Letters to the Editor: 04.26.18

Our readers' comments

Restore Confidence


April 22, 2018 

Dear Editor, 

Last Friday’s March for Their Lives in Montauk was truly wonderful. There were representatives there from both Montauk churches, along with school students from the East End and townspeople. 

One of the more poignant moments occurred at Kirk Park before the walk to the Village Green. I spotted five young girls, standing in a line with arms around each other’s shoulders, staring pensively at the ground while Nancy Atlas sang her mournful ballad of children, conflict, and loss. I wondered what these girls were thinking as they were framed by the setting sun. Were they reflecting on those student victims of gun violence, or were they wondering what the future might hold for them in our tenuous and uncertain world. 

My generation grew up in the turmoil and controversy of the Vietnam War era, but we never had to consider the prospect of someone wreaking destruction with a firearm in our classroom or our hometown. Young people in America today bear the scars of what they have seen, and the fears of what might come to pass. We owe it to ourselves and to generations to come to restore confidence in our society, and hope for tomorrow. 



Harbor Looks Great

East Hampton  April 17, 2018

Dear Editor,

I went to a Springs Hamlet Study wrap-up meeting a few weeks ago at Ashwagh Hall and the conversation came around to Three Mile Harbor. There is a sort of comprehensive plan type document for the Town going forward to make Three Mile Harbor more attractive. When I mentioned a lot of trash and reeds floating at the head of the harbor, I thought nothing more about it. Literally two days later, it was gone. 

So thank you Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Marguerite Wolffsohn for listening. Some things can be fixed with some simple effort. The harbor looks great, now, how about the launching ramp!



The Camp


April 20, 2018

Dear David,

I was recently sifting through the “archives” (long-overlooked boxes in the basement and attic) of our family, and I came across this poem my grandfather William Duggan (1908-1990) wrote while he enjoyed a beautiful spring day on a porch overlooking Gardiner’s Bay on May 15, 1985. My grandfather’s favorite poem was William Butler Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” He always considered Gardiner’s Bay his Innisfree.


The Camp


Beach Plum blossom

Beach grass greening

Snow fences sleeping

Terns, gulls, ducks, diving

Ospreys nesting

Lilacs, Dogwood blooming

Shadbush fading

Redbud, Veronica

seines awakening

Farms, boatyards


Spring again.


Thank you for your kind attention, and all the best,


Nitrogen Fertilizers


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

As you know, our harbors, bays, ponds, and marshes have a problem with nitrogen pollution. It fouls our waters with algae blooms that are harmful to people, pets, and marine life. While aging septic systems account for the major portion of that pollution — something the town is addressing with its new septic program — lawn fertilizers with high levels of water-soluble synthetic nitrogen also contribute a significant amount, somewhere between 7 and 15 percent of our total nitrogen loading problem. This is exacerbated by large estates that employ the fast-acting nitrogen fertilizers to keep their vast expanses of lawn looking emerald green. Every time it rains, nitrogen runs off and fouls any water bodies in its path.

We depend on clean water for swimming, boating, fishing, and tourism. But it’s not only our coastal waters that are under threat. Many residents depend on a single source underground aquifer system for drinking water, the Stony Hill reservoir. We can’t afford to contaminate it.

But help may be on the way in the form of proposed state legislation that aims to slash lawn fertilizer nitrogen pollution by at least half. The Fertilizer legislation is A10276 in the Assembly and S8170 in the Senate. The bills would prohibit the sale or use of fast-dissolving, water-soluble high nitrogen fertilizer on Long Island. And before you think, “Wait! How much is this going to cost me? And what about my lush green lawn?” be reassured. There are already many products that would meet the laws’ requirements at virtually no greater cost. That’s because natural slow-release fertilizers last two to three times longer than the kind that would be banned.

And there is precedent: New York State already prohibits phosphorus in lawn fertilizers to protect fresh water bodies from harmful algal blooms and fish kills. Nitrogen causes the same problem in salt water. 

While there are ways to stop using nitrogen fertilizers entirely, many homeowners are not willing or ready to use them. The proposed Long Island Fertilizer Legislation will help them keep their lawns green by going green. And that will help keep our waters and aquifers from turning the wrong kind of green with algal blooms. Tell our state representatives you want them to vote for clean water with A10276 and S8170.



