Letters to the Editor: 12.06.18

Our readers' comments

Under Siege

Tenants Harbor, Me.
 November 27, 2018

Dear David,

Yesterday I read The Star as I was enjoying lunch at a nearby Rockland, Me., restaurant. I found two of the articles particularly poignant; unfortunately both were further evidence of the slow unraveling of the fabric that binds Montauk together. Just as the sea inevitably gnaws away at the shoreline, the dissolution of Montauk’s core community as old-timers pass away, others relocate, and the young flee is a seemingly unstoppable wave.   One wonders who will be left to man the volunteer Fire Department and numerous other services. There is no way low to moderate-income workers can possibly live anywhere east of the Shinnecock Canal. The Montauk Post Office is already experiencing severe staffing shortages. We would always say that when the “dinosaurs,” as we called ourselves, retired there would be no one to fill our spots.

It was very sad to read that Chris Pfund is in the process of closing his bike shop. I’ve known him since he was a child; my mom taught Chris in fifth grade and always considered him to be a genius. When I lived in the lighthouse I found myself constantly peering out the windows looking for people in distress. So many nights I’d see a faint light bobbing along the trails by Turtle Cove. As the light drew closer and brighter, I’d recognize Chris out alone riding his bike, bumping along dodging rocks and gullies as he navigated the rough terrain in the dark. I’d always marvel at his agility and say a silent prayer for his safety.

Marshall and the entire Prado clan are part of Montauk’s bedrock. At the post office we’d joke that he was the unofficial mayor as he seemed to have his finger on the pulse of town. He knew everything that was going on, and he was passionate about the community. I hope and pray that the Prados can hold onto their long-standing business. I admire their ability to change and improvise with the times.

As I was paying the bill, the waitress asked what paper I was reading. I told her it was The East Hampton Star from Long Island. She exclaimed that her dad had lived in Sag Harbor before relocating to Maine. We talked about how the area is literally under siege and how life is so different and difficult for the ordinary resident. I offered her my paper for her dad, she was thrilled and said he would enjoy catching up on the news. 

Once you have been a part of eastern Long Island the sand, waves, and extraordinary light seep into your soul, and you will always consider it home no matter how far you roam.

Take care,


Great Loss


November 26, 2018

Dear David, 

Every year I look forward to the members show at Guild Hall, which was the first show of the season and ran through Memorial Day.

It was a great community event that brought together the town and the summer people. To see the artists, which are a mainstay, and a new group was always exciting, and then to follow them through the season. 

I have participated in this event since 2010, but this year, applications are due Feb. 1, and the show will run from March 3 to April 6. I don’t know what show will open the season this year, but I think it is a great loss for the artists and the community that it won’t be the local artists.




November 26, 2018

Dear Editor,

This was recorded on my answer phone:


“I thought you might have died.”

“No. Busy.”

“I hate everything.”


“I like your letters.”

“I may move to Scotland. Raasay, near the Isle of Skye.”

“Midges, potted fish, tinned veg.”

“I have a new friend, Rex. I’m not quite sure of the gender. Need new glasses.”

“How chic.”

“My grandson has discovered gymnastics.”

“Then, hopefully, the law.”

“I’ll ring off. Things to do.”

“Lucky you.”

And so it goes,


A First Step

East Hampton

November 26, 2018

Dear David: 

Congratulations to the town board for moving quickly to acquire the 22,000-square-foot former C.D.C.H. building for about $800,000. We understand that it was on a short sale with a bank and the current tenant, who owns the building on about 10 acres of land leased from the town. 

The town’s lease reportedly has a provision limiting its use to a school for children with special needs, but it is very possible that had the property gone into a bankruptcy court, the judge could have effectively eliminated that restriction as part of a reorganization proceeding, to make the building more desirable for a new user and thus to facilitate a sale.

While the town will probably send out a request for proposals to get ideas for possible uses of the building and land, there are certain to be suggestions for seniors, general recreation, after school, arts, and other much-needed programs that have been on the drawing boards for years. Whether one or more of these — or other uses — finds a home here, this action is a first step in the right direction. We hope that good planning will result in improved services for our residents, but at the cost savings made possible by this purchase.




East Hampton Group for Good Government

Real Boondoggle

East Hampton

December 2, 2018

To the Editor:

Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. What can be said about this abysmal town board member? This week she had the temerity to show up at the senior nutrition center — a rare occurrence usually reserved for holiday photo ops. Not this time. No. Kathee showed up to lace into those of us there and chastise us for being gossipmongers. Let that sink into your thoughts. What kind of a politician does that? Trump may come to mind.

