Letters to the Editor 02.14.19

 Quick Action
East Hampton
February 10, 2019

To the Editor,

Words cannot express our gratitude for the quick action in responding to a fire in our home Saturday afternoon. We want to extend a big shout-out to the village police and fire department, along with Steven Griffith, who all made sure we would have a home to come back too!

With deep thanks,

Spent and Fading
February 10, 2019

Dear David,

I am grateful to be sitting here at my computer writing a letter to The Star to thank the people who saved my life last Sunday. I thought Taylor Vecsey did a very good job getting the story right and writing it in a clear and sensitive way (with the help of Star editors, of course!). 

First, I have to thank the five civilians on the beach who heard my cries of help, called 911, and came to our rescue: Jimmy Sullivan, Geoff Bowen, Briana Prado, Adrian Martin, and Tom Donohue. Hearing and seeing them approach gave me hope as well as assistance, then the Amagansett Fire Department Chief Bill Beckert and Assistant Chief Chris Beckert and first responders from the East Hampton Town Police and Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad. 

I was spent and fading, and they pulled me out, warmed me up and got me to the hospital. One friend later said to me: “God must have more here for you to do.” If that’s true, I hope I can make as much of difference in someone else’s life as these men and women have made in mine.

I am grateful to my friends and family who came to see me, picked up my car from the Walking Dunes, my clothes (the ones that had not been cut up) from the police, my iPhone from the Fire Department (which though it was in my pants pocket in the water, is still working in its “life-proof” case). 

Thank you to the kind, unknown person who brought my surviving dog, Mazy, home and put her in my house in Springs when I got taken to the hospital. Thank you to those who helped and comforted me as we put Gus to rest in the field near my house.

I received very good care at Southampton Hospital in a quiet room with lots of attention from the nurses, doctors, residents, and interns. In my view, Southampton feels much more like a teaching hospital now that it is affiliated with Stony Brook, with all the good stimulation that brings.

For people who need help or are ill, that is enough of a burden without adding medical debt to the stress. I am grateful I have health insurance. I believe everyone in our country should have coverage. 

To all my friends and family, to my dogs, to my community, thank you! I would not be here without you.


East Hampton
February 10, 2019

Dear David,

I am writing to express how grateful I am for the fortunate outcome, and for all of the brave and competent people who were involved in saving the life of Randy Parsons after he fell through the ice on Napeague Harbor. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Bowen happened to be in the area and knew they needed to act immediately, rather than wait for town rescue personnel. They selflessly risked their own lives to save Mr. Parsons. When the Fire Department, police, and ocean rescue teams arrived, they were able to properly complete the rescue.

I have not been involved with Randy during the years that he has been working for the town, but in the year 2000, when he was the head of his company, LandMarks Land Planning, he helped me plan for changes in land-use regulations that were occurring at the time, and how they affected two vacant lots that I owned. I was impressed by how thorough and competent his work was, as well as what a pleasure is was to be involved with someone who cared so much about his work and his client.

I want to wish Randy a fast and complete recovery from this incident. I also want to express my sympathy for the loss of Gus, his dog. I know from personal experience how painful that can be. It makes me happy to be living in East Hampton where there are so many people willing to instinctively come to the aid of others in distress, as well as the professional first responders.


My Only Regrets
Palm Bay, Fla.
February 10, 2019

Dear David,

Having read The Star’s article about the Sons of the American Legion 9/11 memorial project reaching the home stretch, I have to say it made my day. Under Tony Ganga’s leadership, he and a group of Sons were able to bring together a fine mix of individuals donating time, money, and expertise to see this project from start to fruition. 

Why do I care? Seven years ago at the age of 54 I was diagnosed with cancer that New York State, the Social Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Justice have attributed to my response (with the East Hampton Town Police Department) to the 9/11 attacks. I have been through radical surgery, 35 radiation treatments, and two prior and one ongoing round of chemo. I will not be cured, but the chemo can shrink some of the bone tumors.

I enjoyed every day I lived in East Hampton and my only regrets are as follows:

            1) I can no longer afford to live in East Hampton on my disability income.

            2) I miss my friends.

            3) I am greatly saddened that no officials in the Town of East Hampton have ever acknowledged my situation in any form.

            4) I will likely die broke without ever seeing East Hampton again.

So thanks again, Tony, and all the other folks involved for making my day.

Senior Harbormaster (Retired)

Purchasing Power
February 6, 2019

Dear Editor:

Before retiring I operated restaurants in upstate New York. The regulatory environment in New York State has made it increasingly difficult to operate successfully — a difficult environment.

My grandson is a waiter at Ted’s Montana Grill in Charlotte, N.C., As I will be going to Jacksonville, Fla., I looked at the Jacksonville menu and compared it to Ted’s New York City location. Florida minimum wage is $8.46. New York City minimum wage is $15.

The Florida price comes first, New York’s second: wedge salad, $6, $11; burger $12, $18; crab cake, $27, $40, and pot roast, $20, $30. You get the idea: 50 percent more.

Does the minimum wage worker have any more purchasing power in New York versus Florida? Also‚ the minimum wage will never be a living wage, it’s an entry level wage.