Accabonac Protection Committee

Precarious Position


April 16, 2018

Dear David,

We are in a water crisis. One of our two functioning aquifers in East Hampton Town is now poisoned and the aquifer that supplies most of the water to most of the people in our town is now at the tipping point, says the Long Island aquifer expert Steven Engelbright. Engelbright is the emeritus professor of geology at SUNY Stony Brook and the head of the environment committee in the New York State Assembly. 

What that means is that if we have any more development on top of the aquifer, our last unpoisoned aquifer could be poisoned as well. Houses can be built in most places in East Hampton Town, but with our water in such a precarious position, no more houses should be built smack on top of the moraine that filters the rainwater down to our aquifer. An example of what should never be allowed is right at the corner of Stony Hill Road and Town Lane. John Hummel has clear-cut a lot for a huge house. The town should have bought this lot and every other one on top of the Ronkonkoma Moraine. The town comprehensive plan says so. Astonishingly, Larry Cantwell only preserved two lots on top of the moraine in two terms even though he ran on water conservation. 

But Peter Van Scoyoc came right out and declared that water was his number-one priority. And right out of the gate, this town board, which could be a conservation dream team, has voted to try and buy Amagansett Springs Aquifer Protection’s number-one priority: the Smolian lot, which is not only vital hydrologically but also historically. On this lot sit 23 wigwams, that the chief of the Montauks, Robert Pharaoh, said was their winter camp. Hopefully this lot will be preserved for all time and archaeologically explored for the whole town to see and experience the early prehistory of this sacred place. The town board deserves kudos for moving so quickly to try and preserve this lot. 

But this is only the beginning. We need an immediate action plan that creates and advances a land protection plan focused on water quality and watershed protection. Working with our excellent town land acquisitions director, the beloved Scott Wilson, Amagansett Springs Aquifer Protection has identified 60 lots that the town could preserve to protect our aquifer. We must move to replace antiquated septic systems in sensitive areas with the best new technology to remove nitrogen just like the excellent town program that helped homeowners remove antiquated oil tanks buried in the ground. 

Hopefully this town board will work cooperatively with the main water activist groups in town, Defend H20 and Amagansett Springs Aquifer Protection, to help protect our vital resource. We don’t have a minute to wait. Our economic future and quality of life depend upon it, because if you think people are going to come to our town if the water is all polluted, think again. It will affect our real estate values and the health of our community. Every person who lives in Springs, Amagansett, northern East Hampton, Napeague, and Montauk depends upon the Stony Hill Aquifer. This town board needs all of us to speak up and support their preservation efforts. Conversely, now is the time for this town board to move courageously to buy up and protect vital land on top of our aquifer. 



President, Amagansett   Springs Aquifer Protection

Exceeds $11 Million

Sag Harbor

April 19, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Thank you for publishing Kevin McAllister’s commentary, “Exposed With Every Storm,” in today’s edition. I have worked with Mr. McAllister on numerous coastal issues and value his opinion and experience in this field tremendously, and again I find his analysis hits the mark.

I appreciate Mr. McAllister’s call to look forward but looking forward requires us to evaluate the ever-mounting costs of the Army Corps’ ill-conceived revetment. The town has recently spent over $1 million to pour quarry sand into the Atlantic Ocean. Including last year’s maintenance costs and the labor and materials for its initial construction, the total price tag now exceeds $11 million, with no end in sight. The decisions, and the earlier ones that underlie them, show how our town is not properly administratering its local waterfront revitalization program. Coastal structures on the ocean shoreline are not consistent with the policies of the L.W.R.P., and therefore prohibited. Funding inconsistent actions is also prohibited.

Instead of spending money on prohibited structures and ephemeral sand, the town might be better served engaging the state’s Department of State to help educate to prevent this type of mismanagement, conserve taxpayer money, and preserve our critical coastal resources.

Yours truly,


LED Fixtures


April 23, 2018

Dear Editor:

If you’ve driven through Montauk after dark, perhaps you’ve noticed the new improved LED streetlights? 

Over the course of the last few weeks, the Town of East Hampton’s lighting crew, under the careful supervision of Tony Littman, has worked tirelessly to replace the old standard lights with LED fixtures, which are town code compliant and are over 50 percent more energy efficient. Whether you’re driving, are on a bike, or on foot, you’ll feel a lot safer. 

Thank you to the former Montauk Downtown Association for installing our streetlights in the late ’80s. It’s always great to see the American flags flying on holidays and thank you to Supervisor Van Scoyoc and the entire town board for maintaining the lights and for recently implementing this “bright” idea. 

