Letters to the Editor 01.24.19

Dust and Mud
Springs
January 18, 2019

Dear David,

Thank you for the wonderful article yesterday about dust in Amagansett. Would you also write about similar dusty conditions along Springs-Fire­place Road between Jackson Street and Abraham’s Path in dry periods and mud in wet periods? Also include the smell from composting on the north side of the area on property also owned by Bistrian. All of the dust and mud is due to trucks coming out of unpaved parking areas on both sides of the road. This pollution is a serious health risk.

Thank you,
ROBERT PINE 


The Neighbors
Amagansett
January 21, 2019

Dear Editor;

The recent article last week about the dust blowing in Amagansett and surrounding streets from nearby farmland is alarming. As a member of the agriculture committee since it began, I have many times argued with some of the members that the committee must have consideration for the neighbors living by the farmland. Unfortunately, farmland in East Hampton Town is not like Southampton and Riverhead because most of the land is near residential properties.  

The agriculture committee does not have a diverse enough committee so that more thought can be given to the fact that we must protect not only the farmers but the surrounding neighbors. 

I know that one subject that has been ignored by both the farmers and the town board is that all farmland near residential properties should be tested. Recently the town board voted to give $4 million from the community preservation fund to a Wainscott farmer without first testing the soil. The land will continue to be farmed without knowing what the soil contains. Didn’t we already have a problem with the Long Lane EECO Farm property with arsenic?

Sincerely yours,
ELAINE JONES


Gratitude
Wainscott
January 20, 2019

Dear David,

As your editorial on Jan. 3 pointed out, the East Hampton Town Board and county officials “moved with remarkable speed to protect residents” when PFOS and PFOA were found to have contaminated wells in Wainscott. We who live in Wainscott were offered bottled water immediately and, within less than a year, eight-and-a-half miles of new water main were laid. 

I wanted to express my personal gratitude to Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, Deputy Supervisor Sylvia Overby, and Councilpersons Jeff Bragman, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and David Lys for taking this issue seriously and working through all the obstacles so that 

clean drinking water is now available to my neighbors and me. I’d also like to thank Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming for her resolute commitment to getting the problem solved.

This is a good way to start the year and an example of how government should work. We are lucky to have in office people who act quickly and decisively when residents need their help.

Sincerely,
DAVID DOTY


Dumping Ground
Wainscott
January 21, 2019

Dear David,

“Guestwords” by Richard Rosenthal, “Wainscott Redux,” is a useless piece of fictional writing. 

Having lived in Wainscott for over 32 years, having founded and served on several citizen activist groups and advisory committees, always as an advocate for the citizens of Wainscott to improve our quality of life in our tiny hamlet, I don’t recognize any of the baseless accusations and negative criticisms represented in this column. They simply don’t exist. I don’t even know this man. I’ve dismissed this entire column as a fictional piece that serves absolutely no purpose. 

If that wasn’t the intent, then I can only see this man as a malcontent racked with envy and jealousy, a bully, beset to destroy the lives of people living in the smallest hamlet, who he believes may be better off than he and any other hamlet in East Hampton. That is utterly false. If he truly believes this is true, he’s utterly sick, so, I’ll go back to believing this column is fictional.

Wainscott is the smallest hamlet in the Town of East Hampton by far, the stepchild of the town and the dumping grounds of every other hamlet in East Hampton. With one toxic waste dump just announced by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and another potential site that will be named in the near future, the onion is being peeled back and the damage done for years is becoming known. 

The pit property has been the dumping ground for millions of cubic yards of fill from unknown sources with unknown contaminants. The owner publicly stated there was no protocol to test the fill before it was dumped on this property. East Hampton dumps its aircraft pollution and noise pollution on the residents of Wainscott with no end in sight except for calls to close the airport.

Ironically, Wainscott is the gateway to the Town of East Hampton and you’d think the town would have taken better care and had more pride in its community when folks entered it. We do that at our homes, that’s curb appeal. So the scrappy folks of Wainscott are going to fight tooth and nail to preserve the little of what is left in our tiny hamlet, that we hold dear. 

