Letters to the Editor: 05.24.18

Our readers' comments


Sag Harbor

May 18, 2018

Dear Editor,

I want to personally congratulate all upcoming graduates who have worked so hard. Additionally, I would like to belatedly give my best to all the moms for Mother’s Day, and while we’re at it, best wishes for dads, newborns, birthday celebrants, charity run/walkers, just-marrieds, and get-well-sooners. However, I ask that you all please do not mark these important milestones by littering balloons.

Every May and June my otherwise pleasant mornings at the beach with my dogs are marred by a parade of Mylar balloons in the wrack line stretching from Southampton to Montauk and into the bays as well. The 2015 balloon wash was dominated by a well-meaning charity “fun walk” (if you’re reading this, thanks for not doing any more Central Park balloon releases, and keep up your otherwise great work). An informal survey of balloons picked up in years since are printed with cheerful graphics for a wide range of celebrations, causes, and personal events, with graduations topping the list, particularly last spring.

So, while we can’t control the ocean currents (mostly west-to-east this time of year), we can control what we release in the air, and eventually our precious waters. So while you graduates move on to college and careers and inevitably do great things to improve our world, please do not start your noble voyage by choking a sea mammal or polluting a beach.

For readers who feel left out, without an important milestone this spring, I ask you to join me on my long-shore balloon collections. They make a satisfying pop when you step on them: almost as fun as Kadima.



So Many Friends

East Hampton

May 6, 2018

Dear Editor,

On behalf of my family and myself I would like to thank all of the people who reached out to us in the past few weeks. 

I want you all to know that Bill would have really enjoyed the amount of food that came to our door every day, especially the warm bagels from Goldberg’s and the food from One Stop.

So many friends traveled to us, and have sent cards and letters; they are still coming every day. 

Every one of you has your special “Bill” story, and I have listened to them even from people I never previously met. They knew him well.

Thank you to the reporters who reached out to us to help personalize Bill’s obituary, I received many compliments on the story they created about his life. 

The kindness of friends and neighbors has truly carried us through these hard times.

Thank you so much.


Means so Much


May 21, 2018

To the Editor,

My boys and I want to thank everyone for the incredible generosity shown to us in the last three-plus months since my wife, Debi, passed away. It has no doubt been the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced, but with the support from our friends and the local community, I know we’ll be okay. 

So many people have been so generous to us, many of them people we don’t know personally. They’ve helped us through the gofundme page, the historical society fundraiser, and through various other foundations on the East End. I want to know that it means so much to us. 

This area has been special to my family for a long time. And this has all just shown that we do live in a special place. Again, thank you all so much.




Barely Visible


May 20, 2018

To the Editor:

Now that winter is (finally) past, I think it’s time to repaint the double yellow median as well as the white lines that delineate the shoulders of Flamingo Avenue in Montauk. When driving at night, especially in inclement weather, the lines are barely visible at the top of the hill between the Long Island Rail Road station and Culloden Place. It should be addressed before the busy summer season creates a dangerous situation for motorists and bicyclists. Thanks in advance to the highway superintendent. 



The Lost Frontier


May 11, 2018


Winter waters keep a relentless grip on this eastern tip of the continent. High above the cirrus clouds, heard but unseen, a jet arcs across the Earth. Red-wing blackbirds joust for supremacy over a barren perch. A seagull wrangles with a half-eaten hot dog.

Stout, weathered men with silver beards and epic stories, as if drawn by sirens, roll in on this dirt lane, one after the other, like the waves thundering offshore shrouded in dense spring fog. The breath of total annihilation is close. 

They pull up in noir Silverados, cobalt Tundras, white Lobos, and polished pewter Rams, appellations of the lost frontier. Backs to the west, never leaving their cabs, gripping the steering wheel or sipping coffee, steely eyes gaze, honed to points of their ancestors, watching, waiting.

Far across the pond, on land’s end, jagged cliffs, broken tracks and by-lanes, archaic cousins, longingly look afar at sunset west, to distant shores, watching, waiting.


Spark of Community

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

Dear David,

I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that this world is going through many changes, like it or not, and we are experiencing such on a local level as well. As fearful as it may seem to some, I believe we have a marvelous opportunity to be part of this change on a local level and exhibit to other parts of the country what community looks like. 

We are being presented with the opportunity to create anew as we dare to try things that we haven’t done before. 

And why not? If our goal as a community is to bring people together, supporting our very diverse skills, talents, and ideas, then let’s try something new. 

The very first farmers market in our beautiful Village of East Hampton, at Herrick Park, is a great beginning.

These have proven to be very successful in other parts: Sag Harbor, Amagansett, and Montauk to name a few, and no one ever tires of a farmers market. They are venues where people come together to share, support, converse, laugh, enjoy, and simply have a wonderful time together. Economically and socially it is a win-win.

There has been a sense of emptiness in our beautiful village for a while now and we cannot let that continue. I am tired of hearing people speak about how friendly and charming Sag Harbor or Amagansett is (and, yes, they are indeed) and in the same breath expressing their disappointment in what East Hampton Village has become. And what is missing for them? A sense of community.

A farmers market is a simple and effective way to ignite the spark of community once again in our village, and the intention is to collaborate with the already existing farmers market on North Main Street on Fridays, simply moving it to the heart and center of the village. Steven Ringel, director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, and I visited the existing market last Friday and found that the majority of farmers and artisans would be very eager to relocate to Herrick Park on Friday mornings instead. There is ample parking for all in the village on a Friday morning, and, clearly, the benefits for all outweigh any minor considerations one would have. Collaboration and community.

We all love where we live, namely East Hampton, and within the context of such chaos and upheaval in this world, I do believe we are all deeply yearning for that sense of community once again. Something as simple as a farmers market allows us all some joy and sharing, as it will simply bring life and some love to our community. 

A community is only as strong, sweet, and alive as its residents and visitors feel. We at the chamber of commerce invite the village zoning board to engage with us to bring this simple idea to life. It’s a win-win for all. 

Change is going to occur with or without us. I think it behooves us all to be guides in this change so as to preserve everything we hold dear in our hearts about this village and at the same time embrace new ideas which enhance and sustain all that we love. 