Montauk will always be the best place to call home! 





April 23, 2018

Dear David,

The Group for Good Government forum on April 7 provided a good debate on the Deepwater Wind project. However, most speakers assumed that the South Fork needs more electricity and only addressed the question of whether Deepwater Wind should supply it.

I posit that our future electricity needs will be less than is believed because 1) LIPA/PSEG’s predictions for growth in electricity demand are persistently too high; 2) there are new technologies that will lower demand; and 3) East Hampton and Southampton can and should lead the way in actions and legislation that will lower demand through energy efficiencies and localized energy production.

A LIPA document substantiates the first point. Their “Energy Guide: 2017 Long Island Integrated Resource Plan and Repowering Studies” gives this historical perspective: “The forecasted need for power plants in 2030 on Long Island has declined by 1,700 megawatts since 2013, the equivalent of 3-5 large base-load central station power plants.”

The supporting graph shows consistent and significant declines in forecasted need. The prediction made in 2010 for the need in 2035 declined by 30 percent when it was re-evaluated in 2017, an average 3.8 percent reduction per year! LIPA now predicts that Long Island will not need any increase of electricity supply in 2035 compared to what it uses today.

However, an oft-presented LIPA chart shows steeply rising shortages of electricity supply for the South Fork out to 2030. They predict that the South Fork will demand on average 2.6 percent more electricity each year. Given the amount of their historical over-prediction, I assume that this growth will be revised to zero or negative growth as we approach 2030. Curiously, I cannot find any data to substantiate their estimate. In my correspondence with an independent energy economist, I learned that when he asked LIPA/PSEG how they determined that same chart, he was told that it was supplied by the New York State grid operator. When he queried the operator, they said it was supplied by PSEG.

One radical developing disruption that LIPA/PSEG is almost certainly not incorporating in their calculations is that soon it will make economic sense to not even be connected to the power grid. The prestigious consulting firm McKinsey predicted in a 2017 paper, “Battery Storage: The Next Disruptive Technology in the Power Sector,” that “combining solar with storage and a small electrical generator (known as full grid defection) will make economic sense in a matter of years, not decades, for some customers in high-cost markets.” 

New York is specifically mentioned as a location where this will occur. Since East Hampton has residents with the financial means to install these systems, we should expect a decreasing demand for power supplied by LIPA. Add to this all the people who will partially defect by installing solar panels with some battery backup, and we could see a dramatic reduction.

Most important, town and regional elected officials should increase legislation and other actions that will reduce demand. Those actions include lobbying power companies and government officials to continue to allow for net-metering and tax credits of solar installations past 2020, allow one neighbor to install extra solar panels that benefit another neighbor who cannot install them, allow for small community solar farms, provide lending and tax breaks that promote energy efficiency improvements for older homes, and promote a true grid system that can locally distribute the excess of these small producers.

Given the lack of thorough financial data and analysis, I remain skeptical that the Deepwater Wind project is our best means to reach the necessary goal of 100 percent renewable energy. (See also Krae Van Sickle’s excellent letter in last week’s Star and my letter last week in The East Hampton Press. 



East Hampton

April 22, 2018

Dear Editor:

I was taken aback at the behavior described in the story about the East Hampton High School-Westhampton tennis match. The Hurricanes’ coach demanded a forfeit because an East Hampton player wasn’t wearing a team shirt!

The Westhampton coach, whose principal role at a tennis match is to direct a group of 13-year-old to 18-year-old students through a competition, bent over backward to demonstrate a complete lack of sportsmanship and no understanding of the importance of that role in his duties.

I have competed at the high school, collegiate, and independent tournament levels, and the one subject that consistently comes up is adults’ poor behavior when the children, kids, and adolescents under their guidance want to play and need true leadership.

Honestly, the county governing body missed an opportunity when they ruled the match should be replayed. Rather than a replay, they should have ruled Westhampton must forfeit and force Coach Czartosieski to explain to his players and to his athletic director why he thought sportsmanship is of so little importance.

It sounds antiquated to say it but: Coach John C., shame on you! Learn a lesson here because winning a match that will not change your lot in life is so much less important than helping the kids in your charge to be better people.


Wonderful Package

East Hampton

April 20, 2018

To the Editor:

The Town of East Hampton Nutrition Program provides a wonderful package of delicious meals, convenient shopping trips, and a variety of fun activities to enjoy, such as cards, opera, bingo, bridge, mah-jongg, and knitting. 

