Letters to the Editor: 06.14.18

Our readers' comments

Bunker Were Steamed


June 11, 2018

Dear Editor:

Several weeks ago I read an article in East magazine about Promised Land. It was a good article. I grew up on Cranberry Hold Road in Amagansett so when the factory was in full operation and the wind was in the right direction, we got the full brunt of the aroma of steamed bunker. It was a smell I got used to, but will never forget. In all my years I don’t think I have ever smelled anything that ever came close to it. 

When I was young, it was a big deal for local people to watch the bunker boats unload in the summer months. It was a treat to get ice cream at the Edwards store, which was at the factory. My uncle, William (Red) Cilli, worked for the Smith Meal fish factory for 12 years. As I got older, I drilled him for all the information I could. He told me that most men with full-time positions were utility men. They could fix things on the spot to keep the operation going. They all had some mechanical and welding experience. My uncle had put in some time working on the boats, but most of his time was spent in the factory. Since it was costly to fire up the massive boilers to make steam, once the process was started it went on for a couple of days.

Steam was used for cooking the bunker as well as running the equipment. My uncle said one of the most important jobs he had was in the evaporation department. After the bunker were steamed on huge metal grates, the liquid was piped to his department and the oil was separated from the water. My uncle described this job as very intense. Temperatures had to be watched, valves had to be opened or closed, and there was no break time. After the oil separation, oil was then processed into different grades, similar to the way crude oil is broken down into gasoline, home-heating fuel, and motor oil. 

The oils then were processed for use as bases for cosmetics, vitamins, tanning of leather, and the processing of rope. Some of the oil was so refined that it had no smell or taste, similar to mineral oil. One of the biggest uses was for a base in certain paints that were used for painting bridges and ships. This grade of oil had a high preservation value and held up under harsh conditions. Fish oil-based paints and sealers are still used today. After the oil separation, the scrap, as they called it, was dried and stored for later loading onto train cars for transport. The scrap was also used for fillers in animal foods and bases for fertilizer. Nothing went to waste.

I went to Amagansett grade school and our history classes focused mainly on local history, which included the bunker industry.

Besides my uncle, I knew dozens of other men that worked for the factory, including the Edwards brothers, Steve Dellapolla Sr., and, of course, Mr. Wood and Bruce Collins.

The article by Glyn Vincent was very well done, and I hope anyone else with information will come forward. This was a great part of Amagansett history.

Your truly, 


Faster and Better

East Hampton

June 7, 2018

To the Editor,

I didn’t know either Ben or Bonnie Krupinski, but I have known their name for as long as I have lived in East Hampton, actually even before. My very first visit here was to the home of the parents of my late friend Bob Sealy. Harry and Nellie lived then on Further Lane and that weekend was, along with much else, my first taste of beach-plum jam. I remember Harry saying to Nellie, “We’ve got to get that door fixed,” and he told her to call a particular construction company. Nellie said, “No, I’ll call Bennie Krupinski. He’ll get it done faster and better.” That was in 1965.


Deep Sorrow

East Hampton 

June 11, 2018

Dear David,

The passing of Bonnie and Ben Krupinski was a tragedy for our town as well as their families and many friends. I write for the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee to convey our admiration for the creativity, accomplishments, and generosity of these gifted, hard-working people, and our deep sorrow at their loss. Bonnie and Ben also garnered our respect for their informed, patient participation in many public deliberations about the town’s future: the true work of democracy, whatever one’s views. 

Sincerely yours,



East Hampton 

Town Democratic Committee

Don’t Ask Why

Standing tall amongst women and men are Bonac’s couple, Bonnie and Ben we are taught not to ask God why

some live on while others die we strive to put doubts, questions to rest not to ask, Dear God, why we lose our best.

Whose kind love and gifts touched so many in town yet, their deaths so sudden as that plane went down  Benny, Bonnie, their grandson, the pilot . . . no drumbeats, no warning of a downward spiral, a silent wail, a muffled scream, and then the mourning the sea of tears, unbearable loss, God’s will, but why? this lethal danger hiding in a darkened sky. 

The kid from Fireplace, and  his childhood love, a grandchild, a pilot  . . . oh!  the pain

Bonac’s loss, heaven’s gain.

A wrenching ripping community sigh

But we trust in God, and don’t ask why.

Our Narrow Roads

East Hampton

June 5, 2018

To the Editor,

Dear friends: Our streets are the lifelines of our town and need attention in several areas. These streets are avenues for our emergency vehicles, ambulances, police, fire trucks, school buses, post office, utility, town vehicles, and other government vehicles. In addition, we have the vehicles of residents, visitors, guests, bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and the numerous garden and landscape workers. Most of the side streets are only two lanes wide, which necessitates careful and slower travel and dangerous situations.

