Letter to the Editor: 03.21.19

Great Teacher          

Montauk                     

March 13, 2019

Dear David:

Today is Iantha Edwards McMahon’s 100th birthday. In tribute and devotion to this great lady, great teacher, and wonderful human being, I want to relate how I came to know her as these.

I was in the eighth grade and our teacher, whose room adjoined Mrs. McMahon’s, was called away unexpectedly. She came in and told us to work, and put an older student in the classroom to monitor us. The older student was someone my brother knew, and I thought I could joke around and act up as we might have done with a substitute teacher. Wrong. No one else in the room joined in despite my many attempts to get them to see the opportunity before them. When Mrs. McMahon returned, she asked the older student if there were any problems. He told her that I was laughing, joking, and talking a lot. That was something I had not anticipated and she took my name ant told me to report to her classroom after school — no ifs, ands, or buts. 

Mrs. McMahon had a reputation as a no-nonsense teacher and I began to dread and fear having to sit alone with her for an hour after school. I had already seen her in the hallways — an elegantly dressed tall woman whose high heels clicking against the tile floors indicated that she was about to call someone to task. I had no choice but to show up after school, she had my name. But it turned out to be one of those rare transformative moments in life.  

When I arrived at her classroom, I was dumbfounded because the classroom was full, and I had trouble finding a seat. What I had done and why I was there were unimportant. I had fulfilled my responsibility by showing up. My eyes were opened that afternoon, and I grew up. 

As I sat there, I realized why she was there. She was a teacher whose job did not end when the school bell rang. In fact, her job was not even a job at all, but a calling and a mission. Her mission was to do everything in her power to see that her students got the algebra she was teaching and passed the Regents exam. And these were extra help sessions, on her own time, for those who needed it. 

The following year, I was in her class and learned more about her mission. Mrs. McMahon inspired us by telling us that her goal was not that we just pass the Regents exam but that each of us get 100 percent. Many of us scoffed at this idea, but there she was and there she stayed — whether in class or after school — telling us with ultimate confidence that it could be done. Of course, we did not all get 100, but many of us got 90-plus, and I can’t recall anyone failing. We also learned important lessons about character and determination to succeed in her classroom.  

Iantha Edwards McMahon devoted her time, her teaching ability, het toughness, and her inner charm in selflessness to her calling and her students. Her ability to inspire confidence taught us lessons far beyond algebra that we have not, and will not ever, forget. So happy birthday to you, Iantha McMahon, and bless you. We have not forgotten!                                                            

Yours,

JIM DEVINE


Beacon

Amagansett

March 17, 2019

Dear David:

Discovered by my child Atlas, this work of nature has been our beacon all winter long, on 27, by the electric station before Town Hall. Only visible when eastbound, and only after dark. (Can you spot it?) As we prepare to say goodbye to it, an homage haiku:

Heart of Pantigo

Guides us home on winter nights

Come spring, it will shroud. 

ATLAS GEIRSSON      

and CINDI CRAIN


Plastic-Free Challenge
East Hampton
March 18, 2019

Dear David, 

I’ve recently challenged myself to refuse to buy or use any disposable plastics whatsoever for as long as I can. I’ve come to the conclusion, as anyone who is paying attention should, that the looming crisis in recycling necessitates a radical paradigm shift in how we consume products. As China has now severely limited its intake of our waste for processing and municipalities across the country have begun to eliminate their recycling programs, it has triggered both a huge environmental problem for our country as well as a long-awaited realization of just how unsustainable our waste system and consumerist society at large really are. 

We may be doomed to drown in the stuff as it fills landfills, water columns, and our own bodies (I’m sure you’ve heard about the studies indicating micro plastic everywhere, from the bottom of the ocean to a common detectable presence in our bloodstreams). 

The silver lining in the so-called “End of Recycling” in the U.S., as quoted by The New York Times recently, is an opportunity to address the problem through a critical rethinking of a multitude of factors, such as policy and legislation (banning plastic straws and E.P.S. foam containers), new opportunities for the energy sector (electric plants that convert waste to power, recently proposed in Riverhead), and ultimate responsibility for the mess (shifting blame and accountability from consumers to the producers of plastic products). These factors can contribute to a more environmentally sustainable closed-circle system, but we must truly examine the root cause for a more sound solution. 

