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Letters to the Editor: 11.28.19

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 10:12

For All of Us
East Hampton
November 22, 2019

To the Editor:

Nov. 17, a Sunday, was a sweet reminder of why we feel so lucky to live in such a remarkable town, and it made us feel proud to be a resource for our year-round working families.

What happened on Sunday? Pancakes. Yes, pancakes — stacks and stacks graciously and so generously prepared and served by the men and women of the East Hampton Fire Department, led by Fire Chief Ray Harden. Not just pancakes but people, too. Lots and lots of people — of all ages, from all corners of town. They came in pajamas, workout gear, work clothes, whatever. They came to eat, to support the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, to socialize, and, of course, to see the fire trucks.

The turnout was astounding, far exceeding our expectations. But what was most striking was the pervading sense of community. All these people, all mingled together — talking, laughing, sharing pitchers of syrup. Everyone simply enjoying the simple pleasures of one another’s company, supporting a worthy cause at a delicious breakfast.

Thank you, Ray Harden and the East Hampton Fire Department, for making this wonderful event possible. And thank you to everyone who participated in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment. Wishing happy Thanksgiving to all. We are grateful for this simple reminder of who we are and why we chose to live here.

ROBYN MOTT,

Administrative Director

FRANK FALCONE,

Board Vice Chairman

Eleanor Whitmore Early

Childhood Center 


Honored by Support
East Hampton
November 26, 2019

Dear David,

I am honored and humbled by the overwhelming support I received from our community in the recent election. To all those who voted for me, thank you for your faith and confidence. We will continue to face many challenges ahead, and I am confident that if we work together constructively, we will achieve great things. I promise to work hard to keep East Hampton the special place we know and love.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

PETER Van SCOYOC
East Hampton Town Supervisor


Sad and Disturbing
East Hampton
November 20, 2019

Dear David,

It was very sad and disturbing to hear about the painting of a swastika on a boulder on someone’s property in Springs earlier this month.

To think that someone in our community could be so filled with hatred toward others that they would use a symbol of atrocities, committed under its guise, to express their hatred and spread fear is not only upsetting, but deeply troubling and frightening. It is heartbreaking that this has happened in our community. This action is against all the values we hold, especially the right of everyone to be treated with respect and dignity — even those who may be different or hold different beliefs. There is no room in East Hampton for bigotry or any other forms of hateful behavior.

It was all the more disturbing to hear that the suspected perpetrator may be a young person. We need to continue our efforts to educate our children about tolerance and acceptance, but also create programs that will enable students to carry anti-bias messages to their friends and families. The mission of the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force is to promote diversity, unity, and understanding in East Hampton and to raise community awareness of legal and legislative efforts to eliminate all forms of bias and prejudice.

Law enforcement officers in our competent police department are investigating this despicable incident, and we trust that the perpetrator will be identified. It is our hope that, whoever they are, they will become aware of the gravity of their actions and understand that such actions are not tolerated in our town.

KIM JONES

THE REV. WALTER S. THOMPSON
Co-chairs
East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force


Unnecessary Proposal
Springs
November 21, 2019]

Dear Mr. Rattray,

Your editorial last week about the proposal to relocate the Montauk Hatchery to a residential lot at 36 Gann Road unfortunately continues to miss the point of our neighborhood’s objection. Indeed, there is an established local family’s marina on Gann Road, with a deservedly popular restaurant, and a busy commercial dock at the end of the road, and the marine police station, and the trustee pump-out boat. There’s also the Springs’s most popular recreational and commercial launching ramp, used by all town residents.

These activities — community boating, marine public safety, and commercial fishing — long predate local zoning, but operate according to all the rules and regulations each resident of the town has to follow. There is also the existing shellfish hatchery facility, which has become obtrusive, blocking shorefront of a town preserve as it expands its recreational oyster-growing operation to accommodate paying customers, not support individual shellfishers such as yourself and other residents, whether commercial or recreational.

My neighbors and I take issue with the bogus process this proposal has followed: the outright lies to us by David Lys, the campaign to cadge “grant” funds from the state while misrepresenting the environmental issues to funders, bypassing the usual planning process anyone contemplating such a development would have to follow; the underhanded solicitation of form letters from the chosen few supporters, and the town’s evident intention to completely ignore residents’ concerns, as expressed in a petition virtually all of us in the neighborhood have signed.

The town purchase of the house at 36 Gann Road for water quality improvement purposes was supported by us all. Not one of us is against aquaculture per se. We are vociferously opposed, however, to turning a 1.1-acre residential lot that already contains the largest possible building legally permissible, into an unnecessary and wasteful 8,000-square-foot commercial facility that will further burden our neighborhood while doing little if anything to improve water quality despite the town’s claims to the funders.