If you are a frequent or daily user of these town roads, you know of these problems: vegetation (such as bushes, trees), a growing number of illegal, unmarked basketball practice backboard hoops — these devices are left on the road edge and are not marked with high-visibility reflective paint or permanent tape. These devices have a hoop that extends a foot and a half or more over the road and is invisible at night and not noticeable even in daytime. The hoops are anywhere from 6 to 10 feet above the road. 

On our narrow roads, I have personally hit two when I had to keep right to avoid oncoming traffic and did not see the devices, as my eyes were on the traffic. These are left illegally obstructing the road and should be reflectively marked and removed when not in use.

They are designed and built to be easily tipped back out of the roadway when not in use. Furthermore, with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists and children playing and sometimes darting out into the road, the vegetation screens and eliminates the road shoulders, preventing pedestrians from getting off the road to escape oncoming traffic.

A way of eliminating this dangerous problem is to enforce a two-foot setback from the road edge for any vegetation or other obstruction as a safety measure. This should be an enforced law, as I believe such a clearance zone exists.

Additionally, busy intersections should have a street light, at least, and maybe a flashing yellow light. Also, the height of line-of-sight obstructions at intersections needs to be enforced as a safety measure. Stop signs are mostly ignored and are another dangerous situation.


Stony Hill Road


June 5, 2018

To the Editor:

As a follow-up to my and David Grossman’s letters of May 3 and May 5 as to the condition of Stony Hill Road, the town supervisor requested a petition signed by residents of Stony Hill Road and Laurel Hill Lane to demonstrate to the town board that there is strong support from those who live on the road to improve road conditions.

Note that the request to improve conditions is to be demonstrated by those who live on the road, all 13 of us who are burdened by the potholes, dust, noise, and commercial vehicles of all sizes speeding through using the road as a shortcut between Town Lane and Accabonac Road.

The request to petition ignores the Town of East Hampton taxpayers who foot the bill for the required ongoing grading of the road, as well as the use of very expensive equipment.

The town has repeatedly stated its goal of protecting the town’s scenic, agricultural, natural, and historical resources for the public as well as protection of as much land as possible over the town’s deep groundwater recharge areas. All of this effort to be funded by the community preservation fund law’s 2 percent real estate transfer tax authorized by the town.

All these protected resources exist on Stony Hill, which is then dissected by Stony Hill Road, north-side water recharge overlay and agricultural overlay on the south side.

Commercial vehicles and tandem landscaper vehicles, loaded with lawn equipment full of gasoline and oil, bouncing over the potholes, along with dust and noise, are not the conditions one would envision for a valuable town resource. 


Death by Suicide

New York City

June 11, 2018

To the Editor,

Did you know that death by suicide has been rising more rapidly in recent years? Kate Spade, a handbag designer, 55, and Anthony Bourdain, a culinary icon, 61, both took their own lives by suicide this past week.

Suicide takes more lives annually then car accidents and twice as many as murder. This has got to stop.

I feel from personal experience that we need to reach out to these friends and relatives of ours and to do what we can to put them back on the right road to recovery.

If you know of any doctors that have helped your friends that have suffered from anxiety and depression, share those doctors’ names with them. Tell those people about the suicide number that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is 1-800-273-TALK.

My dear friend of many years, who has a great life and a wonderful husband, family, and great friends, was sick with anxiety and depression for two years. Every part of her body ached. The psych meds she was taking did not help.

Finally she told me the story of a wonderful psychiatrist who was recommended to her who had her admitted to the Beth Israel psychiatric unit, where she resided for 10 days. At the hospital she started a treatment called E.C.T. It was performed on her three times a week and did not hurt. E.C.T. is electroconvulsive therapy; it involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. 

It took my friend approximately eight treatments before she started to feel and act normal again. It is now three months and it is wonderful to have my friend back and feeling well again.

Please, if you know anybody who is suffering and thinking of suicide, please tell them about this treatment called E.C.T. You will be doing a good deed.

Life is too precious to end too early.



Our Priorities

East Hampton 

June 9, 2018

Dear David,

We are running for the East Hampton Village Board of Trustees in the upcoming election on June 19. In order to earn the votes of our neighbors, we thought it might be instructive to detail some of our priorities in village governance. 

Our overarching goal is to maintain the quality of life in residential neighborhoods. This includes devising ways to ensure that we all can enjoy the quiet enjoyment of our homes. This includes reining in the cacophony of the leaf blowers in the summer season.

We feel it is imperative to protect the water quality of our ponds and our groundwater through wastewater treatment. While we have made progress toward that goal in our commercial core revitalization committee, we will not rest until it is done.