Along with a rapid transition away from fossil fuel-powered infrastructure, we need to completely cease the production of disposable plastics as fast as we can. This comes from demand at the bottom through boycott and divestment, as well as education, activism, and accountability at the local level. The Town and Village of East Hampton have taken the admirable measures of banning single-use plastic bags, E.P.S. foam containers, and a partial ban on plastic straws. As much as the hopeful elimination of these problem products is a step in the right direction, we need to take the logical next step and demand a ban on all single-use plastics from utensils to hygiene products to bottles and other containers. We can advocate for alternatives such as paper and glass (both have their economic limitations and recycling concerns, but are much less harmful) and algae/mushroom/plant-based materials. (Beware the “biodegradable” corn-based plastic products, they only degrade in a specially controlled environment.) And my favorite option — reusable and redeemable containers. Keep those reusable bags and utensils in the car or even better on your person! 

Back to my “Plastic-Free Challenge”: It’s proven difficult. My rules are thus: No buying of plastic packaging, this includes plastic caps on glass bottles. If you have to buy it, you have to keep it and repurpose it. In other words, it can’t enter the waste stream. When grocery shopping, I look for alternatives to standard plastic containers for food and products, but they are few and usually limited to a particular brand. I’ve begun to sacrifice many favorites. I find it aggravating that so much organic produce is wrapped in a pointless shroud of plastic, even backed with the devil polystyrene. This should be an outrage. Producing your own food or subscribing to a C.S.A. is difficult and expensive in the winter and spring, so what choices do we have? It’s time to demand packaging-free distributors. Locally, we can urge our grocery stores to consider adding bulk bins for staples, and urge their supply chain to reduce or eliminate packaging, and of course offer more locally grown package-less products. It’s difficult because the system is stacked against this idea, and there will be opposition. 

If you think as I do, I urge you to accept my “Plastic-Free Challenge” and attempt to completely eliminate disposable plastics from your life. Keep yourself as accountable as you like, but keep track of your progress and urge others to do the same. Share on social media, and we may have a viral sensation.  

SCOTT BLUEDORN 


Weekend Hunting

Montauk 

March 18, 2019  

To the Editor:

Our group has asked the town board to halt hunting one day on weekends, either on Saturdays or Sundays. Residents would be able to walk their dogs, hike, and enjoy nature without the fear and noise that hunting brings. Wildlife, too, would have a day of peace. Many residents — year-rounders and part-timers — have written to the town board to express their support for this request. 

We propose that the town maintain the one-day hunting ban throughout all the hunting seasons, which include the seasons for hunting deer, waterfowl, pheasants, and other species. The town board could establish a ban on town-owned land and ask the county and state to follow its lead.

Your March 7 editorial suggests an alternate plan. Your idea is to ban weekend hunting on some lands one year and other lands the following year, on an alternating basis. Your plan is interesting, but I believe it would make things more complicated. Our plan would be easier for residents to know that there is always one weekend day, Saturday or Sunday, when they can relax and enjoy the woods, waterfronts, and vistas without gunfire. 

The Sportsmen’s Alliance, which includes many hunters, has opposed our plan. As reported in your March 7 issue, Terry O’Riordan, a director of the group, told the town board that hunters already share the land with non-hunters. Non-hunters, he said, can occupy and use the woods and land 365 days a year. Yes, they can, if they don’t mind guns firing around them. 

O’Riordan also told the board that a hunting ban would contradict centuries-old local traditions. Actually, until five years ago there was a longstanding ban on weekend hunting during the January firearms deer season. More generally, hunters frequently refer to “tradition” when defending their sport. I agree that hunting has been a tradition, but so have slavery and patriarchy. One cannot justify everything merely by observing that it is a tradition.

Finally, O’Riordan referred to hunters as “the very fabric of our town.” Wouldn’t it be better to think of our town as a quilt composed of many different fabrics, each contributing to a harmonious pattern? 

BILL CRAIN
President
East Hampton Group for Wildlife


Renewable Energy

West Islip

March 5, 2019

To the Editor:

I salute John Andrews’s “Guestwords,” “Fair Winds for All,” Feb. 28. Not only does he take a position of worldwide fairness, but he points out the very local costs of inaction on global warming.

Whatever the adjustment difficulties of a just transition to renewable energy, they are greatly outweighed by the soon-to-be irreversible effects we are inflicting on our environment with our use of fossil fuels right here and everywhere. 

The bad news is the utter absence of political will at the federal level to reverse global warming, and even to try to reverse the science that shows it to be happening. The good news is that states and communities switching to renewable resources can take the U.S. halfway to the Paris Accord goals.

To go hyperlocal, fisheries are and will continue to feel the outsize effects of global ocean warming, which is more serious even than air temperature warming. It’s not just the fisheries of marginal folk in Bangladesh that are being hurt, but our fisheries at home as well, as much as the commercial fisheries’ lobby opposes offshore wind with dubious environmental data.

