Letters to the Editor 02.21.19

Enormous Benefit  
East Hampton           
February 18, 2019      

Dear Sir:         

Your fine reporting on R.S.V.P. made me want to write to note the importance of R.S.V.P.’s service to the community. My 82-year-old aunt started wearing an alert device some years ago. It was of enormous benefit, not only in giving her peace of mind, but in actually alerting emergency services the many times she fell and could not get up by herself. During that time, she continued to be on R.S.V.P.’s daily call list. This was not a redundancy, as events would show. 

In late June last year, my aunt fell yet again, but this time she was not aware or physically able enough to activate her alert device. How fortunate she was that R.S.V.P., after trying to reach her that morning and not getting any response notified emergency services. My aunt was found on the floor and disoriented and was taken to the I.C.U. at Southampton Hospital. R.S.V.P.’s concern did not stop there. The R.S.V.P. volunteer (Joan) followed up to find out how my aunt was doing.

The dedication and good cheer of R.S.V.P. volunteers are real gifts to the community; the lifesaving service R.S.V.P. renders is of incalculable worth. 




Poetry Marathon

East Hampton

February 17, 2018 

To the Editor:

Our East Hampton Poetry Marathon needs your legs. The East Hampton Poetry Marathon is a quarter-century tradition in our town — a couple hours each Sunday afternoon in July to listen to outstanding poets read their work, and then to enjoy wine and snacks and good conversation in a charming setting.

For many years, that setting was the Amagansett Marine Museum, when the marathon’s founders, Sylvia Chavkin and Bebe Antell hosted it. Several years ago, when these two nonagenarians could no longer continue, I accepted responsibility for continuing their wonderful tradition. The program remains under the auspices of the East Hampton Historical Society, which accepts tax-deductible contributions designated specifically for the East Hampton Poetry Marathon. The continuation of the marathon entirely depends upon such support. We need to self-fund in order to offer a small stipend to our invited guest poets and serve refreshments to our poets and audience.

We invite two guest poets for three weekends and for the final session, the members of the weekly East Hampton Poetry Workshop read their work. For a wider audience, the Bridgeport community radio station WPKN records sessions to broadcast at 89.5 F.M.

We bring some of the most exciting new poetry crafted today to this program. In a brief hour we evoke the themes we love about the Hamptons: our ocean, the wild life of woodland and seashore, the precious moments with friends and family, the enduring romance of summer.

Poems are bridges on a journey into the heart of humanity. We are proud to stage our unique form of entertainment for the community to enjoy. We hope you will join us on any given Sunday in July. The early evenings are sultry and the presentations are enchanting.

Watch for an announcement in The Star when the poets are confirmed for this summer’s readings and weekly times and locations are set. Please consider a contribution payable to the East Hampton Historical Society and in your memo line, please write East Hampton Poetry Marathon. If you would like any additional information about our program, please email ds@sternslavutin.com

And see you there!


East Hampton

February 16, 2019

Dear David,

I want to thank you for the lovely white triple-stemmed orchid that I won from The East Hampton Star. My winning ticket came from my favorite nail salon, Elegant Touch.

Thank you again, it’s just beautiful.




            The deer, at long fast,

            have found the rhododendrons,

            garnished with snowflakes.


A Don Quixote

February 17, 2019

Dear David:

I got to tell you, the most entertaining part of this paper is the letters to the editor section. Some of the characters who write in on a regular basis are a real treat, regular clowns. What makes them so hilarious is that they’re pushing stories that are either so out there on the gonzo scale or they’re trying to make it appear like they’re looking out for everybody else, except everybody knows they’re huckstering only for themselves. 

There is this guy named Walter Donway, who writes a freakin’ thesis every week trying to convince people that we’re all suckers. We’re being sold a bill of goods by climate scientists and liberal politicians whose real intent is to kill off capitalism and prevent big corporations from making their decent share of profits. 