We honor the men and women who have preserved and made our village what it is and you have our unwavering commitment to continue working with you and supporting you every step of the way. Where else can we hear the beautiful sound of church bells at certain times of the day, reminding us of the sacredness of this life, or the stunning visual of the trees that are so lovingly cared for on Main Street, welcoming visitors from all over the world. We thank you.

Again, change will occur with or without us. Let’s move forward together, bringing back and igniting some heart and soul to our community before it’s too late. 

The East Hampton Village Farmers Market — A simple idea with a positive impact.


Trustee Positions

East Hampton

May 16, 2018 

Dear David, 

We would like to thank Steven Ringel and the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce for their efforts in planning and hosting the spring street fair in East Hampton Village. 

Despite the weather, the fair was well attended and enjoyed by all who came by. The food, shopping, and music created a jovial atmosphere that hopefully brought an uptick in commerce while at the same time creating a sense of community. There were also many nonprofits and informational booths to inform us of the important issues that we are faced with and work they are doing. We need to restore the vibrancy and vitality of the village by bringing people and families back to the village with events like this.

As many of you know, we are both running for village trustee positions in the upcoming election on June 19. If elected, we will encourage and support the chamber in their future endeavors through more events like the street fair. We’d like to revitalize the commercial district by working collaboratively with business owners, residents, the chamber, and town government officials. 

Water quality is an issue that everybody recognizes has extraordinary value to all of us on so many levels. We propose improving the septic systems in the commercial district. Many of these failing systems require constant maintenance and are leaching pollutants into our groundwater. With a new and improved wastewater management system, we’d be able to increase more food and restaurant opportunities in the village.

 Since 2016, we can use community preservation funds for water quality initiatives, which would help defray the costs of this project. We also realize that the village needs to improve the state of its infrastructure. Our roads, streets, and sidewalks need to be improved and maintained.

We live in a truly special place that is surrounded by astounding beauty. The overarching goal for village government is to enhance and maintain its residents’ quality of life, while executing a fiscally sound budget. We want to be advocates for the village residents. Over the last couple of months, we have listened to our neighbors and friends talk about what’s important to them. We want to be open-minded and solution based. We would like to implement some changes in the village while protecting our quality of life, historical landmarks, and precious environment. Let us work together to find some viable solutions to our most pressing common concerns. We are deeply committed to making our village the best it can be.

Let’s work together and try to get to “yes!” We will work diligently to make sure East Hampton Village continues to be one of “America’s most beautiful villages.”

For more information about our candidacy please visit our website at FishHooksParty.org. Please vote for us on June 19!




Intelligent Questions

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

Dear Editor,

I applaud Ms. Rocker for asking intelligent questions in her May 14 letter regarding the East Hampton Housing Authority’s plan for the property at 531 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, and I am grateful for the opportunity to address her concerns. She is absolutely correct — her fellow residents should be asking themselves the same questions. Please allow me to provide answers here.

The East Hampton Housing Authority will be managing the apartments. The Housing Authority is, in turn, overseen by the town, the county, the state, and the federal government. The sewage treatment plant will cost about $35,000 to operate and monitor by a licensed third party, and there are State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and other permit fees of approximately $6,000 a year.

All treatment plants in Suffolk County require this level of monitoring. The cost is included in the budget, and the rents collected cover all operating costs. The residents pay the operating and maintenance costs, not the taxpayers of East Hampton. If the primary and backup pumps should fail, the 24/7 computerized monitoring system will immediately alert the operator. This is highly unlikely as the system has multiple layers of redundancy built in to prevent a catastrophe. A generator is included in the plant. All a small price to pay to protect our groundwater. 

Much to their credit the town enacted an aggressive zoning code in January of this year that compels any property owner making substantial changes to their existing property and all new construction to include advanced denitrifying systems. This code came to pass without much fanfare but it is very important. The plan for Amagansett 531 is using the best technology available to us for treating wastewater. Better, in fact, than the 19mg/L TN residential standard.

The final generic environmental impact statement for the draft 2004 Town of East Hampton Comprehensive Plan and proposed zoning map noted that, “while areas of proposed upzoning will reduce the intensity of residential development in those areas, areas located in affordable housing overlay districts can be developed more densely, using the Suffolk County Health Department’s TDR provisions, allowing up to five units per acre density for unsewered projects, and up to eight units per acre for developments with on-site sewage treatment facilities.” 

The Planning Department’s research for SEQRA found 531 Montauk Highway not to be within any natural resources special protection districts. The short environmental assessment form prepared by the town for SEQRA determination states, “The parcel is cleared and does not contain significant flora or fauna and does not contain wetlands and is not located in a critical environmental area.” The 600 gl/acre standard is for black water (conventional septic) in a residential zone absent the affordable housing overlay. I encourage you to go to the town’s website and read the entire report.

According to the current study, “the Stony Hill aquifer ground and drinking water resources exist generally beneath the land east of Accabonac Road, south of Red Dirt Road, north of the railroad tracks and inland from Gardiner’s Bay; and within and contributing recharge to existing and proposed Cross Highway and Red Dirt Road Suffolk County Water Authority well fields.” To my knowledge there are no advanced denitrifying systems in that zone — all that existing development in that area is likely relying on conventional septic for black water disposal.

I thank Ms. Rocker for taking the time to ask these questions and standing up for what she believes in. The Housing Authority and Georgica Green take environmental protection very seriously and we hope to do her, and East Hampton, proud.


Executive director

East Hampton Housing Authority

531 Montauk Highway


May 21, 2018

Dear David,

At the recent planning board public hearing for the East Hampton Housing Authority project at 531 Montauk Highway, there was indeed a “chorus of support” not only for the social and economic benefits of this project, but also for the meticulous attention paid to all of its environmental aspects. So it was with some dismay that I read a letter in last week’s issue, “Dangerous Project,” in which the author voiced strong opposition. 

My dismay comes from some erroneous statements of fact. First, this project is not in a special groundwater management zone. Additionally, her fear of the sewage treatment plant is unfounded. One of the benefits of higher density housing comes from the fact that sewage treatment plants become economically viable. Treated wastewater is far better than the effluent produced daily by almost all, if not all, the homes in the Stony Hill aquifer protection zone.