We’ve already fired a shot over the bow of the town board after the purchase of the property on Route 114. We don’t only complain, we offer solutions. With a growing population of aging baby boomers who won’t be able to live near their children and grandchildren any longer, an affordable senior housing complex designed for aging seniors will be perfect for that property and will satisfy the need to preserve the character of the Wainscott School. There is already a great need for such a project.

Mr. Rosenthal refers to a proposed project in 2015 on Stephen Hand’s Path as “affordable housing.” That is totally false and misleading; the project was for affordable apartments. Building a Lefrak City development in Wainscott is hardly the solution for next generation housing, as he seems to seek for his children and grandchildren. There are several arrows left in the quiver for the town to solve affordable housing but they must be thoughtful and creative.

Wainscott folks like me only want to preserve the history and character of the rural farmland community with the vistas to the south and the woodland watersheds to the north that preserve our sole source aquifer. The iconic Wainscott School is the symbol of the character of the rural farming community. The impact of this school on the entire town of East Hampton should never be underestimated; our two children are great examples of what the Wainscott School produces. Folks in other hamlets should not be envious. They should be proud such a fine school exists in their community because the students who come out of the school benefit all in East Hampton.

The hamlet study is complete, in a few weeks it will be adopted into the comprehensive plan. The hamlet study included input from all folks in Wainscott since it is we who want to plan the future of our community, not dictates from outsiders. That has gone on far too long, the results speak for themselves. The folks of Wainscott have spoken and a very thoughtful plan has emerged. That will be the plan for our future, not the distraught fictional writings of any person, especially this one.

Sincerely,
FRANK DALENE


Energy Goal
East Hampton 
January 20, 2018

Dear David,

I applaud Christopher Walsh’s Jan. 17 article: “Eye Path to Energy Choices.” Sponsored by the town’s energy sustainability and resiliency committee, Christopher details for your readers the discussion, a “tutorial,” on Community Choice Aggregation, C.C.A., a new statewide power procurement strategy for clean energy communities. As a Climate Smart Community, East Hampton strives to replace fossil fuels with 100 percent clean energy resources. A C.C.A. would give East Hampton the power to determine its own energy future. By aggregating energy demand, the community has the opportunity to have its electric power needs supplied from clean energy resources. C.C.A. also has the potential to lower customers’ monthly utility bills. 

In 2018 the energy sustainability and resiliency committee developed its East Hampton clean energy portfolio, a “toolkit,” in advising the town board as it strives for the 100 percent clean energy goal by eliminating fossil fuel resources. Included with C.C.A. in this portfolio are local renewable energy products and shared renewable programs such as community solar, load management, green building codes, battery storage, rooftop solar, microgrids, thermal heating, and offshore wind 

energy. The New York State Public Service Commission has authorized Community Choice Aggregation frameworks for communities served by New York’s investor-owned electric and gas utility companies. Fifty-five municipalities across New York State have now adopted authorizing legislation to start the C.C.A. process. On Long Island, municipalities need to get LIPA, a state authority, to adopt the Public Service Commission rules and regulations authorizing a C.C.A. framework. In addition, a C.C.A. community timetable, from 18 months to two years, begins with a lengthy public awareness campaign, which Christopher has opened in our community with his excellent article. 

Sincerely,
LINDA JAMES 
Energy Sustainability and Resiliency Committee


No Time to Waste
Springs
January 16, 2019

Dear Editor,

Kudos to Governor Cuomo for saying we will fight climate change and move New York off fossil fuels in his State of the State address. However, to turn those goals into reality, he must pass the Climate and Community Protection Act, a piece of legislation that already has support in the Assembly, the State Senate, and a large coalition of community organizations across New York called N.Y. Renews. 

The C.C.P.A. will move us to a 100 percent renewable economy, make sure green jobs are good jobs, and invest in our communities most at risk to climate destruction. It will make New York 50 percent fossil fuel free by 2030 and 100 percent fossil fuel free by 2050.