What’s more, Kathee showed up in her grubbiest jeans, excusing her appearance and explaining that she just came from cleaning her office. What? Was this tongue lashing an emergency or a spur of the moment inspiration? One in which she couldn’t show respect for her constituents and come before us dressed as a professional representing our local government?

You could hear a pin drop in the room; nobody knew what she was talking about. Kathee didn’t miss a beat and continued to admonish us. Apparently, she had heard that “seniors” were talking about the town’s latest proposed purchase of the C.D.C.H. building on Stephen Hand’s Path for $800,000; a real boondoggle for the bank holding the defaulting mortgage. The building is in foreclosure, not the land. The land is owned by the town. Let the building foreclose rather than take $800,000 from anywhere in the budget and bail out a bank. Kathee didn’t want any of us talking about the deal. “It has nothing to do with you,” she warned. See any red flags anyone?

Rather than letting the bank sit with a badly deteriorating building, Michael Sendlenski, town attorney, and Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc think it’s a good idea (according to last week’s Star) to buy it so that the bank doesn’t lose money on its bad mortgage. The Town of East Hampton is not in the business of bailing out banks or any private investors; that is not the town’s responsibility or within its charter. Could there be a conflict of interest by a board member skewing their thinking? The bank made a bad investment. Our tax dollars are not available to bail out a bank, regardless of the disposition of their stockholders. This needs far more investigation and clarity so that our tax dollars aren’t irresponsibly and inappropriately wasted.

As the shock of Burke-Gonzalez’s unprecedented admonishment subsided, people asked about the status of the proposed senior nutrition center, which is now six years behind schedule. Burke-Gonzalez brushed that off and had nothing to say. She has better things to do than address the complete and utter failure on her blank ledger of accomplishments over the last six years. She mangled the development of a new senior center due to her ignorance and arrogance. She wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on an engineering firm that had no experience in designing buildings for older adults, and now she wants the whole thing to go away. One of many of her irresponsible reactions.

Kathee needs a win. She is moving on to issues related to children. Her political coach, who meets with her regularly at Starbucks, must be advising her that she has to have some positive arrow in her quiver as her bid for re-election is coming up once again. Last time the party pulled her into office so that they would have a majority on the board. This time she has to have done something, anything positive, to eke out a win. Kids are everyone’s soft spot; not people age 50-plus holding an AARP card firmly in hand. Forget them! Only it’s not “them.” Everyone on the board is technically a senior citizen with the exception of David Lys, our breath of fresh air in politics and the community at large.

Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. What does she bring to the town and its taxpayers? Absolutely nothing but millions of dollars in consultants’ fees, one failure after another, and an annual salary and rich benefits that are completely unwarranted. Wasting money on a building in foreclosure is just one more of her debacles. The building will be free soon enough, as it is useless without the land beneath it. 


Gifts for Needy Library


December 2, 2018 

Dear David :

For the last few days, I’ve been trying to write an inspirational letter about the Springs Historical Society and community library. I was elected president of both organizations on Oct. 24.

Because we have been living with extreme global and national anxiety, I wanted to point out that libraries are mental sanctuaries. In them, you can find arguments to challenge or to reinforce the opinions of colleagues as well as those of adversaries. Most of all, you can choose to escape turmoil by traveling between the covers of a good novel.

But I’ve had trouble writing because we, ourselves, are in trouble.  Many readers of The East Hampton Star and The Independent are aware of this because these media covered the destruction of 6,000 books from our library because of structural dangers to our building on Parsons Place.

A community meeting to save the library was held at the end of October. Turnout was great; more than 100 people showed up, and a new slate of officers and directors was elected. Many of these positions had not changed in a decade!

But our structural and financial problems remain largely unchanged.  I wrote to Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez  about the needs that have been long overlooked and neglected. She is our official representative to the town board as our hamlet representative from the Springs Citizen Advisory Committee.

Thankfully, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez responded quickly. We met within days at the  library for a “see for yourself tour.” In case you didn’t know, the Town of East Hampton has responsibility for maintaining the building and its utilities. This is part of an agreement reached in November 1980 between the town and Springs Historical Society.

It reads: “(4) The town is to maintain the building and grounds, including utilities” and (6) “The town will provide for the services of both an interior maintenance custodian and exterior groundskeeper, and will make all necessary repairs and renovations so that books, exhibitions, and rooms may be properly displayed.”