It is also hard to imagine what the author is thinking when she states that things could go “horribly wrong” when there are layers of redundancy built in as fail-safes against system failure. The system will be checked daily by a certified wastewater management technician, as required by Suffolk County. Additionally, a computer alarm/alert system operates 24/7 and a back-up generator will kick in if there is a power outage.

The author goes on to question who exactly will manage the housing and what it will cost. The East Hampton Housing Authority will manage the site with its usual fine expertise. I have personally visited the Springs-Fireplace apartments and the Accabonac apartments several times over the years. The premises of each are beautifully maintained, and I encourage the author to visit them.

As with the other East Hampton Housing Authority projects, 531 Montauk Highway is self-funding and will cover the costs of operating the sewage treatment plant, along with all other costs of maintenance, repairs, and replacements. 

I do find agreement with Ms. Rocker that “the land of Amagansett and all that surrounds it has been abused in the name of profit,” but that abuse comes from individual landowners who build enormous houses to the maximum allowable coverage, overwater and over-fertilize their properties, and ignore the town’s restrictions on clearing.



Prouder Than Ever

East Hampton

May 20, 2018

Dear David,

I wanted to take the time to personally thank everyone who voted me on to the East Hampton School Board. As a working mother with two young children, running for a seat on the board was not a decision I took lightly. What a huge honor it was to have The East Hampton Star’s endorsement, and the outpouring of voters — over 600 — visually confirmed for me the strength and support of our town. For that, I am immensely appreciative and prouder than ever to call East Hampton my home. 

Seeing the droves of people who turned out to let their voices be heard and votes counted was a real tangible moment for our community. I am happy to be joining Christina DeSanti, who will be retaining her current seat, and I wanted to send my thanks to Jeff Erikson who ran an impressive campaign. I am also very grateful to Liz Pucci for her years of dedicated service on the board. I truly look forward to joining the East Hampton School Board as a new voice for our school community.

Most sincerely,


Ought to Resign

East Hampton

May 15, 2018

To The Editor:

The East Hampton School Board deliberately denied me the right to exercise my vote on the current school board budget. Here’s how: My absentee ballot was postmarked 7p.m., May 11, from mid-Island. It reached me on May 14, a day before the vote. The instructions said my vote had to be delivered by 8 p.m., May 15. Thus, because I was traveling, meeting the board’s criteria was impossible, which they obviously knew.

Given that the board adopted an obviously dubious method of ensuring that only votes of which they were certain would support its proposal, I believe the entire board ought to resign, and an open, transparent voting process be invested in new, more honorable members.



P.S. I have the dated envelope should anyone care to check.

My Pleasure


May 21, 2018

Dear David,

I would like to thank the Amagansett community for supporting the Amagansett Grade School by passing the budget. The effort that the community made to come out to vote, especially with the rain and thunder on voting day, was fantastic. Thank you for voting me to an additional three years to the Amagansett School Board. It will be my pleasure to serve the community in this capacity. I truly believe that our school is the heart and soul of our unincorporated village and am awed by the community’s commitment to proved, strong educational programs and services to the students!

Sincerely Yours,


Gained in Knowledge


May 21, 2018

Dear David,

The Amagansett School budget vote was on May 16, and there was a wonderful show of interest. 

The school budget is about the community voting to meet the needs of the students, staff, and school building. As we move forward, I am in hopes that the school board will make more prudent decisions on finances.

In the last few pamphlets of information mailed to taxpayers, the school board showed more information in the outline than previously disclosed in years past. (The administrators’ component being $1.1 million of a $10 million budget.)

In closing, I am grateful for meeting so many wonderful community members and thank them for coming out to vote for me. I might have lost in votes, but feel that the community gained in knowledge.

I hope to see more of you attending the board meetings. They are listed on the website, aufsd.org.

Best Regards,


Beach Day

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

Dear David:

It was interesting to me that The Star printed that the Springs [School] Board “announced” their decision to cancel Beach Day at the last board meeting. The whole point of my visit to Judy D’Mello on May 8 was that it was not announced, and you had the scoop to announce it. The only reason it was even brought up at the board meeting was that the parents were informed about it by their children. Still, The Star printed nothing about it that week. About the article you did publish one week later I have the following comments:

Spoke with John Ryan Sr. the other day. Somehow his stand about Beach Day was portrayed incorrectly in The Star. He was falsely represented. John always advocates respect for the ocean, but sees no reason why Beach Day should not continue as it has been for the last half-century, at the ocean. The printed falsehood is very disconcerting, because John is highly respected, and most of the slant of the article relies on his word. 

The Star also misquoted me, I never said anything about Facebook. They omitted my strongest points, and watered down what I did say. There seems to be an effort to direct dissenting views about the cancellation to Facebook, which is less public and less invasive to the school. I would have directed dissenting views to the Springs School administration, and letters to The Star.

The Star devoted 80 percent of the article to the excuses by Ms. Winter, the new school superintendent. It told an outright lie about John Ryan’s stand, and falsely said I directed the complaints of “angry” parents to Facebook. They also delayed the announcement about the cancellation a week.

What’s going on?



False Divisions


May 21, 2018

Dear David,

The public hearing on Deepwater Wind last Thursday must be counted as a success for many reasons, not least because it became apparent that this issue could no longer be incorrectly portrayed as environmental progressives versus Luddites or as Democrat supporters versus Republican naysayers. 

People with impeccable environmental and scientific credentials opposed the plan intelligently and forcefully. Many known politically active Democrats did the same. This removal of false divisions may finally allow the town, both officials and the public, to start — yes, start — the correct analysis that has been nearly blocked by these unproductive divisions. 

If one listened closely, there was important agreement between many supporters and detractors on fundamental concerns. All the environmentalists who oppose Deepwater also agree with the supporting presenters’ views that we must diminish the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy. But many of us believe that there are alternatives to Deepwater that, when analyzed on a 5, 10, or 20-year horizon, will provide much better benefits in all aspects: fossil fuel reduction, potential environmental damage, lower risk to local commercial fishing, and lower and more equitable cost for all ratepayers. 

