Letters to the Editor: 03.01.18

Our readers' comments

Creating Hope


February 26, 2018 

Dear David, 

I read with great interest the article titled “Family Copes With a Rare Disease,” in the Feb. 22 edition of The East Hampton Star. Five-year-old Rowland, whose family lives in Water Mill, is diagnosed with a rare pediatric disease known as ADNP Syndrome. Presently there are 59 cases of this disease in the United States and 146 cases worldwide. Clearly, this disease falls within the category known as a rare pediatric disease (less than 200,000 afflicted children in the United States). 

In 2007 I became familiar with the concept of rare pediatric diseases when my 4-year-old grandson, Max, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I soon thereafter retired from the practice of law and formed the Max Cure Foundation to help children with cancer and their families. As a former trial lawyer who tried cases for over 40 years, I was quickly approached by the pediatric cancer community to advocate for the cause, which included advocating for all children with rare diseases, not only for children with cancer. Unlike the incredibly rare disease afflicting Rowland, there are almost 16,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year, with over 45,000 in active treatment at any one time (and hence, considered a rare children’s disease). In 2011 I was approached to seek to have Congress pass what has become known as the Creating Hope Act (C.H.A.). The sponsor of the C.H.A., Congressman Michael McCaul, invited Max at age 8 to speak on Capitol Hill, in support of passing C.H.A., to over 500 legislators, industry representatives, representatives from organizations whose mission was to advance the cause of rare children’s diseases, scientists, and others in support of C.H.A. 

Max was a champion that day (in September 2011) as he spoke to the group, telling them of his experience fighting cancer since age 4 (Max is now 14 years old, a 10-year pediatric cancer survivor). He was the only speaker that day to receive a standing ovation. President Obama signed C.H.A. into law in July 2012 and because of its success, it was reauthorized by Congress and the president in 2016. Max Cure Foundation was credited by Congressman McCaul as having a lead role in getting that act passed and signed into law.

The issue sought to be addressed by C.H.A. is to encourage pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms to invest in research for drugs that would benefit children with rare diseases. Until the passage of C.H.A. there was no economic incentive for such companies to expend the resources to develop drugs for such a limited market. Indeed, until I read of ADNP Syndrome in your paper, I had never heard of a childhood disease that afflicted such a limited number of children. Given the limited market for any drug developed to address ADNP Syndrome, I question the motivation of the drug companies to seek to find drugs that would attack the disease. That is, unless the drug companies are aware of C.H.A. and are seeking to benefit from its terms.

The C.H.A. encourages drug companies to formulate drugs for rare pediatric diseases through the establishment of a priority review voucher through what is known as C.H.A. Pediatric PRV program, 21 U.S.C. 360 ff. If a drug company receives approval from the Federal Drug Administration of a drug to treat a rare childhood disease, it receives a voucher that permits faster F.D.A. review for any future drug (that can result in hundreds of millions of dollars in added revenue to the drug company). The voucher is transferable. The last drug to receive F.D.A. approval under this program was developed by a relatively small biotech company for a childhood cancer known as neuroblastoma. The biotech firm sold the voucher for $350 million. In total, since passage of C.H.A. in 2012, almost $1 billion in vouchers has been sold. Those doing research into ADNP ought to know about C.H.A. If anyone seeking funding to advance research for ADNP Syndrome reads this letter and wants to learn more, they can contact me through The East Hampton Star, which has my contact information. My family, including Max and me, summer in Amagansett. Max, who had Stage 4 cancer, a cancer never before seen by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is a symbol for hope among children diagnosed with rare children’s diseases, including Rowland.


Vice Chairman/Co-Founder 

Max Cure Foundation Inc.


The True Spirit

East Hampton

February 25, 2018

Dear David,

Young Americans are once again standing up to be heard. It is only right. They are the Americans who are targeted by mass murderers hunting them down in their own schools and many places where they gather. They are the Americans who have less economic opportunity now than the kids from the Depression. They have lost the American dream of owning a business. They are the Americans who no longer afford colleges or housing. They are the Americans whose freedoms are determined by the perpetual attack on the Constitution. They are the Americans who will be saddled with the debt of the tax cuts to the richest. They are the Americans who fight in our wars. 

A message to the youth of America: You go and make the difference. You are the catalysts of change. Your voices and your vote will shape your future and the future of America. I stand with you as so many of your fellow Americans do. You are the true spirit of America. 



Real World Horror


February 26, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Arming teachers and giving them a financial incentive to carry concealed weapons, “hardening” schools, and abolishing their status as gun-free zones, encouraging and rewarding gun “adept” teachers to pack heat in their daily duties, and placing “resource officers” in every school, whatever the ratio to student population, are just the latest iterations of the ongoing effort to ensure ever greater gun sales championed by the gun lobby, the Republican Congress, and our N.R.A. paid-for Trump pet, Representative Zeldin. Why don’t we arm the children instead? It’s their lives at stake. Sadly, some people, even our president, might take that suggestion seriously.

Fighting fire with fire works in forestry, but it’s a deadly solution applied to gun violence. Mental health treatment is part of the issue, but the crazies like LaPierre, whose equation between unfettered access to firearms or becoming a Communist totalitarian state would be laughable were it not so roundly applauded by his congressional cronies. The Second Amendment is, and should be, inviolate, but it never anticipated this world. Seriously, is this the America we want?

Trained police officers, if they are available, fearless, and self-sacrificing, unlike those three from at least two law enforcement agencies in Parkland who waited outside during the massacre, hit their intended targets in combat situations under one in six times, roughly 13 percent of the time. These are highly trained individuals, who qualify at least annually on their weapons. 

The offhand, incredibly effective shootings we watch in the media are a fantasy as any shooter knows. Recall the 2012 shootings in New York City, when two threatened veteran police officers fired 16 shots, killing one armed murderer pointing his weapon at them when called upon to stop. Nine bystanders were also wounded. I believe that shooting absolutely justified, but nonetheless a real world horror. Ironically, that mentally unstable perpetrator’s gun was also legally purchased in Florida, though illegal to carry in New York.

Would an armed teacher, even ex-service member, highly trained “adept” be a better shot in a crowded hallway filled with children when confronted with an armed invader firing a military style weapon? Further, would the prospect of getting shot deter a person crazy enough to want to shoot up a school, or a theater, or a church, or a congressional baseball practice? It is highly doubtful, as has been shown repeatedly.

As much as the gun lobby would like us to believe that “guns don’t kill people: people do,” or that sensible regulation is transgressing our constitutional rights and the road to tyranny, common sense tells us otherwise. It is insane to continue the easy availability of semiautomatic rifles, large magazines, gizmos like bump stocks, and unlimited amounts of ammunition, etc., even to the mentally disabled throughout our nation. 

It’s time we realized that and voted out of office anyone on the N.R.A.’s payroll, anyone like our current congressman, Lee Zeldin, and the majority of his Republican cronies. For the record, I am a gun owner.



The G.O.P. Umbrella


February 19, 2018

Dear David:

Fourteen more schoolkids, and three adults, gave their lives — on Valentine’s Day, no less — because a disturbed kid was able to buy an assault weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and terrorize a high school.

This has to stop. As Councilman Jeff Bragman cautioned during the vigil at Hook Mill on Friday, we’re deluding ourselves if we think such a tragedy couldn’t happen here. Several other speakers there, as have the surviving Parkdale students, begged our legislators to do something. But, who is up to the task?

Certainly, not anyone hiding under the G.O.P. umbrella. The G.O.P. members of Congress are so beholden to the largess of the National Rifle Association that “the time is never right” to talk about guns. Indeed, dozens of Americans were murdered only a few months ago in Las Vegas: What did our G.O.P. legislators do? Nothing.