We will work collaboratively with our colleagues on the board and our village administrator to ensure that the village maintains a fiscally prudent budget while providing necessary improvements to our infrastructure, services, and public safety.

We recognize that, as a village, we need to restore viability and vitality to the commercial core, and to promote small businesses to bring families back to the village.

We believe that we need to encourage renewable energy, including incentivizing solar power in the village core.

We want to find ways to create and encourage work-force and senior citizens housing in the village, including working with the town to find ways to house caregivers for our seniors. We will work toward finding ways for older citizens to “age in place.”

We need to work with the community at large to review our zoning code, in order to ensure that we are achieving our desired results and preserving the character of our neighborhoods.

Other issues that we need to address include improving conditions in Herrick Park (new equipment and new landscape plantings), continue maintaining the historical character of the nation’s “most beautiful village,” working to solve the parking issues we face in the commercial core, reducing the littering of magazines in the village, reviewing the village’s comprehensive plan; and improving communication and accessibility between the village board and our fellow village residents.

This is an opportunity for village residents to elect two board members who are open-minded, task-oriented, and will continue to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to our most pressing issues. 

Let’s move forward together so we can continue to keep East Hampton Village a wonderful place to live and visit. Please vote for us on Tuesday, June 19, at the Emergency Services Building from noon to 9 p.m. Vote the Fish Hooks Party line!




Real Opportunity

East Hampton

June 1, 2018

Dear David 

For the many years that I lived in Montauk, I always felt that the town area of East Hampton Village was the heart and center for the hamlet residents of the Town of East Hampton. Eight years ago, when I became a resident of East Hampton Village and now live close to town, I began to see up close and personal that things were changing in the village town area and not for the better.

Around the same time that parking restrictions increased, unattractive, empty storefronts grew in number during the long off-season. Right in the middle of it all, unaddressed litter issues go unnoticed in the parking lot and surrounding area of the local supermarket. Our sidewalks and vestibules on Main Street and Newtown Lane are now a dumping ground for out-of-town publishers of magazines that is out of control with no oversight by the village government. In the park, parking areas, and sidewalks, updating and refurbishing of any landscaping in the heart of the village became basically nonexistent. 

Our village seems to have lost its luster and spirit, and the residents of this town deserve and want better. This month we have a real opportunity to begin to change course with the re-election of Arthur (Tiger) Graham and the new election of Rosemary Brown, both of the Fish Hooks Party, to the East Hampton Village of Board of trustees on Tuesday, June 19. After many years, residents of the village had a chance last year to finally vote on a new trustee candidate when Arthur Graham won the majority vote. We now have the good fortune this year to elect Rosemary Brown for another open seat on the Village Board. 

I believe that together with trustees Barbara Borsack, Richard Lawler, Tiger Graham, and now Rosemary Brown we can have a board of trustees that our village and town deserveº. One that represents all of us, and who will work hard to revitalize our village center as well as keep our historic village thriving, clean, and beautiful. If you would like to learn more about Rosemary and Tiger, and their position on the issues facing our village, you can visit the Fish Hooks Party website @www.FishHooksParty.org. Absentee ballot applications are available up to closing time at Village Hall on Monday, June 18. 

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact East Hampton Village Hall or the Fish Hooks Party. 

Please vote, and thanks! 


Regrettable Changes


June 4, 2018

Dear David,

It is always unfortunate when a local business grows beyond recognition. It is particularly sad when it is a local bank.

I have been a customer of the Bridgehampton National Bank for about 46 years, ever since its headquarters was in the building now occupied by Starbucks, and the manager was Larry Strickland. For most of that time I was a satisfied customer, glad that my bank avoided all the problems I experienced with the larger banks that I was occasionally obliged to deal with. Not anymore.

I do have a lingering resentment from the time when the bank demolished a piece of local history to build its architecturally inappropriate branch in East Hampton. That this branch was inconveniently far from village businesses, which now have to drive to the bank instead of walking, was an early indication that customer convenience had a lower priority.

Last year I had an argument with the bank when it insisted on charging sales tax to a small tax-exempt nonprofit that I manage. My letter protesting this charge got no response, and a staff member at the local branch told me curtly, “Everybody has to pay sales tax, including you.” So I had to call in the big guns, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The bank yielded, and sourly refunded the charge, but without any explanation or apology.

About three weeks ago I wrote a letter to the bank complaining about the new format of monthly statements. Formerly, deposits, transfers, and checks were listed separately, which made my bookkeeping easy. Now they are all jumbled together, which is no doubt easier for the bank, regardless of customer inconvenience. I have received no response to my letter. I suppose my mistake was in addressing it to the Customer Relations Department. It seems the bank doesn’t believe in customer relations.