Here is a snapshot of what I wrote to her on Nov. 30, 2018:

“... our physical plant—which the Town of East Hampton is responsible for maintaining—is in great disrepair. Distressingly, some of these conditions relate to safety and sanitary conditions and need to be addressed immediately.”

Among them: 

1) The single toilet in the facility (used by both children and seniors) too often does not flush and needs a physical plunger to clear.

2) There is no hot water in the bathroom, which discourages children from washing after using the facility—especially in cold weather.

3) There are no safety bars around the toilet to prevent seniors (especially who are unsteady) from falling.

4) The windows throughout the building are painted shut so that fresh air cannot circulate.

5) The glass in several windows is broken and boarded up—decreasing visibility to both those inside and outside, especially in the case of emergency.

6) The locks to the doors are dysfunctional, they stick, don’t work, or lack proper keys.

7) The drop box for books is in disrepair (leaks, etc.) and thus prevents timely return of materials and undamaged postal deliveries.

8) Grab bars in the front and rear entrances are needed.

9) The kitchen sink is old and rather unsanitary as it is difficult to clean beyond the surface—with limited access to the drains, etc.

10) There are bundles of wires in the first-floor office that the fire marshal warned us (Nov. 30) are unsafe and potentially dangerous.

In the near term:

A. The property needs an engineering survey and evaluation for significant repairs so that work can be done in early spring when demand-usage increases substantially.

B. A determination about the safety and use of the second floor needs to proceed.

C. A plan of action needs to be adopted to provide an extension to the building (i.e., a fixed large shed or a new room with breezeway, plumbing, and heating) for books, historical photographs,  documents, and discussion groups.

Kathee got the message and promised a follow-up meeting with town government this month.

As the holidays approach with seasonal speed, we are welcoming new volunteers and suggestions. Donations, pledges, or committee work are needed and very welcome.  If you’re making a final list (and checking it twice) please consider us. Some of you have already done so with generosity and great good will.

Your contributions of Christmas gifts (e.g., books, children’s games, DVDs) and/or Hanukkah gelt (real money although chocolate coins are also welcome). When your thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions (e.g., spending more time at the gym and less in the kitchen), please put us on your list to volunteer or to donate what you can. Write or call us if you want further details.

So, if today’s headlines remind you of violent street protests in 1968, or when Richard Nixon resigned in August of 1974, or when William Jefferson Clinton was impeached 20 years ago (Dec. 19, 1968), or other seething times, help keep Grinches away from here. Bring good cheer into your community by helping the Springs Historical Society and community library. You’ll feel good when you do.

Happy Holidays & Best Wishes,



Springs Historical Society and Library  

Renewable Resources

East Hampton

December 3, 2018

Dear David,

Raising climate change awareness, even in this coastal community, is a demanding task.  A commitment to climate change is essential as this community’s leadership continues making decisions with a focus on catastrophic impacts from a warming earth and challenged atmosphere. We understand the ocean is warming, we know sea levels are rising, eroding our coastlines, and we are witnessing an increased frequency of violent weather events causing new levels of environmental degradation and costly community construction. A commitment to climate change was evident when the town board responded, in 2013, with its initial “Call to Action.” 

As a member of the New York State Climate Smart community initiative, the town board, in 2013, appointed an advisory committee, the energy sustainability committee. In 2013, the committee advised the town board to significantly increase the use of renewable energy technologies by formulating goals and policies eliminating fossil fuels. In 2014, the town board voted to unanimously meet 100 percent of the community’s energy needs with clean renewable resources, the “100 Percent Goal.” If the East Hampton community is going to reach this clean energy goal, a commitment to climate change is essential.

In support, the energy sustainability committee developed a clean energy portfolio of opportunities and clean energy, economically feasible technologies available to East End homeowners and commercial businesses. In 2018, the committee launched its clean energy portfolio website: EnergizeEH.org. 

Clean energy technologies, including the introduction of offshore wind with the South Fork Wind Farm proposed project, continue to grow on the East Coast. Striving for the town’s 100 percent goal requires a more visible and productive working partnership among the town board, the trustees, and the local community. There is no middle-ground option to this demanding task. The urgency to act on behalf of the future is now.



Energy Sustainability Committee

Climate Change

East Hampton

December 2, 2018

To the Editor:

A “terror-inducing picture” is how your Nov. 29 editorial characterizes conclusions of the latest National Climate Assessment Report. That is fair enough; the report is intended to induce panic.