He cites studies by an organization that before shilling for the oil companies, they used to do the same thing, questioning the credibility of scientists who warned that smoking causes lung cancer. What puts him so out there is that he thinks he’s some kind of Don Quixote or something, a lone warrior fighting against the rest of all the scientists, politicians, every country in the world basically, who he says have swallowed the bullcrap being dished out by 99.9 percent of the scientists who study this stuff. 

I’m not a scientist but I know when the U.S. military is spending big money to prepare for the coming calamities caused by climate change or when insurance companies are either not insuring or charging a gazillion dollars to insure properties in coastal zones, that’s proof enough for me that the whole climate warming scenario is the real thing. 

Then there’s another beaut: David Gruber. He takes the cake. It’s so gawd-awful obvious that he is pissed at the Democrats in office and the rest of the party, who he tried to outmaneuver but lost big time. So now he is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at them. 

Every week in his big shot, high falutin, know-it-all way he tells us that he is so smart and the three town board members that he wants to run against are dumb as rocks. He’s got a degree in physics, two other degrees in I don’t know what, and he knows how to fix everything that the town board is f-cking up. 

The best is when he says that he’s for the poor fishermen who are getting screwed by the wind farm or the poor teachers who can’t find affordable housing. You just know this guy doesn’t give two craps about the ordinary guy struggling to make it in this town, and he’s warming up to these people only for their votes. 

In fact, in his last week’s regular letter, Gruber called out Van Scoyoc for being dumb because the supervisor’s only experience in life was making a living building houses and being a sportfisherman. Excuse me, Mr. Big Shot. 

Mr. know-it-all’s problem is that every time he’s tried to run for office, he’s lost, probably because he’s an arrogant, disliked rich guy who’s a control freak. What’s the opposite of charisma? He’s got it big time. 

I feel sorry for the poor supervisor and the other two councilpersons who are the target of Gruber’s merciless attacks every week, not because I’m against criticizing our politicians, but because a lot of what they’re doing, they’re doing from an honest place in their hearts. They are trying their best to do the right thing. If you disagree with their policies, that’s one thing, but to call them dumb, dissing their integrity and making up crap about how they’re puppets of some wizard behind the curtain pulling their strings is not nice, especially when you’re doing it just to further your political ambition. It’s transparent, Davey boy. We got your number. Yes we do.

That’s all I got this week. I feel good I got that off my chest. I think I like this. Maybe I’ll become a regular letter writer every week and join these other mamalukas.


Proper Priorities

East Hampton

February 16, 2019

To the Editor:

In reading the strongly held and contradictory opinions concerning the Deepwater project for the Town of East Hampton, and letting all the roiled waters slosh around in my brain for a day or three, I am struck by one thing in particular: When Mr. Thiele speaks of “bait and switch,” this to me highlights a much bigger problem with our power and other utility supplies that extends far beyond the East End:

There once was a time when many community utilities were supplied by the municipality. Over decades these services became more and more delivered by for-profit corporate entities. The principle purpose of most corporate entities is to make a profit for their shareholders, not to mention paying their executives generously and seeing to it that their stock value grows continually. We must remember that providing community services and products falls behind these in the order of importance. 

When these conversations began Deepwater was (or seemed to be) an almost local, at least regional, entity. Then came the sale to a bigger international corporation, followed by that company being absorbed by an even larger one. The larger and less local the company, the less local problems will be considered anything more than obstacles to the corporation. 

I know we are a pretty committed capitalist society, but perhaps particularly on these topics it is time to consider that our residents in this case are not simply customers. They are the people who live in our communities and whose future welfare perhaps should be a bit more in their own hands. 

Without making a big statement about global warming I nevertheless would suggest that the worldwide network of corporations may not at this point in time have served humanity and the lives of the inhabitants of our planet in the most advantageous manner, and given what may be monumental demands in the future, I am not certain the current economic structure will be flexible enough, let alone even have the proper priorities. If change is to come it will have to come from people at the local level. We must proceed with the utmost care.