East Hampton
February 10, 2019

Dear David:

Meals on Wheels would like to thank the Rotary Club of East Hampton for brightening an otherwise dreary January weekend by providing delicious spaghetti and meatball dinners for our homebound clients. The meals, delivered by our volunteer drivers, were greatly appreciated; they have become something our clients look forward to each winter. 

Every day, our volunteers, our donors, and community groups like this one remind us of the support and generosity of the people of our town.

On behalf of all of us at Meals on Wheels, we wish this important organization all the best in their ongoing efforts to benefit our community.

Very truly yours,

Productive Dialogue
February 6, 2019

Dear Mr. Editor: 

I am writing in my capacity as president of the Board of Trustees of the Wainscott Common School District in response to your Jan. 31 editorial “School Growth Inevitable.” 

I agree that some school growth is inevitable. In fact, the number of students residing in the Wainscott School District has increased over 200 percent during the last four school years. I wholeheartedly disagree, however, with your belief that destruction of an important cultural and historical resource such as the Wainscott School and its setting is also inevitable. 

Your most recent editorial (as well as previous ones) makes clear that you believe a town-sponsored affordable housing project must be built in the Wainscott School District regardless of its impact on the hamlet or its few defining institutions such as our unique school house. All that matters is that the Democratic committee and the town board check off that box in order to confirm their Democratic bona fides. Forget the facts regarding Wainscott’s current contribution to the town’s affordable housing, forget the current demographics of our district, and forget constructive dialogue on the subject. 

The Wainscott District intends to engage in a constructive dialogue with the town board and our community in an effort to work toward a solution that any new project would not adversely affect our historic school house and its long held mission.   

Your ham-handed attempt in your recent editorial to stifle that productive dialogue by painting anyone who does not agree with your build-at-all-costs approach with the broad brush of racism is outrageous and must be condemned. It shows that you are either ignorant or uninterested regarding what is currently going on in our hamlet, including what young families are currently served and benefited by its unique school district.   

Mr. Editor, you have been handed a powerful and important platform. Your baseless accusations of racism against people who dare speak up for their community and question your build-at-all- costs approach severely degrades your paper and reflects poorly upon you. 

Apologies for your divisive words are clearly in order. 

Ms. Mehrhoff
February 6, 2019

To the Editor, 

My name is Renny Murphy. I am a junior in East Hampton High School and a former Springs student. A short time ago, I heard about what had happened to Ms. Mehrhoff. I was upset and enraged by what was happening to a fantastic teacher at Springs School. I went to Springs from prekindergarten through eight grade, and in that time no substitute teacher ever had the lasting effect on me that Ms. Mehrhoff did. She was a teacher who when she walked in students knew that we wouldn’t get away with the same shenanigans we would generally try. 

Ms. Mehrhoff wasn’t a substitute who merely would watch over us, she would teach us. She truly cares about every student she taught over the years. And like a lot of my peers, I didn’t appreciate this at a young age, but looking back I cannot thank her enough. Very few, if any, substitutes in schools cared for the students as much. And aside from just caring, Ms. Mehrhoff was capable of relating to and understanding students. She would talk to us like an equal and not an inferior, and still maintained control of the classroom. 

The retaliation by Springs School after Ms. Mehrhoff spoke up was deplorable and unjust. The alleged remarks from Mr. Henry were rude and disgusting. The administration should not stand by while this happens and should not laugh it off when a complaint is lodged. Ms. Winter’s actions or lack of action were equally if not more so disappointing and revolting. Ms. Winter not only mishandled the complaint filed by Ms. Mehrhoff, but also was inappropriate in the way she talked to other teachers. 

Mishandling a claim like that as an administrator is horrendous, but to persecute a fellow educator and a woman is astonishing. It is disrespectful and not an example to set for students at Springs School. The administrators’ actions told young girls everywhere that they should take the harassment and not speak out. They instill fear in young girls thinking about speaking out. The utter disregard and disrespect given to Ms. Mehrhoff is entirely disgusting and horrific. I am extremely disappointed this was how Ms. Mehrhoff was treated. I want to be proud to be from Springs, and this behavior is nothing to be proud of. I am ashamed of how the administration handled this terrible situation. 

Thank you,

February 7, 2019

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to some of my former colleagues, who masterfully staged a theatrical production, the likes of Broadway, during the second public commentary at last Monday’s Springs School Board of Education meeting. The exploitation of several Springs high school students to voice “your” opinions about the school board and administration was downright despicable. What on earth were you thinking?

Your push to have the return of an administrator who you can manipulate is beyond words. To cause such disruption and turmoil in an elementary school is unconscionable. This has been going on for a long time and, as a result, many good educators and staff have left.

Springs School, for generations, has been the backbone of our hamlet. You and your ilk are an embarrassment and disgrace to the integrity of Springs School and the surrounding community. Shame on you!


Heroic Example
February 11, 2019

Dear Editor, 

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (Oct. 4, 1922 - April 28, 1962). an Italian pediatrician, is one of the Church’s lay saints. When suffering from a life-threatening disease while pregnant, she rejected the possibility of having an abortion to save her own life, and gave her own to save that of her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela. 