The strategy of the “climate catastrophe” movement is to make dissent from a complex, ever-shifting, computer-generated scientific hypothesis so politically incorrect as to be dismissed (by economist Paul Krugman) as “depraved” (because some dissenters are supported by the petroleum industry, whereas climate scientists are financed by governments).

They stop at nothing. They have cheapened the term “denier,” one outrageously ignorant or ill-motivated enough to question the Nazi Holocaust, to stigmatize all who dare to question detailed weather predictions for the next 82 years.

I say 82 years, of course, because the National Climate Assessment Report projects in detail — for dozens of climate impacts, economic activities, states, and types of communities — the effects of different degrees of world temperature change through the year 2100.

By the way, one headline statistic is that in the worst scenario (one deemed extremely improbable by the report) climate change could knock 10 percent off United States G.N.P. by 2100. Of course, the report also projects that G.N.P. will have grown 300 percent by then. Well, can’t include everything in a newspaper story, I guess.

I am aware that I have not dealt with the scientific evidence here. Actually, the report does not, either. This is Volume II of Report #4 in the series mandated by Congress in 1989 (signed by the late George H.W. Bush). Don’t be too impressed by 13 government agencies involved; that is mandated.

Volume I was devoted to the case for catastrophic climate change. It concluded that nothing that has happened to climate (as during three much colder or much warmer multimillion-year periods of the current climate Holocene) and nothing now happening, is relevant. Predictions are all about human carbon-dioxide emissions in the next 82 years. Don’t talk about climate predictions unless you talk about some 100 computer-generated “general climate models,” produced, I understand, at about $1 million a pop in government funding, that are run to predict, given emissions, controls, and countless other variables, how everything might turn out by 2100.

These models have failed at predicting near-term changes (changes over terms that now have ended, so that we can verify). That has been very embarrassing for Mr. Gore, who was gullible enough to cite short-term predictions of catastrophe. Actually, why are there 100 models doing much the same thing (think grants, publishing, travel to conferences)?

You are wondering, if you are still with me at all, why the entire community of climate scientists agrees with the global warming hypothesis. They don’t. They do not. That is one ingenious public-relations message of this world industry that allies government-supported scientists with the billion-dollar environmentalist movement led by Greenpeace and green political parties.

Take the infamous statistic that 97 percent of climate scientists agree with global warming. An environmentalist advocacy group makes a study of papers published on climate change. It applies four checkpoints: The atmosphere traps heat (yes, if it didn’t, the earth would be a cold, dead stone), the atmosphere includes carbon dioxide (yes, plants require it to live), human activity generates carbon dioxide (yes, even I agree), and that activity has generated more carbon dioxide since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, increasingly in the last 100 years (yes, even I agree).

And that’s it. So, 97 percent of climate scientists agree with global warming. They do not agree how much, its effects over different periods, or what if anything to do. That is, they agree on nothing relevant to any predictions of climate catastrophe.

To tap into reality, for a moment: A website created by Anthony Watts, “Watts Up with That,” the world’s most visited website on climate, reports daily from scientists on studies, data, reports, and opinions that expose the climate-catastrophe orthodoxy. Keep an eye on it: W.U.W.T.

The thousand-page reports from the United Nations, U.S. government, other governments, universities, and think tanks do not have to deal with that criticism. And they don’t. They are well paid to keep building models, churning out reports, traveling to international conferences to talk with scientists who agree with them, and reiterating the “terror-inducing” tenets of climate catastrophe.

Nevertheless, there are scientists, economists, and others — never, ever with government funding — actively dissenting. To take but one example, the Heartland Institute and various partnering scientific nonprofits sponsor a Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reports periodically as in “Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report on the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

It is easy to be misled by talk about “adaptations” and timely responses. That is not where the climate-catastrophe movement is going. Read, for example, famous environmentalist Bill McKibben in his centerfold article in The New Republic. Read recent U.N. estimates for carbon controls that might require a $43-a-gallon tax on gas.

Environmentalists intend a drastic transformation of the market economy into a governmental-command economy with sweeping powers to eliminate the fossil fuel industry. To devote literally trillions of dollars to a World War II-like, emergency-driven, government program focused on dismantling the industrial economy. To replace a free economy with central planning.

And that always has been the motive of the ideological environmental movement. In pace with huge and costly gains in real environmental areas (especially, air and water quality), environmentalists have escalated demands to replace the market economy with panic-induced controls to regulate the earth’s temperature within a few degrees for a century.