The bank’s new name neatly sums up the regrettable changes. It is no longer the Bridgehampton National Bank, and is now BNB Bank. Our local bank has adopted its Stock Exchange ticker symbol as a name, along with big-bank attitudes to customers. The potato farmers who founded the bank must be spinning in their graves. 


The Energy Crisis

East Quogue

June 9, 2018

To the editor:

I can’t help wondering (and chuckling), a new amalgam of commercial fishermen that is seeking to partner with federal agencies in assessing the impact on fisheries of wind power development.

Why was I chuckling? It was due to reflecting on the numerous articles on the state of ocean fisheries in which commercial fishermen and baymen repeatedly insisted that their back-of-the-envelope personal anecdotal experiences with the health and size of fisheries were scientifically more valid than the work of professional and government scientists and agencies.

On the East Coast at least, these assertions sounded eerily similar to the science-sceptical advocates of the superiority of “traditional knowledge” over modern science and medicine.  The difference of course is that credible scientific knowledge is put to the acid test of peer group review and experiments in replicating the findings of scientific research.

So let us apply the same criteria to the new doubters of wind energy development. There is nothing objectionable about studying the potential impact of wind energy, or any other kind, on ocean habitat, the environment, communities, and nonhuman species. This is in fact exactly what the environmental community has been urging since the birth of the movement 50 years ago.

But it is incumbent on the doubters and deniers of the need for wind power to inform themselves about not just the specific impact of renewable energy on them or their business but on a comprehensive understanding of the energy crisis in general. This means placing energy policy in the larger picture that asks questions about energy demand and above all about the forces that are creating this demand. Of course all of us are part of these forces! Every time we turn on a light, or fill up the gas tank, or turn on the air-conditioner, or take out our powerboat we are contributing to demand.

The corollary of examining demand is understanding the cumulative impact on the environment and, not least, what social and economic conditions have created the ecological and resource crisis, to be followed up by a public consensus on objectives and the means to achieve them.

There will be different answers depending on whose ox is being gored. For a businessman focused solely on profits, the answer will not be the same as it is for other people. For an environmentalist or honest scientist (and an honest energy analyst), the answer may not be to everyone’s liking. In the end, there must be a public debate, as indeed there is right now about how to address climate change. 

The crucial but harsh fact is that compromise that favors or reinforces private commercial interests over the public commons and the health of the planet is not acceptable. Compromise can only mean slowing down the collapse of the earth’s ecosystems upon which humanity depends. Compromise is not the answer when the question is: Life or death?

It sounds like this alliance is trying to divert and/or slow down what is imperative: a devolution from fossil fuel to renewable energy, cutback in consumption, and massive energy efficiency measures. Instead, they should be sitting down with climate scientists and activists to address the ultimate causes for increased energy demand: a lethal embrace of growth and consumption at any cost. Isolating a single issue from the broader context of energy policy and economic growth only throws fog over the necessary debate.



On Land

East Hampton

June 11, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

An article in The East Hampton Star’s East magazine of June 2018 gave rise to an idea that might resolve the standoff in our town regarding Deepwater Wind: That is Plum Island. It is 840 acres and has belonged to the United States government and is possibly to be sold — this would be an ideal place for wind turbines and one cable from, say, five turbines could be easily taken to the Town of Southold. This is a good solution, as the noise of five turbines offshore would not be too bad, hopefully, but as the turbines would be on land, the fishing would not be affected, most especially the sensitive areas off Montauk, where Deepwater had hoped to locate the offshore wind farm but to many important objections. 

We understand the town is behind wind power and the addition of five turbines nearby would help our energy sustainability. With turbines located on land, the ocean would not be invaded by massive infrastructure requiring constant expensive maintenance. This solution would then please both environmentalists and fishermen and the tourists who visit for our beautiful beaches and quiet country roads.   We would also eliminate the huge invasion of support boats and barges and platforms that would create a “city” with associated pollution in the ocean, and we would also then eliminate that exorbitant cost for our townspeople. 

If wind does work, several more turbines might be added, or added at other locations on land while at the same time the town of East Hampton could investigate other sustainable “green” energy solutions for our local grid. 

Additionally, if wind does not work well for our area, as it has not recently in the United Kingdom, where there was not enough wind to power the offshore turbines for the past two weeks, then we would not have invested billions in a losing but expensive experiment. 

In the meantime, I think our town leaders might have the time without the constant pressure from Deepwater Wind to investigate alternative solutions to offshore wind turbines which do not make sense for the Atlantic Ocean. 



