Letters to the Editor: 03.22.18

Our readers' comments

Path to Peace


March 19, 2018 

Dear David,

Friday night, I saw “Disturbing the Peace,” a documentary about the coming together of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants in a sustained campaign for a solution to the conflict between their peoples. To say it was moving does not adequately describe its poignancy. 

Kudos to our film festival, our anti-bias task force, and the East Hampton Library for bringing us this story, with its lesson of reconciliation so pertinent to the many other conflicts in our world, our nation, and even our town.

Was it a coincidence that the very next night I saw Guild Hall’s marvelous original production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”? Shaped to remind us that the play was about children in love betrayed by grown-ups, it was lots of fun, brilliantly put together by our own Josh Gladstone and choreographed by Kate Mueth. It was also especially tragic: As everyone knows, the kids died before, if ever, their tribes settled their feud.

There can’t be enough of the reminder that all people, despite real grievances, can travel a path to peace.

Sincerely yours,


Timeless Tradition

East Hampton

March 19, 2018

To the Editor,

Dear villagers of East Hampton Village: I don’t know if you are all aware Mr. Grow-Up Fast was back in town. He’s a great friend of Ebenezer Scrooge and was seen headed the other day toward St. Luke’s Church rectory to meet with the good Rev. Denis Brunelle and to discuss the idea to cancel the annual Easter egg hunt at your beloved church. 

Now I’m sure the good Reverend Brunelle is aware, like the rest of us, that Easter and Christmas are special days in East Hampton, not only for the big guys but for the little guys, too, and that includes us rabbits, especially when it comes to Easter. 

I also know your village is proud of its history and proud of its traditions. Christmas and Easter are perhaps one of your most beloved traditions, with baby Jesus and the tree, and those wonderful colorful lights to celebrate his birth. Easter is a celebration of his rebirth and also a joyous time for the little ones to be included in the celebration with the Easter Bunny, and the candy baskets filled to the brim and the traditional Easter egg hunt that has been a beloved tradition at St. Luke’s for over 100 years and is a joyous event for kids of all ages. 

There also wouldn’t be an Easter egg hunt without the Easter Bunny, and do you good townfolk know why rabbits are associated with Easter? We do a lot more than dig up carrots in your garden patch, and I’m proud to say we are also known for all the little bunnies that hop around town that bring such joy to children of all ages, and did you know rabbits have long been a symbol of fertility? In fact, rabbits were the sacred animal of the Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, and the Easter Bunny legend started long ago in Germany with an egg-laying hare named Osterhase, and German children made nests and left them outside for the hare to lay her eggs. 

Since ancient times, eggs have also been seen as a symbol of new life and the divine, and for thousands of years early Christians saw the egg as a reminder of the stone that was rolled away from Christ’s tomb, revealing his resurrection. You should also know the idea of an egg-laying rabbit might have started with the Romans, who believed that all life came from an egg. 

I think you should also know before the traditional egg hunt is canceled, the idea to decorate eggs for Easter began in the 13th century, when eating eggs was forbidden during the Lent season, and as we all know, Lent ends on Easter, and to mark the end of a time of penance and fasting, gentlefolk painted and decorated eggs before eating them. 

So you can see there is lot more to us rabbits and how the egg became such a big deal in the celebration of Easter and why over the centuries, parents dyed and decorated hard-boiled eggs for their children to find to celebrate the birth of Christ. 

So please don’t let Mr. Grow-Up Fast talk you into canceling one of our most-treasured traditions, good Reverend Brunelle. Children have been cooped up all fall and all winter in school and at home, and now it’s time to open the windows. Let the hint of a spring breeze dance around the little ones and on that very special day, when we celebrate the rebirth of Christ, let the children’s joyous laughter ring out across the pond and the ancient cemetery and drift down Main Street for all to hear on the Sunday morning the Easter Bunny hits town. Let the children once again enjoy the timeless tradition of the Easter Day egg hunt that fills their young hearts with wonderful memories of that blessed day and joyous news that Christ has risen from the dead. 

Hopingly Yours, 


On behalf of the Easter Bunny

Frank’s Students

Boca Raton, Fla.

March 17, 2018

Dear David, 

A special thanks to John (Chopper) Ebel for his eloquent, vivid recollection of a day at school while swordfishing on the Compromise with professor Frank Tuma Sr. 

That education has served many of us well over the years!

As one of Frank’s “students”(1966-2018), I sure will miss those good old school days.

Chopper, I wish you always have the sun at your back, so you can see “there will always be another one.”