What Long Island principally has to contribute to the effort to transition to renewable energy is wind. It’s a shame that nimby concerns are determined to block its development off our shores.

ADAM HELLER


Get It Right

Springs

March 17, 2019

Dear David,

Once again, the Letters to the Editor page contains misleading comments about East Hampton’s commitment to using 100 percent renewable energy. I enthusiastically agree that our First Amendment allows citizens to write and voice their thoughts. However, I plan to research all comments about the South Fork Wind Farm for their veracity and will continue to research and correct any “fake” statements. Our collective commitment to halt global warming is just too important not to get it right.

One letter writer accuses elected officials of doing nothing to reduce demand for electricity. That is not true. The town has worked with the Building Department and adopted higher standards for green construction in the building code. They have begun installing a collective solar panel site at the high point of Accabonac Road where the old brush dump used to be. It looks pretty cool, actually.

Individual windmills are allowed on a property owner’s lot if certain conditions are met. PSEG Long Island is offering to install “smart” thermostats for free, with the town’s support, that can regulate indoor energy output. This will be especially useful if the homeowners will be away. Electric cars and charging stations are being purchased by the town to lower carbon emissions.

Solar panels can be effective but only if any woodland surrounding the home is cut back significantly. I just talked with a homeowner who lives in Northwest over a major water recharge zone where vegetation must, by law, be preserved to serve as a natural filter for precipitation that soaks into our aquifer. Ironically, this is a real conservation conundrum. 

I agree with the letter writer that reduced power usage for both residents, the town itself, and businesses should be stressed. One idea is that if a property owner wants to tear down a house or business or buy a vacant lot for construction and they are proposing structures that exceed a certain square footage, their building permit must include plans to install alternative energy uses to reduce their excessive carbon footprint.

Hey, if this week’s letters are factual, maybe I won’t need to write another letter.

Sincerely, 

DEBRA FOSTER


At Risk

Springs

March 12, 2019 

Dear David,

In a letter in The Star on March 7, I misstated the cost of last year’s forest fires in California as $400 billion. My apologies. That number is actually the total cost of natural disasters in the United States in 2017 and 2018. The simple point I was driving at is how rapidly these costs are rising.

There were, in the base period from 1980 to 2018 in the U.S., an average of 6.2 disasters per year with a price tag of a billion dollars or more. In the last three years, the average is $15 billion disasters per year. The four hottest years on record worldwide were 2015 through 2018. These numbers are rising in tandem at an alarming rate.

As we spend an increasing share of our wealth each year to replace existing infrastructure, there is a decreasing ability to devote capital to lowering our carbon footprint and any other discretionary spending. We already see where the resulting squeeze on existing programs will be, as Trump’s budget proposal is asking for an $845-billion cut in Medicare spending.

Stating the situation in its ugliest form, in order to protect the profits of fossil-fuel companies, which are the major funders of the Republican Party, we are putting at risk the basic health-care program for older Americans.

And locally, faced with a chance to replace our entire electrical-power carbon footprint and more with clean power, we whine about a buried cable and a pocket change power-bill increase, and attempt to push real action further into the future. Call me an alarmist, but this seems like really stupid policy to me.

DON MATHESON


Wedge Issue

Montauk

March 16, 2019

Dear David:

Sometimes you hear a word or a phrase that is so apt in describing a situation that you’ve been thinking about. Lately, that phrase for me is “wedge issue,” which is defined as “a divisive political issue, especially one that is raised by a candidate for public office in hopes of attracting or alienating an opponent’s supporters.”

It’s obvious David Gruber is using the wind-farm controversy as a wedge issue. First a little background: You see, he’s tried running for office, I don’t know, two or three times, and every time he’s had his ass handed to him. He took a big shot last year in stabbing the Democratic Party in the back by running against a fellow Democrat; he burned a few bridges and got crushed by a 60-40 margin.

So what can he do to turn things around from his past failures at the polls? Ta-da! He comes up with a wedge issue. Or more accurately, a wedge issue falls into his lap — the wind farm.

He wrote a letter on that topic that appeared in the Feb. 21 edition of The Star, which is a prime example of how he twists the [facts] in order to score political points against his adversary in this year’s supervisor’s office election. He lays out eight points that supposedly show that the current supervisor, Van Scoyoc, and Councilwoman Overby are either liars or stupid in decisions they’ve made regarding the wind project. Unfortunately for the councilpersons, Gruber is not interested in truth but rather a perversion of the truth to make himself look good and to inflict damage on his adversaries. The merits of the wind farm are secondary in his consideration, if at all.