On another note, I see that the work to raise the railroad bridges in East Hampton Village is using some kind of manufactured block in their construction to date. These shiny coppery-brown textured identical blocks seem to me inimical to the historical nature of the village, and if not inside the Hook Mill Historic District they will certainly be highly visible from the district. These strike me as a very poor aesthetic choice for this work, and I would hope something more suitable to the village could be found. I find them truly hideous.


Already in Flux

Sag Harbor

February 12, 2019

Dear Editor,

The solution for the commercial fishing industry: Community Energy Shares.

It is clear that there are hurdles for the fishing community whether or not the offshore wind farm goes ahead. Last November the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority held a two-day workshop on the state of the science on wildlife and offshore wind energy development.

Presentations there showed that the marine environment, and along with it the various fish populations, are already in flux as climate change warms the local waters to the point that the local marine environment is no longer attractive to their historical fish populations. The lobsters, for example, have moved north to cooler waters off Maine and Canada. The commercial fishing community is already being hurt by a changing climate even if the wind farm is not built.

But there is a practical solution that would not only support the mass transition away from fossil fuels needed to avoid the devastating effects of climate change, but also support people whose livelihoods or homes are adversely affected by renewable energy projects: community ownership. 

Community ownership means that the affected community is given an ownership share in the renewable energy project or farm and reaps financial benefits from it, and is represented on the board of the company and involved in its decision making. 

Shared ownership of renewable energy projects has worked in Europe for generations by relieving nimby objections. Offering local people affected by a renewable energy project ownership shares in the project maximizes the regional economic benefits and local support for it. A key benefit of community shares is the sense of collective involvement and action.

We are at the pre-dawn of the green age, and collective action is the stimulus that we need in order to reverse climate change. Community involvement is a critical tool that will serve to educate and generate an appreciation of renewable energy that will rapidly spread across the country. Assemblyman Fred Thiele should push for that! 

New York is ready for a different energy infrastructure and our environment is dying for it.


Complete Ignorance

East Hampton

February 18, 2019

Dear David:

“Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.” 

John Steinbeck, “East of Eden”

A lifetime of experience has taught me that something being sold on the basis of falsehoods and ignorance of the facts is overwhelmingly likely to be a pig in a poke. If it weren’t, the selling would be much better served by the truth.

Our town board majority, notably incumbent-candidates Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby, have been persistently peddling falsehoods about Deepwater Wind, basically parroting the talking points of Deepwater Wind itself. We don’t know whether these two believe the nonsense they repeat, so we cannot say they are lying. But whether they are lying or are merely grossly indifferent to the truth hardly matters. They have a public responsibility to ascertain the facts before making decisions that affect so many people. That’s their job. 

The falsehoods? First, that Deepwater was legally obliged to obtain beach- crossing easements to land its cable before making its application to the Public Service Commission. That one died when Councilman Bragmanconsulted the general counsel to the Public Service Commission and was informed that this was not only untrue, but would be unusual.

Second, that, as a business matter, Deepwater would not make its application to the P.S.C. unless it had first obtained the easements it wants from the town, even though this is not the general practice. That one came a cropper when Deepwater went ahead and made its application without the easements, as almost all applicants do.

Third, that granting the easements in advance would enable the town to participate in the Public Service Commission Article Seven review of the project. The P.S.C. statute itself states clearly that any municipality through which any part of a transmission cable is proposed to pass can participate as of right.

Fourth, that the interests of East Hampton residents would be protected by participation in the P.S.C. process rather than by negotiation with Deepwater. This is unlikely, given all of the issues that the P.S.C. will address. However, their claim is belied by the fact that months after Deepwater filed its application the town has done nothing to prepare an expert submission to the P.S.C. and appears to have no intention of ever doing so. That would require a public airing of the facts, and any public airing of the facts is what Van Scoyoc and Overby resolutely refuse to undertake. 