Her heroic example, both in life and death, led her to become a patron saint of the unborn, and she now has a growing, devoted following worldwide. Reports of miracles and graces granted through her intercession continue to this day. 

Saint Gianna was canonized by Pope John Paul the Great in 2004. Her last daughter, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, is a geriatrician from Milan who has given a series of talks about her canonized mother, bringing each time pictures and relics (pieces of cloth) that belonged to her mother. 

If you would like to learn more about Gianna, just go on YouTube and get the story of Gianna Molla. God has given us a great blessing in the life of Gianna. How many great blessings have been lost because of Roe v. Wade? May God forgive us. 


Should Ban All
February 10, 2019

To the Editor:

The Village of Southampton has banned retail checkout bags since 2011 and is doing just fine. Now, there are two versions of a bag ban under consideration at the state level. The one Gov. Andrew Cuomo may include in his budget this year has exactly the outcome we don’t need: It only affects thin plastic bags at big box chains. 

All that will happen is that stores will use thicker bags, and pass the cost onto consumers, plus creating yet more plastic waste which piles into landfill, washes out to sea, and even breaks down and enters our food chain.

The State Legislature should ban all plastic bags at the retail counter. A fee on paper bags can fund environmental projects. People receiving food assistance or in the nutrition program for children could receive reusable shopping bags for free. Southampton shows a bag ban works.


Must Listen
February 9, 2019

To the Editor:

It is time for America’s youth to mobilize for the earth and speak out. Tens of thousands of teenagers across Europe and Australia have followed the lead of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who has told the leaders of the world to wake up and most recently pointed fingers at the inert and passive elite at Davos, that they are the problem and that climate change is here and now and overwhelming the future. 

Teenagers have skipped school to protest the ineptitude of adults who have been blinded to the scorching of Mother Earth. There is no time left for business as usual. One teacher remarked that these teenagers have indeed listened to their science teachers! 

One European girl held a placard that “If the climate were a bank it would have been saved.” In our country Ocasio Cortez has called for a Green New Deal. The patriarchy that has separated humanity from earth, and life from the future, must listen. The entire survival of earth is on the line. 

Years ago, we helped alert the media to the elephant crisis that affects two continents and indeed our very souls. We asked indigenous people about changing climate and then followed our son across more than a decade to see the wonder of life in the eyes of a child inheriting the planet. We followed our first mentors the animals in the wild and witnessed the challenge of the ivory trade and poachers. 

We are now planning to share that film, which is a prayer for the life force of the planet. For the animals are the “priests of god,” as Carl Jung called them. Without them, witness what is happening to the insects, we can’t survive. We are no better than any elephant walking the earth or whale swimming the oceans (beware, Japan). These young protesters in Europe, all young people marching toward the future, embody the greatest revolution of our time. Its consciousness has finally become a planetary alarm call and it started in the body of a small girl. 

No Nobel Prize can match the army of reverberant souls fighting for the future. She and her generation deserve a renewed earth. Not just civil rights, not just women’s rights, not just for the poor and dispossessed, not even for elephants and whales, but for the entirety of creation as we know it on this earth. 

Can the extreme denialism and parochial greed of America?’s corporate elite be reversed? Can America’s teenagers so fixated on social media and Fortnite use that vehicle to launch a movement for life? Can America’s teenagers rise to match the vehemence in Europe? Can America’s teenagers skip a few days, a few weeks, of school and march toward the light of the future and protest the melting away of the glaciers and time, save the oceans and what remains of the forests, and save the dawn? 

Parents everywhere, listen to the children and listen to the teenagers! Grow up while we still can.


Welcome Rebuttal
February 7, 2019

To the Editor,

Facts are facts, and Mr. Donway’s excellent letter (Feb. 7) deconstructing the myriad myths regarding climate change was a welcome rebuttal to the overblown, misrepresented media and political discussions on the subject. 

Those of us who remain skeptical of the near-term claims of climate disaster resent being labeled climate change deniers. Scientific claims are subject to verification by diverse scientists. There are many scientists who do not adhere to the disaster predictions as ably illustrated in Mr. Donway’s letter. None of the drastic claims by the media, Hollywood types, and the new leftist female Democrats are based on hard facts, but on unverifiable claims by the climate change academic industry that human activity is drastically altering the climate. 

We do not deny that climate changes; that would be absurd. We have had ice ages come and go. We know that earth experienced periods of tropical temperatures well before any humans were on the scene. This does not mean that we should not take care to protect our local environments that are experiencing natural changes, like beach erosion.

It does no good to heap the claim of human-induced climate change on natural events that occur for reasons beyond our complete understanding. Climate changes, nature, work in ways still beyond our understanding. Those of us who deny imminent disaster predictions appreciate this. What we don’t appreciate is being cast as people who don’t care and are subject to ignorant denunciation because we resist conforming to the aggressively promoted mass perception on this subject. 


February 10, 2019

To the Editor,

Vote for Democrats in 2020 — the party of fartless cows.