In the interest of shining a light, both on the truth and Gruber’s true motivations regarding the wind farm, the following is an enumerated rebuttal of the points he made in his letter to The Star:

Points One, Two, and Three. His first three points are just a reconfiguration of the same point. Gruber’s Twisted Truth: He criticizes Van Scoyoc and Overby for stating that they were legally obligated to grant Deepwater an easement to land its cable before the company could begin its Public Service Commission application. Additionally, according to Gruber, they purportedly claimed that it had to be done this way in order for the town to participate in the Public Service Commission Article Seven review process. 

The Real Story: The P.S.C. Article Seven process is an approximately 18-month process, which requires that Deepwater identify the specific route of its cable on land. Deepwater asked the town and the trustees to grant easements for the Beach Lane route. The easements do not take effect unless Deepwater is granted all project permits after having cleared, and only if it has cleared, extensive environmental review. Without obtaining these highly conditioned easements before completing the Article Seven review, Deepwater could receive approval for its proposed route from Beach Lane from the P.S.C., only to be denied an easement by the town and trustees and forced to repeat the lengthy Article Seven review of a different route. 

As Supervisor Van Scoyoc has explained, asking Deepwater to wait until Article Seven is complete to obtain its easements is like asking someone to design and permit a house, then find out if the land is for sale. Additionally, by working with Deepwater to select the best route for its cable, the town can preserve the most control over the project to minimize its impact to the community. It’s a reasonable request by Deepwater and sensible of the town to work with the developer if they want to see this project delivered on time and with the least impact. It’s a win-win situation.

Point Four. Gruber’s Twisted Truth: The town, after stating that its interests would be protected by its participation in the P.S.C. process has not done so and has no intention of doing so because it is against publicly airing any related information.

The Real Story: The town has hired an attorney who specializes in these matters to represent it in the Article Seven review and federal permitting process. This attorney is also working with another attorney retained by the East Hampton Town Trustees, who has different and complementary specializations in this process. Together they are the town’s watchdogs and protectors of its interest. Additionally, both the town and trustees have formally petitioned for “intervenor status” in the Article Seven proceedings. Their findings and reports to the town and trustees will be transparent and made public.

Point Five. Gruber’s Twisted Truth: 

The $8 million being paid to East Hampton by Deepwater is not totally a gift but in part it is a legally mandated sum for mitigation for any harm. The other non-mitigation portion is far below the typical going rate of $30 million. Furthermore, the town hired a lawyer who is inexperienced in these matters in contrast to the trustees’ hiring one who does have extensive experience.

The Real Story: Deepwater is not mandated to provide a community benefits agreement. As far as the “going rate,” the amount is still being negotiated and the town and trustees have passed a resolution to allow their attorneys to work together on this matter, so the town’s interests are well protected.

Point Six. Gruber’s Twisted Truth: The town’s position that having the cable land in East Hampton will contribute toward achieving a 100-percent renewable energy goal is a ridiculous premise because the energy coming in through that cable will be transmitted west. Why not have it come in at Shoreham instead?

The Real Story: The South Fork Wind Farm was selected by the Long Island Power Authority for the explicit purpose of addressing a power supply problem on the South Fork (hence, the name). Connecting offshore wind to the grid in Shoreham would not solve the problem on the South Fork. The point of the project is to deliver power where it is needed. To suggest that the power it provides will not be used locally and only travel west is just silly.

 In any event, the town’s only authority and the only decision in its discretion is where to grant an easement for the cable entry within the East Hampton Town geographical area, where it has jurisdiction. 

Point Seven. Gruber’s Twisted Truth: The cost being charged to LIPA from Deepwater is three times the going price and it is justified on a deception that it is so because it is the first of its kind and LIPA has made a sweetheart deal with Deepwater.

The Real Story: First, what motivation would a highly state-regulated power authority subject to scrupulous oversight have to grant a private company like Deepwater a sweetheart deal? Second, four years ago, LIPA ran a competitive bid looking for the most economical source of energy for the South Fork. The wind project beat out several options, ranging from solar-sourced methods to fossil-fueled plants. Before it was awarded the “sweetheart” contract, it was audited and examined by both the office of the attorney general and the office of the state comptroller to ensure that the process was fair, competitive, and in the best interests of Long Island’s customers. The cost to Long Island ratepayers is estimated to be about $1.50 per month. 

Comparisons between the 22 cents per KW with the Vineyard Wind cost of 6.5 cents isasymmetrical and non-interchangeable, or in more familiar terms, it’s comparing apples with oranges. Vineyard’s project is 800 MGW compared to 130 MGW for Deepwater. Vineyard could have bid when LIPA held the bidding process open. It chose not to.

