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Letters to the Editor: 05.16.19

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 17:41

Love My Park

Center Moriches

May 8, 2019

To the Editor, 

Gray mist and the potential for showers didn’t deter over 60 volunteers at I Love My Park Day sponsored by New York State Parks. The rain-ready volunteers hit the surrounding beaches of Montauk State Park, gathering trash ranging from beer bottles, foil balloons, rope, and the ever-present plastic bottles. Some trash pushed deep into brush and grass by the winter’s north winds. Volunteers included local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, members of the Montauk Long Island Beach Buggy Association, and Surfcasters Association, local residents, and even TV stars. Local Montauk resident and actress Aida Turturro of “The Sopranos” tells of her volunteering “as a way of paying back to nature and helping the members of the Montauk Surfcasters Association who co-sponsor the cleanup several times a year. It makes me feel good getting out with nature.”

After collecting hundreds of pounds of trash, volunteers relaxed before a roaring fire at the George Washington Cafe enjoying a bite to eat and a cold Montauk Brewery beer while gazing upon the waves crashing on the shoreline now devoid of trash. Yes, life couldn’t be better. Well, it can be if you help out and join us in the future and keep our beaches looking pristine as they were intended to be. 

I Love my Park Day happens every spring at Montauk State Park or you can join Montauk Surfcasters Association at Surfcasters.org. 

WILLIAM T. JAKOB 



At Risk

New York City

May 8, 2019

Dear David,

The latest United Nations assessment on the health of our natural ecosystems may have the answer to your question as to where the toads and snakes have gone (“The Mast-Head: Where Have They Gone?” May 2).

According to this assessment, over one million plant and animal species are now at risk for going extinct because of deforestation, poaching, overfishing, and as a major driver, global warming. One possible culprit in the loss of amphibians and reptiles is a drastic decline in the bug species that they eat.

These ecological changes will ramify throughout the food chain, and disrupt the human food and water supply. Loss of bees will decimate agriculture, and coral — the maritime ecosystem.

Stopping global warming is critical. We must stop burning fossil fuels and go to 100 percent renewable energy, as East Hampton has pledged to do. What better example for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to bring the entire state on board.

ROSMARUS SCHNECK



Thanks to All

Montauk

May 11, 2019

Dear David,

The announcement last week from PSEG that they would not build a substation on Flamingo Road in Montauk is great news for Montauk and for Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and the town board who worked hard to ensure PSEG considered alternate sites. In fact, following the news, Mr. DeJesus, a neighboring property owner and vocal advocate against the site, was publicly stating he “would like to thank the town board of East Hampton for their support.” So perhaps Tom Bogdan of Montauk will now ensure all of Montauk buys Supervisor Van Scoyoc a drink after having promised him publicly at a town board meeting on Feb. 7 that if the Flamingo Road property was not chosen “you could show up in Montauk and everybody will buy you a drink.” Come on, Tom, show us your money. It was also good news to hear that the Eddie Ecker Park site was taken out of consideration.

Thanks to all the Montauk residents who made their voices heard and to PSEG for listening to us. We trust that they will continue to be transparent, keep us informed of the other sites being considered and the progress of the project, and listen to our input.

Sincerely,

EDNA STECK



From Fatima

Montauk

May 13, 2019

Dear David, 

May 13 is the anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. She appeared six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins, Francisco, 8, and his sister, Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917, and Oct. 13, 1917. 

As I write this the Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima is being televised live at 5 a.m. E.S.T. from Fatima, Portugal, thanks to EWTN television network. If you wonder what you can do as one person to help change the world, read the story published by C.N.A., the Catholic News Agency, and tell everyone you know about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. God will bless you and all your loved ones! Our Lady of Fatima pray for us! 

VINCENT BIONDO



Meals On Wheels

Amagansett

May 10, 2019

To the Editor:

Once more East Hampton Meals on Wheels and its dedicated volunteers have given this now 85-year-old mom more than a meal, but kindness and thoughtfulness when today, May 10, Friday, they brought beautiful Mother’s Day flowers.

May God bless East Hampton Meals on Wheels and its volunteers who prepare, serve, and care for the town residents which they so graciously serve.

Sincerely,

LONA RUBENSTEIN



Thinking Kevlar

Montauk

May 10, 2019

To the Editor:

I see the flags are at half-staff again today. What holiday have I forgotten? Oh, it’s just another massacre. Silly me.

We haven’t even had the last burp from Easter dinner, but I am seriously thinking about Christmas presents for the grandchildren. I know it’s going to be more exciting than ever, now that they are both coming home from college and job, the first time in years that we’ll all be on the same coast or even continent.

I’m thinking Kevlar, but tasteful, you know? Vests, of course. And maybe a SWAT-type helmet. It’s so hard to choose headgear for other people, but in the continuous bloodbath that is the new America, sometimes we have to go out and be creative, no?

Well, thanks, National Rifle Association and Congressman Zeldin, for making it so easy to decide what to give this year and for supporting concealed-carry weapons being allowed into New York from other states! And for sending thousands of troops to the border to give them a break from the boring work of preparing for their real jobs! Keep up the good work!

Warm regards,

JANET VAN SICKLE



Arm School Personnel

East Hampton

May 13, 2019

To the Editor, 

Recent media reports have spoken of our town accepting an anonymous donation of an armored vehicle. So how could we put it to good use? Is there a secret sleeper cell of the Branch Dravidians holed up in an unassuming rental on Lily Pond Lane? Are the Paris yellow jackets going to take their Saturday romps over here to Main Beach, then onward to Newtown Lane? Well, we certainly have plenty of trophy stores. But do we want another Venezuela? And what if hostage negotiations fail at a takeover of the Montauk Light? We can’t bulldoze or fire an auto cannon toward a historical monument. 