R.I.P. my old friend Frank, knowing you have helped so many!


Called Frosty

Sebastian, Fla.

March 13, 2018 

Dear David,

Just finished reading Lyle Greenfield’s letter in The Star of 3/8/2018. (Not bad! Only five days to Florida.)

At any rate, I don’t get the big deal on being called Frosty. Both Del Lamb and Bea Smith, Charlie’s wife, always called me Frosty. No doubt a play on words of my last name.

Best regards,


Healthy Eating

East Hampton

March 18, 2018

Dear Editor:

With three crippling northeasters battering our East Coast in quick succession, we all look forward to March 20, first day of spring, balmy weather, and flowers in bloom.

It’s also a superb occasion to replace animal foods on our menu with healthy, delicious, eco-friendly vegetbles, legumes, grains, and fruits.

The shift toward healthy eating is everywhere. Fast-food chains like Chipotle, Quiznos, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s all offer plant-based options. Major publications and popular websites tout vegan recipes. 

Google C.E.O. Eric Schmidt views replacement of meat by plant protein as the world’s number-one technical trend. The financial investment community is betting on innovative start-ups, like Beyond Meat,or Impossible Foods. Even Tyson Foods’ new C.E.O. sees plant protein as meat industry’s future.

Global Meat News reports that nearly half of consumers are reducing meat intake. Indeed, per capita red meat consumption has dropped by a whopping 25 percent in the past 40 years.

Every one of us can celebrate spring by checking out the rich collection of plant-based dinners and desserts in our supermarket’s frozen food, dairy, and produce sections. An internet search on vegan foods brings rich rewards.



Only 6 Percent


March 19, 2018

To the Editor:

The study of Georgica Pond may, in fact, seriously underestimate the contribution of deer to the overall fecal pollution problem in our freshwater and coastal water bodies. In my area of the North Fork, stormwater runoff seems to have increased significantly in recent years because of forest understory destruction by the deer. This presumably carries more fecal material from all resident animal species into adjacent water bodies. 

Deer may be responsible for only 6 percent of the present fecal load in Georgica Pond, but the critical question is the following: Have the total fecal and nutrient loads increased in recent years because of deer’s overbrowsing of the adjacent watershed?

Any good hydrologist knows that healthy forests help to retard stormwater runoff. Deer-induced deterioration of our forest lands seems to be widely ignored as a significant influence upon the health of adjacent water bodies.


Right on Track

East Hampton

March 15, 2018

Dear David,

In a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Environmental Information, it is reported that 2017 set a record with 16 separate weather and climate events in the United States causing more than $1 billion each in damages. The total cost was also a record: $306 billion. The previous record was $214 billion; a huge jump in severity.

More alarming than one year’s statistic is the trend. From 1980 to 2017, the average annual number of billion-dollar events (all years adjusted to 2017 dollars) was 5.8 per year. But in the most recent five years (2013-2017), the average was 11.6 events per year. Your homeowner’s insurance and your taxes will rise to pay these rising costs.

This trend, of course, is right on track as predicted for the last 30 years, predictions that one political party persists in calling “climate alarmism,” or Don the Con’s phrase, “A Chinese Hoax.” And the prediction remains that this trend will accelerate as we continue to burn fossil fuels, the disappearing ice caps are no longer there to reflect the sun’s heat back into space, and the thawing tundra releases frozen methane stored for thousands of years back into our atmosphere.

I rejoice at the high school students who last week found their political voices over the gun issue. Asked by a journalist for comment, one smart East Hampton student said, “The only thing easier to buy than an assault weapon in the United States is a G.O.P. politician.” (The mouths of babes.) She’s already learned the most important thing about politics: The money never sleeps. It just keeps coming at you, and the antidotes are grassroots organizing, protest, voting, or running for office.

These innocent children-becoming-adults will throughout their lifetimes pay the bill for our refusal to act on climate; our insistence on doing things as they have always been done because it is too hard to change. Maybe the next demonstration will be for solar panels all over the school roof.

As I write this, the federal government is rolling back all of the initiatives put in place to address climate change, and knee-capping the funding for science and alternative energy. Am I naive to hope that these young activists are about to push the pendulum of American history back in the direction of truth?


Heartfelt Thank-You


March 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

On behalf of the Springs Union Free School District Board of Education, students, and staff, I want to extend a heartfelt thank-you to our community members who exercised their right to vote for the recent bond referendum. I would also like to thank The East Hampton Star for their support, especially you, and Judy D’Mello who did her due diligence in reporting all the facts. 