Point Eight.    Gruber’s Twisted Truth: The town says that the project is good for the environment but is clueless about its actual impact because it hasn’t done any work to evaluate its effect on the fishing industry, beaches, and beach community. They are promoting their eco-virtue in a grandstanding political way.

The Real Story: The New York State Public Service Commission and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) are charged with the task of reviewing the project for its environmental impact. This includes a full review of the need for and environmental impact of the siting, design, construction, and operation of the project. While the P.C.S. makes the final decision regarding the application in New York, Article Seven establishes the forum in which community residents can participate with members of the local agencies in the review process.           

Throughout the Article Seven review process, applicants are strongly encouraged to follow a public information process designed to involve the public in a project’s review.

The accusation of Van Scoyoc’s grandstanding is ironic given Gruber has not missed a beat to loudly exploit this issue for his own selfish political gain. It is obvious he cares little about the community and is instead trying to manipulate this topic in order to ingratiate himself with the groups who have chosen for their own personal interests to oppose the project. 

The facts are that this project is a major step in moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in a cost-effective way, which has been proven in many areas of the world as having little impact on the environment, wildlife, and marine life.

Gruber’s taking advantage of this wedge issue may work. If it does, I think the voters will have been suckered into making a big mistake. Gruber is not going to change his stripes once he is in office. People that he’ll need to work with won’t trust him. He’ll continue to divide people into cliques, and pit them against each other strictly for his own benefit. Instead of inspiring people to work together for the good of the community, he will continue to tear people apart, and the town along with them, just like he’s been doing since he decided to run for office in his own self-created political party.

BENNY SORGIE


Fluid Party

Amagansett

March 2, 2019

 

Dear Editor,

Your recent editorial on local political candidates’ embrace of fluid party affiliation brought to mind other ballot options:

            I’m With Agent Orange For Now Until Party.

            We’re Slightly Sociopathic; Do You All Have a Problem? Party.

            There Are People on the Ballot Because Their Dogs Signed Petitions Party.

            Don’t Cry for Them, Amagansett, Party.

            Lick My PSEG L.I. Telephone Poles Party.

            It’s About the Beaches, Not You, Party.

            Group for Plutocrats Party.

            Group for the Work Force Who Can’t Afford to Live Here Party.

            Group to Reinstitute the Position of Common Whipper Party.

            All good things,

            DIANA WALKER


Ideology

Springs

March 18, 2019

Dear Editor,

Common sense and political ideology are two very different things. 

Common sense is an inherent trait that you are born with and hone in on through life experience. Education, level of intelligence, and social status mean nothing; you either have or you do not. Common sense is not a learned behavior.

Political ideology is a way of thinking, a deep personal belief. For those that are deeply entrenched in a political ideology, it can impact the believer’s way of life, who they are friends with, and lifestyle. Similar to common sense, education, level of intelligence, and social status mean nothing. Political ideology is a learned behavior.

Where we as the human race run into trouble is when we place political ideology ahead of common sense. One has only to look back through history and not very long ago to see the horrors perpetrated on one another all in the pursuit of political ideology. Marxism and its many forms of communism and socialism (which includes fascism) are responsible for the deaths and suffering of millions. Today we deal with the evils of radicalized religions that cross into political ideology and have brought more death and misery to millions.

To be fair, not all political ideologies are evil. Some very well intentioned, good people have nothing but honest concerns for the greater good of humanity. 

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be concerned about pollution and all its many causes. It matters not if you’re Republican or Democrat, your social status, your religion, or whatever. Polluting the environment is wrong. We need to be responsible stewards and good prudent managers of our environment. If you believe in the above, you are an environment conservationist in the real sense of the word. 

Where many of us hit a fork in the road is when environmentalism becomes a political ideology and becomes more important than environmental conservation policy. 

The Green New Deal and by extension Deepwater Wind are rooted in environmental political ideology. Many of the proponents are well-intentioned individuals with really good hearts but sadly have allowed environmental political ideology to override their common sense. We all can agree we need to move to a more sustainable existence; we have only one life to live, and one environment to live in. Where we will have to disagree is the industrialization of our oceans, which wreaks havoc on our underwater ecosystem and destroy a segment of our economy, is equally as wrong as doing nothing.

East Hampton must strike a common-sense balance that moves us off fossil fuels and economically sustains our local community and fishing industry. Deepwater reminds me of the old proverb, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

MANNY VILAR
Chairman
East Hampton Town Republican Committee


Half the Story

East Hampton

March 18, 2019

Dear David:

Your editorial critical of the Duryea Lobster Deck settlement as a town giveaway to a billionaire misses at least half the story. 

The so-called settlement was signed by Michael Sendlenski twice, both as town attorney and as the representative of the town government. By itself this is highly irregular. 