Economic Dictatorship
East Hampton
February 8, 2019

Dear David:

A few months ago, I should not have dreamed of sending half a dozen letters to The Star on climate. But long-term weather now seems to dominate our local and national discourse.

I empathize with those calling for a halt to wind farm plans. Ideological environmentalists have persuaded our town officials to make commitments critical to us all — energy, its reliability, its financial costs, its impact on our environment and cost to local industries based on a “case” not local at all.

Instead, the case is in terms of a sweeping global hypothesis about climate patterns over the next 75 years or more. With 100 computerized “climate models” churning out these predictions, laymen are invited to butt out of the debate.

Except, of course, the alleged “scientific consensus” on the “climate catastrophe” hypothesis is advanced by proponents of town plans for our energy future. It is a frustrating way to talk about our hamlets’ needs.

The same thing happened to America. The Green New Deal presented to Congress proposes a socialist America, an economic dictatorship as a climate measure. Of the two classic forms of socialism communistic (public ownership of the means of production) and fascistic national socialism (nominally private ownership with total dictation and regulation), it is the fascist model that is proposed.

Incredibly, although “climate change” is invoked, the core issue in the Green New Deal and our local deal is supposed long-term, accelerating, catastrophic sea-level rise.

The latest in a long string of rationalization for ending capitalism, economic freedom, and the market economy: We must control the sea level. Marx said capitalism must go because it causes wars and impoverishes the worker. The limits to growth movement said capitalism must go because we would exhaust key national resources. Neo-Marxism says capitalism must go to solve our race, sex, gender, ethnicity, nationality issues. Now, it is to control the rising seas.

There is no consensus on long-term climate catastrophe. No consensus on the threat of sea levels. They are just actively debated scientific hypotheses that environmental ideologues have catalyzed into political crises.

A recent major report on sea levels is by Judith Curry, a climatologist and former chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee. Her grant support has been from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Defense Department, and Department of Energy. Dr. Curry serves on the NASA Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee and is a recent member of the NOAA Climate Working Group and a former member of the National Academies Space Studies Board and Climate Research Group.

In November, Dr. Curry released an 80-page assessment of sea-level rise and climate change. She writes, “Why have I devoted so much time to the sea level rise issue? First, I regard sea level rise to be the most consequential potential impact of predicted global warming. Second, there is a great deal of public confusion about the issue, including decision makers.”

“Why do I think an independent assessment of the sea level rise issues is needed, given the plethora of international and national assessment reports? There has been a focus on the possible worst-case scenario for global sea level rise. These extreme values of possible sea level rise are regarded as extremely unlikely or so unlikely that we cannot even assign a probability. [But] barely possible values of sea level rise are now becoming anchored as outcomes that are driving local adaptation plans.”

Her conclusions in the briefest possible terms: “[Levels of] rise are contingent on the climate models predicting the correct amount of temperature increase the climate models are predicting too much warming for the 21st century, and hence the more extreme values of sea level rise (above 1 meter) are arguably too high.”

This is not a scientific debate into which our town must wade in planning its energy future. It is not a debate in which the East Hampton electorate can join. We only can be panicked by constant arguments of the “our civilization is at stake” and “our grandchildren will curse us” type. 

Nor should our government get into the energy business. Let the energy industry do its job. Let us make local decisions based on local factors that we all understand. 

It appears that on the national we are going to have plenty of grand ideological debates tied up with the green bow of environmental science. 


Hidden Details
February 8, 2019

Dear David,
It is apparent we have one state legislator, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who listens to us and is totally aware of the jack in the box hidden details of the wind farm. When the town board gave tacit approval to the destruction of Wainscott for the use of Beach Lane to bring this bamboozle ashore, there were secret negotiations to sell to a foreign company — a sleight of hand or outright lie by omission? “Lack of transparency” is just an elongated word for lie! So after deliberation, he realized that he should withdraw his endorsement to protect us. Yet the town board closed their eyes and continues nodding approval!

The giant disruption of tearing up this community to bury box trailer-size splice boxes up and down our roads, some of which are narrow, and the supervisor compares the excavation of a box trailer to the installation of an 18-inch water main? 

Then I read a quote from Sylvia Overby: “As a board member you try to solve problems that impact peoples lives.” Flabbergasted doesn’t cover that brain pause. I guess that 1,000 people who signed a protest position about what will “impact people’s lives,” so continue the three blind mice routine and you will know that not listening to us, who resent the tail wagging the dog, and disregarding how we wish to live you will find out a short time after the polls close.

This seems to be an inherent problem, where elected officials rise to the rank of emperor, like the Wilkinson administration, who decides what is best for “us.” So we have three board members who follow the Albany and local political party leaders, bowing to the grand poo-bah and his grandiose whoppers. Who will really benefit? The hedge funders? 

There is a study that was released by Telegraph Media Group, that “Britain’s Wind Farm Turbines Wear Out Sooner Than Expected.” The analysis of 3,000 onshore turbines, the biggest study of its kind, warns that they will continue to generate effectively for just 12 to 15 years. The study estimates that routine wear and tear will make them more expensive as a result, will double the cost of electricity being produced by the wind farm in the next decade. Now that is impacting people’s lives. What happens when they wear out? Leave them and build a replacement?

