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Letters to the Editor: 12.19.19

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 11:05

Brunswick Stew
Shelter Island
December 16, 2019

To the Editor,

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read Laura Donnelly’s Dec. 5 Seasons by the Sea column. I am familiar with the Italian version of the stew, specifically the Sicilian version.

In 1971 I helped put myself through college by landscaping for the Leporini Bros. of Waltham, Mass. Needless to say, this required a considerable amount of driving between jobs on the leafy roads of this wooded suburb outside of Boston. Not infrequently a squirrel becomes roadkill. I distinctly remember Angelo Leporini bringing the truck to a quick stop (I was usually in the pickup’s bed nestled on some leaves) and throwing the dead animal into the back with me.

Within the next few days, presto, there was “stew” for lunch. Tomatoes, onions, capers, herbs, and olive oil took the place of the Brunswick ingredients.

Thanks, Laura, for the memories of those long ago meals.


Work Out
East Hampton
December 11, 2019

Dear Sir:

This snowy Wednesday morning my car slewed off the road in the dunes at the corner of — ironically — Surf Road and 27. I was about to call AAA when there was a tap on the car door. A lady of a certain age asked, “Can I get you out of this?” Seeing my grateful but skeptical look, she assured me, “It’s okay, I work out.”

Within a minute, after some huffing and puffing, she pushed me back on to the road. If that strong, helpful Samaritan reads this I would say to her, “Thank you so much, ma’am. May you have a blessed season.”



East Hampton
December 16, 2019

To the Editor,

A heartfelt thank-you to all who made the Maidstone holiday tree lighting such a success and so much fun!

We are blessed and grateful to live in such a warm, caring, and supportive community, which was very much in evidence.

And a special thanks to East Hampton High School carolers, who made the night!

Wishing all happy holidays,


and the staff of the Maidstone Hotel

God Bless
December 9, 2019

Dear Editor,

Because of work, I was not able to attend the senior citizens annual holiday dinner given by the Montauk Fire Department and the Lions Club. However, this was the first year we had a meal delivered to our home. We were surprised to receive a full dinner, together with soup, fruit, pies, candies, and wine. Thank you all for all the work you put in to put together such a wonderful dinner. God bless.


Like Family
East Hampton
December 14, 2019

To the Editor:

The seniors thank the town board for the holiday party on Dec. 6. I would also like to thank the great staff of our nutrition center. They did all the work of setting up the American Legion Hall. Then they served us a great meal after having worked a full day. They treat us like family.

We are very lucky to have these loyal employees. I hope the town board recognizes their value.


December 3, 2019

Dear David:

May I sing the heartfelt praises of our highway superintendent Steve Lynch? I found myself in desperate throes with a dying dog on Monday and no one to help. I had Wilbur for 10 years or so and had rescued him when he was 21/2 from ARF. He was one of the Puerto Rican rescue dogs doomed for the death pound that ARF saved.

No one could come and help me with the wailing dog for hours. I left a message for Steve (Florida son David, his friend, who gave me his number). Steve called son Scott who got Claudio to come over and take my suffering canine friend where he had to be taken.

I will never forget my devoted Wilbur, my roommate here at St. Michael’s. I will never forget Steve’s intervention. What’s a small town for?

In grief and in gratitude to David, Steve, Scott, and Claudio.


Require Some Changes
East Hampton
December 16, 2019

To the Editor:

Revising Herrick Park’s layout seems to be producing some terrific new uses so far.

There is one more great benefit that might be accomplished (with some muscular planning): connecting the Reutershan parking lot to the nearby long-term parking lot.

It might require some changes in boundaries and road engineering — particularly the parallel access to Ladies Village Improvement Society, but, it would go a long way to: greater enjoyment of the new Herrick Park, parking for shoppers, and parking for village employees — (no doubt, one of the reasons for the winter hibernation of many stores).

I hope the planners and neighbors could make it work, for even greater community good.