It was then submitted to the court and entered as an order of the judge, served upon the building inspector to force her to issue a certificate of occupancy, which she did, and served on the planning board to allow the applicant to jump the line on its application for site plan review. The stipulation of settlement also attempts, improperly, to direct the planning board as to the outcome of the site plan application.

The planning board is completely independent of the town board. The town board cannot lawfully direct it in any way, even with a court order if the planning board was not also a party to the lawsuit, which it was not. Court orders only extend to the parties before the court. 

Incredibly, all this happened without the town board ever voting to authorize the stipulation of settlement. Yet under New York State town law (Sec. 68) only, “The town board of any town may compromise or settle an action or proceeding against the town, with the approval of the court in which such action or proceeding is pending.”

The settlement is therefore unlawful, indeed grossly improper, in multiple extraordinary respects. The cover-up fiction declared by Supervisor Van Scoyoc at the town board’s March 5 work session in Montauk, which I attended, is that the town board discussed the settlement in executive session but intentionally never voted upon it so that now, in light of the criticism from the public and with the help of newly hired outside counsel, the town can reconsider it. 

That won’t wash. It doesn’t explain how something merely discussed by the town board ended up signed, twice, by the town attorney, entered as a court order, and served on both the Building Department and planning board. It doesn’t explain how the town board is going to walk the matter back with the judge who signed the order. 

Did the town attorney not know that all settlements require town board approval? David Buda, who uncovered the settlement when looking at court filings, checked a number of very recent settlements, each within the last few weeks or months, both before and after signing of the Lobster Deck settlement. In every case, the town board specifically approved the settlement, by voting on and adopting a resolution as required by law, and authorized the supervisor, not the town attorney, to sign. Those authorizing resolutions are prepared by the town attorney for the town board’s approval. Clearly therefore, Mr. Sendlenski knew that what he was doing in the Duryea Lobster Deck case was highly irregular.

That leaves two possibilities. Either Mr. Sendlenski woke up one morning and decided to go rogue, signing the stipulation of settlement without any authority to do so, or at least some members of the town board invited him to do this in an unlawful manner while evading the legally required public vote of the town board. Here’s a guess about what happened behind closed doors that we cannot know: 

When the terms of settlement were questioned by Councilman Jeff Bragman at the Feb. 21 meeting of the town board, Sendlenski was given the podium by the supervisor. He proceeded to pound the lectern and yell at Councilman Bragman that the town attorney’s department is “very dedicated and hardworking.” You can be sure that when a lawyer is pounding the lectern and loudly declaring how dedicated and hardworking he and his staff are, rather than speaking to the facts of the matter, his conduct is very much in question.

Instead of rebuking the town attorney’s extraordinary and inappropriate behavior, Supervisor Van Scoyoc then jumped in to malign Councilman Bragman for raising questions, saying that he, Mr. Bragman, should have known what was afoot and that, “Four out of five us worked hard on this.” That pretty much advertises exactly who was in on the deal, doesn’t it? Only Councilman Bragman didn’t know because, according to the supervisor himself, Mr. Bragman, unlike the rest of them, “wasn’t working hard enough.” Hard enough at what — collusion?

If the supervisor and council members Sylvia Overby, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and David Lys were not in on the improper deal being made by town attorney Sendlenski, the appropriate reaction by them should have been, “What? The town attorney signed a stipulation of settlement and had it entered as a court order without our adopted authorizing resolution? You must be joking.” And then firing him for cause, more or less on the spot. Needless to say, he has not been fired. 

Mr. Van Scoyoc, Ms. Overby, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, and Mr. Lys appear to have forgotten that town government is constituted by the New York State Legislature. They, and all town employees, must abide by state law in the execution of their duties.

Evidently, they cannot be trusted to do so. The rights and well-being of our residents suffer as a result. That is the half of the story you missed.

Sincerely,

DAVID GRUBER


Sand Land

East Hampton

March 18, 2019

Dear David,

Why eight more years? The Sand Land mining pit should be done now. How does the Department of Environmental Conservation get away with the permitting of this sand mine travesty? Is the state delusional? Is the town of Southampton on vacation?

By the way, is in our town as well, with the continued sand mining permitted here on Middle Highway in East Hampton right down the road from Suffolk Water Authority drinking water wells, above where the aquifer originated, by the way. It doesn’t in Amagansett. It starts right here, Bubs. Why aren’t Southampton and East Hampton Town exercising their power of home rule? They are the final say, as it their town. The D.E.C. told me that themselves before someone gagged them from higher up. 

We’re gobsmacked here once again, fellas. And we’re on to your dirty deeds. 