Your editorial properly questioned the necessity of the proposed so-called educational facility, but it failed to point out that “consolidating” the Gann Road nursery and Montauk facilities will not add a single shellfish to local waters because the capacity of the existing facilities is already greater than what is proposed, and because the existing operation already produces millions of surplus seeds. The constraint on shellfish production is lack of viable habitat, not lack of seeds.

We understand that shellfish can help ameliorate water quality, but no one has yet been able to quantify how many oysters, clams, and seeded scallops grown to maturity in the wild over the necessary span of two years in an ever-acidifying estuary with rising water temperatures is the equivalent of replacing even one septic system in terms of achieving actual water quality improvement.

This proposal is an ill-considered and unnecessary vanity project that wastes our tax dollars for little real value. The vaunted savings of “consolidation” are $100,000 over 10 years, for $5 million and counting.

Given this year’s traditional local harvest of bay scallops, and despite the sorry state of the larger Peconic Estuary, the current system is proving fruitful, as you and others have noted. How is spending an additional several million dollars of taxpayer money going to make it better, and for whom, is the fundamental question my neighbors and I would like to have answered.

IRA BAROCAS
President
Duck Creek Farm Association


Oyster Culture
Springs
November 23, 2019

Dear Editor:

The county executive has asked the governor to declare a scallop fisheries disaster in Suffolk. This will allow those affected by the unprecedented and near-complete die-off of scallops in Peconic/Gardiner’s Bay to receive federal money to offset this economic catastrophe.

As a fisherman who fishes these waters full time, I and other fishers noted a similar collapse in finfish too. This was the worst fall fishery, even during the brown-tide years, that anyone ever experienced. So we believe two and two makes four, and there must be a linkage. That and other observations led us to ask questions.

I noticed in a letter from Mr. Martinsen, trustee-elect and aquaculturist, that he disagrees with Mr. Heath, a fisherman, that oysters might be a cause of the collapse. As heretical as Mr. Heath’s assertion seems, when added to all our observations, we fishermen have a reason to ask the question. It’s our belief that science begins with observation.

Anyway, what we saw was a precipitous fall-off of fish in mid-July after a reasonably good spring fishery. The enormous population of bunker in the bay began to leave. The clarity of the water was a sign of no algal growth. (Remember the dead Adirondack lakes?)

Plankton feeders, like the bunker, butterfish, bay anchovies, silversides, and their newly hatched offspring, weren’t there. There were no crab or squid larvae. In the fall, when the bay should have been thick with next year’s harvest, it was bare. No two-inch-long scup, no blue or weakfish snappers, no small blowfish, no kingfish, spot, jacks, albacore. All this is observable if you look. What the hell happened?

We were told the temperature of the water was up due to climate change, nitrogen and bacteria counts were high, road runoff was excessive, and pollution rampant. All no doubt true, but hasn’t that been true for years?

It’s our thought that effect rarely has one cause, and one of the effects on the bay is the introduction of many millions of farm-raised oysters.

If you look at an oyster it appears to be a benign creature and necessary to our environment. It’s really not much more than a rock sitting on the bottom. The difference being it eats to grow and make baby oysters. Oysters eat by filtering water to obtain the plankton needed to fulfill their life cycle. Many millions of oysters eat a lot of plankton. That’s why the East Hampton hatchery moves its stock to Three Mile Harbor from Montauk. For more plankton.

As Mr. Martinsen noted, there were millions of oysters in the bay in years past. True, but surely he realizes the environment is not in balance any longer. An example is that there aren’t thousands of acres of wetlands to replenish the nutrients that millions of oysters remove, and oysters no longer live on the bottom.

We’ve been told that as the water warms it stratifies, and different concentrations and species of plankton grow at different levels. Oysters are now reared in floating cages in order to take advantage of the concentrated plankton at the surface, a method called off-bottom culture. Oysters shouldn’t be at the top of the water column. Should they be thought of as an invasive species in this microenvironment of layered water? And after many generations of inbreeding, are they even genetically the same as wild oysters, making them even more invasive? Have they eaten us out of house and home?

We’re not saying oyster culture is the problem, but is it the tipping point? Someone must look at this to get an answer, because it won’t be only scallops that die, it will be our bay.

BRAD LOEWEN


Regulate Vaping
Springs
November 23, 2019

Dear David:

It is now common knowledge that vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, has become a national health issue. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that almost 2,100 Americans have suffered confirmed, serious lung injuries that have been linked to the use of vaping products. Vaping products have been blamed for at least 39 deaths among Americans. Two New Yorkers have become victims. Despite strong evidence of causation, scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of the vaping-related maladies.