Only a radical ideological/political agenda of that kind (not unrelated to the “neo-Marxism” sweeping U.S. universities) could generate the distinctly dogmatic, dissenter-phobic tenor of the climate-catastrophe partisans. It is, by any standards, a telling tone for a scientific investigation. 


Whistling in the Dark


December 3, 2018

To the Editor:

A recent letter to The East Hampton Star proposed compensation to local fishermen from any “harm” caused by the Deepwater Wind project. This raises the need to define and measure “harm.” If this happens, then it is incumbent on the fishermen to prove their case. In a court of law, an honest inquiry would be required to demonstrate that such harm was entirely due to the actions of Deepwater Wind, and that there were no prior events or conditions contributing to the problems of the fishermen. I think they will have a very hard time proving their case.

Meanwhile, let’s remind ourselves of the years gone by in which the local fishing industry (both commercial and recreational) strenuously objected to government oversight and regulation, insisting that its own observations and experience were sufficient proof of the viability of the fisheries and that the government scientists and regulatory agencies were wrong in imposing restrictions or closing fisheries temporarily. Let’s remind the fishermen that the closing of the striped bass fishery succeeded eminently, allowing it to recover and remain viable today.

Let’s also remind ourselves that the fishermen vigorously disputed the notion of overfishing, claiming that their personal observations indicated no such thing. Fishermen may understand how to fish but they are not scientists and are not qualified to present their observations as anything other than anecdotal evidence, which has no scientific validity. 

The fact is that the oceans are drastically overfished. Ninety percent of bluefin tuna are gone. Cod are on their way out, though still sold in local markets, and ocean warming is proceeding quickly and threatening fish breeding and feeding grounds across the whole planet. As someone who has followed these issues for decades, I do not recall any discussion or action by local fishermen that actually acknowledged the problems or accepted the need for greater regulation. Whistling in the dark and wishful thinking substituted for science and evidence.

As for East End residents who want to virtue-signal that they favor renewable energy, their insistence on proper scientific studies about the impact of a buried power line reeks not of concern for climate change but rather concern for the recreational and aesthetic demands of humans and their “right” to have an unspoiled coastline. This has nothing to do with environmental protection or resource protection. It is simply humans looking out for themselves, without reference to ecosystems or nature.

Once more, let us look back at history, as well as present-day energy use. East End consumers, and consumers in general, don’t seem to have similar concerns about the pollution and congestion and intrusion into daily life caused by private cars. Few local residents have had the courage to oppose the inundation of pristine beaches by recreational vehicles, which is far more destructive since it is ongoing and without restrictions of any kind. All we hear today is complaints and worries about whether energy prices will be higher in the future — which they should be — and substantially. But I detect no voices for full-cost pricing of energy or carbon taxes. The silence is deafening.

Nor have the majority of East End residents expressed any concern for the unceasing construction of monster McMansions which make heavy energy demands and which are substantially responsible for the whole energy crisis which has been unfolding for nearly 50 years. 

All of this adds up to not mere inconsistency but dishonesty and hypocrisy. Instead of pointing out the reluctance of other countries to step up to the plate and do their share in reducing and phasing out fossil fuels, we should be pulling together, facing the inexorable need for proper energy pricing, and translating our concerns into local planning and regulation with an eye to curbing new development while enacting new statutes that will curb energy demand and facilitate rather than obstruct the transition to a zero fossil fuel economy.


Zeldin’s Words


November 29, 3018

Dear David,

While fires raged in California, we had a scary fire right here in Springs. At 2 in the morning the uninhabited house of a neighbor burned to the ground in approximately 30 minutes. A strong northeast wind fanned the flames and sent sparks flying. Heavy rain the day before had left everything wet and probably saved a number of homes in the vicinity. What if drought had left everything dry and combustible, like California? I will admit that I bought five fire extinguishers the next day.

Climate change and the related disasters (fires, hurricanes, flooding) are already upon us. A federal study says climate change will shrink the U.S. economy. We will continue to experience record-breaking rainfall, wildfires, coastal flooding, unless we act now.

In Congress, a group called the Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan committee of 80 members, of which our own Congressman Lee Zeldin is a member. Just days ago five of his committee members: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), Rep. Charlie Christ (D-Fla.), and Rep John Delaney (D-Md.) introduced a carbon fee bill that would return money to consumers. It is called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018 (HR7173.) It is the first bipartisan climate legislation in a decade. 