Fifth, that the $8 million of so-called “community benefits” offered to the town are a good deal that should not be missed. It turns out that a good chunk of those benefits, for mitigation of harm and as escrow for performance, are legally mandated. Based on other wind projects in New York State, the going rate for community benefits above and beyond the legal mandate would be in the neighborhood of $30 million. Meaning that our town board members are patsies for the venture capitalists and corporate masters of the universe of Deepwater. Even as to this, Van Scoyoc and Overby refuse to know. When hiring a lawyer, the trustees chose someone with knowledge and experience in this field. The town board did not. Its ignorance is willful. See John Steinbeck, above.

Sixth, that landing the cable in East Hampton will be a substantial contribution to the town’s stated goal of 100 percent renewable energy. That one is ridiculous on its face. The electricity carried by the cable will not go to the town. It will flow into the grid, to be merged without identity into the ocean of energy there, like a river flowing into one of the Great Lakes. The infrastructure east of Riverhead cannot even handle the Deepwater loads. It will have to be upgraded so that the power can flow to the west, as was always intended. 

If, in fact, the town were doing something to create or make possible renewable energy, we could consider it a credit in our favor regardless of the ultimate users. But the town will have done nothing whatsoever to create this energy. If the cable landing were moved to Shoreham, which is more desirable for technical reasons, would we then not be meeting our goal? Meeting the goal of renewable energy is going to require doing something, not doing nothing and calling it something. 

Seventh, that the price for the power, three times the market rate for other contemporaneous East Coast wind projects, to be paid by all Long Island ratepayers because, as I said, the energy does not flow to East Hampton but to all of Long Island, is because this project is a first, and the first output of new technology costs more. 

It is hardly the first. There are offshore wind projects all over the world. The technology is not new or untested. It is more expensive here because the Long Island Power Authority has made a secret sweetheart deal that affords Deepwater exorbitant profits. Why is it being kept secret? Rather obviously, because if the public knew the terms there would be a huge outcry. In withdrawing his support for Deepwater Wind, Assemblyman Thiele vowed to legislate to compel disclosure. 

Eighth, that the project is good for the environment. As to this, the town has no idea, because it has done no work to evaluate either the project or its possible adverse impacts on our fishing industry, beaches, and beachfront community. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a member of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, says that, “Despite its vast potential, there are a variety of environmental impacts associated with wind power generation that should be recognized and mitigated.” We cannot recognize and mitigate these impacts if Van Scoyoc and Overby continue to refuse to know what they are. 

Why does the town board majority move forward in complete ignorance of everything a rational and responsible person would want to know? They choose to be ignorant in order to make irresponsible, even laughable, claims that they imagined would reflect well on them politically, a public display of their eco-virtue. However, their political grandstanding comes at the expense of the people of East Hampton who it is their job to protect. Lousy job.



Please Join Me


February 17, 2019

Dear Editor,

The East Hampton Town Republican Committee has concluded screening for candidates, and we have screened many incredibly talented individuals, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and non-politically aligned. Throughout the screening process, every person demonstrated what we believe is the single most important quality of any East Hampton public servant — the love of the fabric of our society, our community, our hard-working families, seniors, generational residents and new residents alike.

In the political arena, the single most important elected position is the locally elected position. In that capacity, your issues are not and should never be second to national political party agendas. Our elected officials have a duty and obligation always to place you first and ahead of the political aspirations of national politicians, Gov. Cuomo, Mayor DiBlasio, or the financial enrichment of hedge funds, multinational corporations, the 1 percent, and politically connected law firms.

What I find as the most fantastic part of candidate screening was the compassion, understanding, and dedication to East Hampton. As a committee, we sought candidates that believe in environmental conservation, preservation of the fabric of our society, a belief in public policy that applies compassion and understanding of our way of life. Respect for the wishes of the community, an understanding of the need for economic development which translates to affordable housing, affordable work spaces, good-paying jobs, and will not cast aside the needs of our local residents, town employees, downtrodden, disadvantaged, seniors, and working families are paramount.