If you want to keep our schoolkids safe, feel safe when you go to the movies, or a concert, or church, your only hope is with the Democratic Party. Contrary to the rhetoric from the right, the vision of the Democratic Party on guns reflects a simple principle: Our gun laws should guarantee the freedom of all law-abiding Americans. It stands with the views of the majority of Americans who believe that law-abiding Americans have the right to own guns to hunt or protect their families. It also stands with the majority of Americans who believe that those with a history of violence or mental illness, terrorists, or felons do not have an unrestricted right to bear arms, and especially arms that threaten the safety of the rest of us.  

The Democratic Party supports the right to bear arms, but not the right to own weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing another person — like the assault weapons used in the Parkdale, Las Vegas, and San Bernardino massacres.

What about the N.R.A.? In its website narrative, the N.R.A. clings to the sanctity of the Second Amendment, holding it to be the safeguard against a tyrannical government, and as such, it is the “first right among equals, because this is the one we turn to when all else fails.” Hewing to this principle, the N.R.A. has a simple position on gun regulation: There should be none. Otherwise, says the N.R.A., the citizenry would be powerless to prevent a government from tyrannizing its citizens. To the N.R.A., the Second Amendment is necessary to allow all to bear arms so, in case all else fails, those arms can be trained on, and kill, our police, armed forces, and National Guardsmen. Radical, you bet.

But, this is not the vision of today’s America. Our vision knows that the weapons idolized by the N.R.A. (and the G.O.P.) are not preventing tyranny, they are killing our kids and fellow innocent Americans. The N.R.A. and the G.O.P. congressmen it has bought are out of step with this American vision.

By the way, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, enjoys a 93 percent approval rating from the N.R.A.

Let’s reverse that this November.



N.R.A. Funding

East Hampton

February 26, 2018

Dear David, 

The future of our country is in the voices of the young adults who are forging through the political arena of resistance that has for far too long been the source of campaign funding for candidates who align themselves with the organization’s goals: the National Rifle Association of America. 

It is unheard of that a profit-making organization is able to go under the radar as a 501(c)(4). As such, it does not pay any taxes on any of its net income because it is considered a “social welfare organization.” Under this banner, the organization must operate primarily to “further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.” 

The youth of America are doing what our elected officials have long denied them and the American people: the right to live without the fear of death by semiautomatic weapons. The government has a moral obligation to defend our inalienable right to life. Why is it that our young people must fight for this moral and decent right? Where is the leader who will stand up and denounce the N.R.A. by a true show of commitment by not accepting campaign funding. 

I applaud the young adults for galvanizing to march and speak truth to those in power. Their collective voices ring loud and clear throughout the country. Long after those who condemn them, they will live to lead our country. America’s new revolution has begun and those who fight against the insanity of our current gun laws will prevail.  

Politicians like Senator Marco Rubio, who refused to say he would not take N.R.A. funding, instead offered this response: “People buy into my agenda.” What does that mean? He takes funding because that’s what his constituents and the N.R.A. expect of him? He’s bought and paid for by the N.R.A. as so many others in government are. We need to expel those who take N.R.A. funding in the next election. 

People can manipulate and twist the truth, but the facts are clear. Guns kill people. Semiautomatic weapons are made for one reason only: to rapidly kill humans. Hunters don’t use a semiautomatic to hunt. Is this the America we want or deserve for our children? The answer can only be a resounding no if we are to protect our innocent children and adults from massacres in the future. Semiautomatic weapons did not exist when the authors of the Constitution crafted it. 

My deepest gratitude to the young people who are standing up for common-sense gun control. You are the brave, intelligent, and dedicated leaders of today and tomorrow who will truly and honestly make our country great again. You’re not about empty slogans — you are today’s heroes. 

Our deepest condolences to the families who lost their child in every massacre. There is no greater loss than the loss of one’s child. Too many have been lost to gun violence in our schools and on the streets. 

Our job as responsible adults is to do everything we can to protect our children. It’s long overdue. One life lost is too many. 

#NeverAgain. #CommonSenseGunLaws. 




Is No Way


February 25, 2018

Dear David,

If, on my travels, I meet a “guy” carrying an assault weapon, there is no way, even with years of training, that I can tell if he is a “good guy” or a “bad guy.”

If with a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and I am a crack shot, my attractive handgun is no defense against a “bad guy.”



Gun-Related Murder


February 23, 2018

Dear David:

In my mind the real issue is whether the sheer number of guns is a significant factor in increasing gun-related deaths. 

If the number of guns per capita is not the problem, as Republicans and the N.R.A. would have you believe, then why not have everyone bear an arm? Heck, we might as well make it mandatory for everyone to bear arms. Not just teachers, but also nurses and doctors, and bank clerks, and shop owners, and cashiers at the local food market, etc. The insanity of this approach is apparent (to most of us)! The omnipresence of guns leads to accidents and suicides. People are not infallible. They make mistakes, even when they are trained.

A report by German Lopez on vox.com shows that there are 29.7 homicides by firearm per one million people in the United States, way more than in comparable advanced countries, including Australia with 1.4 homicides/one million people (data from 2012). 

Now how does this correlate with the number of guns? A researcher named Josh Tewksbury shows an excellent correlation between guns/100 people and gun-related deaths/100,000 people, among wealthier nations.

If increased numbers of guns per 100 people are correlated with increased gun-related deaths, what would prove causality? There is an existing social experiment: a country that changed its laws and decreased its arsenal of guns. The results are stunning.

In 1996, a 28-year-old man killed 35 tourists in Tasmania with an AR-15 and a second, self-loading military-style rifle. He could fire many shots per second with little recoil. 

Within weeks of that tragedy, elected officials in each of Australia’s six states and two mainland territories, pressed by police chiefs and by the newly elected prime minister, banned semiautomatic and other military-style weapons across the country. The federal government prohibited their import, and lawmakers introduced a generous gun buy-back program. 

Australia is a land of roughneck pioneers and the home of Crocodile Dundee. But there had been too many deadly shooting sprees and Australians were clearly sick of them. 

Australia’s gun-related murder rate fell from 1.6 to less than 1 killing per 100,000 people.  Gun suicides in Australia dropped by some 70 percent. What stopped many of those would-be suicides could have been the lack of access to a gun.


The N.R.A.’s Bidding


February 25, 2018

Dear David:

As the country suffers through another school shooting by someone with an assault rifle, we get the same tired refrain from the N.R.A.-supported G.O.P. leaders: “It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people who kill people.” This simplistic refrain has then, time and again, been coupled with the call for a need to reform the discovery and treatment of mental illness. So, after the Parkland slaughter, with this excuse our leaders turned their backs on efforts to achieve meaningful gun reform. Mr. Trump blamed “sickos” for this catastrophe, and our congressman, Lee Zeldin, laid the blame on “lunatics.”

This blame game deserves a closer look. Exactly what has the G.O.P. Congress done to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill? The answer is: They have done exactly the opposite.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the Obama administration enacted a regulation that would have required the Social Security Administration to submit records of individuals with severe mental disabilities to the F.B.I.’s background check system. This would have flagged attempts by such folks to buy guns and required a more detailed background check. Earlier this year, Congress voted to overturn this rule (Mr. Zeldin supported rejecting it), and Mr. Trump approved the repeal. 

For his part, Mr. Zeldin voted for a bill that would have made it easier for veterans who were deemed “mentally incompetent” by the V.A. to purchase guns. This bill would have reversed the V.A.’s practice of placing such “mentally incompetent” veterans into the background check system. The bill sits idle in the Senate.