How does this work? A per-metric-ton fee would be paid by any company if they extract oil, gas, or coal from U.S. lands, and all the revenue would be rebated to U.S. households to give us a monthly “dividend.” For example, at the fuel pump we would see a tax of about 15 cents per gallon (rising by 10 cents every year). Simultaneously families of four people would see a rebate as high as $200 to $400 per month after the program is in place for a few years.

The bill is based on a plan brought to President Trump last year by the former secretaries of state James Baker III and George Shultz. Their group is called Americans for Carbon Dividends and their market-oriented plan has already won endorsements from some environmental groups, like Conservation International, giants like Exxon Mobil, Shell, and BP, and major companies in renewable and nuclear energy and consumer goods.

You can read more about this bill on the website of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby at citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-bill. You can also read an in-depth analysis by Scott Nystrom and Patrick Luckow on “The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power, and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax.” There are multiple advantageous simulated outcomes for employment, gross regional product, cost of living, energy prices, real personal income, and health parameters, especially in our region.

The day after Thanksgiving, the federal government published a 1,600-page document on the dire consequences of climate change, some already upon us. In the Riverhead Local, Lee Zeldin was quoted as saying, “The climate is changing, and this report should serve as a call to action for those on both sides of the aisle to work together to address this issue.” 

For someone with a lifetime environmental score of only 10 percent, as tallied by the League of Conservation Voters, Zeldin’s words are surprising and perhaps encouraging, but they need to be followed by action. This will pit him against a White House that is mounting a full-court press against their own climate report. We need to encourage Representive Zeldin. Call him! Write him a letter or an email!



Long Overdue


November 26, 2018

Dear David,

I am writing to you about the hamlet study recommendation to initiate a master plan for the Springs-Fireplace Road corridor. 

I have long been worried about the frequent air pollution as one drives through on a portion this road. I believe this pollution comes directly from the nearby sand and gravel pit, which the study is focusing on. Ten years is a long time to wait for the anticipated closing of this pit. 

When driving through this area, we often have to close the car windows and vents, particularly in dry or windy weather. Even more important, many people who live and work in that general area are going to have serious lung problems. 

According to the American College of Chest Physicians: “Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores. Over time, exposure to silica particles causes scarring in the lungs, which can harm your ability to breathe. Symptoms of silicosis can appear from a few weeks to many years after exposure to silica dust. Symptoms typically worsen over time.” And the “over time” can be 10 years, or even 30 years.

This is a problem long overdue. We can’t wait 10 years. A master plan for the entire corridor may be needed; however, this pollution is a serious issue that needs immediate attention. 

Sincerely yours,


Mini Tammany Hall

East Hampton

December 3, 2018

Dear David:

A couple of weeks ago, one of the other local newspapers described me as a “renegade Democrat.” I was both flattered and amused. 

When I first registered to vote at the age of 18, I registered as a Democrat. Although my parents were Democrats, they didn’t instruct me how to register or vote. It would not have occurred to them to do so. 

My political coming of age began roughly at the age of 10, when I started reading The New York Times cover to cover every day along with I.F. Stone’s Weekly, a left-wing political newsletter that a few old-timers might know of. My political awakening spanned the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, the Johnson landslide, the Vietnam War, the election of Richard Nixon, and the Vietnam War protest movement, in which I participated, all while I was still not old enough to vote. My friends and I, facing the draft and Vietnam, were nothing if not politically aware.

In 1964, at the age of 12 and inspired by the Civil Rights Act, I went around my neighborhood campaigning for Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society. I didn’t tell my parents or ask their permission. It never even crossed my mind that I should. They learned about it from the neighbors.

However, I did grow up in a household where I was regaled from an early age by stories, repeated endlessly, of the heroic acts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia on behalf of democracy and freedom. La Guardia was a reform Republican and City Fusion party candidate, endorsed by the American Labor Party, itself a fusion of Socialists and New Deal Democrats. He ran against the cronyism, bossism, and corruption of Tammany Hall, as the city Democratic Party machine was then known. 

Campaigning for re-election the first time, LaGuardia said, “My re-election as mayor would mean just this: The patronage of the city shall not be used by or for any party.” It is worth recalling those words as the five-years-old Democratic majority of Van Scoyoc, Overby, and Burke-Gonzalez is still trying to figure out how to give away town-owned real estate, a town road, to a client of the Democratic Party boss, Chris Kelley’s, law firm.