It will do this by creating hundreds of thousands of good green jobs in the state and provide billions each year for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, while saving consumers money as they transition from ever more expensive dirty energy to ever cheaper renewable energy.

This is vitally important to me because I love my granddaughter very much. I am horrified at how our fossil fuel economy is destroying her future. I also fear for my future and that of my granddaughter’s parents, because, as we have just learned, climate chaos is happening much faster than we thought. We have perhaps 12 years to turn this around. We are in a climate emergency and we have no time to waste.

We have the solutions right here, right now, to win the climate fight. Let’s pass the C.C.P.A. and get on it!

FRANCESCA RHEANNON


The Junta Decided
East Hampton
January 20, 2019

Dear David:

Almost the first thing the new Democratic State Legislature did was to pass election law reforms. Almost the very first thing the junta of Kelley, Frankl, Mazur, and Rogers that controls the East Hampton town Democratic Committee did was to figure out how to exploit the new law in the service of their own control over who gets to serve in elected office in East Hampton.

To increase voter turnout, the new state law moved the date of state primaries from early September to coincide with the federal primary date in late June. This makes sense in the even-numbered years when there are federal elections. It makes no sense as applied to local elections in odd-numbered years. But let’s leave that aside.

The result of the new state law is that candidate nominating petitions will now be circulated in March, rather than in June as has long been the case, and the slate of candidates for office will be fixed in mid-April rather than mid-July.

With no vote of the Democratic Committee (after all, this is a group that does not have any use for actual democracy), the junta decided that this requires the committee’s nominating convention to be held on or about Feb. 13. They so announced last Wednesday at the committee’s monthly meeting. 

When, as a committee member, I raised my hand to ask why the candidate screening and convention had to be held so far in advance of carrying the legally required nominating petitions, Cate Rogers, the committee chairwoman, replied that this is necessary given all the time required to assemble the nominating petitions, a very complicated task, says she.

Is it even necessary to say that Ms. Rogers is not telling the truth? In reality, it requires only minutes to set up a nominating petition on a computer, mere seconds to print on an ordinary computer printer, and a couple of hours at most to have it duplicated by the hundreds on suitably colored paper. I know. I did this myself, with my own hands, for dozens of different nominating petitions last year. Not weeks, not days, mere hours.

The all too obvious real purpose of the “hurry up” strategy of the junta is to render it as difficult as possible for anyone other than the junta’s preferred candidates to have a shot at being nominated. 

Now, one should not make too much of this, because the chance that the committee will do other than as it is instructed by the junta is near zero anyway. But the junta cannot tolerate even the appearance of democracy. They not only want absolute control over who governs East Hampton, they want everyone to know it so that they can discipline those in public life who are not suitably subservient to them and to the public officials they in turn control.

The junta cracked its disciplinary whip just this month, instructing the town trustees it controls to oust Trustee Rick Drew from his role as deputy clerk. Rick is far too honest and independent-minded for them, having done as much or more work than anyone in town to bring to light the facts about Deepwater Wind and put them before the public. 

Why does any of this matter? Because democracy requires elections. When, in a one-party town, elected officials don’t have to worry about the electorate, only about the favor of self-perpetuating party bosses, the consequences for the public are dire. Problems that have a serious adverse effect, particularly on those who live and work here year round, linger year after year.

It is no accident that the Democratic majority on the town board lies to the public about Deepwater Wind, cannot manage to create affordable housing for working families, seniors, and young people at the rate of even 10 units per year, and does virtually nothing in the face of declining water quality. Years go by with no solution to the weakness of emergency communications in Springs. Instead, the Springs Fire District has to sue the town.

In announcing at the meeting that she is running for re-election, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said, “What I love about my job is that it is like going to college. You discuss something different every 45 minutes.”  Well, her job is not about her entertainment. It is about the lives of the people affected by what the town board does and fails to do. Councilwoman Overby’s short attention span is not a virtue. It is indicative of the lack of seriousness of the town board majority.