Doing the N.R.A.’s bidding, Mr. Zeldin even fought attempts to pass “no fly, no buy” legislation, which would have prevented suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. To guarantee their perceived Second Amendment rights, Mr. Zeldin would have required law enforcement to obtain a court order barring such sales within 72 hours of any attempted purchase by a suspected terrorist. 

This all goes to show that talk is cheap within the G.O.P. It’s time to heed the call of the Parkland kids and “Vote Them Out.”




Parkland, Fla.

Plainview, N.Y.

February 23, 2018


Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Tex., was where young President John F. Kennedy was rushed after being shot dead with a rifle in 1963, and where he died. And now, 55 years later, perhaps Parkland, Fla., will become the “birthplace” of a youth-led movement that will finally put an end to the shooting deaths of presidents and pupils. 


A Brilliant Scam

East Hampton

February 25, 2018


The National Rifle Association was not always what it is today. It was a well-thought-of representative of gun owners providing a wide variety of gun-related information, schooling, and safety measures. Formed after the Civil War to improve marksmanship, its first 100 years were focused on gun safety and proper usage. It supported most common-sense gun legislation like the National Fire Arms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. It existed on the dues it received and some remuneration for the extensive services it performed. It was apolitical until the mid-1970s. (Owning a gun or a rifle had nothing to do with anyone’s political beliefs.)

In 1977, something changed, radically, and it was thrust into the political world as an advocate for Second Amendment rights. It formed a political action division and began taking contributions from gun manufacturers. By 1991, when Wayne LaPierre was elected president, it had become a full-fledged lobbying organization opposing all gun-control legislation and aligned with conservative ideologies that had nothing to do with gun ownership.

While continuing to provide gun-related services to its members, it established itself as the primary protector of the Second Amendment and the biggest proponent and shill for gun ownership. The brilliance of protecting the Second Amendment when it was never under attack coupled with the influx of money from the gun manufacturers established the N.R.A. as one of the major lobbying entities in the country.

With the donations it took from gun manufacturers it was able to fund pro Second Amendment campaigns and to make donations to politicians, almost all Republican, to gain their support. A brilliant scam to create a nonexistent problem. Get contributions to support the fabrication. And hire politicians to certify its existence.

So, in the light of the substantial number of mass killings, endemic only to the United States, our Congress is incapable of taking any serious action because it has the N.R.A. firmly ensconced in its butts. So much so that even taking military grade automatic weapons out of circulation is a no-no.

The basic concept of the Second Amendment has never been the issue. But the extension of the Second Amendment as the right to own all the toys anyone wants is a product of a deranged consumer society that seduces people into buying useless, and in this case dangerous, products. When gun manufacturers create products for conducting war and then push them on the general population they are scamming the American people and endangering the population for profit. That the N.R.A. supports this behavior is an indictment of its principles and its morals. That it also profits from these actions borders on the criminal. (The N.R.A. gets kickbacks for promoting sales.)

Military grade weapons in civil society, in anyone’s hands besides the military, is a genuinely bizarre concept. There is no Second Amendment issue here because these guns like howitzers, mortars, tanks, etc., have no function in normal society. 

So, when we profile the killers and try to solve this problem, the president wants to arm teachers and put a million security guards in our schools: $6 billion to allow men to enjoy their toys that are only good for killing. 

Could we save the $6 billion and make some money by legalizing prostitution? Seems like a natural solution for a Congress that are mostly low-rent hookers.



Don’t Need to Ask

East Hampton

February 26, 2018

Dear David,

I was at a Lee Zeldin mobile meeting. It was broken up into groups, and I went in the gun control group. He wasted no time. Someone asked if he would ban semiautomatic weapons. He came back with a Marco Rubio answer: Define semiautomatic weapons. I’m not big on patience so I interrupted and said, “Don’t be a politician.” I said, would you ban AR-15s — yes or no? He said no. I asked him if he would ban AK-47s — yes or no? He said no.

I was going to ask him if he supports the N.R.A. in order to get re-elected and chance his children being in a school shooting.

Then I realized I don’t need to ask a question that I know the answer to.




Wind-Ed Promises


February 26, 2018

Dear David,

I found it really disheartening to read your editorial last week regarding the trustees, and what I felt was the editors’ misguided assertion that somehow by questioning Deepwater Wind’s South Fork project, they have done anything other than their due diligence of a project that is short on scientific facts and long on wind-ed promises.

Frankly, if the town had done its due diligence in the past administration, maybe it would have uncovered much of what has been shown in meeting after meeting of the trustees and their harbor management committee.

You don’t industrialize the ocean’s fishing grounds through pile driving, hydraulic-jet plowing, sedimentation, scour, and electric and magnetic fields exposure, creating a foreign environment that promises biofouling, invasive species, and displacement of ecosystems, to somehow save the ocean from acidification. You don’t destroy an environment to save it.

Deepwater Wind’s South Fork project is a not-ready-for-prime time project with more questions than answers, that will negatively affect the East End’s fishermen, the ocean’s benthic habitat, its denizens, including marine mammals and waterbirds, and the very ocean itself.

Not to mention what it will do for PSEG ratepayers, while not providing for true energy resiliency or independence for East Hampton. While at best produce less than half (39 percent capacity) the megawatts of what is promised, that once it hits the grid, only 1 to 3 percent will come back to the town: not 100 percent, 1 to 3, at approximately four times the cost with fossil fuel backup required 24/7, zero behind-the-meter demand reduction initiatives, like solar, at-home battery storage, and micro grids.

But those renewable energy credits, once steel hits the water, will be worth millions to Deepwater Wind and its $44 billion hedge-funder parent DE Shaw, as they are sold as derivatives on the stock market by the equity companies funding this, and all the other Deepwater Wind Rhode Island Wind Energy Area projects, as they plan 1,500 megawatts of buildout, which equals 200 to 300 windmills in the area alone. Deepwater Wind’s South Fork Wind Farm is just the appetizer.

While I may disagree with some of the suggestions that the trustees came up with, such as a future maintenance area in Montauk, and the lack of public comment to their counteroffer, at least the trustees have taken the time to take a hard, in-depth look at the project, its promises, and the facts before saying, “C’mon in.” The trustees should be applauded for trying when the town turned its back on the fishing community.

I only wish the previous administration had shown the same concern for our ocean, our fishing communities, and our fishing grounds when the Deepwater Wind salesmen had come calling. If it had, I feel confident we wouldn’t have to have this conversation.



Executive Director

Long Island Commercial 

Fishing Association


Too Yesterday


February 22, 2018

Dear David,

“Sprightly Seniors: What Do They Want?” (Star editorial, Feb. 22), you mean as we step dance to the grave, turning our pacemakers to “Antic Moves?”

As to the proposed hulking, generic daytime droolery on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton, you are correct: too big, too expensive, too yesterday.

East Hampton needs a multigenerational community center: art studios, free space, the food pantry, a restaurant, a pharmacy, movie theater, staff housing. We do not need an 18,000-square-foot barn that, when we die off, can house tractors.

All good things,



We Are Crammed

East Hampton

February 23, 2018

To the Editor,

After reading your editorial about “Sprightly Seniors,” I thought it would be a good time to put in my 2 cents. In June, I will have worked for the Department of Human Services for 30 years. Twenty-five of those years working at the 128 Springs-Fireplace senior center, four of them at the Playhouse in Montauk, and one at Camp Hero. For all of those years I worked directly with senior citizens. Your editorial stated “A better approach is already in evidence farther east, where the town is involved in an exciting addition to the Montauk Playhouse that will include two swimming pools and performance and meeting spaces.”

