December 29, 2019
Our beloved and precious Nature Trail has been spooked. The ducks are hiding and our threatened geese are nowhere to be seen. The swan family is intermittently “holding down the fort” at the Duck Pond, as if on an alert; but today, even they have vanished.
It is as if some enemy invasion has befallen us.
The Suffolk County S.P.C.A. with its headquarters in Hauppauge and an organization that calls itself LION, which stands for Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, has decided that our East Hampton Village Nature Trail needs them to rid us of domesticated ducks that have found their way to our very own peaceable kingdom right in the heart of East Hampton Village.
Could ours be the only ducks with supposed injuries in all the ponds, estuaries, rivulets, and streams in the 60 miles between Smithtown and East Hampton? Hardly.
They called our village police to escort them on the Monday before Christmas. Why? They came on Christmas Day — and again — last Thursday. Why? And then yesterday and again today to “rescue” a large black duck (a Cayuga) that I have seen several times in the last few weeks serenely swimming amongst our regular retinue of ducks, geese, and swans.
A detective sergeant of the S.P.C.A. called me on Dec. 21, the Sunday before Christmas, to warn me that they were coming accompanied by police. Immediately I called our own East Hampton Village police who patiently explained that the S.P.C.A. is a legitimate organization.
That may be so, but something here is definitely not right. The attitude of these outsiders is aggressive, their behavior belligerent, and their motives questionable.
They have arrived, not once but four times, in this last Christmas week, with heavy gear, big nets, cages, and fencing to capture a few ducks that were deposited here in November and have been settling in to the amiable rhythms of our Nature Trail — as various waterfowl have been doing for generations since the 1940s. And if they are such animal lovers, why did they arrive with a loaf of bread to lure the ducks? And if they were kind, why have they frightened everyone (people and animals alike)?
We, the Ladies Village Improvement Society Nature Trail Committee, are distraught. Dell Cullum, the gentlest, most caring animal rescuer who is a blessing on our village (a young village police officer, Wayne Gauger, told me that they, the police force, don’t know what they would do without him) was aware of these ducks since they arrived at the Nature Trail in November, including a weak white one with obvious frailties, and he tended to them.
Parents with their children in tow are dismayed to see the pond vacated. Our neighbors are perturbed (Joseph Aversano, Robert Caruso, Maryam Seeley). Everyone is questioning, “Who are these people and what are they doing here?”
John di Leonardo, the leader of this group that calls themselves LION has taken to Facebook and dramatized their version of our Nature Trail story to raise money with his sob story and 33 unsuspecting people have already donated $950 in all.
The L.V.I.S. Nature Trail Committee has a budget of $9,000 per annum that is solely used to care for the trail and feed the ducks with nutritious food 365 days a year. (I have asked for an increase for 2020 because poultry feed, like everything else, is becoming more expensive, and our growing duck population, also like most others, is escalating, too.)
Please continue to support us, the L.V.I.S., for this and all of our good causes.
This has left a stark picture of a deserted empty and desolate Duck Pond. Everyone who knows and loves the Nature Trail knows that this is an uncommon and undesirable situation for what is ordinarily a beautiful natural place filled with life.
December 28, 2019
There is a substantial and persuasive volume of research pertaining to the nutritional, environmental, and ethical issues relating to food choices. An informed food choice involves consideration of at least all three of these factors. Unfortunately, The Star’s Laura Donnelly ignores all three factors in her food columns.
The Star’s readers deserve a food column that is educational and multifaceted, a food column that could make a difference in people’s food perceptions and ultimately their choices.
December 26, 2019
Dear David Rattray,
There have been signs all along. Back decades ago, the election of an authoritarian known by some as “the original Donald Trump” (in the words of Stephanie Kirchgaessner in The Guardian) remained but a shadow in the background of a vacation in Italy. Years before that, letters from a foster daughter told of how her little brother had taken ill from the water he drank. So-called radicals in the ’60s sat outside a campus library on blankets, refusing to eat in protest of the war in Vietnam. One by one they were taken by ambulance to the hospital to be fed intravenously as the war raged on. All the warnings of those years seemed to fade out once four students were shot at Kent State by the National Guard, and people seemed to creep back into their increasingly small lives and left the caretaking of the world to others.