What’s going on, really? Who’s zooming who? We want to know. We’re not going to stand idly by and accept this devastation of our groundwater and aquifer. Wake up and smell the toxic water. Get a clue and do the right thing. It’s time. Now. Eight years is way too late. You made your money, fellas. Walk away.

NANCI LAGARENNE


Sparking the Trouble

East Hampton

March 18, 2019

Dear David, 

Hope all is well. Your editorial last week titled, “Equal Justice Issue in Legalization of Marijuana” left me perplexed and angry. Why does the law need to be changed to reduce the impact of arrests on people of color? (“Color” and “white” are your words.) Why would people of color be in more trouble for an arrest than whites? Your words make no sense to an average man. 

So as I understand the editorial, the use of marijuana by nonwhites is higher than whites so we should change the law to reduce the offense and seal a conviction so these lawbreakers have no record and maybe get a job. Wow.

Why is it here in your Democratic/left world the criminals have more rights and breaks than the honest and hardworking folks? It’s this exact pampering and favoritism that is sparking the trouble in our nation we face today. 

So let me put a spin on this. Here’s what I want: Since I am a law-abiding white citizen and don’t get into any trouble I believe I should be granted a tax credit. Yes, that’s right, a tax credit. After all, you are ignoring, reducing punishment, and/or fines for criminals, so why shouldn’t the law-abiding citizen be rewarded also! And by the way, obviously you’re not a Trump fan so you would have to show me how President Trump “has continued to fan racial divisions.” I find it just the opposite. 

Best regards, 

JEFFREY PLITT 

Private and government surveys have consistently shown that marijuana use in the United States is roughly equal among blacks and whites, however blacks are at least three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than are whites. 

In some places, the disparity among arrests is even wider. In the first three months of 2018 in New York City, 89 percent of the roughly 4,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in New York City were black or Latino. In Baltimore, three years of arrest data showed that police arrested 1,516 on marijuana possession charges. Of those, 1,450, or 96 percent, were black. 

Sources for further reading include the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Ed.


No Rehearsals

East Hampton

March 18, 2019

I would like to give this message to Congress, all 545 of you. Everything you say is public relations, between the wish and the thing, life lies waiting. Dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you can give to others. Never give advice, a wise man won’t need it and a fool won’t heed it. If honesty causes pain, remember that it heals quicker than what is implicated by a falsehood and deception.     

In an epitaph for an unknown soldier it says to save our world you asked this man to die for. Would this man, could he see you now, ask why? (W. Aden (1907-1973) 

Life has no rehearsals only performances. It’s the side of the mountain that sustains life not the top. All members of Congress should examine themselves every day, if you find faults, correct them. If you find none, try harder. For the past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power. We cannot change what others say, but we can control what we chose to believe. 

Democrats must learn the eyes are useless when the mind is blind. There is no doubt that you have outright racism in your party and refuse to do anything about it. Sometimes it’s not the people who change it’s that the mask falls off. For those who remained neutral during times of great moral conflict, the hottest place in hell is reserved. It is impossible to make wisdom hereditary. For all of you in Congress, fear is an illusion; it does not exist. You all created it; it’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall in place. 

Of the 545 of you in Congress only 97 have served in the military. It is my personal belief that anyone who is part of running the country supporting the Constitution should serve two years in the military and learn what commitment is. 

TOM BYRNE 

Retired C.P.O. Navy 


On His Brain

Springs

March 18, 2019

To the Editor:

 J.T. Conway III’s analysis of Trump is 100 percent correct. His mind is deteriorating rapidly. A psychiatrist would be more helpful than a medical doctor. He also has a jealous streak against former Senator McCain, who was a true American hero who was loved and respected by people worldwide. He also despises President Obama and anyone who he thinks is smarter than he and has more class than he has. 

Trump loves character assassination because he knows that he avoided serving his country because he had bone spurs on his toes. The bone spurs were on his brain not his toes. He is a real yellow chicken, dumb, dumb, and dumber.            

JOE LOMBARDI


Tucker Carlson

Rochester

March 16, 2019

To the Editor:

This is the most challenging letter that I have ever written because it is probably impossible to say what I want to say without unintentionally offending some people. The bottom line is this: While I disagree with his conservative-Republican economic and political views 95 percent of the time, I happen to agree with something that Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson says in his recent book.

The gist of his position is that the women of 2019 in our country seem to dislike men over all much more so than did the women of past decades. I see this in my life. I see it all around me. I wish that I could do something to make things better between the sexes/genders in our country.