Sterile, Boring
December 16, 2019

To the Editor,

It’s about time the village brought its snooty nose down to earth. Our village has been looking sterile and boring for too long. Ms. Moeller should be applauded, not ticketed. Look at Sag Harbor, appealing and always bustling with shoppers. They have outside merchandise year round.

And, by the way, the Christmas trees could use more lights, as they are pretty boring also.


December 14, 2019

To The Star:

I am in total agreement with Colleen Moeller’s placement of stuffed animals outside of her store to let customers know that the store is open in the winter months. East Hampton Village has some profoundly archaic rules that anger citizens. Are we only to cater to the tourists in the summer, or are we to support year-round small business owners who provide goods and services to year-round residents? The village needs to re-evaluate its anachronistic policies that are harming people like Colleen Moeller.


Maxing Out
December 16, 2019

Dear David,

Although the village and town have attempted to rein in the size of houses here, especially on lots of one acre or less, they have not yet solved the problem; more needs to be done.

Existing zoning laws that regulate the percentage of a lot buildings can cover, the maximum amount of gross floor area of a home, and the height of buildings, both commercial and residential, relative to property lines, are all inadequate to protect what I believe most residents want: homes and commercial buildings that add to and complement our neighborhoods, hamlets, and the town and village character as a whole.

The character of our town should not be left to builders and real estate speculators who are set on maxing out current zoning for their personal gain. This trend, whether it is building on vacant lots, or tearing down our more modest housing stock to overbuild for the second-home market, also contributes to the loss of year-round affordable homes, peak energy demand, and drainage and water quality problems.

We all know the speculators and builders are likely to bellyache about any further limitations, but they have been unable to restrain themselves — and should not be allowed to continue to damage our communities. It is up to our elected village and town board members to protect us by adopting new legislation to further reduce maximum building mass and height.



Different View
December 16, 2019

Dear David:

The Lisa Rana and Andrew Strong campaigns in 2019 for Town of East Hampton justice exhibited the finest qualities of an arduous and close competition between two exceptional people.

Both are my friends, and I have worked with both so I knew in advance that both were excellent candidates. Now I want to be more public about both: Justice Rana, who has been our judge for 16 years, and Andrew Strong, who has worked to protect people but is less well known here.

I have been chairman of East End for Opportunity, which provides legal help to people who have lower incomes. We saw that Justice Rana was open-minded to all situations and all people. Almost all users of the court find Justice Rana to be compassionate and fair. She provides options for individuals so that they do not oversuffer from minor errors. She is strict when necessary. Justice Rana’s re-election should be supported by everyone.

Andrew Strong’s background extends his profession beyond that of most attorneys. Currently, he has been the main attorney working for OLA (Organizacion Latino-Americana). As he himself stated of his unique past, “Andrew Strong spent nearly a decade working in post-conflict zones, practicing at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia before workings as chief of staff for the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Counter Terrorism.”

Many people hope that Mr. Strong will run for judge again. I have a different view, possibly because I, as his friend, have a deeper knowledge of his exceptional talents. I think Andrew Strong should run for East Hampton Town Board, hopefully in 2021.

Andrew Strong’s thinking includes all the considerations of a town board member. He begins with evaluation of a situation, which includes broad thought: What is the moral situation, who is involved, what should be the outcome, and how citizens will be affected.

When Andrew Strong and I review existing town board thinking, and when we discuss what it could or should be, I find Andrew Strong to be a rare and exceptional thinker. He is fair to everyone. His integrity is unquestionable. He is open to new ideas and knows how to evaluate them. Andrew Strong would be a great addition to the town board.


Critical Asset
December 16, 2019

Dear David,

About two weeks ago, bright red signs popped up all over town. The signs were from C.S.E.A., the town’s Civil Service Employee Association, demanding that the town work force be treated fairly. This is not an unreasonable demand if you consider the facts.

The federal Housing and Urban Development Administration defines a median family as four persons. The income required to sustain fair market rent in the Nassau-Suffolk, the New York HUD metro fair-market rent area, is $124,000. This is a Nassau-Suffolk average, not an East Hampton average, where year-round rentals average $3,000 per month, and summer rentals start around $10,000 per month.