Dangled by Deepwater


June 4, 2018

Dear Mr. Rattray,

The unfortunate acrimony generated by the Deepwater Wind proposal is well documented, but I just saw a hummingbird. Delicate, almost mythical, consider the gift of these creatures and other pollinators, from bees to butterflies. It’s no wonder there’s passion on both sides of the issue of what to do about the problems we now understand are in large part the effects of our many centuries of fossil fuel dependency, and the ever increasing need for ever more cleared and fertilized land to feed ourselves, raise livestock and the like since our species developed.

The world’s journey from burning peat, wood, and coal to warm us in the cold, and provide us light in the darkness was amazingly accelerated by the explosion of our frankly insatiable need for electricity, and the growth of worldwide population. Crude oil, and refined petroleum products (notwithstanding our brief pause to effectively rid the world of whales), and now abundant “natural” gas, and “shale oil,” and the ingenious art of fracking were welcome and profitable solutions to meet those needs in the same way we explored nuclear power after first weaponizing it, welcomed chemicals into our cribs, enhanced nitrogen and pesticides into our farming, etc. But we’ve grown to understand the truly awful consequences we currently face in trying to transition away from those sources of energy, and the scary environmental effects of the latter. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

I remember conversations with friends as recently as five years ago when there was still some general, if not scientific, uncertainty about what was happening to our environment that had them arguing that maybe this stuff we’re doing, burning this and that, is bad for us, but we can’t afford to change anything. We’ve learned, I hope, that we really can’t afford not to, and soon. But in the case of the Deepwater project, as is often the case, urgency overcomes considered thought.

Anyway, we owe a sincere thank-you to each of our eloquent neighbors on both sides of the Deepwater debate, and to the town board and trustees for recognizing the need for our community to carefully consider the problem. Applaud them all for their obvious commitment to our future, reinforced by the stated pledge aggressively to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, frankly, in far less than the blink of a geologic eye. 

Let’s be clear that no matter what we do in this moment, it’s not going to solve the critical and obvious problems of our local geography, or in most of our lifetimes significantly alter the cyclical juggernaut of climate adversely affected by not only carbon emissions, but more so by the witch’s brew of the planet-wide “overs” in development, population, and careless water and land usage. Nor will we be able with the Deepwater Wind Farm, even were it 100 times larger, to heal our oceans from which all life emerged. Mother ocean will continue to warm and acidify; we speak now of the necessary best beginning of attenuation if we are to survive, if no longer blithely thrive. 

As my neighbor and friend Don Matheson correctly pointed out last week, who knows what fishing will be like over time if we continue like this? While I don’t agree with the rosy financial projections he quotes from the Deepwater publicity mavens, which we will ultimately pay for should the plan be adopted, he absolutely correctly framed the urgency in so far as a living ocean is concerned.

It should be obvious to us all, however, that we need to take a longer and far more detailed look at the problem, and avoid clearly oversold commercial, “last chance” solutions such as those dangled by Deepwater. Ingenuous media blitzes that promise 50,000-homes-worth of clean power notwithstanding, that means the wind is blowing, and whose homes are those since the power goes into an Island-long grid? 

This is not the moment to jump into a deal, however technologically sexy and cool as is an offshore wind farm. Not because it wouldn’t be a good start in the abstract, but remembering that no matter how good it looks or sounds, signing a blank check for the century-old status quo power production regime is just plain dumb. That was the erudite conclusion that Carl Safina was talking about. 

Remember, too, that we’re still paying, and will be for some time for the last “latest” solution to our power needs that sits moldering in Shoreham, even as PSEG and LIPA are bringing us more, “greener” fossil-fuel plants in Brookhaven, etc. Fukushima aside, what would it cost to bring that artifact online, though we’d need a rocket-propelled ark to get out of here if it melted? (Really, does anyone think any evacuation plan is going to save us on the East End from a nuclear disaster, or possibly any other? We can’t get to Riverhead in the summer, let alone “safety.” New York City? Connecticut? New Jersey? LIPA/PSEG and the state knew this as Shoreham was built as the late Dr. Koppelman and others made clear.)

It should also be obvious that what needs to happen is a real plan that will begin to greatly reduce our town, state, nation, and the world’s so-called carbon footprint, as was eloquently detailed by actually qualified — as opposed to most of us, just opinionated — Rachel Gruzen.

I believe firmly, as do most people I know, in alternative energy as a matter of planetary survival; but, without rancor for those who disagree, I don’t trust Deepwater’s deep-pocketed oversell without a disclosed price tag. Analytic disagreement so well documented by Zach Cohen and by Si Kinsella should at least make us demand an honest count. Price transparency was good enough for other states to know the deal, why not us? 