Okay time to forgo the humor and get serious, as in the protection of our children in our schools. There is now a school shooting every one and a half days in America. Time to stop thinking it won’t happen here and think how to prevent it, or at the least minimize casualties. Taxpayer money to train our hard-working and highly respected police forces to operate an armored vehicle that we would probably never need to use? In my opinion, much better spent on training and increased salary to arm school personnel. Yes — janitors, teachers, and coaches. This is not my original idea; it is now being floated in the national media frequently. 

Although I hate to even bring up traumatic memories, let us analyze three of the most infamous: Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. The Colorado shooters simply exited their cars and opened fire outside, then headed to the cafeteria, within minutes 12 dead. If an armed person was already in the school they may have been able to take them out sooner. Even with the incredible quick response time of law enforcement, that precious time was long to wait. 

At Virginia Tech, reportage was that a warning had gone out on social media of a shooter on campus. Meanwhile, his guns blazed as he went from one building to another giving off 170 shots, killing 32 in the three minutes before police arrived. 

Sandy Hook: A securely locked front door was not an obstacle for a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic. Adam Lanza simply mowed it down. And was then met by the heroic principal, who gave her life trying to save her own students. Had she confronted him with a Glock while positioning in a fighting stance maybe she could have taken him out and prevented the horrific and senseless execution of 20 innocent first graders. 

Would the principal had to have been carrying? Not necessarily; a loaded Glock could have been readily available in a locked fingerprint-recognition drawer. 

East Hampton, let’s show that we are really a community ahead of the curve, and what’s more important than the lives of our most precious resource, our beloved children? 

CHIP DAYTON 



Springs-Fireplace

Springs

May 13, 2019

To The Editor, 

I woke up yesterday and saw that the lot located at 228 Springs-Fireplace Road between the entrance to the Highway Department and Queens Road had been cleared of all of the vegetation and trees to the edge of the road — 100 percent clearing. 

Curious to find out if there was a permit for this activity, I inquired at the Building Department and was informed that no building permit had been issued and that code enforcement had been informed. 

This again is an example of the wild west activity along the Springs-Fireplace Road commercial corridor where owners feel that they can do any activity they wish without approval. I hope that the town enforcement agencies will prosecute this illegal activity to the full extent of the law. 

Uncontrolled development with the resulting blight along this heavily traveled entryway to Springs has got to stop. We suffer from dust and mud drag-out, heavy traffic congestion, an unsightly streetscape — all of which is going to become worse with the opening of the East Hampton School bus depot, a proposed car wash, the commercial truck parking lot next to 228, and the large new Farrell development off Queens Road. Enough is enough. 

ROBERT PINE



Close the Airport

Noyac

May 13, 2019

Dear Editor,

Daily polluting aviation commuter intrusions above our homes will soon recommence. The unsafe mix of low flying, fixed-wing, and rotor aircraft will again endanger our health and well-being. Unnecessary private aviation journeys benefiting a handful of people while threatening millions of others are increasing, and each journey releases hundreds of pounds of harmful carbon emissions into our threatened atmosphere.

Private jet manufacturers are struggling to meet demand for faster, more luxurious models. Competition among short-haul, ride-sharing operators is at an all-time high, despite general aviation accidents making national headlines weekly. We can do nothing now to prevent these dangerous, low-altitude incursions above our homes. But, in 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration’s grip on the town’s admirable efforts to curb fossil-fuel emissions will end. East Hampton can legally close the airport (KHTO), and return the land and its income to uses benefiting all East Hampton residents, not only out-of-state aviation operators and primarily nonresident users. 

The time to begin transition planning toward clean, sustainable alternative uses is now. As stated by the attorney representing East Hampton in its attempt to gain F.A.A. approval for restrictions (the Part 161 application), the town should begin planning now for safer, cleaner, sustainable uses of the airport property should the F.A.A. again deny local control of KHTO. 

That 600 acres of Wainscott land are dedicated to a small number of aviation users is an anomaly, at a time when open space is vanishing and little undisturbed land remains. If East Hampton is to meet its goal of reducing fossil-fuel use, there is no better place to begin than by closing access to polluting carbon-facilitating activity at KHTO. 

Suggestions for alternative uses of the property have been made, among them: a nature park, expanding hiking-biking trails, protecting flora and fauna habitat, an airport museum, affordable housing, or a senior managed-care facility, maker spaces for artists and other innovators, affordable office space, shared work facilities for tech-based start-ups or other small clean businesses, solar and/or wind installations and businesses that will bring jobs supporting those technologies. 

Residents advocating for closure of East Hampton’s dangerous, polluting airport are aware that restrictions will not solve the many problems, that safety on the ground and peace in the skies can be assured only if the airport ceases all operations. Maintaining KHTO for a few hobbyists’ flying aircraft emitting leaded fuel emissions is in no way beneficial to 99.9 percent of East Hampton residents and could allow the airport to be reinvigorated, even greatly expanded, with a simple change of heart by future town board members accepting another 20-year period of ironclad F.A.A. control. 

Ensuring East Hampton and other twin fork towns besieged by KHTO’s annual aviation invasion remain among the most desirable places to live or visit means there is an urgent need to protect and ensure that our greatest lure, enduring economic engine, and most precious asset, our environment, is healthy and peaceful. 

Thank you,

PATRICIA CURRIE



At Duryea’s

New York City

May 7, 2019

Dear Editor:

For a generation, significant parking, commercial activity, and dining have taken place along the shores of Fort Pond Bay and along the edge of Tuthill Pond. For nearly 30 years, Edna McGlynn and other members of the Tuthill Road Association have written letters about this activity, to which Duryea’s ownership has responded by pointing out its vested, pre-existing rights that preceded residential development in the area.

In some sense, nothing has changed at Duryea’s, including the parking, size, and scale of outdoor seating and related commercial activity. What has changed is the popularity of Montauk in general and of Duryea’s in particular. In 2015, following my purchase of Duryea’s, I proposed a substantial reduction in the size of the Duryea’s building that would still maintain its historical character. I also proposed installing an upgraded septic system, eliminating the buildings adjacent to Tuthill Pond, and improving parking adjacent to Tuthill Pond and elsewhere.