The Springs Board of Education is committed to maintaining open lines of communication with our community. The board will share updates regarding the capital project at their monthly meetings to ensure members of the community are informed and have the chance to offer their comments. We will share the expected timeline for the projects on our website, as well as post all updated information and photos of the progress. 

I want to take this opportunity to ensure the Springs community that the school administration and B.O.E. will work closely with Park East, our construction management company, and our architects, B.B.S., to complete this capital project within its expected time frame. Our initial focus is on the nitrogen-reducing septic system. Plans will be developed and submitted to the New York State Education Department for approval, and we expect to start construction in July 2019.

The Springs School theme is “Together We Make A Difference.” I look orward to this amazing opportunity to provide our students and staff with much-needed instructional space and am grateful to the community for their support.




Ridiculous Regulation


March 19, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

More data are coming out every day on how the school population on the East End is declining. Vacant classroom space exists in Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, and the entire Child Development of the Hamptons School in Wainscott sits empty. Yet, the Springs School administration is moving rapidly to build a Taj Mahal-type addition that concentrates not so much on additional classroom space, but on a huge gym with bleachers and a nearly million-dollar faculty “copy” room at 881 square feet. 

Just this expansion alone will take $30 million (when the 20-year interest payments are made) out of the pockets of Springs taxpayers. Taxpayers are told our students cannot use the already vacant space because that space may not be contiguous to the Springs School District or some other ridiculous regulation. Can someone please tell me how this is good public policy?

State laws and regulations, passed by Albany swamp creatures in order to please their special-interest donors such as unions and politically connected consultants, hurt hard-working taxpayers. That Springs taxpayers will have their pockets picked to fund a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist is criminal.

Called Senator LaValle (in office since 1976) and Assemblyman Thiele (in office since 1995). These boys need to stop their whining about how consolidation will never take place and get to work now on a solution that will work for the taxpayers.

Springs taxpayers, stop this insanity and demand a consolidation fix now. Call your state representatives. Ken LaValle’s office number is 518-455-3121 and Fred Thiele’s is 631-537-2583.



Why Are We Paying?


March 19, 2018

Dear David,

I am hoping all Amagansett residents come to the final school board meetings to hear how the superintendent and the president of the school board will justify paying, with our taxpayers’ money, more than half a million in three administrators for 74 students from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school never had more than one administrator in all the years of its being built, but when Eleanor Tritt was hired, all of a sudden we have three. Why?

The population of the student body has not increased and the guidelines have not changed so drastically that we are in need of anyone more than a part- time evaluator along with the superintendent? Why are we paying $44,000 per student to be educated at the Amagansett grade school and only pay $24,000 to educate our students at the middle school and high school?


I’m Ashamed


March 12, 2018

To the Editor:

Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights’ First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” And yet, “Three village school officials told parents they could not support a walkout.” Connetquot and Rocky Point superintendents have suspended students, and Lindenhurst schools have disciplined children who cared enough to walk out in response to the Parkland (and Sandy Hook) massacres. Wow! As a retired teacher, I’m ashamed of these school “leaders.”

Shame on these officials; especially Superintendents Michael Ring and Lynda G. Adams — each of whom should be required to write out (100 times, preferably with a quill pen) the First Amendment’s words about the “right of the people (and presumably they both realize that their students are people) to peaceably assemble.” 

Additionally, Connetquot Superintendent Adams should also be informed that her “district’s code of conduct does not trump our nation’s Constitution of rights.


Real Criminality

East Hampton

March 18, 2018


Trying to come to terms with America’s penchant for mass killings seems to always elude us. Anger, rage, calls to action, inaction, resignation, frustration, and then wait for the next one. How can we be so completely screwed up and incapable of dealing with this problem?

A therapist might say that we are in denial, but ultimately conclude that this is who we really are and we delude ourselves, as we always have, and repeat that we are better than that. But we may not be.

There is a certain predatory aspect to how we function as a people. The “war on drugs” and the mortgage crisis of the 2008 period are fair analogies.

Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon created the war on drugs. Vindictive, racist, anti-Semitic, he wanted to beat the crap out of longhaired young people who saw him for what he was. Nixon’s model was incredibly successful. It jailed and destroyed the lives of millions of people and never made a dent in the problem. 

We will have 44,000 opioid-related deaths this year and we are as clueless today was we were in 1968. The collateral damage from a wild and uncontrolled pharmaceutical industry and a multibillion illegal drug market is worth every dead body.