I was also happy to hear almost no one put forth the erroneous claim that building Deepwater would allow East Hampton to reach its goal of using only 100-percent renewable energy. This was always accounting sophistry, and even LIPA’s own documents can be used to prove that in the summer a majority fraction of the electricity consumed would come from fossil fuel plants located to the west. Erasing this false marketing claim should allow us to design the optimal design of green energy, battery storage, and grid design for the South Fork.

One of the most important presentations was by Rachel Gruzen, who pointed the way toward alternative and better plans, almost surely using wind energy from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority areas being developed in the Long Island Bight, and, most important, that the plans should be developed with the aid of independent experts. 

My own research has moved from assessing the environmental risks to the financial risks and finally to the question of financial equity for all Long Island ratepayers. The responsible action now is for all who have expertise to work together to present the town with a better alternative to Deepwater. The responsible action for the town and trustees is to resist pressure from Deepwater for a decision and to listen openly to well-presented views. Even better, the town and trustees could hire one or more independent experts that could help all of us determine the best way to move away from fossil fuels.


Being Snookered


May 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

East Hampton has decided to embark on a clean-energy future, which is excellent. Following that decision, however, things seem to have gotten wrested from town control. 

I think of Deepwater Wind as Deepwater Swindle. Bids for clean energy projects were fielded by a monopoly (Long Island Power Authority), and the monopoly chose — guess what — the massive project that only the monopoly can sell to people (that’s us, folks). At what rate basis? That’s been very murky, and I have a feeling we all can guess why. I sense a massive swindle.

I attended one of the Deepwater company’s info sessions. It seemed crystal clear to me that we were all being bamboozled and shown the wrong picture. In this case, the devil is not in the details. It’s in the fundamental premise: another era of centralized, monopoly-run metering, with the added wrinkle of industrial fields in the ocean. Where a cable lands is the least of it. It’s like the Carib Indians arguing over which beach Columbus should row his dingy to.

I would have liked to see the town fielding bids for various kinds of green-energy projects from various developers, including locally based businesses. I think we’d all be better off in the long run with solar and shallow geothermal energy and other new clean tech applied directly at our own homes. If you’re asking “Who would pay for that?” Well, who do you think will pay for the wind turbines? But we won’t just pay for them. They’ll get an eternal profit out of us, too. 

California has become the first state to mandate solar on all new homes. That is progress. But we’re setting ourselves up for a new era of centralized energy mainly benefiting monopoly power companies.

It appears that many of the bids that LIPA received but did not “choose” were for various decentralized projects. Why didn’t they choose them? Decentralized energy is a major threat to giant utilities, and they know it. They’ve fought it. Here is one analysis of the how and why large utility companies are threatened by smaller, decentralized power technologies such as solar, and how the big utilities make money by building stuff.

And, yes, there will also be noise and industrial activity that may be bad for dolphins and sharks, and wind-turbine fields appear to be bad for seabirds because many seabirds won’t forage in them. Then there are the blades. They are not even planning the safest designs for birds. Instead they are using regular old fan blades. If you want to see state-of-the-debate and state-of-the-tech, Google: Birds sue wind energy. Then search: Bird-friendly wind turbine. You’ll have a day’s reading.

But, as I currently understand it, the issue is much more fundamental: Will government facilitate decentralization that would build lots of local jobs, or will it help a monopoly thrive at our expense? I think that’s the real question. 

We need decentralized energy. The power monopolies are existentially threatened by the possibility of decentralized clean energy. So their answer in our region is centralized industrial-scale projects, in the wild ocean. Our town, in my view, is being snookered. I’d prefer to see the town, in partnership with energy-knowledgeable residents,  create the vision for what we need and want. Not the power monopoly that is looking for a way to turn this threat to them into a literal windfall.


Atop the List


May 21, 2018

Dear David, 

I was honored to be in attendance Sunday May 21, when David Lys announced his intention to run to retain his seat on the East Hampton Town Board. David is a lifelong resident of East Hampton and a valuable member of the community. Whether it is running his own business, his work as a founding member of Citizens for Access Rights, being chairman of the museum for the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, his tireless work as a board member of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, his current position as a town councilman, or maybe his most important role as husband and father of four young girls, David has proven that he has the knowledge, desire, and ability to be a valuable leader of this community.

 His fellow town board members obviously saw these qualities in David when, after numerous interviews with many capable candidates, David’s qualifications and abilities put him atop the list of candidates, and ultimately led the town board members to make the right decision in appointing him to fill the vacant town board seat. I hope you will join me, and the many other members of the community that have benefited from David’s dedication and hard work in supporting David in his run to retain his town board seat by voting for David Lys in this upcoming November election.



Depth of Character

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

Dear Editor:

I want to make a few very important statements about David Lys, our town councilman who was appointed when a seat became vacant and who has done a terrific job since. David is a man of high integrity and morals, and will help our town by continuing to make qualified decisions, which will affect the future of East Hampton Town for years to come. His commitment to family, his lovely wife, Rachel, and their four beautiful daughters, his parents, and extended family are something to be envied as they are a cohesive group who truly care about one another. David Lys cares about his town, East Hampton.

I cannot think of any person with the depth of character David possesses who can do the job as well. He has been active with town government for many years, and was the torchbearer for getting the United States Coast Guard Station at Atlantic Avenue renovated and opened. It has since become a museum, and I, for one, am extremely proud of that accomplishment.

When questions arise as to “who” to vote for in November, there is only one person who I feel can do the job — David Lys.



Working for All


May 21, 2018

Dear Editor

David Lys has been a town councilman for four months. He was chosen by the town board to fill Peter Van Scoyoc’s vacated seat.

David is in the right place for the people of East Hampton. David is someone who has always worked tirelessly for important causes and now he is working for all of us in East Hampton. 

David is one of the most honest people I know. Added to that he is of local background, born and schooled in East Hampton. He is a well-educated young man. He and his wife, Rachel, both have businesses of their own. He has children in the local schools, and his dad was an immigrant.

All of these attributes add up to a perfect town councilman.

David Lys, you will always have my vote.