These efforts were met with opposition from Edna and her colleagues, and were ultimately discontinued in favor of the status quo. Notwithstanding the position of the Tuthill Road Association, over the past few years I have protected the Duryea legacy and history, repaired what needed to be repaired, including the dock and revetments, reduced our environmental footprint, eliminated the use of harmful chemicals, and moved garbage indoors, along with a range of other measures designed to reduce our environmental footprint. Most recently, I donated an adjacent parcel of land to the Peconic Land Trust. The most important initiative currently underway at Duryea’s is the upgrade to an advanced, low-nitrogen septic system. Edna and her colleagues also oppose this even though it will bring only environmental benefits to the property and entails no physical expansion.

Ultimately, a balance between historical land use, commercial activity, environmental protection, and quality of life should be found throughout Montauk. I can only imagine how difficult it will be to find this balance in the main commercial core of Montauk given the experience thus far at Duryea’s.

MARC ROWAN



Party of One

East Hampton

May 8, 2019

Well David, 

For someone who had no problem linking me with President Trump simply because I wanted to run another term as trustee, then questioned my environmental status in the community, and even used the word racist in the same paragraph as my name, I find it perplexing to hear your voice on a tape with two East Hampton Town trustees discussing a historical black figure in East Hampton history with clear insensitivity. 

In these times where hatred affects so many lives, and “back-room” discussions where hatred is spewed freely in secrecy keep hate alive and in the flow of our lives, I found some comments offensive and the laughter unacceptable on all levels. 

Now I don’t know the context of the recording I heard, but the short conversation is none the less disturbing. And the rest of the recordings are equally as disturbing, yet the fact that someone was able to record this information is most upsetting; however, I’m not surprised considering all the back-room business traffic that goes on at the trustee operation. And you think I’m the bad guy, or the least trustee-worthy. 

Let me tell you something, David, you only think you know about our local politics. I think this circulating tape is a great example of that, or were you privy to this unacceptable redirect of the trustee board members (on the recording) prior to it being released? Why are you on this collection of recordings? Are you in the deviants’ political pocket, David?

I think there are a few questions you need to answer regarding this recording. As an East Hampton Town trustee, I believe I have the right to ask. So, how shall I hold you up to the light David? 

And just for the record David: I am a registered Democrat; however, I personally hold myself to no party affiliation during any election. I ran with the Republican Party as a Democrat, because the Democrats couldn’t control me and I refused to do their bidding of aiding in the demise of the trustee body for the town’s benefit and ultimate control. Did you expect me to walk away because the crooks didn’t want to play with me anymore? 

Just so we’re clear, I support no individual party. I support those who will look after the best interests of our town, our beaches, etc. No matter what party ticket I’m on, Independence, Conservative, Fusion, Bonac, Reform, whatever name you coin yourselves, I am a party of one! The Real Party, no bullshit, no unnecessary change, no special interest agenda, no favors for the few, just solutions and benefits for all.

Disappointed and setting the record straight,

DELL CULLUM



The illicit recording Mr. Cullum refers to contains an Oct. 4 conversation in the town trustees’ office about the easternmost extent of Gardiner’s Bay during which David Rattray also discusses one aspect of the Plain Sight Project. 

The Plain Sight Project is a joint effort between the East Hampton Library and The Star that seeks to shed light on slavery in the North by identifying every enslaved person and free black that lived in the Town of East Hampton — from the 1630s to the 1820s. More about the project can be found at Plainsightproject.org. 

Mr. Cullum mischaracterizes that conversation. Ed.



No Ethical Issues

East Hampton

May 13, 2019

Dear David:

In response to East Hampton Village trustee Richard Lawler’s letter to the editor in last week’s paper, I’d like to clear up his misleading statements.

Information: The Village Board comprises the mayor and four trustees. The mayor appoints each trustee to be a liaison from the Village Board to each department — Police, dispatch, beaches, Highway Department, Fire Department, and Ambulance Association. 

History: I was appointed chief of police in 2003 by the Village Board. Richard Lawler was elected as a village trustee in 2008. Soon after he was elected, he was appointed liaison to the Police Department by the mayor (the person I had to answer to). In 2011, the Village Board additionally appointed me to manage village’s dispatch center. In 2015, the Village Board also appointed me to manage the paramedic program (Lawler was the liaison for all). I retired from the Police Department in 2017 and currently work for MacAndrews and Forbes as director of security. I also own a family-run security business that we established in 2005.

Lawler attempts to convince readers that he and the Village Board have no control or supervision over the chief of police. This is simply not true (See State Law — Article 4 Village Law). To insinuate that I had some superpowers over residents is absurd. Simply stated, the trustee that is appointed as the liaison is clearly the person that the department head has to answer to. Not only was Lawler the liaison to the Police Department and dispatch, he also was the liaison to the beach managers. (Look how that worked out when three longtime, well-respected beach managers resigned at the end of last summer due to Lawler’s actions.) Lawler, who when I was chief of police called himself the police commissioner, should take a little time to read the Village Code and New York State law before he sends letters that make him sound uneducated. His statements are incorrect and misleading.

Lawler’s next statement about my business is untrue. There were no ethical issues or appearances of impropriety. A friend of Mayor Rickenbach’s, who had a competing business, made the complaint. It was that single complaint that prompted Paul Rickenbach, Barbara Borsack, and Richard Lawler to restrict me and my business from working in the village. This was done without consulting the village ethics board, which renders these types of decisions, or negotiating this in my employment contract. The biggest question is, how did they think it was okay for them to operate their business in the village when they were clearly my superiors? 

Lawler further suggests in his letter that I mishandled the Police Department budget. If that statement were true then why did the Village Board not only have me running the Police Department from 2003 to 2017, they also asked me to manage the village dispatch center from 2011 to 2017, and then in 2015 to 2017 the village paramedics and their respective budgets? Another misleading statement. 