On Saturday, we shall announce an exciting ticket of dedicated individuals that will place East Hampton first and foremost with respect, compassion, and understanding. Our candidates will bring back an honest, transparent, open government that believes in the term public servant so please join me and come meet our candidates at 4 p.m. at the Amagansett American Legion for what will be an exciting new day for every resident of East Hampton. Democrat, Republican, Independent. If you value and love East Hampton you are going to want to join us.



East Hampton

February 17, 2019

Dear Editor:

Last week’s letter on Representative Lee Zeldin’s  “Close Tie” to Sebastian L. v. Gorka was not published in full. It omitted a key point refuting Gorka’s bogus claim that he wore the Vitezi Rend medal to Trump’s inauguration to honor his father. However, “according to the rules of Vitezi Rend, inheritance of the title is not automatic. The eldest son [Gorka] must be approved by the board of the order. One cannot just “inherit” the medallion and use it “in memory of one’s father.” (Source: Hungarian Spectator)

Also, use of lower case in Sebastian L. v. Gorka was correct. The “v” stands for “vitezi” and its use reportedly reserved for members — a point I should have made in the original letter. 

Lastly, I live in East Hampton, not Hampton Bays. 

Thank you,


Ms. Gavron’s letter last Thursday was edited to remove a long quotation copied from another source. It is our policy not to include lengthy quotations in letters to the editor. Ed.



February 18, 2019

Dear Editor,

As a former Springs School teacher, I am writing to express my admiration for the four high school students who spoke at the Feb. 5 meeting of the Springs Board of Education. In supporting the longtime substitute, DianeMehrhoff, in front of a packed room and in the face of a stony reception from board members, these girls displayed a level of courage, self-confidence, intelligence, and civic-mindedness of which this community should be proud. 

I had the pleasure of teaching these students (in one case, over three grades). I can assure you that even as middle schoolers, they possessed not only a keen sense of injustice but also the independence, integrity, and personal strength to speak out against it.

Thus I was shocked to read Terry Miller’s letter (Feb. 14, headlined, “Despicable”) in which she accused these girls of being pawns in a conspiracy so convoluted it is laughable. In my view it is inappropriate for any adult to use these letter pages to denigrate our local students. But for a former Springs School teacher like Terry Miller to do so? That is what is despicable.

Yours truly,


False Belief


February 16, 2019

To the Editor:

It is my hope to see the day when both conservative Republicans and liberal-progressive Democrats will become more politically honest and truthful with the American people. There is tremendous room for improvement on both sides. For example, I just had the displeasure of reading a letter to the editor in which someone claims that all liberal-progressive Democrats are “dangerous” because they want to deny freedom of speech to all conservative Republicans. Can we please stop this kind of overgeneralizing and overexaggerating that is done by both sides?

The one constant mantra, myth, and “greatest hit” that comes from the conservative Republican side is the false belief that most of the mainstream media is heavily pro liberal-progressive Democratic. This is an oldie but a goodie from the right-wingers among us. If there is some way to do this, I would love to provide your readers with research evidence that proves that the opposite is true.

I have read it. One objective study found that more Americans read pro-conservative Republican daily newspaper editorials than the opposite. If anyone looks up “conservative think-tanks” and “liberal think-tanks” online, they will see and prove to themselves how many times that there are more conservative ones than liberal ones. Look it up. It is overwhelming. 

I can also direct readers to the recent empirical research done by the Brookings Institution which concluded that conservative Republicans in the news media as well as conservative-Republican politicians and political candidates insult liberal-progressive Democrats more than the reverse.