Additionally, the outdated energy regime of a monolithic “state supported,” opaque and uncompetitive, for-profit energy supplier, abetted by rubber-stamped bureaucratic oversight is neither the way it should be, nor the way it has to be. 

Our current supply industry was entrenched about a century ago in what we’ve often heard described as the age of robber barons. Creative, incestuous, and collusive, largely New York-based, financial Brahmins overcame their differences and social barriers in a concerted effort to end energy competition, as they had most small business oriented manufacturing and mineral recovery, and had done with banking, railroads, street cars, lumber, chemicals, shipping, and food supplies, etc., through their ingenious invention of various “trusts,” monopolies, and thus birthed the modern corporatocracy we know. In the name of efficiency, and to smooth out the competition by buying it out, these combines made a few people fabulously wealthy, and truthfully employed millions. That some were imported from other countries, and discarded at the end of their useful lives, is unsurprising in a country that was only 50 scant years from slavery, but that’s another story whose ending is yet to be written.

The business of the United States is, after all, business, and if it’s good for business, it’s good for everyone-ish. Striking workers, new immigrants not under the thrall of Tammany, were unpatriotic, often crushed by government and/or employers in the name of good order. Recall the brutality of strike breaking, or look up the Battle of Blair Mountain, or take a ride on the Reading or any other.

Personally, I’m tired of being patted on the head by people trying to pick my pocket, even at this moment in our current debate, and with the real emergency we face in continued degradation of the environment and foreshortening of our future by fossil fuels. On a worldwide basis certainly, and right here in paradise, we are frankly guaranteed to have an all-of-the-above energy future that includes coal, oil, and natural gas, and clean renewables into the latter third of this century, at least. 

I believe this is sadly true because of the legacy infrastructure for energy, the powerful interests behind it, and the general stupidity of the debate over what most of the STEM community have dubbed the Anthropocene Age. More people worry about the color of their cellphone cover than conserving water in their daily lives. 

In other words, barring some divine visitation from an energy Prometheus bearing a new sort of flame that will generate electricity instantly and as relatively cleanly as solar power, wind, geothermal power, tidal energy, etc., can, we have to play the cards we’ve drawn. But we can and must do something.

Government, that’s us folks, should be incentivizing citizens to decentralize power distribution, create solar farms, micro-grids, install personal solar panels and whole house batteries, establish land-based and offshore wind farms without opaque pricing. Some governments, mostly on the local level, have at least begun to encourage conservation, but need to do more real recycling and promote reuse. This has begun modestly at last with the water quality issues that will be at the heart of the next generation’s wars. We could also use a real Public Service Commission to vet broad-based plans to effect change at appropriate rates.

I urge the town board and the trustees, and all of us, to reject the currently constituted Deepwater Wind project unless we are provided with real rate transparency, and the purchase agreement information, including the hard infrastructure costs, needed upgrades to transmission lines, actual solutions to peak issues, switching, etc., and profit margins inherent, as well as a full and independent assessment of the negative impacts on the environment and coastal waters. 

The wind will blow for a few months while we figure it out and get the facts. And the rest of us in the meantime can put aside the nimby complaining about beach closures, traffic disruptions, possible fishing effects, etc., etc., while we get the studies necessary to make informed choices. If we kicked up conservation in the meantime, it would help, too.

We need to get this next move right, and we need to do it soon, and we need the state and federal governments to also get on board with it, and to look at real creative solutions. (I hope my neighbor Peter Spacek sends last week’s cartoon to Elon Musk.)

Since I’m originally from down the beach in Coney Island, at the LTV forum I described the Deepwater “incentives” as the brass ring on a merry-go-round. I learned early on that any brass ring is just good for continuing to go around in a circle, getting nowhere. We all should have learned that by now: There’s no such thing as a free ride. Deepwater’s “incentives” will most certainly come out of our pockets, over and over. 


Gather the Facts

East Hampton 

June 11, 2018

Dear David:

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to explain why it matters that the town board appointed a new member, David Lys, who has no political experience, no policy experience other than on the zoning board of appeals, no independent roots in the Democratic Party, and a history of one week as a Democrat before being appointed to the town board vacancy.

If everything were just fine, then starting in the deep end of the pool while learning how to swim might also be just fine. But everything is not fine. The last thing this insulated town board needs is someone else who will just say yes to what insiders want because he has neither the political strength, nor the independence, nor the knowledge to do anything other than try to please his colleagues. If we needed only a single mind and a single voice on the town board, we wouldn’t elect five members.

The most important example right now is the failure of the town board to consider carefully, or indeed at all, the environmental, economic, social, and financial implications of the Deepwater Wind project for our town. The board claims it must make a decision almost immediately on granting Deepwater Wind the easements it wants on public land, with many questions, indeed almost every question, left unanswered.