Read the report from the economist from Edinburgh University and former energy adviser to the World Bank. Of course, everything gets passed on to the ratepayer.

Scrap this monstrosity. We are not responsible to provide the means to sell power to New York City and Westchester. Stop this willful destruction of our way of life. Start listening to us, who are the town, or we will elect people who will. Thank you, Mr. Thiele, and thank you, Mr. Bragman, for listening and really looking out for what is best for us.

Yours truly,

Need To Listen
February 10, 2018

Dear David:

With respect to David Gruber’s mention of me in letters to the editor of Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, I do not wish to be associated with a divisive or antagonistic political position.

 I appreciate the efforts of the current town board and of all the others in the community who work hard on raising awareness of the benefits of clean energy and advancing clean-energy projects and policy. I believe we need to listen to contrasting perspectives and seek to understand how to achieve the best outcomes with the energy projects we support, but these are complex issues and there are different opinions and approaches. Reducing emissions and managing the impacts of climate change should bring us together, not divide us. 


Why Wainscott
February 10, 2019

Dear Editor: 

At the Feb. 7 town board meeting, East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc broke his promise to bring openness to government. Without any notice, in violation of the historical practices of the town board, and contrary to the posted agenda, he pushed a last-minute vote to facilitate the Deepwater project by digging 200 pits throughout Wainscott and boring two 100-foot holes near Wainscott Beach’s fragile dunes. Worse, there was no good reason for doing this premature digging other than to cater to the interests of Deepwater and do it out of sight of Wainscott residents to lower the risk of provoking an adverse reaction to the progress of the project itself. 

This cynical tactic is disappointing because Supervisor Van Scoyoc knew full well that just days earlier the town-appointed Wainscott Community Advisory Council expressed its strong opposition to premature preparation work on Deepwater’s desired route that unnecessarily puts our community at risk. Supporting wind energy does not mean blindly trusting any corporation that speaks green, but wants to take shortcuts. Moreover, one can advance Deepwater’s project without being dismissive of the town residents most affected by it.

This continued type of government action is exactly why Wainscott has organized under the banner of Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott (wainscott.org). If the supervisor would respond to our petitions (with more than 1,000 signatures), we would tell him that we are not your enemy; we are your constituents and your neighbors; we support green energy, particularly wind energy, as much as you do. But we will not be treated as just another obstacle on a beach to be removed.

When it comes to Deepwater, the town board is running a closed process, structured to avoid public participation on critical items and approve disruptive requests with little to no deliberation. The board has known about the request for approximately two months to bore those two 100-hundred-foot holes near Wainscott Beach’s fragile dunes and dig some 200 pits throughout Wainscott. Yet there has been precious little public discussion on the matter. If the drilling were so innocuous, then why go to such lengths to hide it?

Indeed, Supervisor Van Scoyoc has had opportunities at both town board meetings and community meetings, including in Wainscott, to explain this request and to have Deepwater officials explain it to us. Neither he, nor Deepwater, mentioned any of this during the company’s three-hour presentation at the Jan. 5 WCAC meeting. Not one word. The board’s subsequent decision to avoid public debate with this last-minute, unscheduled maneuver raises real questions about its willingness to listen and work with its own constituents. Even more concerning, this action raises serious questions about every decision the town board has made so far about this project. It has wholly relied on the self-interested assertions of Deepwater without the benefit of its own independent environmental or transmission experts. We should be the town board’s priority, not Deepwater.

We have sent multiple letters to the town board and repeatedly urged them to be open and inclusive in this process, all to no avail. We have received no response. All we have asked is that the board work with town residents and the Wainscott community to ensure robust oversight and comprehensive evaluation of all of Deepwater’s proposals as well as its alternative routes. 

We urge the town to take a different path. We respectfully ask the supervisor to live up to his campaign promises and agree that, barring emergency, any future town board actions will be placed on the town board agenda days in advance of the meeting so we all know what is happening. Town residents are keenly interested in Deepwater’s proposals; we deserve an open and transparent process as we bring renewable energy to our community. The impact that this project will have on Wainscott’s residents, visitors, wildlife, and environment is simply too great and disruptive not to be making informed decisions.

To build trust, the board can start by rescinding its latest resolution, setting up a public hearing and making the current owners of this project answer the community’s questions before the preparation work can move forward. That would honor the supervisor’s admirable promise of transparency in government.

This is going to be a long process. We have come together as a community because we will stand up for Wainscott. We will protect our beach and hamlet. We will not allow a corporate giant to roll over us. We can do all these things while supporting clean, green energy. We hope the board will stand with us. 

Citizens for the           
Preservation of Wainscott

Test Pits
February 10, 2019

Dear Editor,

We live in Wainscott and have been aware of Deepwater Wind’s plan to dig test pits and conduct two borings along roads in our hamlet. We repeatedly checked the town board agenda to see when they would have a resolution to allow this, because we are opposed to this route (versus the alternative the company says it has) and wished to attend the meeting. 