I would also point out that a well-known conservative Republican author has admitted that the mainstream media is now more conservative Republican than the opposite. She states that many conservative Republicans know that this is true, but pretend that it is not true because they love to play the underdog and to act like they are the victims of and are outnumbered by the so-called big, bad, bullying liberal media. They do this because it gets them a lot of votes, and it brings in a lot of financial donations.

I could go on and on because I have more research evidence and studies that I can share with your readers.



A Boo Fest

East Hampton

February 18, 2019

Dear Editor:

“Never give a sucker an even break,” W.C. Fields’s renowned aphorism, is never more appropriate and depressingly true when talking about our health-care system, a story of greed and ignorance conspiring in a deadly potion to mesmerize the American people. No bar too low for the opponents of universal care to descend below.

Risk and tension overwhelming comfort and security. One of the all-time great cons was convincing the American people to pay twice as much for something that everyone else got for half the cost. Even better, was getting them to believe it was the best in the world.

We have our imperfections and our weaknesses. We abhor anything that reeks of socialism except, of course, Social Security, Medicare, public transportation, rich states paying for poorer ones, etc. So when the term socialized medicine is put forward, we have a national boo fest. Socialism really means safety net and community.

What is the point of a health-care system? It isn’t a Wall? It is an essential requirement like food, housing, love, education, work, etc., in order to survive in the world. It doesn’t flow naturally from a capitalist system because health care and profits are lethally incompatible. Not every public service can or should be profit making.

The need for a clear, simple analysis of the problem overwhelms our politicians: 1. We have a mediocre system that serves about half of the population decently. 2. We pay almost twice as much as most other systems for the same care. 3. We have huge numbers of bankruptcies and millions of malpractice suits because of the system.

There are several dozen systems that work better than ours. All of them have universal care as a basis. All of them are essentially not for profit and run by governments.

For Americans, the question posed is what do we want? Is it about cost, coverage, quality of coverage, profits? If we can decide on a set of goals, we could try to figure out how to reach these goals. For the most simpleminded of free-market, private care cretins, a simple example to end their endless bullshit and fabrications.

We lived in France in 1972 and a family member had several miscarriages. We found, through a friend, one of the leading specialists in the world in treating difficult pregnancies. He treated her without question. She went to an exclusive clinic on the Champs-Elysées. He delivered both of her children. Everything was paid for by national health insurance. No bills, arguments, lawsuits, etc. Business as usual.

Our system could work like that. If we wanted it to.

Step 1. The nation has to buy into the universal care concept. It’s not part of our Christian ethic but Jesus would probably want it.

Step 2. We need to decide on a structure for delivering and paying for the service.

Step 3. We need to redesign the road to professionalism with free medical school and nursing school and eliminating the malpractice industry.

Step 4. Develop a plan for moving from our private insurance-based system, predicated on a for-profit concept, to a national nonprofit service system. (There are no functioning for-profit systems in the world.)

Step 5. Calculating the costs of a healthier country and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies. Eliminating massive profits for middlemen and insurance companies by eliminating risk. Risk gets calculated over the health of the entire population, not just a company’s clients. 

Step 6. Realistically evaluate the current cost of health care and the level of care with future costs and care levels. How can it possibly not be better and less expensive?

The Affordable Care Act was an idea, an initial step for a universal care system where everyone is covered. We needed to work on it. Refine it. Redefine it. In the interest of the country. But our stupidity and our racism produced no positive changes and 54 votes to repeal it without alternatives. 

The Republican Party needs a weeklong high colonic to flush the insurance companies, big pharma, the American Medical Association, and our hospitals from their nether regions. Once all the crap has been evacuated and they are no longer tethered to this money supply, they could give universal health care a shot and maybe design a plan that could service the entire country at a reasonable cost. It might be easier to simply bribe them but that would expose our politicians for what they really are.

It’s not rocket science. There are dozens of models to copy. We don’t need brilliance or high intellect, nor vision or belief in the concept. Balls is really the answer. Is there a pair or two in the crowd?