The signs have been there all along despite the brief distraction of the election of Obama, with its hope of a better tomorrow then blocked from delivering on its promise. Just as Berlusconi had won in Italy, and Patricia Reinoso Cruz’s little brother suffered from dysentery drinking the waters in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the world’s evil gained momentum. The reign of Nazism with its concentration camps (originally based on America’s genocidal persecution of Native Americans) stands as a precursor to the global genocides of the 21st century raging on amid wars rooted in racism and greed. Young people stand up with louder voices and greater numbers than the youth of 50 years ago to tell us: Global warming is already here. Their faces are plastered all over the media, but any actual effects of slightly revised government policies have yet to be realized. Fires, famines, and floods are ever increasing.
It is a time of truths popping up in our faces, which elicit such anxiety that most are being ignored, denied, or treated with cynicism. Families who keep having babies and celebrating holidays make casual reference to “the coming apocalypse,” as if it has no relation to them, or any reality at all. Our indifference to the world around us allows us to continuing using and thus supporting the manufacture of plastics and the extraction of fossil fuels — polluting our oceans, destroying marine life, and toxifying the waters that surround us. Global inertia reigns while oceans warm and rise — wiping out coastal villages in remote locations, creeping up on our own beaches. The response by local governments is to sandbag them so that motels don’t have to relocate off the natural dune upon which they were built.
There are still sunrises in which light illuminates the treetops and heralds blue skies, and the remaining though waning fauna and flora are still seen and admired, painted by artists, lauded by poets, and caught on camera. But the signs of our potential extinction can no longer be ignored. Just as Standing Rock warriors warned of the poisoning of our waters and of Mother Earth, the poets and artists and photographers/videographers drive home the horrors of drought, the results to our land of fracking, and the indescribable agony of suffering victims. But those in power remain unmoved; children, women, and men struggling to stay alive are refused asylum. Senselessly, the drilling and raping of the earth for its toxic riches still goes on; the sanctioning of the murder and rape of human beings continues in the face of our indifference. From the fascism now spreading like a virus to the dying earth’s sad mirroring of our shrunken morality, all things point to the end — and still, no one is doing enough to stop it. Few seem willing to take that first step: Look around. See what’s happening. Wake up.
HEIDI RAIN OLESZCZUK
The New Law
December 25, 2019
It’s disheartening to hear that the town’s supervisor, a Democrat, is so critical and misinformed about the recent criminal justice reform bill passed by state Democratic legislators. Among other virtues, the new law requires prosecutors to do what the vast majority of states do: automatically provide evidence to an accused sufficiently in advance of their trials.
The law will — a proven fact —reduce false convictions and spare accused citizens from undue pressure to accept unfair plea bargains. Our supervisor (clearly not progressively minded or informed about this new law) claimed that the change will be too expensive and might lead to guilty people going free if the town doesn’t timely produce evidence. The law expressly provides that the government can request more time to produce material on a case-by-case basis.
As for expenses (which will be de minimus in the scheme of things), may I suggest that until such time as the board can find the money to comply with the law and keep our town in compliance, and safe, by cutting existing waste from spending, the supervisor’s salary should be reduced to pay for the expense.
Can Learn Much
December 27, 2019
As we start the new year, I first like to wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
In 2019, working closely with the Democratic leadership of the State Legislature, my Police Benevolent Association was able to achieve passage of several bills, one of them sponsored by Assemblymen Fred Thiele, which benefited my P.B.A. members. Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo vetoed each of my bills just before Christmas.
Locally, we can learn much from the members of the New York State Legislature and their ability at times to work with nontraditional supporters. Now do not get me, not everything is rosy in Albany, and the Legislature passed many bills that many disapprove of. What is important to note is the Legislature’s ability to reach out to nontraditional constituents.
We all see on the national level how partisan politics has rendered Congress dysfunctional. Reforms from immigration to health care remain paralyzed. Locally, we have a supermajority town board that is unresponsive on many levels to the needs of our local community. The Senior Citizens Center was lambasted while the board pushes an unneeded selfish hatchery. The most valuable asset our town has, its employees, struggle to make ends meet and local communities are left to fend for themselves in the fight against the international corporate interests of an energy company.