They also conduct weekly sessions of well-being, such as yoga, reiki, and healing circle, and celebrate many festive parties throughout the year under the direction of Michelle Posillico, senior citizen program supervisor, and her assistant, Ollie Hallock. They make sure everything is meticulously decorated for the occasion, provide seniors with fun holiday trivia, and always remember to toast in another Happy New Year. They also make sure that everyone signs get-well and sympathy cards to let a person know that people truly care and everyone sings “Happy Birthday” to each member throughout the year.

This is a wonderful place for seniors to come and socialize each week and enjoy the nutritious dishes prepared by a warm and caring kitchen staff. They are Diane Hallock, Debra Kulp, Deborah Morici, Rhonda Daniels, and Cheryl Moreland. They always greet you with a smile and are so very accommodating to one’s needs. They are also very aware of a senior with food allergies and/or people who require other special diets.

Several families either move away or are too busy in their own lives to care for the elderly. Many seniors choose to remain in an area they feel comfortable with; however, they need to develop a stable support system. We are so grateful that the Senior Citizens Center provides so much for a senior to look forward to each week rather than wake up every day to an empty home and spend endless hours on monotonous things to do with no one to talk to. There just isn’t room in a person’s life to become lonely and depressed when all of this is waiting for an individual. All they have to do is simply walk through this door and see a warm smile and feel a genuine welcome from not only an employee, but a real friend.


Playing Dodgeball


April 21, 2018

Dear David:

Does anyone really know what happens at East Hampton Airport on a busy summer day? More important: Does anybody understand the level of chaos in the skies above?

Imagine taking the Reutershan parking lot on July Fourth weekend and raising it up about 1,000 feet. Well, there you have it.

Last Tuesday I dropped in on the East Hampton Town Board work session to listen to a presentation about the East Hampton Airport by yet another group of law firm/consultants — this crew hired to lead us through a Part 161 application. I won’t bore your readers with the details here.

Frankly, I think I dozed off. It’s quiet at Town Hall. Not so much over much of the North and South Forks in summer. Before the 161 dog-and-pony there was another piece of airport business attended to, and this is what I’m writing you about today.

As the former vice chair of a town board-appointed airport noise committee with a name so long I can’t ever seem to get it right, I voted to approve and fund a taxiway parallel to the main runway at the airport. The vote of this committee was unanimous, and the reason for the approval was twofold: for safety on the ground and to extend the useful lifetime of the far more costly runways. 

Now back when I was on this committee the then town board would have simply rubber-stamped this and any improvement to airport infrastructure without so much as a hard look or a pointed question. Safety was, and is, a very misunderstood word when it comes to HTO.

Not so with this current town board, and I commend them for their diligence and their approach to shepherding us toward a smaller, safer airport.

Repeated questioning of airport personnel and airport users most notably by airport liaisons Sylvia Overby and Jeffrey Bragman opened up an aerial can of worms that anybody in the general vicinity of flight paths to and from HTO should be both aware of and very concerned with.

Turns out that traffic to and from the airport is so intense on summer weekends that there simply isn’t space on the ground for all the aircraft. It’s basically a huge game of musical chairs. The only difference is that the losers end up in the sky, circling until they can fit in. Large jets have to land, drop off a passenger or two, maybe a poodle, and then go to Gabreski in Westhampton to park, all the time dodging helicopters and seaplanes coming from five different directions.

On cloudy days these helicopters are buzzing less than 900 feet above scores of occupied homes. For-hire commuter seaplanes, corporate jets, and giant Sikorsky helicopters are all playing dodgeball above us. And given the recent spate of helicopter and airline incidents in nearby locales one has to believe that it can’t be all that impossible that “Reutershan in the sky” drops in on someone’s backyard barbecue sooner or later.

I want to keep the airport. I want it to be small and local. I want it to be safe. I want helicopters out, and I want commuter seaplanes restricted. And I want to see the current town board continue to ask hard questions about the goings-on at this unregulated, unwatched, unmitigated disaster of an airport we have now.

Is that really too much to ask?



Town Is Serious

East Hampton

April 23, 2018

Dear David,

I wish to thank the town board for their recent decision to revoke the lease agreement between Blade and our town for violating the terms of operation at our town-owned airport.

Perhaps this decision will signal all other helicopter and seaplane businesses that the town is serious about mitigating noise pollution for the residents of our community. 