May 20, 2018

Dear David:

I write to set the record straight and to rebut misinformation being circulated by Rona Klopman and David Gruber about the pending election for chair of the East Hampton Democratic Town Committee and the committee voter roll to be used in that election. Without checking the facts and under a disingenuous argument that they represent transparency and open government, Ms. Klopman and her allies have alleged in emails, public letters, and a court action that the voter rolls have been manipulated to defeat her and has sued the committee to shut down the vote. The allegations are unsupported by the record as she and her supporter David Gruber would have found out had they looked before shooting.

The goals of the challenge to the committee process, now as then, are overt. As Ms. Klopman and her most vocal supporters in the committee make clear, their grievances include disappointed ambitions for themselves or their friends to be elected or appointed to local office and their desires to oust sitting members of the Democratic town board. 

David Gruber, who has announced his intention to reside full time in East Hampton and renew his involvement in Democratic politics, confided to at least one person that the “town board needs to be punished.” I, as the Democratic chair, do not share that view and hope we can move on in accordance with trutransparency, inclusiveness, and civil debate, avoiding the pernicious discord that has permeated recent email chains and letters to your paper.

To set the record straight, Ms. Klopman’s lawsuit is based on an allegation that there are five seats for which committee people are not properly seated because allegedly vacancies were not created according to the relevant rules. These allegations are unsupportable.

The rules of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, to which we are all subject, state, Article II 8: 

In the event of any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Suffolk County Committee the town chair of the town and district in which such vacancy occurred shall file a copy of the resignation and/or written notice that such vacancy exists with the county chair. Upon filing of such resignation and/or giving of notice, the town chair may fill such vacancy by the appointment of an acting county committee member. Each such acting county committee member shall hold office for the balance of the term so vacated or until the vacancy shall be filled by the county committee or by the county chair as provided by these rules or the Election Law. (Emphasis added.)

The five current or former committee people involved in the Klopman challenge are Theresa (Terri) Berger, Edwin Geus, Larry Mayer, Tyler Armstrong, and Arline Gidion. In her lawsuit, Ms. Klopman states that there were no resignations submitted for Theresa Berger and Edwin Geus. That is not true. Resignations were submitted, and Rona Klopman has been provided with the letters. Furthermore, since Terri was appointed to the zoning board of appeals and Ed Geus was appointed to the architecture review board, they would have been prohibited from serving on those boards and simultaneously being committee members pursuant to town code 25-3A(3). 

Ms. Klopman also claims that Larry Mayer did not resign. This is a curious allegation indeed in that she also claims that Tyler Armstrong, who she alleges succeeded to Larry Mayer’s seat in District 4, is a current committee person. Clearly, she cannot have it both ways and she seems confused about what she wants other than to prevent a democratic vote. 

Larry Mayer has given us an affidavit, a copy of which has been provided to Ms. Klopman, indicating that he resigned. When he told me that he resigned, I gave notice to the Suffolk County Democratic Committee in January of 2017 in an email. That satisfied the written notice of vacancy in the rules above allowing an appointment of a successor. It is apparently both Ms. Klopman’s position that Larry can be kept on the committee involuntarily and that Tyler Armstrong was appointed to his position! In fact, although I made a recommendation to the county committee that Tyler be appointed to District 4 when Larry Mayer resigned, I have no record that that confirmation ever occurred or that the vacancy was filled by the Suffolk County Democratic Committee.

Assuming that Tyler Armstrong never was a committee person, the vacancy in District 4 created by Larry Mayer’s resignation could be filled by the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, which it did on Feb. 1 by the appointment of Bruce Colbath. If Ms. Klopman has a problem with the Suffolk County Democratic Committee appointing Bruce Colbath to District 4 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Larry Mayer, she should sue the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, not the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee.

Lastly, Ms. Klopman claims that Arline Gidion was moved from District 17 to District 13 without her consent. Before moving Arline from one district to another, I discussed this with her and she gave her consent. Her consent connotes her agreement to resign from one district and be appointed in another. In 2017, upon her consent, she was moved to District 15. This year we asked that she be moved to District 16 to which she responded enthusiastically because she lives there. However, when Jeanne Hutson complained, Arline agreed to be moved to District 13 (which caused Jeanne’s mother, Averill Geus, to complain). An affidavit from member Jacquelyn Gavron, attesting to her witnessing my conversation with Arline that confirmed her consent, is in Rona Klopman’s possession.

That’s it, the sum and substance of the charges of manipulation: the handling of two positions among 32 currently filled memberships called into question.  We have moved to dismiss the lawsuit both on the merits and based on numerous procedural defects in the case including the fact that Ms. Klopman is suing the wrong party and failed to name the other affected committee members and because evidence of Ms. Klopman’s wild claims is sorely lacking. Given the unlikelihood that Ms. Klopman will prevail, we have asked the court to lift the temporary restraining order and let the election go forward. Notably, Ms. Klopman’s proceeding to the State Department of Education challenging her loss in the Amagansett School Board race was also dismissed for her failure to name necessary parties. 

The courts will decide this when they decide it. Our job as Democratic committee people is to move forward and do our jobs. 



Midnight Conversion

East Hampton 

May 21, 2018

Dear David:

Last week, Rona Klopman, a member of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee, obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent the committee from holding an election for a new chair until the court can determine the committee’s true voting membership. Those of your readers who don’t follow local politics closely are probably wondering by now what the heck is going on in the East Hampton Democratic Party. Allow me to explain and add that I speak here for myself alone. I do not speak for Rona.

Chris Kelley, the Democrats’ “fixer” in town Hall, gave his game away when he was quoted in the news saying he thinks it is all really about Town Councilman David Lys, who was appointed to the vacancy on the town board created when Peter Van Scoyoc became supervisor. 

 Mr. Kelley doesn’t have to speculate. He knows perfectly well that the current divide in the Democratic Party is about Mr. Lys, who was a lifelong Republican until just a few days before he was appointed to the town board vacancy. The game we are stuck in is largely Mr. Kelley’s doing, after all.

