st century.

Yet the first part of the conservative attack on the middle class was that government was too intrusive, meaning protective. The second part was that it was too big. And while the size of government is unusually intricate, its size is irrelevant to governing. It is, however, critical to providing services and to stabilizing the economy. Furthermore, the denigration of government by conservatives was a major impediment to attracting smart, well-intentioned people to the service. 

The term “village idiot” had little or no weight prior to the 1990s. Today it is the most appropriate terminology to describe our Congress.

Government — town, city, county, state, and federal — is the largest employer in the country. Everyone public, from cops to beach cleaners, are government employees. Governments set the standards for wages, benefits, and pensions. They set the standard for the best and safest use of wealth by injecting huge sums of money into the economy that is used domestically and completely. 

All consumption and savings provide a stimulus to the economy. It is the counterbalance to the inequality of wealth that is typical of a capital-based economy, and evens out the cyclical upheavals that are endemic to a risk-based system. It also fills the employment gap when corporations fire vast numbers of workers or ship production out of the country.

So we never have a real conversation about government, because it doesn’t fit the program. Politicians may be racist and incompetent, but that isn’t an indictment of government. Incompetence is pervasive because we now get the best of the worst. Without government controls and spending we would have a violent economy at war with itself over the spoils of production — a system of extremes consisting of rich and poor and almost no middle.

Obama was ridiculed for working as a community organizer, from a poor family, who provided service to the community. Trump is praised for being a huckster, born with a golden spoon in his mouth, a prissy little daddy’s boy who failed more than half of the businesses he opened. The failure of government is the failure of competent public servants. When we hold rich, racist, misogynist scammers in higher esteem than hard-working, smart public servants, we get Trump. In the end we get screwed — or do we screw ourselves? In the world of stupid, does it really matter?


Bigger and Better


September 10, 2017

Dear David,

Last week, as one of the candidates for town trustee, I had the most exciting tour of the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery, with Barley Dunne leading the expedition to view the entire process. Hours were spent observing the scallops and baby clams being seeded, sorted, bagged, and placed in cages in our waters so they could grow into adult shellfish. An adult oyster is capable of filtering 20 to 50 gallons of water per day. The hope is to establish up to 179 million locally grown and harvested shellfish seeded over the next two years.

Most exciting was the news, at last week’s town board meeting, that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is providing the town with a $400,000 grant to encourage the expansion of our public hatchery and operation, because of its importance to our water quality. This state grant will enhance the vital research on water health and quality at a time when it is most needed. In addition, the D.E.C. will establish a “One-Stop Shop” to expedite permitting for shellfish cultivation for both restoration and commercial efforts. The New York Power Authority is also working with hatcheries to evaluate the potential of powering the shellfish hatcheries with renewable solar energy installations.

What a fabulous operation Barley Dunne runs — and now it seems it will get even bigger and better, and directly contribute to the health of East Hampton’s waters.


Democratic Candidate

East Hampton Town Trustee

The State Constitution


September 8, 2017

Dear Editor:

This November, New Yorkers will vote to decide whether to hold a convention to amend the New York State Constitution. Most voters know little about the state constitution and whether amendments are needed. For that reason, the East Hampton Democratic Committee has organized a free forum on Sept. 19, Tuesday, at St Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett (across from the I.G.A.) beginning at 6:45 p.m., to provide voters an opportunity to learn what’s at stake and the pros and cons of a yes or no vote.

Randi Weingarten, a longtime teachers’ union leader and currently president of the American Federation of Teachers, will speak, and will urge a No vote. Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union of New York City, will explain why he is supporting a Yes vote.

Union leaders, for the most part, are opposed to holding a convention, fearing that valuable pension and other rights of workers could be lost in the wheeling and dealing that might accompany it. A number of good-government groups, on the other hand, frustrated with years of inaction by the State Legislature on issues including government ethics reform, expansion of voting rights, nonpartisan redistricting, campaign finance reform, and protecting a woman’s right to choose, are willing to take the risks that a convention could upend rights currently protected by New York’s Constitution.

Now more than ever, New Yorkers are reliant on our state and local governments to protect our personal and political rights. The forum on Tuesday at St. Michael’s will provide an excellent opportunity for East Enders to get a handle on the issues involved and get their questions answered. 

I encourage my friends and neighbors in East Hampton and all over the South Fork to take part.


Tell Your Friends


September 7, 2017

Dear David

Harvey’s rain and Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane in history, are not one-time events. The denial from the fossil fuel lobby was blaring from the usual outlets before the rain stopped falling: “We always had hurricanes, and we can’t attribute any one storm to climate change.” Hurricanes draw their power from the temperature of the water. By refusing to curtail the burning of fossil fuels, we have, in effect, put a 400-cubic-inch engine in a Volkswagen Beetle. This is the new normal — except that we are now seeing the effect of one degree Centigrade of warming, and projections during the life of children living today go to four degrees, so it will get much, much worse if we continue with business as usual.

East Hampton and the State of New York have recognized this danger with plans to cut fossil fuel emissions. But the federal government is in the grip of fossil fuel interests, and is dismantling all federal efforts to address the problem. Those of us living on an island near the Gulf Stream (call that Hurricane Highway as the water continues to warm) have only one pressure point to affect federal policy: our Congressman, Lee Zeldin. Zeldin understands the situation. But he will only risk his party’s wrath, and the loss of fossil fuel campaign funds, if he fears the wrath of his constituents more.

“Fee and Dividend” is a proposal that both conservatives and liberals have endorsed, which will add jobs, increase the G.N.P., and drastically reduce carbon emissions. The propaganda that addressing climate will ruin the economy is a lie. 

Spend five minutes. Google Lee Zeldin. You’ll get a website that has a form for sending him an email. Tell him you love your children more than you love your S.U.V. Tell him to propose Fee and Dividend this year. Tell your friends, and ask them to do the same. We call ourselves a democracy, but that only works if we participate.


Every Member But One


September 8, 2017

Dear Editor,

Last Friday, when members of the House voted on the bill to approve $15 billion in federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, every member from New York State, from both parties, voted in favor. Every member but one: Representative Lee Zeldin. 

It’s no surprise that every other representative from our state backed this bipartisan compromise to help our fellow Americans. Memories of the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy remain vivid here. That’s why 26 Republican and Democratic members of Congress from our state came together, crossing party lines, and voted to support the families suffering in Houston. But not Lee Zeldin. He voted no.

Folks in Texas won’t soon forget that vote, and we here in Zeldin’s district shouldn’t either. His vote was a rejection not only of the people of Texas, but also of us, his constituents — of what we believe and who we are. People on the East End are generous and big-hearted. We come together in times of crisis, and we support our neighbors in times of need. 

Somehow, though, we’ve ended up with a congressional representative who thinks very differently than we do.