 In all actuality, the playhouse has been planning a pool since it reopened in 2006. It has now been 12 years and still no pool (let alone two!) or a theater. And unless I am missing something, there is no movement forward in the construction of those spaces. 

That being said, I would like to point out a few things. Although it would be nice to have programs “decentralized” as you put it, the reality of maintenance and staffing makes that idea unrealistic. What makes sense is putting a community center/senior center in a location that is central to most East Hampton residents. That would be as close to Amagansett as possible. That has been my suggestion for many years. 

In your editorial you stated “the replacement is big: maybe too big.” Have you even been to the present senior center? We are crammed for space five days a week. We spend countless hours figuring out who can go where, on what day, setting up and breaking down spaces, and saying no to groups who want to use the building, because we are out of space. That is without the food pantry in residence!

 And in terms of your description of “huge” dining room: I invite your editorial writer to come to the center while we have a full house and help one of the volunteers push the food carts between the chairs and tables to serve the lunch. You will be parking your cart of food and carrying the food to the tables from the periphery of the room. That brings me to the hallways, which do not even allow for a person in a wheelchair to pass another with a cane or walker. In the new plan, this could now happen. 

You pointed out “almost double the parking spaces.” Have you tried to park at the center on party days or bridge days or wellness days? Even though the Calvary Baptist Church has been kind enough to let our staff use their parking lot and walk over to the center to save spaces, people still have to park on the road on those days, creating a dangerous situation for pulling out. 

In your final sentence in your editorial you state, “A little more analysis to make sure a new center is the right answer,” which is a big giveaway that this editorial was written by someone who is not familiar with the present building that is literally falling down around us.

The one problem I do have with the current new building proposal is that they are planning on building it on a slab! No basement! To me, that is not very forward thinking and is penny-wise and pound-foolish. In my opinion, the town and the taxpayers will soon be sorry if they build this without a basement. It does not need to be finished, but it should be there for the future. 

I write this letter as a 30-year Town of East Hampton Human Services employee, 12th-generation Bonacker, soon-to-be senior citizen, taxpayer of East Hampton.



Decentralized Population

Sag Harbor

February 25, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Thank you for your insightful editorial on the plans proposed for the town senior center. The giant, centralized facility appears poorly suited to meet the needs and nature of our community. For a more densely populated area with a more centralized population and activity, the proposal might be better suited. However, our community has a geographically decentralized population that is spread throughout the town.

It seems that other existing services, like the Y.M.C.A., libraries, and Montauk Playhouse, must be integrated into the analysis before committing the taxpayers to such a price tag. Otherwise, we are spending too much money on a plan that will never quite fit.

Yours very truly,



Narrow Focus


February 26, 2018

Dear David,

I would like to continue the conversation you began with your editorial of last week, “Sprightly Seniors: What Do They Want?” 

As an architect and occasional user of the senior center, I fully support the need for a larger building. However, I believe that the vision for the new center is limited by a narrow focus on its current users.

The existing proposal identifies the facility specifically as a building for senior programs that can become “a community meeting place in the evenings and on the weekends.” I would like our town officials to step back and rethink that statement before the concept becomes too entrenched. There is a real opportunity here to make this facility available to all kinds of groups at all hours of the day, while giving priority to the established programs that cater to a subset of our seniors.

It may just be that many senior citizens find this senior center too segregated. I am one of many “sprightly seniors” who would much prefer to go to a community center where we might share activities with younger friends, or even more fun, their children. Social media workshops, bridge clubs, and book clubs, just to name a few, are of interest to all age groups. Why not allow seniors the experience of sharing planned activities with people of all ages?

Change the name and the concept from a “senior center” to a “community center” and a better, clearer design for this building will emerge.

Respectfully submitted,



Lack of Commitment

East Hampton

February 23, 2018

Dear Editor,

As one of the two people who approached former Supervisor Larry Cantwell after the 2010 census, before he was elected to office, with the idea of creating a senior services planning committee, and as one of the three people on that committee who lobbied for the idea of having a hospital in East Hampton, I would like to respond to your last week’s editorial.

The current senior services site is not the one that Howard Lebwith, Mary Ella Moeller, and myself preferred for a new senior center. When we looked at the best modern senior centers in the United States, those that integrate housing, recreational, social, nutritional, and medical facilities with the community, we found much more than five acres was required. Moreover, we found that placing a senior center within walking distance of a central business district —- integrated with the existing community infrastructure —- better met the needs of older adults.

I then went looking for sites. I found three. One of the sites was very large, some 57 acres divided into three parcels, all available to the town for purchase. That site could have been used to vastly expand senior housing, to place a hospital, and to build a new community center with an emphasis on senior services. That approach involved the type of politician that doesn’t exist any longer in East Hampton — forward looking, open to new ideas, and willing to risk political capital to forge a consensus around what is best for the future of our community.

Instead, the three components of senior services —- medical, housing, and community-center services were broken up and the town board looked to shoehorn them into scattered existing town-owned sites.

Having said that, I do not agree with your editorial. As Howard Lebwith has pointed out, we cannot follow the typical East Hampton pattern of the mandalic wheel. At first we get concerned about a community issue, then we decide to do something about it, then we find all the defects in the proposal, and then we do nothing and the problem gets worse.

For example there is now a 5 to 10-year wait for income and asset qualified senior housing in East Hampton and there is no senior housing for those who have lived here for most of their lives and who wish to be able to do so but cannot maintain the homes that they live in. The last census showed over 1,000 homes occupied by seniors living alone.

The existing proposal is to destroy a park and build a two-story building for the Human Services Department of the town at a non-walking distance from any of the business centers in any of the hamlets. This proposal needs to be better focused. Senior needs are different, depending upon medical condition and mobility. Census projections show that East Hampton will have 3,000 people over the age of 80 by the end of the next decade. Statistically some 40 percent of those individuals will suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Senior day care, home health aides, meal preparation, and transportation will have to be coordinated from somewhere. This could be such a facility, but you cannot shoehorn a new community center with extensive senior services for the entire senior community into such a small site as the current town board is trying to do.

At the root of the problem is lack of commitment on the part of the town board to building needed and adequate infrastructure for the needs of this community. They want to knock down the old Town Hall and build more office space for more employees but they really do not want to face the challenge of building more senior housing and building a senior center, like the one in Montauk that all seniors will want to go to.

This will only change when someone comes forward to challenge the status quo in the Democratic primary for town board this spring and champions the infrastructure needs of this community in the election this fall. What Bernie Sanders did on the national level needs to be done right here in East Hampton.




Selected Architect


February 26, 2018

Dear David,

I would like to thank you for your continued efforts to make people aware of the severe overcrowding at the Springs School. 

Over the past few years, the Springs School Board has worked very diligently to come up with a plan for expansion that covers the needs of our students while being mindful of our taxpayers. It was a lengthy process, and a fair one, and I would like to set the record straight regarding something.

There has been a question raised as to the compensation the selected architect, B.B.S., would be receiving. All of the architectural firms that we interviewed, and we interviewed seven, charge a percentage of costs as their fee. Of the three finalists whose work we went to visit in person, B.B.S. charged one of the lowest percentages and was the only firm to offer to do the pre-referendum work at no cost (the pre-referendum work consists of all the drawn plans and meetings that have happened to date). 

We were very impressed by both their design of the school we visited (Hampton Bays) and the execution of work. Those of us on the interview committee felt that they would work best for us but, being mindful of cost, we asked the three finalists if they could do any better on their price. B.B.S. was the one willing to lower their percentage, which is now at 5 percent. They are now our architect for this project due to the quality of their work, the glowing references we received from other school districts, and the fact that they were the least expensive option available to us. Their perentage will be based not on the dollar amount quoted in the bond referendum, which is an estimate, but on the actual cost of the project. The actual cost will not be known until each component of work on the project is put out to bid and the winning bid will go to the most qualified provider who comes in at the lowest cost. The school already has a construction management firm in place to help us review bids and make sure we are getting the best work for the best price.