In my public life in East Hampton, my financial contributions to Democratic Party campaigns over the last 20 years make me by far its largest single contributor. As both chairman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee from the start of 2002 until near the end of 2004 and a member of its campaign committee in every election from 2003 through 2015, I wrote most of its campaign literature in each of those campaigns.

Now Cate Rogers, the Democratic chairwoman, who wasn’t in the room during those campaign committee meetings (although she reminded me recently that she did make get-out-the-vote phone calls from my kitchen), wrote to The Star a couple of months ago that this was a lie by me (yes, she used the L-word), that I had done no such thing. But it is all still on my computer, the drafts of all the literature and the correspondence about it. Those who actually were there know full well. It seems that Rogers doesn’t need to know anything at all of her own knowledge in order to decide what is true and what is not. In the age of Trump, she doesn’t need to.

Although I am a lifelong Democrat and prolific party donor and campaign worker, I don’t believe the Democratic Party is an end in itself to which anyone should owe blind loyalty. I am a Democrat as a means of achieving good government, honest government, just and equitable government that we can all be proud of. If the Democratic Party is not working to that end, it has no value. 

Therefore, when the Democratic majority on the town board gives the finger to Montauk fishermen by refusing to negotiate to protect them from harm caused by the Deepwater Wind project, I object. When they repeatedly violate the Open Meetings Law and State Environmental Quality Review Act, I object. When they leave the residents of Springs for years without necessary emergency services communications because party boss Kelley’s brother brought a lawsuit, I object. 

When they do virtually nothing as water quality continues its decline at a quickening pace, I object. When they put “temporary,” sand-filled geo-bags on the beach in Montauk with no plan as to how to remove them, as required to comply with the Coastal Assessment Resiliency Plan, I object. When they build affordable housing at a pace that will take 200 years or more to meet the goal in the town’s comprehensive plan, allowing a local community generations old to slip away, I object. 

When, in the face of repeated warnings that their aviation lawyer is notorious for working for the other side they retain him anyway and then suffer a disastrous loss in federal court, forfeiting the opportunity to control airport noise, I object. When they rig voting in the Democratic committee, appointing crony loyalists to seats that aren’t even vacant, and then try to give away town-owned real estate to a client of Chris Kelley’s law firm, I am appalled. 

What we have is a town board majority of “renegade Democrats.” They operate under what has become a one-party system, a mini-Tammany Hall, in which a tiny handful of people select the party’s candidates and then use the party’s own machinery to prevent primary challenges, making a sham out of our democracy. Sheltered from the voters by this system, the town board majority has evidently forgotten what the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for. 

As for me, I am the same New Deal and Great Society Democrat I have been since I was a kid, still trying to realize the promise of the Democratic Party in a changing world. 



An Asset

East Hampton

December 3, 2018

Dear David,

I would like thank your reporter and journalist Christopher Walsh for his article in last week’s edition of The Star regarding the trustees meeting and discussion about balloon pollution and the Accabonac Harbor mosquito larval water sampling program for next summer. 

Public outreach and community awareness is essential to accomplishing our goals. Mr. Walsh’s weekly reporting is greatly appreciated. I would like to add that he is a tireless reporter and ubiquitous. He’s an asset to The East Hampton Star! 



George Soros


December 3, 2018

Dear David,

A phone call from Leslie Millwee was made to Dianne Feinstein about how happy she was there would now be justice for the woman that was beaten, groped, and raped by Bill Clinton.

To her surprise Ms. Feinstein, Schumer, Booker, Blumenthal, and Sherrod never returned her call. They were only interested in denying President Trump his pick for justice on the Supreme Court. So much for helping the battered women out there. These attacks on this woman occurred in 1980.

Let’s move on to the invasion (that doesn’t exist). The liberal press is on board for open boarders, let everyone in, this purpose is for votes. Anna Paulina, director of Hispanic engagement at turning point U.S.A. has investigated this invasion. Emma Lozano, a Chicago-based company, is very much behind this movement. Started two years ago with receiving $2.5 million from none other than George Soros.

This movement has been very carefully organized and no one really knows how much more big money has come in from Soros in the last two years. Women are being paid up front to bring children with them. Funny, a picture of a oversized lady headline starving women makes a phone call imagine with her iPhone. How stupid does anyone think the true Americans are?

My main question if you hate America and Trump so much why don’t you get out, just leave?