Richard Lawler started his elected career in 2008 when he joined the Village Board of Trustees for all the right reasons. He was unhappy with how the village was operating and was going to make things better. However, after his tenure of 12 years, it is not better, and he has no more to offer the residents of this village. That is, unless we want to continue the reputation of the “Village of No,” have 55-foot electric poles on our quaint streets, empty stores on Main Street and Newtown Lane, businesses that are asking for help and receiving no help, historic inns asking for relief of rules that are strangling them receiving no relief, residents and employees who are mistreated, and of course negativity toward tourism, which they feel is the greatest threat to the village (see the Village Vision Statement).

Richard Lawler (village trustee, police commissioner, and now deputy mayor) is a great example of why I, if elected, will institute term limits so we don’t have career politicians who lose their drive or such, as Mayor Rickenbach stated in a recent article in The Star, “Burned Out.” 

In June of 2020, Paul Rickenbach will be in office for 28 years, Barbara Borsack will be in office for 20 years, and Richard Lawler will be there for 12 years. The incumbents are the founders of the “Village of No.” If I am elected mayor, I will increase parking, help local businesses, assist the historic inns, remove the huge electric poles from our quaint streets, improve our beaches, improve employee morale, embrace tourism, and bring friendliness back to village government. 

Please email me ([email protected]), and we can work together to end the “Village of No.” 

JERRY LARSEN



Under One Roof 

Sag Harbor

May 13, 2019

Dear David,

As a native of Montauk and third generation of a fishing family, I want to strongly urge the people of Montauk to vote for the proposed expansion of the Montauk Library, on Tuesday, for two reasons. First, having lived there without a library and cultural opportunities while growing up, I saw the great need for this in what is essentially a beach resort town, since the year-round and also second-home owners lacked access to books, movies, musical events, lectures, art and photo exhibits, and general research. 

Since the “new” library was built, these opportunities have grown and been so well attended that the space for them, as well as children’s rooms, has become too limited. In addition, for many years there has been a need to create a place to showcase and display the photos, memorabilia, equipment, and general archives of the Montauk charter and commercial fishing industries. Since Montauk is the biggest seaport on Long Island, and one of the largest on the East Coast, it is time these fishermen got recognized and documented for future generations. I saw firsthand when my father, Capt. Bob Tuma of the charter boat Dawn, passed away in 2008, and also Capt. Frank Mundus the same year, that much of their 60 years of memorabilia got lost to the public at an estate sale and auction, only to end up in the private sector. 

At that time, there was no Montauk fishing museum as the baymen have in Amagansett. Many people, myself included, have been trying to find a way to preserve these traditions for their families and the public to understand and appreciate. Now we have the opportunity to showcase their fishing gear, swordfish swords, handmade lures and rods, books, photos, and documents in a spacious Fishing Center with precious archives. Since archival storage is also becoming limited in this library, there will also be a new archival storage center for this, plus for family photos, oral histories, and research. 

I hope everyone who has ever known fishermen, or who are proud of this Montauk heritage, will go to vote Tuesday — at the Montauk School from 2 to 8 p.m. — for this Fishing Center to be housed under one roof. And also the much-needed Montauk Library expansion for a children’s room and teen room with state of the art computers and social media. There are very limited places where teens can go to learn and socialize in Montauk, which I know firsthand. It is well worth the extra taxes of $80.40 a year, which is less than $7 a month and about half the price of a film at the movie theater. 

Sincerely,

DEBBIE TUMA



We Are Proud

Amagansett

May 13, 2019



Dear David,



A thriving public school system doesn’t just benefit our kids. It’s the foundation of a diverse, healthy, and balanced society. Schools sustain the long-term viability of Amagansett as a great place to live, to raise a family, to vacation and to retire.



At the Amagansett School we are proud of our record of service to our children and to the community at large. Our great educators, our committed parents and volunteers, and above all our wonderful students work every day to build the future.



As members of the Board of Education for the Amagansett School District, we are proud of our track record. We believe in responsible fiscal oversight and have kept our annual school budget from increasing above the tax “cap” for the past three years. At the same time, the school maintains strong academic programs and top-notch student achievement, as noted by independent evaluations. We have successfully begun the transition to a new and talented administrative team. We seek re-election to continue that job and prepare the Amagansett School District for long-term success.



A vote for us is a vote for strong local schools, low and reasonable taxes, opportunities for all, and respect for our unique and diverse population. We urge everyone who is eligible to get out and vote in the upcoming School Board elections on May 21. We promise the Amagansett community that if re-elected we will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the District's children, while at the same time ensuring our tax dollars for education are invested prudently.



Very truly yours,

KRISTEN PETERSON

HANK MUCHNIC

ANNA BERNASEK



Rolls-Royce Education

East Hampton

May 11, 2019

To the Editor:

I suppose many, like me, most recently paid their first-half East Hampton taxes. My tax for the year is $5,571. Of that total, $3,238 is for the three East Hampton schools, which require 58 percent of the entire town budget.

Retired now, and having suffered heavily in the 2008 financial panic/crash, I am watching my spending. Payment of town taxes is one of my largest single annual expenses and, within that, the schools are the overwhelmingly largest item. 

What level of support are the East Hampton schools asking of us? The superintendent states that we are the “partners” of the schools and our interests as taxpayers are much on his mind.

Let us start nationally and narrow down to locally. The average spending per student by United States public schools is about $11,400. Per student, New York State spends more on public education than almost any other state: $22,366 per student. That is 90 percent higher than public schools nationally. Suffolk County schools are near the top of spending for the entire nation and for New York State. They now spend $28,629 per student.

For East Hampton, voters last May approved a budget of $69.8 million for an enrollment of 1,818 students. How does that translate into spending per student? East Hampton schools now spend $38,419 per student.

To summarize: Nationally: $11,392. New York State: $22,366. Suffolk County: $28,629. East Hampton: $38,419.

In other words, compared with almost any other group of schools in the country, East Hampton schools are spending not Cadillac, nor Mercedes, but Rolls-Royce bucks to do their job. They are among the most expensive public schools anywhere.