While this years-long process has not been easy, I have been happy to represent my community at the school and really work for what I believe is in the best interests of both the school and the community at large. Information on the bond is available on the school website and our superintendent, Debra Winter, is happy to meet with anyone who would like a personal response to their questions.



President, Springs School Board


Vote No


February 25, 2018


My general impression of the Springs School bond issue question, up for a vote in March, is that the school board is rushing toward a single, very expensive $22 million solution (plus $1 million in interest) on the $17-million bond and depletion of our $6-million reserve fund, when less expensive alternatives surely exist.

Some of those alternatives were put forward and brushed aside when proposed by a study committee in 2015.

The Springs School facilities committee asked the architectural firm working on the school expansion to review alternative solutions, such as metal frame buildings or prefab buildings, but the architectural firm dismissed these alternatives immediately, saying that costs would be the same as for brick-and-mortar construction. That seems unlikely. A search of the internet showed that modular construction can run 1-to-20 percent less than brick and mortar and is also more energy efficient. 

Surely, prefabricated classrooms could be erected in far less time than the board’s brick-and-mortar plan, which might be completed in 2022-23, an ambitious time period. The greatest need for space is now, not in four or five years, when the enrollment will peak, according to Board of Cooperative Educational Services studies and other projections of future growth in Springs. These studies predict that two out of three new homebuyers in Springs will be second-home buyers, who are unlikely to add to the school population.

Not surprisingly, the firm that swept aside any consideration of the facilities committee’s alternative plan will also build the project and will be paid a percentage of the project’s cost as project managers, so the higher the cost the more it will profit.

Considering that Springs taxpayers will be paying off this bond for 20 years, the board is obligated to consider alternatives. Springs taxes are already an unfair burden, as The Star’s editorial noted last week. I urge you to vote no on the bond issue on March 6 and force the board of education to consider alternatives.



Mega Expansion


February 26, 2018

Dear Editor,

All of us in Springs want a fine public school for the community’s children. That said, as a parent of two grown children and as a former teacher, I can’t support the mega expansion proposed by the Springs School Board. I urge all Springs voters to seriously consider several important factors before voting and ultimately vote no. 

There is no doubt that the Springs School is in need of updating and repair and needs space now. However, this proposed mega expansion will not be complete for three or four years at a minimum. Board of Cooperative Educational Services studies show an expected decline in the Springs School population in the near future. The school’s level of enrollment has already leveled off and next year’s population is expected to be essentially the same as this year’s.

I attended one of the presentations by B.B.S., a firm that astonishingly was hired as both the consultant and architect for the project. How many Springs voters actually took the time to go and listen? B.B.S. representatives showed little understanding or knowledge about our unique East End community. They described and were planning a school comparable to a growing suburban district, which clearly we are not. Springs is almost fully developed with few available lots. There are no large new developments coming. In my neighborhood the few remaining lots have all been built by second-home owners. In fact town statistics show that two out of three new Springs residents are second-home buyers who don’t send children to school. 

There are empty schools all over Long Island and there is a definite trend toward declining numbers of students. Additionally, federal immigration policies have changed, immigration laws are being enforced, and Springs is unlikely to see another surge in population as we experienced in the last decade. Many illegally overcrowded rentals have been shut down as zoning laws are being enforced. Our school population has stabilized and is expected to decline. Many of the new immigrant families that have settled in Springs are here for the long term and as their children age through the elementary school system they will join other empty nesters. 

I believe that poor decisions by the school board over the last decade have brought us to the situation we now find ourselves in. The board built a significant reserve while needed repairs and upgrades were not done. Other options to relieve overcrowding were not seriously pursued, as the board planned for a major expansion. Despite the massive $23-million cost of the proposed school expansion, a net of only three additional classrooms will be added and a substantial area of woods will be cleared for multiple fields and parking areas.

I understand that the parents want the best school possible for their children. But the Springs School is not the Ross School. We don’t have a private endowment. We must manage the public tax dollars reasonably and rationally. A no vote on March 6 will force the board to consider less expensive options.   The Springs School Board needs to concentrate on exploring options that will relieve the temporary overcrowding that exists now and make necessary upgrades and repairs. The Springs School sits in an environmentally sensitive area in close proximity to Pussy’s Pond and Accabonac Harbor. As water quality is vital to our economy and quality of life, is the scale and scope of this project right for this location? Those of us who will vote no would like to see a more rational plan to upgrade and update the school. 

There is obviously a huge conflict of interest in asking the company who will be paid a percentage of the cost of the project to advise the district on what is needed in the expansion. This proposed $23 million school expansion is an over- build at a price tag many Springs residents simply can’t afford. Furthermore, by the time the work is completed the current crowding crisis is likely to have dissipated. The Springs School Board needs to go back to the drawing board.        


A Game Changer


February 22, 2018

To the Editor,

Recently the Springs School Board mailed a pamphlet to encourage Springs residents to vote in support of a proposed expansion project. The pamphlet cited many reasons, some valid and some not so much.

Not included in the pamphlet were available viable alternatives which had the Springs School Board pursued could have alleviated the need for expansion and provided fiscal relief to taxpayers. Detailed below and if sought today each option could be potentially enacted bringing much-needed fiscal relief long before the expansion project is ever completed.

Many in the community are unaware that a school district’s state education aid is impacted and calculated based on the computed median income of the school district residents in a ZIP code field. For example, in the 11937 ZIP code, both the Springs and East Hampton School Districts are evaluated as one. In simple terms, the East Hampton School District benefits by the Springs School District low median income and Springs is adversely impacted by the East Hampton School District, which includes the village and south of the highway higher income. 

Next is New York State Education Law that prevents noncontiguous districts from forming a townwide high school district or utilization of the shuttered Child Development Center of the Hamptons school building.

Both these issues are not insurmountable and can be changed with some hard work and legislative initiative. It is not unheard of for communities to seek carve-outs of ZIP codes. Right here on the East End, Congressman Lee Zeldin is assisting the hamlet of Remsenburg in that very process. State legislation could also alter the way state education funding is calculated. Currently, there is a bill in the New York State Legislature sponsored by Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele to allow the creation of a townwide noncontiguous high school district. 

All of the above are possible and should have been vigorously championed. It will not be easy, will require a lot of hard work by the Springs School Board with the support of the East Hampton Town Board, federal, state, county representatives, and interested community civic leaders. The postal and legislative changes would be a game changer, educationally and financially, for the children and residents of the Springs School District. Unfortunately, the reality is the easy way out has been, and continues to be, proposing an expansion project that few vote on and that frankly the community cannot afford.

Lastly, to control school spending, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently proposed to limit reimbursements to school districts for money they spent on certain programs the previous year, a prospect he says could save state taxpayers millions.

Clearly, in my opinion, and that of many education officials and state lawmakers, this is just another move by the governor to pass more education costs to property taxpayers at the local level.

The governor’s latest proposal would place a 2 percent cap on expense-driven aid, state funds used for busing, construction, and board of cooperative educational services programs from special education to back office. The goal of the initiative is to encourage school districts to control spending and free up state resources for general state aid that is distributed to schools to spend how they want. If approved, the measure would go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.

Contrary to claims made by the governor’s office, there’s no language proposed that guarantees the savings would go to schools. And even if the guarantee were there, it would not mean an increase in aid, but a redistribution, according to the New York State School Boards Association.