 Mr. Lys was brought to the attention of the town board by Mr. Kelley and Larry Cantwell, who, although no longer in office, likes to dabble. In turn, Mr. Lys was brought to the attention of Mr. Cantwell by Alex Walter, also a Republican and Mr. Cantwell’s executive assistant while he was supervisor.

 Mr. Lys is widely admired, without regard to his political views, and deservedly so in my opinion. It is impossible not to like him. But he changed his registration from Republican to Democrat on the eve of his appointment to the town board and the change does not take effect until after the next election. Does this represent a conscientious change in his views about public affairs and governing philosophy or is it merely political opportunism? I don’t know. Mr. Lys may not know himself. 

Sylvia Overby was once a Republican, so was Pete Hammerle, so were any number of people who were elected to local public office as Democrats. By itself, that is not so unusual. What is unusual is to start at the top, immediately to join the small body that governs the town without first having earned the confidence of fellow members of the party.

Given the midnight conversion, there are Democrats who are concerned. They worked hard to elect three Democrats to the town board last November. Three Democrats were elected. Jeff Bragman was given the committee’s Democrat of the Year honors for his victory as the third of three. Now they wonder whether their efforts were wasted.

The three town board members who voted to appoint Mr. Lys, of course, think the party should support their choice, because the appointment to the vacancy was their prerogative. Naturally, Chris Kelley, who brought David Lys to the prom, thinks so too. They are dismissive of the concerns of Democratic committee members. 

Seemingly, after already having appointed Mr. Lys, they all woke up with a hangover, realizing that whether Mr. Lys is nominated by the Democratic Party to run in the special election this November isn’t up to Chris Kelley, Larry Cantwell, or the town board. It is up to the Democratic committee. Oops. 

Making matters worse for them, Mr. Lys, having only just re-registered as a Democrat, is ineligible under New York law to be the party’s nominee without special permission, called a Wilson-Pakula certificate, from the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, This law exists precisely to prevent opportunistic registrations to a different political party. Without the committee’s nomination, to demonstrate that Mr. Lys is the choice of the party itself, no Wilson-Pakula certificate.

Once the Kelley-Cantwell cabal wakes up and starts counting noses on the Democratic committee, they realize that, at best, it is a very close call whether Mr. Lys will be the committee’s choice. Then, a miracle happens! Actually, a series of miracles.

First, Cate Rogers, who almost alone among the committee members had been Kelley’s choice for town board a year ago when the committee overwhelmingly preferred Jeff Bragman, resigns her seat on the zoning board of appeals, to which she had been appointed only a month earlier. Immediately, she is appointed to a vacancy on the Democratic committee by chair Jeanne Frankl. Without having ever  served 10 minutes on the committee, Ms. Rogers announces her candidacy for chair to succeed Jeanne Frankl, with Jeanne’s warm public endorsement, rather an indiscretion for the sitting chair.

Then Ms. Frankl starts moving members from one election district to another on the committee and appointing reliable allies to the vacancies she imagines she has created. Why does it matter which of the 19 election districts someone represents? Because they do not have equal votes. Votes are weighted by the number of Democrats who voted in the last gubernatorial election. Some districts have three times the weight of others. 

In a strange coincidence, Frankl is moving opponents out of seats with high voting weights into seats with low voting weights, tilting the nomination in favor of David Lys. Vote-rigging you say? Bosh! In one case, Frankl explains that it was only because she was asked to do it by the mother of the committee member involuntarily removed from her seat. Want to be an elective officeholder? Call your mom.

 The thing is, Frankl has no power to remove a member from the seat to which elected or validly appointed to fill a vacancy. She can appoint to legitimate vacancies, but she cannot create them. Committee members are elected officeholders, not Frankl’s employees. You would think that Kelley and Frankl, both lawyers, would know this.

Rona Klopman had the courage to raise her hand and say, “You can’t do this. It violates the Election Law.” Of course, rather than do the right thing, the insider cabal proceeded publicly to vilify Rona as a troublemaker. Now they are in court.

Will the courts do justice? The facts are clear, the law is clear, but the courts are heavily biased in favor of people in authority. It remains to be seen.

Did David Lys understand that he was appointed to the town board as a pawn in a game for control of the Democratic Party? I truly don’t believe so. Without any roots in the party, without anyone to explain to him the game that was afoot, how would he know? But, there it is, and there he is, stuck in the middle and perhaps wondering how he got there. 

  Next time, why it matters.



Close KHTO


May 20, 2018

Dear Editor,

In 2017, East Hampton hosted 27,000 airport operations, a 6 percent increase in just one year. The number of operations by type of aircraft in 2017 has not yet been made public, but seaplane activity has increased substantially in recent years and today represents a significant percentage of annual operations at KHTO. Now, aviation proponents are proposing designating a separate seaplane parking area at KHTO to accommodate what one can assume will be even more seaplane activity than in 2017.

Private air travel is increasing nationwide, due to lower costs of fractional ownership and more crowdsourcing flight operators like Blade. Yet members of the airport management advisory committee state that separate aircraft parking and boarding areas and more fluid ground movements resulting from plans (not yet approved by the town) to pave additional portions around ramps/taxiways will not encourage more traffic. That assumption flies in the face of the widely accepted adage “build it and they will come.” The same was said of the air traffic control tower before it was built. Immediately after, more helicopters and large jets came to KHTO. 

At recent airport management advisory committee meetings, various other projects have been discussed: local pilots’ demands to reopen a secondary runway recommended closed by the Federal Aviation Administration and which would have taken aircraft directly over Wainscott residences rather than over a sand pit; increasing the height of the current air traffic control tower; later, relocation and construction of a new, higher control tower; constructing a new portion on the northern end of the main runway to compensate for loss of landing area on the southern end due to installation of a higher perimeter fence; paving additional areas around the taxiway and apron near the terminal to ease congestion and allow easier movement and parking of larger jets, and eventual need for expanded parking for aircraft and automobiles. None of these projects is F.A.A. required, but all imply expansion is in the airport’s future, at least in the vision of aviation proponents. None of it makes sense with airport closure a possibility in 2021. 