The predatory banking industry of the mid-2000s is another example of how we deal with our national crisis. For the millions of homeowners who lost their shirts in the last recession/depression due to banking malpractice, we say screw off. To the perpetrators of the problem, we say here’s a trillion dollars. The collateral damage which caused the economy to collapse was massive but inconsequential. Criminal without punishment. Insanely stupid with try better next time shaming. (Live the American dream even if you can’t afford it.)

For every kid who died in a school shooting there are 10,000 who are victims to drugs.

Our mass murder problem is only a problem in the minds of the victims and their families. The issue of guns is a nonstarter and thus there is no possible resolution. Yet the parallels to drugs and predatory lending are scary. The National Rifle Association and the arms industry relentlessly push guns on the American people. Witness the millions of emails that the N.R.A. sends out after every shooting warning people that gun control is on the way and they better stock up now before it’s too late. 

Marketing guns on fear and on the backs of dead kids. They fearmonger that the Second Amendment will disappear and that all their other civil rights will soon follow. Gun pushers, drug pushers, bad mortgage pushers are all the same.

We would have sane and rational gun control laws if the N.R.A. would simply go away. Gun ownership is part of our culture not because of the Second Amendment. Take out the N.R.A. and politicians, and the president could safely take their heads out of the ground. Take out the N.R.A. and military grade weapons would stay in the military. Take out the N.R.A. and gun owners wouldn’t think they had to vote Republican to keep their guns. The real criminality with guns is the manipulation of the issue. The rest is obvious.


Sneak Tax


March 19, 2018

Dear David, 

Lo and behold a sneak tax has been levied on all vehicle owners in New York State. Here is Suffolk County’s rate: Up to 3,500 pounds, $30 for two years’ use, and the scale goes up to $140, for 6,951 pounds or more. Plus sales tax,

The Department of Motor Vehicles collects this tax for Suffolk County. The question is who sponsored and voted to institute this and why the secret? Wait until your vehicle comes up for renewal, the surprise is in there. Most do not pay close attention to the fee. People would be surprised to see where the money goes! What about the local guys that have business vehicles. The price will be added to goods delivered, and we get whacked again. Doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but why?

It should be noted that in addition to weight, engine size is also considered. I have two limited-use antique cars that I have had for 45 years. I paid for a vanity plate that was struck once, yet pay $60 every year. These cars go less than 500 miles a year each.

So, this is on the shoulders of motor vehicle owners only.

Yours truly


P.O. Box 806

Wainscott, N.Y. 11975

Foot Soldier

East Hampton

March 19, 2018

To the Editor:

“Mueller should end inv. into POTUS. It would be injustice to continue investigating POTUS & family for winning elex w/out any evidence of crime committed to win elex.”

So tweeted Lee Zeldin on March 19. This would be hilarious farce if it were not so serious.

In November, vote for upholding the democratic principles that are under attack by the current administration, vote for freedom of speech and the press, vote for all the rights we thought were unassailable but have been shown to be precarious thanks to a president who attempts to trample them daily.

The sliver of good news for Congressional District One voters is that Lee Zeldin makes this easy. Add to his early and still ardent support for the bully-in-chief that Zeldin garners an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and an abysmal 10 percent (out of 100 percent) rating on environmental issues from the nonpartisan New York League of Conservation Voters, and you’ve got a no-brainer: Vote the Trump foot soldier out and a Democrat in.



Tet Offensive

East Hampton

March 15, 2018


This is the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. Also the Siege of Khe Sanh and the Battle of Dai Do. For all sides, 1968 was the deadliest year in the Vietnam War. Over 100,000 American casualties: 16,592 killed in action, 87,388 wounded in action.

In early January the North Vietnamese Army attacked the Khe Sanh combat base, just below the DMZ. The start of a four-month siege. On Jan. 31, the Vietnamese New Year’s Eve, the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong launched the Tet Offensive. It was the Year of the Monkey. At the end of April 1968 the Battle of Dai Do started. My tour in Nam, as a Marine infantry officer with the First Battalion Third Marines, included all of the above. 

Tet started with a heavy barrage of rockets slamming into our positions at the Quang Tri combat base. We ran for cover. The North Vietnam Army was firing 122mm rockets with delayed detonating fuses. We had no defense. Only luck. Maybe. I crunched down, making s small a target as possible. Terrified as Death walked among us. On us. Praying over and over, “God, please, please.” At moments, laughing uncontrollably. Close to insanity. Being exposed to death at any moment changes you forever.

The offensive was intended to end the Vietnam War. The North Vietnam Army and Vietcong attacked the whole length of South Vietnam. Believing this offensive would spark a popular rebellion against the Americans and the government of the Republic of South Vietnam.