In retiring Nancy Keeshan from the planning board earlier this month, Councilwoman Overby also said to the press that, while she respects her, Ms. Keeshan had been “there for quite awhile” (eight years) and that “it is good to have new and different people on the board.” This year is Ms. Overby’s and Mr. Van Scoyoc’s eighth year on the town board.

It is not an easy job to gather the hundreds of signatures required to get on the primary ballot. The East Hampton Reform Democrats have the capacity. We did it last year under much more difficult circumstances. We can prepare nominating petitions in minutes (not weeks) and are willing to give our time to ensure that, if there are Democrats who wish to run primary contests for any positions, they can get on the primary ballot in June.

Registered Democrats can let us know of their interest by email to: 

ehreformdems@gmail.com. We believe in democracy, that system of government by which citizens exercise power by voting.

Sincerely,
DAVID GRUBER


Crosshairs Are On
Springs
January 21, 2019

Editor, 

Some of you know me. Or know of me. Or not. I’m a Marine Vietnam combat veteran. Went to law school on the G.I. Bill. Practiced criminal defense law for 42 years. On June 23, 2015, I was forced to retire due to several service-connected disabilities. The most serious, chronic ischemic coronary heart disease caused by being exposed to Agent Orange for 13 months in Vietnam. So? The Vietnamese were sprayed with Agent Orange for 10 years.

On Nov. 28, 2018, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, threw down his gauntlet in the Big Apple. After 19 months, on the dime, the special counsel connected some dots. Not bots. He filed a prosecutor’s information in the Southern District of New York charging Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, with one count of making false statements to Congress. The information was in lieu of indictment and means Cohen waived both the grand jury and indictment. This is common when the accused has previously made a deal to be an F.B.I. informant and is cooperating against another target or targets. The crosshairs are on the Potus’s backside. 

The information alleges that on Aug. 28, 2017, Cohen submitted a written statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House 

of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence containing lies about the “Moscow Project,” kept a better secret than the Montauk Project. It is a concise nine pages, double-spaced as required, and signed by the special counsel. Cohen is mentioned throughout. “Individual 2,” Felix Sater, steals the spotlight with 15 mentions. And “Individual 1,” a.k.a. the Potus, a mere three times for context. In this information the Potus is not accused of any wrongdoing. Watch for the second shoe.

The information has three protagonists: then-defendant, now felon twice over, Michael Cohen, Individual 1, a.k.a. the Potus and Individual 2, a.k.a. Felix Sater. He is a well-known, Russian-born, F.B.I. informer, well known, in part, due to his relentless self-promotion. For example, he posed for Newsweek’s cover dated June 15, 2018, titled “The Informant.” It is common knowledge he recently moved to California and is trolling for a movie deal. Sater, for certain, is not concerned about safety. 

On, Nov. 28, 2018, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress. The plea included his cooperation agreement with the special counsel.

I knew since March 2, 2000, that Felix Sater was a government informer. One of several in United States of America v. Frank Coppa, et al., a high profile case involving the Italian Mafia and Russian mobsters. In early March 2000, the Department of Justice in the Eastern District of New York indicted 19 for a $40 million theft, a pump-and-dump stock fraud and money laundering scam. I was the defense counsel for Daniel Persico Jr., defendant Number 3. As his counsel, I arranged with the F.B.I. for his voluntary surrender to the Eastern District.

On March 2, 2000, Daniel Persico Jr. was arraigned and released on a personal recognizance bond for $1 million. During our court appearance we were given a copy of the Coppa case indictment. It was a half-inch thick and read like a season of the “The Sopranos.” It named Felix Sater as one of several unindicted co-conspirators, meaning they previously flipped and were working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. 

According to the Coppa indictment, Felix Sater was one of several owners of State Street, a bogus brokerage firm. They used their phony firm to steal — by stock fraud and money laundering — at least $40 million from unsuspecting investors, especially seniors.

Also on March 2, 2000, the Department of Justice issued a long press release about the Coppa case. It revealed Felix Sater as one of several informers in the case. Over the years I kept some files. The Coppa case was a keeper.