Meantime, the town’s Part 161 application (under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act) is moving forward with the goal of obtaining F.A.A. approval for the town to set access restrictions in order to lessen airport noise and presumably reduce resident exposure to toxic fossil-fuel emissions. That’s commendable, but Part 161 may achieve only minor restrictions, if any, and will address only one part of aviation pollution: noise. It will not, however, consider the serious impacts of aviation noise on human health or wildlife. Worse, noise is not the most significant aviation output. Air pollution, from toxic low-altitude emissions from aviation operations, and its impact on human health and our environment will not be considered at all under Part 161. 

The town is already paying a high price for decades of ignoring pollution in waterways, and more recently in groundwater in Wainscott. To ignore pollution in the air, when carbon-dioxide emissions are killing our planet and harming our health, is shortsighted. It’s time to close KHTO. 

Thank you



Perry Gershon


May 21, 2018

Dear David: 

Not long ago, I received a mailing from our congressman, Lee Zeldin, in which he promised to be a “good steward of the environment.” This “promise” is belied by his recent vote to support the Farm Bill — a favorite of Mr. Trump.

If passed, the Farm Bill would have rolled back vital environmental safeguards intended to protect us and our children, farmworkers, and the environment from the most toxic pesticides. This is what Mr. Zeldin voted to prohibit our local governments from restricting the use of pesticides, even if the restrictions were deemed necessary to protect the health of children or our environment.  He voted to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to approve pesticides without the assessment by wildlife agencies of any impact to wildlife or endangered species. This directly threatens our marine life and shellfish, and thus, our fishing industry. And, he voted for a provision that would allow farmers to spray pesticides into water, including our sources of drinking water. We already face threats to our water supply, and now Mr. Zeldin adds another.

So, despite his promise to be an environmental stalwart, it was more important to Mr. Zeldin to pay blind fealty to Mr. Trump and vote for destructive environmental policies. Our children, farmworkers, and fishermen would have paid the price for his betrayal. Fortunately, the Farm Bill failed to pass this time.

On June 26, there will be a Democratic primary in which we get to choose Mr. Zeldin’s successor. I urge you to consider casting your vote in support of Perry Gershon, who promises to be a real steward of our fragile environment. 



Fight Back

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

To the Editor,

I want to live in an America that strives to be the best it can be, an America that does not look backward with blinders on and pine for illusory “good old days,” but an America that looks forward with energy and determination, and the collective will to find solutions to the problems we face. 

Immigration, climate change, and gun safety are just some of the challenges confronting us. I have no doubt this country is up to the task, but we need smart, dedicated people working toward common goals, led by a president who is committed to those goals, and a Congress that has the political backbone to do its duty. 

While there is no shortage of dedicated people, we are saddled with a president who thinks that building a wall, burning more coal, and kowtowing to the N.R.A. will make America great again, and a Republican-majority Congress that rubber-stamps whatever he does. 

We may be stuck with the president (for now), but we are not stuck with Lee Zeldin, who has voted to defund DACA (in 2015), allow coal mining companies to dump waste into streams, and who has received more money in N.R.A. donations than any other current New York representative. 

If you want a representative who will fight back against Trump’s regressive policies, vote for a Democrat in November.


Car Dealers


May 16, 2018

Dear David:

Decades of empirical studies and litigation have shown that car dealers have discriminated against buyers by offering interest rates on loans based on criteria other than credit worthiness. 

To be clear, direct loans from banks, credit unions, and the like are not implicated in this issue. Nor should this letter be read as implicating any of our local dealers (the studies did not analyze the practices of individual dealers).  At issue is the general practice bearing on loans buyers obtained directly from car dealers. In these situations, dealers worked with lenders to provide financing options to buyers. These lenders offered interest rates for particular sales to dealers who often were then allowed to mark up this rate to the buyer and pocket the difference. 

Years of research and studies have     shown that this lending practice resulted in nonwhite borrowers being extended credit on more expensive terms than similarly qualified white borrowers. To remedy this practice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued guidance in 2013 advising that this discriminatory lending practice was unlawful. Significant settlements were then reached with major lenders that provided millions of dollars in damages to harmed borrowers. Many lenders ended the practice of offering dealer markups, meaning that all borrowers were offered the same low rate.

Our G.O.P. Congress just rescinded the protection to borrowers implemented by the C.F.P.B. and freed lenders to allow dealer markups and dealers to mark rates up as they saw fit. Paradoxically, the G.O.P. sought to justify this move by urging that it would lead to lower interest rates for all borrowers. Huh?

Even worse, the sponsor of the House bill to rescind the guidance and one of the duplicitous cheerleaders was none other than our congressman, Lee Zeldin. It is becoming all too clear that now, in the reign of Trump, Mr. Zeldin could care less about protecting his constituents and more about protecting businesses engaged in the predatory practices aimed at them.

Perry Gershon has been an outspoken critic of the discriminatory lending practice given new life by Mr. Zeldin. And, he has promised to fight for fair treatment of his constituents. There is a primary on June 26 to select the Democratic challenger to Mr. Zeldin, and I am urging that you support Mr. Gershon.


Middle East

East Hampton 

May 21,2018

To the Editor:

Moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem was a mindless political stunt that does nothing to improve the lives of Israelis or Palestinians. It is not connected to a plan or program to resolve the current problem. It’s about a president keeping a promise no matter how pointless and ridiculous the promise might be. Viewed in the context of white Christian civilization, if Israel and Palestine disappeared tomorrow, there would be a sigh of relief. American Jews would bewail the misery but get over it a lot faster than they did the Holocaust. The Arab world would throw stones for a day or two.

The context for understanding the U.S. relationship to the Middle East is the belief in the superiority of white Christian culture. In this context Israelis are white but not Christian and Palestinians are mostly neither. In truth, millions of pages of history tell us that being white and Christian has considerably more negatives than positives and that the premise of superiority is grossly exaggerated.

The history of the U.S. in the Middle East (without knowing it we are incapable of understanding what we are doing), is not unlike our history with Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The superiority of being white and Christian, the inferiority of not. At the beginning of the 20th century, with the development of our industrial base and the invention of automobiles, oil became an essential component to our growth as an industrial power. At the same time the discovery and exploitation of incredible oil and gas deposits in the region gave it significant importance to our economic development. The U.S. had little significant interaction with Middle East countries, because it was the world’s largest oil producer, until the 1920s when the concern of depleted oil reserves became an issue. 