Bold and Decisive


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

One of the signs of spring is the increase in helicopter noise on weekends. The noise crescendos into the full onslaught of that tortuous sound signaling the beginning of the summer season in the Hamptons. As we begin bracing for the sounds of summer that drown out all other sounds, including the beautiful songbirds singing in our trees, we heard the best news we’ve heard in a long time. Last Thursday night, the East Hampton Town Board voted unanimously to revoke Fly Blade Inc.’s license to keep a passenger service booth at East Hampton Airport for violating their approved charter service; Blade apparently was operating a commercial passenger service by running scheduled flights, not a permitted use at the airport.

In addition the town board filed a formal complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration for Blade’s operational violations, this being the first salvo by the town board to crack down on companies that are misusing the airport. That was a brilliant move, hopefully putting teeth into Blade’s eviction from the airport.

I wish to praise and congratulate the town board for these bold and decisive first steps. We pray more steps are on their way to end for good the misuse of our airport. Thank you for your strength and courage, standing up to the bullies from New Jersey abusing the residents of East Hampton and the entire East End with their helicopters. It was music to the ears of all the noise-affected who have suffered the torture and torment from this horrific noise.

We hope for the day we once again can hear the birds singing in our trees uninterrupted (if not for the weather) by their song, that spring has arrived. We will be forever grateful.



Bye, Blade


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

Thank you, East Hampton Town Board! Blade was “called out” for their violations at KHTO airport and according to News 12, their big-time lawyers stated that the town board did make them aware of the situation. Say what? Was this critical detail of the agreement not clear in the final contract? Was it not spelled out in English? Blade has disrespected the town board and the community. Bye bye, Blade!


Greatest Polluter


April 22, 2018

Dear David,

I see that improvements to our airport are proceeding apace; there is a gigantic gleaming fuel-storage facility, and soon a lovely new tarmac. As long as we do have an airport it should be properly outfitted, I suppose. My question for elected officials and airport users is an ongoing one that no one has yet to provide an answer to: 

Why is the immense pollution from aircraft emissions not mentioned or measured, let alone factored into, the town’s plans for sustainability and a zero carbon footprint? Town leaders simply ignoring the greatest polluter in our midst, and the largest purveyor of deleterious climate change while posing as environmental stewards is incomprehensible. (I’ll leave contamination of our aquifer for another day.)



Takes Initiative

East Hampton

April 23, 2014

Dear David,

I write to publicly congratulate the Van Scoyoc administration’s recent handling of the Blade helicopter licensing issue. 

While the town remains under Federal Aviation Administration grant assurances, few tools are available to actually govern this municipal asset. It takes initiative to discover when opportunities within the law actually exist. The airport co-liaisons, Deputy Supervisor Sylvia Overby and Councilman Jeff Bragman, are to be congratulated for taking a firm stand for the aircraft noise-affected community. 

Communicating that this town board is serious about maintaining a safe, but quiet, airport is half the battle. It’s important that aircraft companies understand this. As they continue to run roughshod over the rural character East Hampton holds dear, they will eventually recognize that we are serious about returning the peaceful enjoyment of home and property to the entire East End. Perhaps then, they’ll stop suing the town, pointedly wasting the very revenue they claim is so badly needed for maintenance and safety improvements, and negotiate in earnest. It will take some time for sure, but the town will prevail in governing its property they way it sees fit. 

It would be so much better for all concerned if aviation interests could understand that this deeply held community value will ultimately overwhelm their greed. Perhaps then, real negotiations about how to meaningfully diminish aircraft noise impacts on the community can be integrated into the desires of the aviation community to continue to use this publicly owned facility for its private use.



Legitimate Doubt


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

The Star covered the story in last week’s newspaper about the issues concerning the East Hampton Democratic Committee. To explain further, last week I filed an Article 78 action against the committee. It’s important that the community understands what this is about.

First, this is not a lawsuit against Jeanne Frankl personally, as the named defendant is the committee. Naturally, my petition and supporting documents describe actions taken by Jeanne, but she has no liability in the action.

Most people don’t realize that party committees are official bodies under New York State law. The election of members of the party committee, as well as the organization of the committee, is governed by the Election Law. In the case of the town committee, it is a part of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee and functions under their bylaws. Because these party committees are governed by Election Law, they are sometimes referred to as “constituted committees.”

Most people don’t realize that committee members are popularly elected by registered party members. In the Democratic Party, there have been no contested elections for committee membership since the 1980s. Democratic Committee members are elected in a primary election in even numbered years — 2018 is the next election year.