Not all school spending in a given year is funded out of town tax assessments; there also is state aid (from the same taxpayers, of course). For example, for 2019, East Hampton proposed to levy $51 million in school taxes toward spending of $69.8 million. Can East Hampton’s 22,000 residents carry $51 million in annual, steadily rising expenditures for their schools? Well, East Hampton school administrators and parents know they have an idyllic situation. They take the fullest possible advantage of it and have for years. Much of the real estate tax base is second homes, vacation homes, with very high assessed value. Few of those families send their children to East Hampton schools, but they are taxed to pay for the local Rolls- Royce education.

Taxpayers tend to resist high taxes. Especially for programs known to be fully and more than fully funded. Why, at the most recent Long Island school budget elections, were budgets “overwhelmingly approved,” including the East Hampton budget, which the publication Patch reported as approved by an “overwhelmingly large margin”?

How does it work? In the most recent East Hampton School District election, which passed this year’s $69.8 million budget, a total of 621 votes were cast. The overwhelmingly wide margin of approval was 532 to 89.

There are more than enough teachers, administrators, and parents, not to mention their relatives, if required, to win any school budget vote. Almost no one else shows up, except for who? A few committed townspeople who understand the game and oppose it? Or are those 89 “nay” votes encouraged by administrators and parents so that the game is not grotesquely exposed with a 532-to-0 vote? With teachers and administrators, plus parents, the “yea” votes easily could be 1,200. But there was no need for that, obviously. 

Except in instances when the budget is voted down. This has happened. Informed East Hampton citizens become sick of the game, stir up opposition, rally support, get people to show up for the vote to beat the built-in “yea” vote. Victory! Hooray for concerned taxpayers!

It changes nothing. The school goes back and revises the budget, perhaps cutting little, and a new vote is scheduled. You can rally opposition for one protest vote. Many will have skipped a day of work in New York City to vote. But for the second vote? The third? For the second and third vote, however, you can be certain that the administrators and teachers will show up; their compensation is at stake. And parents will show up. They want the Rolls-Royce spending. It is not merely spending as good as any in the country, or state, or in Suffolk County. No, it is spending $10,000 per student more than the already sky-high Suffolk County average. So, they show up.

Can the game be defeated? Taxpayers could form a group to put forward the demand that the East Hampton school budget be no greater than the Suffolk County average: $28,629 per student. A mere Porsche education.

That would lower East Hampton education spending by 25 percent. We, as local taxpayers, would pay $12,500,000 a year less. For me, the school tax still would be $2,429 per year. But that is a savings of about $800 a year. For many homeowners, the savings would be much greater.

If enough taxpayers stated they would accept no East Hampton school budget above the Suffolk County average, had the votes and clearly meant it, even the first proposed budget might be at that level. If getting there took three votes, the coalition would have to stick with it. Believe me, anyone identified with that coalition would have to endure cries that education of the next generation in East Hampton children is being stripped to the bone, loyal teachers brutalized, the town’s future blackened, and the very name of our town made infamous by its selfish summer people. Believe me, the attacks would stop at absolutely nothing. Expect pickets carrying signs screaming let no “education haters” have a meal in peace.

Our reply is that the spending will be the average per student for Suffolk County, among the very highest in the state and almost 300 percent of that nationwide. If the cuts seem unbearable, it is only as a result of years of playing the game. Our reply might be that what East Hampton now spends per student is higher than the annual tuition at most elite private independent schools.

And the majority of those forced to pay do not enroll their kids in East Hampton schools; many pay high school taxes elsewhere, as well. And many also pay to enroll their children in independent schools. Indeed, some 52 percent of the town’s entire school enrollment is now Hispanic, or Latino, not the tax base that is paying for the Rolls-Royce education. Our outrageous demand is for the Porsche Long Island average. Among Suffolk County students today, are only East Hampton students getting a good education? A lot of us are trimming our budgets and making do with less. The schools also can. 

For those who agree, a warning: The game depends on lack of attention, lack of controversy, and inertia. I write this letter as a heads-up. None of my earlier letters along these lines ever met with any reply on behalf of the schools. Public discussion of the facts, controversy, is the last thing the schools want. As the vote now approaches on May 21 for the proposed $71-million budget, East Hampton residents will be busy getting ready for summer. School budgets are boring. We all have other things to do.

After the minimal notice required, the 2020 budget will be voted by the usual 600 or so of those administrators, teachers, and parents who are voting their own cardinal, economic self-interest. On behalf of all of us, they will vote themselves another $71 million in tax funds. (The highest staff salaries are $212,000.)

I would emphasize in that context that by insisting on the Suffolk County public school average — the highest in New York State and almost triple the national average — taxpayers could expect to save approximately 25 percent of the school portion of their annual Town of East Hampton tax bill.

The first step is to show up and vote down this budget. Then, have the perseverance to return when the next vote is scheduled for about the same amount, and the next, if necessary. And repeat the mantra: the Suffolk County average. A Porsche education, not a Rolls-Royce education. 

WALTER DONWAY



So Rewarding

East Hampton

May 12, 2019

To the Star:

Take it from me, being a member of a school board is a thankless but oh so rewarding job. Being part of our East Hampton school community, listening, talking, and caring about the students, I know that Sandra Vorpahl is who I will vote for on Tuesday, May 21! With her past experience as an employee and a past school board member, the connections she can bring can only benefit and challenge the East Hampton School District! 

WENDY J. HALL



Elect Sandra

East Hampton

May 13, 2019

Dear David, 

Sandra Vorphal is a candidate for election to the board of education of the East Hampton School District. I have known Sandra for many years in many different capacities and wholeheartedly support her for election to this board.

Sandra is a born and bred Bonacker, who has spent her entire adult life working to support the youth of our community. Her children and grandchildren have attended, or are attending, the schools which she herself attended and has been so devoted to over the years. Sandra is a person of the highest character and integrity. 