If Governor Cuomo’s plan is enacted, the Springs School District may have to shift more costs to local taxpayers for projects. A district in the midst of a project that could be expecting a certain amount of state aid could see that aid reduced. But it still has to pay its bills. As a result, the district’s taxpayers could be forced to pay more through higher property taxes.

In short, if the proposed statewide cap on reimbursement for capital expenses is enacted, then the Springs School District will not be able to predict its aid amount, which will be a disaster for the students and a financial death knell for many in the Springs School District community.

There are viable alternatives, and in consideration of the governor’s pending proposal I would encourage every Springs School District resident to vote no.


Changing Demographics


February 26,2018

Dear David,                  

The landscape of public education in New York is littered with inequities that impact not only the quality of the education that our children receive, but also serve to split communities along economic and demographic fault lines. As manifest and as longstanding as these problems are, we cannot wait for them to be solved while our community struggles with a school in Springs that is in desperate need of upgrade and repair. The children who attend that school and the staff that work there should not be held hostage to the goals of property-tax reform, school consolidation, or immigration reform. A yes vote on the building bond for the Springs School community is a necessity. 

I attended the informational hearing held at Ashawagh Hall on Feb. 8. Thoughtful questions came at the end of the presentation and the responses from school officials as well as school board members were equally thoughtful and responded to the issues raised that evening as well as to questions raised in recent letters to The Star. One of the ideas raised was sending Springs students to the recently closed Child Development Center of the Hamptons building in Wainscott. Unfortunately, this plan fails not only because of the legal blockades, but the logistical ones as well. The cost of busing students and staffing that location according to New York State education requirements make that site a nonstarter. The idea of waiting for legislation that would make that site viable ignores the other impediments to that location. 

Some of those attending the meeting at Ashawagh Hall raised the issue of property taxes and the burden that was placed on the taxpayers of Springs in funding the school. It is true that our system of funding public education in New York rewards children born in or living in property-rich districts and conversely punishes those who do not. Voting down the bond will not alter the way education is funded nor will it draw the attention of the legislators in Albany.

It is difficult to imagine justification for the 950 school districts in New York, each with their own school board and superintendent. So the issue of consolidation was raised at the Ashawagh Hall meeting as well as in recent letters to The Star. This is not a new idea and does need attention. However, those suggesting that consolidation is the answer to the overcrowding in Springs should know the history of the attempts that have been made in the past in that direction.

In 1998 and 2007 consolidation has been addressed. Both Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele have worked on persuading Albany to pass legislation to make consolidation a reality. Those efforts have failed for a number of reasons. 

Most Albany legislators do not see Springs as a school district in need of special consideration. They lump Springs in as part of the affluent “Hamptons.” It is also true that some Springs residents have resisted efforts to consolidate for fear of the loss of the unique character of our school. Some residents of the East Hampton School District have resisted the idea of consolidation because of the anticipated increase in school taxes they would see as a result of consolidation. In any case, those waiting for Albany to force consolidation before voting yes on the upcoming bond vote in Springs may be overoptimistic regarding legislation that would make that possible. 

In a recent article in The Star some suggested that the improvement plan was not well thought out and that other more cost savings plans were not considered. Any alternative that has been proposed by those opposed to a yes vote has been found to be either requiring enabling legislation not likely to be enacted or logistically irrational. In the same article the writer suggests that Mr. Vilar, a Springs resident, put forth the idea “for Springs to get its own ZIP code, thus creating a separate school district that would receive its own state funding.” I know that Mr. Vilar is a well-informed person, and I am just as sure the Star writer is knowledgeable concerning school districts. With that said, I can only conclude that the above quote is the result of an editing error in that Springs is a separate school district.

The changing demographics in Springs are also cited as a reason for a no vote. Even if the Springs school were to see a 20 percent reduction in students, a number that no projection envisions, the school would still not be anywhere near in line with neighboring districts in terms of square footage per student.

One of the comments at the Ashawagh Hall meeting was that the planned additions were a “Taj Mahal.” I am certain the comment was made to suggest that the building plan was grandiose and far exceeded the needs of the school. That suggestion ignores the plan put forward. When completed, the additions and upgrades will still leave the school with less space than recommended and less than found in neighboring districts in terms of square footage per student. The plan does not increase any space not directly related to the education of the children of Springs. No new offices for administrators, no cafeteria, and no frills. This is plan “B.” It is the minimum. Now is time to move forward. 

Thank you,


Year-Round Vibrancy


February 22, 2018


On March 6, the Springs School District will be holding a vote on expanding the school, and updating many of the infrastructure systems. The school boards of the last eight years have been researching alternatives, looking at options, and studying the projections. During this time the population has continued to grow. The proposed expansion does not look to meet future needs, it looks to address the present needs and population and the changing educational practices of support and inclusion. 

Let’s look at some of the alternatives. The old Child Development Center of the Hamptons school is not an option. The state has already denied that option. School districts cannot skip over other districts to accommodate their needs. It would set a precedent across the state for desirable districts to skip over undesirable districts. Short of a major change in policy across the state, it is not feasible.

Modular buildings, as recommended by some, are as expensive to build and situate as on-site construction. One wing of the school was modular units, and they are showing wear far faster than a new build. Think of a car, which depreciates rapidly. 

I am sorry that some people think the plan has not been well explained and studied. I do not recall those people as being at the school board meetings, where the information has been studied and discussed. Ask any board member or administrator and they will answer questions you may have. As far as declining student population, we have to also look at our town. Springs is the only viable community for the work force to live. Over the last 20 years that has become more evident. This community is where working families live. This community has a stable year-round vibrancy. It does not close down, such as Montauk and Amagansett. It has a sense of support and reality that the other communities do not. This is the community that provides the working people that do your plumbing, building, painting, provide your medical services, staff your restaurants, and staff your retail establishments. 

The students and community need this building, and they need to upgrade the school to continue to operate safely. 

The plan had a rocky start. There were some questionable choices made by the old board president and superintendent. But they are gone. The number of students hasn’t changed and the needs are still there. This proposal does not build a state-of-the art school. It still doesn’t have a cafeteria, it isn’t building classrooms for every program, it isn’t overbuilding to meet more students.

This board has carefully weighed the needs of the students and their responsibility to the taxpaying community. They have compromised what would be wonderful with what this community needs. They are addressing the antiquated septic system to be responsive to the community and its neighbor, Accabonac Harbor. I commend this board for this proposal, and while no one wants to pay more in taxes, it would be irresponsible to not approve this bond.



Woefully Inadequate


February 24, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

On Tuesday, March 6, Springs voters will be asked to approve or reject a $17-million bond issue to expand the Springs School. Springs voters must vote to reject.

Springs taxpayers are being asked to spend $23 million (closer to $28 million with interest on the $17-million bond) because the school is overcrowded. If that is so, then why is the centerpiece of the new construction an 8,216-square-foot gym? Why new ball fields, a new courtyard, and an 881-square-foot faculty copy center? At $1,000 per square foot to construct, that’s nearly a $1-million copy room. Of the seven “new” classrooms the school is touting, four will be used for consolidation from the school’s outbuildings, thereby leaving only three to ease the overcrowding. Did anyone say overcrowding? 

The Springs community knows the Springs School needs a major overhaul. The school’s systems have long been neglected by previous school administrations. As such, the roof needs to be replaced, electrical, plumbing, H.V.A.C. systems either need to be updated or replaced. The old windows need to be replaced. We all know about the issues with the septic system, and, yes, the school, at present, is overcrowded. There are conflicting Board of Cooperative Educational Services data with some showing the school population decreasing by the next decade. Most important though, given the recent unspeakable school tragedies, the school must be updated to ensure every child and staff member is safe. Period!