Dangerously, the popularity of vaping has risen dramatically among our youth. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found an alarming rise in the number of American teens who had tried vaping products: 37 percent of 12th-grade participants reported vaping in 2018. Recent local articles reported an increase in the use of vaping products among our high school students. Vaping can cause serious and avoidable health risks to young adults. Exposure to nicotine — the active ingredient in vaping products — can lead to addiction and long-term harm to brain development. Marketing of these products, including the use of flavorings, has been a factor contributing to increased teen use.

In September, Mr. Trump convened a large press conference at which he announced that his administration would move to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, and in doing so acknowledged the health risks, noting that “[w]e can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.” The F.D.A. announced a plan to “clear the market” of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the worsening youth vaping epidemic. Its proposal was even submitted to the Trump administration for approval.

Then Mr. Trump spit the bit. The proposed ban was shelved. It has been reported that the reason for balking was a concern for votes. Critics analogized the administration plan with Prohibition, and labeled it a vote-losing issue. Fox News even ran ads portraying supposed e-cigarette users who said they would not vote for a candidate who  banned vaping products. So, in the face of a recognized health threat, Mr. Trump has chosen to succumb to special interests that ignored the threat posed to our youth by vaping products.

Sacrificing our youth to known health risks in a brazen political ploy to garner votes is a new low, even for Mr. Trump. Even worse, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, who has been incessantly tweeting impeachment falsities, seems, unsurprisingly, to yet again have thrown his lot in with Mr. Trump. Time and again Mr. Zeldin has callously cast his lot with Mr. Trump on policies and decisions that have had directly adverse impacts on his constituency. Now he abandons our youth. Remember this next November. And remember, a challenger to Mr. Zeldin, Perry Gershon, would support meaningful regulation of vaping products, prioritizing our kids’ safety, and he deserves your support.

Finally, our local elected leaders (county and local East Hampton) should do what they can to educate our youth to the dangers of using vaping products. As a start, their sale should be prohibited in East Hampton.

Sincerely,

BRUCE COLBATH


Honesty, Dependability
Big Canoe, Ga.
November 21, 2019

To the Editor,

Regarding a letter to The Star on Nov. 7 from Rick Lawler and Barbara Borsack, I felt compelled to respond, although I have not been a resident of East Hampton since 2004.

Jerry Larsen worked for me as a delivery driver some 35 years ago prior to joining the village police force. In his time with me he displayed honesty, dependability, and did his job to perfection. He was liked by the customers and the office staff, and always did what he was asked to do. Most impressive was the fact that he made me aware of his intention to leave for the police force and assured me he would give ample notice.

RICHARD SCHWENK


Lack of Transparency
Springs
November 24, 2019

Dear Editor,

Several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the editor citing East Hampton Town government’s failure to enforce the provisions of the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 and the Lobbying Act of 2015. Many of us who follow the doings at Town Hall all strongly feel there is a purposeful lack of transparency and commitment to open government.

In case readers missed my prior letter, in 2011, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature enacted a new law that created JCOPE, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. JCOPE’s mission was to comprehensively reform, provide oversight, and regulate ethics and lobbying in New York State. In 2015, to further strengthen JCOPE enforcement, the Public Integrity Reform Act was enacted.

Under these laws, lobbyists and clients are required to publicly disclose their identities, activities, and expenditures by filing reports at regular intervals with the JCOPE if they either spend or anticipate spending more than the $5,000 annually on reportable lobbying activities of state and municipal governments.

Under the current law, public officials are defined as an officer or employee of a municipality, whether paid or unpaid; local elected officials, or members of a board (other than an advisory board), commission, or other agency of a municipality.

Whenever lobbying includes attempts to influence the decisions of public officials on the below list of items, mandatory reporting is required:

•The passage or defeat of any local law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation by any municipality or subdivision thereof.

•The adoption, issuance, rescission, modification, or terms of an executive order issued by the chief executive officer of a municipality.

•The approval or rejection of any rule, regulation, or resolution having the force and effect of local law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation.

•The outcome of any rate-making proceeding by any municipality or subdivision thereof, or

•Any determination related to a governmental procurement, including real property purchase, sale, or lease agreements, including purchase-leaseback, lease, leaseback, and other hybrid agreements.

We all know there is a whole lot of money flying around to ensure the right decisions are made. Then without any legal notice given, there was an Article 7 hearing on the Deepwater windmills and that the public and press were not allowed to attend. It was even reported that a member of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee was in attendance and shooed members of the press away.