As a past employee and board member of the East Hampton schools, Sandra has the knowledge and experience to step right in and become a key contributing member of our East Hampton School Board. In East Hampton we are so fortunate to have such outstanding schools, administrators, teachers, and board members. On May 21 I urge all eligible voters to support our school budget and to elect Sandra Vorphal to the East Hampton Board of Education. 

Respectfully submitted, 

JIM NICOLETTI



Bonac Supporter

East Hampton

May 13, 2019

Dear Editor: 

I am writing this letter in support of Sandra Vorpahl, who is running for a seat on the East Hampton School Board. I have known Sandra for over 25 years as both a good friend and a former co-worker. Sandra worked in the East Hampton schools for 32 years, and I have never met anyone who loves her community as much as she does. She is a true Bonac supporter, not only on the playing fields but also in the classroom. She is not afraid to speak up when it comes to what she feels is best for our children and our community. 

Sandra has previous experience as a school board member as she was an active member from 2004 to 2010, as well as served as president for two years. During her tenure on the board she served on many committees, sharing her knowledge of the history of the East Hampton School District.

I for one will be voting for Sandra Vorpahl on May 21 — and I strongly encourage you to do the same!

Sincerely,

PEGGY WEAVER



Secret Party

Montauk

May 9, 2019

Dear David,

I cannot verify the veracity of what is to follow, but neither can I discount what I was told. According to my sources in the agency, President Trump held a very, very, ultra, ultra secret party at the White House on April 20 to celebrate the birthday of his beloved Führer. The party invitations were inscribed with an invite for a costume party for a “Night at Berchtesgaden” to commemorate the good old days of the Third Reich, long kaput, but never forgotten.

The food for the party was provided by David Duke’s Very Fine People Catering, where every server was vetted as 100 percent Aryan. However, my source tells me that one Jewish fellow was hired by mistake due to his ability to repeat the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and to explain, in detail, the views of John Calvin on predestination. During dinner the Jewish server was personally fired by Duke after he revealed his true background when he was overheard referring to another server as a goyishe schmuck.

Entertainment was provided by the Stone Mountain Boys, a heavy metal band from Georgia. The band members apparently did not understand the dress requirement and showed up wearing Confederate Army uniforms. The lead singer was totally confused; he wore a white hood over his head. 

Most of the partygoers, Republican congressional sycophants, were impressed by the costumes. Trump was dressed as Adolf Hitler. Trump had dyed his hair brown and had even glued a fake mustache under his nose. His riding breeches, however, only optimized his tremendous girth. Throughout the party, all guests were required to address him as Mein Führer. 

Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was a huge hit as Joseph Goebbels. Observers noted that she was wonderful at reproducing Goebbels’s speech cadence, but fell short in trying to imitate his limp. Apparently she fell several times while doing the Charleston with Mick Mulvaney, who was dressed as a Berlin paper boy. Another huge hit was Kellyanne Conway, who was dressed as an Octoberfest server. Her husband dragged her home after four deliveries of beer.

Steve Bannon dressed up as Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, and Stephen Miller dressed as Reinhard Heydrich, head of the security police. Both had way too much to drink during the event and shot up a chandelier that Jackie Kennedy had installed during her White House renovation.

According to all partygoers, the saddest costume was worn by William Barr. He was dressed in a diaper and pushed around in a baby stroller with a label of “Nothing Man.” Although he was given a Trump doll to hug, he cried most of the evening.

The highlight of the night occurred after the semi-German dinner of wiener schnitzel and cheeseburgers when all guests sang the famous Mel Brooks anthem “Springtime for Hitler” and toasted Donald Trump with a rousing “Sieg Heil.”

Cheers,

BRIAN POPE



Political Issue

East Hampton

|May 7, 2019

Dear Mr. Rattray, 

To vote or not to vote, that is the issue. Recently there has been a new political issue that has been gaining momentum, due in large part to the efforts of Bernie Sanders and picked up on by several others seeking high office. That issue is twofold: The first is giving voting rights to 16-year-olds, the other giving the right to incarcerated felons. Taking up the 16-year-old issue first, I believe they already have the right to vote. In high school there are several elections for positions such as class and schoolwide president and vice president, as well as many titles for the yearbook. Among those are king and queen, most popular boy and girl, boy and girl most likely to succeed, as well as class clown, etc. They can also vote on “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “America’s Got Talent,” as well as other surveys in teen magazines. 

These votes, as well as all the scholastic requirements, are time consuming and very important for future success. Research in political races so as to be an informed citizen and voter is, in my opinion, just too much for the still developing teenagers. Let students be students until age 18 so as to assure all Americans of an informed citizenry. The other issue is the matter of allowing incarcerated felons to vote. Some felons such as the Crips, Bloods, MS-13, Aryan Brotherhood, Nazi-Lowriders, Latin Kings, and Skin-Heads make up some of the two million inmates, both male and female, who would be eligible. 

Many questions need to be answered. Will their votes count where they now are incarcerated or their last known address? If they decide to vote as a bloc, this could be sort of gerrymandering and upset a local balance. Will there be polling places in each prison or will they be let out on each Election Day, which can cause logistical problems, or use absentee ballots? Can candidates visit each prison and have rallies? Can inmates wear hats and T-shirts to express their First Amendment rights? Can they vote in local elections, such as for mayors and judges, in the case of judges who may have sentenced them? 

Can all the news outlets take surveys as to where and when they last voted, if they ever voted, and their party affiliation to allow them to vote in primaries, as well as poll them for their current preferences. If this is all done I believe that at most 15 inmates out of two million would want to vote. I also believe that if all the felons before they were arrested voted, and had to stand in line for extended periods as law-abiding citizens do, the crime rate would drop a lot on election days. 

KEN SARREL



Trust Bernie

Springs

May 13, 2019

Dear David,

The Democratic 2020 presidential field is getting crowded. Among the throng are some very good candidates. Even those that are not as good in my opinion have positions I can get behind. But I am volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign for one strategic reason: because my priority is to protect our democracy, whether the Democrats win or lose the 2020 election. 