Overcrowding and security must be undertaken immediately. This current design and construction will not be completed by the school’s estimate until 2022, which I believe is wildly optimistic. Completion dates of 2024 to 2025 are more reasonable. Quite frankly, any of those dates is unacceptable. 

The current design is too expensive and elaborate. The school and its architectural consultant have dismissed any discussion of alternatives that might be less expensive and might be enacted more quickly. The architect’s contract calls for the firm to receive 5 percent of the total construction costs. With the current $23-million price tag, the architect will receive well over $1 million taxpayer dollars. Is anyone surprised at their reluctance to discuss something more cost effective and better for the kids and the community? What is more important, school safety or an elaborate new gymnasium?  

The children of the Springs School and Springs taxpayers all deserve a quick, professional, and efficient solution to the overcrowding and security issues. The current plan is woefully inadequate for those requirements. 

The election is on March 6 at the Springs School, 48 School Street. The polls are open from 1 to 9 p.m. Voting is imperative for every Springs resident since your tax dollars will be paying for the construction of this addition for the next 20 years. 

For the reasons discussed, I urge all voters to reject the school bond referendum. 




Square-Foot Cost


February 25, 2018

Dear David,

On Tuesday, March 6, all Springs taxpayers should be going to the voting polls at Springs School to approve or reject a $17-million bond resolution that will fund its expansion. Voters must vote “no.”

While Springs taxpayers will be voting to approve a $17-million bond issue, the proclaimed total project cost by the school board is estimated at $23 million. This is because the Springs School will also be using an additional $6 million it is already holding in capital reserve funds. This money was accumulated from the taxpayers over the years, supposedly to fund ongoing capital construction, which apparently has not been done. But, still, this $23 million total is not the entire cost to the Springs taxpayer. In fact, that actual cost for this new school will be closer to $28 million. How so?

Springs taxpayers are being asked by the school board to permit them to issue a bond for the extra $17 million they do not have. But a municipal bond is not magic or free money. It works like a mortgage. Taxpayers are responsible not only for paying back the $17 million in principal, but they must also pay back all the charged interest on the bond. This adds up to approximately an extra $5 to $6 million over the 20-year life of the bond. So, the real total cost to the Springs taxpayers of just the bond will likely exceed $22 million before it matures entirely. Now add back in the $6 million already in reserve and there is your $28 million total expense. 

This project is way too expensive and ambitious. At $23 million (not including the interest payments) it calls for an expansion of 24,800 gross square feet, making the “square-foot” cost to the taxpayers about $925 a square foot. That’s for every square foot of space — including the doorways, halls, closets, etc. But, when you add back in the interest payments of that additional $5 million or so, then the cost of construction rises to a shocking $1,129 per square foot. 

Okay: Let’s make this easy on everyone to follow and say that the cost of construction for the new Springs School expansion will be $1,000 per square foot. The cost to construct a typical Hamptons McMansion is only $450 to $500 per square foot. 

Right down the block from Springs School, the Town of East Hampton is building a new senior citizens center on Three Mile Harbor Road. At about 20,000 square feet, the proposed cost is $8 million —- which includes a new, large kitchen and cafeteria. The Springs School expansion has slightly more total square feet — but no kitchen or cafeteria (which are very expensive items)  —and yet the cost of the school construction is projected at $23 million or nearly three times the cost of the senior center. Springs taxpayers need to ask: “Why so much of a dollar difference?”

The Springs school board has been resistant to any discussions on pursuing less expensive construction alternatives such as metal buildings, prefab buildings, or the use of the Child Development Center of the Hamptons facility. Because the school administration has not seriously considered alternatives, they have not shown any fiduciary responsibility to Springs taxpayers.

This bond issue must be defeated and more serious, cost-efficient design and construction solutions must be explored immediately!  

On March 6, decision day, I am asking that every eligible voter in Springs, cast a no ballot for this bond issue. The polls are located at the Springs School, 48 School Street, and are open from 1 to 9 p.m. 



Voting Yes


February 26, 2018

Dear David:

    I wanted to provide a few more facts before the Springs School bond vote on Tuesday, March 6. 

    Springs taxpayers are completely overburdened compared to neighboring districts. Voting yes on the bond does not mean that our board is unaware of this burden. Voting yes does not mean that we won’t continue to investigate consolidation or other options that would more evenly distribute tax burdens throughout the town. Options such as having our own ZIP code might help federal funding, but again voting yes for the bond does not mean we won’t explore these options. In other words, the school board and administration will continue to do everything possible to make school taxes more equitable. 

   Voting yes on the school bond does not have anything to do with your thoughts on immigration. These students are here and they are entitled to an education. The majority of our Latino students have parents who have gone through our local school system. They are not leaving.

   Voting yes on the school bond does not have anything to do with your thoughts on overcrowded homes. The school district has put in place the most stringent admission criteria — including re-verifying residency every year for high school students. We communicate with the town when people have sworn to us that they are landlords. The town can then investigate the status of their rental registry.

Here’s what voting yes on the bond will do:

• Provide one safe and secure building. No more walking back and forth to the Springs Youth Association building, much easier to secure for fire drills, lock-down drills, and other emergencies.

• Increase our square footage per student from about 90 percent to 118 percent, well under the state guideline of 200 percent.

• Provide enough spaces for students to receive mandated services such as academic intervention services in quiet areas where they can focus, instead of in the Commons Room while an adapted physical education class is occurring.

• Provide enough spaces for students with individual educational programs to receive their separate testing locations, instead of searching for a corner of a full room.

• Provide a full-size gymnasium so that our students can have the required amount of physical education per week.

• Enable the school to make much needed repairs and updates to infrastructure, including roofing, drainage, and parking, and a state-of-the-art septic system.

• Increase your annual taxes a small amount. If you have a house valued at $700,000 you will pay approximately $190 more a year.

• Show support of Springs School and the amazing education we are able to give students.

For more information, please see the school website www.springsschool.org.

Please vote yes on the Springs School bond.


 Springs Teacher


Important Conclusion


February 23, 2018

To the Editor:

On March 6, Springs residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against a $17-million bond to fund a proposed $23-million capital improvement for the Springs School with $6 million coming from reserves. The bond is expected to have a 20-year term and will raise annual property taxes on average by $200 per year on a house valued at $700,000.

There are few more important aspects of a community than the quality of education being offered. A quality education is vital for our children and helps shape the future for all of us. Schools also impact property values and property taxes. Despite being skeptical of the need for the proposed capital improvement, I decided to challenge my own thinking on the matter after attending the latest meeting on the proposal at Ashawagh Hall on Feb. 8. Until then I was mostly a silent observer.

Contributing to my own uncertainty is the wide gap that exist between the school board and some community members who take a very different view of the capital improvement process and outcomes it sets forth. For the school, the capital improvement is essential to their mission, to resolve mandates imposed by the state and to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. For those opposed to it, it represents money not being well spent.

On Feb. 9 I took a tour of the Springs School and later I had an extensive conversation with Debra Winter, the superintendent of the Springs School. The school presented itself as a peaceful and friendly environment where attentive learning was easy to observe and where staff and community volunteers facilitated activities. 

After the tour, I met with Ms. Winter for a one-to-one. She was very accommodating in responding to my questions about the school and why the school felt the capital improvement was necessary. Ultimately, I walked away impressed with the school and Debra Winter.

To find out more I arranged a meeting with Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who sits on the town board, Kelly Kampf, a code enforcement officer, Mike Sendlenski, the town attorney, and Ms. Winter. For me, the substantial increase in school population is behind the capital improvement so I approached this meeting from that perspective. 