I know some about Felix Sater and his government support groups, gained by my legal involvement in the Coppa case and, in part, from Richard E. Lerner Esq. and Frederick M. Oberlander Esq., who our government has for over eight years and counting, secretly persecuted for their unrelenting fight to expose systemic corruption and misconduct involving Felix Sater, Trump, D.O.J., F.B.I., federal judges, and sleazy attorneys. 

In December 1998, Felix Sater was facing 20 years, a $250,000 fine, and $60 million in restitution. He made a deal, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, and became a government informer. Sater’s plea covered the crimes in the 2000 Coppa indictment. I have a copy of Sater’s cooperation agreement that includes his plea. The special counsel’s top gun, Andrew Weismann Esq., approved the agreement and signed off as the supervising assistant U.S. attorney. What? 

In 2001, Robert S. Mueller III was appointed by Bush 43 as F.B.I. director. He was reappointed by Obama. Mueller was F.B.I. director for 11 years. In 2017 he was appointed special counsel for the current Russian investigation. This appointment brings him full circle back to the government informer Felix Sater and Trump. There is something wrong. Their now coming back together is suspect. Especially so for Muller and Sater.  

In the early 2000s Felix “Snake” Sater surfaced at Trump Tower. He went to work for Bayrock L.L.C. located there. Sater, because he was a convict twice over, was barred from his previous work as a stockbroker. Now he called himself a real estate development executive. Being a convicted felon also barred him from doing real estate deals. No problem. With protection by F.B.I., D.O.J., federal judges, and sleazy attorneys, his convictions were kept secret — a crime known as concealment fraud. 

You guessed right: Bayrock L.L.C., with Sater, did several illegal real estate deals with the Trump organization. These deals were mostly financed by stolen money from the former Soviet Union and Russia, illegal money that went into Bayrock-Trump projects, known as money laundering. One small caveat, it is not a crime to take the money as long as you do not know the source. Better still, if no one will ever prove you knew. This little crack in our law applies to the Trump organization. Not so for “Snake.” He knew the money was stolen from the former Soviet Union or Russia. Not to worry. “Snake” is a government informer. His slimy body covered by people in highly revered institutions. “Revered” does not include Sater’s high-priced, sleazy lawyers. Most are former or current employees of the D.O.J. 

On Oct. 23, 2009, 11 years after he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, he was finally sentenced. Federal District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser fined him $25,000 dollars. That’s it, folks. This fine covered the $40 million by stock fraud and money laundering, in the Coppa case. The government is claiming Sater was sentenced in open court. Not really.

According to the transcript, John Doe stood in for Felix Sater. John Doe was represented by Kelly Moore Esq. and Leslie Caldwell Esq. Ms. Moore is a former assistant U.S. attorney. Ms. Caldwell is a former assistant U.S. attorney and currently number three in the D.O.J. “Snake” must be a rare species. 

Felix Sater is known as the Whitey Bolger of financial crimes. Bolger was a deadly gangster from the Boston area, turned F.B.I. informer. After flipping, he continued a reign of terror protected by rogue F.B.I. agents. Bolger is recently deceased. 

Snake is a bona fide, U.S.-certified, convicted, Russia via the U.S.S.R., conman fraudster of repute, not to be confused as Russian Mafia. He only has a U.S. stamp of approval. Sater is one of the most successful (measured in stolen money) crooks ever and has been on a roll for over two decades. How so? Uncle Sam has his back, meaning Sater is protected by the special counsel, D.O.J., F.B.I., certain federal judges, and high-priced sleazy attorneys. Why all the fuss? What and who are they really protecting? Has to be more than Snake’s fat ass. 

I’ll be back.

Semper fi,
JOSEPH GIANNINI ESQ. 


 

Tomorrow
East Hampton
January 20, 2019

Editor:

For us citizens of this great country, tomorrow is the most important day of our lives. It comes in at midnight and when it arrives we wish for no flaws. It comes to us in the hope we have learned something from yesterday. As citizens we must get ready for the ongoing political quagmire of complication, disillusionment, search for the guilty, punishment for the innocent, and lauds for those who did nothing. Some partisans, for example, showed their anti-Catholic bigotry on Dec. 27, 2018, in the consideration for the court vacancies, most of all the Supreme Court justice. It showed in this we experienced a form of prejudice that seemed similar to racism.