No matter how great another candidate may be, a mass movement may be the only antidote left after the lawless Trump administration has finished ravaging the rule of law and our democratic institutions. The G.O.P. and Trump will try to rig the election. The Russians will help them. Republican-run states will try to suppress the vote of likely Democratic voters. Our election security is Swiss cheese. I believe Bernie would beat Trump in a fair election. But in the case that the election is not fair, his candidacy is the only one creating a force large enough, informed enough, and fired up enough to fight back over the long haul. 

The only countervailing power to autocracy is the power of the people, united and organized, neighborhood by neighborhood. Bernie Sanders already has over a million volunteers — and counting. Building a mass progressive movement is his priority. That’s why his campaign slogan is “Not Me. Us.”

Look what Bernie already has accomplished during his last campaign and in the years since: He convinced the Dem­ocrats to commit to a 50-state strategy (so they don’t blow the Rust Belt again and can make inroads into red states). He brought so-called “radical” ideas, like a living wage, free public college tuition, and health care as a human right (Medicare for all) into the mainstream. He’s added a Green New Deal that can save the planet and provide millions of good jobs to Americans. All these policies enjoy the support of large majorities of Americans — Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

People trust Bernie to fight for them. They know he’s not bought and paid for by billionaire donors. He will fire up the Democratic base, independents, Obama-to-Trump voters and even some long-term Republican voters (check out his Fox News town hall). That includes one of his good friends, a Republican Trump voter who volunteered for Bernie in 2016 and is back volunteering for his 2020 campaign.

Whether or not you support Sanders, I know you care deeply about the health of our environment, the legacy we leave our children, our democratic values, civil rights, and social and economic justice for all Americans. That is the American promise that Bernie is working to make a reality.

Even if you don’t agree with all his policies, think he should be “more moderate,” want to see a woman president or someone who is younger — whatever may be your preference — I urge you to consider voting for Bernie. The stakes are too high; we need to be strategic. The mass movement Bernie’s campaign is creating is the political immune system we need to fight the infection of tyranny. 

FRANCESCA RHEANNON



Spinning Tongues

Bridgehampton

May 7, 2019

Dear Mr. Rattray,

We do live in extraordinary times. Without even searching, we are bombarded with information in the form of news faster than you can say: “amusing, collusion, confusion, delusion.”

Whether you’re plugged into an electronic device sending you “likable” data based on your past consumption determined by complex algorithms or unplugged and getting your news the old-fashioned way, something’s broke: up is down, left is right, right is wrong, and the Yankees benched Kate Smith.

Bombarded from all angles in our Mach-speed news cycle, our underdeveloped brains are showing the effect. We’ve become deaf to our own inner voice and common sense in this age of super, hyped narrative. Dumbed down and overwired, fact and nonsense are interchangeable. Left with no time to think and digest what we hear and read; to examine it, discuss, and chew on it for a while, before rushing to judgment. We’ve run amok of the one thing we could always hold sacred: real news. 

One sensational headline is soon forgotten and replaced with another. We want to go back to the first story, but then no sooner do we bookmark it, another outrageous headline appears, and so it goes all day long. We live in blurred lines with spinning heads and spinning tongues. With all things being equal, and sifting through all the news media for reliable sources of information that aren’t fake or soaked in bias, we’re left with soggy brains spewing politically-correct nonsense.

Back in the day before President Trump or “BT,” the news was delivered in a measured way. A news story broke and was reported by a somber, serious poker face, or written by an eager, but impartial, reporter, after the facts and sources were verified. Sometimes the editors, at their discretion, chose a “hot” topic to take a side on in the opinion section. But, it’s hard to distinguish between news and opinion anymore. The facts are often draped in bias, and sometimes, outright manufactured and made up, leading reasonable people to wonder what the heck is really going on.

Today, we have the internet and Twitter. And countless other social media platforms, that unfortunately put pressure on the conventional news-spreading vehicles to rely more on shady sources than verified ones and facts without substance for readership and ratings to remain relevant, in my opinion — sort of like trying keeping up with Joneses.

Take for instance, two separate journalistic news items in The East Hampton Star, April 25, 2019. One was a straight, local news story printed on the front page. The second was an opinion essay representing the official view of the Star editorial board, in the editorials section, about a national news story. Both items represent examples of how, in the hands of the press, people can be led down a very bumpy road given the same set of facts in black and white, but with a twist of fantasy, like a martini topped off with Dom Perignon.

The news story headline read: “Early to Jail May Foil ICE.” It was an update to a straight news story about a drunk driver who hit a woman crossing a street in Montauk last year, seriously injuring her, and who fled the scene. By chance, he was caught red-handed because an eyewitness was able to provide a description of his vehicle. 

The rarely used word “foil” caught my attention, as I suppose was the intent of the editor. Beyond the headline, none of the relative facts of the story had changed. The criminal was caught, arrested, and pleaded guilty, and the victim survived her serious injuries. Justice would be served, although the complete terms of the sentence unknown.

But the hard news story focus had changed to reflect the perils of the criminal navigating our justice system. The hero in the featured, straight news story, turned human-interest, fluff piece (with a glorified twist), was President Obama. Pity was placed on the drunk driver. Law enforcement was easily burned —“thwarted,” in the words of the reporter, Ms. Vecsey. And praise given to the drunk driver’s savvy lawyer, who might be able to negotiate a deal for his client, avoiding deportation, for time already served. Thus, the gloating usage of “foil,” to change the trajectory of the tragedy, mocking in the end those who serve to protect: the real villains. The victim was barely mentioned, mostly forgotten, status unknown. Bravo! What a brave, new world we live in when we root for the guilty felon. 

The second item of interest to me was an opinion piece titled “A Genuine Crisis.” According to the essayist’s argument, (as of the time of his writing), we are facing a critical and decisive moment in history when only one of the approximately 18 to 20 Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential major candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren, had announced her support to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump following the Mueller Report. It took me awhile to figure out exactly what the “genuine crisis” was: the Mueller Report, Senator Warren, the majority of the 2020 Democratic candidates, or President Trump (well, that goes without saying).