I say this as a man who was sexually harassed by a female college professor when I was 25. I am very sensitive to the pain and inner hurt of sexual harassment victims and survivors. I say this as the first male Ph.D. student in all of Canada to take and pass the Ph.D. comprehensive area specialization examination in Women’s Studies in the 1970s. 

I am speaking up for those men in our country who would never want to sexually harass or assault or hurt a woman in any way. We exist and do not deserve to hear the constant male bashing that some women exhibit on a daily basis.

Give us a break. We are not your enemy. We are on your side.

Sincerely,

STEWART B. EPSTEIN


Consistent Themes

East Hampton

March 18, 2019

Dear Editor,

The president’s proposed budget reeks of everything that’s wrong with our political system: More money for the military and the wall and less for the population — one of the most consistent themes of our government for the past 100 years. Breaking down the rationale exposes our government for its blatant dishonesty and relentless pursuit of deceiving the American people.

Part One:

A few relevant details. Since 1776 the U.S. has been involved in 220 military conflicts or 93 percent of our existence. Since 1900 we have been involved in 50 wars and are currently involved militarily in 91 countries. Fighting for peace.

The military budget and the wall fall under the same banner — national security. Yet, while international threats to the country are lower then they have ever been, the military budget is exploding in response. The obvious question is in response to what — Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, socialism, and migrant caravans from Central America. They are threatening our security and our freedom in the quasi-imbecilic neocon Trump world. 

Yet all of their armies, weapons, wealth, resources, and genuine animus toward us are about one-tenth of what existed in World War II and one-fiftieth of the Communist threat of the 1960s to 1980s. There is more wealth in East Hampton than in all these countries combined. (Combined G.D.P. for North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela is $900 billion.) Their military budgets with China and Russia included is not even half of ours. It’s the story of the 25,000-pound gorilla and the church mouse. No one is betting on the mouse.

We are ramped up to battle against a major opponent who no longer exists. So we make crap up and have done so forever to keep the money flowing. That North Korea can reach us with a missile is a scarier proposition than the Soviet Union with 15,000 long-range missiles? Are we that stupid that we buy this garbage?

Migrant caravans. If we don’t know that the U.S. is responsible for all the horrific governments in Central America and has had a hand in the millions of people killed by these governments, it’s seriously pathetic. (See the 1954 overthrow of the democratically elected president of Guatemala.) So if we took the $25 billion for the wall and invested it in this region (United Fruit excluded), and took the billions spent on ICE and Homeland Security to protect the border, and did the same, we would have no migrant caravans. Call it reparations for past evils. Call it Christian charity, repentance. Call it the end to a fabricated, phony crisis.

Clearly the most serious national security issue is domestic terrorism. The white-power movement that has existed and grown since Oklahoma City and is championed by the president poses an enormous threat to the essence of our openness and our democracy. Trump’s tweets about violence from his police, military, and biker supporters, coupled with his comments on the benign condition of the white-power movement is high fascism. Conservative New York Times pundit David Brooks calls it Mussolini-like in its intent and nature. Yet the budget has little or nothing for domestic terrorism.

Part Two

Cutting the social safety net is based on an absurd American narrative of independent men working hard and creating a country with no help from the government or anyone else. So why all these handouts, etc.? Let everyone work and be self-made men (and women).

Yet, the self-made concept is more illusion than reality. Looking at almost all of our titans of industry, we discover that the majority of them started with very large silver spoons in their pockets. Inherited wealth and success overwhelms self-made, start from scratch, success. Trump is a bad example, but getting $400 million from his father and five times more in daddy-signed loans gave him a significant leg up. 

Virtually anyone in the country, including my daughter’s cat, would have done as well as Trump if they had simply left the money in the bank. Since America was founded, wealth created wealth, and poor people with no legacy except poverty remained poor. Every country needs its fantasies, but the bullshit of self-made successes is just that.

So with no more tax giveaways on the table, it becomes necessary to attack the safety net. Squeezing the poorest Americans because their daddies didn’t leave them enough money and because they will provide the least resistance. Going after the poorest people is almost always a knee-jerk, Republican reaction to budget deficits, which they created by giving themselves tax breaks. 

But this time there appears to be a certain contrition, almost empathy, about the way they ruined the middle class over the past 40 years and scammed them brilliantly with the last tax cut. It’s difficult to understand this return to the old ways of poorest-folks bashing but they seem to be thinking that a short respite for the newly oppressed middle class is in order. On the scumbag meter they get an 8 instead of their usual 10. Bravo.

So the new budget, founded on fabricated threats and the need to beat up the poor, is really indicative of who we are. There is little evidence that the president has absorbed much of the intricacies of running the country, yet screwing people is his forte and he seems to have it down pat. 

NEIL HAUSIG