 As citizens we are only as strong as when we are united and as weak as we are when divided. Arguing with a politician is like at times negotiating with a parrot, all he is going to do is repeat his party’s mantra and say we have won. I have a question for politicians Diane Feinstein, age 85, Maxine Watters, age 80, and Nancy Pelosi, age 78. I would ask if they remember Dec. 7, 1941, that while the Japanese were talking treaty in Washington, D.C., the Japanese proceeded to bomb Pearl Harbor and around 2,000 Americans were killed and grammar school “Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.”   The president would be right in saying he could use the military to build the wall. In my almost 21 years of military service I was stationed for seven of those years in Seabee battalions. Every expertise and building trade was available in those battalions. To name a few, there were steelworkers, builders, and electricians, draftsmen, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, and more. All Seabees are trained to also defend what they build by Marines and are supported by all other fleet rates. Seabees can build the wall!

There is only one day a year in which nothing can be changed, and that was yesterday. There is always the hope for change ahead in a day that we call tomorrow. Now, today, it is time to do something together to make that happen. We do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children. Cleaning up and getting rid of all the lobbyists in Congress for all they represent is big money corporations would be a start. The job of a lobbyist is to only attempt to influence and sway the actions, policies, or decisions of all our elected officials.                

The job of Congress should only be to protect the citizens of the United States, everything else is secondary. There are 435 members of the House and 100 senators in Congress. Their oath of office states: to the best of my ability to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Illegal immigration is a violation of that law. Congress should not be questioning the Constitution but enforcing it. In December 1979, Jimmy Carter deported 7,000 Iranian students with Visa violations and 15,000 Iranians were told to leave the United States. There is no difference today.

It is about time Congress got down to work and put the safety of all citizens of the United States first. All around Washington, D.C., there are reminders of who paid the price for our liberties in Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Wall, and monuments to World Wars I, II, and Korea. We ask our elected officials to stand up and do their job. Put America and Americans first. 

TOM BYRNE 


Responsibility
East Hampton
January 20, 2019

Editor:

It starts with racism then slavery then racism then denial then racism then fascism. The wall brings them all together. Blends the essential qualities of American sickness into an inglorious pot of garbage.

We were racists from the beginning: day one. The Pilgrims, the Puritans, the conquistadors of Virginia. Nothing special. Just a sign of the times. We enslaved indigenous people but they were too indigenous. We indentured hundreds of thousands but they disappeared into the whiteness. Blacks saved the country; made it strong and rich. Thank God for our racism. Jesus knew of our imperfections. Slavery then blew us up. All that wealth gone up in smoke. But we kept it alive for another 154 years. Our amazing fascism. We thank God again for denial.

An Irish friend was telling me that the Irish hated the English because of the genocide the English perpetrated upon them. The English don’t deny a thing: the Chinese, the Indians, and the Africans. They don’t pretend that they are good people or always were. Their historical narrative is blood, guts, and a huge dose of racism.

So according to Homeland Security, illegal immigration is at a 50-year low, down from 1.5 million to 250,000. They also say that most of the illegals are families fleeing from seriously dangerous situations. Now that’s a bloody crisis. The fool compensates for the lack of border crossers by attacking our own immigrants.

Yet, our narrative regarding these immigrants seems to skip the role of the United States in their current situations — denial fueled by racism and slavery are the key points of our missing narrative. How we enslaved hundreds of thousand of indigenous people to work for American corporations or how we installed and supported some of the most inhuman dictators to keep the workers under control or how the School of the Americas trained paramilitary forces and police in the most barbaric techniques of population control. Every act of governmental violence in Central America is the responsibility of the U.S. Every one of the hundreds of thousands of dead bodies is blood on our hands.

If we ever accepted our responsibility and were willing to make restitution it would be in the trillions of dollars.