The correct answer might be all 

the above. However, the essayist was most focused on the fact that the other 2020 Dem­ocratic presidential candidate hopefuls hadn’t jumped on the impeachment bus with Senator Warren. I might agree with the editorial board that a genuine crisis of moral turpitude exists if President Trump had been charged with a crime. But, unlike the guilty, hit-and-run drunk driver above, he wasn’t. 

My advice to anyone holding on to the Mueller Report to impeach President Trump: That ship has sailed. You’d be better off investing in crypto currency. I would counter a crisis exists if anyone, no less a candidate running against President Trump, was foolish enough to still be drinking that Kool-Aid. The Democratic candidates who harp on that lost cause, don’t have a chance. The message (if one is able to separate fact from fiction), to push to Democrats is: Stop your whining, or President Trump will keep on winning.

Phrases like “genuine crisis” and “anarchy,” describing the failure of a few shrewd, bright, promising Democratic candidates who choose not to waste any more time on old, fake news is industry overreach. To continue to stoke the fire and invoke doubt, suspicion, and fear, manipulating the facts to persuade sensible people to think otherwise, reeks of Orwellian dystopia mind control by the think police — exactly, I fear, the intent of our mainstream media who desperately, and habitually, manipulate the facts and slant the truth, to promote a narrative full of obvious holes. As if “spying” was never a vernacular used by the F.B.I. and C.I.A. And Bill and Loretta’s meeting on the tarmac was just a crazy, proud, grandparent photo-exchange fest. If you’ve been brainwashed to believe any of that, try cutting back on the edibles.

A genuine crisis happening here in America is the trend to dismiss and vilify the citizen and glorify the caught, red-handed villain. That truly is the denigration of a free society that could absolutely, and genuinely, lead to anarchy. 

Stay “woke,” as they say, and beware of slanted, opinionated features, a.k.a. fake news, that tell you what to think.

CAROL DRAY



Who We Are

East Hampton

May 13, 2019

To the Editor,

If this were President Trump’s second term and there was no issue about how an impeachment process would affect his re-election there would be no legitimate reasons why he shouldn’t be impeached. Putting politics ahead of the nation’s well-being as a reason for no impeachment is the fabricated delusion that gave us Trump in the first place.

Hillary Clinton was certainly better than Trump, certainly after the fact, but Clinton represented too many things that people correctly felt put them in the crapper. In truth, Clinton stunk.

What Clinton represented was the old way of doing business where winning at any cost was better than losing. Dem­ocracy aside, where it should be. Trump on the other hand, was a racist, misogynist, autocratic fascist (Nazi type) who spoke to those instincts in the population. Sadly, we are and have been those things throughout our history. It’s who we are as a nation.

In this context, Trump has committed crimes that merit impeachment and prison. If we allow these crimes to go unpunished we send a message to all future presidents that the bar for presidential behavior no longer exists. Which sends a message to the population that they, too, have a much lower bar.

For the left, the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. were always our evil empire. No way to trust them. Yet, Trump actually made them seem like the good guys. Presidents have colluded and obstructed justice before, especially when it came to our own interests. We have colluded with dozens of foreign entities to influence and overthrow other governments and influence elections. Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have all experienced the results of our collusion. We are experts in collusion.

Yet this is the first time any foreign country has colluded with a presidential candidate to influence our elections. Collusion means any and all inappropriate contacts. Trump and Co. had 124 of them. There is nothing mystical or politically Machiavellian about collusion. It’s any exchange of information that might in some way affect the election.

Trump’s tweets and comments have self-impeached him on the obstruction question. Obstruction means any attempts, overt or covert, to influence a justice-related issue — in his case, the Mueller investigation. Not rocket science. Not even third grade math. There are no questions.

At the fair in East Hampton the Republican Committee had a booth with a sign “Elect a Vet,” vote for Lee Zeldin. That says it all. We have no standards for our politicians. Not the most minimal litmus test. We are in a perfect Trumpian world. Impeach or perish. Absurdly dramatic. Pathetically true. 

NEIL HAUSIG



Natural Defense

New York City

May 9, 2019

To the Editor:

 The browning of America. Why this vexation? Why this phobia, stimulated by the ongoing invasions at our southern border, gnawing at our safeguard? Why? Typical quintessential headlines, captions. “White threat in a Browning of America. How demographic change is fracturing our politics.” “By 2050 the U.S.A. could have more Spanish speakers than any other country.” “The Nativist attempt to delay the Browning of America,” and so on and on. According to the Journal of America Medical Association, more than 35 percent of American adults are using tanning beds, with 59 percent of college students and 17 percent of teens. The number of people using indoor tanning services and equipment is considerably higher than previous reports. Check the forthcoming frenzy of extensive expensive hajjis to renowned sun-worshiping sanctums stateside and transoceanic.

The procuring of multitudes of beach paraphernalia, beach chairs, securing summer rentals, beach and parking permits, purchasing/investing in oceanfront properties and inland commensurate with historical great heliolatry civilizations: Aztec, Riva, ancient Egypt, and Muhammad abolished. 

Now the skin tans, ultraviolet light is the catalyst, and the pigment in your skin called melanin does the rest. When exposed to the ultraviolet, melanin is produced — the pigment which is ultimately responsible for your tan. The tan browning is your skin’s way of protecting itself against excessive UV. For example, the skin of African-Americans contains enough melanin to create a black-brown skin color, while the skin of Caucasians has less melanin and is “pale.” Note pale. The whole process a natural defense. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the UV index of 1-to-11, scale used by U.S., is correct, safe, and conforms to international guidelines; 2-to-3 is considered safe and low danger. Approximately 25 percent. Note 25 percent. If current trends continue, the demographic profile of the U.S.A. will change dramatically in the middle of this century, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center. By 2050 the nation’s racial and ethnic mix will look quite different than it does now. Hispanics will rise from 14 percent in 2005 to approximately 25 percent in 2050. So why? 

EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL


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