We checked for the agenda on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday eve­ning, they passed a resolution to allow the test pits even though the citizens advisory committee informed town officials who attended the February WCAC meeting of opposition to it.

The resolution was passed at the end of Thursday’s meeting and we had no idea it was going to happen, despite our diligence in keeping an eye out for it. It made us feel like the board is just bent on putting this cable through Wainscott before any public decision-making process. 

Sneaking something so important to us and other Wainscott residents into the meeting at the last minute is really against the spirit of transparency that these board members campaigned on!


Rubber Stamp
East Hampton
February 10, 2019

Dear Editor,

How many of your readers would like to see dams built that would flood portions of the Grand Canyon to provide hydroelectric power? After all isn’t this non-CO2-producing clean energy? Don’t we need more and more energy in the future for all of those lovable megamansions with their modern necessities of whole house air-conditioning and heated Olympic-size swimming pools?

The wind farms planned for the continental shelf off the coast of Long Island pose the same dilemma as damming rivers and building nuclear power plants did in previous eras — more energy at what environmental cost.

Luckily for us, how to handle these issues was settled back in the 1960s by David Brower, a founder of the modern environmental movement and then executive director of the Sierra Club, who lobbied against damming up the Grand Canyon.

Every major project requires a thorough environmental impact analysis. Conservation, limiting the demand for more and more energy, is infinitely more preferable to building more energy plants.

Only one town board member, Jeff Bragman, has given this much thought with his insistence that the town not rubber-stamp the offshore wind farms without considering the environmental consequences. The other members are out to shut down any further discussion and public education on the subject. One of their lackeys did just that at a recent East Hampton Citizens Advisory meeting.

Nevertheless, after attending two presentations by Si Kinsella and Krae Van Sickle I got enough information to find several aspects of the wind farms worrisome.

First the scale. Originally the Deepwater Wind project was presented at 90 megawatts with power just for East Hampton. Deepwater Wind was a startup funded by the venture capital firm D.E. Shaw. It planned to install by 2022 some 800 megawatts of offshore wind farms in a handful of projects each targeted at a different state or locality. As wind power pioneers they bought into offshore wind farm leases for pennies on the acre. One of Si’s charts showed that the cost of these leases to later me-too buyers escalated with the viability of wind farm projects. Then in 2018 D.E. Shaw took its profits on the leases and cashed out and sold its startup to a major European wind farm developer.

I wondered how big these wind farms were about to become? Buried in the résumé of Jeffrey Grybowski, the chief executive officer of Deepwater Wind, was his goal to “develop a series of offshore wind projects with a potential cap of 2000MW.” The ultimate goal as stated by Governor Cuomo is to make wind farms a major source of energy for all of Long Island and New York City.

The question for me then was where will all of this offshore energy land? What infrastructure will be built on land to handle the energy load? What is the environmental impact of all of these power lines and power stations? Will the vulnerable underground cable vaults be flooded as sea level rises? Finally will East Hampton become like Shoreham, the locus of a major industrial-scale energy complex? Will it be the landing site for all of this offshore energy? Are there any plans to land the energy closer to where it will be ultimately used? Other than Jeff Bragman no one on the town board seems to want any answers to these questions.

I also worried about the impact of the wind farms on Montauk. It is obvious that the commercial fishing industry is being impacted by global warming and sea level temperatures rising. Without year-round jobs in the fishing industry how will Montauk avoid the fate of Provincetown, Mass., where the year-round population is not enough to even sustain a local school? Why didn’t the town board negotiate for some windmill servicing jobs to be based in Montauk?

In Krae’s presentation there was a chart showing East Hampton energy demand on an annual basis. The peak of demand is in the summer. Most of PSEG and LIPA’s local plans for delivering more and more energy are based on meeting summer demand.

I know from 15 years of experience with solar power that I generate more energy into the grid in the summer than I can possibly use. With the lithium ion batteries I installed last year, I am self- powered even after dark and still generate energy into the grid. Why didn’t the town board require all of these mega-mansions to do what I have done? Certainly these moguls can afford it.

Jeanne Frankl, former head of the Democratic Committee, should understand that wind farms are not without their problems. One thing that they do require is intelligent engineering and town board members who are not afraid to let the public know the truth about their environmental impact.

Just winning elections for the patronage machine of Chris Kelley should not be the goal of the Democratic Party. We clearly need more councilpersons like Jeff Bragman who ask the right questions.


They Know Nothing
East Hampton
February 11, 2019

Dear David:

Well, well. Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby have wheeled out their vote-rigger in chief, the former Democratic Committee chairwoman Jeanne Frankl who has occasionally practiced law, to defend their empty-headed policy on Deepwater Wind. 

Ms. Frankl, with no education or experience in anything relevant — energy, the economics of power generation, or ecology — admonished us last week, in a bit of hysterical hyperbole, that, “The opponents of Deepwater Wind are Luddites, willing to sacrifice the public good, indeed the public’s survival, for personal interest or ideals.”