I asked why is the Springs School population increasing while some other hamlets are seeing a decrease? Why “consolidation” attempts have failed? How effective is enforcement of housing laws regarding overcrowding? Why are our high school students charged a premium for attending East Hampton High School? 

The answers to these questions are too familiar to many of us but I felt the need to reiterate them in light of the proposed project so town and school were reminded of some of the challenges facing the Springs community.

I was informed that the school is required to educate every child who lives in the community without exception. That the school is limited in the steps they are permitted to take in determining if a student lives in the community and to do otherwise would expose the school and community to a costly lawsuit. I also learned that Ms. Winter has initiated several steps to better determine if students live in the community. Furthermore, the fact that Springs is zoned for small lot size and offers the least expensive housing in East Hampton is driving population density unlike any of the other hamlets.

Unable to reach a decision, I discussed the bond and capital improvement with some who oppose it. They cite issues they have with the architectural firm’s design, their fees as a percentage of project cost, and the size and overall cost of the capital improvement. They preferred more temporary structures to brick and mortar and to use off-site existing facilities to a greater extent. They also stated that certain aspects of the design were not necessary: bleachers, student lockers, and a copy room. 

They concluded that for the money being spent the school was not acquiring enough educational space to effectively deal with overcrowding. But they also saw the need for substantive repairs and expansion of space, which would also increase property taxes but not as much as the school’s plan. For me this was an important conclusion. 

I went back to Ms. Winter and asked her to respond to the criticism. What follows is a summary of what she stated. The architect, B.B.C., was selected (in part) because they asked for no money upfront with payment only after the bond was approved. B.B.C. was selected twice after two selection processes. The instructional space would include six new classrooms (including a tech room and science room, bring in four classrooms from existing portables and add one custodial position. 

The rooms adjacent to the gym would be an art room and music room. She stated that sharing staff between distant sites was not cost effective since money would be spent on travel and administration costs for the other location(s). The school staff and board prefer brick and mortar to prefabs. The school plans to host sports events, which would necessitate locker rooms and bleachers, and it is felt that some of these games and community activities could become income possibilities for the school. 

Ms. Winter stated: “I am very conscious of the taxpayer . . . I will ask lots of questions . . . I will meet with the project manager weekly.” Since universally everyone I spoke with likes and respects her, the statements carried significant weight with me. The above summaries reflect my understanding of the responses I received.

It has not been easy or even in some cases possible to reconcile the difference between those for and those opposed to the capital improvement. I am sure that both will have some claim to being right, but they will also be shown to be in part wrong. Both will cost money and cause property taxes to increase; one less than the other.

The Board of Cooperative Educational Services predictions have been unreliable, so I do not put much stock in declining student projections. What resonated with me is that the current school was designed to accommodate approximately half the number of students now in attendance so increasing school space seems to be very appropriate.

Starting over will delay the project when there is an immediate need for expanded space, repairs, state-of-the-art septic system, and to respond to state and A.W.D.A. mandates. An additional consideration is interest rates, which ultimately determine the true cost of any project financed and it makes up the majority of the final cost. We are entering a time of increasing interest rates. If the current bond is defeated during a period of rising interest rates and the consultation and design occurs over the next two to three years, projected financial gains in doing so would be greatly eroded by the time the bond was voted on again.

The community opposition to the project has been staffed by good people who have been passionate about their conclusions but for me the Springs School bond gets my yes vote.


His Sworn Oath


February 23, 2018

Dear David,

In his short time in the White House Trump has:

 1. Been busily dismantling the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other departments and agencies created to protect us;

2. Been busily trashing the integrity and undermining the credibility of the Justice Department, all of our intelligence agencies, the F.B.I., our counter-terrorist capabilities, and our entire court system;

3. Undermined the public’s trust in the free press, whose very job it is to hold government and individuals accountable for their statements and actions in an effort to keep us, the public, informed so we can make “informed” decisions when picking leaders and choosing policies;

4. Added to our national debt with his tax bill that will result in bankruptcy for our nation and the elimination of any obligations to fund the very entitlement programs you are entitled to because you paid into them all your life: Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, F.D.I.C. protection of your bank accounts. All to shift your money to the super wealthy!

5. Undermined the unity of NATO that has kept the peace in Europe for 72 years while holding the Soviets (now Russia) in check;

6. Strained our relations with our allies and closest neighbors such as Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, in Central America and the Caribbean;

7. Threatened the funding and thus the existence of the United Nations; 

8. Threatened (nuclear) war with North Korea and Iran over nuclear programs while we’ve been living under the threat of thousands of nuclear payloads aimed at us all our lives;

9. Endorsed killer autocrats as great leaders of their countries and models to follow;

10. Openly described the K.K.K. and Nazis (whom my parents’ generation fought to the death) as “fine people”;

11. Explored creating a personal bodyguard and police force under the leadership of Blackwater’s founder, akin to Himmler’s SS;

12. Tried to establish a back door to work with the Russians and Putin without our knowledge;

13. Refused to acknowledge and accept the fact that the 2016 election was hacked and influenced by Russia thus putting him into the White House while putting our nation at great risk by not dealing with the 21st-century threat of cyber war conducted by Russia or anyone else.

Mr. Trump is violating his sworn oath to uphold and protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He is not “promoting the general welfare,” nor is he defending us from attack.

What do you think should be done?




Russians Are Laughing


February 25, 2018 

Dear David,

Trivia Question: Who was behind the decision to amend the platform of the Republican Party at the 2016 presidential convention to delete a call to arm Ukraine against Russian separatists, a move supported by most prominent Republicans?

A.) Elvis

B.) Bozo the Clown

C.) Mary Poppins

D.) Aliens cloned in Hillary Clinton’s secret lab in the Himalayas

E.) Rick Gates and Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager during said convention.

Hint: Manafort and Gates worked on behalf of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of legions before Viktor was kicked out by his own people and went scurrying back to the protection of Vladimir Putin. Manafort and Gates last week were charged with funneling money to a pro-Russian lobbying group made up of former European politicians who seemingly had no direct relationship to the Ukraine.

Trump is right. The Russians are laughing at him.




Military Parade

East Hampton

February 25, 2018 

East Hampton Star, 

We did it again! Again, one of your published predictions may become true and this one stands to be momentous. 

On Oct. 5,  to the editor, “Fanatic Adjuration,” an opinion, a reaction, to the outbursts, violent flare-ups of the anti-fascist freak outs in Charlottesville and several other cities, which included the following distinct depiction: “Yes, America, be alert. You, we, are very vulnerable susceptible in danger of being destabilized and revolutionized by extremes and radicals. Implying that one day soon we could be startled to behold Panzers rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue. . . . (My letter, of course.)

Lo and behold, on Feb. 17 President Donald Trump announced, practically ordered, the Pentagon stage a grand military parade in the Capitol. A spectacular specter. Is our president a covert East Hamptonite? Was he here at the time? Did he see that letter? If so, was the parade scheme perceived implanted embedded at that time, than bloomed, metastasized at the Bastille Day parade — An undeniable possibility — but we shall never know. 

Am I or we subject now to blame condemnation or to commendation celebration? Time will tell. Public reactions are now only in the infancy of this predictable tumult. Comedians, sullen commentators, pundits will surely have a field day. 

My personal input, if I may, tapping my modest military service, experience, and subjection to parades, frankly, is mixed. Some were fun, others, a pain in the butt, agony. However one fact, an indispensable requisite, is imperative: At no time and under no circumstance should these parades be permitted to take place while Congress is in town and in session. Never!