There are two committee seats in each of the 19 Election Districts. However, if there are only two names on the ballot for each district, the election is uncontested and no primary balloting is actually held. The people on the ballot take office after the primary. For that reason, most people never even realize that the committee members have been popularly elected.

Under New York State Election Law, committee members serve until the next primary. In effect, they have two-year terms of office. It is not within the power or authority of the town chair, or the town committee, or the county chair (Rich Shaffer), or the county committee to remove members from office or to change the Election Districts to which they have been elected. (There is a process for removing a member for bad behavior, but only after a notice and hearing for that person. Nothing like that occurred in the case of some committee members.)

Improperly, in my view, the town Democratic Committee chair has been attempting to remove elected committee members from their seats. Without regard to the reasons why she has done so, a comparison of the list of members certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections after the September 2016 primary and up until the present roster of the committee, according to the chair, shows that members duly elected or subsequently appointed to vacancies are no longer recognized as members of the committee. If members have not resigned their district office in writing, they are legally still members of the committee in districts to which they were elected or duly appointed.

It is unacceptable that the membership of the Democratic Committee, or any constituted committee governed by the Election Law, be corrupted in this way. The purpose of the lawsuit is to have the court declare the true membership of the Democratic Committee according to the Election Law. This is a normal function of our courts, especially when there is legitimate doubt about who holds a publicly elected office.

I, and others who wanted to see the committee comply with these requirements in the past year, made many attempts to enter into a dialogue with Jeanne about these issues, but were disregarded. About a month before we filed the lawsuit, my attorney wrote a letter to Jeanne asking for a discussion.

This letter was ignored. As a result, Jeanne must bear responsibility for the fact that we had to resort to litigation simply to have our voices heard.


Rona Klopman

Disdain for Democracy

East Hampton

April 23, 2018

Dear David,

After 14 years of being unable to live in East Hampton year round, I look forward with great anticipation to this June when my youngest graduates from high school. I can then return to East Hampton as a year-round resident.

In anticipation of picking up at least some of the things I left behind when we moved to Paris in the summer of 2004, and also in light of the recent attention paid to the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee in the press, I thought I would attend the committee meeting last Wednesday evening and see for myself what is going on.

What I saw was rather disappointing. With the filing of a lawsuit claiming that the official list of committee members, who are elected officeholders under New York State law, has been corrupted by the leadership, you would think the leadership would be on its best behavior. Not so.

One of the members attempted to make a motion from the floor that the chair ruled out of order until later in the meeting when the subject of screening candidates for the special town board election in November was on the agenda. The motion was to open membership on the subcommittee to screen candidates for the special election, with the apparent purpose of preventing the leadership from stacking the screening process to achieve its own predetermined outcome. When the appointed time came, the member made the motion, duly seconded.

Sad to say, aided and abetted by allies on the floor who raised a ruckus, shouting down the motion, the leadership refused to bring the motion to a vote and then quickly adjourned the meeting. As far as I know, if a motion is duly made and seconded, it must be voted upon by the members at the conclusion of discussion, unless there is a motion to table or defer, which is itself seconded and then adopted by majority vote. That didn’t happen. Instead, the chair both failed to maintain order and, instead of calling a vote, prevented a vote on a proper motion to which it was opposed. We only know that because the chair was also arguing against the motion from the podium, itself a breach of democratic decorum.

Disdain for democracy is a common hazard for long-entrenched leaders. Too often, people long in office come to believe that they are the font of wisdom, the true carriers of the torch, and that the voters, be they the general electorate, the members of the party, or the members of the party committee, are an unfortunate nuisance, a rabble that cannot be trusted and must be prevented from making decisions.

Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic Party along with James Madison, believed that leaders should serve a term or two and then return to the electorate lest they come to think of themselves as princes. The current leadership of the Democratic Committee has done great work in the past getting Democrats elected, but I think it has overstayed. 

Nor, in my opinion, should the committee merely substitute in office a successor designated by the current leadership, lest they continue to govern by proxy. That would be more of the same. At a time when the local Republican Party is moribund, unable to serve as an effective opposition to the governing majority on the town board, it is essential that the Democratic Committee be both independent and vocal. The Democratic Committee needs new and fiercely independent voices.