With the above in mind, let us not forget that in the Nassau-Suffolk, New York HUD Metro Fair Market Area, a four person family is classified as very low income at $62,000, and extremely low income at $37,200. All are well below the $124,000 limit required for a family of four to be able to support a fair market rent.

Currently, the median average (which means 50 percent earn less) salary of an East Hampton employee is in the $44,000 range, which under HUD guidelines classifies a single person as low income and a family of four-precariously close to extremely low income.

All governments have a single valuable asset on which all things depend. I know the elected folks tend to think they are the most critical people in government, and this may be a shock to them: They are not! The most influential people in government are the employees. They care for our seniors, maintain our roads, help us navigate through the bureaucratic maze of laws, rules, regulations, and paperwork created by politicians; they provide for our safety and security. Yes, government employees are the most critical asset that every government has. It is unconscionable that the East Hampton Town Board is purposely giving the town work force the shaft.

The current administration happily spends millions on wasteful litigation and countless studies with little success (look at the senior citizens center or airport boondoggles) and for the sole purpose of political posturing. The administration seems incapable or unwilling to fork over a penny for our town employees. Retention and attrition at Town Hall has reached epidemic proportions as good employees go for other municipal, county, or state government jobs or the private sector.

The East Hampton Town Board needs to stop wasting money and focus on the town work force. There needs to be an immediate, independent class and compensation review of all town employee titles, politically-appointed positions, and town departments. This is not a heavy lift if you know what you are doing. Implementation of the findings can be achieved over a four-to-six-year schedule, consistent with the urgency assigned to each department and Civil Service position.

As a labor leader and founding president of New York State’s fifth-biggest police union, the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, I understand maybe a little more than most the shortcomings of government mismanagement and harmful long-term effects of a neglected work force, and it is not pretty or cheaper in the end.



East Hampton town

Republican Committee

December 10, 2019

To the Editor:

Christopher Walsh’s “New Climate Report Sparks Concerns Here” has aptly expressed the urgency of turning our grid renewable with state and local efforts in lieu of coordinated federal action under the current administration. We must bring solar and wind power into the mainstream of our energy economy. This will necessarily lay the foundation for further sustainable transformations to our economy and infrastructure, namely transport by electric vehicles.

This point must not be lost on us New Yorkers. Our state’s most emitting sector is transportation. With such a fundamental element of our society reliably belching greenhouse gases, a monumental effort is upon us. But to simply electrify our vehicles without converting our electrical production to renewable will simply leave us with a more abstracted and effective system of warming the planet, since we’ll need to increase production to satisfy the demands of these vehicles as they come online. This requirement should serve to illustrate the interconnected and all-encompassing nature of the changes we need to make, not to diminish the importance of electric transport.

If we’re serious about winning the fight against a warming climate, and we must be, we’ll need to pair the fully renewable grid with electric vehicles at scale. Both of these initiatives can be advanced with concerted state and local action, so let’s get after it.


Tone Deaf
East Hampton
December 16, 2019

Dear David,

Lee Zeldin is utterly tone deaf in regard to the needs of his constituents. The latest is his position on the very reasonable proposal co-sponsored by other Long Island members of Congress to bring back the deductibility of local and state taxes.

Why was Zeldin opposed? Because, he said, it would raise the marginal tax rate on the wealthiest by a couple of percentage points. We’re not even talking about a couple of percentage points on all income, just the increment for the wealthiest 1 percent.

Pete King supports the proposal and he’s a Republican.

There are hundreds of thousands of constituents who would benefit from the proposal; the only ones who might not are the handful of fat cats, including those who provide so much money to Zeldin that he can’t bear the thought of offending them.

Indeed, Zeldin isn’t even a Republican. If he were a true fiscal conservative he would have voted against the purported “tax relief” bill because it was predicted to, and did, significantly raise the already too-high federal deficit. No, Zeldin is simply a political hack who will do anything and everything to support Trump, who rewards him by helping to raise money to help Zeldin to stay in office.