Winston Churchill once said, “We have no lasting friends, no lasting enemies, only lasting interests.” In Prime Minister Churchill’s quote, I find my own quote, We should never root for a political party as if it were our favorite sports team. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents need to collaborate on local issues. The Democratic speaker of the House once said, “All politics are local,” and the East Hampton Town Republican Committee is the local political party.
2020 needs to be the year our local town board represents all town residents. Members of the town board need to be neutral arbitrators rather than partisan actors.
Come check us out, and you will be surprised.
December 26, 2019
To the Editor:
From the layout and the headline to the forecasts and coach appreciations in this week’s Star, Jack Graves’s roundup of last year in East Hampton school athletics seems an appreciative cross-section of small town sports in many corners of the United States. Nice work.
CHRISTOPHER T. CORY
Deserving of Praise
December 23, 2019
In recent messages to our community, I have promoted the need for commonality and brotherhood that transcends our personal politics. Hanukkah is a time for us to celebrate together despite our differences, and not a time to use the holiday as a political weapon. As a rabbi, I was particularly disturbed by the message from The Star’s editorial board last week titled: “Tolerance at Hanukkah.”
Yes, I agree that anti-Semitic incidents in East Hampton are cause for alarm. I recognize that this is a part of a larger trend, which I have written about in The Star this past year (See “Anti-Semitism is Alive.”) But to place the blame on any politician unfairly characterizes where the anti-Semitism originates. While liberals blame the far right for anti-Semitism, and conservatives blame the left, the truth is that we are seeing anti-Semitism from both places equally.
President Trump certainly offers plenty of hatred as fodder, and we should be critical of it. However, I believe the recent executive order (issued on Dec. 11, 2019) which you criticize, is actually deserving of praise. The order itself extends safeguards of discrimination from Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by specifically including anti-Semitism as a form of discrimination. Because religious groups were not included in the original law, Jews were not explicitly protected. You noted that Trump’s inclusion of anti-Semitism implicitly labels the Jewish people as a national group: “In Mr. Trump’s strain of nationalism, Jews are welcome as long as they support him and his allies. . . . His statements suggest repeatedly that they are not quite American, that is, they are dangerous foreigners within.”
I do not believe that the order insinuates any malicious intent, nor does the order pigeonhole the Jewish people as a national group.
As to the question of who we are as Jews: We are a religious group, and at the same time a cultural, ethnic, and, yes, national group, too. No one label properly characterizes us.
This holiday season, I pray that Jews and people of all faiths recognize our commonalities, and embrace one another in love. Tolerance for others must also extend into the political arena, especially at this time when our country is most fragmented.
RABBI JOSH FRANKLIN
December 23, 2019
Your editorial in the Dec. 19 issue of The East Hampton Star starts by mentioning disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism in East Hampton and Sag Harbor. This upsurge of anti-Semitism in our country in recent years is alarming, but blaming President Trump for them was, in my opinion, outrageous.
I believe he is the best president for Jews we have ever had. He is the only American president who had the courage to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. He has supported Israel in many other ways as well.
President Trump has exhibited no “racist beliefs.” You give no examples of these, but whatever he has said about some illegal Mexican immigrants and some warring Muslim countries is true. His words have been twisted by never-Trumpers. He has never “embraced anti-Semitic ideas.”
The two evangelical Christian pastors he invited to the White House are both supporters of Israel. What Robert Jeffress has said about all non-Christians concerns his religious belief in Christ and has nothing to do with his support of Israel.
President Trump’s move to take on colleges who do nothing to stop anti-Semitism on their campuses is applauded by this Jew and tens of thousands of other sensible Jews whose children and grandchildren are in college and are in fear of these hate-filled displays.
You deride Trump’s referring to Jews as a single nationality, but that is true. Our nationality is Israeli. The area that is now known as Israel — and was called Palestine in the fifth century B.C. — is where we all originated from before we were dispersed. There were no Muslim Palestinians until 1967.
Trump has been welcoming toward Jews and has never put conditions on his support of us or of Israel. He has chided Jews for not supporting him, and I believe he is correct in doing that.
Please support your slurs of our president with facts in the future or refrain from putting them into print.
Lack of Respect
December 27, 2019
To the Editor:
What is Nancy doing? Think about it.