The world does need to get off of fossil fuels, and sooner than later. Otherwise, it is not a matter of whether we render the planet uninhabitable, only a question of when. The laws of physics, the greenhouse effect, and thermodynamics say so.

That does not, however, mean that anything and everything that we might do to reduce fossil fuel consumption is being done the right way in the right place. My inclination is to think that the Deepwater project is probably environmentally benign over all, based purely on the fact that it has been done in Europe, and the Europeans are far better stewards of the environment than we are. But that is far too flimsy a basis for a decision. It is just an inclination. For a decision, you need to gather the facts.

Some research tells me that wind turbine bases on the sea floor do change the marine ecology, attracting different species to the area. Will that damage the commercial fishery? Maybe yes, maybe no. But the work to determine the effects on our environment has not been done. The same is true of the effects of construction. The facts have yet to be gathered.

Why not? The town board, advised by I have no idea whom, says that the actions the town board may take with respect to Deepwater Wind are exempt from review under SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act, because the environmental study will be done by and for the State Public Service Commission. That’s true. But I cannot find anything in the law that says that the town board can act before the Public Service Commission does its environmental analysis. Nor can I find anything that says that Deepwater must obtain local easements before it makes its application to the Public Service Commission. Nor is there anything that prohibits the town from obtaining the necessary facts before it makes a decision that could result in harm to the people of East Hampton and our fishing industry. That the town may not have a legal obligation to do SEQRA analysis does not excuse willful ignorance.

Under SEQRA, the town must weigh the environmental costs and benefits against social, economic, and financial costs and benefits. That is currently impossible because Deepwater insists on keeping the details of its financial deal with PSEG a secret. Might it all be just fine? Perhaps. But in that case, why keep it a secret? Do we really believe in the honesty of utility companies that know the ratepayers will be forced to pay the costs no matter how the utility screws up? Have we already forgotten the Shoreham nuclear power debacle?

The real reason for doing nothing and then rushing to judgment is that Deepwater dangles $8 million of “community benefits” in front of the town. A lot of money? Not really. That’s the equivalent of about $25 per year per household. Sure the money would be nice, but it does not justify the failure to get the facts up front.

To fishermen, the town says, “Don’t worry, be happy, and besides the world needs renewable, nonheat-inducing energy. So, take it on the chin for all of us.” What it does not say is that if fishermen suffer losses due to the project they will be compensated. If the project is actually of net benefit, why on earth should everyone enjoy the benefits at the expense of the fishing industry? Beats me.

I say, slow down. We can live without the community benefits if necessary. And the reality is that Deepwater Wind will have just as much reason to pay them after it has finished with the Public Service Commission as it does now. If it needs East Hampton’s consent, it will still need it once the environmental work is done, and that will be the time to make a deal that protects our commercial fishing industry.

Other than Councilman Jeff Bragman, who has expressed concern about “act now, facts later,” it is the members of the current town board who have brought us to this point. This board needs informed criticism, from within, not just from the public kept outside with its nose pressed against the glass, too easy for them to dismiss. 

Is David Lys, the young appointee, going to stand up to the other members who appointed him? Does he have the strength and independence to do so? So far, there is no reason at all to think that he will. Rather, his views seem to be all “me too,” in order to win the approval of his patrons on the board. Me too is not good enough.



Willing to Downsize?


June 10, 2018

Dear Editor:

Just curious. According to published propaganda, Deepwater Wind will produce enough power for 50,000 homes but if there are only about 27,000 homes and businesses in East Hampton (about the number of tax bills mailed each year), why do we need so much electricity? Will we soon be double our size? 

  We need to do something about that. Anybody willing to downsize? Anybody willing to diminish their expectations for the good of the planet? 


Kids Are Dying

East Hampton

June 11, 2018

Dear David:

Our community has lost another teen to the drug scourge. How many more youths must our country lose before our Congress does something meaningful to turn the tide against this epidemic?

The G.O.P. Senate seems to have turned its back on the problem. A few months ago, “60 Minutes” aired an episode that exposed a little-known law (introduced by a House Republican) that impeded the ability of the Drug Enforcement Agency to freeze suspicious shipments of opioids that were flooding pharmacies in small towns. 

Earlier this year, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, introduced a bill that would have repealed the suspect law and reinstated D.E.A. interdiction authority, but the G.O.P.-led Senate ignored her bill. The House similarly has dragged its feet, failing to see a pressing need to do anything. Our kids are dying and the G.O.P. legislators see no pressing need to help them?