Zeldin is like the proverbial child who jumps off a roof because his pals are doing it, except he is not hurting himself. He is hurting the constituents he took an oath of office to serve.

Anyone who votes for Zeldin next year is not voting for a “representative” of ordinary people.


Who Is Missing
December 16, 2019

Dear David:

Apparently, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, is following a no-SALT diet! Remember how Mr. Zeldin sought our praise for voting against the Trump tax bill? Of course, what he failed to disclose at the time was that his opposition vote was cast only after passage of the bill was assured. Nevertheless, he bragged that he voted against the bill because the elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) would hurt his constituents.

Well, he was right. Real estate values have plummeted and the real estate market on the East End has stagnated — both largely the product of the SALT issue. Expected tax refunds, which would help families stay above water, disappeared.

To his credit, Mr. Zeldin offered a legislative remedy, but it was so unappealing he was unable to enlist any other supporters, and his bill died a quick death. Our congressman went silent.

Well, just recently, Congressmen Tom Suozzi and Peter King introduced legislation that would provide real relief to Long Island (and New York) taxpayers by, among other tax relief, restoring the SALT deduction. The cost would be paid for by raising the top tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent (the prior rate). To date, 52 representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the Suozzi-King bill, including at least 12 other New York representatives, allowing the bill to move out of committee.

Guess who is missing among those co-sponsors — Lee Zeldin! Yet again, Mr. Zeldin stood on a soapbox professing his concern for his constituents, but when it came time to put his money where his mouth was, he was nowhere to be found. This has become a well-worn path for Mr. Zeldin, when he is asked to choose between the needs of his constituency and the opportunity to be Mr. Trump’s toady (here, by refusing to undercut the Trump tax bill), Mr. Zeldin invariably chooses the latter. This tiresome gambit has injured his constituency time and again, and we need to stand up to his shenanigans.

Perry Gershon, a challenger to Mr. Zeldin, is already on record as opposing the elimination of the SALT deduction and he deserves to be our next champion from Congressional District 1. Our turncoat representative has to go.



Cunning Attempt
December 15, 2019

To The Star:

As the Democrats rush headlong to their one-party vote to impeach President Trump on their ambiguous abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, unabashingly voting as a partisan faction, it has become obvious that the reason for the speed to the Senate is not any doubt as to the outcome, but of the use that will be made of the certain acquittal of President Trump. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 65, warned how impeachment might become tools in the hands of “leaders of the most cunning or the most numerous faction who could hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality to the subject of scrutiny.” Man, did he call it!

For some time now, according to Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler, Trump is an imposter, an illegitimate holder of the office to which he was elected due to Russian collusion and interference in our elections. And so it is necessary that we do not wait, as he will do the same in the 2020 elections. Never mind that the Mueller report concluded no collusion, no obstruction worthy of a charge. Never mind that the Horowitz report outlines numerous misdeeds of the F.B.I. in filing bogus warrants to the FISA courts to spy on Carter Page; never mind the attempts to implicate Papadopoulos, to the extent of throwing $10,000 to him that was supposed to be proof positive that he was on a Russian payroll. He gave the money to a lawyer, and it resides in a bank in Greece. Curious how five F.B.I. agents were waiting for him at Dulles Airport when returning home looking for the cash? Now who ordered the cash, and why would the F.B.I. think he would have it on him? Hmm!

Knowing full well the Senate will not validate their cunning attempt to change an election result, they opt to ignore the 2016 investigation conclusions and repeat the Big Lie that impeachment is necessary to prevent Trump interfering again in his re-election bid in 2020. And that is what they will claim if they lose in 2020.

Except that this time they will not have a corrupt F.B.I., C.I.A., and National Security Agency cabal to foist an attempted coup on Trump. This time the CNN and others of their ilk will have to dig in other gardens to keep up the mantra. This time we will have another investigation result coming from Dur­ham that will certainly be laying some charges to a grand jury that credible news sources will be sorting out for us, leading up to the election. Who knows, we may even have new FISA court judges with half a brain and a reform of the FISA process. Another tool denied.