Restitution is a ridiculous idea. Ask anyone? Denial is so much cheaper. We aren’t being racist; we are simply protecting our borders from these dark-skinned migrant families who wish to do us harm. We know that there is something wrong with them because they don’t hate us for what we did to their countries? We are treating them the way we always treated them. What’s the big deal?

What the wall represents for the American people is that we no longer have to remain in the closet. No longer need to be in denial about our past and our present. We can proudly stand alongside our president and let our racism and hatred radiate from our newly liberated spirits. We can watch the kids from Kentucky emulate the fool. In the world of horseshit we can finally admit that ours really stinks.

NEIL HAUSIG


Found Refreshing
Springs
January 20, 2019

Dear Editor,

This past Thursday I had a meeting with the New York State Senate President Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D. Yonkers) on issues critical to my Benevolent Association membership. I know the senator for many years, and as always it was an absolute pleasure to be working with her on my members’ issues.

I have several reasons for writing about my meeting with Senator Stewart-Cousins, with the first being, for those who do not know, Senator Stewart-Cousins is not only the first woman to be elected to the post but also is of African-American heritage and that indeed is historical, especially in the context of Dr. King’s birthday. 

For those who do not know, professional politics at the state level are complex and difficult, to say the least, and to have the wherewithal to navigate the ins and outs is nothing short of true professionalism. New York City, upstate, Southern Tier, western New York, Hudson Valley, and Long Island are all very different and have special needs. Each legislative representative and Governor Cuomo all have unique needs and wants. Past Senator Flanagan (R. Smithtown) did a fantastic job of leading the Senate and was always an effective leader and pleasure to deal with.

During my conversation with Senator Stewart-Cousins, I did have an opportunity to discuss East Hampton’s affordable housing crisis. Our affordable housing problems are very different from those of New York City and other urban areas. I expressed my frustration and that of our community with the abysmal pace of progress in East Hampton, and we discussed areas in which there could be an improvement. It was a short but substantive conversation that we agreed to continue at a later date.

What I found refreshing is the senator’s frank and open honesty. As we all know, Senator Flanagan was able to work with just about everybody and had a coalition with the Independent Democratic Conference to accomplish much for New York. Naturally, there was a difference between the majority Republican agenda and the minority Democratic agenda, yet as Senate president, Senator Flanagan and the majority Republicans, I.D.C. caucus, and minority Democrats were able to make real progress for all New Yorkers.

I am very hopeful that Senator Stewart-Cousins and the 2019-20 majority Democrats will be just as successful. Time will tell, but what I can say: I believe this time in New York State, Senate majority Democrats elected a true leader in Senator Stewart-Cousins, and I am looking forward to working with her and the Senate Democratic majority.

Lastly, on Monday we celebrated a great American — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a man of peace and God, giving us all a blueprint for tolerance and civility. Much can be said of Dr. King, so I will keep it short and to the point with an excerpt from Dr. King’s speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial: “And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring! And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

God bless America,
MANNY VILAR


Offending Photos
Plainview
January 20, 2018

To the Editor:

Congressman Tom Suozzi has won a coveted seat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, even though it took him 10 years to find the “ways and means” to remove his own shamelessly self-promoting, disrespectfully-smiling photo from Nassau County’s somber September 11 Memorial Wall in Eisenhower Park.

It was 2007 when he chose (or approved) that happy-looking photo to go up on the wall dedicated to the memory of 344 (names but no photos) of Nassau residents who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. It was only my Oct. 30, 2017, letter asking him to “tear down this wall’s inappropriately-smiling photos of yourself and then-president George W. Bush,” and four months of follow up phone calls, that finally prompted him to write current Nassau Executive Laura Curran that “I request that the photos be removed. The focus of the memorial should be on the residents of Nassau County who lost their lives on that horrific day and not on myself or the former president.”

 Suozzi’s letter pointedly left out any mention of my letter, as if the idea were his own. In June 2018 the two offending photos were replaced with photos showing the Twin Towers standing tall, and an American flag flying free.

RICHARD SIEGELMAN