On the House side, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, parades around our district bragging about what he thinks he has done to curb the addiction problem. Let’s all not forget that he voted in favor of the House health care bill. This is the bill that the House G.O.P. cheered with Mr. Trump at the White House last year.

What did this “health care” travesty do to curb the opioid crisis? It cut off federal coverage for drug addiction treatment and mental health support for the millions of Americans caught in the clutches of opioid addiction and mental illness. While he led voters to believe that he was keenly aware of his district’s suffering, behind the closed walls of Congress, Lee Zeldin betrayed us.

In a little more than two weeks, a challenger to Mr. Zeldin will be elected. We have only one real choice: Perry Gershon has given us his word that he will work to end the opioid crisis and protect our children. The Democratic primary will be held on June 26. Please join me and support Perry Gershon for Congress.



For Perry Gershon


June 11, 2018

Dear David,

I am voting for Perry Gershon in the Democratic primary on June 26. While all the candidates have earned my respect, Perry stands out because of his platform, commitment, and the ability to win in November.

In our geographically and politically diverse congressional district, it is difficult to negotiate a unified message to voters. One cannot err too far in any direction, and yet one must be faithful to one’s beliefs to avoid the look of opportunism. Perry balances perfectly the ideals of Democrats. He connects with those who are young and new to politics, and he proudly affirms the values of the Old Guard, when Democrats on Long Island were not just environmentalists but also supporters of workers’ needs and rights. He arrives at his platform through research, thought, and ultimately through a test of his own moral values.

Commitment he has in spades. He never wavers, never stops, and always has a kind word and a smile. 

Perry has the political instincts of a winner and the resources to achieve our goals. His business success shows that he knows how to identify opportunities, which will be crucial since his opponent is the incumbent. He can raise money, likely more than any other candidate, and that also will be crucial this year. 

When I put all the elements together, I find that Perry is not only my preferred candidate because of his platform and ability to implement it, but also because I truly believe that Perry, of all our candidates, has the best chance to win.


Archaic Concept

East Hampton 

June 10, 2018

Dear Editor:

During the Obama presidency there was rarely a moment when Republicans didn’t criticize and abuse his every movement. Calling him names, the N word aside, questioning his motives, questioning his right to be president. On no single issue was his humanity or respect for human decency called into question. Yet, every idea, every program to help working-class Americans, or immigrants or minorities, was burnt to the ground. The bizarre hatred for Obama and what he stood for is really about the nature of conservative Christian specificity.

A weird archaic concept that has taken hold in the United States. Equivocating and contextual justification. For example, killing specificity. It’s okay to kill Muslims, blacks, communists, Chinese, Indians, etc., but not the unborn. Killing in itself, despite Jesus, is really acceptable. It’s not the killing that’s the problem. It’s who or whom you chose to kill.

More real than the unborn are the immigrant children who are being separated from their parents and held in detention centers. Guantanamo for kids or a milder form of Auschwitz, or is it Abu Ghraib? This will teach these immigrant parents a lesson and do wonders for the children’s psyches. At a time when one million more Mexican immigrants are leaving the country than are coming in. Is it about the cruelty of white egocentricity or just who we really might be? 

Or in Gaza, where children and women were killed by Israeli soldiers while conservative evangelical leaders met with Netanyahu and applauded the opening of the new embassy, or was it the dead kids that spiked their excitement?

Or skip to the 11-year-old girl who is raped and impregnated by a friend of the family. Who is convinced to marry the 32-year-old man who raped her so he wouldn’t have to spend 20 years in prison and to make sure her parents avoid prison for neglectfully abetting the rapist. Being conservative Christians, they would never allow their daughter to have an abortion. Yet, they think that they are still going to heaven? Forty-nine states don’t have a problem with this kind of thing happening. Yet, we are defunding programs to help poor people everywhere, if birth control and abortion are part of the disseminated information. “Thirteen is really just a state of body?” Where’s Roman Polanski when we need him?

Or we go to Charlottesville, where passionate good people screamed “Jews will not replace us,” no worries about that, while they beat up protestors. And debate the virtues of the alt right and its grotesque behavior during the march. Is Colin Kaepernick an unpatriotic black guy?

Or pick a school, any one that’s had a killing, and listen to the sound of Republican Christian conservatives defending the National Rifle Assocation and the Second Amendment and never once passing any bill whatsoever that might stop the violence in our schools.

Who are these purveyors of violence who really believe that they are good people? Their silence in the face of all this violence and killing and racial abuse. Their adoration for the racist misogynist pig who cheers them on. Their shameless silence in the face of all that agony and pain. Their deranged narcissism and self-righteous fascism. Is it cowardice or fascism or some combination of both?

It could have been a Jim Morrison song: “The Silence of the Pigs.”