I don’t know about you, but I find this all very troubling and it does not bode well to reinforce a feeling of confidence and trust in our elected officials. I would also think a robust independent press would be advocating for local laws that require those lobbying town government to abide by the JCOPE requirements.

For full disclosure, as the president of a statewide police union, I am a registered lobbyist with JCOPE and am very familiar with the JCOPE requirements.

MANNY VILAR
Chairman
East Hampton Town
Republican Committee


Scoundrel Award
Montauk
November 22, 2019

To the Editor:

Politico is reporting that after the bad news for President Trump this week, House and Senate Republicans are drafting legislation to make it a criminal act to address the president as “Mr. President.”  The Republicans are considering a plethora of addresses that will truly reflect their complete and utter subservience and fawning demeanor toward President Trump. Politico sources report that current favorites are the following: “Your Majesty,” “Your Highness,” “Your Royal Highness,” “Your Very Royal Highness,” “Your Excellency,” “Your Most Excellent Magnificence,” and “Your Prince of Whales.”

Adviser Stephen Miller has opined that these addresses are too elitist and that “Mein Fuhrer” is much more in keeping with Trumpist ideals of “Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer.” Miller has promised a free brown shirt and swastika bumper sticker for the Republicans who back his choice. Personally, I think Mr. Miller has a point here.

It is not all bad news for President Trump, though. Breitbart News is proudly reporting that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have nominated Donald Trump for the Alfred E. Neuman Political Scoundrel Award. The winner is chosen by the political science department of McCarthy College in Grand Chute, Wis., and is awarded to the American politician who best embodies the ideals of corruption, skullduggery, and sleaze. Also under consideration for the award are Devin Nunes, Lindsey Graham, and Rudolph Giuliani.

BRIAN POPE


Misspelled
Plainview
November 22, 2019

Dear David,

If Donald Trump were a “stable” or any other kind of “genius,” he would not have double-misspelled his fellow president’s last name of Zelensky as Zellinsky in the  hand-written notes he allowed reporters and photographers to clearly see. I taught hundreds of third graders who could spell, and reason, better than our current president. I wonder if he can even spell his elder son’s first name, or distinguish the spelling difference between his daughter’s and first wife’s first names?

RICHARD SIEGELMAN


Impeachment Takeaway
East Hampton
November 24, 2019

To the Editor:

There are many takeaways from the impeachment hearings that will mark our political and ethical culture for much of our future. There is the collapse of the Republican Party into a band of obsequious, irrelevant, self-serving miscreants. There is the extraordinary intellect and competence of our career civil servants who live in a real-time factual reality. There is the mindless support for the president, no matter the facts, that exposes our simpleminded vision of the world. There is the arrogance and stupidity of a government that believes itself to be above the law and believes the narrative it fabricates.

In the theater of the absurd, the impeachment story plays out like Watergate on steroids. Trump-like in every aspect. Replete with lies, malicious tweets, witness tampering, and an incredible dose of pointless stupidity. Arrogance and egomaniacal buffoonery are the driving forces of this absurd narrative.

Like Watergate, the act was pointless and really dumb. Neither Nixon nor Trump needed to do what they did, but they were both captives of their paranoia and egotism. However, this impeachment narrative compares more to 9/11 than it does to Watergate.

Watergate was a one and done. While it was a monumental screw-up, the country survived and flourished. But Sept. 11, 2001, as bin Laden hoped for, has devastated our democracy and our treasury. In 19 years, we have spent almost $20 trillion (not counting the wars) attempting to make our country safer. It has altered how we travel, communicate, look at each other, etc. You can’t stand by the doorway of an office building without having a security guard ask you to move because you are obstructing his view of the street.

Our reaction to 9/11 was so obsessively bonkers that we continue to stop baseball games in the seventh inning for a moment of silence. Instead of calling it what it really was, a colossal screw-up, we began the war on terror.

The effects of Watergate were mitigated by the essential search for facts and truth. Once they were determined, the process took its natural and logical course. This time around, the impeachment will profoundly affect our democracy. It will establish precedents for future presidents to function above the law. It will redesign the relationships regarding the separation of powers and will allow for an autocratic leader to manipulate the political process without restraints.

As our democratic process descends to its knees, the question of guilt or innocence disappears from the equation. This cowardice and feckless pandering to someone who is guilty as sin underscores the Republicans’ obscene desire to keep their jobs no matter how repulsive their behavior has to be to do so.

It has been almost two decades since 9/11, and we are still reeling from the attack. It is difficult to imagine how long our political system will take to recover from this attack on our democracy.

NEIL HAUSIG


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