I last served on the Democratic Committee more than a decade ago. I intend to run for a seat on the committee in the September primary election by circulating a nominating petition this June. If there are committed Democrats in East Hampton who would also like to run, particularly if they have not served on the committee, or at least have not served in a long time, I invite them to join me in standing for office as Democratic Committee members. There are 38 seats to be filled. Just get in touch at dgruber@grubergray.com. 



Idealistic Wish


April 17, 2018

To the Editor,

The fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing saddens me even more when I realize that in the 1,800 days since that tragedy, literally millions (!) of people have “violated” 8-year-old victim Martin Richard’s plaintive poster plea calling for “No More Hurting People — Peace.” These millions of “hurters” include Bashar al-Assad, terrorists, school shooters, other mass murderers, rapists, molesters, drunk and distracted drivers, and way too many other hurtful individuals and groups to list here. 

Sadly, Martin was murdered just four months after 20 6 and 7-year-olds were slaughtered in nearby Newtown, Conn. I’m sure Martin is a terrific “big brother” to 20 of his younger Sandy Hook angel friends, and I hope they are all blissfully unaware of how mankind continues to fall short of his idealistic wish, which it’s still not too late to fulfill. 


Grim Truths


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

On Sept, 14, 2014, on Page SR3 of The New York Times, Lois Beckett wrote “The Assault Weapon Myth.” Ms. Beckett is a reporter who covers gun violence for ProPublica and her article, I believe four years later, is as on point now as it was then. Americans are deeply divided over gun control and have been for decades. Currently, as in the mid-1990s, proponents of gun control are rallying once again behind a single rallying cry: the banning of the sale of assault weapons. 

During 1993 there were 18,253 murders involving the use of firearms. The press ran countless sensational stories on the tragedy unfolding on American streets, and in response in 1994 the federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed. One component of the act was a 10-year federal ban on the sale of assault rifles. 

Firearm murders did decline from the high in 1993 of 18,253 and have been holding steady since 2009 to the present in the range of 11,000 murders a year. In fact, in 2016, there were 16,459 murders and 44,193 suicides committed in the United States. Of these, guns were used in 11,961 or 73 percent of the murders and 22,018 or about 50 percent of the suicides. 

Additionally, as cited by Ms. Beckett, one stark reality that glares out that even gun-control advocates acknowledge: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference and, in fact, a tiny percentage of both murders and suicides were committed with the big, scary military assault-style rifles, but rather handguns, small little concealable handguns, accounted for the vast majority of gun-related murders and suicides. In fact, all rifles including the big, scary military assault-style accounted for a meager but still tragic 374 murders in 2016.

As a longtime police union representative I am an advocate of the Second Amendment and professionally it is critical that I know and understand the many facets of gun violence and its causes. Nationally, since the early 1900s police officer line-of-duty deaths have ranged from the 300s to mid-100s, and in 2016, 143 officers died in the line of duty — 66 were gunned down and many more injured as a result of gun violence. Currently during the Jan. 1 through April 22, 2017, versus Jan, 1 through April 22, 2018, period, firearms-related police officer fatalities have increased 64 percent from 14 to 23 percent. Just this past week in Florida, on April 19, Deputy Sheriff Taylor Lindsey and Sergeant Noel Ramirez were shot and killed in an ambush-style attack while at a restaurant. The two deputies were shot through the window of the restaurant. 

As a police sergeant while assigned to Harlem and the South Bronx from 1992 to 2000, I had a close call with gun violence. In 1995 gun violence was everywhere and a daily occurrence when I received a near career-ending non-gun related injury during a gun battle between two individuals on Riverside Drive and 137th Street. 

I support and fully believe there need to be thoroughly vetted background checks that contain a full mental health disclosure. Federal law must be changed to ensure every state fully adheres and complies, as currently there is no uniformity in compliance. Washington, D.C., for example, had the fewest number of firearm background checks between 2010 and 2015. In fact, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS administered by the FBI reported less than .10 for every 100,000 residents. 

Unfortunately, Washington, D.C., also has one of the highest saturation of guns per capita and is well documented as one of the highest crime rates in the United States. Other states with noticeably reduced numbers of firearm background checks include the territory Puerto Rico, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.

Conversely, Kentucky had the most, by far — over 50 checks for every 100,000 people. In general, Kentucky has relatively few restrictions where gun laws are concerned, so its implementation of background checks is an essential part of keeping its community safe from firearms.