At the end of World War II the Middle East became a flash point in the Cold War. The U.S. involvement grew as the Cold War intensified. Nationalism also became a driving force in countries like Egypt and Iran. The Central Intelligence Agency engineered the coup that deposed the democratically elected president of Iran in 1953 because of plans to nationalize the oil industry. Yet, oil was the primary reason that our presence in the region intensified.

Our relationship with the kings and emirs and dictators of the various countries was only about protecting U.S. interests. At no time before the Arab Spring uprisings did we ever advocate for democratic reforms and humane treatment of the Arabic-speaking peoples. Like everywhere else in the world our relationships with people who weren’t white Christians was only about our self-interests.

Today we are involved in wars in Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Iraq. We have been selling large quantities of arms to a variety of countries to prosecute these wars. We have backed the overthrow of elected governments in Egypt. We’ve withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement. Through the Iraq War we’ve destabilized the region, enhanced the Sunni-Shia conflict, and paved the way for ISIS.

There is virtually no one in the world who believes that there was any justification for the Iraq war. Besides an overwhelming lack of competence, planning, and moral credibility, we are no longer perceived as a force for democracy. The continued chaos has unsettled the region to the point where virtually every country is involved in some kind of armed conflict.

By perpetuating the sale of arms in the region we create armed camps that are always on the verge of going to war. Instead of attempting to alleviate tensions and conflict we play Sunnis off against Shia and then vilify those countries that get caught up in the process. The fact that almost all of the participants are dark-skinned and Muslim justifies the violence and chaos that we help to create.

Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear treaty is a quasi imbecilic act of aggression that boggles even the most cynical minds. The arguments put forth by Trump are devoid of logic and substance and have nothing to do with Iran’s adherence to the terms of the agreement. The perverse nature of this action mirrors Fascist Germany with only the goose-stepping military missing. The potential for nuclear war and an arms race in the region is ratcheted exponentially. The U.S. as a credible ally and as an honest broker is dead. The safety of our soldiers working and fighting in the region has been compromised. In a global universe, “I” replaces “we” as fascism takes hold.

The Arab Spring and the advent of democratic governance have been completely betrayed. The propaganda that we spew about supporting and creating democracy in the world has been exposed as only propaganda. Our embrace of old dictators, i.e., Egypt, is not uncomfortable given the color and religious inclinations of the people. We betray and abandon every principle that we’ve held because they were never really true. We are hardly different from the ayatollahs and despots whom we condemn.

We are no longer dependent on the Middle East for oil. We have separated ourselves by focusing on alternative energy sources and through significant discoveries in the U.S. Yet, we continue to screw up a part of the world that desperately needs leadership and direction. Are there not enough wars going on in the region? Do we need to add a nuclear component to the current conflicts? Is anything more absurd than evangelical leaders (whose anti-Semitism is a core belief) meeting with Netanyahu during the embassy celebration? Being white and Christian may not be a problem in other parts of the world but in the Middle East the racism and the prejudice are too virulent and too destructive.


Register and Vote


May 21, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

Another school massacre, and I’ve yet to hear from the N.R.A. about my idea to arm all students, a surefire gun sales win. Little heart-shape derringers, single shot cellphones with convenient video capabilities, Sponge Bob and Cookie Monster double-barrel, high-caliber shotguns, easily clipped on a back-pack, cute tactical jumpers, armored strollers, the possibilities are exciting given the profit potential. Children are dying anyway, and since we are evidently so enthralled nationally with unfettered access to lethal weapons, even for the mentally incompetent, why not profit? Ideas about hardening schools don’t sell enough guns. Sad!

Sweetening the suggestion, I think that the manufacturer minions of Mr. LaPierre’s group ought to begin making flavored ammunition, taking a page from the very successful tobacco and vaping industries in successfully killing youth, albeit more slowly and less dramatically. With birth rates steadily declining, despite the efforts to defund women’s health advocacy groups that might give out information about all the (so far) legal choices available to women, flavored ammo and kid-friendly armory and tactical play clothes deserve serious consideration. Given the current threats to free international trade hampering American tobacco companies from effectively helping the world to cough itself to death, they can certainly sign on in a joint campaign. You heard it here first.

Fortunately, stalwarts like our Congressman Zeldin are working tirelessly to allow citizens licensed to carry firearms anywhere in our country to visit New York with their weapons on their hips, or slung on their backs. No wonder the N.R.A. loves this guy, and legislators like him, contributing big bucks to their campaigns, augmented by laundered foreign money. (Oops, did I let a secret slip?! Sorry, sheikhs, Vladimir, et al. Think of me as Rudy: I’m just getting started.) 

No doubt letting more armed folks roam our streets will make our tourism industry surge, and our population 

far safer. Perhaps with Congressman Zeldin’s support for payday lenders, and rolling back legislation that protects the recipients of student loans from predatory lenders, we can let those stressed businesses begin renting guns to tourists as long as they pay up and vow that they’re licensed to carry back yonder.

After this primary season, we will all have the opportunity to cast ballots to replace Zeldin, a sworn Trump lackey, with one of the fine women and men running to represent the Democratic Party in the November 2018 election. I urge every voter in Congressional District 1 to learn about those choices, register, and vote, whether a full-time or summer resident property owner in the Town of East Hampton.


Mass Murder

Plainview, N.Y.

May 17, 2018


It will soon be 100 days since the Feb. 14 mass murder of 17 Parkland students and teachers, and this Congress has done exactly what our 2012 “Sandy Hook Elementary School” Congress did after 20 6-and-7-year-olds were shot to death with an assault rifle — nothing! So if instead of murdering 20 first graders, 49 Pulse patrons, 58 concertgoers, and 14 Parkland students — Adam Lanza, Omar Mateen, Stephen Paddock, and Nikolas Cruz had used their guns to shoot all 535 congressmen and congresswomen dead, I bet our 535 replacement senators and representatives would feel scared or shamed enough to pass much-needed, lifesaving gun control laws.