Ms. Frankl doubtless is unaware that the actual 19th-century Luddites were not opponents of technology. They were in fact the high-skilled, high-tech workers of their day, loom operators. Programmable looms are in important respects the forerunners of the mechanical “difference engine” and thence the modern electronic computer. 

What the Luddites were protesting was the use of technology to beg­gar workers. That should have special poignancy for Democrats in East Hampton, where the historical community is slowly being driven out due in part to economic changes wrought by Democratic Party policy. 

I have a degree in physics and a couple in economics and made a living in a very high-tech enterprise. For those very reasons, I do have serious concerns about the effects of technical change on society, the distribution of income, and the environment. 

What I oppose is stupidity, the empty-headed, grandstanding support by the privileged, including Mr. Van Scoyoc, Ms. Overby, and Ms. Frankl, for a wind project that they know nothing about because it gratifies their desire to feel that they are saving the planet from climate change. It is a public display of their presumed eco-virtue. 

A bonus is that it comes at no personal cost to them. That’s what smug and satisfied people do; figure out ways for other people to bear the costs of their own self-righteousness. If not other people’s money, then other people’s pain and suffering.

There are local critics of Deepwater Wind, concerned about its environmental impacts on the sea and the beach, that its economics are dubious, with a cost to the public three times the contemporaneous going rate for wind power in our region, and that it is a technically inappropriate response to the energy needs of the East End. 

There are people, such as Thomas Bjurlof, Dr. Michael McDonald, Krae Van Sickle, Rachel Gruzen, and Bonnie Brady, who are not only sophisticated about the relevant technical issues, but actually work in those fields. Are we to believe they are Luddites? Hardly. It is the technically educated who are raising questions about Deepwater Wind that empty heads like Ms. Frankl, Mr. Van Scoyoc, and Ms. Overby cannot answer. 

That Supervisor Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Overby are ignorant is not so bad by itself. Who would expect them actually to know something relevant? Mr. Van Scoyoc is a sportfisherman and supposedly built some houses. Ms. Overby taught high school biology decades ago. Now she plays tennis, mostly in Florida, where she spends half her time while contriving her schedule to make it appear that she lives here full time. 

The worse problem is that they irresponsibly refuse to undertake any investigation whatsoever about the issues, technical, economic, and environmental, that should precede official decision- making. They are not only ignorant, they insist on remaining ignorant come what may.

A paper published just last October by David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard and also a professor of public policy at the Kennedy School, reports that replacing fossil fuels with wind power in the United States would actually warm the atmosphere in the U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius due to previously unexplained atmospheric interactions. 

He was quoted in the Harvard Gazette saying, “We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions. In doing so, we must make choices between various low-carbon technologies, all of which have some social and environmental impacts.” Is he therefore a Luddite? 

The Gazette reported, “The Harvard researchers found that the warming effects of wind turbines in the continental U.S. was actually larger than the effect of reduced emissions for the first century of its operation. This is because the warming effect is predominantly local to the wind farm, while greenhouse gas concentrations must be reduced globally before the benefits are realized.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a member of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, writes, “Despite its vast potential, there are a variety of environmental impacts associated with wind power generation that should be recognized and mitigated.” But to do that, you have to know something about the problems, which is what Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby resolutely refuse to do. 

Ms. Frankl exhorts us to the supposedly critical need for Deepwater Wind with analogies to “the cotton gin, the Model T, the telephone,” and “the IBM mainframe computer.” In your editorial bashing Fred Thiele, you analogized Deepwater Wind to “Tate’s Cookies.” 

She and you make these comical references to antique technology (applying that term very loosely so as to include cookies) because neither of you can speak with any knowledge to the actual issues surrounding Deepwater Wind. 

The problem we face in de-carbonizing is not “Luddism,” an epithet for unreasoned opposition to technology, but “know-nothingism.” In East Hampton, the know-nothings, Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby, joined by their fellow know-nothings on the Democratic Committee, are running the show.


Egregious Impacts
East Hampton
February 9, 2019

Dear Editor:

As one who has been advocating closure of East Hampton Airport for years, and co-founder of Say No To KHTO, it is encouraging to see in this week’s Star that the town’s consultant, Bill O’Connor, says, “You can close this airport and use it for something else after grant assurances expire in 2021.” And we surely should!

As awful as the noise pollution is, Say No (and anyone else concerned with climate instability) is far more concerned about egregious impacts of the massive carbon pollution generated annually by our own airport operations. The same day as the Star article, there was yet another front-page one in The New York Times detailing accelerating global warming, while noting the huge factor of man-made carbon emissions. Forget about noise — the airport should be closed because it is an inexcusable environmental nightmare.


Issue to Divide
East Hampton
February 10, 2019

To the Editor,

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has crossed the line, twice, tweeting anti-Semitic tropes that have no place coming from elected representatives of America. 

Ms. Omar previously apologized for her first such statement, which implied Jews were “hypnotizing” the world to support Israel. But this weekend, she tweeted the suggestion that American support for Israel was based on a grab for Jewish money. There is no basis for Omar’s hurtful comment, as Israel is the only true democratic state in the region, and American support is based on our shared values and national security interests. This has been the case since 1948, and U.S. support has remained bipartisan. 