Three facts seldom mentioned by the press: Annually, 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns, yet black men amount to only 6 percent of the population. Of the 30 Americans on an average shot to death each day, half are black males. And after more than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department, it has been found that programs to target high-risk people, including those with mental health issues or places, rather than focus on specific kinds of guns, are far more successful in reducing gun violence.

I believe the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, has and will continue to obscure some grim truths I cited above about gun violence in America. We must change direction and address the actual causes of gun violence: unemployment, poverty, the breakdown of the family unit, a culture of violence, mental health, and the failure of government. 

Tragically Americans and politicians alike fueled by the press hype will continue to spend a lot of energy and political capital yelling and screaming at one another about assault weapons instead of trying to address the real issues.

As long as we allow the press/media outlets whose sole business is to create sensational news, which in turn generates income, to define the issue, we will never devote the time to the less spectacular real issues fueling gun violence.


Founding President

Police Benevolent 

Association of 

New York State

The Legal Way


April 23, 2018

Dear David,

There are those who feel the march of migrants on their way here should be let into our melting pot. Open arms, health care, schooling, give them everything. Well, my grandma Katie along with her mother, great-grandma Barney, set off to America from the Ukraine. God bless them they went to Ellis Island, did everything the legal way, and eventually learned our language and became citizens. 

Some of the illegal immigrants want everything free and plan to do nothing except make demands. They have been legally advised about their rights by activists. Notice, I said “some.” It bothers me when I am at the doctor’s and I pull out my checkbook to pay my bill and the lady next to me pulls out an emergency health card, asks me questions in Spanish I can’t answer.

Hurray for California; they are waking up to say Americans first, no sanctuary state. Please understand I am in favor of immigrants to come in the legal way, learn our language, become a citizen, and pay taxes.

In God and country,


National Doctrine

East Hampton     April 22, 2018

Dear David,

In our consumer-mad society the arts of selling and buying are the determining factors in how we use our money/credit. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, buying was the simplest of processes, based on the amount of cash you had in your pocket at any given time. We had no credit cards, few checks, and getting credit was not easy. Credit existed for buying a diamond ring, a car, or a house but no cards or lines of credit. Personal debt was considered poorly and was not easy to get into.

I grew up with a father who was an installment home-goods salesman. He took orders from customers, took them the merchandise, and collected $5 a week until the bill was paid off. He carried a huge wad of bills in his pocket, mostly $1s and $5s. He paid for everything in cash, and I loved his wad. He was a brilliant salesman who had to know his products, his customers, and how to create his own accounting system.

I grew up selling stuff (inherited characteristics) — pretzels and soft drinks on the beach and on the subways, lifeguard raffle tickets in the Rockaway bungalows, ideas about drug treatment to the federal government and the Lutheran churches, costume jewelry in Paris, and finally real estate out here.

So I’ve observed the consummation/sale process from both sides. Sixty years ago selling was an art form because buying required cash and if it cost more than what you had in your pocket, there was all the time necessary to get the cash that gave the buyer time to reflect on the purchase. The exchange required someone on the other end (only vending machines didn’t). The product was real, touchable, visible, testable. The point of sale was as simple as the wad of cash you carried around.

Today, in contrast, one only needs to click on the buy with one click button. No one is on the other side to look you in the eye. Cash is obsolete. Credit cards, debit cards, and lines of credit are in your wallet or in your phone. The point of purchase requires virtually no human interaction. Few obstacles stand in the way of the purchase. The element of time is about time saved to make other purchases. Reflection, analysis, evaluation are relics of another world.

In the world of plastic money, expediency, and little human interaction we are able to dissociate ourselves from the actual purchase. Cost, value, responsibility are set aside because our hand never goes into our pocket and comes up empty. The relationship between what we earn and what we buy disappears. When the plastic money is used up we can get more plastic to pay off the other one.

When the process for buying and consuming is analyzed, it is easy to understand how the American working class was duped into accepting credit for income — debts against real wealth, plastic against a wad of cash. All the wealth that should have gone to workers went instead to corporations and the top 1  percent. Since Lyndon Johnson there has been no one accept Barack Obama who tried to increase the wages of working-class Americans. From Nixon to Reagan to Clinton to Bush, the mindless riff about trickle down (now perpetuated by the racist, misogynist, incompetent buffoon) has been the national doctrine for the distribution of wealth.

My father once stood on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway cursing John Lindsay for ruining the community. If he were alive today he would want to beat Donald Trump to a pulp. If we are too stupid to know when we are getting screwed we deserve what we get.