In God and country,


The Deniers

East Hampton

December 2, 2018


Understanding our immigration situation with Central America might best be explained by Nicaragua. Inhabited for more than 5,000 years by indigenous Native Americans it is a slightly older culture than ours. In 1821, it declared its independence from Spain, 45 years after us. From 1909 until 1933 the U.S. occupied the country. In 1927 we installed a brutal dictator called Samosa, and he and his family ran the country for 52 years. We weren’t concerned about communists in 1909 or 1927, we were just imperialist pigs doing what they do because they can.

When the Sandinista leftist rebels took over the country around 1980 we supported a right-wing group called the Contras. Reagan/Bush, with the help of Poindexter and North and a few other patriotic criminals, funneled arms and money to the Contras despite a specific congressional prohibition. They all lied about it until they were forced to admit the truth. Arms, drugs, Iran supporting fascism, and breaking the laws of the land.

The scandal shook the country but somehow the fact that tens of thousands of people were killed by the Contras was never an issue. One need not be a rocket scientist to understand that no one gave a rat’s ass about the Nicaraguan people and to this day still don’t. (Bush eventually pardoned all of the criminals.)

Context is sometimes everything. If you have always treated your neighbors like crap except when you wanted them to mow the lawn, what do you do with them when the grass dies? Are we filled up, sated with our need for cheap, abuse-able labor? Do they serve a valuable political purpose as red meat to the hungry and the oppressed? (Hatred is way cheaper than food?) Do we need them to fulfill our particular brand of Christianity that needs to destroy people so that they can be saved?

Genocide is something that is perpetrated by others. Yet in Central America, we are not only the funders and the designers, we are the perpetrators. And, of course, the excusers, rationalizers, and most of all the deniers. (See again Bush pardons.) Everything that happens today has its origins in the past.

If your consciousness began 10 or 20 years ago you may see our immigration issue in a short-term context. Ignorance and stupidity are not good excuses for bad behavior. We have only a political rationale for our behavior. Morally, economically, humanely, it’s bankrupt. Trump is really the culmination of our bad behavior as a nation.

The obvious solution is not to develop an immigration policy because the congress is intellectually deficient. Not to convince Americans to open their hearts and souls because it would take too long to find them. But to take some of the trillions of dollars that we waste on defense and give away to corporate America and invest it in Central America. Turn the region into an economic dynamo that can replace China as the source for less expensive labor and become a major market for our products.

Don’t need rocket scientists or good Christians, just some good old capitalist greed.



Eight Days


December 3, 2018

Dear Editor

Every year for every major Jewish holiday my dear friend Rabbi Grossbaum of the Chabad of Stony Brook surprises me with a gift to commemorate the Jewish observance. This year was with no exception with candles for a Hanukkah menorah, which I now have and proudly display. More importantly, naturally I had to read up and learn as much as I could on the story and tradition of Hanukkah. 

The story is nothing short of biblical strength and determination of the Jewish people to rise against oppression to seek freedom and liberty. During the second century B.C.E., what is the modern day the Seleucids ruled Israel and the Holy Land. The Seleucids were Syrian-Greeks that imposed on the people of Israel that they accept Greek culture and worship of the Greek gods. Against overwhelming odds, a small band of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated what was at that time one of the mightiest armies on earth driving the Selecuids from the holy land and reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

As was custom to commemorate the Holy Temple and Torah they sought to light the Temple’s menorah. Much to their dismay, they found only a single cup of olive oil that had not been contaminated by the Seleucids. With faith in God, they lit the menorah with the one-day supply of oil. Miraculously the oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under religious ritual conditions. from that point on the sages at the Holy Temple instituted the commemoration of Hanukkah celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, and foods.

For us, there again are lessons to be learned from our Jewish family.

We should never be afraid to stand up for what’s right. Judah Maccabee and his followers faced overwhelming odds yet with their belief in God and faith in their hearts they won.

In the symbolism of the Hanukkah candles, we find that even in times of darkness a little light will go a long way to serve as a beacon for righteousness. No matter how dark it is outside (how dire the situation may look), the lit candles of faith and belief in God’s goodness can transform the darkness itself into the light.

We owe much to our Jewish family as a nation and a people united as in this great country of ours. We must remain strong to be the beacon of light for the less fortunate, downtrodden, and those unable to defend themselves against those that would oppress and the voices of intolerance. The story of Hanukkah I believe teaches us just that.

Blessings during this Hanukkah.