Keep listening to the new narrative; you will hear it over and over again like those incessant repeat commercials on TV. You heard it here first!


The Worst
December 13, 2019

To the Editor:

I sure hope the judges in two ongoing Suffolk County trials (of former D.A. Thomas Spota, and drunk-driving kid-killer Thomas Murphy) will give out longer, more-just prison sentences (assuming the jury convicts) than did a Nassau County judge in the following recent case:

After all, aren’t judges supposed to dispense justice? Aren’t they supposed to have great education, intelligence, and wisdom? Isn’t that why we’re supposed to address them as “Your Honor” and stand up any time they enter or leave a courtroom?

Yet Acting State Supreme Court Justice Francis Ricigliano doesn’t seem to have or deserve any of the above, based on his misguided sentences for two killers.

The 21-year-old Yisroel Levin and 20-year-old Elisheva Kaplan have each had 60 or 70 years of life stolen from them by their two road-racing killers. Yet thanks to Judge Ricigliano’s mis-sentencing, 27-year-old Zakiyyah Steward is likely to live free for 50 years after serving a mere three in prison. And her co-killer, 36-year-old Rahmel Watkins, will likely live free for 30 years after serving his mere 18 years in prison.

So two law-breaking, reckless, irresponsible “animals” can “steal” 120 years of life from two decent, law-abiding people (plus hundreds more years of the potential lives of their now-unborn children), and get to live a combined 80 years after just 21 years of free, taxpayer meals, gyms, TV, etc.

Since it’s been 21 years since Watkins’s first arrest at age 15, it was nonsensical of Judge Ricigliano to sentence him to only 18 years, after telling him that despite “all that time in jail,” Watkins “still failed to learn to conduct yourself as a responsible member of society.” So it’s illogical for the judge to expect only 18 years to turn Watkins into a Mother Teresa.

My anger at Judge Ricigliano is such that I can only “wish him the worst,” and hope that if Steward or Watkins commit additional crimes after their release, that the judge himself be their victim.


Predatory Desire
East Hampton
December 16, 2019

Dear Readers:

Perhaps the weirdest piece of the impeachment process is the transference of Donald Trump from predator to victim. In his life Trump has never been a victim and has always been a predator. Much like our country’s history, our colonial, imperialist, racist past, we have always been predators — high-minded, good Christian predators.

Like the English, French, Russians, et al., we prey on the rest of the world under the guise of spreading some well-serving doctrine like democracy or Christianity or world peace. Yet, behind it is always a predatory desire to rape, pillage, destroy, and enslave. Self-serving and profitable.

Brexit will reset the world to a pre-World War II mentality where MAGA morons and fascists rule the planet. Where the U.S., China, Russia, and England will be unchecked by international forces and societal norms. Where leaders like Stalin, Mao, and Hitler will have no international structures to limit their insanity. While it seems far-fetched to compare Trump, Putin, and Xi to these deranged killers, there are way more similarities than differences; where problems like nuclear containment, climate change, wealth inequality, immigration/migration will be resolved by military interventions rather than world condemnation.

The predator/victim nexus is classic. “I did all these horrible things to protect my people from themselves. Don’t vilify me for the vileness of my actions, but look at my accusers and see how bad they are. Who wants to make you great and happy? Who doesn’t want to make me greater and even happier?”

After 9/11 we got tons of sympathy from all over the world, yet in no time we used up that sympathy and began 19 years of war. Killed 650,000 people. Destroyed the basic fabric of Iraq, Af­ghanistan, Yemen, and Libya. Created a terror war that has no limitations and no boundaries to its war model. That sympathy, the U.S. as victim, disappeared in a heartbeat.

Kids in cages is no aberration. It’s part of our DNA. “Those kids are bad people. Their parents should have known better. Put the fear of God into them. It’s not so bad. What’s a few months in a cage for MAGA.” Really?


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