The offensive was a decisive military victory for us and our allies. Most Americans were shocked by TV coverage of the fighting, brutality, carnage, and destruction. The light at the end of the tunnel was a hellacious fire burning everything. 

In early April 1968, we convoyed up Highway One. The only north-south road in Quang Tri Province. We were heading to Route Nine. It ran west past the Marines under siege at the Khe Sanh combat base, then on to Laos. Vietnamese girls stood along the road, patting their backsides. Hatred in their eyes and voices. Yelling over and over, “Hey, Marines you fucking number ten.” Meaning we were the worst. We had not won their “hearts and minds.” Our crusade to bring them freedom and democracy doomed long before the first Marines waded ashore.

The North Vietnamese Army had closed Route Nine by Khe Sanh. Then 40,000 surrounded 5,000 Marines and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) in a death trap. We moved down Route Nine, took up positions a few miles from the combat base. Then waited. I thought all those Marines were fucked. Did not have a chance. Thanked God it was not us. The siege looked like another Dien Bien Phu, a famous battle in the French Indochina War. In 1954 the Vietminh, now the N.V.A., surrounded and defeated 15,000 French soldiers. Ending that war and jump-starting our Vietnam War, called the American War by most Vietnamese.

The Marines, at Khe Sanh, in vicious hill fights, defeated the N.V.A.’s attempts to overrun the base. Incessant air strikes, including B-52 carpet-bombing, killed thousands of N.V.A. laying siege to the base. The Marines held until the First Air Calvary joined the fight. Then the Khe Sanh combat base was promptly abandoned.

The Battle of Dai Do started at the end of April 1968, when the Second Battalion Fourth Marines encountered, on the north side of the Cua Viet River, a large N.V.A. force moving southwest, maybe to surprise and overrun the Dong Ha combat base, the biggest Marine base near the D.M.Z., bordering on a tributary of the Cua Viet.

 On April 30, 1968, 1/3, on the south side of the Cua Viet, was ordered to send one rifle company to the north side. Even though my company, Charlie, was closer to 2/4, Bravo got the mission. They were ambushed halfway across. Decimated by AKs, machine guns light and heavy, R.P.G.s, and mortars. They made it across. Within five minutes of landing their company commander was killed and the gunny seriously wounded. Only one officer survived the landing. Bravo had 50 percent casualties. They held on through the night.

The rest of 1/3 crossed over in the morning. We walked through the positions of the Second Battalion Fourth Marines, a.k.a. “The Magnificent Bastards.” They had been in a vicious battle with a large N.V.A. force. The Bastards suffered terrible losses. Held a thin green line. 

We moved forward to continue the fight. Came upon a large deep ditch filled with dead Marines. Each facing outboard. Everyone in a fighting posion. Killed by multiple small-arm wounds. The N.V.A. had pulled back without stripping or mutilating them. Our chaplain climbed down into the ditch. With the index finger and pinky of his right hand, he closed their eyes. Then we went into the ditch, to wrap each Marine in his own poncho. During our advance we wrapped 55 K.I.A.s from 2/4. All about to start the long journey home. We called this “Poncho Rotation.”

While pursuing the enemy we found a lone dead Marine. He had been captured. Was blindfolded. Arms tied so tight behind, his elbows were touching. Shot in the back of the head. Out here, the Geneva Convention did not protect captured grunts. We were not valuable intelligence sources.

We found the N.V.A. They made a stand and attempted to overrun 1/3. Not good decisions. The weather was clear and sunny. They were massed in two villes. Surrounded by dry rice paddies. A large Buddhist graveyard extended from the N.V.A. lines to our position. As we advanced the graveyard provided great cover. We could see them and they us. We fought a deadly stalemate through most of the day. Our aerial observer coordinated our support: jet fighter bombers dropping 500 and 1000-pound bombs and napalm, artillery firing barrages from every fire base within range, and Cobra gunships. The earth shook. The air above the villes became a brown cloud that rose 200 meters. The N.V.A. held their ground, then started a large ground assault at us in the graveyard. The A.O. told us to pull back, that he had never seen anything like this. Thousands were coming at us. We moved back several hundred meters under the cover of our supporting fires. The N.V.A. troopers were stopped meters from our new position.

The next morning we moved up again. The N.V.A. were gone. Only a few remained behind, buried alive in their bunkers. We had fought between 8,000 and 10,000 N.V.A. from their 320th Infantry Division — stopping them and inflicting heavy casualties. Our losses were considerable. As Marines say, “There it is.”

Semper Fi,