The Democratic House leadership rightfully condemned Ms. Omar for her remarks, and she re-tracked, including the words: “I unequivocally apologize.” Ms. Omar’s individual decision whether to support Israel is hers alone, but the suggestion that Jewish money drives our nation’s policy has no place in mainstream conversation.

I have fought anti-Semitism my whole life — both those who perpetrate it and those who seek to exploit it. Unsurprisingly, Lee Zeldin is now doing just that — using this evil strain in our society to grandstand. His bill, House Resolution 72, introduced under the guise of “combatting anti-Semitism” and the focus of his attention on Twitter and cable TV news appearances, is little more than an effort to bloviate. 

Congress cannot possibly call out every anti-Semite because, sadly, there are far too many of them. Selectively choosing a few people to accuse is not the American way — no list of anti-Semites will be complete. Zeldin’s bill conveniently omits Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon, accused anti-Semites who played key roles at Zeldin campaign events. I cannot help but question Zeldin’s sincerity protecting us from anti-Semitism given his refusal to speak out the weekend before Election Day, when N.Y.-1 campaign signs were defaced with swastikas.

As written, Zeldin’s bill is a thinly veiled misdirection, trying to use support of Israel as a wedge issue to divide. It does nothing to actually stop the spread of anti-Semitism. 

Lee Zeldin has another motive. He wants us to believe that Republicans and not Democrats are the party of Israeli support, and his “anti-Semitism” bill is just a tool for his strategy to divide and conquer. But Americans together, without regard to political affiliation, have continued to support Israel, its strategic role, its shared democratic values, and its ultimate path to a two-state solution that will provide homelands for both Israelis and Palestinians.             

As a Democrat who supports Israel firmly, I call for Mr. Zeldin to stand down his demagoguery. The Democratic Party has supported Israel since it declared independence in 1948, and our leadership and strong support remain unwavering, full stop.


Mr. Gershon was the Democratic Party candidate for the New York First Congressional District in the November election. He lost to Mr. Zeldin.          Ed.

Close Ties
Hampton Bays
February 10, 2019

Dear Editor

Your article on Representative Lee Zeldin’s Twitter war with Representative Ilan Omar omitted any mention of Mr. Zeldin’s close ties to Sebastian L.V. Gorka and Steve Bannon, well-publicized associations, the mere mention of which would have provided context and insight into the well-orchestrated Twitter war that Mr. Zeldin initiated. 

During the 2018 race, Mr. Zeldin invited Mr. Gorka to host his kick-off fund-raiser and, in true Trump fashion, kicked out a local Smithtown reporter with press credentials who had been invited to the event. The Breitbart founder and xenophobic white supremacist Steve Bannon also hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Zeldin. People of all faiths protested both events from N.Y.-1 to N.Y.C., led by constituents and groups including Bend the Arc, a Jewish progressive organization, and ShowUp Long Island.

His association with Mr. Gorka in particular is a case study in hypocrisy. Gorka was forced out of the Trump administration due to his ties with Vitezei Rend (“Order of Knights”), an anti-Semitic Hungarian group the U.S. Department of State classified as an “organization under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.” 

Mr. Gorka’s association with Vitezei Rend, which still exists, publicly surfaced during Trump’s inauguration, where he sported a Vitezei Rend medallion, claiming he wore it to honor his father, who had received it for heroic acts. That’s not the case. According to Eva S. Balough, a history professor who fled Hungary in 1956 as a university student and runs an important blog, the Hungarian Spectrum, “the medallion is not bestowed by the Order in recognition of some heroic deed. It is tangible proof of membership.”

“Even the official history of Vitezei Rend admits that many knights committed war crimes,” writes Balough. “In fact, organizers of the bloodbath in Novi Sad [in Hungary] were members of the Order of Knights,” where about 3,500 Serbs and Hungarian Jews lost their lives in 1942. Further, Mr. Gorka was a regular contributor to Demokrata, an anti-Semitic periodical. 

Mr. Zeldin cynically denies the facts about Mr. Gorka’s Nazi affiliations because, like Trump, he has no beliefs except those that serve his political and financial interests. Why is he still on the U.S. Holocaust Museum Council?


Even Worse
February 10, 2019

Dear David:

I’m a proud Long Islander who happens to live in Nassau County, where our last three county executives either self-servingly put their own smiling photo on our somber 9/11 memorial wall dedicated to 344 residents who died at the World Trade Center: Tom Suozzi, currently on trial for having committed seven felonies while in office; Ed Mangano, or can’t stop her new reassessment program from making mistake after mistake, Laura Curran.

But I know that Suffolk County has gone from an executive who suspiciously agreed to give up his $4 million campaign fund and promise never to run again, Steve Levy, to Steve Bellone, who is being accused by the guy who wants to succeed him, Robert Trotta, of a culture of corruption and pay to play.

I’m not sure if that means the current Suffolk leader is worse than Nassau’s. But I take some consolation in knowing that at least New York City’s five counties (boroughs) have a leader who is even worse — Mayor Bill de Blasio!