“Keeping the powder dry” for the impeachment.
If one is fighting for survival, and hard work has gained an important first-stage objective, would you not be careful to protect that accomplishment from certain reversal and destruction by your opponents?
This unpleasant but necessary process of impeachment of President Donald Trump was challenging, but was on a basis of his actual bad behavior and credible fact testimony. The only defense offered was shouting, intimidation, and complaints of procedure. Clearly there was nothing substantive to defend this unusual and dangerous president.
The House investigation revealed Republican participants with a complete lack of respect for facts, the witnesses, honesty, cooperation, and the entire Democratic leadership. This lack of respect continued into the full House, and will obviously continue when the articles of impeachment reach the Senate.
So now must we listen to a Senate leader, and his robotic minions, admit to absolute bias as they demand to preside immediately over what the law requires to be a fair and just trial of the charges?
Of course not! It is vital that Democratic leadership deliver its findings safely, with a bipartisan agreement to trial rules, to avoid the ultimate disrespect of a mock trial result of dismissal with prejudice.
Pelosi is not going to recklessly throw the House impeachment into the crooked dustbin of a Senate that has become the mindless enabler of this lawless presidency. She must insist on fair rules of procedure. “Keep the powder dry” so the ammunition can be used effectively.
It is up to Senate leadership to comply with established law, and ensure a fair and just trial based on facts and credible witnesses. Republicans repeatedly, and falsely, claim they were denied fair rules in the House, but the facts show otherwise. They blocked all requests for documents and witnesses for defense testimony, hoping to obstruct the investigation. They now plan to actually block House participation in the upcoming Senate trial to help reach a predetermined acquittal.
It’s an age-old trick of the guilty. Defend your own bad behavior by deflecting and reflecting the charges onto the accuser.
It must be noted that present-day so-called Republicans consistently act in the lawless and prejudicial manner they consistently claim the Democrats are. Whatever happened to the party of true republicanism? Let’s Google that term so we can appreciate what we have actually become.
New York City
December 29, 2019
To the Editor,
Intensified — obviously the ongoing political activism charades are not abating; on the contrary, they are intensifying comically but also dangerously. Concurring with the empirical pragmatist Michael Goodwin: “With no end in sight of the madness it is wise to seize on any possible sign of humor to brighten the day.”
The outlandish performers perfor-mances during the impeachment hearings exceeding the ratings of “Saturday Night Live,” livening up the evenings are crying out for special awards, rewards, for performers, playwrights, and choreographers.
One does not have to look too far to find the befitting ones. The Charles Darwin Awards an honor originating in the Usenet news group discussion around 1985. The awards honor people who insure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion, thereby improving our species’ chances. Examples: jumping out of a plane to film skydivers without a parachute, trying to get enough light look down the barrel of a muzzle-loader gun using a lighter, attempting to play Russian roulette with a semiautomatic pistol that automatically loads the next round into the chamber, A Lawn Chair Harry who attached helium-filled weather balloons to a chair and floated far above Long Beach, Calif., and reached an altitude of 1,600 feet, survived later to be fined for crossing controlled air space.
Aaaand the winners, the ones answerable to this frivolous joviality, are Adam Schiff exceeding gymnastic springboard timing. He launched the impeachment inquiry hearings at the start of the Christmas shopping and celebrations season. Jerry Nadler revolutionized courtroom trial procedures, allowing, granting Barry Berke to switch hats from counsel to “witness,” who in a surreal moment began questioning other witnesses.
Later when newspersons confronted Nadler for clarifications, they heard discombobulated responses. “Yes, he is a witness.” “Yes, he is counsel.”
Nancy Pelosi, she did it again exhilarating, jazzing, and modernizing an idiom, a metaphor, this time the definition of the carrot and the stick. Exactly 60 minutes after the announcement of the impeachment hearings, she released the president’s cherished trade agreements held hostage for one year. On the day of his impeachment she signed it. Her previous award winner (“Chutzpah,” Letters, May 30, 2019).
However there is an underlying tone of exasperation, anger ascribed to this carnival induced by the loss of three years of constructive governmental function never to be regained, a setback and many, many, many wasted millions of tax payers $$$.
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL